Saturday, July 07, 2012

Religious Freedom and the Archbishop

by Edd Doerr

Today's (July 7) Washington Post print edition (but not on-line edition) has a screed by Philadelphia Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput on "religious freedom". But Chaput's idea of religious freedom is quite different from that of most Americans and most Catholics. To Chaput and his fellow hierarchs religious freedom means that government (Caesar) should impose on all Americans the  narrow medieval patriarchalist misogynist ideology of the Vatican regarding reproductive  freedom of choice, conscience and religion. For months now the bishops and evangelical gurus have been howling against the Obama administration's HHS regs requiring church-related hospitals, colleges and charities's health insurance plans to cover contraceptives. They conveniently avoid mentioning thst these institutions are generously subsidized by taxes extracted from Americans of all religious persuasions. Talk abiut churzpah!

Chaput and his fellow bishops' definition of religioius freedom also inclides having government, state and federal, compel all taxpayers to support their private indoctrination centers -- er, schools -- through vouchers or tuition tax credits (tax-co de vouchers). Although tens of millions of voters in 26 statewide referenda from coast to coast have rejected vouchers or their variants by an average of 2 to 1. In just the last year or so the have induced the Republican governors and legislatures of Indiana and Louisiana to pour public funds into sectarian private schools at unprecedebted levels in clear violation of their state constitutions.

And now, with elections looming in November, the bishops and evangelical gurus are backing Romney and the Republicans. If Romney and the GOP win in November we can kiss real religious freedom goodbye. Not only will they continue their war on women, their war on abortion and contraception, their war on public education and church-state separation, but they will be able to lock in their victory by stacking the Supreme Court with more Scalias and Thomases.

While we are at it, let us note that every July 4 or thereabouts we hear an outpouring of eyewash about how our liberties come from God. It is true that the Declaration of Independence notes that our equal rights come from a "creator" (Jefferson's and Franklin's  Deist creator, not Yahweh), but it should be noted that the Declation was largely a propaganda document to rally support for the Revolution agaunst the world's strongest power, one that was based on the divine right of kings notion. If our liberties came from a deity, why was this known only in 1776 and why did that deity grant liberties only to some white males on the east coast of North America?  Our liberties exist only because some people defined them, fought to eaern them, and created institutions to protect them. And those liberties need to be constantly protected and expanded.

Keep all this inind as you proceed through this crucial election year.

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