An Apology from Limbaugh, but the Damage Is Done

I am a Christian, and I am a social conservative. I oppose President Obama’s HHS mandate that requires employers to pay insurance premiums that cover chemical abortions, sterilization, and contraception. I support legislation that would accommodate citizens who do not want to be coerced by their government to pay for services that violate their consciences. In short, I find the HHS mandate to be an abhorrent assault on religious freedom. Furthermore, I believe it to be an open scandal that the national media narrative has turned the mandate into a debate about contraception rather than what it is—an assault upon the religious liberty of millions of Americans.

For all of these reasons, I found Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to be particularly offensive. Ironically, I agree with Limbaugh’s opposition to the mandate. On the substance, I imagine that he and I may hold many things in common. But his comments last week about Ms. Fluke were disgusting and unhelpful. After insulting Ms. Fluke on Wednesday, he doubled down on the offense on Thursday. His late apology appeared on his website only after he began losing sponsors. Whatever his motives, the damage has already been done, and it’s unlikely to be undone anytime soon. Here’s why.

1. Rush Limbaugh has turned a momentous policy debate into another cheap laugh-line for his talk show. In doing so, he offended not only Ms. Fluke but also every single person who had to listen to his coarse and bawdy humor. His kind of talk is the reason that our national discourse has become so uncivil. Ms. Fluke and the rest of America deserve better than this. If Limbaugh’s apology is sincere, then let it be reflected in the way he speaks going forward on his radio program. Limbaugh needs to apologize to Ms. Fluke on the air.

2. Rush Limbaugh has fed a false impression of what this debate is about. President Obama, congressional Democrats and the national media have successfully sold the HHS mandate as if it were all about contraception and nothing about religious freedom. Conservative Christians of various traditions have united together in an effort to change this narrative, but to little effect. Limbaugh’s apology only reinforces the liberal narrative and has nothing to say about the religious liberty issues at stake. Many Americans are still unaware of how the HHS mandate undermines religious freedom and how it sets a devastating precedent concerning government interference with free exercise. Limbaugh has distracted from the real issue and has fostered the worst caricatures of those of us who oppose the mandate.

3. Rush Limbaugh has been mistaken by many Americans as the spokesperson for modern conservatism. I heard Chris Matthews say on Thursday night that Limbaugh is the “intellectual and spiritual leader” of the conservative movement. Hogwash. Rush Limbaugh is to conservatism what a carnival barker is to entertainment. He’s loud and boisterous, but what he’s selling behind his curtain is a sideshow. The ideological roots of conservatism still have more to do with Burke and Friedman than they do with the likes of Limbaugh. Don’t believe the hype about his being a driving ideological force behind conservatism. He’s not.

4. Rush Limbaugh has created a diversion for supporters of the HHS mandate. He is widely mistaken by many Americans as a surrogate for the GOP. Democrats are trying to leverage this impression to their political advantage, and they are calling on GOP leaders to denounce Limbaugh as if he were their spokesman or representative. I hope many conservatives find appropriate ways to denounce Limbaugh’s remarks. But I also hope that they will resist doing anything that suggests that Limbaugh speaks for the party in particular or for conservatism more generally.

5. Rush Limbaugh has been mistaken as a representative of social conservative voters, a big portion of whom are evangelicals. As an evangelical, I will say that I gave up on Limbaugh a long time ago. I am a conservative, and so is he. But it seems to me that his views are coming from a different place than mine are. The sanctity of human life and religious liberty motivate my opposition to the HHS mandate. Limbaugh seems to be motivated by something else—something more cynical. His remarks about Ms. Fluke are a case in point. Encouraging a fellow citizen—even in jest—to post a sex video of themselves on the internet sounds as secular and godless as anything I’ve ever heard. It’s not just Christians who abominate this kind of speech (Ephesians 5:4). Every decent American is rightly offended by this kind of talk.

