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The dirty little secret about the contraception debate is, it's about the ability of religiously-affiliated employers to use their health insurance policies as a means of discriminating against employees and applicants not of their own faith.

More about which below the sleeping orange squirrels.

The history of employment discrimination is one of increasing degrees of subtlety.

At first, entire categories of employment were barred to persons of various races and ethnicities.  When the categories themselves were forced open by law, employers still retained the "right" to discriminate, for example by posting signs such as "Help Wanted, no Irish need apply."

When that sort of overt discrimination was banned, it merely went underground.  For example an employer might request someone's baptismal certificate as identification, thereby locking out Jews.  Or an employer might set work schedules in a manner that didn't accommodate persons of other faiths, such as by not allowing Fridays or Saturdays off from work, thereby "discouraging" Muslims and observant Jews.  For certain categories of employees, other requirements might be imposed, such that all sales representatives had to join a certain golf club or other social club that in turn had discriminatory membership policies: so if you couldn't join the club, you couldn't get the job.  

The general pattern was one of a gradual movement from completely locking out certain groups of people, toward "merely" "discouraging" them, thereby reducing their numbers in the workplace to a token minimum.  The goal was always to set up measures that were effectively discriminatory but had plausible deniability.

Over time, most of these practices were banned by law, under the doctrine of discriminatory effect.  That is, the law did not have to prove that discrimination was deliberate, only that the effect of a set of employment policies was discriminatory.  Very often this was done by comparing the makeup of a given workplace with that of the community at-large or with comparable workplaces.  In a city with a population that was, for example 15% Jewish and 20% black, a workplace with 100 employees and a remarkable absence of Jews and blacks would come in for scrutiny and possibly for a mandatory legal remedy.

With all these pesky laws and regulations, what's a red-blooded bigot to do?

Which brings us to contraception.

The latest trick is to use health insurance as the stand-in for "No such-and-suches need apply."  

In the US at present, only the Catholic church and a few extreme right-wing Protestant denominations have official church doctrines banning all use of effective contraception by their members.  Thus a ban on contraception coverage by Catholic-affiliated employers has the effect of putting people of other religions and no religion on notice that they are not welcome here, in a very concrete way.  

If this becomes precedent, it will be a loophole in the discrimination laws large enough to sail a slave-ship through.  

Employers affiliated with the LDS Church (Mormons), that officially disapproves of smoking and drinking, might exclude coverage of lungs and livers.  Employers affiliated with Scientology, that considers psychiatry to be demonic, might exclude coverage of medications such as antidepressants.  

Consider the health and health-related lifestyle taboos of all of the world's religions, and apply them to health insurance coverage.  What you have there is a matrix for enabling any religiously-affiliated employer to impose their own church's doctrines as an effective means of screening applicants and employees.  

This is not some kind of abstraction: it can easily become a matter of life and death.  But it has all the trimmings of plausible deniability, since after all, a large range of excludable conditions are arguably lifestyle-related, and the lifestyle in question can always be demonized to discourage any protest.  "You shouldn't be drinking anyway, and you chose to go work for a Mormon-owned company so don't complain!"  (For those who don't know this, an innocent combination of alcohol and Tylenol can send you to the hospital in need of a liver transplant or you will die.  A weekend whoop-it-up followed by Tylenol for the hangover can be sufficient to trigger this one.)

If we allow religiously-affiliated employers to enforce their religious doctrines via their health insurance plans, what we have just done is allowed them to set up employment entry barriers to persons not of their own faith.  

That's the bottom line.  

And that deserves to be addressed in the public debate over contraception and Catholic employers.  

Dear Mr. President: don't give in to the latest form of bigotry and discrimination!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:30:43 AM PST

  •  I haven't seen this aspect mentioned anywhere.... (9+ / 0-)

    ... so far (someone correct me if that's mistaken), but it's obvious if you think in terms of probability and statistics.  

    Employers with discrimination in mind know they can't keep out "everyone" who isn't of their own preferred category.  So instead they seek to just keep out "most people" who aren't of their own preferred category.  

    It seems as if every generation sees a new form of this old evil popping up one way or another.  This is just the latest version.

    And dignifying it by calling it "religious freedom" is like excusing overt discrimination on the basis of "freedom of association."  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:34:57 AM PST

    •  what's meant by "affiliated" -- how far/broadly... (0+ / 0-)

      do current exemptions for churches/religious institutions apply?

