Posts Tagged Religion

Health Care, Religion, Government, and The Left – Part II

Last night, I posted some audio of lawyers at a loss for words at a panel discussion on religion and government.  This morning, I’d like to post another clip from the Q&A, one that I think is particularly revealing about the left’s attitude towards religious liberty.  The commenter is Ed Kahn, the lawyer for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, and he’s discussing to what extent a hospital’s association with a religious body should matter.  Shorter answer: none.  But let him tell you himself.

(The audio quality here is markedly worse than the clip last night from Ms. Hart.  I think it’s a combination of Mr. Kahn’s voice and the fact that he was sitting farther away from the mike, but there’s a persistent hiss.  I ran it through the noise reduction algorithm, and while it got rid of most of the hiss, there’s a residue that makes it sound like he’s talking from the engine room of a starship, if the engine were powered by boilers, but I think it’s easier to hear than the raw sound.)

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They can close shop on Saturday, but that doesn’t make them like a church or synagogue in my view.  And if they’re going to hold out their product or their service to the public, then they should not be able to mandate that their religious beliefs to which they subscribe, that the results of that belief should be visited on the people who are entitled to sign up for that service.

If there’s a market where comprehensive health care is available without restriction, and people understand that, then maybe it’s ok for somebody to say that we’re a Catholic health insurer and our hospital is going to be open six days a week, but our emergency room will be open on the Sabbath.  But in general, I think that if you’re providing a public service that is a necessity, especially, that it ought to be provided across the board, and the law ought to require it as a condition of licensing.

Some states do say to Catholic (unintelligible) hospitals, “You cannot restrict (unintelligible) abortion, you cannot restrict contraception services or tubal ligation,” and that, I think, is the better standard.  So I start there.  I think the concept that these organizations are health care, providing what’s a necessity, not simply a good like a candy store, overrides the ability to finesse what services they will or won’t provide, given an economic necessity or need, especially in monopoly situations.

There’s almost too much here to unpack, but let’s give it a try.  It embodies almost all the current liberal assumptions about having a right to other people’s work product, and the inconsequentiality of others’ religious beliefs, to the extent that they differ from your own.

The phrase that really popped out at me was this: “…people who are entitled to sign up for that service.”  Who talks this way, about people “signing up for a service?”  The Left, apparently.  Remember when Michael Moore rolled up to congressmen, asking them if they would be willing “sign their kids up to serve in Iraq,” as though it were a particularly violent venue for sleep-away camp.  Seventh-graders are “entitled to sign up for” band.  Adults purchase products and services with their own money.  Seventh-graders buy things, too, generally with their parents’ money, which leads them to feel entitled.

The statement provides a case study of the inevitable intersection between social issues and economic ones.  The Left feels entitled to sign other people up to do things for them, without realizing that at a minimum, there’s an opportunity cost.  Grant the dubious proposition that All Hospitals Are Created Equal, that you can require anything calling itself a hospital to provide a menu of services at all times, in all places.  They still can’t pay for the staff, facilities, and equipment to be perpetually on-call for every conceivable service or procedure.  They will have to make choices.  And since they are the ones providing the services, their own priorities and values will and ought to guide those choices.

That’s really the only fair way to decide.

If Charles Bronson were still around, he might reprise his scene from The Magnificent Seven where he throws the Mexican child over his knee and whacks him a couple of times for ingratitude, reminding him that his parents don’t do everything for him because they have to.  (Hey, you want to be treated like a child?)  Nobody makes the church or churches run these hospitals in the first place, except themselves from their own religious conviction.  If that same religious conviction prevents them from providing other services, Planned Parenthood should just see that as a market opportunity.

Of course, the same law that enables the HHS Mandate also makes it virtually impossible to open new, specialized, physician-owned hospitals, thus providing further justification for commandeering existing facilities.

 

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Baptism By Firewall?

The Times of Israel is reporting that Mormon leaders are blocking access to the names of Holocaust victims in their genealogical database.  The church has promised not to posthumously baptize these people, and the firewall is an attempt to prevent those church members who might not have gotten the word – or not have gotten it strongly enough – from getting their hands on the names.

The move comes amid criticism that the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hasn’t done enough to live up to commitments to stop its members worldwide from performing the baptism ritual on Holocaust victims and other notable Jews.

The new system will immediately block church members’ access should they try to seek out names of Holocaust victims or other notable figures that have been flagged as not suitable for proxy baptisms. The church said the move is aimed at ending the practice.

But critics say it merely serves to block anyone from monitoring whether the posthumous baptisms continue.

The last sentence there indicates a distrust which I think is unfounded, if past experience is any guide.  The Mormon church has a history of altering practice in the face of stiff criticism or legal action, and then sticking to the change.  Banning polygamy and the treatment of blacks are two examples.  Another example, more immediately relevant to Jews, is the Mormon research center is Jerusalem.  It gained permission to open only on condition that it wouldn’t take advantage of the target-rich environment for missionary activities (walk-in business is another matter, of course; Israel remains a free society with freedom of conscience), and there is every evidence that they have strictly kept that promise.

I admit that I’ve never been particularly bothered by the practice in the first place.  In Judaism, there are ways of affecting the soul of loved ones after death; it is believed that a child who recites Kaddish for a parent for a year after the parent’s death, for instance, acts to ameliorate judgment on the parent’s soul.  There are fears of missionaries affecting the behavior of Jews in this world, by encouraging them to convert.  This is to say nothing of those who would hasten the passage of living Jews into posthumousness.

But as a Jew, I don’t believe that posthumous baptisms affect the souls of my dead relatives, the practices of living Jews, or the course of their lives.  (I am particularly baffled by those who would use it as an excuse to vote against Mitt Romney, especially when his opponent, the sitting president, has at least a two-degree of separation distance from characters with far more unsavory relationships to Jews.  Not to mention his close relationship to many Jewish converts to Marxism.)

Being lied to would bother me a lot more, but in this instance, there’s no real reason to think that’s going on, beyond those who have a generalized mistrust of the Mormon Church and Mormons to begin with.

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