Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pushback on the religious freedom meme.

There's finally some push back on the religious freedom meme.  That's that argument that defines "religious freedom" as the "right to impose religious beliefs on others who do not share them".

It's the argument that my marriage (blessed in the Episcopal church, no less) is an affront to the religious freedom of Roman Catholics because I'm gay.

It's the argument that a woman choosing to use contraception is an affront to her Roman Catholic employer.

So, pushback number one:  report from  The Center for American Progress that finds religious freedom and freedom to marry are mutually compatible (my emphasis).  
Americans from all faith backgrounds support the ability to practice one’s religion free from government interference. These twin freedoms—the freedom to worship and the freedom to marry—are both important American values, and they are wholly compatible with one another. ... 
This report presents that analysis across four main areas.....

Lastly, we want to acknowledge that an increasing number of religious Americans and denominations have voiced their support for marriage equality. Religious opponents of marriage equality do not speak for all people of faith. Their claims should not go unchecked.
Here's the executive summary and here's the full report.

Pushback number two is against the idea that a Roman Catholic employer in a secular business has the right to determine whether women he employs have access to insurance coverage for contraception.  (In Arizona, which is reversing towards the Stone Age, there are actual efforts that could allow women to be fired for using birth control-- a personal decision that is none of her employer's business! )

Addressing this in federal court, a Federal Judge has strongly dismissed this argument. From the NY Times:

Judge Carol Jackson of Federal District Court, a George H.W. Bush appointee, dismissed the lawsuit filed against the administration brought by a mining company and its owner, who said that providing contraceptive coverage in the company health plan violated his personal religious views.Judge Jackson, based in St. Louis, correctly pointed out that the rule exempts churches, mosques and other houses of worship. The mining company — a secular, for-profit employer — clearly does not qualify for that exemption... 
Any imposition on religion is trivial and remote, she explained. The health care coverage would offend the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs only if an employee “makes an independent decision to use the plan” to obtain contraceptives; and that independent decision is no different from an employee using part of a salary to pay for contraceptives, which clearly would not harm the employer’s right to free exercise of religion. 
The 1993 statute “is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others” and “does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one’s money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one’s own,” Judge Jackson wrote. 
As Susan Russell put it a while back, Freedom of Religion means the freedom to practice your religion as you choose, NOT the freedom to impose it on others.  A secular employer has no more rights to deny women contraception than to insist they can't have sex.... or deny employment to Roman Catholics.

And let's not forget that if the goal of the Roman Catholics is to reduce abortions, a sure-fire way to do that is with (you guessed it) contraception!  As a new study shows, free contraception dramatically reduces the rates of abortion. But of course it's not about abortion...or about children.... it's about putting women (and gays)  in their place as less-than.

But you know, I'm not RC anymore, and I refuse to be treated as though I were.


dr.primrose said...

The San Franciso RC archdiocese refuse to let Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus attend Archbishop's Salvatore Cordileone's installation, even though he was an invited guest -


JCF said...

dr. p beat me to it...

I'm really wondering if any TEC/RCC ecumenical efforts are going to survive the pontificate of B16 (they almost certainly aren't going to in SF!)

I can't help thinking of the "Canticle of Brother Sun" on St Francis feast-day. "How blessed it is when brothers are reconciled". Holy Francis, pray for us!