Friday, June 24, 2016

Commentary on U.S. Catholic Bishops and "Religious Liberty" Crusade As "Fortnight for Freedom" Begins: "Fair to Say Religious Liberty Has a Damaged 'Brand' These Days"

This week, the U.S. Catholic bishops began their latest "Fortnight for Freedom" shindig, whose purpose is to drive Catholic voters to the polls to vote Republican (as they claim) to defend a "religious liberty" now under siege because gay people have the legal right to marry civilly, because the Obama administration is mandating contraceptive coverage in its Affordable Care Act, because denying rights, goods, and services to targeted others while claiming that one has a religious warrant to discriminate is increasingly distasteful to more and more Americans, etc. 

Here's good commentary from the last several days on the bishops' colosally failed "religious liberty" initiative: 

It's fair to say religious liberty has a damaged "brand" these days. Catholic institutions have played a role in that diminishment. Lesbian and gay teachers across the country have been fired from Catholic schools after their civil marriages have become public. Several Catholic universities are using religious liberty claims to block adjunct professors making poverty-level wages from forming unions, a move dripping with hypocrisy given centuries of Catholic social teaching defending the rights of workers and living wages. Catholic leaders have spent years and millions of dollars in legal fees fighting for more religious exemptions in contraception coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that years before health-care reform was passed some Catholic institutions, with little furor, already offered their employees insurance coverage that included birth control coverage.

And for Religion Dispatches, Patricia Miller notes that the U.S. bishops and their neoconservative lay promoters have cried "Religious liberty!," and what has materialized as a result is Donald Trump: 

It's this same energy that they [i.e., the U.S. Catholic bishops, Robert P. George, et al.] stirred up with their alarmist talk of government overreach into the lives of faithful Christians, a government so morally corrupt that it must be disobeyed, and a harkening back to the good old days of black-and-white moral values—the "slithering id of a nervous age," to use Kevin Baker's phrase—that propels Trump. Now George and his compatriots in ginning up fears of a genuine assault on religious liberty repudiate what they themselves helped create because they don't like the messy messenger, with his divorces and affairs and lust for money. But the message is theirs and they own it, and its messenger, whether they like it or not.

The video is a Washington Post soundtrack of remarks Donald Trump made to a closed-door gathering of Christian conservatives in New York on 22 June, and assuring them that he's on their side in the "religious liberty" battles.

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