Voices from Russia

Thursday, 24 March 2016

24 March 2016. No Religious Organisation Has the Right to Ram Its Religious Beliefs Down Another’s Throat with the State’s Connivance

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I saw this comment on RT on a story about a bunch of nuns seeking exemption from offering contraceptive coverage for their secular employees:

If every fanatic with a lawyer can bring the state to a halt, you have no state.

I quite agree. If these nuns employ secular employees, they have no right to dictate their private behaviour or their religious practise, let alone to do so with the state’s connivance. Modern states are secular in character… that is, they have no “Church by Law Established”, therefore, the state is neutral in religious matters. The state can allow no religious body or person to evade laws binding on all citizens by citing “religious belief”. For instance, Quakers must pay income tax, even though much of that money goes for war purposes, which is against deeply held Quaker beliefs. The same is true of other Traditional Peace Churches. These bodies have shouldered their burden as conscientious citizens… in return, the state does its best to accommodate their pacifist tenets. During times of conscription, the state has either allowed men of these groups to serve in noncombatant roles (mostly as medical orderlies, where many won deserved recognition for bravery at the front) or to carry out essential civilian duties (such as firefighters in national forests or as assistants in civilian hospitals). These people are worthy of the respect of all decent people… they shoulder their common civic burden and shirk nothing onerous and hard. These nuns are punks. “We want a religious exemption! We won’t offer contraceptive services to our employees”. This coverage is state-mandated… that ends the discussion. If the Peace Churches can accommodate the military needs of the state, these nuns can accommodate the state’s mandate that they offer full healthcare coverage to their employees. Actually, as a socialist, I think that we need a state-funded single-payer system (most hospitals and doctors prefer such a system over the present chaotic non-system)… since the nuns wouldn’t be offering healthcare coverage, it wouldn’t “burden” their conscience. The sooner that we have single-payer, like the rest of the civilised world, the better off we all shall be.

BMD

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