Religious Freedom for Whom?

At least the President has managed to preserve religious freedom for everyone who works for Catholic hospitals, schools, and universities and yet deprive the Republican presidential candidates and their media arm, FoxNews, from their unfounded assertion of a “war on Catholicism.”  Yet I’m still pretty annoyed at our inability to provide an effective counter-narrative during the 3 or so weeks where this kept building, and building, and building… So, time to re-cap and take an analysis of messages that could improve this narrative:

This is about freedom of religion – indeed.  It is about freedom of religion for all of the thousands of employees at Catholic universities, hospitals, health care centers, etc., who are not Catholic – and even for the majority of Catholic workers at said employers who might still *gasp* choose to use birth control.  As I get counts on the number of workers at these employers in some Congressional districts, it becomes very evident that in many regions, if you want to work in your profession, working at a Catholic hospital may well be your only option.  Should that mean that your insurance benefits are proscribed by the religious beliefs of your employer?  Seems to me the Founders intended for individuals (human beings, not corporations, or quasi-religious institutions) to have freedom of and freedom from religious expression.  Bishops may dictate the faith to the flock, but they don’t speak for them to the government – polling figures this week, in fact, showed that most American Catholics disagreed with the Church position on this.

There are precious few institutions covered by these rules that do not benefit greatly from federal, state, and local funding from taxpayer dollars.  They should have a reasonable expectation that they will be required to abide by government standards as they do on workhours, OSHA standards, and, in fact, many state requirements that say that health insurance plans in their state have to cover contraceptives.  In fact, in states that have these requirements (and a Republican governor, that’s convenient!), we should ask whether the Republican leaders believe that the state of [let’s say, Wisconsin] has declared war on the Catholic church.

I really don’t see how paying for insurance coverage equates to violating the Church’s moral beliefs – and by the way, the Church is an organization, not an individual.  Is it possible for a hospital board to commit a sin?  Twelve years of parochial education certainly suggested to me that I was responsible for my own sinning.  These organizations happily pay for Viagra prescriptions to be filled.  If their employees then use their Viagra to go out and commit adultery, does that mean the hospital has sinned?  Or the dude with the Viagra?  Providing a prescription benefit is not the same thing as swallowing a pill with the intent to prevent a pregnancy – only an individual can do that.  Being given an occasion of sin, as I was exhaustively told, is your moment to shine!  It’s called free will.

Most Americans, including American Catholics, do not see contraceptives as a luxury, or an elective health care expenditure.  It’s part of everyday life.  Any individual has the absolute option not to use such methods, but let’s not allow that right to overshadow the Right’s constant, unrelenting willingness to make the issue about themselves rather than about denying women access to basic healthcare coverage that prevents unwanted pregnancy.

The Daily Kos/Markos tweeted today a hysterical point:  “Now that the GOP is an adjunct arm of the Catholic bishops, can't wait for their support of DREAM Act and UI extension!

The Catholic High School that I graduated from (Mascot: The Crusaders!  Get them infidels!) is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Predictably, they are desperately fundraising from alums for the occasion.  What a shame that as a registered Democrat, I’m not really allowed to be a Catholic anymore (okay, so I quit years ago, when at 11 I realized that if my best friend was destined for hell because she was Jewish, yet a much better person, than I, then this catechism was crap).  My 75 year old parents, lifetime Catholics and Democrats, are increasingly tired of being told that their political views are not Catholic.  Donate to the Crusader Fund?  You must be joking.