Pope Benedict To Be Given Global Immunity From Catholic Church Sex Crime Prosecution

From: the freethought express

By: Dorian Staten

Pope Benedict turned a blind eye to Catholic priests molesting boys, then avoided charges due to diplomatic immunity, and will have police protection and continued immunity after he steps down as Pope. That’s one helluva lot more protection than the victims he ignored ever received.

From Reuters:

  • “His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Defenseless? Like the young boys who were raped by priests? Go on…

  • “It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.

Ah, yes. A ‘dignified existence.’ Just like all the victims of Catholic priest molestation who hanged themselves. Please, tell me more.

  • The final key consideration is the pope’s potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church‘s sexual abuse scandals.

Oh those pesky sexual abuse lawsuits. Who wants to have to deal with all that nonsense? Certainly not the high and mighty ex-Pope.

While the victims the Pope turned a blind eye to try to put the pieces of their lives back together, the Pope will be living high off the hog with protection and diplomatic immunity. It’s one old, pious, delusional man’s middle finger to every one of the Catholic Church’s sexual assault victims.

Emphasis Mine



‘Religious Freedom’: Constitutional Principle or Electoral Politics?

From: Religion Dispatches


N.B.: This is why separation of Church/State is more important than ever.

  • On Thursday the Catholic bishopslaunched the Fortnight for Freedom, the grassroots phase of their campaign to gain official religious status for hospitals, universities and social service agencies they neither control nor support financially. That status, as has been widely noted, would exempt these organizations from the administration’s requirement that an employer’s health insurance plan cover contraceptives, with no copay or other costs to the employee. But the longer term goal is to legally shore up the contention that every organization and employer, religious or not, has the right to refuse to comply with any public policies they claim trouble their conscience.The bishops’ ham-handed lobbying, extreme language and unyielding position have not helped their cause. Bishop Daniel Jenky compared the president to Hitler; Cardinal Dolan of New York insisted that Obama was trying to “strangle” the Catholic church; and others have claimed that they would be forced to stop providing health care rather than comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement.Nor has the bishops’ cause been helped by the fact that just about everyone understands that Catholics have a right to disagree with the church’s position on contraception, and that providing someone with the means to obtain something that they have a moral right to obtain is also theologically sound practice.Two weeks of church-sponsored rallies, masses, marches and educational symposia are not going to influence the Obama administration to change its mind about the definition of who is entitled to an exemption from public health policy it deems important to women’s health and society. There are just far too many unintended pregnancies that end in either abortion or children poorly cared for to ignore the problem.

    If the bishops, who are so unpopular, were the only worry, the exemption would stay narrow—or be narrowed even further. However, just before the Fortnight began, the Catholic Health Association, which includes over 600 hospitals across the United States, released its comment letter on the contraceptive insurance mandate concluding that the Obama accommodation, which would have had insurance companies implement and pay for the mandate in these hospitals, would not work. It was simply not possible to separate functions so neatly, it claimed, and many CHA hospitals are self insured. Thus, the only answer is to broaden the exemption so that the hospitals are treated the same as the religion itself.

    In some quarters the letter was treated as a reversal of position—even a sign of bad faith, or that the bishops had gotten to Sr. Keehan and reeled her in. It would be fairer to take the letter at face value, as an acknowledgement that on close examination Obama’s suggested accommodation simply would not work—a reasonable conclusion given the self insurance issue and that it is still not clear whether the insurance companies would pick up the slack in the remaining cases.

    So the CHA returns to its original position more strongly, once again requesting a broader definition of a religious employer that includes them. The real issue is not contraceptive coverage, which many Catholic hospitals are already providing on a state by state basis where required, and in some cases voluntarily.

    Though it’s not the same as acting in bad faith, the CHA is probably not unhappy that the accommodation seems unworkable as it would much prefer to get another bite at the apple and make the case for religious status.

