Religious Liberty Exec Order

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Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Fri May 05, 2017 5:18 pm

Here is the whole text:
Trump's Religious Liberty EO
Not much of any change given that the Johnson Amendment is not enforced, nor are there many Hobby Lobby's out there who are trying to not allow their group insurance to cover contraceptives. So this was another staged political event, w/o much practical effect. It gave Mike Pierce a chance to brag on Trump’s supposed religious sensitivities.

But this is discussed in Why Trump's Executive Order on Religious Liberty Left Many Conservatives Dissatisfied.

President Trump signed an executive order “promoting free speech and religious liberty” on Thursday. The final version of the order addresses two issues. First, it instructs the Internal Revenue Service to “not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization” that endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit, which is currently outlawed by a provision typically referred to as the Johnson Amendment. “We are giving churches their voices back,” Trump said during a ceremony in the Rose Garden. Second, it instructs the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider amending regulations in the Affordable Care Act that require most employers to cover contraception in employee insurance plans. A number of religious non-profit organizations have been litigating their objections to this requirement.


For starters. I agree with the first issue (let the pulpits explode with political discussion which, if they are Christian pulpits, should favor the left) but disagree with the second (allowing companies to not cover contraception is favoring Catholics and Mormons to the detriment of many other religious views).

The rest of the article discusses why religious conservatives are not happy. Several provisions they wanted were not in the Exec Order. For instance:

In February, a supposed draft of an executive order on religious issues was leaked to The Nation. That version—reportedly written by a staffer with the D.C. office of the First Liberty Institute, a Texas law firm that focuses on First Amendment issues—contained provisions designed to protect religious organizations and individuals who speak out against same-sex marriage, transgender identity, and pre-marital sex.


I can easily see why Trump avoided that provision.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Rvaughn » Fri May 05, 2017 5:37 pm

KeithE wrote:So this was another staged political event, w/o much practical effect.
I agree, nothing new here. So far as I know this changes nothing.
...but disagree with the second (allowing companies to not cover contraception is favoring Catholics and Mormons to the detriment of many other religious views).
In what way does it favor Catholics and Mormons to the detriment of other?
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Sat May 06, 2017 3:43 pm

Rvaughn wrote:
KeithE wrote:So this was another staged political event, w/o much practical effect.
I agree, nothing new here. So far as I know this changes nothing.
...but disagree with the second (allowing companies to not cover contraception is favoring Catholics and Mormons to the detriment of many other religious views).
In what way does it favor Catholics and Mormons to the detriment of other?


Catholics and Mormons frown on contraceptives. Increasingly other conservatives are coming out against contraceptives (e.g my cousin-in-law Randy Alcorn). Making some employees live with no payment for contraceptives obviously is a direct financial burden on them. Having insurance for contraceptives does not mean one has to buy or use contraceptives.

Making some employees live with no payment for contraceptives obviously is a direct financial burden on them. Having insurance for contraceptives is only slightly higher than not including contraceptives in the coverage. Thus there is very little financial burden on those who choose not to use contraceptives. Not providing contraceptive coverage in a group health insurance plan is therefore a detriment to the many religious orders that allow contraceptives.

To have religious liberty in a pluralistic country or company necessarily involves reasonable accommodation of those of varying religious beliefs and practices.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Rvaughn » Sat May 06, 2017 5:57 pm

KeithE wrote:Catholics and Mormons frown on contraceptives. Increasingly other conservatives are coming out against contraceptives (e.g my cousin-in-law Randy Alcorn). Making some employees live with no payment for contraceptives obviously is a direct financial burden on them. Having insurance for contraceptives does not mean one has to buy or use contraceptives.
But it does mean that the one paying for the insurance is paying for the contraceptives, right? I don't understand where we got to the concept that it is an employer's responsibility to pay for an employee's insurance anyway.

Making some employees live with no payment for contraceptives obviously is a direct financial burden on them. Having insurance for contraceptives is only slightly higher than not including contraceptives in the coverage. Thus there is very little financial burden on those who choose not to use contraceptives. Not providing contraceptive coverage in a group health insurance plan is therefore a detriment to the many religious orders that allow contraceptives.
Life has lots of financial burdens. The life I chose to lead as I lead it has certain financial burdens that come with it. Should someone else have to pay for it? Again, I really don't get how we even got to the place that insurance is the employer's responsibility.

