Dvid Brooks deplores the recent Obama decision on forced contraception coverage and hopes the White House will let Barack be Barack:
Members of the Obama administration aren’t forcing religious organizations to violate their creeds because they are secular fundamentalists who place no value on religious liberty. They are doing it because they operate in a technocracy.
Technocrats are in the business of promulgating rules. They seek abstract principles that they can apply in all cases. From their perspective, a rule is fair when it can be imposed uniformly across the nation.
Technocratic organizations take diverse institutions and make them more alike by imposing the same rules. Technocracies do not defer to local knowledge. They dislike individual discretion. They like consistency, codification and uniformity.
Technocratic institutions have an unstated theory of how change happens. It’s the theory President Obama sketched out at the beginning and end of his State of the Union address: Society works best when it is like a military unit — when everybody works together in pursuit of a mission, pulling together as one.
But a realistic antipoverty program works in the opposite way. It’s not like a military unit. It’s like a rain forest, with a complex array of organisms pursuing diverse missions in diverse ways while intertwining and adapting to each other.
I wish President Obama would escape from the technocratic rationalism that sometimes infects his administration. I wish he’d go back to his community-organizer roots. When he was driving around Chicago mobilizing priests and pastors on those cold nights, would he really have compelled them to do things that violated their sacred vows?
I don’t think so. I think if that Barack Obama possessed the power he has today, he’d want to flood the zone with as much rich diversity as possible.
Interesting - I railed about the Obama's exortation that we're in the Army now, so I am delighted to see a real bigfoot pick up on it.
Meanwhile the Times reports that the White House is looking for a graceful way to cave in, or at least, defer a final decision until after the election:
The White House may be open to compromising on a new rule that requires religious schools and hospitals to provide employees with access to free birth control, a senior strategist for President Obama said on Tuesday morning.
David Axelrod, who serves as a top adviser to Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program that the president would “look for a way” to address the vocal opposition from Catholic groups who say the rule forces them to violate their religious beliefs against contraception.
“We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms, so we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventative care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,” Mr. Axelrod said.
They certainy don't want to offend anyone, so they need to balance the concerns of religious leaders with the emotions of the godless haters that drive the Democatic left. I think Obama should announce a Grand Conference to resolve this in December.
Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for President Obama’s re-election campaign.
The casino owner, Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, known as Pepe, jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 and disappeared, and has since been linked to violence and corruption in Mexico. A State Department cable in 2009 said he was suspected of orchestrating the assassination of a business rival and making illegal campaign donations to Mexican officials.
When The New York Times asked the Obama campaign early Monday about the Cardonas, officials said they were unaware of the brother in Mexico. Later in the day, the campaign said it was refunding the money raised by the family, which totaled more than $200,000.
...“On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donors they brought to the campaign,” said Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign.
Uhh, why weren't these questions raised by the campaign?
On Monday, Democratic fund-raisers who have had encounters with Alberto and Carlos Cardona expressed surprise upon learning about their family history. Manuel Sanchez, a Chicago lawyer who is deeply involved in Latino outreach for the Obama administration, said he first met them in December at a finance committee meeting for the president’s campaign in Washington.
He said he had been told that they were involved in “marketing and advertising.” They impressed him as “very smart young guys who wanted to support the president,” he said.
“I did get the distinct impression that both of them are very well-to-do and successful in their businesses,” Mr. Sanchez said, adding that he “had no idea” they had a brother in Mexico or what his background was.
Surprised by their family history? I am not paid to vet unknown donors, but a simple Google search (taking out the current stories about donors and Obama) kicked back the result below; results two and three might have prompted the suspicions even of non-Spanish speakers:
My reaction is that "siniestra" sounds sinister and "corrupcion" doesn't look good. One wonders why no one took a closer look. Oh, not really. And does the timing work? I am trusting the Times on this:
The first campaign donations by Alberto and Carlos Cardona came shortly after news articles revealing Pepe Cardona’s criminal past appeared in the United States and Mexico last fall.
