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Little sister is watching


Most of us hear of the Little Sisters of the Poor only in joking reference to the weakness of opponents scheduled by major-college athletic teams: "We couldn't run the ball against the Little Sisters of the Poor."

The real Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns, don't field a football team, so far as we know. But they make big plans. Scary ones.

The Sisters are out to destroy religious freedom in America, to establish their own religion as the nation's. Exactly what the country's founders intended to prevent.

The Sisters have filed suit in federal court, alleging that they are above secular law. Their suit may go all the way up to the Supreme Court, where the sisters would stand a very good chance of winning. Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic. The Court has already made an unprecedented ruling that corporations have free speech. If the Constitution can be so distorted to benefit corporations, why not special favors for Catholics?

The Sisters are challenging a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. The law requires that health-care plans cover birth control. It does not require that the Sisters practice birth control, nor any employee of the institutions operated by the Sisters, nor that birth control for employees be approved by the Sisters. The law merely requires that birth-control coverage be available to employees who want it. But even this is too much for the Sisters. The rights of ordinary workers are inferior to those of nuns, they argue, and what is impermissible for nuns must be impermissible for nuns' employees too, regardless of whether the employees are Catholic or not.

The Sisters have found powerful Protestant allies. Several Protestant-owned corporations, strengthened by the Supreme Court's earlier decision in their favor, have filed suits similar to the Sisters', challenging the requirement that birth control be included in their health-care plans. Hobby Lobby, owned by fundamentalist Baptists, is among the best-known of these pious and chatty corporations. It places full-page ads in newspapers across the country attacking church-state separation and insisting that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation. David Green, Hobby Lobby's founder, believes his right to force his faith on others supersedes government mandates. Workers are free to believe as their boss tells them, in other words. Presumably a boss who was a Christian Scientist could prohibit his employees from participating in any health-care plan. Another might pass out poisonous snakes to his employees. Please Sisters, let the First Amendment alone.

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