To have religious liberty in a pluralistic country or company necessarily involves reasonable accommodation of those of varying religious beliefs and practices.
I think that is correct, broadly, but the religious side of this discussion is for those who wish not to pay for something to which they have a conscientious objection. For most people who use contraceptives I would guess that it is more of a social/family decision rather than some kind of religious belief -- therefore a financial consideration rather than a religious one.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Sun May 07, 2017 7:39 am



Quoting the article above:
The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit hours later. The Madison, Wisconsin-based group argues in the filing that the order is unconstitutional because it grants preferential treatment to religious organizations while secular groups must still abide by the law.


I don’t think the Freedom From Religion Foundation has a case here. Secular (non-governmental) groups are not prohibited from political talk. No harm, no case. I’ll have to think about the prohibition of government agencies from political campaigning (certainly not formally enforced).

Also quoting the article above:
The American Civil Liberties Union announced late Thursday it had abandoned its initial plan to file a lawsuit to prevent the order from taking effect, calling the order a photo opportunity with no real policy outcome.


Funny that the initial ACLU urge was to fight this Exec Order, but they thought better of it noting that the Exec Order was just a photo-op. That I agree with.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Sun May 07, 2017 8:22 am

Rvaughn wrote: Again, I really don't get how we even got to the place that insurance is the employer's responsibility.

Good question. I guess people have a need to feel safe from catastrophic loss. Insurance companies (of all types - home, auto, fire, flood, health) sprouted to fill this need. Large pools work best. Insurance companies naturally wanted to allow only low risk people (i.e. safe drivers, homes away from flood zones, young healthy people, non-smokers). This left some people out of luck. Companies who wanted to attract employees started to offer health insurance. Thus it is in company’s interest to offer health insurance. And most (99%) large companies choose to offer health insurance (see 6th paragraph in this post) The ACA made it a responsibility through the mandate for companies over 50 people. Now the AHCA is attempting to remove that mandate (recklessly imo).

Most developed countries make the insurance pool large (the entire population) and insurance cost 30-60% of what it does here. Why in this country (where we are supposedly trying to “make a perfect union”) do we break up the pools is beyond me. I say lift the responsibility from employer’s back by offering Medicare for All or at least the “public option” within the ACA.

KeithE said:
To have religious liberty in a pluralistic country or company necessarily involves reasonable accommodation of those of varying religious beliefs and practices.

Rvaughn wrote: I think that is correct, broadly, but the religious side of this discussion is for those who wish not to pay for something to which they have a conscientious objection. For most people who use contraceptives I would guess that it is more of a social/family decision rather than some kind of religious belief -- therefore a financial consideration rather than a religious one.


I think participating in health insurance (as a buyer or seller) that covers contraceptives is a reasonable accommodation - again no one is forced to buy/use contraceptives. Very minor “persecution”; Christians are called to endure much more severe persecution. It seems like the Hobby Lobby's of the world are grandstanding like the Pharisees and this Executive Order is playing to that sentiment highlighting the “religious" nature of the contraceptive use decision, not as you put it a "social/family" decision.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Mrs Haruo » Mon May 08, 2017 1:48 pm

What a lot of men don't seem to know or understand is that a LOT of women who take birth control pills are using them to control heavy extremely painful and unpredictable monthly periods. If a woman works outside the home, and has to call in sick several days out of the month, it costs her employer lost time, and lost wages for the employee. It is an advantage to an employer to cover whatever prescription medications an employee needs. I wonder if Hobby Lobby covers the cost of Viagra? I would consider that more of a recreational pharmaceutical than a medical necessity :wink: :wink: :wink:
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Sandy » Mon May 08, 2017 3:32 pm

This from the President who went to extremes to criticize President Obama for legislating by executive order, and from the party who basically tried to say that it was a question of legitimacy and a sign of an inability to work with Congress. The buffoon has set the record, in a short amount of time, for doing everything he swore he would not do.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Mon May 08, 2017 6:27 pm

Mrs Haruo wrote:What a lot of men don't seem to know or understand is that a LOT of women who take birth control pills are using them to control heavy extremely painful and unpredictable monthly periods. If a woman works outside the home, and has to call in sick several days out of the month, it costs her employer lost time, and lost wages for the employee. It is an advantage to an employer to cover whatever prescription medications an employee needs. I wonder if Hobby Lobby covers the cost of Viagra? I would consider that more of a recreational pharmaceutical than a medical necessity :wink: :wink: :wink:


Good points!
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Mon May 08, 2017 6:47 pm

Sandy wrote:This from the President who went to extremes to criticize President Obama for legislating by executive order, and from the party who basically tried to say that it was a question of legitimacy and a sign of an inability to work with Congress. The buffoon has set the record, in a short amount of time, for doing everything he swore he would not do.


