Junior Ganymede
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Mandatory Insurance and the Amish

March 23rd, 2010 by John Mansfield

“A clause in the bill likely would allow most Amish families an exemption from the insurance requirement, but the bill could still create sticky issues for the young people who have not formally joined the church.” (link)

A disturbing aspect of laws with religious exemptions is the notion that religious beliefs are the only legitimate kinds of personal preference. Something matters so much that we pass a law or ruling to make that the way things are, yet there are exemptions for members of religious bodies that don’t think that’s the way things ought to be? Kind of lousy for the person who also disagrees with the law, but for non-religious reasons.

Liberty has to be upheld for everyone. Any law that can justifiably have a religious exemption is a law that shouldn’t exist at all. A person shouldn’t have to belong to a church to get relief from laws running his life. If religious people are only defending religious liberty, and that becomes the only liberty left, then soon enough it will be curtailed as well.

Comments (6)
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March 23rd, 2010 10:25:39
6 comments

gst
March 24, 2010

I’ve got to disagree with you there a little bit, Mansfield. Religious preferences or objections are legitimately different than other kinds of preferences or objections–they have protection in the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Some non-religious preferences might be protected in other parts of the Constitution, but religion is different. Nowhere does it say that congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of your personal belief system generally.


Vader
March 24, 2010

I think John has the better argument. But it sounds like a difference of established Constitutional law versus natural law. The former only imperfectly reflects the latter.


Kaimi
March 24, 2010

“Any law that can justifiably have a religious exemption is a law that shouldn’t exist at all. ”

So you’re either in favor of ending antidiscrimination laws, or of making the church hire Catholics and atheists as seminary teachers.


Vader
March 24, 2010

I’ll bite. I’m in favor of ending antidiscrimination laws, and letting the chips fall where they may. Let private employers hire who they like. The ones who discriminate in hiring are shooting themselves in the foot.

I’m guessing you’d be surprised to learn that laws mandating employment discrimination, in places like South Africa under apartheid, were constantly having to prosecute employers who tried to get around the law.

The reasons why this was so are not hard to figure out. I leave it as an exercise for the student.


gst
March 24, 2010

I don’t know, it seems pretty straight-forward to me. The question was why do we have any religious exemptions to any laws. The answer is because there’s a constitutional prohibition on laws that restrict the free exercise of religion. I take it your larger point is that any law that would restrict the free exercise of any religion is probably a law we can do without. That may be. But I don’t think that the way to get there is by eliminating religious exemptions.


Vader
March 24, 2010

I agree that far. Eliminating religious exceptions under the current legal climate would be surrendering an island of freedom. That freedom deserves more than an island is also true, of course.

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