      Are affiliation yet community hospitals exempt?  open-enrollment universities?

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 10:14:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  bigotry needn't be overt hatred. (5+ / 0-)

    It isn't necessary for the Bishops to come out and say "we despise people who are not Catholics," or even "we don't want people who are not Catholics working for church-affiliated corporations."  

    Remember the old line, "I don't have anything against (whatever minority), I just don't want to live next to one"...?  If you called that person a racist, they would vociferously object.   And yet that was exactly what was going on.  

    Same old shit on a new bun, does not make a different sandwich.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:38:35 AM PST

  •  Very astute analysis... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Yasuragi, Calamity Jean

    ....of an aspect of the situation that has thus far flown under the radar.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:45:00 AM PST

    •  thanks; well now it's on the radar... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WarrenS, Yasuragi

      ...assuming this diary gets enough notice.   (What will happen is, some celebrity pundit will figure it out in a week or two and then get credit for being "the first one" to think of it.  Same as it ever was....)

      I'm surprised it hasn't come up yet: it's really obvious.  If you use church doctrine to set health coverage policies, you discriminate against anyone who doesn't agree with church doctrine.  And you do it with the threat of sickness and death, which is just disgusting.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:48:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not always that simple (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WarrenS, VClib

    Frankly, what has been called the "ministerial exception" specifically allows a religious employers to discriminate in employment and hire only people of their faith in what are called "ministerial" positions.  Those are not just priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.  A unanimous Supreme Court held that it was broader than that, not necessarily subject to a defined limit.  Generally, if a person agrees, when hired, that the position is one where they are going to be representing/imparting the faith, and their job includes that, then even if they also perform secular duties they can fall within the ministerial exception.

    Just to give you an example, the Catholic schools (ubiquitous here in New Orleans) can fire a teacher who is openly living with a person outside of marriage, who has an abortion, who is openly an atheist, etc.  The schools don't go following teachers around to see what they are doing on their own time, but as a practical matter, if behavior that is not in accord with Church teachings becomes open and known by students, that is grounds for termination.  

    The basis is the First Amendment -- there is a limit to the ability of government by passing laws (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act in the case linked above) to force religious institutions from deviating from their principles when it comes to people whom they hire in positions where they represent, or speak for, that religion.  

    So, for some jobs, yes -- religious employers ARE allowed to set up what you call "employment entry barriers to persons not of their own faith."  To the extent that you imply that such "employment entry barriers" are ALWAYS impermissible, you are just wrong.  Sometimes (in some jobs), allowing a religious institution to limit hiring to persons who, if not of their faith, agree to abide by their faith at least in public, is required under the Constitution, as a unanimous Supreme Court recognized.  

    There are two competing principles at play -- the First Amendment's "free exercise clause" and the employee's rights under laws passed by Congress.  (There is no Constitutional right not to have a private employer discriminate; the Constitution only prevents government from discriminating.  The limits on discrimination by private employers are contained in laws passed by Congress.)

    So, you can't just dismiss either right -- the Constitutional right of the Church, or the right of the employee under things like the Civil Rights laws.  There must be a balancing that recognizes the legitimacy of both rights.  And that is sometimes difficult to do.  

    •  that only applies to religious institutions... (4+ / 0-)

      ... such as churches themselves.  NOT to secular institutions or corporations that happen to be owned by a given church.

      You yourself said, "...(if) position is one where they are going to be representing/imparting the faith..."

      Tell me with a straight face that the back-room clerical workers in a hospital owned by the Catholic church are in any way "representing or imparting the faith."

      Tell me with a straight face that a hospital owned by the Catholic church has the primary role of "representing or imparting the faith."

      And as you yourself said, "for some jobs."

      What we're talking about here is all jobs, ministerial or otherwise, top to bottom, at institutions that do not fulfill a religious role.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:54:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My point is that yes, Religious employers CAN (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        sometimes discriminate in the name of religion.  And it's not just the churches themselves.  You can have a "ministerial position" in a church-run institution, such as a school or a charity.  

        I did not say that clerical workers are going to be covered by the ministerial exception.  But there is some question as to whether the contraceptive rules  -- as originally stated by the President -- cover positions that could come within the ministerial exception, like teachers in Catholic schools, or like people who run Catholic Charities.  Perhaps SOME jobs at Catholic hospitals -- especially jobs that oversee the Catholic aspect of those hospitals.  Those kinds of jobs could potentially fall within the exception outlined by the Supreme Court just last month in a unanimous decision.  

