It's not a religious infringement to have to sign a paper declining to be religiously infringed upon

The 10th Circuit Court has ruled against the Little Sisters of the Poor and their battle against entangling paperwork:

At question was the ACA contraceptive mandate. In both Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College, SCOTUS has provided guidance for how religious folk (either actual institutions or religiousy businesses) can deal with things they consider naughty in the Affordable Care Act's medical coverage, including the possibility of providing coverage outside of active participation by objecting employers. 

Fine and dandy. So the government has said, "Hey, if providing this coverage is an infringement on your religious liberty, just let us know, and we'll make arrangements for your employees to get the coverage separate from your being involved."

The Little Sisters of the Poor -- who do all sorts of good works, don't get me wrong -- decided that even submitting a form saying that they opposed having to provide contraceptive coverage was an infringement of their religious freedom ... because it meant that, because of something they were doing, someone would get contraceptive coverage from somewhere else.

The 10th Circuit has decided that, well, no, filling out a form declining to provide contraceptive coverage is not really an unreasonable infringement or a substantial burden on their religious freedom, and, no, formally declining with the knowledge that means someone will get coverage from somewhere else doesn't reasonably make them complicit in the evils of someone hypothetically using birth control. 

The Little Sisters' legal reps, the Becket Fund, thinks that's outrageous: '"It is a national embarrassment that the world's most powerful government insists that, instead of providing contraceptives through its own existing exchanges and programs, it must crush the Little Sisters' faith and force them to participate," Becket Fund senior counsel Mark Rienzi said. "Untold millions of people have managed to get contraceptives without involving nuns, and there is no reason the government cannot run its programs without hijacking the Little Sisters and their health plan."'

Crushing! Forcing! Hijacking! How amazingly brutal!

Mr Rienzi does have a point -- that we so tightly link medical insurance coverage to employment is, indeed, a national embarrassment. The government paying for health coverage in general through a single payer model, for example, would make much more sense and keep the Little Sisters' hands completely clean (since they don't pay taxes). But that was the compromise against more conservative politicians (you know, the ones supporting the Becket Fund) who thought the idea of any sort of government involvement in health coverage was communistic blasphemy.

While I applaud the Little Sisters for their charitable support of the elderly, I really don't have any sympathy for them in this case. Accommodating those with religious objections is one thing; accommodating those who decline to even state their religious objections seems quite another.

(Concidentally, the Dept of Health & Human Services has issued new regs today on how to address this issue based on SCOTUS rulings to date: )
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