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When Religious Belief Conflicts with Professional Obligation

 
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 11:38 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
But it doesn't matter what what I believe, so I searched the web for "churches, political, tax-exemptions". (Frankly I think that would have been your job, since you're the one who made confident political statements in the matter.)

Sorry Thomas. I hadn't had time to do the research yet. You beat me to it (at least the first level of it).
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 06:35 pm
@rosborne979,
No problem. I shouldn't have lectured you on it, sorry. Forget I said it in the first place.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:51 am
Quote:
Mormon Church feels the heat over Proposition 8
(By Nicholas Riccardi, The Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2008)

In June, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a fateful decision. They called on California Mormons to donate their time and money to the campaign for Proposition 8, which would overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that permitted gay marriage.

That push helped the initiative win narrow passage on election day. And it has made the Mormon Church, which for years has striven to be seen as part of the American mainstream, a political target.

Protesters have massed outside Mormon temples nationwide. For every donation to a fund to overturn Proposition 8, a postcard is sent to the president of the Mormon Church. Supporters of gay marriage have proposed a boycott of Utah businesses, and someone burned a Book of Mormon outside a temple near Denver.

"It's disconcerting to Latter-day Saints that Mormonism is still the religious tradition that everybody loves to hate," said Melissa Proctor, who teaches at Harvard Divinity School.

As an indication of how seriously the Mormon leadership takes the recent criticism, the council that runs the church -- the First Presidency -- released a statement Friday decrying what it portrayed as a campaign not just against Mormons but all religious people who voted their conscience.

"People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights," the statement said. "These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America."

Jim Key, a spokesman for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said barbs by gay marriage activists were directed at church leadership, not individual Mormons.

"We're making a statement that no one's religious beliefs should be used to deny fundamental rights to others," he said.

Proposition 8 opponents estimate that members of the Mormon Church gave more than $20 million to the effort to pass the measure, though that is difficult to confirm because records of campaign donations do not include religious affiliation.

For years, church leaders have tried to blunt the assertion that Mormonism is somehow out of the political and cultural mainstream. The backlash over gay marriage carries risks and rewards toward that goal.

To support Proposition 8, the Mormon Church entered into a coalition with other religious organizations, including evangelical groups that have tended to view Mormons warily. It was a Catholic bishop, Mormon officials said, who requested the Mormon Church bring its members into the fight. Now those groups are rallying behind the embattled church.

"Being against gay marriage puts the church right in the mainstream of American religious behavior," said Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

But the outrage directed toward the church could hurt its efforts to expand.

"The backlash is going on all over the country," said Jan Shipps, a prominent scholar of modern Mormonism who is an emeritus professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. "There are people who had a lot of respect for the Mormons who now say, 'Well, they're just like the Christian right.' "

That's ironic, Shipps said, given that the Mormon Church has a more tolerant stance on homosexuality than some evangelical groups. The church has pointedly declined to state that homosexuality is a choice. And it has cautioned against programs that purport to "cure" same-sex attraction, even though Mormon theology holds that marriage is a divine relationship between men and women that continues into the afterlife.

Also, Shipps said, though the church had been riding high ever since the successful 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the gay marriage fight and other recent setbacks have forced the church to deal with skepticism over its faith and history.

First there was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination. Many in the church were shocked that Romney's Mormon faith was a source of discomfort for some voters.

"Latter-day Saints were just amazed to think there was such bigotry in the country," church spokesman Michael Otterson said.

And a raid on a polygamous breakaway sect in Texas last spring was a reminder of the church's practice of multiple marriages in the 19th century, even though the Mormon Church has long renounced polygamy.

"That whole story in Texas was probably much worse for the church's image than Proposition 8," Monson said.

Some have suggested that Mormons might have been eager to cement partnerships with other churches, especially because evangelical voters were particularly distrustful of Romney's faith.

But Otterson dismissed that possibility. "That kind of thinking would never even factor into the thinking of church leadership," he said. "The church couldn't remain silent on a pivotal issue like this."
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 02:16 pm
Quote:
Protests Over a Rule to Protect Health Providers
(By ROBERT PEAR, The New York Times, November 18, 2008)

WASHINGTON " A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to “assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity” financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

But three officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including its legal counsel, whom President Bush appointed, said the proposal would overturn 40 years of civil rights law prohibiting job discrimination based on religion.

