Would Jesus have declined to buy health insurance? Well, knowing what was in store for him, possibly. But most of us have no idea when we're going to become seriously ill or injured, so the rationale for having health insurance is pretty obvious.
Full disclosure: My 21-year-old daughter will graduate from college this spring, and thanks to "Obamacare" she won't be kicked off her mom's health insurance! When she eventually gets a job, her employer's health insurance plan won't be able to exclude her pre-existing conditions, and the reforms are saving the nation money! With apologies to McDonald's ... I'm loving it!
And I'm not alone. As the Huffington Post reports, the paranoid Right's frantic drive to demonize the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" is rapidly losing steam. That being the case, the Right is seizing on a well-worn tactic: to declare it an attack on freedom of religion.
Here's an excerpt from piece titled "Best Option to Repeal Obamacare" that is ricocheting around rightwing sites such as Hannity's blog:
Requiring people to purchase private health insurance violates the freedom of religion guarantees of the First Amendment. Some religions such as the Amish religion and Islam consider purchasing private insurance wrong. The Christian Science religion questions the use of medical doctors. Requiring members of these religions to purchase private health insurance deprives them of their right to practice their religion.
Unfortunately, with its penchant for making stuff up, the Right has already staked out wildly contradictory claims about "Obamacare" and religion. For the last year or more, some on the Right have been championing the religious exemptions in the Act as a means to get around it. Here's a contributor to Free Republic, one who evidently champions freedom from punctuation as well:
Change your Religion get Exemption from Obamacare! [sic]
HEALTH REFORM: People with religious objections can opt out Federal health care reform .... Hundreds of Amish families in the region are likely to be free from that requirement. Although the Amish consist of several branches, some more conservative than others, they generally rely upon a community ethic that disdains government assistance. Families rely upon one another, and communities pitch in to help neighbors pay health care expenses ...I doubt many people will be willing to change their Religious beliefs but I do see this as a possible way to Beat The System just like Obama and our Congressional Representatives seem to be able to do by not mandating they be forced to participate in the same crap they are shoveling off on the populace!
Those lucky Amish! Community ethic, huh? Relying on each other, eh? Isn't it just like the Obama Administration to give an exemption to a socialistic group like that? But what about Muslims? In a rare show of sympathy for the Islamic faith, WorldNet Daily cries foul against the Obamacare exemption:
The recent health-care reform legislation carries a controversial mandate that all Americans obtain health insurance, but careful study of the passed law reveals there are some groups -- the Amish, for example -- that can obtain an exemption.
For devout Muslims, however, whose religious beliefs forbid purchasing insurance, the mandate is still binding, religion or not.
Or is it? SodaHead argues that the exemption applies primarily to Muslims, along with a few other apparent undesirables.
CHRISTIANS AND JEWS NEED NOT APPLY FOR THE MUSLIM EXEMPTION TO OBAMACARE
ObamaCare discriminates against Christians and Jews by denying them special exemptions extended to other religions.If you are a mainstream Christian or a Jew, you need not apply to Opt Out of ObamaCare; that exemption is reserved for Muslims, Scientologists, Amish, Christian Scientists and Native American Indians who have a conscientious objection to insurance
Why ObamaCare is the Most Important Sacrament of False Religion ...The Democrats, Progressives, and Socialists in this country have done everything -- bribes, lies, schemes -- to get this bill passed and the question is "Why?" Why is passing "health care reform" so important to those with a humanistic worldview and how should Christians respond?
And on and on they go, stumbling around like drunken revelers on the deck of the Titanic. In case you've become mildly intoxicated just reading this drivel, here's some strong black coffee: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," demeaningly called "Obamacare" by its opponents, does not exempt any religious group by name. It does have a provision allowing for a religious conscience exemption. How that will play out in 2014, when the mandatory insurance provisions take effect, God alone knows.
But in any event, all this folderol and hoo-hah do raise a good question: why should there be religious exemptions? The policy is intended to assure that a) no one goes untreated for lack of health insurance and b) responsible taxpayers who DO buy health insurance DO NOT have to pay for the poor decisions of refusniks. Since everyone needs healthcare to a greater or lesser degree during their lifetimes, this is a highly rational public policy.
Why should religion be an excuse to opt out? We don't grant religious exemptions from paying taxes for war. We don't grant religious exemptions from providing children with medical care. We don't even exempt Amish employers from withholding social security taxes from their employees' pay. As Chief Justice Warren Burger, a notable conservative, wrote in the Supreme Court opinion deciding this issue, "Not all burdens on religion are unconstitutional."
So why should we let religion be the ticket that allows some people to be free riders on our healthcare system? Or does the Right really mean to stick to its principles and let people who don't have health insurance go broke or just get sick and die when medical calamity strikes?
Follow Clay Farris Naff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/claynaff