Apparently Team Obama will take money from anyone and then apologize if the media or diligent Republican sleuths catch them at it. As to the media, well, the Times is getting their balance in early - there is no way they run this story after June, unless the "Gotcha" applies to a Republican.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius takes to USA Today to explain the Administration's decision to force religiously-sponsored groups to violate their beliefs an include contraception in their employee insurance.
She opens with a typical liberal fantasy:
One of the key benefits of the 2010 health care law is that many preventive services are now free for most Americans with insurance.
They are "free?!? Do these preventive services just fall gracefuly from the sky to be collected by grateful patients? Back here in reality, shifting and hiding the cost does not eliminate it, her assurances notwithstanding. If employers are paying more for insurance so that these "free" services can be covered, that shows up as a reduction in employee wages.
The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control.
That's why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith. This exemption includes churches and other houses of worship, and could also include other church-affiliated organizations.
And the exemption does not include religious-sponsored organizations that employ people outside of their own faith. Let's hear, hear from old Notre Dame, whose President protested the proposed rule last fall in a letter to Ms. Sebelius:
I infer that the three states to which he refers are Oregon, California and New York, based on this from Ms. Sebelius:
The religious exemption in the administration's rule is the same as the exemption in Oregon, New York and California.
Not exactly mainstream or even reddish-hued states. The AP has more:
Mandates for birth-control coverage are not entirely new for religious groups. Twenty-eight states already require contraceptive coverage in prescription drug plans. Of those states, 17 offer a range of religious exemptions, while two others provide opt-outs of other kinds. However, opponents of the HHS regulation say there is no state mandate as broad as the new federal rule combined with a religious exemption that is so narrow.
Even in states where the requirement already exists, the issue is far from settled.
Wisconsin’s 2009 contraception mandate did not include a religious exemption, but allowed an exception for employers who self-insure. While some dioceses in the state were able to self-insure, others couldn’t afford to do so. The Diocese of Madison, Wis., ended up offering a policy with birth-control coverage, but asked employees to follow church teaching and not use the benefit. Local bishops continued to lobby state lawmakers for an exemption. But leaders knew a national health care overhaul was in development and hoped the federal law would be an improvement, said John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops.
In California, whose religious exemption served as the model for the Obama administration, dioceses and some church-run agencies were able to self-insure, said Carol Hogan of the California Catholic Conference, but that option is for the most part unavailable under the federal health care law. Church-run groups could have stopped offering insurance to their employees, but considered that option unfair to workers.
The NY Times picks up the pom-poms for a PR decision that makes no sense:
Blankfein to Speak Out for Same-Sex Marriage
By Susanne Craig
Lloyd Blankfein, the chief of Goldman Sachs who has become a lightning rod for Wall Street critics, might seem an unlikely advocate for same-sex marriage. But his credentials — a public figure in a conservative industry — could make him a powerful voice for that cause.
The Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that promotes equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, has persuaded Mr. Blankfein to be its first national corporate spokesman for same-sex marriage, an issue that will come up for a legislative vote in several states this year, including Washington and Maryland. Fred Sainz, an executive with the Human Rights Campaign, said the organization sought Mr. Blankfein, in part, because he is “an unexpected messenger.”
I guess Bernie Madoff was unavailable. Well, although Goldman is making progress on that long and lonely comeback trail, I wouldn't expect the leader of the vampire squid that ate America to be a sought-after spokesperson. I guess the logic of this recruitment (sorry, "logic") is that if progressives hate Goldman then conservatives must like it, or something.
I'm doubtful - the fiscal conservatives who already don't care about gay marriage won't care that Blankfein is on board; the social conservatives who do care about gay marriage will see Blankfein as the perfect ambassador for an out-of-touch power elite and its latest Big Idea cram-down.
That said, this is a great idea for Goldman, which might pick up a bit of cred in the media and Hollywood. Enough cred that the next Hollywood villains will come from BofA or Morgan Stanley? Maybe!
