UPDATED: Calling your Congress People on Religious Exemptions

As a general rule, I try not to get involved in politics, but I don’t feel that religions should be exempted from anything — they should pay taxes, they should have to enroll in health care. As Jesus reminded them, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Jesus also said “suffer the little children” (Matthew 19:14) but he didn’t mean from untreated osteomyelitis.

Christian Science has a long history of lobbying congress to get their way, and of carefully controlling PR pieces to put them in a positive light.

While The Mother Church and Christian Science may be more carefully controlling their story, there are other religious groups that are using legislative loopholes lobbied for by Christian Scientists. The one currently making the rounds in the news are the Followers of Christ Church, and thy are already making an impact: in May of 2011,

the Oregon state Senate voted to end legal protection granted to parents practicing religious faith healing. The legislation ends legal protection for parents who choose faith healing to the exclusion of modern medicine in treating their children’s health. (1)

I don’t think Christian Scientists — or any religious group — should have special exemptions. They should all be treated fairly under the law. Would non-religious parents who let their child die similar circumstances be held accountable under the law? Yes. Why should religious parents be held to a different standard? Either the child is healed INSTANTANEOUSLY, or the child should get medical attention. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, ignorance of the need for medical attention should not be be not one either.

More on the Followers of Christ Church

More on Faith Healing & Legislation

What YOU CAN DO to make a difference — March 11, 2014

Dear CHILD Members and Friends,

The Christian Science church has scheduled a “national call-in day” on March 11 and is asking all members to call their federal legislators that day and urge votes for HR1814 and their bills exempting everyone with “sincerely held religious beliefs” against “medical health care” from the mandate to buy health insurance.

HR1814 has 216 co-sponsors; S.862 has 31. They are in the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees but have not been scheduled for hearings. With so many co-sponsors and with this national call-in day, they may get pushed through Congress.

We urge you to contact your Congressperson and Senator in opposition to these bills either on or close to March 11. There are 177 minor children and stillborns buried in one cemetery used by the Idaho Followers of Christ. We believe that at least some of those children would have gotten medical care if their parents had been required to carry health insurance for them.

These bills will be a great burden for governments to enforce and may involve the state in unconstitutional investigation of a person’s beliefs—whether they’re really religious, whether they are sincere, and whether he objects to all medical care or just some forms of care. Maybe the state will just accept anyone’s word that he has sincere religious beliefs against some medical care, which will be financially convenient for many people to claim.

It is likely that some will claim the religious exemption to save money but later get medical care at the public’s expense. While the law provides that doing so forfeits the exemption, the provision will be hard to enforce and the cost of the medical care they get may be more than the penalty for not having insurance. Furthermore, they can claim the exemption again for the next year after forfeiting it for one year.

Please voice your opposition to HR1814 and S.862. They increase the risk to children in faith-healing sects and the cost to the state if the children do get medical care.

Sincerely, Rita Swan

UPDATE (March 10, 2014) This came out this morning!!

Dear CHILD Members and Friends:

We’ve just learned that HR1814, the bill to give everyone an exemption from buying health insurance if they have “sincerely-held religious beliefs” against medical care, will go to the House floor tomorrow under suspension of the rules. It is bypassing the House Ways and Means Committee.

Wikipedia says “suspension of the rules is a procedure generally used to quickly pass non-controversial bills [such as naming of post offices]. . . . Once a member makes a motion to “suspend the rules” and take some action, debate is limited to 40 minutes, no amendments can be offered to the motion or the underlying matter, and a 2/3 majority of Members present and voting is required to agree to the motion.”

“A suspension motion sets aside all procedural and other rules that otherwise prohibit the House from considering the measure—but the motion never mentions the specific rules that are suspended.”

This is not right. This bill is not a non-controversial bill. No fiscal impact analysis has been performed. There is obviously a cost to allowing a substantial number of people to opt out of getting health insurance. And there is the cost to the children, who are permanently harmed or lose their lives because their parents did not get health insurance for them.

The Christian Science church has scheduled a national call-in day tomorrow, so there will be thousands of Christian Scientists calling their members of Congress on March 11 just as HR1814 goes to the floor.

Please call your U.S. Congressperson and urge a vote against HR1814.

Thank you.

Rita Swan

The Legislation in Question

  1. http://www.examiner.com/article/religion-oregon-senate-rejects-faith-healing-legal-defense?fb_comment=33526101

Update: fellow former-CS blogger Emerging Gently has a great piece about this issue as well! http://emergegently.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/call-to-action/

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