Magazine article The Christian Century

Liberty Imperiled?

Magazine article The Christian Century

Liberty Imperiled?

Article excerpt

The U.S. Catholic bishops have designated the two weeks leading up to July 4 as a "fortnight of freedom" and urged Catholics to rally for religious liberty--a liberty that is, they say, now "under attack," especially from the Obama administration.

In their statement "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty," the bishops offer seven "concrete examples" of religious liberty being undermined. Some of the examples are dubious, however, and touch on cases of varied seriousness and relevance. For example, the bishops cite a 2009 proposal in the Connecticut legislature that sought, in the wake of a case of fraud at a Catholic parish, to provide government oversight of parish finances. The bishops fail to mention that this proposal went nowhere in the legislature and was denounced on all sides as a clear violation of the First Amendment. The actual threat posed to religious liberty was minimal.

The galvanizing issue for the bishops, of course, is the Obama administration's requirement under the Affordable Care Act that coverage for contraceptives be included in all health insurance plans. For months now, the bishops have been asking that exemptions to that rule be given not only to churches but to religious schools, hospitals and social service agencies. Otherwise, they argue, Catholic institutions will be forced to pay, through insurance premiums, for a medical service condemned by Catholic teaching.

We earlier supported the bishops' call for an expanded exemption ("Reasonable exception," February 22). …

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