        This is where I disagree with you:

        What we're talking about here is all jobs, ministerial or otherwise, top to bottom, at institutions that do not fulfill a religious role.  
        That's what is wrong -- there CAN be ministerial jobs at institutions other than the Church itself.  Clearly.  religious employers CAN discriminate on a religious basis with respect to SOME jobs at religious institutions other than the Church itself.  Teachers in schools, for example.  People who run Catholic Charities, for example.

        I agree that SOMETIMES you are correct that a religious institution must follow all federal civil rights laws.  But you are wrong if you think that, as long as we are not talking about the church itself, a religious institution can NEVER discriminate on a religious basis.  Clearly (if you read that case) with some jobs, they can.  

        •  keyphrase: "ministerial position." (0+ / 0-)

          Sure there can be "ministerial positions" at institutions other than the church itself!  But it's one capital-H Hell of a stretch to extend that to all of the employees, particularly the least visible and least paid, in an institution that itself is not a religious institution.  

          We're not talking about Catholic Charities or Catholic schools, but about institutions that fulfill an almost wholly secular purpose (and the fact that a hospital has a chapel does not make it a church or even a Catholic school).  

          You're arguing against a straw-man.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:06:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  and another error: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WarrenS, wu ming

      Where you said "There is no Constitutional right not to have a private employer discriminate; the Constitution only prevents government from discriminating.  The limits on discrimination by private employers are contained in laws passed by Congress."

      That's not correct.  Employment anti-discrimination laws, passed by Congress, have been repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court, giving them the status of constitutional law.

      When did you suddenly turn into a strict constructionist?;-)

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:56:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are not correctly stating constitutional law (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        You have no constitutional right not to suffer discrimination at the hands of an employer.  None.  Zero.  Nada.  The Constitution does NOT prohibit discrimination by anyone other than the government.  

        That right comes from the Civil Rights laws, NOT the Constitution.  And yes, the Supreme Court can find a law constitutional.  But this is just wrong:  

        That's not correct.  Employment anti-discrimination laws, passed by Congress, have been repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court, giving them the status of constitutional law.
        No one who understands anything about basic constitutional law would make that last statement.  Progressive or conservative.  Strict construction, or advocate of "living" constitution -- it does not matter.  A ruling holding that a law is constitutional does not, in effect, make it part of the Constitution.  It is simply a statement that the Constitution does not PREVENT Congress from passing the law.  Saying that a law passed by Congress "is constitutional" DOES NOT elevate the contents of that law to Constitutional status.  

        When something is in the Constitution, Congress CANNOT repeal it, or pass a law against it. The only way to change a right that is in the Constitution is by amending the Constitution.   When something is in a law passed by Congress (like the Civil Rights laws) Congress CAN repeal it, or change it, etc.  Congress passed anti-trust laws, and those were found to be constitutional.  However, Congress could, if it wanted (and the President would sign it) repeal all or part of the Sherman Act tomorrow.  You have no "constitutional right" to anti-trust laws.  Congress could similarly repeal all or part of the Civil Rights laws as they affect private employers.  And, if the Affordable Care Act is found to be Constitutional, Congress still can repeal it if it passes both Houses and is signed by the President.  A Supreme Court decision upholding the ACA as constitutional does not give the ACA "the status of constitutional law."  That is just wrong.  It can be repealed by Congress WITHOUT amending the Constitution.  

        You really need to understand the difference between a provision of the Constitution and a law passed by Congress that is found to be constitutional.  There's a huge, huge difference.  That's basic Civics.    

        •  "There you go again..." (0+ / 0-)

          Congress could (and if enough of us stay home in November, just might) repeal all of the civil rights laws, but the court ruling still stands that there is a constitutional right to be free of discrimination at the hands of employers.  

          Congress could also, through a series of repeals and enactments, effectively infringe Roe to the point of equivalence with a law banning abortion: and the same result would obtain.

          We see this frequently in lawsuits over issues such as states passing arbitrary restrictions on abortion such as selective building codes covering only abortion clinics.  