    Unless organizations like Catholic hospitals are allowed the same status as the religions themselves, they are likely to be treated under the law much as we treat individual religious persons. And the Supreme Court has already determined that when public policy aimed at everyone conflicts with individual religious beliefs, public policy is the higher good. Justice Scalia in his majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, 1990, noted: We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.”

    The CHA seems reluctant to wait for a court decision and instead want to push for a political one by convincing the president to expand the exemption now. It is in good position to press its case politically, as it has, as good lobbyists do, combined advocacy for its positions along with subtle political support for the president’s reelection. Whatever differences CHA may have with Obama on reproductive health policy, CHA is able to look at the big picture. Obama losing a second term would be a disaster for health care, poverty reduction, and all social services. And, unlike the bishops, CHA is more committed to the survival of the Affordable Care Act than to ensuring that it mirror Catholic positions.

    While little credit for passage of health care reform was given to the women’s and choice groups that early on acceded to the exclusion of abortion coverage and worked like mad to get it passed, Sr. Keehan was lauded by the media as the single most important figure in its passage when she sided with the administration’s assertion that the ACA did not in any way include funding for abortion. She earned not only a pen at the signing ceremony, but ongoing access to and deference from the White House.

    Then, when the US bishops ratcheted up its opposition to the president’s reelection by accusing him of hostility to religion for not giving the Catholic hospitals an exemption, and Catholic columnists in both the secular and religious press bought the claim, adding that Obama had thrown progressive Catholics and Sr. Keehan under the bus, Sr. Keehan again came to the President’s rescue by offering support for his “accommodation”:

    The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.

    Having decided to press for recognition as a religion, the CHA has another plus going for it in addition to its favored status at the White House: nuns have become heroes. In general Catholic voters, whom the Democrats want to bring closer, are supportive of the nuns but they don’t tend to like the bishops. Catholic health care is one of the few good things we can point to in a church otherwise plagued by corruption and, yes, pedophilia. Even pro-contraception Catholics are inclined to support the sisters. During the Clinton administration’s attempt at health care reform, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) made clear, with regard to the provision of a conscience clause for religious hospitals, that whatever the nuns in Baltimore who had cared for her mother wanted they would get.

    Nuns are especially popular today after the Vatican foolishly attacked them for caring more about the poor than about opposing gay rights and abortion. Catholic and non Catholic columnists alike praised them to the skies. The sisters, whose claim to oppressed persons status is that the Vatican called them “radical feminists” and slapped their wrists, are more lauded for their courage than Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest.

    Months before the election is the perfect time for the CHA to press its case for an exemption from the policy, which would not only allow it freedom from following the law on contraceptive insurance, but also to assert without scrutiny that any number of health services violate its religious beliefs. In her interview with Kaiser Health News, Sr. Keehan acknowledged that the CHA still has “some very real concerns in the church that even if you get rid of the coverage of contraceptives, [there may be] problems in the future.”

    Up to now, the administration has followed a strategy that is political, but respectful of the constitutional limits on religious freedom. It has correctly taken the position that public policies established to serve the common good require a clear and narrow definition of what is and what is not a religion. We do not just abandon the common good to unexamined claims that a public health or education provider is required by faith not to comply.

    We are prepared to give an actual religion an almost free pass to assert what the religion teaches and requires, but not a hospital which holds in its hands the life and health of many of all faiths and no faith, and operates under the laws and regulations of the state. If such entities have any right to an exemption based on religion, those claims should be subject to strict regulatory scrutiny.

    It would be wiser to grant no exemption at all than to entangle the state in the adjudication of claims over what religious belief outside the scope of a denomination requires. But if we were to examine claims, on the contraceptive issue we would be forced to conclude that these hospitals do not require an exemption. We would write in the file that any further claims need to be carefully examined given the lack of a good religious argument for refusing to insure employees for contraception. And our trust and confidence in the CHA would be diminished by such a frivolous claim.

