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In Theory:

Religion and health care

April 03, 2010

President Obama, stay strong. The rest of us: Try to come to grips with the fact that in a country of 300 million people, someone might do something different sometimes.

Try to cope.

RECTOR AMY PRINGLE

St. George’s Episcopal Church in La Cañada

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The 1st Amendment of our Constitution restricts Congress from enacting laws that favor one religion over another.

It is my understanding that after the passage of the health-care-reform legislation, President Obama signed an executive order specifically barring the use of federal funds for abortions. Even so, the mandate that everyone must have health insurance and “participate in a health-care system that supports abortion” does not violate the 1st Amendment.

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While abortion is contrary to the religious beliefs of many Americans — and millions feel it is utterly offensive — the proposed law nevertheless applies equally to all citizens.

In my view, one aspect of the health-care plan does raise a serious red flag when it comes to religious beliefs: the portion of the law exempting members of Amish and Mennonite communities from participating in the national health-care system.

This clause seems to be a clear case of government favoring the religious beliefs of some groups while ignoring the spiritual sensitivities of others. I feel this is an issue that Congress must address, since their constituents deserve an honest answer to this dilemma.

There are valid positions supporting universal health care, as well as compelling arguments against it. On one point we can all agree: This new law will have a profound effect on our country. Regardless of one’s stance on the issue, however, at this early stage of the game none of us can claim that we can predict exactly what this program holds for Americans and in what direction it will lead the nation. Stating otherwise, in my opinion, is foolish and simply irrational.

Those who argue that the plan will usher in Armageddon are obviously overstating the case, just as those who believe the measure will resolve all problems regarding access to quality health care will surely be disappointed.

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