The FBI explains that 'Anonymous' didn't actually hack into an international conference call:
Regarding the conference call, an F.B.I. official said Anonymous had not in fact hacked into it or any other bureau facilities. Instead, the official said, the group had simply obtained an e-mail giving the time, telephone number and access code for the call. The e-mail had been sent on Jan. 13 to more than three dozen people at the bureau, Scotland Yard, and agencies in France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. One recipient, a foreign police official, evidently forwarded the notification to a private account, he said, and it was then intercepted by Anonymous.
I would have said that stealing passwords and access codes counts as hacking, especially if they are electronically hooked into the foreign official's account, but who am I?
The NY Times says that Netw was tied uo with Fannie Mae and freddie MAc during his time in Congress. Highlights include the early revolving door:
Mr. Gingrich’s senior advisers were important as well, with a handful of his aides and confidants going on to work for Freddie and Fannie or for lobbying groups that represented them. Of particular significance, several officials said, was Fannie’s hiring of Arne L. Christenson, Mr. Gingrich’s chief of staff, as a top executive and lobbyist in 1999.
And support for their agenda:
In a showdown critical to the companies’ fortunes, Mr. Gingrich played an important behind-the-scenes role in helping block a proposal in 1995 that would have forced Fannie and Freddie — rather than taxpayers — to pay potentially billions of dollars in increased fees, according to interviews and press accounts at the time.
At the time, Representative Jim Leach, a senior Republican from Iowa who led the House banking committee and was a fierce critic of Fannie and Freddie, wanted the companies to pay the bulk of about $4.8 billion to finance a reserve for ailing savings and loan institutions.
Through their lobbyists, Freddie and Fannie fought hard against the plan, and Mr. Gingrich made his opposition to it clear in a meeting with Mr. Leach on Capitol Hill. By the time the two men emerged, the proposal was dead.
“Newt was quite a pragmatist,” said a Republican official who was involved in the fee increase debate and spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid becoming embroiled in the current Republican race. In coming to the defense of Freddie and Fannie, Mr. Gingrich “was going with the consensus of his party — of both parties, really,” the official said.
A separate attempt within the House budget committee in 1995 to raise fees on Freddie and Fannie by hundreds of millions of dollars also died without a vote after Mr. Gingrich rejected it. The speaker asserted that raising fees would violate the Republicans’ oft-cited no new tax pledge.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25-— The prospects for broad financial deregulation this year dimmed considerably today as House Republic leaders abandoned a proposal for a $4.8 billion fee on three Government-sponsored businesses that assist the housing industry.
Representative Jim Leach, the Iowa Republican who is chairman of the House Banking Committee, emerged tonight from a meeting with Speaker Newt Gingrich to say that his proposal was "no longer an optism."
Bankers' anger at the prospect of bailing out savings institutions has spilled over into the debate on Glass-Steagall. Mr. Leach, whose top priority is to repeal Glass-Steagall, tried to make the banks happy by proposing instead that the three Government-sponsored enterprises put up the money instead.
But the plan quickly backfired. Real estate agents and mortgage banks furiously objected that this would represent a tax on home ownership. Bankers welcomed the possibility that they would not have to pay the interest, but refused to commit themselves to support Glass-Steagall.
When Mr. Leach met behind closed doors on Tuesday evening with his House Banking Committee colleagues, he found them nearly united in hostility. "There was a consensus that nobody supported it really, there was no strong support," said Representative Marge Roukema of New Jersey, the Republican chairwoman of the House Banking subcommittee on financial institutions.
It appears that Newt was the herald for political reality rather than its architect.
In a reversal of fortune, the Susan G Komen charity will continue to give money to Planned Parenthood. My goodness - if I were a corporate treasurer or otherwise in the public eye I would never give a dime to Planed Parenthood unless I was prepared to contribute to them forever. Obviously, they won't let donors go away quietly (SGK had been contributing to them since 2005, per the original AP story.)
