Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Thank Jehovah For Obamacare

It may sound odd that a religious organization such as the Jehovah's Witness religion could have anything to do with Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act) but President Obama pulled the same stunt that the Jehovah's Witnesses pulled back in 1990.

Back in 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court was deciding on the case of California Board of Equalization vs. Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, where California wanted to assess sales taxes on the sale of books and tapes and other items by Swaggart's ministry. The Watch Tower Society filed a legal brief in support of Swaggart's position, that a religious organization should be exempt from such taxation. The Supreme Court ruled that sales tax was applicable on the sale of books, tapes, and other items by Swaggart's ministry.

One month after the decision The Watch Tower changed their policy and instead of collecting a fee for literature went to taking donations.

It is hypocritical that the Jehovah's Witnesses should stand up for a ministry with a different opinion than their own, but what makes it more hypocritical is a quote from The Watchtower magazine a few years later:

"They abstain from involvement in politics and participation in warfare." (Watchtower, February 15, 1994, page 7)

The case against Swaggart did not directly involve them; so by their own standards it was something they did not need to be a part of. But the hypocrisy is not what President Obama learned from the Jehovah's Witness. What he learned was word play.

Those in the United States not covered by health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will have to pay a tax penalty for not having insurance. It is being described as a 'tax penalty' because it is unconstitutional in the United States to fine someone just because they haven't bought something. But call it a tax penalty and it is constitutional because a government has a right to tax its citizens. Even though it is still a fine in reality

The Jehovah's Witnesses did the same thing. Because they were not able to sell literature any longer, and could only accept donations, so up until 2003 at least if a door-knocker gave out magazines and didn't get the required donation then the door-knocker had to make up the difference themselves. Eventually, if a particular congregation did not get enough founds the Watchtowers literature supply desk would halt the flow of literature to that local Kingdom Hall until the donations (or bill) had been paid.

There is absolutely no proof that President Obama got the idea from the Jehovah's Witnesses but when a case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court every angle possible is looked into. It may not have directly changed anything but at the same time the legal team from the U.S. government explored every angle - it may have sparked the idea.

Further Reading - Article about the Sales tax
California Board of Equalization vs. Jimmy Swaggart Ministries
Fox News - Obamacare Penalty Item

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