Freedom of religion/conscience/how far?

Now that Hobby Lobby has won its case against providing abortion causing drugs in its employees’ insurance plans (which I am very pleased about), I am wondering how far should business owners be able to take freedom of religion? A friend gives the real-life example of a Catholic small business owner who chooses to give his employees some paid family illness days. The employer would not give this paid leave to an employee who had to take care of his live-in girlfriend’s child while she was away for work, and the reason given was because cohabitation goes against the employer’s conscience. (He did give the employee unpaid leave however.) However, the same employer did give the paid leave to an employee who is a Catholic married outside the Church, so that she could take care of her step-child. So besides the second employee being legally married, what is the difference between the two employees, when the Church teaches both are objectively living in sin? Is the whole idea that the business owner should have the freedom to decide what goes against his/her conscience? Do you see inconsistency in the business owner’s treatment of his employees? And let’s say the employer had an employee in a legal gay marriage…he probably would not give the paid leave in this instance either. So why give it in the instance of adultery/remarriage outside the Church? Perhaps the same employer might give the paid leave to a Protestant employee who was divorced and remarried. Do you see how this is getting complicated? Thoughts?

Well, I guess we’ll find out when every religious nut starts suing because something is against their religion. Personally, I think the Supreme Court opened a Pandora’s box.

In your first example, it sounds like the employer was trying to give a benefit that was similar to the Family and Medical Leave Act provision even though the company was too small to be required to follow it. Under the FMLA an employees’ girlfriend’s child would not be considered “family” regardless of whether they live together but a step child would be as would the child of a legally married couple whose marriage may be invalid to a Catholic. So, it might not be a religiously based decision at all.

And, of course it’s complicated. It was complicated before the Hobby Lobby decision and will be complicated for the foreseeable future. There really is no way this could** not **be complicated.

I disagree with both the Obamacare mandate and the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Corporations should not be forced to provide employees any particular kind of medical coverage, contraceptives or abortion options. Corporations should provide employees with money that can be traded for whatever employers want. If corporations so choose, they can also provide whatever medical/retirement/etc. benefits they want to sweeten the deal, but that completely up to them. Period.

The problem with the mandate is that it forces corporations (and American citizens) to buy a product/service that they may or may not want, or might even be ideologically opposed to. This should not be allowed. It should be framed as a simple constitutional issue. This is not a religious issue. It is a basic rights issue. I have a right to refuse to buy healthcare or to pay for an employees abortion. I don’t have a right to dictate how somebody runs their private life.

To frame this as a religious issue complicates matters and leads us down the wrong path. Of course I’m happy that corporations won’t have to provide these kinds of services to employers, but this was not the way to go about it.

An employer should have absolutely no say in the private lives of their employees. Corporations are not people. You can’t just withhold something because you disagree with it. That’s not how the world works.

What happens when an employee doesn’t have the same religious views? What about their religious freedom?

Legally, you are wrong.

  1. Corporations are people. See Citizens United…

  2. I own a corporation. It is an S corp. I am the sole owner. I am the corporation. So how am I not a person? Do you know how many single owner companies exist? Seriously?

  3. The employer is not having a say in anyone’s private lives.

Are they prohibiting the use of contraception? No.
Are they prohibiting the purchase? No.
Is the employee free to purchase whatever they want? Yes.
Does freedom of religion entail, for any religion, having someone else buy your contraception? No. That’s a ridiculous comparison.

Tell me specifically - what religious freedom is violated by NOT having someone else buy your contraception?

The notion that women are such pathetic creatures that they must have the nation whine for them because their employer, in limited cases, can not violate their religious freedom, thus requiring these poor people to go to Walmart and pay $5 for contraception (which is covered by Hobby Lobby, mind you), is an insult to women. Women that dependent on someone else have regressed from women 50 years ago prior to the sexual revolution, frankly.

Companies historically did not all have to offer health coverage. I treat my employees as W-2 hourly employees, pay a higher than average hourly wage, but pay for no benefits. I want no part of that mess, and have structured my company, the company I have busted my tail to build, such that I comply with the law but compensate my employees with higher salaries instead.

If anyone wants to have someone else pay for that which many religion find unacceptable, they can look for work elsewhere, or start their own company.