          Case law is still law.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:11:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Just wrong. There is no such court ruling. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib
            but the court ruling still stands that there is a constitutional right to be free of discrimination at the hands of employers
            Please point me to a ruling that says there is a "constitutional right" to be free from discrimination at the hands of private employers.   There is none.   Government -- including public schools -- are bound by the Fourteenth Amendment.  NOT private employers.

            There ARE Supreme Court rulings that say the Civil Rights Laws give you a right to be free from discrimination at the hands of private employers.   In every case where the SCOTUS recognized a right of an employee to be free from discrimination by a PRIVATE employer, that case was based on some law passed by Congress, NOT on a provision of the Constitution.  

            Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer -- Civil Rights laws.
            Griggs v. Duke Power Co. -- Title VII Civil Rights Act.
            Bakke -- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
            Grove City v. Bell -- Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
            Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson -- Title VII.
            Wards Cove Packing -- title VII Civil Rights Act.
            UAW v. Johnson Controls -- Title VII.
            Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggens -- Age in Discrm. Act.
            Bragdon v. Abbott -- ADA.  

            I could go on an on.   Rights against private employers --not the government, and not public schools -- are all based on acts passed by Congress.  In each case, the SCOTUS simply upheld an Act passed by Congress.

            See if you can find one case where the SCOTUS said that an employee has a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT -- based on some provision of the Constitution and NOT an act passed by Congress -- to be free from discrimination by a PRIVATE EMPLOYER -- i.e., not a government employer.

            You are just wrong.  I'm beginning to think you don't understand the difference between the Civil Rights Laws and a constitutional right.  

            •  upholding a law = the law is an expression or... (0+ / 0-)

              .... enactment of a constitutional right.  

              Case law, "living document" theory, etc.

              Clearly you're an originalist or strict constructionist or something, which is fine, and we can argue that point another day, rather than wasting more column-inches on it here.  

              Sheesh.  

              Keep beating dead horses and you'll be able to open up a Horse Smoothie stand.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 09:54:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm a lawyer. You are so uniformed about (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, farmerchuck, campionrules, nextstep

                how constitutional law operates that it makes no sense to argue with you.  This:

                upholidng the law =  the law is an expression or enactment of a constitutional right.
                is just all kinds of wrong.  Upholding a law means it is within Congress' power to pass it, and that the it doesn't conflict with the Constitution.  It does not mean that the law is "an expression of a Constitutional right" or that the law is an "enactment of a Constitutional right."  

                If you think that a decision upholding  Affordable Care Act means that health insurance is now a constitutional right, or that the ACA is "an expression of a constitutional right" or that the ACA is an "enactment of a constitutional right," there's no sense in arguing with you.  All I can suggest is that you go back to high school and take Civics.  

  •  Interesting analysis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, WarrenS, Yasuragi

    and one I wouldn't have thought of.  I see your reasoning.

    When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

    by msmacgyver on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 06:47:10 AM PST

  •  Wow.. what a stretch.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk

    Most businesses do not provide completely free contraception as part of their current health plans.

    The employee has to pay the $20 co-pay or whatever it is on their plan.

    How is that different when ACA kicks in?  Are you telling me a woman would not take a job, or even feel she "need not apply" because of a $20 co-pay??

    And perhaps you should wake up and smell the coffee as far as hiring practices go at religious institutions.  Some private, religious-affiliated colleges (I know of one here in the Midwest who did this up until a few years ago) require all employees to sign a pledge avowing dancing and drinking even off campus on their own time.  All perfectly legal.

    •  I think the discussion is fast moving to allow (4+ / 0-)

      ANY company to have company insurance policies to exclude ANYthing that the owner of the company deems to be immoral, or against their religion.  So, Buddy, owner of Town and Country Auto Repair could have in his company's insurance policy that all contraceptives will not be covered for any reason, nor will any treatment for conditions caused by alocholism, etc.  That's what many Republican House members have started to push for over the weekend.

      •  bingo! and just as we see pre-existing... (5+ / 0-)

        .... conditions banned as a basis for insurers to cut people off or jack their rates.

        Coincidences abound!

        Yes, that alcoholism was a pre-existing condition, as was being female and wanting to have sex without making more babies.

        Wonders never cease, including the wonder of seeing "progressives" defend Republican policies.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:08:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  oh, and excellent point about Town & Country Auto. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vita Brevis, Calamity Jean

        If the Republicans are pressing to allow any employer to impose their religious doctrine on their employees via their health insurance, we're right back to the days of "No Irish need apply."

