Government Redefines “Religious Organizations”

Big news is that the Obama administration has said that health insurers must provide birth control.

Articles about this say there is a conscience clause to protect religious organizations.

But the clause reads thus:

Group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers, and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services.  A religious employer is one that:  (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii).  45 C.F.R. §147.130(a)(1)(iv)(B).

More explanation here, where they justify this by saying it is consistent with the language used in most states.

But where does the state get off defining what is a religious organization? By this definition, no Christian church that believes in the Great Commission would be able to claim an exemption.

I would wonder if they are intentionally seeking to force Catholic Charities and Catholic hospitals and Catholic colleges and universities to conform. This causes a split between a church and its educational and healthcare and social service institutions. What right does government have to do this?

On the other hand, perhaps Christians should look at their own institutions. If an institution’s services are integral to the church’s mission, why not require employees to be members? Why not exercise greater control on what is taught and practiced? Some interesting questions for religious organizations to consider.