As with all she writes, Patricia Miller's take on the recent firing of Catholic News Service's Tony Spence is illuminating: Patti writes,
If anyone needed more evidence of just how cynical the U.S. Catholic bishops' manipulation of the principle of "religious freedom" is, look no further than last week's dismissal of Tony Spence, the editor in chief of Catholic News Service, for tweeting his opposition to bills that would codify LGBT discrimination.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops built its "religious liberty" campaign, which was largely responsible for creating the broad, corrupted definition of religious liberty that has resulted in a wave of anti-LGBT bills across the country, around the idea that religious liberty is the "first, most cherished liberty"—and that to deny it is a violation of core American values:
"Freedom is not only for Americans, but we think of it as something of our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be guarded now. We are stewards of this gift, not only for ourselves but for all nations and peoples who yearn to be free. Catholics in America have discharged this duty of guarding freedom admirably for many generations."
Even as the Catholic hierarchy bewails the lack of respect for "religious freedom," they demanded that Spence resign for daring to publicly oppose anti-LGBT legislation that the bishops back under the "religious freedom" rubric.
And then she concludes:
With the issue having moved from widespread acceptance of openly gay people and same-sex marriage to greater understanding and acceptance of trangender people—and public opinion having turned against measures to allow LGBT discrimination—the bishops' strategy appears to be ever-tighter wagon-circling, and Spence was definitely on the outside of the circle.
Spence's firing, and the lack of respect for both freedom of the press and individual conscience it reflects, shows just how transactional the bishops' relationship with fundamental American freedoms really is.
To which I say a hearty amen.
The photo of Patti Miller is from Religion Dispatches, at the first link provided above.