On August 1, 2012, Obamacare will mandate that employers – regardless of their religious beliefs – pay for abortions, contraception, and sterilization in their health insurance coverage. While churches are exempted, the Department of Health and Human Services has so narrowly defined the term “church” that religious institutions beyond the traditional house of worship must comply with the mandate. In other words, HHS provides no exemption for religious based hospitals, hospices, or other charitable organizations. Likewise, no exemptions are provided for privately owned Christian businesses whose owners want their business practices to reflect their faith.
Religious institutions and Christian businesses face four choices when confronted with the mandate.
- They can sacrifice their religious beliefs and meekly comply with the federal government’s violation of the First Amendment.
- They can refuse to comply with the mandate and pay a harsh penalty of $100 per employee per day for non-compliance.
- They can drop their health insurance coverage and thus force their employees into the government health exchanges. The federal fine for choosing this option is $2000 per employee per year.
- They could simply close their doors.
The mandate should be naturally offensive to all conservatives as it imposes a fine upon institutions, businesses, and individuals simply for practicing their religious beliefs outside the confines of a worship service. In essence the federal government will impose a form of secular dhimmitude on Christians who chose to practice their faith in public and in the business world. Sure, they can run their organizations on Christian principles, but only if they pay a fine and submit to the secular rulers.
It also should be particularly offensive to fiscal conservatives as it grows government and furthers the implementation of Obamacare. If an institution or business drops their current coverage and funnels their employees into a government run exchange, it increases participation in Obamacare, gives liberals another rationale for protecting the program, and makes it harder to implement full repeal. If a business decides to simply close its doors, then economic development is stifled. I recently spoke to a private business owner who wanted to expand his business and offer his employees healthcare coverage. He decided against it after discovering he would have to renounce his religious beliefs and support abortion. If a charitable institution decides to close its doors rather than knuckle under to the mandate, then more people become dependent on the government for charity. Fiscal conservatives often bemoan the fact that charity belongs to the church and not to government. The implementation of the Obamacare mandate will make it impossible for the church to hold true to its principles and still provide that charity. Many institutions will simply close their doors. Those in need will then turn to the government, which will gladly step in to fill the void that it created in the first place.
As you can see, the new mandate does more than simply attack religious institutions. It undermines the economy and makes people more dependent on government. Social conservatives and fiscal conservatives must stand together on this issue.