Religious freedom my a**

by Pete Talbot

Abortion, birth control, women’s health care and religious freedom have all been in the news lately, often in the same story.

As a man, I’m not even sure I get to comment on this but since knotheaded dudes write letters to the editor all the time decrying a woman’s right to choose and a couple of Montana Catholic Bishops, neither whom are women, have made pronouncements, here goes.

Let’s start with Congressman Rehberg’s response to the Obama administration’s rule that birth control should be provided in insurance plans for Catholic schools and hospitals:

“This order is government intrusion into the private lives of Americans under the guise of health care reform and infringes on the religious liberty of women and men of faith in direct opposition to the religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” says Rehberg.

So, some non-Catholic woman working in St. Patrick Hospital’s cafeteria will not have access to affordable birth control because of some archaic religious belief.  Talk about infringing on the “religious liberty of women” as “enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” right Denny?

To the uber-Catholic women who happen to work at St. Pats and are opposed to birth control: just don’t use it (you can always use the rhythm method.  That works, sometimes).

Closer to home, the Ravalli County Commissioners, by a 3-2 vote, are accepting Title X family planning funding.  This would seem like a no-brainer — around $40K for birth control, annual exams, pregnancy and pap tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, nutrition education and counseling, on a sliding scale.

But of course these commissioners have issues that deal with a lack of parental notification for minors.  They’re willing to sacrifice low-cost women’s health programs for their narrow ideology.

Granted, I’d want my kids to talk to me about their sexual concerns.  I’d rather they have access to an STD or pregnancy test, birth control, or sexual education and counseling, if they choose not to confide in me .

Again, I’m always amazed by the less-government intrusion crowd dictating their moral imperatives to the rest of us, via government programs.  The overused but accurate “hypocrite” comes to mind.

All this news comes on the heels of the Susan G. Komen controversy.  If you believe that attacks by the right on women’s health care issues aren’t still in play, often under the misnomer of “religious freedom,” you’d be wrong.

  1. Ingemar Johansson

    Winning issue, shout it from the roof tops.

    Start in Butte.

  2. Mark Miwertz

    Actually, somebody from Rehberg’s campaign should write a pretty pink thank you note to the stupid twits that handed him a winning campaign issue with the giant plastic dashboard jesus lawsuit. Every body hates atheists; they are less well thought of than child murderers. I doubt they see much difference for agnostics or deists either, and they’re pissed by the militant intolerance of religion from the far left.

    Because there should be a place in the public square for our western civilization, and that civilization includes Christianity and Judaism. The idea that a creche or some christmas carols in the school play establish religion is ludicrous.

    We just got a supreme court ruling allowing for significant exceptions for religious organizations. They should be expanded to this mandate as well. The president is bucking the court and the constitution with this one, and the american people, not just Denny Rehberg.

    • Pete Talbot

      ” … the militant intolerance of religion from the far left,” says Mark. There’s a helluva lot more intolerance from the far right, imposing its moral values on the rest of us: anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-sex ed., anti-science …

      And as if there aren’t already enough people in the world, you’ve got the Catholic Church, that beacon of morality, keeping its employees, both Catholic and non-Catholic, away from birth control.

      Suffer the little children.

      • Mark Miwertz

        Ha ha ha! One day after my denouncing the lack of morals from people who justify their actions by claiming others do it too, here you are, stepping forward to do just that! Way to represent!

        What the “far right” morality might be isn’t an answer to the left’s desire to trample religious freedom.

        Just because “there is more intolerance from the right” hardly justifies religious intolerance from the left. Do you realize how amoral that reads?

        And the far right has not succeeded in imposing it’s values on me, and they keep exposing their own hypocrisy. Scott Sales wife busted and convicted for embezzlement means no more pink letters telling me who Jesus would vote for.

        Gays are making strides every day towards equal rights; they’ve never had more. The civil rights movement in the middle of the last century was led by Christian leadership. The RCC provides social services in many cities and has for many years. Destroying those good things the church does, by calling them unrelated to their mission is simply wrong. Advocating eliminating fed money from catholic hospitals is a good way to reduce health care to the needy.

        The far right will continue to isolate themselves attacking our freedoms, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good strategy for the radical left either.

        The Wall of Separation protects government from religion, and religion from government. It really is a wall, not a “one way wall” as has been claimed by the right, and now, by the left as well.

        • Pete Talbot

          Talk about hyperbole: “the left’s desire to trample religious freedom,” says Mark. The left that I know isn’t trying to trample religious freedom, it’s just trying to keep the creeping evangelical dogma out of the secular world. Teaching creationism in public schools, anti-sex ed. and birth control agendas, anti-gay legislation, religious icons in public places … you know the drill.

          And a bunch of guys in funny hats telling non-Catholics employed at Catholic institutions that their insurers won’t cover birth control seems just as ludicrous.

          By the way, what’s this “Wall of Separation” of which you speak? I’m aware of Jefferson’s letter to the clergy referencing his opposition to a national religion but really, there is no wall, unfortunately, just myriad court decisions on the so-called “establishment clause.” The interpretations ebb and flow.

