Bringing Home the Bacon
Friday’s post stirred a lot of interesting discussion. It also caused some very odd reactions. But I think what really caused the biggest discussion was the analogy I posted on Tumblr and Facebook.
Kosher Jews don’t eat pork, right? A Kosher Jewish employer can’t say to a Jewish employee “We’re kosher, so you can’t eat bacon” because that’s between the employee and their faith. A Jewish employer can’t say to a non-Jewish employees “I’m kosher so you can’t eat bacon” because they can’t force their employee to live by their employer’s faith. And they sure as hell can’t tell an employee “I’m kosher, so you can’t use your paycheck to buy bacon.” Even if the employer is a kosher deli, and the employee a member of the staff.
I had several people tell me that this analogy was false because Catholic employers were being forced to pay for birth control. This is hardly the case. Religious employers, just like any other employer, are being required to pay for health insurance. Just as they are required to provide a paycheck. What is the employee does with that health insurance or that paycheck is none of the employer’s business. If the employee chooses to buy bacon for themselves, that’s their business. If the employee chooses to use their health insurance to get Viagara so they can cheat on their wife, that is none of the employer’s business. And if a woman chooses to use her health insurance to get birth control (for whatever reason), that is still none of the employer’s business.
Regardless of how you feel about Obama’s compromise, the reaction of the religious right have been very telling. Before content of the compromise was officially announced, the religious right was celebrating the announcement as if they had managed to win a concession on the issue of birth control. When is the actual compromise was described, the celebration turned to condemnation. Now suddenly the talk is no longer about religious institutions being “forced” to pay for birth control. Now instead we have the concept of the “conscience clause” being introduced in regards to insurance. Any employer could then deny to their employees any insurance coverage which could be considered against their personal religious beliefs.
If ever you still believed that this was somehow still about abortions, it is time to deeply reconsider that belief. We have come so far from abortion that the real intent of this sort of legislation becomes very clear. It is not and has never been about saving babies. It is about forcing the religious beliefs of one group upon another. If this were a Jewish or Muslim religious belief being forced on employees, conservatives would be lining up to condemn it. But as a Christian belief, it is somehow more worthy of defending.
Atheists often say that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. That includes being free from the religion of the person or entity that signs of our paychecks.