But a butterfly

Well then:

Frank O’Brien is not prevented from keeping the Sabbath, from providing a religious upbringing for his children, or from participating in a religious ritual such as communion. Instead, plaintiffs remain free to exercise their religion, by not using contraceptives and by discouraging employees from using contraceptives. The burden of which plaintiffs complain is that funds, which plaintiffs will contribute to a group health plan, might, after a series of independent decisions by health care providers and patients covered by OIH’s plan, subsidize someone else’s participation in an activity that is condemned by plaintiffs’ religion. This Court rejects the proposition that requiring indirect financial support of a practice, from which plaintiff himself abstains according to his religious principles, constitutes a substantial burden on plaintiff’s religious exercise.

RFRA is a shield, not a sword. It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise that occur when the government coerces action one’s religion forbids, or forbids action one’s religion requires; it is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others. RFRA does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one’s money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one’s own.

Indeed, if the financial support of which plaintiffs complain was in fact substantially burdensome, secular companies owned by individuals objecting on religious grounds to all modern medical care could no longer be required to provide health care to employees.

Just as in Mead, plaintiffs must contribute to a health care plan which does not align with their religious beliefs. In this case, however, the burden on plaintiffs is even more remote; the health care plan will offend plaintiffs’ religious beliefs only if an OIH employee (or covered family member) makes an independent decision to use the plan to cover counseling related to or the purchase of contraceptives. Already, OIH and Frank O’Brien pay salaries to their employees—money the employees may use to purchase contraceptives or to contribute to a religious organization. By comparison, the contribution to a health care plan has no more than a de minimus impact on the plaintiff’s religious beliefs than paying salaries and other benefits to employees.

Under plaintiffs’ interpretation of RFRA, a law substantially burdens one’s religion whenever it requires an outlay of funds that might eventually be used by a third party in a manner inconsistent with one’s religious values. This is at most a de minimus burden on religious practice. The challenged regulations are several degrees removed from imposing a substantial burden on OIH, and one further degree removed from imposing a substantial burden on OIH’s owner and manager, Frank O’Brien. Because there is no substantial burden imposed on either plaintiff’s religious exercise, plaintiffs have failed to state a claim under RFRA. Count I of the Amended Complaint will be dismissed.

My guess is these organizations and the Catholic Church, seeing this argument, will now stenuously object to paying workers since they might use that money in ways that they object to.

Note: this is only one of the questions to be ruled on. The court dismissed all the other counts also.

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