The controversy over Cardinal Dolan inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner continues. There are many excellent comments we would like to share, but time and space does not permit, and we want to get back to Boston issues in our next post.
Still, let us go one last round for now to share a few things you may have not yet seen on the actual costs and fines associated with the Obama contraceptive mandate, and then more on Dolan dinner invitation.
Never clearly stated publicly by the bishops to our knowledge is how the mandate could financially cripple Catholic family-run private businesses, in addition to Catholic religious entities.
As the National Catholic Register reported, Time’s Up for Catholic Business Owners to plan for offering contraceptive coverage or face steep fines. They report on new guidelines from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
Whenever their company’s next health plan kicks in, these employers must prove that their workers have access to co-pay-free contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs, or they’ll incur heavy fines.
“[B]eginning in January 2014, an employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees could incur a penalty of approximately $2,000 per employee per year beyond the first 30 full-time employees not offered a health plan, as well as incur the potential legal actions taken by employees and the federal government.”
Business owners must also weigh how a withdrawal of coverage will likely affect their employees.
“The principles of stewardship and justice require employers to care for their employees; by virtue of the way in which health insurance is generally provided in the United States, this care typically includes health-insurance coverage,” the [National Catholic Bioethics Center] guidelines note.
“A sudden change in this approach could leave many employees and their families uninsured or underinsured, with little time to adjust and find affordable, quality alternatives.”
Meanwhile, employers who seek to offer plans that exclude morally objectionable services will soon face “exorbitant penalties of $100 per day per employee, as well as the potential legal actions taken by employees and by the federal government.”
Employers could refuse to pay these fines “as a form of legitimate civil disobedience against the unjust governmental mandate,” but that decision comes with “hefty legal risks that could equally threaten the livelihoods of all involved.”
If Hercules had not prevailed, it would have been required to begin offering its 265 employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception coverage and related counseling as of November 1, the date its self-insured health care plan renewed. Because it is a private, for-profit family business, it is excluded from the mandate’s narrow religious exemption and, like all non-religious employers, is ineligible for a year-long “safe harbor” that simply delays the religious freedom violations caused by the mandate. Alternatively, it could have chosen not to comply with the mandate or to drop insurance coverage altogether for its employees, facing steep monetary penalties under Obamacare either way.
What would this fine on faith look like? If it chose to buck compliance with the mandate, starting on November 1, Hercules would be fined $100 per employee per day of non-compliance. With 265 employees, Hercules’ fine would have amounted to $800,000 per month—almost $10 million per year. If Hercules were to take the more likely action of dropping health care coverage to avoid facilitating the mandate, thereby forcing its employees into government-run exchanges, it would face a fine on faith of approximately $2,000 per employee per year, for a total of $530,000 per year.
But dismay over the mandate is not limited to the monetary impact of government-imposed fines for the free exercise of faith. In its court filings and arguments in the case, the Obama Administration has consistently pressed a view of religious liberty so narrow as to render this fundamental freedom meaningless. It has attempted to read into constitutional and statutory protections for religious freedom a condition that would suspend its application in the business context, forcing business owners to abandon their religious and moral convictions as a condition of participating in commerce. For example, the Administration’s brief opposing the preliminary injunction argued that the “Plaintiffs’ free exercise claim fails at the outset because for-profit, secular employers generally do not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment.”
Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals alone, acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would effectively push religion out of every sphere of public life and restrict the free exercise rights of adherents to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives. The Administration does not appear to perceive religion as something that people of faith strive to live out daily in every aspect of their lives, however imperfectly.
Cardinal Dolan recognizes some of the the implications, as he noted in his August 1 blog post about religious freedom:
Yes, the Archdiocese of New York has joined dozens of others in filing a lawsuit against the administration and HHS, arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional. And, yes, the administration has granted a one-year reprieve to religious agencies whose conscience would be violated by this mandate. (That’s right – the government acknowledges that this will be a problem for many religious agencies. But their response is, essentially, “too bad.”)
What will happen when the year is up?