What a sick, entitled society we have become. Hard work and principles this country were founded on are long gone.

Yeah, and it’s ridiculous that corporations are people because, really, they’re not. Many women use hormonal birth control for more than contraception. It does serve an actual medical purpose. How is denying aspects of medical coverage practicing religious freedom? It’s pushing values on other people who probably don’t agree with it.

You know not everyone has to respect our religious beliefs, right?

As I wrote in another thread, health plans ALWAYS have some things that are not covered or are covered with higher co-pays. That is how the real world works. The idea that excluding birth control is having a “say in the private lives of their employees” but that a co-pay for heart medicine or cancer treatment is fine is twisted logic. I would much rather such decisions be based on the morals and beliefs of the owners than by nothing more than the bottom line.

If an employee doesn’t have the same religious views, she can either pay the $10 a month for birth control herself, ask her boyfriend to wear a condom (even cheaper) or practice periodic abstinence. No one is “withhold” anyone’s access to birth control. If her sex life is not her employers business, why is it the employer’s responsibility to pay for it?

Rather than repeat yourself, can you respond to why I or Corki posted? There have always been things excluded from health care plans. Have you ever seen what is or isn’t covered? Why is contraception suddenly mandatory when IT NEVER WAS BEFORE?

And what of my company, where I AM the corporation.

And what religion dictates someone else must pay for the contraception? Tell me - which one? If there is one, then THEY can claim their religious freedom is violated.

So you’d rather not pay for benefits because it’s “messy”? Don’t you think that’s sort of cowardice, especially considering that healthcare reform hasn’t been in effect for that long? Are you really paying them that much more to reimburse for pre-Obama care health costs? I find that hard to believe.

Glad I don’t work there!

You are 100% correct, and as far as the Hobby Lobby case those medications are covered!

Kathleen Sebilius (the head of Health and Human services an UN-ELECTED person) simply decided and decreed that 20 types of contraceptives/abortifacients had to be included in health plans; Hobby Lobby insurance agreed to cover 16 of these 20 drugs. The only drugs they were against were those that caused abortions. The women you are concerned about who are on hormonal birth control for medical reasons would not be impacted by this decision.

The bottom line of religious freedom and where to draw the line will always be up for debate. Many times there is no clear-cut answer and that is why we have the court system. I don’t think there was a “can of worms” opened here, this issue has been debated for 200 years and will continue to be.

Exactly. And then whose religious freedom would be more important?

I see you don’t understand part of health care reform where contraceptives are to be covered without copay, you keep referring to the way it used to be, as if that was so great. The point is that healthcare coverage is changing, as it should.

Well put.

With all Christian charity I don’t think this comment was very nice. We can engage in healthy debate here without insulting and “cowardice” is not a kind word.

Many small businesses pay benefits, many don’t. You know when you are in the thick of things sometimes it is honest to say things are too “messy” that is admitting your limitations as a business owner and also a human being. I was in a similar position to offer a part-time paid position. For all the work involved offering even a sub-standard benefit package that was expensive it was a joke. It was easier to offer they employees $14 an hour instead of $8 an hour. I was not a coward just admitting to my employees that I wanted to avoid the paperwork nightmare because I was burned out. They wanted the cash anyway so it was a win-win.

Employees aren’t stupid. Benefits are a consideration I knew that since I was a teenager. I applied for jobs and those with good health benefits always offered a lower wage, other jobs with high wages usually had crummy benefits that is the way it has always been.

But it is her employer’s business to decide for her what pills she can take based on their beliefs?

I used it to describe a choice, not the person himself.

No, and that’s not happening in these cases. The employer isn’t telling the doctors what to prescribe nor telling the patients what pills to take. The only thing being controlled by the employer is what is being covered by the insurance plan.

There are lots of example of this. If I have migraines, my doctor may prescribe a drug. Depending on the drug, my copay might be $5 or $25. None of the prescription drugs for migraines are free of a copay in my plan. If he prescribes a drug that is not in the directory for the insurance company, it won’t be covered. That doesn’t mean I can’t get the prescription filled, I just have to pay out of pocket. Alternately my doctor might decide that the best way to treat my migraines is with an over the counter medication. Insurance doesn’t pay for that either.