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:11:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  a religiously-affiliated college... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      balancedscales

      ... has the ability to argue that it is engaged in promoting or preaching or teaching the faith, and as such, even has the right to discriminate in its hiring and admissions practices.

      But here we are not talking about cases of that kind, or Catholic schools firing gay teachers.  

      What's at issue is discrimination in workplaces that are not engaged in promoting or preaching or teaching the faith.

      I dare you to try to argue that the primary purpose of a Catholic hospital is to promote the Catholic Church's religious doctrines.  

      And the issue of copayments is a red herring: the Bishops have been demanding the right to exclude coverage altogether.  That could easily go as far as excluding coverage of the doctors' appointments at which contraceptives are prescribed.  Now we're not talking a measly little $20 (as if $20 is meaningless to working class families?), we're talking about somewhere over $100 to even get seen.  

      Perhaps you should wake up and smell the orange juice, seeing as coffee is also against LDS doctrines.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:04:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A Catholic hospital CAN have employees (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        that fall within the ministerial exception, I would think, meaning that -- for those particular jobs -- a Catholic hospital could constitutionally (under the Hosanna-Tabor case) discriminate.  

        For example, a large Catholic hospital might have a Catholic priest, or at least a Catholic deacon, on staff as a hospital employee, paid by the hospital.  Certainly, under Hosanna-Tabor, that hospital could structure that job as falling under the ministerial exception.  I can also imagine positions at a Catholic hospital that involve overseeing ancillary functions -- bringing in people for Catholic services in the hospital chapel, buying for, and overseeing, the gift shop (choosing which items to include and not to include), down to making sure that the hospital cafeteria doesn't serve meat on Fridays in Lent -- where the Catholic hospital would, constitutionally, want to hire people that adhere to the Catholic faith.  Certainly, janitorial staff would not fall within the ministerial exception.  But Catholic hospitals generally have a Catholic sideline to them as in masses, counseling by Catholics, etc., and therefore certainly can have some positions that fall within the ministerial exception recognized in Hosanna-Tabor.  

        So, yes, even in Catholic hospitals, under Hosanna-Tabor, there may well be positions where the employer CAN discriminate on a religious basis.  

        I dare you to try to argue that the primary purpose of a Catholic hospital is to promote the Catholic Church's religious doctrines.  
        The ministerial exception is not based on the "primary purpose" of the employer.  Read the case -- it did not involve a church, but a church-affiliated school.    The ministerial exception says a church-affiliated employer CAN discriminate on religious grounds for some employees, based on that particular job and the conditions the employee agreed to when taking the job.  
        •  and another straw man. (0+ / 0-)

          Sure, the "ministerial exception" and all that.

          But you yourself concede the point about janitors, and to that we can also add a large and usually invisible chunk of the clerical staff.

          Or do the hospital's negotiators who deal with health insurance companies' death panels also engage in a "ministerial function" by warning the death panels that they're going to go to Hell...?

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:14:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You changed the subject. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            I simply said that your statement -- that religious affiliated employers should not be allowed to discriminate based on religion -- was not completely correct.  My point was that in some jobs they constitutionally must be allowed to discriminate, but that the constitution does not protect their discrimination in other jobs.

            That is indisputably true.

            Now, if you want to try to graft that concept over to the administration's position on contraception, the point is that they do not match.  The original administration position was based on the identity of the employer -- NOT the nature of the job.  So, under the administration's original position, a Catholic school or hospital had to provide contraceptive coverage to ALL women on its payroll, even those clearly covered by the ministerial exception.  Under the administration's position, a Catholic hospital had to pay for contraceptive coverage for nuns that might be on the hospital staff, or for the woman that oversaw religious counseling for that Catholic hospital. That's because the administration based the distinction on the nature of the employee, and then indicated that the employer had to treat all employees the same.  In contrast, the SCOTUS unanimously recognized that it is not the nature of the employer that governs as much as the nature of the employee.  One employer (a hospital) can discriminate in some jobs, not others.

            •  dead horse, beaten into ground round. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not arguing over ministerial employees (in this diary, though I'll gladly do so in a separate discussion).  For that matter, churches also retain the right to discriminate by race and gender if they so choose, plus or minus the LDS Church deciding to admit black folks lest it lose its tax exemption.  (And I would also do away with religious tax exemptions as well, but that's also an entirely separate discussion.)

