In March, America’s best conservative legal minds will present their case against Obamacare to the Supreme Court. One argument they should make is that Obamacare’s individual mandate violates the First Amendment rights of Christian Scientists.
I am a Christian Scientist. I do not see doctors, have annual check-ups, go the emergency room, or take medicine. As a Christian Scientist, I rely solely on prayer for medical concerns.
If a particular medical concern is challenging, Christian Scientists reach out to practitioners for prayerful help. Christian Science practitioners are in the full-time prayerful healing practice and are available for Christian Scientists facing medical concerns.
When I work with a practitioner, I pay out of pocket. I do not need insurance to cover the costs of the prayerful work I receive. In fact, I believe that by forcing me to purchase health care, the government is inserting itself between me and God and violating my right to freely express my religion.
The Founding Fathers thought the freedom of religious expression was so important that they specifically addressed the issue in the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from creating a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
James Madison played a major role in fighting for this freedom. In his essay “Property,” Madison stated that man “has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.” He went on to explain that as man has a right to his property, he also has a property in his rights.
Madison made it extremely clear that government was created to protect man’s property — specifically his rights:
Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.
Therefore, a just government will protect man’s inherent rights. When a government becomes too powerful and oversteps its boundaries, the property of man will not be respected. This includes man’s own conscience.
The government does acknowledge this freedom — for some groups.
The Amish and other religious groups have a “religious conscience” exemption. The Amish are exempt from the mandate because they rely on a community ethic that prohibits government intervention. Their communities pay for the costs of their health care.
The fact of the matter is this: I do not use health care and I feel that the individual mandate violates my rights. If the Amish — who use health care — have an exemption, why don’t I have one?
Some argue that the individual mandate doesn’t violate Christian Scientists’ religious freedoms, since many Christian Scientists already carry health insurance. This may be the case for some Christian Scientists, who get health insurance through their employers, use it for dental purposes, or carry it for emergencies, but it is not the case for a large portion of us. Christian Scientists are exempt from Romneycare’s health insurance mandate. We should be exempt from Obamacare’s health insurance mandate as well. As it’s written, Obamacare violates Americans’ First Amendment rights.
Celia Bigelow is a senior at Hillsdale College.