I have participated on several thread since the HL decision came down. No one has yet been able to articulate why elective contraceptive pills are not only a “right” but must be free of cost to the patient but migraine medication, cancer treatments or surgery to correct a malformed limb is neither a “right” nor something I can demand be 100% paid for by someone else? If the argument was really about health care, wouldn’t those other medical situations be just as important?

But this issue isn’t really about health care. It’s about sex which has become an idol. Nothing that interferes with the philosophy that sex is the ultimate goal of a fulfilled life can be tolerated by those of the progressive mindset.

If you are going to be glib, PM me when you start your own business, and we can discuss strategies. I find, in the field I am (defense contracting), that I can pay a high percentage of what the government pays me directly, passing that on to the employee. The margins aren’t as huge as they once were, but they aren’t bad. I had that plan in place long before Obamacare, as have a few other companies in my field.

Since you think it is cowardice, I assume you are well versed in the ins and outs of defense contracting within the intelligence community? The lag time on being paid by the government (typically 45 days) such that I have to pay new employees out of my pockets for the first month and a half before I see a penny from the government? Or do you support a 1099 model, whereby I hire independent contractors, and let them handle their own taxes, though of course, the IRS frowns on that wholesale within companies for the work we do. Of course, you knew that.

Offering higher salaries in lieu of benefits is extremely enticing for young people who care little for their health and want to maximize income, and very popular with retirees from other companies or the public sector or military who have health benefits already taken care of. They love seeing a bigger paycheck. Why take less money and benefits you aren’t going to use?

As far as regulations being messy, since you are clearly familiar with the tax code, DFAS regulations for defense contractors, and the new health care law, you certainly have ability to wade through them better than I do. I found the overhead cost to deal with them was losing me money I didn’t need to lose, so I opted to work around them.

As far as you not wanting to work for me, that’s fine. We don’t hire anonymous people off message boards who speak ill of the company anyway. Plus, I doubt you have the necessary clearances or degrees…

Obviously, I am being facetious, and realize you don’t know anything about running a business or the work I do, so I don’t expect an answer.

But perhaps the takeaway is there are many facets to owning a company, and most of the time people who comment don’t know anything about what is involved. It is extremely difficult, time consuming work, and not for everyone.

Like I said, you can run your company however you want, and I am guessing no one will even criticize how you choose to do business. That would of course be rude.

There are many pills that are not covered in various health plans! This happens all the time.

A woman can take whatever pill she wants! Yes, a business can decide based on religious beliefs what kind of pills to offer, the Supreme Court has ruled on that.

This is all trumped-up argument. Women can get birth control pills for $10 a month without insurance. Why the outrage? Because some women are demanding them for FREE that’s why. This, is boggling my mind.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s likely that you have never owned a business nor worked on “the inside” of a business (ie HR, finance, senior management). So here’s “Benefits 101”

a) health insurance is expensive. depending on the industry, benefits are often up to 40% of the total compensation costs and a big chunk of that is health insurance.

b) not all employees need or want health insurance and those that do don’t want to pay more than they have to

c) the more extra and optional things the insurance covers, the more expensive it will be. That money is going to come from somewhere. It may result in lower wages (or smaller increases/bonuses), higher percentages of premiums paid by employees or changes to other benefits. It can also sometimes result in employee cutbacks or outsourcing. Raising prices to customers is usually the last resort.

d) employers are constantly working to balance compensation. This includes paying more vs. more insurance but it also includes trying to provide benefits that will actually be appreciated by employees

e) employers use total compensation as a way to get and keep good employees. Offering a gold plated health insurance plan isn’t a “good” benefit if most of your employees would rather have higher salaries or more generous time off. It doesn’t have to be a dollar-for-dollar exchange; it’s quality rather than quantity

f) employees are in the driver’s seat when it comes to benefits. They can pick and choose which employer to work for and they can often pick and choose from different plans. Employers have much less flexibility. Even before the ACA, there were constraints placed by the IRS, the insurance companies and state laws.

It is not “cowardice” to take all of these things into consideration when making choices on benefits. It’s called being a good employer.

If I am wrong and you are actually a certified SPHR or CEBS, then I apologize for sounding condescending. :slight_smile:

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