It’s likely that within the next few years you will be asked to vote on a state initiative deciding whether religious people have the right to form a charitable organization and run it according to the principles of their faith.
“Huh?” you ask.
“But didn’t America settle that issue a couple centuries ago? You know, following the American Revolution?”
Great question. Sometimes the situation before our eyes challenges our assumptions. I assumed that Americans agreed on the principles outlined in our Constitution. I never imagined that a political group of any influence would dispute the idea that government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
And yet there is a movement in Washington State to do just that. According to the North Kitsap Herald, a citizen activist named Chuck Bean has gathered 5,600 signatures for his petition to the State Legislature. It asks our lawmakers “to prohibit religious organizations and businesses from denying legal health care services based on their religious ideologies.”
It would be difficult to draft a more unconstitutional sentence.
Bean is concerned that as some Catholic and secular hospitals merge, those hospitals will no longer provide services such as abortion and euthanasia. He is supported by organizations such as Compassion & Choices Washington, which proclaims on its website that it “played a key role in leading the coalition that passed Initiative 1000 (the Washington Death with Dignity Act).” Compassion & Choices Washington is also collecting signatures for a petition, this one for Governor Jay Inslee, urging something similar. Its website encourages visitors to “Tell governor Inslee to put patients’ rights before Catholic Doctrine.”
But is this a contest between Catholicism and patients’ rights? Seems to me it’s a contest between entitlement and freedom: If it’s legal, you must provide it for me! If you start a hospital (or pay tithes to support a hospital) because you want the sick and injured to be healed and lives to be prolonged, then you must also aid people in killing their fetuses and killing themselves.
On second thought, this isn’t entitlement. This is entitlement on drugs.
If you hear about efforts in your community to require faith based organizations to violate their beliefs, please let us know so we can work together to protect religious freedom and conscience rights.