I suppose one option would be for those agencies to stop offering health insurance to their employees, and pay a $2000 per employee penalty. While some would argue that the agencies would, in fact, save money by choosing this option, it hardly seems to be the right and just way to treat your co-workers, does it?
Another option is to continue to offer health insurance, but, honoring our conscience, not include these objectionable services. There would be a $100 fine per day for each person who qualified for the coverage. Let’s assume that an agency has 50 people for which it would be subject to this penalty. At $100 per day, per person, over the course of the year it would pay a penalty of $1,825,000. ($100 x 50 people x 365 days). That’s a steep penalty from the government in order to try and convince religious agencies to turn their back on their conscience. That’s money that will then not go to serve those in need. Many of our services could not survive this heavy penalty.
A third option, I suppose, is to capitulate and accept the strangling mandate…I don’t want to go there. We just finished a Fortnight for Freedom, and the saints we honored – Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher, Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul – would not want us to go there, either.
Yes, St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, St. Edmund Campion, and many others would not want us to go there. So what option does Cardinal Dolan suggest? And what is he doing to emulate those saints and martyrs? Among other things, he is proceeding with the Al Smith dinner and his defense of his invitation to President Obama using the excuse that we should practice civility.
Read what Mary Ann Kreitzer said at Les Femmes – The Truth:
Every time I read one of these rah-rah civility, can’t-we-all-just-get-along posts I think of other members of the hierarchy (and saints) from the past who acted just a little bit differently with death-dealing politicians.I can’t imagine, for example, Clemens von Galen Bishop of Munster preaching about Hitler’s euthanasia program and then inviting him to dinner for a happy old time of respect and civility. And then there’s Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty tortured by the commies. I’m sure they would happily have appeared arm in arm with him for a photo op if he would only play nice. He preferred house arrest and isolation in the American Embassy. And then there’s John the Baptist who made Herod feel just a little uncomfortable. Do you think he would have attended Herod’s birthday party? And what about St. Maximilian Kolbe on whose feast day Cardinal Dolan was writing. These are men from the past with the backbone to stand up to evil men and call them to repentance. I can’t imagine them even making the silly statements we’ve seen coming from the Archdiocese.But then the Nazis and the Commies were killing “born” people not tiny out of sight, out of mind babies in the womb. As for Herod…well, that was so long ago and everybody knows John was pretty eccentric and not really to be imitated. Besides, the unborn aren’t really quite like the rest of us. They’re just fetuses and you can’t expect a cardinal of the Church today to act like they deserve the same kind of respect and civility as a President of the United States.Cardinal Dolan, with all due respect, I don’t buy your excuses for inviting Obama to dinner. The little murdered peers of my grandchildren deserve better. And for that matter, so do my children and grandchildren.
Here’s what I posted as a comment on the Cardinal’s blog responding to his defense of inviting Obama for dinner :
Christ ate with the low level outcasts of the culture. He never broke bread with Herod or Pilate. If we believe what we say about the babies being equal to the rest of us, eating with Obama and giving him a photo op laughing it up with you, Your Excellency, is like sitting down for a yuck with Hitler while his administration was killing the Jews, the gypsies, Catholic priests, political enemies, etc. As a mom of five and grandmother of twenty-one I can only say that I see little evidence in your act that you believe unborn babies are actually as important as bishops and cardinals. If Obama favored stabbing a bishop in the head and sucking out his brains there is no way you would entertain him for dinner. I will certainly pray for you and your brother bishops who have treated faithful Catholics in the pew like bothersome and brainless poor relations. Inviting Obama to the dinner is a scandal and there is no way to put a gloss on it that makes it less of a scandal!
BCI could not have put it better than this. There is no other way to describe the Obama dinner invitation than to call it a scandal. BCI also wonders how many Catholics are unaware of the extent to which the Obama HHS mandate could financially cripple or shut down private family-run businesses and Catholic institutions. Meanwhile, Catholic Charities and Cardinal Dolan are honoring the man behind it all with a speaking platform at the Al Smith dinner. Things are getting worse and worse for faithful Catholics, not better. What do you think?