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As some of you may have noticed, the Catholic Bishops and some Catholic institutions have a sad because any health insurance plan they offer their employees has to cover contraception. Lawsuits and menacing videos have ensued.

But when other Christians want to handle venomous snakes as part of their religion, the state of Tennessee can make that illegal, and there's no great Constitutional outcry.

You can use Peyote if you're a member of the Native American church, but you can't start your own denomination and claim peyote use as part of your newly invented faith.

Per Janet Reno, ruling as Attorney General in 1998, Rastafarians do not have the religious right to smoke marijuana in the United States.

So what's the difference? I can see at least one, and I'll discuss it on the other side of the Orange Squiggle of Power.

The difference which I wish to discuss is that between the government saying that "this must be done" versus the government saying "this cannot be done". In religious terms, it is the difference between ordering a believer to commit a sin, and forcing a believer to commit a sin OF OMISSION.

Here in America we are much more comfortable with sins of omission than of commission. We will jail the thief, regardless of motivation, but ignore the greedy man whose refusal to share left the thief destitute and desperate. The law exists to maintain order, not to produce good people.

And of course maintaining order benefits those who have as opposed to those who have not; as does overlooking stinginess as a major moral failing.

Which is why the opponents of marriage equality attempt to frame allowing gays to marry as a threat to order; Americans are less likely to buy the argument that the government can make people moral by making their actions illegal.

This touches on the mandate and many other things. Americans are suspicious of the government trying to force us to act as we should, as opposed to punishing those who act as they shouldn't. And this suspicion is traditional conservative, meaning it has a heritage in American thought outside the fever dreams of Glenn Beck, and may actually be worthy of some consideration.

If, then, you wish to argue that the government can and should compel people to do what they ought to do, the bar of public opinion is set higher, and the argument needs to be made more compelling.

Especially when you are threatening patriarchy and wealth with your new rule.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 08:59:39 AM PDT

  •  pretty much agree (0+ / 0-)
    In religious terms, it is the difference between ordering a believer to commit a sin, and forcing a believer to commit a sin OF OMISSION.
    Though i'm unsure about the sin of omission part.

    Is NOT handlling snakes a sin for members of that church?

    Is it sinful for Rastafarians to NOT smoke marijuana?

    these sound like optional practices for members of those chuches, but i could certainly be wrong there.

  •  The distinction seems unclear (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue aardvark, bubbanomics

    between being allowed to use peyote as part of one religion but not being allowed to use marijuana as part of another religion.

  •  And the problem with couching (0+ / 0-)

    issues in religious terms is that that is not the real issue when it comes to

    The difference which I wish to discuss is that between the government saying that "this must be done" versus the government saying "this cannot be done".
    The religious aspect of this is what?  

    bloom--300x300

    And taking this into consideration

    Especially when you are threatening patriarchy and wealth with your new rule.
    I'm not seeing religion playing here at all...just overreach.

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    by EdMass on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 09:26:54 AM PDT

    •  The religious aspect is that 100% of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, trumpeter

      objection to coverage of birth control by insurance companies has been based on the idea that Catholics think birth control is a sin and forcing them to offer it to their employees is forcing them to act against their religion.

      If you've heard another argument against it, let me know.

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 09:32:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not disputing this (0+ / 0-)

        But, is the issue religious perspectives/mandates for the "faithful" or Gubmint overreach?

        The difference which I wish to discuss is that between the government saying that "this must be done" versus the government saying "this cannot be done".
        Which is it?

        Not okay when a religion has "rules", but okay when secular?

        Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

        by EdMass on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 09:48:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It seems kind of (5+ / 0-)

        a bizarre argument to me.

        As it is now, they are paying the employees who could perfectly well go out and use the money to buy birth control, and I expect an awful lot of them do. For the money to go from the church to the employee to the drugstore, vs. from the church to the insurance company to the drugstore - the supposed horror about this distinction without a difference strikes me as faux outrage.

        Further, we are all paying taxes which go to support things that they no doubt find immoral (the death penalty for example). To make such a big deal out of this issue seems extremely arbitrary.

        Basically I am not buying that they really find this to be such a hugely immoral thing. I think they found a political issue and decided it would be a good one to try to get Catholics mad at Obama.

        •  once taxes are paid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          EdMass

          they are government dollars, not church dollars.

          Once salaries are paid they are employee dollars, not church dollars.

          With the insurance, it is church dollars are are going through the insurance company to buy the drugs. The Church itself is in on the transaction.

        •  Many are self-insured institutions (4+ / 0-)

          It doesn't go from the church to the insurance company to the drug store, it goes straight to the drug store. What's really funny, is I still hear the argument that their premiums/costs will be higher from providing this "extra" coverage. Some of them do seem to be truly clueless that their costs will likely go down.

          from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

          by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 10:03:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I've had the distinct impression (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        EdMass, phonegery, blue aardvark

        that's it's not so much the people

        the idea that Catholics think birth control is a sin
        as the institution, the establishment, the bureaucracy, the old men in skirts who think that. People who also happen to be Catholics seem not all that incensed about the idea of birth control, at least from what I've read on the subject.

        We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time. --T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets / Little Gidding

        by Mnemosyne on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 10:02:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Religious aspect is (0+ / 0-)

      Oh, god, I really have to pee!

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 02:19:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The difference (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery

    is that the bishops can buy a buttload more lawyers and lobbyists with parishioner contributions. Helps having over 75 million hands to skim from.

  •  Not to mention (0+ / 0-)

    forbidding Sikhs from carrying their daggers on airplanes.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 02:18:14 PM PDT

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