SGK did a miserable job of explaining this decision. My guess is that the honest explanation would be that
- the $700,000 SGK gives to Planned Parenthood is less than 1% of their disbursements;
- Planned Parenthod takes in from the public more than twice as much as SGK each year; donors who support both causes scarcely need SGK to act as a conduit, since Planned Parenthood is well-known and easy to find;
- some potential donors to SGK are put off by the affiliation with Planned Parenthood; since this affiliation is financially irrelevant to both sides, SGK figured it could raise more money for its primary mission of cancer research by stepping back from the abortion wars.
Obviously they misunderestimated the intolerance of the left, for whom diversity of opinion is anathema.
OUR EFFETE ELITE: Business Insider presents as a glorious 'Gotcha' the news that SGK is affiliated with - brace yourselves - the handgun industry. Because women have a Constitutional right to an abortion but not to self-defense, or something.
Support for stricter gun laws in general is lowest Gallup has measured
by Jeffrey M. Jones
PRINCETON, NJ -- A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.
THE DEFAULT IS 'DONATE': The NY Times editors explain that the neutral, default position is to donate to Planned Parenthood:
With its roster of corporate sponsors and the pink ribbons that lend a halo to almost any kind of product you can think of, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has a longstanding reputation as a staunch protector of women’s health. That reputation suffered a grievous, perhaps mortal, wound this week from the news that Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, decided to betray that mission. It threw itself into the middle of one of America’s nastiest political battles, on the side of hard-right forces working to demonize Planned Parenthood and undermine women’s health and freedom.
...Companies like Ford Motor, Dell and Yoplait may not find the same value in identifying themselves with the foundation after its sharp departure from political neutrality.
Well, I am not sure the Times editors are authorities on neutrality. I guess their position is that pro-lifers who want to support breast cancer research should donate elsewhere; expecting pro-choicers who also support cancer research to write two separate checks is unreasonable.
SHOW THEM THE MONEY: SGK leaves themselves some running room in their statement:
We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.
Apply for future grants? Surely Planned Parenthood is entitled to a permanent annuity!
I would tell them to apply where the sun don't... well, that's why I'm not a non-profit biggie.
CNN and CBS report on a push to regulate sugar like alcohol and tobacco. From CBS:
Should the government regulate sugar, just like it regulates alcohol and tobacco?
A new commentary published online in the Feb. 1 issue of Nature says sugar is just as "toxic" for people as the other two, so the government should step in to curb its consumption.
The United Nations announced in September that chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes contribute to 35 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the commentary. The U.N. pegged tobacco, alcohol, and diet as big risk factors that contributed to this death rate.
Two of those are regulated by governments, "leaving one of the primary culprits behind this worldwide health crisis unchecked," the authors, Robert H. Lustig, Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis, argued.
They said that over the past 50 years, sugar consumption has tripled worldwide. That's also helped contribute to the obesity epidemic - so much so that there are 30 percent more obese people in this world than there are malnourished people.
Author Robert Lustig is a YouTube hero for his long lecture on the evils of sugar. Gary Taubes described Dr. Lustig's thinking in a NY Times magazine article, "Is Sugar Toxic?". The gist of the gist - fructose, half of the common sucrose molecule, is metabolized differently from glucose, the normal constituent of other starchy foods. Our bodies just weren't designed to process the amounts of fructose people routinely consume these days, and the results are visible everywhere.
Britain's annual per capita consumption of sugar was 4lbs in 1704, 18lbs in 1800, 90lbs in 1901 - a 22-fold increase to the point where Britons had the highest sugar intake in Europe.
Here in the US we are up to about 150 lbs per person per year, up about 50% from 1950. Set against that is the Australian Paradox - since 1980 obesity Down Under has tripled while sugar consumption has fallen. Hmm... is anyone going to let a bit of science come between them and a new batch of regulations and taxes?
Around the country and the world we have goverments looking for new revenue sources and new ways to control health care costs. Can a tax on sugar be far away?