President Obama’s HHS mandate is a watershed moment for religious liberty in the United States, and I believe there is a grave showdown on the horizon. If the mandate is allowed to stand, countless Americans will be forced to violate their consciences and their religion in order to comply. Many of them will refuse to obey this unjust law and will either close up shop or incur penalties for breaking the law. In the very near future, many citizens will find that following their religious beliefs is against the law. For these Americans, the stakes could not be any higher or more serious.

Limbaugh’s remarks last week distracted the nation from this reality with a lowbrow personal attack. His subsequent apology was untimely and advanced the liberal narrative that this debate is about privacy and contraception. There’s no escaping the conclusion that he has set the cause back with his careless remarks, and his apology won’t fix that. We do not need cynical voices like his joining the debate on either side. America deserves better.

———-

Transcript of Sandra Fluke’s Testimony before the Mock Congressional Hearing.

55 Responses to An Apology from Limbaugh, but the Damage Is Done

  1. Mike Aubrey March 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    I’m a social conservative, too, Denny, but I also tend to some level of economic liberalism, though I’d probably consider myself a moderate there.

    Anyway…with that in mind, this statement concerned me:

    “His remarks about Ms. Fluke are a case in point. Encouraging a fellow citizen—even in jest—to post a sex video of themselves on the internet sounds as secular and godless as any liberal that he might criticize on the other side of the political spectrum.”

    Not all liberals are secular and godless. It might be useful to keep that in mind in an arena as public as this one.

    Case in point: Nancy Pelosi may be quite liberal. She may be a very clear democrat, but she is also a devote Catholic who has only practiced natural “birth control” methods approved by the Catholic Magisterium. She isn’t some crazy liberal godless secularist.

    • Denny Burk March 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Hey, Mike. I agree. I did not mean to imply that all progressives are secular and godless. I will think about how to reword that to make it clearer.

    • Denny Burk March 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

      I’m trying to say that there is a great amount of secularism on the left, and that is often accompanied by an approach to politics that makes no reference to God. It’s ironic, but I see Limbaugh’s vulgarity as growing out of the same instinct–an ethic unmoored from accountability to God.

      • Paul March 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

        let’s face facts here, Denny – a large percentage of the economic conservative leg of the GOP table is pretty secular and godless, too. It’s not just the left that have their share of atheists. I’d love it if you’d bring yourself to acknowledge that too at some point.

    • Denny Burk March 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      Okay, I changed it. I wanted to point out the irony that he is as secular as the worst secularist on the left, but I couldn’t find a pithy enough way to say it. So I just left the liberal part out. Tell me what you think.

  2. Christiane March 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Thank you for acknowledging that ‘the damage is done’.
    I agree with you.

    Rush Limbaugh, has effectively in the past been quoted by many conservatives . . . but I’m hopeful that he will not be seen as the mouthpiece of the Republican Party or, God forbid, of any conservative Christian denomination that is among what Republican leaders have called ‘friendly churches’.

    I appreciate that you distance from this man’s inappropriate behavior.

  3. yankeegospelgirl March 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    To describe Rush as a “spiritual leader” is a gross overstatement indeed. His personal morals definitely leave much to be desired.

    That said, I have enjoyed his commentary in the past, as he can be genuinely funny and often speaks truth when it is uncomfortable to do so. On the other hand, I agree with you that this most recent comment was beyond the pale. It shows that his “tackiness-o-meter” is in shabby shape. I just don’t think I would have taken the whole-sale Rush-bashing QUITE so far. Give some credit where it’s due.

    • Denny Burk March 4, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

      I think his blustering insults often eclipse the helpful portions of his monologues. As a result, I don’t think he’s winning hearts and minds over to social conservative values. Also, he does seem to me to be a very secular guy. That secularist impulse impacts the way he talks about social issues. We’re not opposing the HHS mandate just so that we can stick it to the president. Our opposition needs to be more principled than that.

      We oppose this mandate because we believe it requires Christians and other persons of conscience to violate their most deeply held beliefs. The HHS mandate may be the worst violation of religious liberty in the history of the republic, but some how the public at large doesn’t seem to know that. Our failure to get the message out is why we are losing this debate in the court of public opinion. Rush’s vulgarity is one more obstacle to getting our message out.

