Religious Freedom, You’re Doing It Wrong

A Catholic Bishop in Illinois ordered all of the priests under his command to read a letter decrying Obamacare as an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.

Bishop Jenky writes

Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present. Neither the president of the United States nor the current majority of the Federal Senate have been willing to even consider the Catholic community’s grave objections to those HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception.

This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system. Contrary to the guarantees embedded in the First Amendment, the HHS mandates attempt to now narrowly define and thereby drastically limit our traditional religious works. They grossly and intentionally intrude upon the deeply held moral convictions that have always guided our Catholic schools, hospitals, and other apostolic ministries.

We seem to be having a difference of opinion as to what religious freedom consists in. Opponents of Obamacare think religious freedom means whatever they want it to mean, whereas people who understand what religious freedom is tend to disagree with them.

Look, this isn’t complicated. If a bunch of religious people get together to form a non-profit organization (such as Catholic Charities), that’s not a religious organization. It’s a non-profit. Also note that Catholic Charities gets about half of its funding from government grants. Operating a non-profit hospital with everyone else’s money isn’t an expression of the free exercise of religion. What opponents of Obamacare are asking is that public funds be used to subsidize the enforcement of their own religious beliefs, which is the very opposite of religious freedom.

The argument that Obamacare goes against religious freedom is simply not coherent.

And then there’s former Gov. Mike Huckabee who–despite his aww shucks nice guy persona–simply can’t help himself from invoking hell-fire in the context of electoral politics.

Christians across the nation will have an opportunity to shape the future for our generation and generations to come. Many issues are at stake, but some issues are not negotiable: The right to life from conception to natural death. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.

Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? This is Mike Huckabee asking you to join me November the 6th and vote based on values that will stand the test of fire.

Points for trying with the subtlety, I guess?

[EDIT: Apparently Gov. Huckabee was referencing a passage in 1 Corinthians, not hellfire. Also, as he explained to Jon Stewart, anyone who doesn’t know that is biblically illiterate. Sometimes I joke that I’m the worlds most biblically illiterate seminarian, but it’s probably also sort of true.]

I don’t know why people like Bishop Jenky and Gov. Huckabee are so threatened by the prospect of having their right to control other people’s lives taken away from them. They probably view power as a zero sum game. If they’re losing power over someone else, then someone must be gaining power over them. It really doesn’t need to be that way, though.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: #AmericanIdols | #ReligiousLiberty | Homebrewed Theology

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