The New England Journal of Medicine took a look in 2009; they kept it simple by evaluating a tax on sugar-sweetened sodas. First, the economic rationale:
Economists agree that government intervention in a market is warranted when there are “market failures” that result in less-than-optimal production and consumption.29,30 Several market failures exist with respect to sugar-sweetened beverages. First, because many persons do not fully appreciate the links between consumption of these beverages and health consequences, they make consumption decisions with imperfect information. These decisions are likely to be further distorted by the extensive marketing campaigns that advertise the benefits of consumption. A second failure results from time-inconsistent preferences (i.e., decisions that provide short-term gratification but long-term harm). This problem is exacerbated in the case of children and adolescents, who place a higher value on present satisfaction while more heavily discounting future consequences. Finally, financial “externalities” exist in the market for sugar-sweetened beverages in that consumers do not bear the full costs of their consumption decisions. Because of the contribution of the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, as well as the health consequences that are independent of weight, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages generates excess health care costs. Medical costs for overweight and obesity alone are estimated to be $147 billion — or 9.1% of U.S. health care expenditures — with half these costs paid for publicly through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.31
I like to consider myself a free markets/consumer sovereignty kind of guy, but with sugar the collective decision making seems to be deplorable (and sugar is arguably addictive, boosting the rationale for regulation.). And with national health programs, we are all our brother's keeper or at least, bill-payer. If other people's taxes are affecting my Medicare coverage and taxes, well, I have a right to squeak up, yes? (This is just life on the slippery slope towards the socialization of everything).
On to the revenue potential, estimated at roughly $15 billion per year:
We propose an excise tax of 1 cent per ounce for beverages that have any added caloric sweetener.
...A tax of 1 cent per ounce of beverage would increase the cost of a 20-oz soft drink by 15 to 20%. The effect on consumption can be estimated through research on price elasticity (i.e., consumption shifts produced by price). The price elasticity for all soft drinks is in the range of −0.8 to −1.0.33 (Elasticity of −0.8 suggests that for every 10% increase in price, there would be a decrease in consumption of 8%, whereas elasticity of −1.0 suggests that for every 10% increase in price, there would be a decrease in consumption of 10%.) Even greater price effects are expected from taxing only sugar-sweetened beverages, since some consumers will switch to diet beverages. With the use of a conservative estimate that consumers would substitute calories in other forms for 25% of the reduced calorie consumption, an excise tax of 1 cent per ounce would lead to a minimum reduction of 10% in calorie consumption from sweetened beverages, or 20 kcal per person per day, a reduction that is sufficient for weight loss and reduction in risk (unpublished data). The benefit would be larger among consumers who consume higher volumes, since these consumers are more likely to be overweight and appear to be more responsive to prices.7 Higher taxes would have greater benefits.
The revenue generated from a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would be considerable and could be used to help support childhood nutrition programs, obesity-prevention programs, or health care for the uninsured or to help meet general revenue needs. A national tax of 1 cent per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages would raise $14.9 billion in the first year alone.
This ship will sail, so let me restate my Bold Prediction from last April, made more apropos by the advent of Super Sunday:
BOLD PREDICTIONS: Within fifty years Coca Cola and the NFL will be the fodder of campfire stories meant to scare excitable pre-teens. It can't happen? Sixty years ago Frank and Dean were the Kings of Cool, smoking cigarettes live on national television; now they would get busted and the President of the United States is heckled in his own home for being a smoker.
If high school football were invented today, any school board listening to the injury rate and equipment expense would laugh out loud. It's days are numbered.
And Coke? Sales will be regulated as cigarettes are today, and sales to minors won't be legal. And someone somewhere will be charged with child abuse for giving a kid a Coke. Really.
In Australia, the UK and USA, per capita consumption of refined sucrose decreased by 23%, 10% and 20% respectively from 1980 to 2003. When all sources of nutritive sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrups, were considered, per capita consumption decreased in Australia (−16%) and the UK (−5%), but increased in the USA (+23%). In Australia, there was a reduction in sales of nutritively sweetened beverages by 64 million liters from 2002 to 2006 and a reduction in percentage of children consuming sugar-sweetened beverages between 1995 and 2007. The findings confirm an ―Australian Paradox‖—a substantial decline in refined sugars intake over the same timeframe that obesity has increased. The implication is that efforts to reduce sugar intake may reduce consumption but may not reduce the prevalence of obesity.