      • yankeegospelgirl March 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

        Okay, I can agree with you that it was a poor tactical move because it distracted attention from the religious liberty aspect of this fight (besides being low-brow and gratuitous).

        At the same time, I feel like joining with the left in talking about what an idiot Rush Limbaugh is may not be the most profitable way for us as conservatives to spend our time. If we do that, we’re letting the left feed us our “outrage of the week.” I know that I dislike the feeling of being pushed into talking what everyone else is talking about. Many of your points weren’t even connected to this specific incident, so you could have written them months ago. Yet you put them all together in a big essay right now, because it’s the week for everyone to join the “Down with Rush Limbaugh” parade.

        Maybe nobody else finds that a little disturbing, but I think it’s just a small manifestation of a much wider cultural phenomenon. Whitney Houston dies, what’s wrong with you for not putting up an “RIP Whitney” post? This video has gone viral, why aren’t you talking about it? Hey, there’s been a huge church scandal, got anything to say there? It’s the homogenization of the Internet culture. Whatever is the “happening” thing, you’re considered weird for not dropping everything else and having a reaction to it.

  4. Paula March 5, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    A few weeks ago RedState’s Erick Erickson wrote a stinging rebuke of the young men attending CPAC. He was dismayed by their promiscuous, drunken behavior at the convention, which he said wasn’t befitting good conservatives and didn’t bode well for future leaders of this movement. Blogger Melissa Clouthiertook on the scantily clad young women. These were clear demonstrations that Conservative does not equal Christian. Limbaugh is another example of this. Many libertarians who lean toward the libertine side of things are another.

    Unfortunately, there is a perception in the media that they are all the same and when someone like Rush spouts off, Christianity gets thrown under the bus with him. In some cases you can blame ignorance, in others, the media is knowingly, deceptively trying to mix them all together to smear Christianity. People like Rush joyfully give them red meat. Christians who have equated Christianity with the Republican party are also guilty of perpetuating this falsehood.

    • Paul March 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      The future “leaders of the movement” are going to be much more in the Ron Paul/Paul Ryan mode, and are going to be leaving Christianity by the roadside. Mark my words.

      • JStanton March 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

        Paul, I think I agree with you on this. I see younger conservatives as becoming increasingly libertarian. I feel that libertarianism will end up being the worst of all worlds with regards to economic and social morals. Paul Ryan and Ron/Rand Paul are all devout followers of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

  5. Ron March 5, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    I’m not going to say that Rush was right in calling her names but what he said was right in this context. If she is so worried about getting pregnant while in law school then use the only method that insures that, DON’T HAVE SEX. Then she won’t need to spend the money on birth control and We won’t have to pay for it either.

    • Denny Burk March 5, 2012 at 1:07 am #

      She never said anything about her own use of birth control or about getting pregnant. Rush made that part up. The full transcript of her testimony is posted at the bottom of the post.

      • Derek March 5, 2012 at 9:53 am #

        I saw Fluke’s testimony last week and I thought it was a Saturday Night Live skit – I still can’t believe that she and her friends expect Georgetown (a Catholic school) AND the other people in her insurance network to foot the tab for $3,000 a year in contraceptives. Even if you take out the religious liberty problems with Fluke’s advocacy here, you have a textbook example of how far people, especially college age people, take their sense of entitlement.

        Fluke also confirms that Tom Wolfe (an Ivy League educated atheist author) was correct when he depicted today’s college atmosphere as a hyper sexualized world (in the novel “I am Charlotte Simmons”) that had little to do with preparing students for the real world and everything to do with inflating egos. Apparently, not just at the undergraduate level either.

      • Paul March 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

        and tax dollars won’t be paying for contraception.

  6. Lori March 5, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    It goes to show how the MSM likes to label and accuse in order to discredit the GOP, but they don’t return the favor for crass and vile comments from political commentators on the left. Why is that? Double standard.