              But you do realize, don't you, where these kinds of exemptions necessarily lead?

              They lead directly to the Catholic Church's handling of child molestation by ministerial employees as a "church matter" rather than as a matter for secular law enforcement.  Speaking of Sharia Law.  

              But to get back to the subject of horsemeat burgers, my point in this diary is solely that any employer who is in any way associated with a church, could use the religious loophole as a means of setting up restrictions on health coverage that have the discriminatory effect of discouraging persons other than members of the employer's church from seeking or maintaining employment.  By which I specifically mean non-ministerial, in companies that do not serve a ministerial function.  Like the Town & Country Auto example mentioned by someone in a comment.    

              What part of that didn't you get so far?  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 09:26:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Any employer can do that right now (0+ / 0-)

        Any employer providing health insurance can pick and choose from a long list of benefits they wish to cover.

        The reason they do not currently opt out of coverage for activities they disagree with is because it is good human resources practices not to.  You cannot attract and retain good employees by micro-managing their lives through health care benefit policies.

        This contraception policy, and other policies within ACA will have one very undesired result - employers will simply stop offering health insurance and pay the fine.

        30-40 million employees in this country work for firms that employ less than 50 people - the businesses are exempt from any penalties at all.  When faced with onerous regulations versus simply dropping coverage at no penalty, which do you think the owners will choose?

        •  Actually, I know some small business owners (0+ / 0-)

          who own a couple of small outlets for their business who are re-organizing into a separate entity for each business.  Otherwise, if one entity owned all outlets, the "business" would have more than 50 employee and the additional cost of health care for those employees under the ACA would put them out of business.  

          •  thereby making the arguement for.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            ... the public option, and even single-payer.

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:29:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are going to see a lot more of that. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk

            And a lot more outsourcing of jobs to "temp" agencies, etc..

            In addition, you will see larger manufacturers move out of country... especially those involved in assembly.

            Mexican maquiladora factories are ready and waiting to take those jobs - duty free.

            The sh*t sandwich we call ACA couldn't have been purposely designed to be worse for America if they had tried - all without achieving the one intended goal - lowering costs!

            •  sure, and outlawing slavery will only shift jobs.. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean

              ... to countries that still have slavery.

              Your point?

              That the race to the bottom is good?  And we should all join in with gusto?

              Or only that laissez-faire is good, and anyone who doesn't agree is a commie?  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 09:28:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  now you're carrying water for the insurance co's. (0+ / 0-)

          "When faced with onerous regulations versus simply dropping coverage at no penalty, which do you think the owners will choose?"

          Yes, that was exactly the arguement made by Republicans and by the insurance companies, against provisions for pre-existing conditions and so on.  

          And as for bad HR policy, just wait and see what happens if religious restrictions become normalized and acceptable.  

          The plutocrats and the theocrats and their Republican stooges, all would love to do away with bothersome regulations and get back to the pristine state of laissez-faire.  Including self-sale contracts, mark my words.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:28:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  carrying water for no one.. it's just the facts (0+ / 0-)

            We will lose tens of thousands (if not more) of jobs because of ACA.

            Single payer was the only solution that ever made sense, and it was thrown out very early. ACA is a piece of sh*t legislation that will not reduce costs or increase access significantly - even with subsidies the working poor will not be able to afford healthcare.

            •  OK, now we're on the same page: single-payer. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jerry J

              But first we have to kill off the parasites who have their fangs into the neck of the national health infrastructure.  

              Unfortunately Obama missed the chance to shoot the vampires with silver bullets during the first round.  But "Obamacare" will lead directly to a public option the moment the present "personal mandate" is ruled unconstitutional (I've spelled this out numerous times before).  And from there, it's a short road paved with lousy insurance company profits, directly to the front door of single-payer.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 09:31:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I do not share your optimism.. (0+ / 0-)

                While I have always thought single-payer is the only good option, I just do not see how it is possible in this political climate.  Which is what pisses me off so much that we didn't pass it when we had the votes

                Even single-payer with reduced benefits - let's say major medical and hospitalization with a deductible based on income level and with subsidies for doctor visits, etc.  This could have easily been sold to the American people as a "safety net for all".  Optional supplemental insurance would have been super cheap.  This could have passed.

