Obama vs. the Concern Trolls on Nonsense "Religious Liberty" Issue
Lindsay Beyerstein speaks the sad truth:
Already Catholic special interests are objecting to funding contraception out of overall premiums because that means they're funding contraception indirectly. This kind of intransigence illustrates how foolish it was to try to compromise with this constituency in the first place. They are professionally unreasonable.
Compromise is illusory because these guys are practicing spiritual accounting, not generally accepted accounting principles. They will make up the rules to get the result they want, namely, "We're being oppressed by your birth control!"
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops hates the fact that any woman might get free birth control under health reform. No matter how this program is administered, the sophists at the USCCB will come up with a sob story about how they are being oppressed by our contraception cooties. We live in a highly interdependent society with complex organizations and multiple streams of money. If you're creative enough, you can always figure out why a dollar somebody else spends on birth control is tainting you.
Listening to leading Catholic concern troll Melinda Hennenberger is instructive. She admits that the Bishops, the Republicans and scads of catholic conservatives won't be satisfied with this. But she says the important thing is that the Catholic allies of the president "feel listened to" and that he has acknowledged that "Religious Liberty" is extremely important aqnd has been attended to.
Good old Religion Industrial Complex useful idiot Hennenberger --- with friends like her, women do not need enemies.
As Sarah Posner documented,and I referenced below, "Religious Liberty" is the new front in the culture wars.
The Manhattan Declaration is billed as "A Call of Christian Conscience," drafted and signed by Catholics, evangelicals, and Orthodox Christians, an "ecumenism" celebrated by its promoters as evidence of its far-reaching appeal. The document targets reproductive freedom (enemy of the "sanctity of life") and LGBTQ equality (enemy of the "dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife") as foes of Christians' religious freedom. It's a new document but an old canard. And it's proof that the culture wars are not only not over; there hasn't even been a truce...
The Manhattan Declaration assumes that in a country with constitutionally protected religious liberty, any law intended to protect the citizenry's other freedoms should be subject to the veto threat of the signers of the Manhattan Declaration itself. This is not a new strategy for the religious right. Since the 1970s the Hyde Amendment has "protected" the "conscience" of people who find abortion morally objectionable and don't want tax dollars paying for someone else's (although many of those people of "conscience" also oppose war but have barely lifted a finger to stop us from paying for the killing of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan). Religious right legal groups have used the courts to try to dismantle the separation of church and state on similar grounds, claiming that everything from LGBTQ equality to prohibitions on the public display of the Ten Commandments infringes on their religious liberty as Christians.
You really should read the "Manhattan Declaration" in full to get a good idea of how this is going to play out (with the help of "allies" like Melinda Hennenberger.)
And, by the way, it would be really helpful if the President didn't use the term himself in this context. The only time he should ever use the term "Religious Liberty" is when it will make the other side mad. That's how you appropriate their rhetoric rather than play into it.