Emphasis Mine


Atheism Rising, But God Is Not Dead Yet: 10 Ways Religion Is Changing Around the World

Religion is alive and well in the 21st century — but it also looks very different now.

From: AlterNet

By: Sara Robinson

“For most of the 20th century, smart people assumed — with smug certainty and probably more wishful thinking than they’d be willing to admit — that humanity’s long obsession with religion is finally winding down. God is dead –– done in at last by the forces of enlightenment and reason. Humanity is now free to chart a new course, without worrying about the Big Bad He-God In the Sky.

But, as the last 30 years have ratherbrutally demonstrated to Americanprogressives (religious and otherwise), those reports of the death of religion turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Here we are, with a firm foothold in the 21st century, and it’s pretty clear that God is very much alive and well and living almost everywhere on the globe (except Europe and Canada, as we shall shortly see).

God or no God, the religious landscape of the planet isn’t what it was in the last century. In fact, it’s changing in some essential ways. And whether you’re a person of faith or no faith, those changes have deep implications for the way other important factors — culture, technology, economics, the environment, and politics — play out as this new century unwinds.

What follows is a quick summary of some of the key drivers that are changing the landscape of faith around the world. It’s hardly comprehensive, but I did try to hit the high spots. (Agree? Disagree? Got another one to add, or a point to amplify? Drop a comment below, and let’s talk about it.)

1. God Is Not Dead

In 2007, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life went around the world asking people a straight-up question: “Religion is very important to me.” Yes, or no?

The numbers in Europe were low to middling. In Great Britain, 33 percent of those polled said religion was “very important” in their lives. The number was 27 percent in Italy, 21 percent in Germany and 11 percent in France. Poland came in at 36 percent, with Russia at 14 percent and the Czech Republic at 11 percent.

Closer to home, the numbers in Canada looked pretty much like those in England. And in the US, you will not be surprised to learn, the numbers were about twice as high as they were in Europe. Here, about six out of 10 respondents said that religion was very important in their lives.

But when Pew went to Latin America, Asia and Africa, the numbers were radically different. In Guatemala, 80 percent of those polled said religion was “very important” to them. That number was 77 percent in Brazil and 72 percent in Honduras — but only 39 percent in Argentina.

In Asia, the “yes” total was 95 percent in Indonesia, 92 percent in India, 91 percent in the Philippines, but only 12 percent in Japan. And in Africa, Senegal checked in at 97 percent, Nigeria at 92 percent and Angola at 80 percent.

So the world is still a very religious place, indeed, though it’s still not well understood why Europe should be such a secular anomaly. (My own guess is that its long and bitter history of religious wars simply exhausted Europeans, and they’ve given up religion as too divisive to tolerate.) These numbers show pretty clearly that modernism didn’t kill religion, and postmodernism isn’t likely to, either. Faith may be on the wane in a few spots, but it’s still kicking hard everywhere else.

2. The Center of Gravity for the Christian World Is Moving South

A few years back, a spate of books like Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendomand Globalizing The Sacred: Religion Across The Americas by Manuel Vasquez and Marie Marquart argued that Latin America is going evangelical at such a furious rate that Protestants could outnumber Catholics as early as 2025.

Further examination of this trend suggests that it’s not happening quite that fast. While people in these countries often do succumb to the charms of Christian missionaries, a lot of those conversions don’t stick for very long. Even so: Protestantism is growing in the global south, and the conversion cycle is rapidly introducing Protestant ideals and values into these cultures, which could over time create some deep shifts in Latino culture.

In Africa, Christian and Muslim missionaries are squaring off in turf battles that transcend national borders, and researchers from the Pew study cited above are frankly worried that conflict and competition between the two conversion-oriented faiths could eventually lead to political disruptions and military confrontations. Increasingly, an African’s most defining affiliation isn’t his or her tribe or nation, but his or her faith.

