Why would the Obama Administration target a group of nuns who have taken vows of poverty and run nationwide nursing homes for the poor?
“When the Obama administration picked a fight with Catholics and other religious groups over free birth control coverage for employees, sooner or later it was bound to end up doing battle with a group like the Little Sisters of the Poor,” writes the editorial board of USA Today. “And sure enough, the administration is now stuck arguing that it is justified in compelling nuns who care for the elderly poor to assist in offering health insurance that they say conflicts with their religious beliefs. Talk about a political loser.”
Little Sisters of the Poor
“This is the haves hammering the have-nots. Literally,” writes Deroy Murdock for the Washington Times. “The Little Sisters clutch the short end of the income-inequality stick. There is no economic justice in their abuse from Mr. Obama and the dapper despots at Eric Holder Jr.’s Justice Department.”
“The Little Sisters do their work for free,” says Daniel Blomberg, legal counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents these nuns. “They are not paid salaries,” he adds. “Each Little Sister takes a vow of poverty. They don’t personally own anything.”
“When it comes to public opinion, you can’t find a worse group to pick a fight with than the Little Sisters of the Poor,” writes Mary Ann Walsh in U.S. News and World Report. “They’re an order of nuns who attend to the frail and elderly. With longstanding generosity to those in need, the Little Sisters hold moral sway.
“Quality of life stands as their first concern and so the Little Sisters run low-cost, top-flight nursing homes. People trust grandma and grandpa to their care. Those who pass to their eternal reward in these homes do so in the arms of loving nuns who have become family. People have seen the work of these nuns all across the United States and around the world. There is nothing with which to pick a fight.
Little Sisters on the job in Denver
“Yet, that is what the Department of Justice did in January when it opposed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s New Year’s Eve decision to grant the nuns a temporary reprieve from having to pay crippling fines for refusing to sign what the Justice Department has described as a meaningless government form.”
Rather than being left alone to concentrate fully on the destitute senior citizens whom they have served since 1888, the Little Sisters are being victimized by bureaucrats who have nothing to lose as they collect their big government paychecks. They are being distracted from their divine calling “by Team Obama’s insistence that they genuflect before Obamacare’s mandate to provide free contraceptives to all fertile women, regardless of income,” writes Murdock. “As serious Catholics, the sisters oppose birth control, especially in their own health plan.”
If they continue to resist, Obama’s bureaucrats plan to slam the sisters with crippling fines of $100 per day per employee – even though these “employes” work without pay. With 60 unpaid nuns on the staff of the Little Sisters of Denver, they stand to be fined $2.2 unless they permit Obamacare to provide contraceptives for these workers.
That’s right, the Obama Administration is threatening to fine nuns – who are unlikely to ever need contraceptives since they are celibate
and bound by religious vows not to violate the Catholic Church’s teachings, which includes a ban on contraceptives.
The cornerstone at one of the Sisters’ nursing homes
Furthermore, the fines would come out of donated funds, not the coffers of some greedy corporation. “If the Little Sisters pay these fines, that money would not go to help elderly people who are dying and can’t care for themselves,” says Blomberg. “Instead, these funds would go to the IRS.”
At the root of the issue is Obamacare’s policy that women should get contraceptives for nothing, “even when they can afford them,” notes Murdock, “as most women did until Obama decided to give them away, like perfume samples.
“Even worse, the president insists that the cost of these freebies should be borne, at least partially, by people who believe, wrongly or rightly, that contraception is evil.
“Obama is a spectacularly powerful man who flexes his gargantuan political muscles so he can have his way with comparatively powerless females,” writes Murdock. “Disgusting. Obama should unhand the Little Sisters of the Poor so they can spread their love. Meanwhile, women should acquire contraceptives just as Obama expects men to obtain condoms — with their own money.”
The Obama Administration laments that all they are asking is that the Little Sisters of the Poor sign a meaningless form that will exempt the nuns from having to pay insurance that provides free contraceptives.
“But if this self-certification form is so meaningless,” asks Walsh, “why is the government fighting so hard to get the Sisters to sign it? That’s because it has plenty of meaning, as Houston-based Judge Lee Rosenthal pointed out in a case to block the mandate brought by East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University.
Many of the Little Sisters are as old as their patients.
“The act of self-certification does more than simply state the organization’s religious objection,” the judge said. The form also tells a third party – the insurance company providing Obamacare for the nuns, that it must pick up the expense.
The form, notes Walsh, notifies the insurance company that “it must provide the organization’s employees coverage that gives those employees free access to the problematic devices and products, and that it must notify the employees of that benefit.”
Judge Rosenthal concluded that the form is not meaningless at all, but instead, “the purpose and effect of the form is to accomplish what the organization finds religiously forbidden.”
“That’s the gist of the nuns’ argument,” writes Walsh. “and if they were picketers (which they are not), their mantra would be ‘Lord Divine, we can’t sign.’ The Little Sisters are letting conscience be their guide.
The nuns continue their work
“The penalties these nuns face can now be enforced by the government against countless Catholic hospitals, schools and social services ministries nationwide except where courts have blocked them.
“How unfair is that? If the nuns lose this battle rooted in fidelity to conscience, so does America.”