    I loved Gingrich’s response to questions about this issue. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2012/03/04/gingrich-scolds-gregory-and-media-making-limbaugh-great-national-cris#.T1P86NtnYgI.twitter

  7. X-lib March 5, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    I heard Rush’s programs last week, and not once did I ever interpret them as personal attacks on Ms. Fluke. Rush is an entertainer who uses, as he says, absurdity to illustrate the absurd. Ms. Fluke’s comments were ridiculous. They  deserved to be mocked.  Rush isn’t broadcasting as a Christian so why hold him to Christian standards? Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart, and Bill Maher have done much worse. Once again, the hypocrisy of the left is manifested. And this time, they’ve brilliantly managed to intimidate the right, including Rush, into groveling for forgiveness. I’m disappointed in all the hyper-sensitive conservatives who crumble when attacked by feminists.

    • Denny Burk March 5, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      XLib,

      Calling someone a “slut” and a “prostitute” is indefensible. A 61-year old man telling a young woman to post sex videos of herself online is despicable–even if it was in jest. In the battle for ideas, winning hearts and minds is everything. Limbaugh has set us back big time.

      It’s no excuse to site Jon Stewart and Bill Maher’s misbehavior. Are we really going to let those guys be the measure of decent behvior? I’m not. Don’t let the left’s hypocrisy distort your vision of civility.

      I don’t expect Rush to live up to Christian standards of decency. I do, however, feel compelled to draw a bright line between what he stands for and what I stand for. For better or for worse, many Americans view him as a spokesman for social conservatives and evangelicals. I think it’s important to draw a distinction so that people understand that we as Christians stand apart from this kind of vulgarity. If Christians defend Limbaugh’s remarks now, they forfeit their prophetic voice.

      Thanks,
      Denny

      • Derek March 5, 2012 at 10:44 am #

        True – but Joe Scarborough isn’t exactly a prophetic voice either. I used to watch Morning Joe too, but stopped watching because I found his commentary to be very embarrassing representations as both a conservative and as a Christian. Hopefully Tim Keller gets him straightened out. 🙂

    • Paul March 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      it’s never personal when you call someone a slut or a prostitute.

  8. RD March 5, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I have to disagree with you when you say that Rush is not the leader of the conservative movement. When I discuss issues with conservative friends what ends up happening more times than not is that they quote arguments that they’ve heard from Rush, using his exact words when framing their ideas (even to the point of using his denegrating nicknames for various individuals and groups). When I ask them if they have read anything by Wm Buckley Jr. or Milton Friedman or Edmund Burke (or even if they’ve heard of them) I am generally greeted with a blank stare. Most have at least heard of Barry Goldwater though know very little about him or about the fact that he came to lament the state of conservatism in this country. Limbaugh is the conservative from whom most conservatives learn their conservatism. They quote him, they imitate his “outgroup” labeling of people and organizations and they imitate his tone of voice when they are making political points (you can even get hints of some of the commentors here channeling Rush when they leave comments about topics).

    I do agree with you, Denny, that he has made it very difficult to have civil discussion in this country. And, he’s not alone in this. Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow and others do their share of “outgroup” labeling and name calling. Sadly, we have mistaken media sideshows for serious policy discussion.

    • yankeegospelgirl March 5, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Look, it’s one thing to resort to gratuitous low-brow humor to get your point across, as Rush did here. It’s another thing entirely to have a generally sardonic attitude towards liberals or to mock them when appropriate to do so. God himself laughs at such people. There can definitely be a time and a place for us to follow His example.

      This is part of the reason why I had some mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes, we should absolutely condemn this comment and others like it, because they are inappropriate and void of class. On the other hand, I fear that it could spill over into a general condemnation of “tone,” which is unhelpful.

    • JohnnyM March 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Milton Friedman should be required reading in all schools.

      • Paul March 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

        only if Paul Krugman is as well.

  9. KarinJR March 5, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Denny,

    Thank you for your post – I appreciate in particular your linking to the transcript of Fluke’s actual testimony, which was not at all as described by Rush, and was in fact focussed largely on the fact that for many women (such as her friend who tragically lost her ovary) birth control is needed for non-contraceptive medical reasons.

