Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The first shot in this battle over religious freedom was not from the Catholics

“The Catholic commitment to religious freedom doesn't stem from partisan political concerns. Anyone who's listened to a dinner-table political argument among Catholics knows there's no way this diverse group of litigants agrees about who they'll pull the lever for in November. In fact, months before these lawsuits were filed against the administration, Catholic bishops filed a Supreme Court brief arguing against Arizona's Republican-sponsored immigration law on religious liberty grounds. Alabama Catholic bishops have made similar arguments against their state's immigration law as well.

Before the administration initiated this controversy, a long-standing bipartisan consensus existed in favor of health care conscience exemptions and a robust conception of religious freedom. With broad Democratic support, President Clinton signed laws that included strong conscience exemptions. Senator Ted Kennedy wrote Pope Benedict XVI that he believed in "a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field." And President Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which codifies strong free exercise protections, after it passed the Senate 97-3. Just recently, former Clinton administration official (and RFRA point-man) William Galston told attendees at a religious liberty conference that he believes the HHS mandate violates RFRA.”

If anything, it's the administration that has politicized this serious issue by portraying opposition to the mandate as evidence of a manufactured "war on women". It's patronizing for the administration to assume that Catholic women are fair-weather believers willing to trade limits on religious freedom for the promise of free contraception.”

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