Trump did criticize Obama’s use of Exec Orders.
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/25/trump-touts-executive-orders-he-once-lambasted.html

Trump said during the campaign:
"The country wasn't based on executive orders," said Trump at a town hall in South Carolina in February 2016. "Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can't even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It's a basic disaster. You can't do it."


Trump has done 34 Exec Orders in 34 in 3 and 1/2 months (1 in very 3.2 days). Obama did 39 Exec Orders in his first year (1 every 9.35 days). Trump's Exec Order rate is about 3 time that of Obama. Trump has also had trouble working with his own party in Congress. That’s a “disaster times 3”.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Rvaughn » Mon May 08, 2017 9:34 pm

KeithE wrote:Good question. I guess people have a need to feel safe from catastrophic loss. Insurance companies (of all types - home, auto, fire, flood, health) sprouted to fill this need. Large pools work best. Insurance companies naturally wanted to allow only low risk people (i.e. safe drivers, homes away from flood zones, young healthy people, non-smokers). This left some people out of luck. Companies who wanted to attract employees started to offer health insurance. Thus it is in company’s interest to offer health insurance. And most (99%) large companies choose to offer health insurance (see 6th paragraph in this post) The ACA made it a responsibility through the mandate for companies over 50 people. Now the AHCA is attempting to remove that mandate (recklessly imo).
This corresponds with my understanding. Something that companies originally provided in a package as a hiring incentive has morphed into a government mandate that they must do so. I am not a company or an employer, but that seems quite reckless to me. I don't pretend to have the answers (mostly questions), but it seems to me that if the government wants to provide health care they would do it by equally taxing all its citizens some way to do so. I am not recommending that necessarily, but saying it makes more sense than telling employers they have to do it and pretending we have government provided health care.

KeithE wrote:I think participating in health insurance (as a buyer or seller) that covers contraceptives is a reasonable accommodation - again no one is forced to buy/use contraceptives. Very minor “persecution”; Christians are called to endure much more severe persecution. It seems like the Hobby Lobby's of the world are grandstanding like the Pharisees and this Executive Order is playing to that sentiment highlighting the “religious" nature of the contraceptive use decision, not as you put it a "social/family" decision.
Not sure I'm following you here, Keith. I don't consider it persecution, but the government overstepping its bounds in the sense that there are enshrined rights in the Constitution about religion and nothing about family planning (contraceptives for health reasons, which Mrs. Haruo mentions, gets into another discussion; and I don't think an employer ought to have to pay for anybody's Viagra either). But again it seems to me if you take the employer out of the equation of paying for the insurance and come up with a different plan, some of those problems start to solve themselves.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Rvaughn » Mon May 08, 2017 9:53 pm

KeithE wrote:...I don’t think the Freedom From Religion Foundation has a case here. Secular (non-governmental) groups are not prohibited from political talk. No harm, no case. I’ll have to think about the prohibition of government agencies from political campaigning (certainly not formally enforced).

Funny that the initial ACLU urge was to fight this Exec Order, but they thought better of it noting that the Exec Order was just a photo-op. That I agree with.
I think that the FFRF taking this on when the ACLU rightly noted what it was and avoided the waste of time shows just how out of touch the FFRF is.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Mon May 08, 2017 10:26 pm

Rvaughn wrote:
KeithE wrote:I think participating in health insurance (as a buyer or seller) that covers contraceptives is a reasonable accommodation - again no one is forced to buy/use contraceptives. Very minor “persecution”; Christians are called to endure much more severe persecution. It seems like the Hobby Lobby's of the world are grandstanding like the Pharisees and this Executive Order is playing to that sentiment highlighting the “religious" nature of the contraceptive use decision, not as you put it a "social/family" decision.
Not sure I'm following you here, Keith. I don't consider it persecution, but the government overstepping its bounds in the sense that there are enshrined rights in the Constitution about religion and nothing about family planning (contraceptives for health reasons, which Mrs. Haruo mentions, gets into another discussion; and I don't think an employer ought to have to pay for anybody's Viagra either). But again it seems to me if you take the employer out of the equation of paying for the insurance and come up with a different plan, some of those problems start to solve themselves.