The counsel, Reed L. Russell, and two Democratic members of the commission, Stuart J. Ishimaru and Christine M. Griffin, also said that the rule was unnecessary for the protection of employees and potentially confusing to employers.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already prohibits employment discrimination based on religion, Mr. Russell said, and the courts have defined “religion” broadly to include “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.”

Mr. Ishimaru and senior members of the commission staff said that neither the Department of Health and Human Services nor the White House had consulted their agency before issuing the proposed rule. The White House Office of Management and Budget received the proposal on Aug. 21 and cleared it on the same day, according to a government Web site that keeps track of the rule-making process.

The protest from the commission comes on the heels of other objections to the rule by doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, state attorneys general and political leaders, including President-elect Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama has said the proposal will raise new hurdles to women seeking reproductive health services, like abortion and some contraceptives. Michael O. Leavitt, the health and human services secretary, said that was not the purpose.

Officials at the Health and Human Services Department said they intended to issue a final version of the rule within days. Aides and advisers to Mr. Obama said he would try to rescind it, a process that could take three to six months.

To avoid the usual rush of last-minute rules, the White House said in May that new regulations should be proposed by June 1 and issued by Nov. 1. The “provider conscience” rule missed both deadlines.

Under the White House directive, the deadlines can be waived “in extraordinary circumstances.” Administration officials were unable to say immediately why an exception might be justified in this case.

The proposal is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals.

Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, said that in recent years, “we have seen a variety of efforts to force Catholic and other health care providers to perform or refer for abortions and sterilizations.”

But the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, 28 senators, more than 110 representatives and the attorneys general of 13 states have urged the Bush administration to withdraw the proposed rule.

Pharmacies said the rule would allow their employees to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives and could “lead to Medicaid patients being turned away.” State officials said the rule could void state laws that require insurance plans to cover contraceptives and require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.

The Ohio Health Department said the rule “could force family planning providers to hire employees who may refuse to do their jobs” " a concern echoed by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Under the Civil Rights Act, an employer must make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practices, unless the employer can show that doing so would cause “undue hardship on the conduct of its business.”

In a letter commenting on the proposed rule, Mr. Ishimaru and Ms. Griffin, from the employment commission, said that 40 years of court decisions had carefully balanced “employees’ rights to religious freedom and employers’ business needs.”

The proposed rule, they said, “would throw this entire body of law into question.”

Mr. Leavitt, a leading proponent of the rule, said it would increase compliance with laws adopted since 1973 to protect health care workers.

“Federal law,” he said, “is explicit and unwavering in protecting federally funded medical practitioners from being coerced into providing treatments they find morally objectionable.”

As an example of the policies to which they object, Bush administration officials cited a Connecticut law that generally requires hospitals to provide rape victims with timely access to and information about emergency contraception.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, a Republican, said the state law represented “an earnest compromise” between the rights of rape victims and the interests of health care practitioners who had moral or religious scruples against emergency contraception.

The state attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said the proposed regulation “would blow apart solutions and compromises that have been reached by people of good will in Connecticut and elsewhere.”
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 03:54 pm
@Thomas,
Ok. I dug up a little background. The laws governing Church Tax Exempt status come from the tax code.

501(c)(3) Tax Exemptions for Churches: http://atheism.about.com/od/churchestaxexemptions/a/churchpolitics.htm
The Article wrote:
Although there are a great many benefits which accompany becoming a tax exempt charitable trust, there is one significant drawback which has caused quite a bit of debate and not a few difficulties: a prohibition on political activity, specifically participation in political campaigns on behalf or any particular candidate.

It is important to understand that this prohibition does not mean that religious organizations and their officers cannot speak out on any political, social, or moral issues. This is a common misconception which some have capitalized on for political purposes, but it is absolutely incorrect.

By not taxing churches, the government is prevented from directly interfering with how those churches operate. By the same token, those churches are also prevented from directly interfering with how the government operates in that they cannot endorse any political candidates, they cannot campaign on behalf of any candidates, and they cannot attack any political candidate such that they effectively endorse that person’s opponent.

