Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Please don't get me wrong. This is not a screed against religion, Catholicism or any other theological belief. Instead it is question addressed about recent attacks by American Catholic bishops on President Obama and his administration's stance on health care. This week a group of Catholic bishops has launched a "Fortnight for Freedom," in which they intend to fight back against Obama's attempts to impose certain health care sanctions with fasting and prayer. This follows a number of surprisingly strong statements from fellow bishops, including Bishop Daniel Jenky from Peoria, Illinois. "Hitler and Stalin, in their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches staying open....President Obama with his radical pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda now seems intent on following a similar path."

Note the alarmist words used by Bishop Jenky in a sermon (no less): Hitler, Stalin, radical, pro-abortion, extreme, secularist, agenda. The bishops have said their attacks on Obama are backed by American Catholics. Polls indicate that 57 % of American Catholics are not worried about their religious freedoms. Naturally most of this has been a reaction to the Obama administration's requirements concerning birth control. A church would not be required to offer birth control or pay for it, but Catholic hospitals or universities would. Insurance companies have agreed to swallow the costs because it was cheaper than paying for maternity and child care costs.

In a time when almost 97 per cent of Catholic women, according to many surveys, take birth control at some point in their lives, this all seems a moot point. But try telling the bishops pushing a "Fortnight for Freedom." And ask if that "freedom" includes a woman's freedom to choose.

1 comment:

  1. On your first point, there is no reconciling Bishop Jenky's attempt at demonizing President Obama with the Catholic 8th commandment admonition: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

    The irony of using this demonizing tactic, so fundamental to the M.O. of both Hitler and Stalin surely cannot escape everyone.

    The only way in which this is a religious freedom issue is that it is an attempt of the Catholic Church to impose its beliefs on its employees, and it infringes on the religious freedom of the employee. Those who favor a Theocracy could sojourn in Uganda a while for some insights.

    Instead, this is very much a personal freedom issue: the rights of employees to services legally mandated to be provided to everyone are being infringed upon by parties with no standing other than employer. One could ask: will a church which does not believe in modern medicine be allowed to deny medical services to its employees?