When some religions (or individual religious sentiments) are opposed to contraceptives as a means of birth control and some are not (and may even have the religious view that it should be used for say population control or God-given pleasure from a helpmate), some compromise (or accommodation) must be made - both religious views cannot be perfectly served as to their principles.

In the case of contraceptives, it appears to me that those opposed to contraceptives should accommodate themselves since (1) they can merely choose not to buy it and (2) there are uses of contraceptives such as Mrs, Haruo has pointed out. Don’t tell me that the religious objectors to contraceptives become harmed greatly because health insurance may cost a teeny-weeny more (when considering the whole scope of health costs).. On the other hand, the religious person who believes that contraceptives are OK (or encouraged) by God will have more than a teeny-weeny cost to exercise their religious practice if they are denied payments for their contraceptives. Religious liberty runs both ways. In settling specific issues when religious scruples differ, the principle of greater harm should play the decisive role.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Rvaughn » Mon May 08, 2017 10:47 pm

What kind of "harm" are you talking about?
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Mon May 08, 2017 11:36 pm

Rvaughn wrote:What kind of "harm" are you talking about?

Cost of carrying out their religious practices in the manner they would like to.

Now read what I said again.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby William Thornton » Tue May 09, 2017 6:07 am

The legal principle that is being used involves the "least restrictive" imposition on religious liberty. Keith, naturally, has his own principles of religious liberty which involves "teeny weeny" costs and declares that principled religious objectors are "grandstanding" and should accommodate themselves to violating their religious views. Thank God and sober judges that more serious considerations are given to such things.

It's a complex matter.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Tue May 09, 2017 9:01 am

William Thornton wrote:The legal principle that is being used involves the "least restrictive" imposition on religious liberty. Keith, naturally, has his own principles of religious liberty which involves "teeny weeny" costs and declares that principled religious objectors are "grandstanding" and should accommodate themselves to violating their religious views. Thank God and sober judges that more serious considerations are given to such things.

It's a complex matter.

Trying to work through it brother.

For a case that involves the religious practices of two sides that are counter indicated, I could have (maybe more eloguently should have) used the "least restricted” language.

In those terms I'd say those whose religion allows or even mandates contraceptives for family planning are more restricted by their employer choosing not to have insurance that covers contraceptives than those who have religious scruples against such. Again anti-contraceptive believers can merely choose to not buy/use them. That is hardly restrictive at all. They are free to practice their religion without restriction and very little financial cost (a form of “restriction”). Those that religiously favor contraceptives are also free to get their contraceptives on the open market (quite expensive and thus more “restrictive”) or not work at the Hobby Lobbies of the world (also “restrictive” in terms of employment).

BTW, I am not implying that all anti-contraceptive believers are self-righteous grandstanding Pharisees. I'm impressed with those that quietly choose not to use contraceptives on religious grounds. I'm less than impressed with those that try to force their religious views on others thru guilt tripping or political band-wagoneering. And have some contempt for those companies that might be using stances to pull in customers (perhaps like Hobby Lobby). That is kinda like painting trucks that advertise with fish logos. BTW, I buy things at Hobby Lobby including some inspirational signage I have in my study/library.

It is complicated especially when there are two or more religious viewpoints on a given issue. Not even the Lemon Test instructs us in these cases where religious scruples differ.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby Sandy » Tue May 09, 2017 9:04 am

William Thornton wrote:The legal principle that is being used involves the "least restrictive" imposition on religious liberty. Keith, naturally, has his own principles of religious liberty which involves "teeny weeny" costs and declares that principled religious objectors are "grandstanding" and should accommodate themselves to violating their religious views. Thank God and sober judges that more serious considerations are given to such things.

It's a complex matter.


I don't think it's that complex. It's not a "violation of religious views" of an employer to provide insurance coverage that includes contraceptives for their employees who don't see taking them as a religious issue. They aren't buying them, they aren't taking them, and the fact that a company they contract with for insurance has access to them doesn't indicate their support, nor does it make a "statement" of their personal belief. Christians, particularly conservative Evangelicals, have so many chip on their shoulders in this regard, and they're obsessed with seeing every little detail of life as an endorsement of something or a statement about something. That's the legacy of some of the idiots and lunatics that they lock themselves up with inside their media bubble. The cafeteria supervisor at one of the Christian schools I worked for in Houston threw an absolute fit and wanted me to remove and throw out all of the ketchup bottles we had in stock because they were Heinz, and she was sure that when people saw them they would think we were liberals. That was in 2004, when John Kerry was running for President.

