When Bishops Become Bullies


See all our coverage of the 2012 Contraceptive Mandate here.

The arrogance of the 350 Bishops of the US Catholic Church is mind-boggling. Though they are facing bankruptcy in many states because of the shameful tradition of priests molesting children, they still have the nerve to claim a right to make moral decisions for women. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) argued that birth control should not even be included as a part of necessary preventive health care, even though available birth control is essential for healthy women and healthy families. Since the Bishops lost that ridiculous argument, they now demand the right to impose their archaic, anti-woman and anti-family views on people who happen to work at Catholic hospitals and Universities.

What is at stake is the availability of preventive contraceptive services that will be available to employees under the Affordable Health Care Act. There are already approximately 335,000 churches and houses of worship that are not required to provide birth control services for their employees because of religious exemption. Now the Bishops claim that their religion also exempts them from providing preventive health care services to the millions of employees at Catholic hospitals and Universities, many of whom are not even Catholic! These employees and their families have the same right to preventive health care as all other Americans.

The fact is that the Catholic Bishops can’t even convince their own parishioners to follow their unrealistic rules—98 percent of Catholics use birth control and many have chosen abortion. Catholic schools and hospitals get Federal funds—-your tax dollars and mine—but they don’t want to play by the same rules as everyone else. In this economy it is ridiculous to argue that only devout Catholics work at Catholic institutions. The one million people who work at Catholic hospitals and the 2 million who work at Catholic Universities and their dependent families have the right to make their own moral decisions about their private lives. When the Catholic Church hires non-Catholics it has to recognize that these people have a right to their own religious freedom. The Catholic Church is not only the Bishops. It is made up of millions of Americans, the majority of whom agree that women should be able to get affordable birth control through their workplace.

It is time for the women of America to say no to the bullying of a tiny group of men who will never know what it means to make tough choices about pregnancy; or have a baby; or raise a child; or scramble to care for a family. Catholic women may love their Church, but even they know when it has lost touch with real life. The rest of us demand the freedom to follow our own consciences.

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  • johann7

    When are bishops NOT bullies? Isn’t their whole deal coercing people’s behavior with threats of eternal damnation?