Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are 335,000 churches really exempt from the contraception/abortion mandate? Here are 3 reasons that is questionable.

Yesterday, a group of senators claimed that 335,000 churches are exempt from the contraception/abortion mandate.  There are reasons to question that claim.

First, let's take a look at explicitly how a religious organization is defined.

According to both HRSA and Regulations.gov, the rule states “a religious employer is one that:
  1. Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose;
  2. primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets;
  3. primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and
  4. is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Code.”
That means one is not a “religious employer” if:
  1. the inculcation of religious values is not its purpose, or
  2. primarily employs persons who do not share its religious beliefs, or
  3. primarily serves persons who do not share its religious beliefs; or
  4. is not a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Code.”
Let's look at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago as an example.
What Willow Believes: "Willow Creek exists to turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ."
If your mission is "irreligious people," then can it honestly be said that it "primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets"?

Upon seeing this definition, a local missionary in the DC area who serves 200 local churches asked, "Who does this cover?" This definition covers those elected and unelected officials who are promulgating this mandate on all employers. They are very clear on their mission. Their goal is all American women, religious or not, and that was clearly restated yesterday.

Second, the rule does not require HRSA to consider an employer to be a religious employer if it meets those four narrow criteria. It simply is there to "provide HRSA additional discretion to exempt certain religious employers from the Guidelines where contraceptive services are concerned."

If HRSA at its discretion determines an employer is religious, then it may or may not actually exempt that organization from the requirement.

Third, the stated intent of the rule is to "provide for a religious accommodation that respects the unique relationship between a house of worship and its employees in ministerial positions."

If a church has more administrative support staff than ministerial staff, that may call into question whether the federal administrator wants to exercise discretion and exempt that church as a religious organization.

Every house of worship in America has reason to be concerned about this rule.

And even if it doesn't directly affect you, what about any organization you support? Does it pass these tests? If not, are you then supporting an organization that covers abortion?

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