HHS Mandate: Unanswered Questions

Our synod leadership is certainly to be commended for speaking out against the HHS mandate that would require businesses and people to buy or subsidize products that go against their religious convictions. If your religion that stops at the church door is not really a very good one. Regardless of your views on abortion, I simply can not see how anyone can think that requiring people to purchase something that they find morally repugnant could ever be allowed under our constitution, to say nothing of how evil such it is to use the force of law to violate their conscience.

The current plan in our synod seems to be a “wait and see” approach. This makes a certain amount of sense. There are several cases working their way through the courts. The synod plan itself is grandfathered, and so not subject to the mandates. Furthermore, the law is in flux. Final regulations have not yet been written, and so there is very little actual information in answer to many of the questions people might have. My members who have investigated have received different – sometimes opposing-  answers from their representative and two senators. It would seem that no one knows. I understand the difficulty our synod leaders face in giving accurate information.

But there has been little written at any level to help the person in the pew who already faces the prospect of purchasing insurance that would violate their conscience. Very little has been written about what members can expect should they fail to purchase such insurance (fines, ‘taxes’ etc.). Even less has been said about legitimate alternatives for those who refuse to purchase the insurance, but still want to protect their families.  And, to my knowledge, no one has even broached the subject of the faithful members of our congregations who serve in their vocations as insurance representatives, and now must sell products that they find morally objectionable.

Anything would be better than silence. What are our members to do in the meantime, while the cases work their way through the courts? Should they purchase the offending policies? What companies, if any, are still offering policies without the offending items? Are there options at all in the co-op market? And even if the answer is, “We don’t know yet, but will tell you as soon as there are definitive rules”, that answer would let our members know that they are not forgotten in this whole mess.

I realize that the home office is busy, but our members need to know what options they have now, while the cases are pending, while their employers are offering them insurance that they can no longer use in good conscience, etc.  As a pastor, my saying, “We really don’t know what you should do” is wearing thin. I’m reading every scrap I can get my hands on regarding the HHS mandate, but there is nothing in the way of answers, and most of what is written is written by partisans looking to score points, not by those who are trying to help interpret the law.

Patience is a virtue, but what to do while we wait for the courts to answer? Surely not encourage our members to purchase the offending policy. But what other option is there?

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