    Although I am both secular and liberal, I understand and respect the important role that faith plays is in many people’s lives (including my own family). So I am sincerely interested in understanding more about why you feel so strongly that the contraceptive cover mandate would violate religious liberty.

    As I understand the current formulation of the plan, women who are employed by an organisation that has a religious objection to contraception would now not receive birth control under that plan. Instead, the insurer would now offer them the option (if they so choose) to take out a separate policy that would cover contraceptive services. This policy would be free of charge to the woman and to the employer, with the insurer being required to bear any costs.

    Thus, a religious employer would not be offering or subsidising these services directly. Admittedly, they are facilitating a marketplace in which the woman might chose to access this service – but I don’t see how that is meaningfully different than a Jewish employer whose staff use their wages to buy pork products.

    Can you envision any way in which contraception could be offered in an equal way to all employees without violating the rights of religious organisations? How would that work?

    I am not being facetious or argumentative – I sincerely would be interested in your ideas about this. Thanks in advance,

    Karin

    • Denny Burk March 5, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      Dear Karin,

      Thank you for reading and for taking time to comment. There are a number of reasons why we believe Obama’s compromise really isn’t a compromise.

      1. “Free” only means that there will be no co-pay for contraceptives. “Free” does not prohibit insurers from adjusting their premiums to account for the cost of this service. No one believes that insurance companies are simply going to take this mandate on the chin. Insurers will pass these costs on to the consumer by adjusting their premium rates. So religious employers will be paying insurance premiums that cover services that violate their consciences.

      2. The Obama compromise doesn’t address religious organizations that are self-insured. I am a Southern Baptist. Our denomination self-insures pastors, missionaries, and other denominational workers all over the world. If the the insurance company (which in our case is us!) is required to provide these services for free, then our denomination is now paying for chemical abortions. I cannot stress strongly enough how abhorrent this is to millions of Southern Baptists who put there money in the offering plate every week. There are many other religious organizations (like Catholic Charities) that are in the same position we are in.

      3. The Obama compromise doesn’t accommodate Christian employers who do not want their business supporting abortifacient drugs. My sister–who is also a Christian–owns a stage production company in Nashville, Tennessee. Why should she be forced to pay for insurance services that her conscience abhors? If there’s going to be a mandate, that mandate should not force employers to spend money on services that violate their consciences.

      These issue are not being sufficiently covered in the media yet. First amendment court challenges are forthcoming, and I don’t see how this doesn’t make it to the Supreme Court. That will force the religious liberty issue to get more scrutiny then.

      By the way, no one is arguing that contraceptives should be outlawed or that women shouldn’t have access to contraceptives. The debate is over who should pay for them. It is a violation of free exercise to require conscientious employers to foot the bill.

      Thanks again.

      Denny

      Denny Burk

      • KarinJR March 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

        Hi Denny,

        Thanks for your response – I really appreciate it.

        This is a complex area, and I think there are a lot of nuances in all of the things you mention above that perhaps we might both approach differently, but where we might still find some instances of common ground.

        Let me take your points in turn:

        1) You are correct that the current law does not forbid insurers from increasing premiums because of the elimination of birth control co-pays. However, as a matter of economics there seems to be quite a bit of research indicating that insurers in fact save money overall by offering contraception free of charge. The explanation of this that I have found most helpful is this one: http://moneyland.time.com/?2012/02/14/?why-free-birth-control-will?-not-hike-the-cost-of-your?-insurance/#ixzz1o4neD1eb

        Now, of course, just because insurers will not find their costs going up does not mean they might not use birth control as an excuse to raise prices. It would hypothetically be possible for the government to regulate this issue, but I have in common with many conservatives a desire to avoid regulation of this type if possible, because I think regulations should be simple and something like this would add further complexity into what is already a complicated health marketplace.

        And it may be unnecessary anyway, because many if not most insurers already cover birth control fully for exactly the reasons I’ve cited above.

