Religious Chutzpah

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that–ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in DobbsI’ve been harping on the evisceration of a doctrine called “Substantive Due Process,” also known as the right to privacy. Without going back through the jurisprudence that established that doctrine, let me just paraphrase it: government must respect citizens’ right to make our own decisions about how to live our lives, so long as  those decisions aren’t harming others.

Decisions about procreation are hardly the only areas protected from government overreach by the Bill of Rights. Your choice of religious conviction and my choice not to be a believer are both protected–mostly by the religion clauses of the First Amendment, but also by a right to privacy that keeps government from dictating so personal a choice. Religious liberty is based upon that same respect for the integrity of the individual conscience.

However, the current Court seems intent upon elevating the rights of believers over the rights of the rest of us.

Just this last term, the Justices permitted a theatrically pious coach to pray on his school’s fifty yard line, and ruled in favor of a Christian group wanting to raise its flag at Boston’s City Hall.

The Hill has reported on a pending lawsuit  encouraged by earlier Roberts Court cases that weakened the wall between church and state.

A Texas lawsuit that hopes to eliminate mandated health insurance coverage of birth control, HIV medication, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and more has quietly been pushing forward through the court system and could eventually end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the case of Kelley v. Becerra, two plaintiffs from Texas argue that the current structure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates health insurance providers to cover certain preventative care they argue they do not need and that conflict with their religious beliefs — specifically, contraceptive coverage, STD testing and HIV medications Truvada or PrEP.

One of the lawsuit’s arguments leans on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without a compelling justification. Plaintiffs argue this right has been violated as both are Christian and unwilling to buy health insurance that subsidizes, “abortifacient contraception or PrEP drugs that encourage homosexual behavior and intravenous drug use.”

The lawsuit also takes issue with how the ACA defines preventative care, a decision-making process that has been assigned to various groups, including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Preventative Services Task Force and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

If these religious zealots prevail–and they probably will at the District Court level, since they’ve filed the case in the courtroom of the radical Texas judge who previously ruled that the ACA was unconstitutional–health insurers would no longer be required to cover preventive care with no copay. They could either opt out of offering those services altogether, or begin charging for them.

Currently,most health insurance plans include coverage of preventative care like birth control and HIV medicines. Plaintiffs complain that their options for plans without those elements are few and far between, denying them freedom to exercise their religious beliefs.

Health care providers have raised alarm bells over Kelley v. Becerra, like the American Medical Association (AMA), alongside 20 other medical trade groups, which stressed how popular the preventative care measure of the ACA has been — with an estimated 151.6 million people receiving free preventative care in 2020 alone.

An adverse ruling would mean millions of Americans would lose access to “vital preventive health care services, such as screening for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, preeclampsia, and hearing, as well as well child visits and access to immunizations critical to maintaining a healthy population,” wrote the AMA.

A coalition of 20 attorneys general has also filed an amicus brief in Kelley v. Becerra arguing–among other things– that public health outcomes have significantly improved since the ACA’s preventative services provision was implemented.

Let’s give the plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt, and accept that these provisions–provisions that have improved the health of millions of Americans– are contrary to their “sincerely held” religious beliefs. Do they not have options other than denying critical health care to Americans who are currently benefitting from access to preventative care? Couldn’t they establish a “faith-based” insurance company that would cater to their needs? (Such a company would have a strong argument for being exempted from the federal requirements they insist are inconsistent with their religious doctrines.) Or they could opt to self-insure.

Instead, they argue that their religious “rights” trump the health of millions of Americans  who currently have free access to cancer screenings, birth control and childhood vaccinations. (Google chutzpah.)

If they prevail, thank the current “Christians” on the Supreme Court.


  1. These “lawsuits” are coordinated by the Koch’s dark web, which connects the entire right-wing political class. ALEC comes up with these cases and boilerplate laws for the red states they control. Same thing with lawsuits.

    Notice the number of AGs opposing this or that are the 23 red states controlled by the Koch network. They have flooded the political field with billions of dollars to get what they want.

    They have demolished the IRS, which historically held all the nonprofits accountable for getting involved in political causes. We need to see churches losing their tax-exempt status. Same with any other nonprofit being used by these dark networks to funnel cash to republican operatives.

    The Democratic Party has to grow a spine, but their cash flows to them the same way from the establishment. It’s all about ethics and negative consequences, which haven’t been a priority for decades. Both parties have attracted nefarious actors who get rich shilling for the oligarchy.

    The Democrats are touting Biden as a winner, but all his proposals were defeated by monied interests. Every single one. The monies are easily traceable.

    As long as this rot continues, matters will only get worse. What’s fascinating is AP printed a speech made by Putin yesterday — he was right about the US hegemony, and the foreign leaders know it:

    “The Russian leader claimed that “Western globalist elites” were trying “to shift the blame for their own failures to Russia and China,” adding that “no matter how hard the beneficiaries of the current globalist model try to cling to it, it’s doomed.”