Meanwhile, here at home, American Catholics have noticed that a growing number of the priests serving their churches are coming up from the global south — and are often far more traditional than their comparatively liberal congregations. As these priests move up through the church hierarchy in the years ahead, this southern traditionalism may make the church even more conservative as the century rolls on. Over the long term, this trend could easily alienate North Americans and Europeans to the point where the Catholic Church becomes largely a phenomenon of the southern hemisphere in another generation or two.

3. The Kids are Different

The religious trends of the country over the past 40 years have been dominated by the religious preferences of the Baby Boomers and Generation X — two generations that have been highly individualistic and inner-directed, generally preferred individual “spirituality” over group-oriented “religion,” and distrusted all forms of institutional authority — especially religious authority. By and large — and especially as they’ve aged — the religious focus of these two generations has been on personal salvation, rather than changing the world.

The Millennials, on the other hand, distrust religion for somewhat different reasons.

According to research conducted by Barna, this is an ethnically diverse generation that was born connected, and does almost everything in tribes and teams – a tendency that is already making them more communal and outer-directed in their spirituality than any group we’ve seen since the GI generation. For them, faith is meaningless unless it leads to action. The thousands of community service hours they logged as teenagers instilled in them a strong sense of social justice, huge confidence in their own ability to make a difference, a growing trust in their ability to create effective and inclusive institutions, and an conviction that religion should be about serving the world instead of perfecting yourself.

This shift has implications for every religious institution in the country, but it’s particularly rocking the foundations of Christian fundamentalism. Barna Research study last year found that large numbers of young adults from evangelical homes are leaving the faith because they dislike their churches’ limiting attitudes toward science, the arts and sexuality. They don’t like the right-wing culture war. They grew up with it, they’re tired of it, and they want their elders to knock it off.

Because of this, the ones who were raised in megachurches are abandoning those churches in droves. They’re not particularly interested in policing theological boundaries; if they affiliate with a faith at all, it will be because they’re looking to join a community where people are coming together to work on the stuff that really matters: social justice, poverty and the environment.

4. Atheism Ascendant — and Not Just in the Cities

We’re also seeing a resurgence of atheism. Much to the surprise of both the very religious and the entirely irreligious, non-theism consistently shows up as the second or third most popular philosophical worldview across most of the US. According to a 2008 survey by the City University of New Yorkatheism is cited as the number one orientation (by proportion of adherents) in Washington and Idaho, and it’s number two or three in almost all the other states.

Nationwide, atheists rank #3 overall, just behind the Catholics and the Baptists — and the numbers are even higher among Americans under 30.

But what’s really weird about this is that it’s not just a phenomenon of the liberal coasts. Non-religious people make up a higher percentage of the populations of Idaho, Montana and Nevada than of California, Massachusetts or New York. It turns out that rural does not equate to religious after all — a trend that has some interesting political implications in the decades ahead.

5. Environmental Ethics Go Mainstream

The global inter-religious dialogue on the theology of environmentalism has been going on for about 20 years now, which is long enough that it’s soaked through an entire generation of young clergy, and is now being absorbed into their congregations.

The idea that the living earth and its vast matrix of interlocking systems are inherently sacred was a heretical idea just 25 years ago. But when Pat Robertson goes on TV and tells his flock that climate change is serious and real and Jesus wants them to fix it (though he’s very recently recanted), you know there’s some real change afoot in the way even some conservative Christians are assessing their relationship to the planet. As we look ahead to solving some of our big problems, it’s good to note that (with a handful of very noisy exceptions on the right-wing Christian Nationalist side) most of the world’s most prominent religions have taken up the task of teaching people what’s required, and priming them to act.

6. The Marketplace of Spiritual Ideas IGoing Global

It’s a small world, and it keeps getting smaller. We’ve got twice as many people as we did 50 years ago. But we’ve also got far more access to all those people, through trade and the Internet and social networks, than we could have even imagined a decade ago. And that interconnectivity stands to change our religions along with everything else.

