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Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, June 27, 2017: updated action alert on health care; victory for religious freedom

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has sent out an updated action alert regarding the Senate health care bill. You can find the alert and take action at https://votervoice.net/USCCB/home.

The USCCB is recommending the following three changes to the bill: 

  • Strip out harmful changes to Medicaid that will wreak havoc on the poor and vulnerable, including the per capita caps;
  • Ensure that any health care legislation includes protections for the unborn in all respects, including Hyde amendment prohibitions on use of federal funds on abortions or plans that cover it;
  • Include conscience protections for those involved in the health care system.

Please take action today as the bill may come up to a vote as soon as tomorrow.

In other news, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision yesterday in the Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Comer case. The Court found that a state denying churches/religious schools an otherwise publicly available benefit simply because it is a religious institution is a violation of the Constitution. Trinity Lutheran’s preschool sought to participate in the State of Missouri’s scrap tire program, which would have allowed it to repave its playground with recycled tire pieces in order to provide a softer and safer playground surface for children.

The decision seems to, at least, clarify that churches and religious schools would be eligible to receive funds for any health/safety benefits on an equal basis.

What this decision means for Education Savings Account proposals in the states is yet unclear. ESAs are constructed to send money directly to parents, not schools, to avoid constitutional questions in the first place. Hopefully this decision will help advance the discussion about public policies that treat all students equally, regardless of the school they attend.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, offered the following statement:

“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for religious freedom. The Supreme Court rightly recognized that people of faith should not be discriminated against when it comes to government programs that should be made available to all. The decision also marks a step in the right direction toward limiting the effects of the pernicious Blaine Amendments that are in place in many states around the country.  Blaine Amendments to state constitutions, most of which date back to the nineteenth century, stem from a time of intense anti-Catholic bigotry in many parts of the country. We are glad to see the Supreme Court move toward limiting these harmful provisions, which have restricted the freedom of faith-based organizations and people of faith to serve their communities.”

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Comment by M on June 30, 2017 at 2:16am

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