Nutrients 2011, 3, 491-504; doi:10.3390/nu3040491
YOU DON'T KNOW JACK: Let's flash back to Jack LaLanne making the case against "sugarholics", with the alcohol analogy.
You would think that in an information age, as TVs and cell phones become ubiquitous even among the lower classes, nanny impulses would be channeled more frequently into public education campaigns than into regulation. Doesn’t feel that way, though, does it? You get the calorie counts on fast-food menus now, but you also get moronic attempts to ban Happy Meals in San Francisco. Maybe one begets the other — i.e. precisely because it’s easier to put the word out about food and nutrition, the nanny-minded become more aware of the dangers of certain substances and feel obliged to press harder for regulation. Or maybe it’s a simple matter of health warnings being drowned out by an expanding galaxy of ads for the dangerous products. I don’t quite buy that theory, though: Cigarettes haven’t enjoyed ubiquitous advertising and the actual packs have carried warnings for nearly 50 years, but somehow even that degree of informed consent is lately being deemed insufficient, thus requiring actual photos of people with tracheotomies on the packs — even though virtually everyone above grade school levels knows that smokes are a cancer risk. The more access to information you have, the dumber you supposedly are, and therefore the more your choices have to be made for you by your superiors. Isn’t the future glorious?
Attention SCOTUS: Arguments against Obamacare start and end with the notion that if it becomes a permanent law, government will have license to meddle in American's daily lives beyond anything previously imagined.
It would be interesting to hear from Charles Murray, authorof "Coming Apart". As I recall, obesity and smoking are inversely correlated with education and income. One might argue that the unifying theme is impulse management and the ability to defer gratification. People who can grasp the long-term benefits of sitting in boring classrooms and saying 'no' to doughnuts may have a general flair for better decision making. Or, maybe fat drunk and stupid is a way to go through life...
(CNN) -- Schadenfreude -- joy at the misfortune of others -- is a bad thing.
So I've been trying to resist temptation these past months as I watch Attorney General Eric Holder deal with public and congressional reaction to the "Fast and Furious" scheme, the failed attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to seed and then track U.S. firearms to Mexican drug cartels.
Fast and Furious was a secretive, high-risk operation seemingly intended to deal with an intractable problem abroad. On those grounds, some may be tempted to equate it to a CIA covert action.
Yet despite this seeming common ground the General is not sympathetic:
But any personal instinct toward some common "executive branch" empathy for Holder is muted not only by the dubious character of Fast and Furious, but by some of the attorney general's other actions, as well. While out of office, for example, he famously called for a "reckoning" for CIA officers and other officials who authorized and conducted operations that were edgy and risky and intended to deal with difficult circumstances.
Kevin Drum explains that if Catholic hositals or schools want to take Federal money they should pipe down and play by the new Federal rules mandating contraception coverage in healthcare plans. Great point! Except that the new rules have nothing to do with whether the entity in question atually takes Federal money, as Megan McArdle, Ross Douthat and many others have managed to figure out.
The new rule does include an exception with an odd twist:
The rule includes an exemption for certain “religious employers,” including houses of worship. But church groups said the exemption was so narrow that it was almost meaningless. A religious employer cannot qualify for the exemption if it employs or serves large numbers of people of a different faith, as many Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies do.
Which implies that Jesus need not apply:
Under the government’s narrow criteria, the bishops said, “even the ministry of Jesus and the early Christian Church would not qualify as ‘religious,’ because they did not confine their ministry to their co-religionists,” but urged compassion for the sick and the poor, regardless of faith or creed.
Can't have a religion that reaches out to non-believers.
Yuval Levin has a bit of historical background, and Prof. Bainbridge has more. To abridge Bainbridge - it is absurd to suggest that our Constitution considers sitting in church to be a recognized religious exercise but ministering to the needy is not.