WASHINGTON – The answer is simple. Because no Republican or Democratic politician has the courage to challenge them. This could apply to any religious institution meddling in politics, which the Catholic Church continues to do religiously without repercussions. E.J. Dionne reveals why:
That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health care law.
His administration mishandled this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the Church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.
… Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.
What Mr. Dionne reveals is that “Catholic allies” are more important than the integrity of protecting the individual person against the institution. The female individual having no lobbying crew or elite to protect her, for which she relies on the government, because only at the highest levels can a woman’s individual civil rights be secured. “Competing liberty interests” doesn’t address the lack of power an individual person has against institutions, seen in this debate by the Catholic Church who wants to deny reproductive health care to women, which hits rural and poor women directly.
Contrary to the fantasy that the Obama administration waging “an attack on their religious freedom,” an argument Russ Douthat makes today in the New York Times, what Pres. Obama has decided gives power to the individual over institutions.
Nothing is in higher keeping with the founders’ principles. It also is what Republicans and other conservatives, including Democrats, tout all the time, except where women are concerned. Then all of a sudden freedom it is just for men.
This highlights the biggest scourge in our politics and that is allowing religion and faith to have entrance into the debate in the first place. Thanks to Ronald Reagan and the “Moral Majority,” which was neither then or now, a religious litmus test has entered our political and policy landscape.
In thousands of parishes this weekend, Catholic priests read a version of the following letter to their congregation denouncing this decision as an attack on their religious freedom. Each bishop personally sent the letter out, and so there were some local variations. Here’s the one read in the Phoenix Archdiocese. Here’s another from the Bishop of Trenton. What follows is from the Bishop of Marquette… – Business Insider
I’m a rebel Episcopalian that now relies on daily meditation as my spiritual bedrock. I won’t take a back seat to any fundamentalist or evangelical or Catholic on spirituality. However, any person’s preferences in private should have no sway in public policy matters.
Since the Catholic Church is clearly encouraging it’s parishioners to wage a political campaign against this decision there should be substantive questions raised as to why this religious organization deserves protected status under the IRS code.
“The law says that organizations exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which includes charities and churches, may not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office,” the Internal Revenue Service says on its website.
That means no endorsements, checklists, guides promoting one candidate over another or sample ballots by tax-exempt parishes and organizations or their publications.
But it does not prevent religious leaders or members of other tax-exempt organizations from speaking out on the issues, organizing voter registration drives or nonpartisan educational forums or publishing candidates’ responses to a questionnaire as long as the questions cover a broad range of issues and do not reflect any bias.
As you’ll see from the letter below, provided by Business Insider, there is nothing nonpartisan about it.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette
Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book, The Hillary Effect – Politics, Sexism and the Destiny of Loss, which is now available in print on Amazon. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.