    • Yeah… Every atheist thinks the same as every other atheist on all issues. [Sigh] Let me try to explain this in a short paragraph:

      Atheists all agree on one issue: they do not believe in God/god/gods. That’s one topic out of 4 bajillion. There are plenty of atheists who follow Ayn Rand, and that is by no means leftwing reading. So quit acting as if atheists are all “far left” and just admit to having complete ignorance about what atheism is, and who atheists are.

      And, just beeteedubs, not all atheists are against the stupid mountain Jesus thing being on the stupid little ski hill. In fact, I know an atheist who likes having the silly Jesus thing on a ski hill because he doesn’t care about either activity, and the location allows him to avoid both idolatry and skiing simultaneously.

  3. So let’s see if I have this one correct… You are arguing that the organization’s religious views (the legal term is agency) has the right to deny woman’s health care to anyone based on their religious views (while still accepting government subsidies). Sorry, but that has already been ruled on by the Supreme Court on multiple levels – the most notable was the decision that religious views could not be used as an excuse to deny lifesaving treatment to children. You are definitely on the wrong side of the legal aspects of this issue and I don’t see a constitutional challenge working at all. The very constitution are you trying to hold up as a shield doesn’t work the way you want it to work. The Constitution says that the state will not establish a religion. It does not give religions the right to violate law.

  4. Our Constitution does not establish a national religion, and it does not give the government the power to interfere in religion either.

    Pete, the point you miss, is that Obama is REQUIRING the catholic church to PAY for birth control, which is against their core belief.

    I believe that the Supreme Court will toss Obamacare, and then the point will be moot anyway.

    • JC

      And you are forgetting that these catholic hospitals take a large sum of federal money to cover unpaid services handed out to the indigent. MOst federal money handouts come with stipulations as to adherence to civil rights and other legislation and constitutional rights. Why should hospitals — catholic or secular — be treated differentially?

      Maybe if religious institutions quit profiting off of the federal nip of subsidies, contracts and tax breaks, they would have a bit more of an argument to stand on.

      Of course, if these institutions wanted to go completely private, they should have to give up all their other community provided benefits like assisted land swaps (i.e. city land to Safeway for a new store so Safeway can sell to St. Pat’s), property tax breaks, abandonment and zoning & noise variances, yada, yada, yada…

      The social contract between major hospital like St. Pat’s and its community should not discriminate against any class of people. If it does, then that social contract should be rewritten.

    • Surprise

      No, Obama proposed a compromise in which the medical insurer would cover birth control costs; at first, the Catholic Bishops were pleased, but then they changed their minds.

      Now, remember, some Catholic institutions have been providing medical insurance with birth control coverage at the State level for some time. No uproar there.

  5. Turner

    Since the Middle Ages, the leadership of the Catholic Church has been a powerful force for ignorance and oppression. Think back to the Spanish Inquisition(s) and the Roman Inquisition — you know, the one that forced Galileo to denounce heliocentrism.

    The leadership, all men, have again marshalled their ignorance against women, whom they have a long and shameful history of oppressing.

    • Mark Miwertz

      Turner, that is true, and there was the slaughter of women as “witches” and the centuries of killing of jews.

      And people who believe in Islam flew planes into buildings and castrate women, and Paul Hill was a Presbyterian who shot abortion doctors for Jesus. The murder of innocents in the name of the big bad guy in the sky seems a common theme among the middle eastern monotheisms.

      Humanity will reach a point where it puts away childish things, I’m certain.

      But the first amendment is clear in that it brooks no government interference in religion. I am a strict interpretation supporter of the anti establishment clause, but that means the other side of the wall of separation is safe as well.

      • Turner

        Your desire for an age of reason is shared by many. It’s really too bad that to be elected to office in our country you have to either believe in a magical man in the sky or pretend that you believe in him.

        I think it’s time to be openly disrespectful of all religions. They’ve been treated with more respect than they deserve for way too long.

  6. Ryan Morton

    Men talking about birth control is something I would support if it was about men taking responsibility for their own actions and bodies. That’s where the bishops and Rehberg are really out of touch.

  7. Mark Miwertz

    “But “the principle of religious liberty” is also at stake. “As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right.”” Oops, the President begins to backstroke on the issue. Apparently, he also sees it as a first amendment issue…now.

  8. ladybug

    And here I thought Obama, Inc. was just screwing with Mitt, handing Santorum a few quick hits on home turf just before the CPAC convention. Innoculation against anti-abortion Catholic bishops isn’t such a bad stroke either — you know something devine will be coming from them later. The game is campaign, everything else, including the U.S. Constitution, is a piece on the board. Mitt, I think it’s your move.

  9. J.P. Organ

    If altar boys could get pregnant, the church would change its stance on birth control in an instance.

    author unknown but not unknowing.

  1. 1 Montana Blog Roundup 19 February 2012

    […] Talbot pointed out the stunning hypocrisy of “the less-government intrusion crowd dictating their moral imperatives to the rest of us, via […]

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