Are Churches People, Too?

A detour into a different controversy, that may or may not be miles away from the previous:

If a Corporation is a person with rights, is a Church? This isn’t a silly question; it is the heart of a debate going on in the US. Does a Church, or other Corporation operated by a person with deeply held convictions, have the right to practice its religion at the expense of the liberty of the people it employs?

Do Catholic Hospitals have the right to turn away rape victims seeking Plan B? Do they have the right to withhold information that might lead potential parents to seek an abortion? Should they be excluded from the mandate that all health insurance cover contraceptives, even at the expense of non-Catholic doctors, nurses, and staff?

The Catholic Church wants you to believe this is so. The Church is a “person” with rights, including the right to refuse to provide services based on faith, even though this is not a right healthcare providers normally have.

They want people to believe that the Church its self has rights that people do not in the expression of faith and the manifestation of dogma. This is not so different at all from the claims being made by corporations around the country that they are people with rights, including speech (by way of money and advertising) and intellectual property. Now, the Catholics want you to believe that a Jehova’s Witness can forbid his employees from getting transfusions of whole blood. That Mormon business owners can refuse to pay for cancer treatments linked to smoking, because that’s a just punishment for a life of sin. This is the logical outcome of granting rights to corporations…

Personally, I don’t think this is so far from the discussions I’ve been having about the future of the UUA and what it means to be a UU. The UUA is made up of member congregations, which are made of of people. Ultimately, it is the people who make up the UUA, and those people have rights and responsibilities as members. So it is with corporations: they are really groups of people, and they should not be granted powers greater than what those individuals who comprise the corporation could muster as a group. There should be spending caps for individuals, and there are. Individuals should be allowed to make their own health choices, too, regardless of which people they work for.

Churches are not people, separate from the people who comprise the membership. No church should ever be allowed to speak as an entity free of its human congregants. If something important needs to be said, the congregants ought to want to speak for themselves.

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2 Responses

  1. The church has ‘rights’ guaranteed by the constitution – that would be the non involvement of government. A church, religious beliefs of individuals, has long been established as sacred.
    An employee’s rights aren’t being ‘violated’ – they have the option to work elsewhere, if a church’s standards and convictions are offensive to an employee. That same attitude should be taken into any work place. Therefore, the ‘religious practice’ of a church (which by definition, is the assembling of PEOPLE) will never be infringing liberty of the employee. There’s always the option to leave.
    What is truly offensive, is employees demanding to be catered to for their personal whims. Such as Sandra Fluke, who’s sole intent was to bend a private, religious institution to her will. Disgusting and un-American.

    • The person has the right to work where they are employed, and their employment cannot be ended based on their religious convictions, so long as they do not keep the person from preforming the essential duties.

      This seems to indicate that the employees rights trump the perspective of whatever corporation employs them.

      The Church gave up non-involvement when it started campaigning from the pulpit. The Church gave up Non-involvement when they broadened their focus beyond the spiritual health of their congregations. The Church isn’t a person, and it has no right to dictate anything other than dogma, which even congregants are well within their rights to ignore.

      Employees are demanding equality. What is truly offensive is the number of people who think that Human Rights are secondary to corporate desires or that my rights are at the whim of what you think I deserve rather than on true equality.

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