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Catholic Charities and Birth Control
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Sebastion Holsclaw points out an interesting case in California, in which, if I understand it correctly, this is what's going on:

California's got a law called the California Women's Contraception Equity Act, which basically says that any prescription drug plan that a company or non-profit offers must include coverage for contraceptives. Now, the Catholic Charities of Sacramento, Inc., a non-profit charity organization, offers a prescription drug plan to its 183 employees, but it doesn't want to cover contraceptives, since the Pope says they're bad.

So the State of California said that Catholic Charities of Sacremento had to offer contraceptives in its drug plan. Catholic Charities of Sacremento brought suit against the state saying they shouldn't have to.

The law does grant exemptions for "religious employers", which are defined by four criteria:

  • The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the entity.
  • The entity primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
  • The entity serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
  • The entity is a nonprofit organization as described in Section 6033(a)(2)(A)i or iii, of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

The thing is, Catholic Charities of Sacremento doesn't meet any of these criteria. They claim their primary purpose is to help people, not to convert people. They employ plenty of non-Catholics, and the bulk of the people they serve are non-Catholics.

So California says they don't get exemption, and they have to provide contraception in their drug plan.

Sebastion says this is awful because:

The Catholic Church will cut back on its charity work in California. It won't feed and shelter as many homeless people. It won't protect as many battered women. It won't be helping as many poor kids learn to read. It won't be able to provide as much mental health and immigration counseling.

Now when I first read about this case, I thought it was interesting, because it wasn't exactly clear-cut. I don't have any love lost for the Catholic Church (as you all well know), but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, after mulling it over a bit, it seems fairly clear to me that the court made the absolutely correct ruling.

So the consequences will be that the Catholic Church will stop helping people in California? Well, that's a choice they've made, isn't it?

It seems to me that they really have three primary forms of recourse:

  • Pack up and leave California, as Sebastion suggests they will
  • Provide contraception under the law, which they won't
  • Correctly reclassify their organization as a real "religious employer"

In other words, call a spade a spade. This last option seems the best. I think it's utterly hypocritical and idiotic for religious charities to pretend like they don't have an ulterior motive, that is, winning converts for Christ, or whatever version of the truth they subscribe to.

You can't have it both ways...either you're a religious institution or you're not. If you are, then admit that's what you're up to, and hire only people who believe what you do.

I'm curious...if an employee of Catholic Charities of Sacremento were found to be using contraceptives, or of having had an abortion, or...I don't know, having molested a child, would they be terminated? I mean, after all, the Church and all its affiliates (tentacles) have principles to uphold, right?

So basically this charity organization wants all the protections of a religious employer while not meeting any of the actual criteria defining a religious employer. If it wants those protections, guess what? It needs, through its words and actions, to demonstrate that that's what it is.

Otherwise, if they shut down all their soup kitchens, don't blame the's the charity who made the decision to either bail or actually present themselves as an unambiguously religious institution.

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