#Obama :ObamaCare’s Muslim Exemption

by Herbert London/

Laws almost always create unanticipated consequences. This is certainly likely to be the case when politicians bend over backwards to accommodate the currents of political correctness.

ObamaCare uses the Social Security language of the Internal Revenue Code to determine who is eligible for “religious conscience” objection to the insurance mandate. Specifically, the law provides exemptions for adherents of “recognized religious sects” that are “conscientiously opposed” to accepting benefits from any insurance, public or private.

As a consequence of this provision, Muslims may claim a religious exemption that is denied Christians and Jews. Since Islam believes insurance is haraam (forbidden) and likens insurance to gambling, the religion is excluded from requirements, mandates, or penalties set forth in the bill. Others who fall into this category are the Amish, American Indians, and Christian Scientists. Although the U.S. Constitution grants all Americans equal protection of the law, some Americans are more equal than others.

ObamaCare is specifically written not to apply equally to everyone. It is in most respects a law intended to discriminate — what some might call an extended Jim Crow law. If this seems exaggerated, consider: Jim Crow laws were based on racial discrimination, while ObamaCare is predicated on religious discrimination. Government acted based on a preconceived and arbitrary understanding of what is right.

For example, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus indicated that the purpose of ObamaCare is as much about redistributing income as it is about reforming health care. This is an application of government’s iron fist, putting income distribution and religious discrimination in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.

By any reasonable standard, ObamaCare (and the Congress that enacted it) is completely unfettered from the Constitution. If logic — Washington logic — accommodates Sharia’s prohibition against gambling and hence insurance, Christians and Jews should claim that the state’s ability to expropriate property under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, thereby legitimating an exemption for these groups as well.

Muslims are given exemptions from law everyone else must follow. What has actually been enacted is a wedge between Muslims and Christians and Jews. Americans are pitted against Americans, Christian against Muslim, the Torah against the Koran.

In a curious way the privilege granted Muslims and denied to most others translates into what Muslims call “dhimmitude,” or the taxing of non-Muslims in exchange for the acceptance of their presence. Intentionally or not, ObamaCare allows for the establishment of this practice and Sharia dictates in the United States. Conversely, if a Christian refuses to pay for required health care insurance, liens can be placed against assets and hard prison time could accompany noncompliance. Non-Muslims are, in effect, paying a tax to subsidize Muslims.

This is precisely the issue ObamaCare has insinuated into the national health care debate. Whether one accepts the proposition, cross-subsidization is built into the law: the young are coerced into underwriting the elderly and non-Muslims are being coerced into subsidizing Muslims. Taking from Peter to give to Paul usually pleases Paul. But the question of fairness remains, as does the “equal protection” clause in the Constitution. Ultimately the public will ask why some should be favored to the exclusion of others.

It is certainly odd that the U.S. circa 2012 has become Animal Farm, with privilege granted to some and not others. Equal protection is now simply one of those clichés honored more in the breach than in practice. There may be many reasons for opposing ObamaCare, but none is more important than the illogic of differential treatment.

In the 1960s, civil rights legislation attempted to redress the wrongs of the past by arguing race should neither be a preference nor a handicap. As I see it, this is not only a fair standard, but a distinctly American standard. By offering privilege to some and denying it to others, contemporary legislators have embraced the Orwellian perversion that is fundamentally incompatible with our traditions, notwithstanding moments when aberrational behavior was in the ascendancy.

By arguing the Muslim view that insurance is haraam, legislators open themselves to the thin edge of the wedge. What is likely to be next? Are there other concerns Muslims consider inappropriate because of the demands of Sharia? At what point does this form of “soft extortion” end? The answers are not apparent; neither is there justification for an Animal Farm scenario that defies equal treatment before the law.

Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001) and America’s Secular Challenge (Encounter Books).
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