What this means is that charitable and religious organizations which receive a 501(c)(3) tax exemption have a clear and simple choice to make: they can engage in religious activities and retain their exemption, or they can engage in political activity and lose it, but they cannot engage in political activity and retain their exemption.

What sorts of things are churches and other religious organizations allowed to do? They can invite political candidates to speak so long as they don’t explicitly endorse them. They can speak out about a wide variety of political and moral issues, including very controversial matters like abortion and euthanasia, war and peace, poverty and civil rights.

Commentary on such issues can appear in church bulletins, in purchased advertisements, in news conferences, in sermons, and wherever else the church or church leaders would like their message to be transmitted. What does matter, however, is that such comments are limited to the issues and do not stray towards where candidates and politicians stand on those issues.


Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 04:17 pm
@rosborne979,
Right. So when the church says: abortion is murder, so please elect anti-murder candidates -- is that about candidates or about issues?
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 05:12 pm
@Thomas,
I sometimes drive my mother to the Roman Catholic church that she belongs to for Sunday Mass. (My ninety year old father stays home and takes a nap.) A few weeks before the election, when we left church, my car and EVERY car in the church parking lot had a political ad under the windshield wipers. On the front of the ad it detailed Obama's support of abortion. On the back of the ad was a photo of McCain and Palin with some slogan such as "Vote in favor of life, elect McCain-Palin".

These political ads had been placed on each car during the service.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 03:44 pm
@wandeljw,
Who printed the flyers, and who planted them? The Catholic Church, individual members of the church, or members of the Republican Party who tailored their flyers to the audience whose vote they were trying to get? Only the first case is legally problematic. The latter two are easily covered by free speech rights under the First Amendment.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 03:49 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Who printed the flyers, and who planted them? The Catholic Church or individual members of it?


I knew you would ask, Thomas. Smile

The flyers appear to have been made by the McCain campaign. I do not know who placed the fliers on the cars while everyone was inside attending Mass. HOWEVER: in order to do something like that on church property, the individual would need permission from the church pastor.

maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 03:54 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
HOWEVER: in order to do something like that on church property, the individual would need permission from the church pastor.


I don't know that this is true.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 04:03 pm
@wandeljw,
When I was younger and more idealistic, I, too, placed a flyer or two beneath other people's windshield wipers. I assure you, it's quite possible to do that without asking anyone's permission. I don't know if this is legal, but I do know it's easy and usually hazzle-free. Besides, any legal problem would be the activists', not the church's.

But I don't think your claim holds even on its own terms. If the activists asked the Church for permission and got it, I don't know that's a problem unless the Church denied similar permits to Democratic activists with similar flyers. Do you know that it did?
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 04:09 pm
Thomas and Maporsche,

I really have no specific information. Anyone could do it without asking permission. My experience with church pastors is that they would be angry if someone did that without asking.

I never saw any Obama ads at that church.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2008 02:41 pm
Quote:
The Coming "War" Between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church
(By John-Henry Westen, November 19, 2008, LifeSiteNews.com)

The possible signing of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) by President-Elect Barack Obama would be "the equivalent of a war" an unnamed senior Vatican official recently told TIME magazine.

The startling comments make the second time this week that a Vatican official has forthrightly and in the strongest language condemned Obama's extreme policies on abortion. Speaking at the Catholic University of America a few days ago, Vatican Cardinal James Stafford labeled Obama's anti-life policies as "aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic," also noting that, "On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake".

With Catholic, but outspokenly pro-abortion individuals occupying two prominent positions (Joseph Biden as vice president and Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services Secretary) the specter of public excommunication or denial of communion for prominent members of the Obama Administration has arisen.

The focus of the Vatican’s concern, FOCA, is a bill that would do away with state laws on abortion, including laws mandating parental involvement, or banning partial birth abortion. FOCA would also compel taxpayer funding of abortions, and, of greatest concern to Bishops, would force faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform abortions.

Obama has in the past said that he would make signing FOCA one of the highest priorities of his presidency.

