Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sarah Posner Dissects U.S. Catholic Bishops' Bogus "Religious Freedom" Arguments

I highly recommend Sarah Posner's first-rate essay at Religion Dispatches right now, on the attempt of the U.S. Catholic bishops to repackage discrimination as "religious freedom" in one shameful way after another--in their attack on the proposed HHS guidelines that would require Catholic institutions to provide contraceptive access in their health insurance plans, in their ongoing (and ever-increasing) attack on the human rights of gay and lesbian citizens, etc.

As Posner rightly notes, the willingness of the U.S. Catholic bishops to use the bogus language of religious freedom as a slick way to package what is essentially a political attack on the Obama administration represents the extent to which the USCCB is now frankly and unabashedly in bed with the evangelical right.  (Well, Posner doesn't use the in-bed-with analogy.  That's all my own doing.  It affords me a bit of grim humor to turn the bishops' fixation on what they imagine people do in their beds back on the reverend gentlemen themselves, vis-a-vis their political penchants.)

And so evangelical pro-Republican political activists, who were never concerned with the abortion issue until the 1980s, when they learned it had anti-Democratic political traction (as Randall Balmer rightly notes in another essay at RD right now), and who have never been concerned with the issue of contraception, are currently signing on to support the bishops in their anti-Obama war on the contraceptive front.  

Which means, Posner thinks--and I'm certain she's correct about this--that the spurious "religious freedom" rhetoric is now going to be mainstreamed by conservatives in general, by the entire Republican party, in 2012.  And we can expect to see a stepped-up campaign to convince the American public that the Republicans represent God and the Democratic party is entirely godless.  With Catholic centrists of the ilk of Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter, who professes to be a left-leaning Democrat but who is with the bishops every step of the way on issues like contraception and marriage equality, doing everything in their power to assist the political and religious right to mount these insincere arguments.

The graphic is from the wonderful Slap Upside the Head site.

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