The recent Huffington Post article by Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us quite a bit about the veracity of the USCCB’s claims that religious freedom is under attack in the United States.
What we know, and what the bishops missed, is that religious freedom deserves more than a fortnight—and it’s about protecting more than the interests of a small group of men whose demands don’t reflect the needs and desires of the people they claim to represent.
We are witnessing the rebirth of Christian religious fundamentalism in America, and the “Fortnight for Freedom” is a manifestation of the intolerance and repressiveness that grow out of such extremist movements.
The bishops’ recent actions show that they believe in unlimited freedom for themselves, but only the freedom they are willing to allow for the rest of us.
The bishops are correct: religious freedom is one of our most treasured liberties. But we have the right to a government that neither promotes nor disparages religion generally, nor any particular faith.
A requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control with no co-pay will take effect in August. Contrary to recent criticism, the new rule balances religious liberty with the need to protect women’s health and expand access to needed care.
The Affordable Care Act offers greater care to more people at lower cost as a nation. Cardinal Dolan’s plan would thwart that goal by keeping the overall pool of participants smaller and continue to drive health care costs up. In the end, he is asking Catholics and non Catholics alike to pay more.
Religious freedom means that the government should not privilege the teachings of one religion over another or deny individual religious freedom. Individuals must have the right to accept or reject the principles of their own faith without legal restrictions.
The Obama Administration is right to require insurance companies to cover contraception for public employees. The bishops are wrong to seek to use the government to limit the decision-making power of American women. And they are surely wrong to call what they are trying to do freedom.
Last night, the voters of North Dakota decisively defeated a ballot initiative that one news outlet called an “ecclesiastical mugging.” By a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent, voters said “no” to an effort to impose religious doctrine on health care, social policy, and law in the state.