The Internet has opened up a virtual global souk of religious ideas. Last year, I went online and downloaded the PDF of an 80-year-old book that was the only account in English of life among the traditional Yezidi tribes of Kurdistan. They’re almost extinct now, since their remote homeland has been a war zone for the past 30 years. But if you’re interested in their unique folkways — or in Apache girls’ coming-of-age rites, or what goes on in Mormon temples, or reading comparable translations of the Kama Sutra — well, there’s a vast feast of amazing material just a quick Google search away.

This is already resulting in massive religious cross-pollination — a trend that could move us toward a sort of syncretic, celebratory sharing of traditions that could be very healthy for everyone. But, on the downside, it’s getting easier for fundamentalists to find each other, too. Some scholars of Islam report that apocalyptic stories of the Hidden Imam, long suppressed by ayatollahs and mullahs, are taking on new themes that were clearly borrowed from Christian fundamentalist end-times tales. (Startling, yes — and also proof that not all change is for the better.)

And for some faith groups, especially those that thrive on secrecy and restricting information or criticism, it’s making life just plain hard. One wonders if the full scale of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal would ever have been known if the victims hadn’t been able to find each other on the Internet. Mormonism isn’t faring at all well in this new environment, either: members and would-be converts can easily find accurate historical information about the church’s early history that church leaders had been suppressing for decades, out of (apparently justified) fear that it would undermine the testimony of the faithful.

7. Religion as a Way of Reclaiming Cultural Identity

All this syncretic sharing and blending may yield some weird and wonderful things, but there’s a counter-trend here, too. In the developing world, some groups are very consciously re-connecting to their traditional religious roots as part of their struggle to resurrect national and cultural identities that have been lost through generations of colonial oppression.

The best example of this is the re-emergence of the hijab among Muslim women the world over. While women have no choice about this in many Islamic countries, a woman wearing a hijab on a Western street is likely making a voluntary statement of pride in her Islamic identity, and affirming her own culture. Likewise, in Russia, the Orthodox Church is re-emerging as Russians reconnect with their lost culture and history in the aftermath of the Soviet era.

While it’s great to embrace the global spiritual marketplace where we’re welcomed in, it’s also important to recognize and respect when people are leaning harder than they might otherwise on religious traditions because they offer a fragile lifeline back to a lost cultural identity.

8. New Empires, New Religions

It’s a historical truth that religions tend to spread and grow right alongside rising economic and political powers. In this century, the world’s two up-and-comers are India and China. As they become bigger players on the world stage, we can expect that those countries’ dominant religions — Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism in particular — will become far more visible and influential on the global religious scene.

9. The Hardest Truth: Fundamentalism Isn’t Going Away

The best we’re ever going to do is contain it. Authoritarian religion, like authoritarian politics, takes root wherever people feel like they’re losing control over their traditional ways of life. This is why fundamentalists are taught in their churches to look for potential converts who are going through important life transitions, or have just sustained some kind of heavy emotional loss. They know those people are vulnerable, and may be receptive to the idea of having someone else make their decisions for them.

Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot more of these vulnerable souls in the world as we go through wrenching process of moving off of carbon fuels, rebuilding our economy and our infrastructure, and coping with the dislocations caused by climate change. A lot of people’s well-ordered lives are likely to be devastated by events, and in the aftermath, they may be willing to follow anyone who promises to restore structure and meaning to their lives.

It seems likely that these movements could become far more prevalent in the transitional years ahead of us. They could even become big and powerful enough to slow the transition process down, or stop it altogether. This is yet another reason we need to plan a responsible and intelligent transition to a new economic and energy paradigm. As long as people see themselves moving toward a better future, we’ll probably be able to keep the religious and political authoritarians at bay. But the risk is real, and we need to be thinking about it now.

10. Technology Changes Everything — Including Faith

Technology is already challenging our ideas of what it means to be human, to be alive, to be a spiritual being. Genetic engineering, cloning, nanotechnology, bionics, and computers that can outsmart us have been the stuff of science fiction for 60 years, but that future is now here, and it’s going to be interesting to watch our current crop of religions wrestle with the new ethical and theological questions these technologies raise.

