RYAN LONDON: Forcing churches to pay for contraceptives is unconstitutional

TO THE EDITOR:

Once again, Pioneer columnist Jim Crees misses the point.

In his March 3 column, “No girls allowed: Contraception hearing turns into an all boys club,” Mr. Crees remarks that at a recent “Congressional hearing to discuss the issue of mandated insurance funding for contraception … the only people called as witnesses were men.” He goes on to say that those protesting the mandate, which included Catholic and Orthodox bishops as well as a rabbi, “weren’t the all-time best panelists to be discussing contraceptive issues with members of Congress.” Mr. Crees would like his readers to think that he merely wants equal air-time for women in the debate.

But that is not the real issue. The crux of the matter is that Crees disagrees with anyone who is against contraception. He takes cheap shots at those who believe sex is primarily for procreation, saying that they are “insulting to women.” The implication is obvious: Organizations such as the Catholic Church are anti-women and should comply with President Obama’s mandate.

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” From this derives the concept of separation of church and state. Some interpret this idea as meaning faith has no place in the public square, that religion is a strictly personal entity that should give way to secular concerns. But this is not at all the meaning of the amendment. True, the government cannot create a state religion, but also it cannot impede religion. This means that institutions such as the Catholic Church cannot be forced by the government to do things that contradict their religious beliefs.

Yet President Obama’s insurance mandate does just that. The administration is basically telling churches to go against their teachings and do what the government demands. This is entirely unconstitutional.

Our country was founded upon the idea of freedom of religion. This means that an individual can choose which faith, if any, to believe and practice, but also it means that the religion itself (i.e. the churches) have the right to operate according to their beliefs.

The Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and many Protestant denominations are not democracies which change their teachings merely because Mr. Crees and his ilk want them to. That is why various bishops and pastors went before Congress, to protest government interference. To imply that these male pastors are unqualified to speak on contraception, as Mr. Crees does, is not only insulting, it’s altogether beside the point. They are the leaders and teachers of their respective faiths, and as such they have the duty to speak out.

Contraception may (or may not) be a primarily female issue, but it certainly concerns everyone when churches are forced by the government to fund it.

That is the real issue.

RYAN LONDON

Big Rapids

One comment on “RYAN LONDON: Forcing churches to pay for contraceptives is unconstitutional

  1. avatarbyrnex3

    Thank you Ryan for reminding me of Mr. Crees article which I now recall breezing over without paying it much attention to it at the time. In his article, was the 1 female not allowed to speak Ms. Fluke? Wasn’t that due to the fact that she was not a scheduled speaker until the 11th hour and that was why she was not heard? Like Mr. London, I do not understand the leap made in the article equating someone who thinks sex is intended only for procreation is insulting either sex. Is it not a tenant of their belief that applies to both?

    I must admit it was the hoopla over Rush Limbaugh’s demeaning comments that brought this topic to the forefront for me. I am surprised that I agree in part with something he is espousing. Not the name calling of course but how are contraceptives something that should be federally mandated? Is it mandated that erectile dysfunction prescriptions be provided by insurance? If so I would agree that both are improper. But if the argument is because one is provided therefore the other must be as well, it may point out a gender bias but nothing that requires this type of involvement by government – if so why is there no similar regulation insuring equal pay, why does it cost more to have a blouse laundered than a shirt in many places?… Why this issue, why now?

    I’ve read that studies have shown contraceptives can aid in everything from better skin to reducing chances of getting some forms of cancer. How convincing are those studies, and perhaps more importantly, how convincing is that argument as a basis for making this a health issue question requiring employers to include it in their benefits package?

    If the real reason for this regulation is the anticipated savings that also does not appear to be a valid argument. If that were enough then why has there not been a similar crack down on junk food due to the rampant obesity in this country? Why is funding for our grade schools being consistently reduced instead of investing more to educate our children so they will be able to make decisions on their own whether they are going to partake in actions that may have repercussions beyond the initial obvious enjoyment to be had?

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