My entire country is arguing about religion right now (well, more than normal anyway).
Presently, there is a deep conflict over some decisions which involved some ‘redefinition’ of basic medical treatment. It was decided that various methods of birth control (including the highly controversial ‘morning after’ pill) should be considered medically necessary basic treatment for women.
Therefore, there was a federal move to require all businesses in the country to pay for health insurance for their workers which includes those things. All Church’s were automatically exempt under the qualification that they predominantly hire those of their religion, and predominantly serve those of their religion. However, any other business owner, unless they choose to adjust their business model to meet the exemption requirement, will not be able to opt out of this requirement.
This has, as some would expect, caused an uproar among those who do feel morally objectionably toward birth control and the ‘morning after’ pill, because they would be required by law to contribute monies toward the purchase of a plan which provides something they do not believe in. In response to the angry protests, the President has instead suggested that the costs not be paid direct by the businesses, but instead that the insurance companies themselves be required to provide birth control and the ‘morning after’ pill at no additional cost to insureds who request them. That was, quite simply, the same thing twisted around and presented as something new. The businesses still have to provide insurance, and of course the insurance companies will raise rates to cover the cost of the things they are now required to provide ‘free’ so the cost is still quite obviously being paid.
My stance on this is clear as crystal to me, though I do not think it is an easy thing to be tolerant, I think it is something we MUST do. I believe that we have no business letting our government involve itself in deciding which morality people should financially subsidize if it goes against their own beliefs. For those who would argue that religion has no place in business and morality no place in the work place… I would contend that atheism and agnosticism are belief systems by nature of being a lack of belief or certainty (respectively). Such as the faith in Science as the answer to all things much like worshiping a God of our own creation, we must respect, at least, the fact that ‘beliefs’ or ‘feelings’ on things in objection to religion are as religion itself. Therefore, they are as much a belief system, or religion, as any Catholic, Jew, or Baptist who attends Church.
I’m definitely not alone in this belief, so feel free to trust others more well known. For instance… how about Thomas Jefferson, a man so critical of religion he has referred to the book of Revelations as ‘the ravings of a maniac.’
“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
“I never believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man.”
Or perhaps someone else?
“Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” George Washington
“I tell them I have worked 40 years to make the Women’s Suffrage platform broad enough for Atheists and Agnostics to stand upon, and now if need be I will fight the next 40 to keep it Catholic enough to permit the straightest Orthodox religionist to speak or pray and count her beads upon.” – Susan B. Anthony
“There is not a shadow of right on the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation. I can appeal to my uniform conduct on this subject that I have warmly supported religious freedom.” – James Madison
My view is that it is never easy to keep freedom, particularly when it would be more convenient to give in a little bit here or there. However, that slippery slope must be avoided. The high ground in this is the only way.