But, that's a side issue here. The idea behind this executive order is to allow mega church television preachers to endorse Republicans from the pulpit and not endanger their tax exempt status. I think it is quite a stretch to consider political endorsements as "religious liberty" but in the long run, I doubt that much will change. Other than some of the high profile mega church televangelist types who are more about rubbing elbows with the important and powerful than they are about preaching the gospel, I doubt that even some of the most partisan, extremist, right wing Republican pastors and churches will compromise the integrity of their pulpit with endorsements of morally bankrupt politicians.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Tue May 09, 2017 9:48 am

Sandy wrote:
William Thornton wrote:The legal principle that is being used involves the "least restrictive" imposition on religious liberty. Keith, naturally, has his own principles of religious liberty which involves "teeny weeny" costs and declares that principled religious objectors are "grandstanding" and should accommodate themselves to violating their religious views. Thank God and sober judges that more serious considerations are given to such things.

It's a complex matter.


I don't think it's that complex. It's not a "violation of religious views" of an employer to provide insurance coverage that includes contraceptives for their employees who don't see taking them as a religious issue. They aren't buying them, they aren't taking them, and the fact that a company they contract with for insurance has access to them doesn't indicate their support, nor does it make a "statement" of their personal belief. Christians, particularly conservative Evangelicals, have so many chip on their shoulders in this regard, and they're obsessed with seeing every little detail of life as an endorsement of something or a statement about something. That's the legacy of some of the idiots and lunatics that they lock themselves up with inside their media bubble. The cafeteria supervisor at one of the Christian schools I worked for in Houston threw an absolute fit and wanted me to remove and throw out all of the ketchup bottles we had in stock because they were Heinz, and she was sure that when people saw them they would think we were liberals. That was in 2004, when John Kerry was running for President.


Bingo!
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby William Thornton » Tue May 09, 2017 9:52 am

Yes, let's argue with the most absurd examples we can find.

Sandy and Bingo notwithstanding, thank God for judges who take the first amendment seriously. It is complex.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Tue May 09, 2017 9:55 am

Sandy wrote:The idea behind this executive order is to allow mega church television preachers to endorse Republicans from the pulpit and not endanger their tax exempt status. I think it is quite a stretch to consider political endorsements as "religious liberty" but in the long run, I doubt that much will change. Other than some of the high profile mega church televangelist types who are more about rubbing elbows with the important and powerful than they are about preaching the gospel, I doubt that even some of the most partisan, extremist, right wing Republican pastors and churches will compromise the integrity of their pulpit with endorsements of morally bankrupt politicians.


That may have been Trump’s motive, but all pulpits should be free, imo, to talk politically. Preaching has many sides - personal and collective. One collective purpose is about bringing on the Kingdom of God on earth.

Let the pulpits explode with political talk - I’ll side with those points that promote the common good throughout the world and not with those that enable exploitive effects (like uncontrolled free marketeers), or earth unfriendly actions (ghg emissions, deforestation) or nationalistic slogans (“America First”, “Make American Great Again”).
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Tue May 09, 2017 10:08 am

William Thornton wrote:Yes, let's argue with the most absurd examples we can find.

Sandy and Bingo notwithstanding, thank God for judges who take the first amendment seriously. It is complex.


Contraceptive insurance is the second point of this Executive Order. Thus the reason for my “absurd example”.

Second, it instructs the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider amending regulations in the Affordable Care Act that require most employers to cover contraception in employee insurance plans. A number of religious non-profit organizations have been litigating their objections to this requirement.


Trump has only instructed Mnuchin, Acosta, Price to lead a study on this matter with the context of the health care debate. I’m throwing in my two cents in because it is somewhat complex and I like thinking through such matters. Even the Lemon Test of the first amendment does not cover this completely.

But I also agree with Sandy that the answer is fairly clearcut - employer and ACA insurances should offer coverage contraceptives.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby William Thornton » Tue May 09, 2017 10:14 am

I was referring to Sandy's ketchup.

It's clear cut to you and clear cut to the objectors.
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Re: Religious Liberty Exec Order

Postby KeithE » Tue May 09, 2017 10:31 am

William Thornton wrote:I was referring to Sandy's ketchup.

It's clear cut to you and clear cut to the objectors.

And if the “objectors” are so sure about not interfering with the possibility of an embryo developing because that often leads to life, they should also be sure about protecting a full blown life whose life is in jeopardy because of lack of money for treatment.
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