        2) On the issue of self insured organisations, this is indeed one area where the issue remains unresolved, but my understanding was that the Obama administration is still actively working with Catholic organisations about how to address their concerns here. I’d be interested to know your thoughts about what you think might be a possible compromise? Or, if you just fundamentally don’t think there is any room for compromise here and such organisations should not even indirectly be asked to in any way allow for birth control to be accessible to their employees, I’d be interested to know how many people would be affected by this? If the number of women who would be affected is very small (and if they are almost exclusively members of the faith in question) then perhaps an exception could be made.

        If people of good faith like to lobby for this exception, that would seem to be a far better use of all our time than continuing to stare at the spectacle of the delberately insulting Mr Limbaugh. 😉

        3) I am confused by this point as it was my understanding that these organisations (such as Georgetown University) are exactly the ones that the new provisions were designed to address – i.e., that the employers precisely would NOT be required to include contraception within their plans but that employees would take out a different plan to cover these services. We’ve discussed above why I don’t think that need necessarily lead to the insurers increasing the costs of their core helath care plans that are partly funded by employers. What are your other concerns?

        On the issue of whether people should be asked to pay for things that offend their conscience, I can certainly understand why this worries you. But I would also ask you to remember that you are almost certainly already paying for any number of things that you would find objectionable in various ways. I oppose the death penalty (as does the Catholic Church), and yet my tax dollars are routinely used to fund executions. I detest my implicit involvement in something that I find deeply troubling, but I also accept that I am part of a social contract in which people who disagree with me also have the right to form policies that disctate how my money is spent.

        And, in addition, many religious groups have ethical objections to various medical procedures that are nevertheless routinely offered as part of health care plans. For example, Jehova’s Witnesses object to the use of blood transfusions, even for life saving emergency medicine. However, no health plan would be allowed to offer coverage that would not include the option of life saving transfusions.

        My overall concern here is that I want us to balance our concern for religious liberty with the health needs of women. Both are important, and I believe there must be ways that a Christian organisation can find to weigh one against the other. Sandra Fluke described in her testimony the situation of her friend who was unable to afford medically necessary birth control and thus tragically wound up needign surgery to remove her ovary. She may now be going into early menapause and unable to have children. If her plight can be easily prevented with virtually no cost, if she herself and her doctor both have no ethical objection to the pill, and if Georgetown is not asked to contribute any money at all to the service that they object to, that seems to me like a fair way to balance the needs of women with respect for those who believe differently.

        To take a step back from this – the only reason this issue is relevant at all is becuase our US health care system has created the situation in which people receive helath care via their employer. If, instead, they were able to purchase it directly for themselves on the marketplace the church would not be put in the position of having to approve of disapprove of individual medical procedures provided to their staff! But we are very far away from a non-employer based health care system, I fear, so this awkward triangle will carry on.

        My comment has become quite long, but I wanted to give you some further insight into why those of us who support the HHS rule believe that it is a fair attempt to solve a real health problem for women, and not at all an attempt to interfere with religious rights.

        Best wishes,

        Karin

        • K Gray March 6, 2012 at 12:56 am #

          It would have been much better, under different circumstances, to hear from Ms. Fluke’s friend rather than this second heand testimony. Ms. Fluke said her friend’s oral contraceptive was “technically covered” by Georgetown because it was medically necessary. Then she told how her friend’s claim was wrongfully denied, plus several more stories of stories of insurance bureaucracy.

          So apparently Georgetown covers medically necessary oral contraception. And insurance bureaucracy will always be with us.

          • KarinJR March 6, 2012 at 7:10 am #

            Hi K,

            I agree it would have been better to have heard from Ms Fluke’s friend directly. But after looking at what happened to Fluke for giving testimony that didn’t even mention her own medical or relationship situation, I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to give their personal testimony on this issue.