                As long as it was some type of universal coverage for all, we would have seen prices come down.  But we got this hybrid crap that keeps insurers in control.  Arrrghhh!  It really makes me mental.

  •  I partially agree (4+ / 0-)

    This is true now, with the legislation that was recently introduced that give employers a "moral" exemption. That will be used to discriminate.

    But what started all of this was the simple contraception issue, with bishops wanting to dictate what women can do with their bodies. It has become something much larger now, and these are good points that highlight a slice of why it is wrong.

    If passed, it could and would lead to many abuses of the law. This is one of those ways.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:13:32 AM PST

    •  Exactly so. (5+ / 0-)

      Employment discrimination is certainly one of the many potential consequences, but the motivations behind this long pre-date any notion of labor laws and protections. The Church has been trying to maintain its strict patriarchal structure pretty much since its beginning, and controlling women's bodies is a critical part of that structure. As the Church loses its influence and authority over Catholics, especially in this country, it is growing ever more desperate. Almost every American Catholic woman has rejected the Church's edicts about contraception; trying to control women's sexuality through employment and health insurance is just the latest tactic.

      It's a goddamn shame the president legitimized these sons of bitches and their absurd "religious liberty" argument at all.

  •  Slight problem with that plan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoiseBlue, G2geek

    Catholics use birth control at the same rate as the rest of the US population.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:18:58 AM PST

    •  yes, but this Pope is on record calling for... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites

      .... a smaller and "purer" church.  

      Legitimizing restrictions on contraception is one way to start sorting the proverbial sheep from goats in the American flock.

      Bishops who were already on record threatening to excommunicate elected officials who did not toe the church line on abortion and other issues, in effect thereby engaging in spiritual blackmail, are another case in point.  They will not be satisfied with anything less than control over others.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:17:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps that's part of it, but... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yasuragi, G2geek, Cassandra Waites

    When you do a true root cause analysis, the forced birth and anti-contraception industries are rooted in something even deeper than discrimination of any stripe:

    Demographics and racial composition of the American melting pot a couple of decades ahead.  This is the primary driver for both the GOP-led forced birth industry and the immigration debate.

    The conservative leadership in America (both political and religious) has read the Census Bureau projections, and it ain't lookin' good for old white conservatives 20 and 30 years out.  The conservative movement, as presently ideologically situated, will be totally irrelevant by 2030 or 2040, and they are well aware of it.

    They need more right wing white babies, stat.

    We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

    by Richard Cranium on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:39:21 AM PST

    •  YES, exactly, and 100 recs if I could. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Cranium

      You've got it right on the nose.  It's all about the racial tribalism.  

      But if we go one step deeper than that, the racial tribalism is all about humanity exceeding the limits to growth: population overshoot of limited resources.  In that situation, racial and other forms of tribalism come to the fore, and competition between groups escalates toward the point of open warfare.

      This was the circumstance in the Middle East when the Fertile Crescent became desert: leading to a degree of violence that ultimately gave rise to the injunctions against same in each of the three major Abrahamic religions.  

      The future I see is one in which the climate crisis does similarly to the world at-large, and the competition between groups leads to an extreme escalation of violence.

      In this context we can also expect humans to revert from K-selection to R-selection, as each group tries to outbreed the others and life becomes "cheaper" at each turn of the wheel.

      This is the world your kids will inherit.  

      Unless the humans evolve.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:23:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i think this is one factor, but the bigger one IMO (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Cassandra Waites, nchristine

    is the catholic church trying to get the US government to force rank and file catholics to obey the church's doctrine. if they won't be obedient, then by god we'll get the government to force them to stop.

    which is why letting them have an exemption for employees of their own faith is so pernicious, because it accepts the authority of a religious hierarchy over their laity in the public sphere.

    which is deeply contrary to the principles of a secular state.

    •  yes, that's the most overt motivation. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming

      This nasty Pope is on record for a "smaller and more pure" church, and anything he can do to get American Catholics to fall into line is just par for the course.  

      And yes, they deserve to have no Sharia Law with which to lord it over their employees of their own faith.  

      But don't doubt for one minute that there is a large hoard of racists and other bigots eager to plow right through that loophole the moment it's opened, and set things up to turn their own companies into little islands of plausibly-deniable statistical segregation.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 09:36:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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