Home > Election 2012, Religion, Right-Wing Hypocrisy > The Rights of the Organization Far Outweigh the Rights of the Individual

The Rights of the Organization Far Outweigh the Rights of the Individual

February 15th, 2012

Wait a minute. Am I not getting this right?

The original plan was to require employers who provide health insurance to make free birth control available to their employees only if they requested it, the idea being that each individual has a choice–in particular, that employees whose beliefs differ from the beliefs of the organization they work for not be forced to follow the religious dictums of others and therefore not have their own beliefs repressed. Churches got an exemption, but not affiliated institutions, like hospitals or charities–places where people of different belief systems may work.

Organized religions and the religious right balked at this, claiming that their religious freedoms would be infringed by having to act as the go-between for a medical service they felt violated their religious beliefs–meaning that they held that the religious freedoms of the institutions was more important than the religious freedoms of the people they employed. As bad as that was, they could at least claim that some church staff–individuals–would have to be involved, and their rights would be compromised. Again, supposedly, their discomfort would trump the medicine needs and religious freedoms of others.

So Obama went further to ameliorate them: he made it so that the institutions did not have to be involved at all–that the path of contraception request and delivery would completely bypass the organizations, so that the individual would make all requests directly to the insurance company, which would deliver the contraceptive materials directly to the individual.

Organized religions and the religious right claimed that this was still “crushing religion” and constituted a “war on religious freedom” in the United States.

In short, the rights of institutions–not individuals in any way, shape, or form–to impose their belief system on others are so important that the religious rights and freedoms of individuals mean nothing in comparison? That an individual’s right to choose is so meaningless that an institution can invalidate those beliefs just because they employ the individual?

This is not about protecting religious freedoms, it is about controlling others and denying them religious freedom. It is about enforcing religious doctrine, even on those whose religious beliefs differ. This is not about religious freedom, this is clearly about the religious right trying to ban contraception. Not abortion, not even the day-after pill, we’re talking about the birth control pill.

This is so obviously hypocritical, extremist, and oppressive that it should be a matter of outrage–except that the outrage is just complex and slippery enough that far too many Americans, too lazy to engage their critical faculties beyond a single clause, will not comprehend exactly what is going on here. They will hear the religious right say “they are crushing religion,” but a counter-argument beyond “That doesn’t make sense because…” will be lost to them.

Afterthought: I wonder how they would feel about a law allowing atheists to deny Catholics access to wine and crackers?

  1. Troy
    February 15th, 2012 at 11:06 | #1

    You have confused a war on your religion with not always getting everything you want.

    It’s odd that the Catholic hierarchy is choosing this hill to die on.

    War on Iraq and capital punishment are OK, but contraception?

    Then again, they probably see that this is on the slope to not being able to block elective abortions, too.

    Birth control is cheaper than pregnancy & delivery, which is why insurance companies pay for it willingly. Same economic logic applies to abortion.

  2. Luis
    February 15th, 2012 at 11:15 | #2

    You have confused a war on your religion with not always getting everything you want.
    Yes, I saw that. I did not quote it because it is, virtually word for word, what I have written on this blog many times. Good to hear others recognizing the same thing.

    Maybe it was just an accident, but I do agree with those who suspect that it was bait intentionally dangled by Obama to get the religious right, and the Republican party with it, to run after something which, while it might mobilize the base, could also shift a huge segment of the population against them, get independents to move away from their candidates, galvanize the left as much as the right, and undermine their political positions. That the Republican party is now as lockstep as the apocryphal lemming herd, they may very well run right off a cliff. Not that their chances were good otherwise.

    I also wonder–was this move a specific White House reaction to the Santorum Surge?

  3. Jon
    February 15th, 2012 at 16:08 | #3

    Do you seriously see refusing to pay for something someone else wants as being the same as denying access to it?

    The Catholics are not trying to ban contraception from those who want it. They just don’t believe they should have to pay for it. Or am I misunderstanding? SOMEONE pays for a ‘free’ benefit. If it’s not the employee, it is the employer.

    Your example of the atheists seems to fail here. I am an atheist as much as I am anything; no one has ever expected me to pay for Catholics religious rites.

    Presumably this looks very different to you, but I must say I do not understand. It seems like ‘won’t pay for’ has become equal to ‘denies access to’ for many people.

  4. Troy
    February 15th, 2012 at 19:21 | #4

    The Catholics are not trying to ban contraception from those who want it.

    yes they are.

    Contraception is cheaper than pregnancy, so “Catholics” are not being forced to “pay for it” in this particular case.

    And in general, the “paying for” thing is just a political gambit to ‘spit the dummy’ and whine that their intolerance is not being tolerated.

    In society we are forced to pay for things we morally disagree with. Stuff like blowing American citizens up overseas, our horrendous prison system, etc.

    Extending this hoped-for religious-based liberty to other insurance plans in other contexts, like islamic-associated corporations only covering Shariah-compliant policy, exposes this protest as the very rank bullshit it is.

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