Last week at the meeting of US Bishops in Baltimore, Cybercast News Service asked Chicago Cardinal Francis George, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, if voting for FOCA would bring a penalty of automatic excommunication for Catholic politicians. The Cardinal did not rule it out.

"The excommunication is automatic if that act is in fact formal cooperation, and that is precisely what would have to be discussed once you would see the terms of the act itself," responded Cardinal George. When asked for more, he added: "The categories in moral theology about cooperating in evil, which make you complicit in the evil even though you don't do it yourself, are material cooperation, which is usually remote and therefore doesn't involve you in the moral action except in a very auxiliary and minor way, and formal cooperation, which would involve you even though you are not doing it, in the way that makes you culpable.

"So we would have to take a look at each case, and at each law, to determine whether or not the cooperation is material or formal. We've never done that."

Cardinal George has, however, personally analyzed FOCA and expressed his grave concerns about the legislation. In a message to the Obama Administration at the end of the USCCB meeting George wrote on FOCA, saying it would, "outlaw any ‘interference’ in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country."

The Cardinal added: "FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities."

In light of this possible attempt to revoke conscience rights under the Obama administration, Catholic League president Bill Donohue has urged President Bush to enact regulations, already in draft for months, which would protect the rights of doctors, nurses and health workers from being discriminated against if they refuse to perform or assist in abortions, as well as other morally contentious procedures. "At stake are the religious rights of these professionals," said Donohue.

"To put it differently, were FOCA to become law (it needs to be reintroduced in the House), the culture war that the Vatican official was referring to would come to a boiling point," he warned. "In practical terms, this would mean the closure of every Catholic hospital in the nation: No bishop is going to stand by and allow the federal government to dictate what medical procedures must be performed in Catholic hospitals. Make no mistake about it, the bishops would shut down Catholic hospitals before acquiescing in the intentional killing of an innocent child. Were this to happen, it would not only cripple the poor, it would cripple the Obama administration."

Donohue concluded: "It is for reasons like these that the Catholic League urges President Bush to move with dispatch in instituting rules protecting the religious rights of all health care workers. If Obama wants to undo them, it will set up a confrontation he will surely regret."
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2008 03:40 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Right. So when the church says: abortion is murder, so please elect anti-murder candidates -- is that about candidates or about issues?

When it's phrased that way it sounds liken an "issue".

But let's admit that there's a very fine line here. If the preacher preferences that with "we all know which candidate supports abortion and which one doesn't", the implication is pretty clear.

This is a case where the intent of the law probably would have to be weighed against the intent of the church's message, rather than simply parsing words by themselves.

0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2008 03:50 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
The Coming "War" Between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church (By John-Henry Westen, November 19, 2008, LifeSiteNews.com)

My guess is that "LifeSiteNews.com" is not a well balanced reporting source.

I would like to see a more unbiased description of exactly what this legislation is all about (I'm not familiar with it).
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2008 04:35 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

Quote:
The Coming "War" Between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church (By John-Henry Westen, November 19, 2008, LifeSiteNews.com)

My guess is that "LifeSiteNews.com" is not a well balanced reporting source.

I would like to see a more unbiased description of exactly what this legislation is all about (I'm not familiar with it).


FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) was introduced in Congress in 2004. There has not been a vote on it. Obama made a campaign promise to sign the act into law if it is passed by both houses of congress during his administration.

Text of House Version: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.R.3719:

Text of Senate Version: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:S.2020:

Neither version has ever left its respective committee.

rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 10:48 am
@wandeljw,
Obama will be pretty busy with the economy. Low priority items may get dropped.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 10:57 am
this issue pisses me off to no end, this pandering to individual demands . If a profession has standards (say doctors must treat all comers, pharmacists must dispense to all who have a legal prescription, and so on) then the individuals choice is to follow the rules of the profession or else go into a different profession.....END OF STORY......
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 03:16 pm
If a pharmacist can deny you birth control based on their religion, then could a Jehovah's witness deny you your prescription (something simple like meds for migraines) because of religious objections?

T
K
O?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 07:46 pm
@Diest TKO,
I don't see why not. None of us begrudges Muslim butchers the right not to sell pork. Why should we begrudge pharmacists who belong to Jehova's witnesses the right not to sell meds for migraines?
0 Replies
 
 

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