            Which is an important point – leaving aside for a moment the virtues of the issue itself, I hope we can both agree that we would all be better off if our public discourse was respectful enough that people with an important story to tell can feel free to enter the public conversation without being personally attacked. I worry that after the ugly language used by Mr Limbaugh and others, many other people on both sides of the issue will feel uncomfortable giving their testimony in future.

            Best wishes,

            Karin

        • K Gray March 6, 2012 at 1:28 am #

          ” a fair way to balance the needs of women with respect for those who believe differently”

          Relgious liberty is a Constitutionally protected right rather than a respect for beliefs.. Free contraception is not a right. I’m not being facetious or argumentative, either. One is legally protected and one is not.

          We all have a right to freely exercise our own legitimate religion as U.S. citizens, as long as it does not deprive someone else of their Consitituionally protected rights. (E.g., we wouldn’t allow a religion to keep slaves). Here, religious institutions are exercising their right to run their internal operations according to their religioius beliefs. They employ women who use contraception. We are told that some 95% of women use contraception. The question is: can government mandate that insured women be provided free contraception? (Remember this does not cover people who are unemployed, uninsured, or work for small businesses w/fewer than 50 employees).

          When Consitutuional rights are weighed against free medicine, we are not at the point yet where free medicine wins.

          • K Gray March 6, 2012 at 11:59 am #

            Karen JR, we completely agree on personal testimony being a risk due to those lying in wait to unfairly attack. These attacks hurt individuals and families and actually thwart truth.

            My personal desire for the Christian voice — as distinct from media or political voices — is that we would say only that which is true (fact check!) and edifying, and as you said, show respect for persons.

        • Denny Burk March 6, 2012 at 11:01 am #

          Dear Karin,

          Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond.

          1. Whether costs rise or fall is not the issue for conscientious objectors to this mandate. Premiums will even out to whatever the market value is for the services offered. The inescapable bottom line is that religious orgs will be forced to buy insurance that includes coverage for contraceptives. No matter how little or how much it costs them, they should not be forced into purchasing services they abhor for reasons of conscience.

          A good way to think about this from our perspective would be to imagine if the government were requiring you to pay a premium for a practice you find utterly morally abhorrent. I’ll use an absurd example, but I hope it illustrates the point. Imagine if the healthcare law mandated that all children of felons be blinded in utero in order to reduce the risk of their menace to society. You would be outraged that such a practice even exists, much less that your government would coerce you into purchasing insurance that provided such coverage for those who wanted it. We believe killing an unborn child is worse than the absurd example offered above, and we are astonished that our government would force us to contribute in any way to this.

          2. It’s not just the Catholic orgs that are self-insured, but you wouldn’t know it from media coverage. I hope the Obama administration is consulting with other groups as well to fix this problem.

          3. You wrote, “it was my understanding… that the employers precisely would NOT be required to include contraception within their plans but that employees would take out a different plan to cover these services.”

          This is incorrect. The HHS mandate requires that “preventative services” be included in every policy, and those services include chemical abortions, sterilization, and contraception. The exemption to this is very narrow: churches, synagogues, etc.

          Thanks,
          Denny

  10. yankeegospelgirl March 5, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    By the way, the reactions to all this have merely proven what we already knew: It’s bad to call a woman a rude name, unless she’s a Republican of course.

  11. Paula March 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    As a side note, most insurance policies that refuse to cover contraception for birth control make an exception when the drugs have a documented medical purpose, such as birth control pills prescribed to control heavy periods.

    • K Gray March 6, 2012 at 1:03 am #

      Ms. Fluke indicated that Georgetown’s policy is that way.

  12. Larry Geiger March 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I liked what he had to say and the words that he used to describe these young women are pretty accurate. Words like purity, prudence, abstinence and discipline have no value to these people. It’s an afront to them to even mention abstinence or to imply that someone might think that has value.

    I’m sure that if I used prudence or abstinence in the presence of Ms. Fluke or Mrs. Pelosi, they would go ballistic.

    I think that the words that Rush used were pretty accurate in describing women who want the government to provide them with contraception. But of course we always have the liberal case, just like with abortion, that if they can think of a single instance of where it “might be a good thing”, then it should be completely supported in EVERY case. It’s just as ridiculous in this example as it is with abortion.

