Because the president decided to interfere on the side of liberal Catholics in their internal struggle with their rigid, anachronistic, patriarchical church hierarchy, he has inserted the right wing focus group tested “religious liberty” meme into election year politics. It *will* affect women who have to now go around their employer to get birth control, kind of like people who are forced to brown paper bag things that are naughty.
But, of course, this is not going to satisfy the red beanie boys of Vatican Inc. They insist on making their 4th century code of conduct relevant. And who can blame them? Their own adherents don’t follow their teaching on birth control. Overriding them makes them look irrelevant. Religion based on a biblical worldview is already being supplanted by reason. Oh sure, Mary Mother of God church is busy 24/7 but if birth control is any indication, those parishioners are going for something other than moral guidelines. My feeling is that if the bishops push this hardline too hard, they’re going to accelerate their own demise. There’s an envelope out there and they are pushing it.
If EJ Dionne and the other “liberal” Catholics had had the courage of their convictions, they would have told their church to back off. But for them, it is easier on their consciences for women to take another bullet for the team. And predictably, the beanie boys said that the compromise wasn’t good enough:
Reporting from Washington— Catholic bishops say they remain opposed to President Obama‘s plan to require insurers to provide free birth control, even if religiously affiliated employers such as Catholic hospitals and universities aren’t forced to pay for it.
“The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS [the Department of Health and Human Services] to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.
The statement, issued late Friday, makes clear that the bishops’ opposition goes beyond the “religious freedom” dispute that had riled Washington in recent weeks. The government’s decision to guarantee women access to contraceptives “remains a grave moral concern,” they said.
A reasonable question would be, whose morals are we talking about? Is the American population required to follow Catholic moral values? Fundamentalist christian moral values? Says who? On what basis? What if you don’t believe the God of their Bible exists and that their moral code doesn’t apply to you? What if you believe in reason and commit to doing what is right instead of what is written?
Well, alright then. Everybody is now clear where the lines are drawn. The bishops are not going to be happy with anything less than a Plan B solution, ie complete capitulation to the Vatican.
Digby wrote a nice summary of Obama’s reasoning. Suffice it to say that he’s following the advice of political strategists who think it’s a bad idea to upset the religious. Upsetting more than half your population? That’s OK. Just give in to the teensy, tiny slivver of a constituency that reports to Rome and everything will be fine.
Now is the time for Obama to treat women like adults capable of making their own decisions on matters of conscience. Now is the time for him to protect their civil rights and to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex. Now is the time for him to act like a leader. I don’t really expect any of this, given his history. But now would be the time to say, “Ok, you didn’t like my compromise so, no deal on any of it.”
Meanwhile, now is the time for the rest of us to get together and promote reason over religion.
There is strength in numbers.
One final thing: Amanda Marcotte does not speak for me, a feminist. I have zero patience with so-called feminists like Amanda Marcotte who is a reliable apologist for everything Obama. She was wrong about John Edwards, she was wrong to support the DNC and Obama the first time around and I’ll be damned if I let her represent me to the rest of the country. I can’t trust her judgement or her motivations. She is writing from a script.
This liberal, feminist Democrat in Exile is appalled and angered by the attitude this president has towards women and has no intention of cutting him a break because the Republicans will be so much worse.
Plus: Better a PUMA/emoprog than a Doormat Democrat. (You’ve got no leverage, asshole.)