Tell me how this judge is wrong.

The hundreds of ginned-up lawsuits religious organizations have been filing against the HHS contraception mandate are beginning to work their way through our national justice system, and (predictably) sane judges are finding that they lack merit.  In Missouri late last month, Republican appointee Carole Jackson dismissed O’Brien vs. United States Department of Health and Human Services, writing:

[Federal religious freedom law] is a shield, not a sword. It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise that occur when the government coerces action one’s religion forbids, or forbids action one’s religion requires; it is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others. [It] does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one’s money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one’s own… .

 [T]he health care plan will offend plaintiffs’ religious beliefs only if an employee (or covered family member) makes an independent decision to use the plan to cover counseling related to or the purchase of contraceptives. Already, [plaintiffs] pay salaries to their employees—money the employees may use to purchase contraceptives or to contribute to a religious organization. By comparison, the contribution to a health care plan has no more than a de minimus impact on the plaintiff’s religious beliefs than paying salaries and other benefits to employees. {emphasis added}

Religious employers argue that the HHS mandate causes them to violate their conscience—to become material accomplices to sin—because employees might use their insurance benefits to purchase contraception.  But employers already provide a benefit that employees might use to buy contraception: their wages.  What’s the difference?

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