    • Paul March 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      stay classy there, Mr. Geiger. You don’t know Ms. Fluke, and for all you know, she might have wanted access to the pill for reasons relating to heavy periods and/or horrifying bouts with PMS. Heck, given the depravity of the average American citizen these days, wanting to be on the pill to prevent against pregnancy in the event of rape wouldn’t be the worst idea ever. Until you’ve spoken to her personally however, or unless she says in public, “I want to be on the pill so I can have as much sex as possible” it is nothing but gossip and bad manners to refer to her as anything but an upstanding young lady.

  13. Bill Mac March 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    I’m hoping (doubtless in vain, as we can see from the comments) that this will lessen Christianity’s love affair with Limbaugh. This guy does not represent us. You really think calling someone a slut or prostitute is consistent with Christianity? You think making up facts and asking for sex videos to be posted is consistent with Christianity? Does anyone think this apology is born from conscience? It is born from self service and greed. If his sponsors had stuck with him, he’s still be calling her a slut.

    Saying “but what about liberals?” is just a deflection. We are not judged by our comparison to liberals.

    • yankeegospelgirl March 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      If we’re going to talk about making up facts, in fairness it should be mentioned that this woman lied about her age for the sake of political activism. She’s not an undergraduate student.

      • KarinJR March 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

        That’s true, she’s a law student. Which is why she was introduced in her Congressional testimony, and on every media outlet as a Law Student. At no point did she claim any different, and in fact she introduced herself as the former President of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. If she was trying to mislead people into believing she was an undergrad she was doing a poor job of it.

        It was only Rush, who in talking about her decided to downgrade her to a “college coed”.

        • yankeegospelgirl March 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

          In that case, I obtained some misinformation. It appears that you’re correct.

          I’m watching a little of her testimony now, and what strikes me is her emphasis on the “suffering” of women without contraception. This seems like an indication that the left is letting its humanitarian mask slip. With all the people in the world who truly ARE suffering, including the disabled and the diseased what are they really passionate about? A lifestyle choice.

          • yankeegospelgirl March 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

            Ah, that’s it—Fluke herself didn’t lie about her age, it was the liberal media that said she was 23. That’s how I heard it.

          • Paul March 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

            THE LIBERAL MEDIA!!! Why not just embrace your inner Sarah Palin and refer to it as the “lamestream media.” Sheesh.

          • yankeegospelgirl March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

            Well, I could have just said “the media.” Same thing.

    • Larry Geiger March 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      “Christianity’s love affair with Limbaugh”. Uh, where did you get that? I certainly did not say it. Ok, let’s not use the words Rush used. Would you prefer fornicator? Unclean? Lewd? Evil desire? Brood of vipers?

      • X-lib March 6, 2012 at 5:32 am #

        Some Christians insist that we are to be “nicer than Jesus.” They probably would have scolded Him for calling the Pharisees names.

        • Paul March 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

          Jesus was right to call the Pharisees names. Limbaugh was not right to call a woman he did not know, who never said she was promiscuous, a slut and/or a prostitute.

          • X-lib March 7, 2012 at 2:50 am #

            Ms. Fluke claims to be a leader on behalf of women’s “reproductive justice,” but she’s just deceiving a lot people while making a name for herself (and potentially a lot of money). Her advocacy facilitates promiscuous behavior. While she may not be a literal prostitute (Rush never said she was a literal prostitute-it was always figurative), Ms. Fluke is definitely selling an evil idea to a generation of lost souls. Sounds pretty Pharisaical and worthy of being called out for what it is-whorish. 

          • Larry Geiger March 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

            Thank you X-lib. You said it better than I would have.

  14. RD March 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    KarinJR,

    The tone of the dialogue between you and Denny on this issue is much appreciated! This is the type of thinking and discoursing that moves toward productive solutions. There isn’t any group-labeling or chiding, just a clear expression of ideas and viewpoints. Thank you thank you!

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