  2. So in other words, the judges of the courts are practicing medicine without a doctorate license! How can we fight this?

  3. There already are “Healthcare sharing ministries” that are exempted from ACA requirements. (Google them) Most businesses allow employees to opt out of their plans in favor of a HCM, if they desire. Because the HCMs aren’t insurance, they’re unregulated by the states departments of insurance and (in my opinion) a disaster waiting to happen…claim and financial controls need oversight to have long-term reliability.

  4. Preventive measures in health care coverage are optional; not required by the policy makers or any law at local, state or federal level. Just as I walk past the beer and liquor sections in my Kroger supermarket and CVS pharmacy; I am not forced to buy any item offered on their shelves, policy holders are not required to avail themselves of all options in their policy. We are having religious foolishness forced into all body openings beside our ears. They are an ignorant bunch of bastards, seeking money and power.

    “Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
    go ahead and cheat a friend.
    Do it in the name of heaven
    you’ll be justified in the end.”

    The government at all levels is now allowing seditious and treasonous freedom in the name of heaven…and so far have been successful in their decisions on these matters. Where are they finding Scripture in their Bibles to permit this?

    “If they prevail, thank the current “Christians” on the Supreme Court.”

  5. “Dear Jesus, Save us from your followers!” This quote from an unknown source is the most cogent thing that came to mind when I read today’s blog. The Kochs, (yes, Todd, sometimes you’re right, but don’t let it go to your head) whose god is money, don’t really give a damn about anybody’s religious beliefs. They just can’t agree to spend what little tax money they pay to benefit anyone outside of the family. They aren’t Libertarians. They aren’t conservatives. They are nihilists, when it comes to the lives of others, who they see as not worth anything.

  6. JoAnn, thanks for the Joan Baez song lyrics. I had to Google to find the source.

    But JoAnn brings up another point. If you can argue that Insurers are interfering with your right to practice your religion, how long will it be before somebody sues Walgreens or Walmart because they selling condoms, or dispensing drugs for birth control. If you want to buy into that brand of crazy, you could argue that by shopping at that store, you are forced to help support the part of the store that sells these items too?

    I am sure in this day and age some judge can find some religious rationalization for it. “You’ll be justified in the end”

  7. Has anyone on this conversation read Philip Hamburger? This was published around 2004.

    >> In a powerful challenge to conventional wisdom, Philip Hamburger argues that the separation of church and state has no historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence assembled here shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others retrospectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later.

    Hamburger shows that separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. Nativist Protestants (ranging from nineteenth-century Know Nothings to twentieth-century members of the K.K.K.) adopted the principle of separation to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions. Eventually, a wide range of men and women called for separation. Almost all of these Americans feared ecclesiastical authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church, and, in response to their fears, they increasingly perceived religious liberty to require a separation of church from state. American religious liberty was thus redefined and even transformed. In the process, the First Amendment was often used as an instrument of intolerance and discrimination. <<

  8. Politics and elections have consequences in the form of lifetime Federal judge appointments. The GOP knows this and has worked for decades to “stack” these courtrooms with “Federalist Society” choices. They are a big “leg” in the stool that is replacing our democracy. Too bad the DEMs were too busy arguing among themselves and grinding on about identity politics. Fiddling while the country burns carefully fueled by the Right’s ecosystem – in plain sight…

  9. Conservative/Republican/Koch-backed/Trump: small, weak, ineffective, largely local, cheap government and individual rights protected by personal firearms. Think, old cowboy and Indian movies.

    Liberal/Democrat/Soros-backed/Biden: government must respect and protect citizens’ right to make our own decisions about how to live our lives, so long as those decisions aren’t harming others.

    I have no trouble choosing the vision of the country I have always and would want to live in longer.

  10. The plaintiffs here are interested in nothing but their religious agenda, as set by from the zealot community.
    I do not know that Charles Koch is a bona-fide member thereof, sincerely expect that he is not, but he’s been greedily
    pushing for white Christian Oligarchy since the ’70’s, if not earlier. So, results that inconvenience, or hurt, others are no
    thing but collateral damage in this tribe’s view!
    Once again, the counterculture movement of the ’60’s freaked out the establishments greedy oligarchs, and the rest
    is their long term response.
    Peggy, they might not find Scripture in their Bibles to permit their behavior, and, if so, that does not bother them. Some-
    where, in their fairy-tale world they can rationalize it as being for the greater glory of their god-thing.

  11. I am currently reading a historical fiction novel based loosely on the life of Katherine Willoughby Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, who lived during the reign of Henry VIII. I am just to the part where she and her family are fleeing from England due to the ascension to the throne by Henry’s eldest daughter, Mary. Mary was also known as “Bloody Mary” because during her brief reign she executed/burned so many Protestants as heretics.

