The bishops of the United States have issued a list of 7 violations of religious liberty. The list includes:
- The mandate for required contraception and sterilization coverage
- State immigration laws, such as in Alabama, that violate the basic dignity of human persons
- Laws that influence Church structure in governance, such as in Connecticut
- Discrimination towards Christian groups on university campuses
- Laws that discriminate against Catholic foster care and adoptive services, such as were leveled at Catholic Charities
- Discrimination against small church communities in the Bronx
- Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services for refusing to provide abortive and contraceptive services
The bishops have called for two weeks of prayer beginning on the eve of the memorials of St. Thomas More and St. Thomas Fisher and leading up to July 4.
Needless to say, Commonweal thinks that the bishops’ statement “vastly exaggerates” the problem. Then the magazine contradicts itself by saying the bishops have not gone far enough by not mentioning the vast amount of government discrimination against the Muslim community in the United States. On that I would agree. Mustlims in the United States have faced awful discrimination since September 11th. But I think that only proves the point that religious discrimination in the United States has gotten worse, and it is right of the American bishops to draw attention to it.
This is not to say that I disapprove of the Affordable Care Act on constitutional grounds. Frankly, I don’t know the arguments well enough. But I am concerned that groups like America magazine and Commonweal magazine are blind to blatant violations of religious liberty because they are so tied to compromising with Obama’s health care overhall. While the intention is good, the execution is bad, especially when America magazine is reduced to what at least seems to me to be wrongheaded and simplistic arguments for why Catholic institutions would not actually be paying for the contraceptive services.
Instead, I think it is time to join the bishops in this fight. It is time for those on the Catholic Left to stop viewing the bishops as the “Republican party that prays,” as I heard a priest preach at my parish last week, and instead give backing to the very prophetic statements that the bishops have indeed made about immigration reform, the death penalty, war and economic justice — and Catholic institutions providing contraceptive and sterilization services.