Saturday, February 07, 2015

Tom Jefferson, 2016

Jefferson in 2016

In recent years candidates have assumed that they can win over evangelicals by learning Christian slogans, by masking political rallies as prayer meetings, and by basically producing a long-form new birth certificate to prove they’ve been born again. This sort of identity politics is a luxury of a past era when evangelicals were part of a silent majority in the U.S., with our First Amendment freedoms assumed and guaranteed. That is not the present situation.

Yet the same Baptists and other evangelicals who wouldn't have let Jefferson near their baptismal pools were willing to check his name for president of the United States because he was willing to stand up for religious freedom. That’s why the most important test of 2016 may be the Thomas Jefferson Primary —the race to see which candidates offer a clear, coherent vision of religious liberty when the very idea is contested in American politics.
In the past several elections, religious liberty has hardly been mentioned. There was chatter about the sermons of the pastors of candidates Barack Obama and Sarah Palin in 2008, and about whether evangelicals would vote for a Mormon in 2012—they did, without much trouble. But candidates didn't have to answer how they would protect the legacy of religious freedom, fought so hard for by Jefferson and his Baptist allies.

Yes, the Supreme Court handed religious-liberty advocates a victory in the Hobby Lobby case—ruling in 2014 that certain private companies can be exempt from aspects of the Affordable Care Act for religions reasons. But who would have predicted a few years ago that a decision about whether the government could force employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs would rest on one swing vote on the court?

Even more troubling was the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor decision. Again, religious freedom won the day in a ruling maintaining a church’s right to hire ministers apart from government interference. But that court victory was against a White House arguing a point that no previous administration ever would have pursued.

In 2016, it doesn’t matter whether a candidate knows the words to hymns. What will matter to evangelicals is how the candidate, if elected president, will articulate and defend religious-liberty rights. This is about more than whether the candidate will repeat clichés about appointing Supreme Court justices who will “interpret the law, not make the law.” We want to know how this potential president will rein in an administrative apparatus that has plunged the country into ongoing culture wars over, for instance, compelling virgin nuns to pay for birth control. [Full]

I'm not an evangelical, but have no problem with evangelicals being evangelical.  I do think  Russell Moore makes valid points about what we are all hoping to see addressed in the coming election.  I probably would have a quibble about Moore's depiction of Thomas Jefferson's views on religion, and how they have been misappropriated by the religious left  who use his "freedom of religion" letter quite improperly.


DougM said...

Yeah, can't go wrong erring on the side of the Jeffersonian view of religious liberty.
No, your personal sect may not get to run things 100% the way you want things run, but neither will "those heretics" in the other sects.
Plus you get to live.

I have a copy of the "Jefferson Bible" (the New Testament without the miracles). Good stuff for a growing kid to read, if you want the morality but don't want to get distracted by theological issues.

I have no problem with evangelicals, unless they promote theocracy (a form of totalitarianism).
Even if I take offense on occasion, I don't feel the need to behead 'em. Well, unless that's not mutual.

Skoonj said...

"compelling virgin nuns to pay for birth control"

This is confusing to me. The nuns won't be paying for birth control if none of them use it. I hate to stand opposite prevailing conservative notions, but if you check your current insurance company list of coverage, you will see many items you will never need. Pregnancy treatment, for instance. If you or your family don't need it, it doesn't matter, but it's available if needed. You don't pay extra for it.

That's why arguments that center on what is covered by Obamacare policies confuse me. So what if something is covered, but not used. Its presence in the list of covered conditions shouldn't add to the cost of the policy (though Obamacare is quite high). I have a hell of a lot of conditions covered by my policy that won't be treated because we won't need to treat it. But just because the coverage is available doesn't mean I am paying more for that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Skoonj, you're wrong about your policy not costing more because it provides coverage you won't need.

Without getting technical, premiums are based on average costs so everyone ends up picking up the costs of everyone else. To oversimplify the insurance company simply figures out how much it's going to pay out in claims for everyone and then divides that by the total number of people it insures. Load that for expenses and there you go. [There are some adjustments that are made for age and so forth but that's pretty much it.] So unless your coverage is provided as part of a group where no-one uses that coverage (your nun example would work) then your premium will include the cost of those coverages.

As for insurers not being able to charge for some particular cover (e.g., birth control) that simply gets dumped into the expense line as part of general and administrative costs - nothing is free and the insurance company won't simply give it away.

BTW, Hobby Lobby erred when they claimed that the birth control methods they were objecting to were abortifaceants - they aren't.

Anonymous said...

"BTW, Hobby Lobby erred when they claimed that the birth control methods they were objecting to were abortifaceants - they aren't"

In your opinion, they aren't. Biologically, they absolutely are. If something prevents a fertilized embryo from implanting, it is an abortifaceant.

Linda said...

The nuns weren't protesting THEIR use of contraceptives that could possibly cause abortion.*

They were protesting having to buy it at all - they do employ some lay people, who might want to procure the meds under their policy, and force them to comply with what they consider evil.

* WHY do the nuns and other religious people consider SOME of the meds to cause abortions, when medical science says that is NOT possible?

Because it's a trick on the part of the medical people to re-classify abortifacient meds. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' leadership rammed through an agreement that they would use the implantation of an embryo as the defining point of pregnancy, thereby making such practices as Plan B (the so-called emergency birth control) officially NOT abortion.

I discuss this further at:

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