    So, I was wondering as I was reading this section, will my family and I eventually be forced to flee this country because we don’t follow any organized religion? Where will this favoritism by the SCOTUS lead? Will we all be forced to declare an allegiance to a “Christian” religion in order to work, vote, drive, live here?

    So, what’s old becomes new again. And “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Religious Freedom Restoration Act? — How about someone proposing the “Freedom from Religion Restoration Act”?

  12. Peggy,

    Perfect analysis. BTW, Jesus never said a word about STDs, abortions, same-sex marriage or birth control. I think his single most important tenet was “Love one another.” But, I’m just an old school teacher with an idealistic view of facts, the truth and the mind’s ability to find proofs before imposing any ideas on anyone else. That said, I’m would not be eligible for this SCOTUS no matter how much law I practiced.

    We are being influenced by a true kangaroo court. In their pouches lies the seeds of our dissolution as a society and the destruction of our beloved Constitution.

  13. Headline in recent MAGA world media ““Donald Trump Is the MLK of the Working Class and Christians. No Wonder the FBI Is Persecuting Him, Too” . We live in Mad Mag times…

  14. The majority in the U.S. are now not affiliated with any religion or theological belief. NPR reported in March 2021, “….religious membership in the U.S. has fallen to just 47% among those surveyed — representing less than half of the adult population for the first time since Gallup began asking the question more than 80 years ago.”

    Why then are we allowing those few to legally bully the rest of the population with lawsuits, etc? Why can’t those litigious theocrats be sued on the same points and held monetarily responsible, therefore, for everyone’s health care which was denied due to their lawsuits ? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, eh?

  15. This Chutzpah, as Sheila calls it, has nothing to do with Christianity! It’s political! It’s a hijacking and manipulation of a belief system to bring about a political outcome!

    As far as Christianity goes, this particular political game has been played since emperor Constantine of Rome.

    With the deaths of Justin Martyr 165 CE, Irenaeus 202 CE, and Tertullian 220 CE, the last guard of true belief was eliminated.

    St Augustine arrived with unscriptural Dogma based on Greek philosophies. He reinforced Constantine’s wishes to unite the kingdom and church under Roman rule.

    The church claimed that Peter was the cornerstone and the first pope basically. This was emphatically false, because if you read Peter’s letters, he never claimed to be a leader of the church. He deferred to Christ. With the various Nicene councils as the wind in Augustine’s sail, he proceeded to rewrite Christian dogma using the teachings from the various Greek philosophical houses! This is something that the apostle Paul also warned against up until his execution.

    Anyway, this entire debauchery Led to the dark ages, it led to those practices that brought great plagues, unmitigated repression, grief and sorrow! This Christian Apostasy followed the same Tac that was used in the Hebrew faith. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin added much to the Mosaic Law, and as Christ said they made it burdensome to worshipers and the common Man.

    In Matthew, Christ says love your neighbor as yourself! That doesn’t mean the person next door, it means the entirety of mankind!

    As being free moral agents or living a life under free ideological agency, we can choose to worship the Christian God, the god or Allah of Islam, Buddha, the many gods of the Hindu faith, or Waheguru god of the Sikhs.

    Of course, we’re familiar with the god or God’s most people worship in this country, the god of Money, and the god of Sex, the god of Self (Me’ist) and the practice of Me’ism, which, encompasses almost every existing religion on this planet.

    Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan, is really kicked to the curb. Why put yourself at risk? Step over the downtrodden or the dying. We wouldn’t want to disrupt our next romp in the sheets with someone you don’t really know, or that next stock option or those overtime hours. Because, that boat or that car or that house is just calling your name. That power you are craving or that authority you need, that narcissistic Me’ist craving never lets go. Yes, the god of self is probably the most powerful, desired and elevated above All Else.

    Most have decided to tune in, turn on, and drop out! Anything goes because it feels good. Don’t worry about your fellow man, don’t worry about spreading disease because you don’t want to wear a mask, practice safe sex, stop sharing needles or pipes, or stop engaging in promiscuous behavior.

    Instead of changing habits, the idea is to develop vaccines to allow selfish Me’ist behavior! And then, you have those Me’ists who refuse to wear masks or get vaccines if they’re available. Therefore further exacerbating the continuity and well-being of civil society.

    Humanity has never been able to guide his own steps, not without mass murder and destruction! They’re always has to be someone to blame, and if they can’t find someone of a different sort, they will eat their own!

    There is no compassion, there is no empathy, there is only selfishness!

    Mankind rises up in revolutions to fight for equal human rights for all, until they reach a level where they can put their foot on the neck of others who are different, a lower caste, an alternate race, a foreign resident, a different sex, you name it!

    I wouldn’t hold out hope, because throughout history, mankind has come up short in his love for his fellow man. And, the environment of this planet which is our home.

    Manasseh passed his children through the fire of Baal, today, humanity wishes to pass its entire future through the fire! After that, there is no future!

  16. Wysupremacy +Christian Nationalism = christo-fascism; which I’ve been speaking out about & against for 7/8 years now.

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