The Norman Transcript

Columns

January 4, 2014

Act doesn’t violate nun’s rights

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Last month, U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez agreed with the nuns that they were a religious organization under the act even though they are not a church. Based on the group’s history and mission, he said, all they had to do to avoid the substantial penalties the government levies against employers who violate the law was fill out and submit a form to the group administering their employee health care plan. The form amounts to self-certification that “on account of religious objections, the organization opposes providing coverage for some or all of any contraceptive services that would otherwise be required to be covered; the organization is organized and operates as a nonprofit entity; and the organization holds itself out as a religious organization.”

That, presumably, should not be offensive to the nuns’ religious beliefs; rather, it affirms them. What they seem to be objecting to is that the form also includes instructions for how the health plan administrator should process claims for contraceptive services to ensure the Little Sisters are not involved in paperwork or payment for them. Since the nuns’ health plan administrator, Christian Brothers Services, another Catholic charitable group, says it has no intention of providing contraceptive coverage, that would not seem to be a problem. As Judge Martinez put it, the nuns’ continued objection “ignores the factual and legal realities of the case.”

Fnding the balance between protecting the beliefs of organizations like the Little Sisters and those of its employees is tricky, and the nuns’ contention that they faced an impossible choice between committing what they see as a sin or paying hefty fines should not be taken lightly. For that reason, Justice Sotomayor’s grant of a reprieve at least until the government can respond on Friday makes sense. But it doesn’t mean the nuns will or should ultimately prevail. One of the consequences of living in a pluralistic democracy rather than a theocracy is that faith groups must accept that they will be touched in some way by beliefs of which they disapprove.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014