Probably unsurprisingly, the biggest breakthroughs on these fronts are being made in the very same countries that Pew found (back in item #1) to be the least religious. And yet the world’s religions are going to have to find ways to deal with these changes. in fact, this rethinking of the whole human enterprise as we’ve understood it for the past couple of millennia may be the biggest challenge faced by all the world’s faiths in the coming century.

If they do the job well,  I think we may end up with a far more expansive and inclusive sense of the sacred than we can possibly imagine right now. In fact, this century may be giving us the best chance humans have ever had to create a global spirituality built on enduring human values: compassion, justice, community, and the common drive to share and celebrate the wonder of our lives.

But if they do it poorly, religion may continue to be the biggest obstacle to taking the decisive steps we need to deal with our growing number of human-created crises.

Religion changes, and will continue to change. But if the last century didn’t knock the religious impulse out of us, it may be time to accept that it’s here to stay.

Sara Robinson, MS, APF is a social futurist and the editor of AlterNet’s Vision page. Follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to AlterNet’s Vision newsletter for weekly updates.

Emphasis Mine.

see: http://www.alternet.org/story/154738/atheism_rising%2C_but_god_is_not_dead_yet%3A_10_ways_religion_is_changing_around_the_world?akid=8500.123424.WdsoW3&rd=1&t=2

Republicans and the Culture Wars: Why It Won’t Work This Year

Not long ago, Republicans could turn to issues like guns and gays when the going got tough. But Michelle Cottle says none of today’s candidates has the makings of a culture warrior.

From: Daily Beast

By: Michelle Cottle

“You know the Republican Party is going through a rough patch when it can’t even conduct a proper culture war. Once upon a time, the GOP knew how to pick a compelling values issue, or at least demagogue one in a way that was guaranteed to make the Democrats look like a pack of sneering, godless Francophiles. Partial-birth abortion—now there was a winner. Ditto gun rights. And, man on man, did conservatives milk the gay-marriage issue for all it was worth, back when it was worth something.But of late, the party seems to be losing its touch. Oh, sure, Republicans have enjoyed watching President Obama’s tussle with the Catholic Church over insurance coverage for contraception. Indeed, many party leaders rushed to pile on, tossing about phrases like “freedom of conscience” and “war on religion.”As a broader political proposition, however, getting labeled the party that wants to limit access to contraception is less ballsy than flat-out nuts. Neither does the situation seem likely to rectify itself any time soon. The staunch conservatism of the Republican base notwithstanding, not one of the party’s remaining presidential contenders has the makings of a competent culture warrior.Newt Gingrich? Please. God may have forgiven the speaker’s sins, but, if the polls are any indication, American women are still pretty steamed. The minute Newt opened his mouth to lecture the general electorate on family values he’d likely get a kitten heel to the crotch.Ron Paul has the longest marriage and most grandfatherly manner of the bunch, but his libertarianism is poorly suited to arguing that government should be messing around in people’s private lives. (And listening to him out of the trail, it’s pretty clear that social issues aren’t what blow the good doctor’s gown around.)Romney, with his picture-perfect family and squeaky-clean lifestyle, should be a terrific values crusader. Alas, he is Mormon and so must be careful about steering the race toward matters of faith, lest someone push him to have an in-depth chat about the LDS Church’s fondness for baptizing dead Jews.Then there’s Rick Santorum, who, by all rights, should dominate the values battlefield. He’s got the loving wife, the passel of kids, the goofy-dad vibe. And, let’s face it, the man has never met a policy issue he didn’t see through the prism of family values. Tax reform? Regulatory reform? Deficit spending? As Rick tells it, the first step toward addressing any of these problems is to reinstate the ban on sodomy.On pure piety points, no one can beat Rick. We’re talking here about a guy who has said he would use the presidential bully pulpit to warn of how contraception tempts even married couples to get busy in ways contrary to God’s will. This, of course, is part of the problem. Opposing abortion is one thing. Opposing contraception even among married folks doesn’t make Rick seem like a paragon of moral virtue so much as a refugee from the 16th century.But it’s not just that the senator’s positions are out of touch with the mainstream electorate (a mere 8 percent of Americans think birth control is immoral; 84 percent of U.S. Catholics think you can use it and still be a good Catholic). It’s that the guy is simultaneously too pious and too pathetic.Take his views on gay rights. Plenty of people object to gay marriage, but Santorum has long come across as a bit of a clown on the entire subject of homosexuality. It’s some combination of his whiny manner and his slightly-too-colorful blatherings about how “sodomy” is kinda like polygamy or incest but not quite so bad as man-on-dog action. With that kind of commentary, small wonder Dan Savage decided to execute his devastating lexical takedown of the senator.Perhaps saddest of all, when things get uncomfortable, Santorum crumbles. Pressed recently about a section of his 2005 book, It Takes a Family, that laments “radical feminists” undermining the family by pushing women to work outside the home, the senator pleaded ignorance and claimed the bit had been written by his wife.To be sure, this whole Serious Candidate business is new to Santorum. Still, this is no way to run a culture war.

Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

Michelle Cottle is a Washington reporter for The Daily Beast.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

Emphasis Mine


Just the Facts: Churches and the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Misinformation on how the rules works has leaked into the media. For instance, pro-life and religious groups continue to claim the rule would force employers to pay for drugs that cause abortion, which the administration says is not the case.

From: Truthout

N.B.: Se

By:Mike Ludwig

“The Obama administration‘s recent decision to require all employers, with the exception of churches and places of worship, to cover contraceptives in health care plans continues to cause a firestorm of controversy. House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Thursday that the rule is unconstitutional. Catholic bishops continue to call the rule an “attack” on “religious liberty” and are calling on the administration to broaden the exemption and Congress to pass a law that could overturn it. The administration, however, is standing firm on its decision.

Misinformation on how the rules works has leaked into the media. For instance, pro-life and religious groups continue to claim the rule would force employers to pay for drugs that cause abortion, which the administration says is not the case. Senior White House officials held a conference call with reporters on Thursday to clear up any misunderstandings. Here’s a rundown of the most important facts according to those who actually wrote the rule:

  • Under the Affordable Care Act, employers and private insurance providers will be required to provide reproductive preventative services, including birth control and other contraceptives, to women who choose to use them. The services are free of charge at the point of service and provided without co-pays, deductibles and cost-shares.
  • Nonprofit organizations that “primarily” exist to spread their religious values and primarily serve and employ people who share those values are exempt from the rule. This means that churches and houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated schools and hospitals that serve and employ people of different faiths are not exempt.
  • Officials said that some parochial schools could qualify for the exemption if they exist to teach religion and primarily serve and employ fellow believers.
  • The rule applies only with private health insurance and does not require individual practitioners to provide contraceptive.
  • Most women use contraceptives in their lifetime, including 98 percent of Catholic women. (Meanwhile, 100 percent of Catholic bishops are men.) The average woman uses contraceptives for 30 years of her life at a cost of $30 to $50 per month.
  • The policy does not cover drugs that cause abortion, such as RU-486.
  • Twenty-eight states already require contraceptive coverage. North Carolina, New York and California have identical religious exemption standards and other states have no exemptions at all.
  • There is no list of specific institutions that are exempt but institutions must meet the above requirements. There is no application for the exemption, and an institution must use the requirements to evaluate itself and then notify its insurance provider that it is exempt.
  • Administration officials said they are working with states on enforcing the rule.
  • After taking public comments, the administration decided to give some religious nonprofits, including those that employ people of other faiths, one year to comply with the rule.

Emphasis Mine