Sure, the Christian Right Champions Religious Freedom – For Themselves

It is interesting (I’m trying to watch my language here)  to see so-called “religious freedom” proponents cite the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause while opposing the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. They complain their religious freedoms are being violated but without batting an eye and without a trace of embarrassment continue to press their agenda – a 100% religiously-based agenda – on the rest of America.

No, you can’t have contraceptives because they violate our beliefs; no, you can’t have an abortion, no, not even if you were raped, because it violates our beliefs; no, you can’t even learn about contraception because it violates our beliefs – our beliefs only allow you to learn about abstinence; no, you can’t marry someone of the same sex because it violates our beliefs.

An example of this outrageous rhetoric is an opinion piece at CNN by Mary Matalin, “Religious liberty at stake in battle over contraception rule,” Ms. Matalin’s bio in short: “a founding member of the board of Conscience Cause, a coalition opposing the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate, has worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and was counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney.” Her credentials pretty much tell the entire story, because there ain’t no surprises here.

Ms. Matalin’s opening salvo is the aforementioned Establishment Clause, which took me back just a bit, knowing what I know about the religious right’s agenda and more importantly still, their track record. I am the guy here, after all, who compiles and tracks their legislation in our Dirty Thirty. My initial reaction was “Oh no, you did not just go there.” Yes, she did go there. She complains,

In recent months, a far-reaching regulation emanating from “Obamacare” and imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services requires church-affiliated hospitals, agencies and universities to pay for services that violate their faith (such as contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs) in the health insurance they provide employees.

It’s called healthcare, Ms. Matalin. It isn’t rocket science, it damn sure isn’t religion: it’s healthcare. If you don’t want to take contraceptives, don’t. If you don’t believe in abortions, don’t have one. Seems straight-forward enough to me. But people have a right to healthcare and her right to oppose certain forms of healthcare does not trump their right to have access to it. It’s a strange way to show support the Establishment Clause by demanding that her religious beliefs be legislated into law.

For the first time in our nation’s history, the government has launched a full-fledged assault on our religious institutions to force them to pay for services that go against their religious convictions. The compromise offered by the administration allowing religious institutions a year to transition to the new system is no compromise. They are still forced to pay for services in direct conflict with their faith or incur severe penalties that could effectively drive them out of business.

This is hardly the first time in our nation’s history that non-Christians have been assaulted by our government. It’s been a pretty regular thing since Bush took office in 2001. And how about the tax payers, atheists, Muslims, Pagans like me, forced to pay to support your Faith Based programs? We should be forced to pay for things we don’t believe in and don’t support but you shouldn’t? One is an attack and one is not? My tax dollars are being used to pay for religious groups to fire and refuse to employ people because they don’t approve of their lifestyle. Yet you complain?

This is the most despicable violation of religious liberty that this nation has ever seen. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, outlined it best when he said, “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Obviously Ms. Matalin is not well-read in American history or perhaps she only reads David Barton. We know facts were irrelevant to the fantasist administrations she served. So no, I will show you what is despicable, Ms. Matalin – the record of religious-based legislation imposed on American citizens over the past two years alone, that religion being the very one you are defending here – Christianity.

You may not care about the rest of us who don’t subscribe to your doctrines, but I assure you, we have not forgotten our rights. We are quite aware of the stakes. As far as the Catholic Church goes, what it is essentially telling the American people is this: “accept the fact and the reality of Christian theocracy. Our religion is better than yours, only our beliefs matter, and therefore you must all obey our doctrines even if you do not subscribe to them.” It’s a refrain that’s been heard for nearly 2000 years: “Do what the Church tells you to do.”

Um, no. No, no, no, no. We’ve seen where that road leads, thank you very much.

It’s odd to see the Catholic Church play the victim, the same church now led by a Pope who says “Truth” (HIS truth) trumps tolerance. After all the harm it has done throughout its history, all the harm it has done in recent memory by raping children and young adults, male and female alike and then covering up its misdeeds, while attacking an organization of nuns for doing exactly what Jesus says to do, we’re supposed to see the Catholic Church as victim? It is an especially weak argument when you consider that whatever the sodomizing clergy says, most Catholics use contraception or have no problem with their use and availability.

Ms. Matalin claims to defend the Establishment Clause while supporting its destruction at the hands of the Catholic Church and conservative Protestant groups. She is not opposed to the establishment of religion; she is arguing for the establishment of religion – her religion.

Ms. Matalin’s weakest play is this:

The Obama administration and some of its allies in the press have attempted to make this a debate over contraception and tried to position opponents of the mandate as waging “war on women.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no effort to limit access to contraceptives.

Contraceptives are widely available to women — and men. For $9 a month, birth control pills can be purchased at major national retail chains. This is all typical Washington-speak to create a rhetorical diversion from the real issue at stake.

There is no war on women? I beg to differ, Ms. Matalin. Take a look at your non-existent war on women here, or here. In fact, the Republican war on contraception is, as Elizabeth Warren points out, a war on healthcare.

Please explain to me in what way these Republican-sponsored laws are not religiously-based and in accord with Christian doctrine. The war on women is far more than the availability of contraception, though that is in fact a real issue. When was the last time you went to a hospital that wasn’t church-owned, St. This or St. That? Methodist This or Lutheran That?

Ms. Matalin wants to pretend that retail chains are a substitute for healthcare facilities. That’s rather like the old Republican claim that the American people have healthcare because we have hospitals – sure, hospitals that won’t treat us if we don’t have insurance Republicans say we don’t need; hospitals that won’t give us the care we need because their religious beliefs trump ours, pharmacists who won’t dispense medication we need because it violates their beliefs.

How are laws that support these attitudes not in violation of the Establishment Clause themselves?

And in fact, contraceptives are no longer so widely available thanks to Republican legislation. It seems to me that if the argument is as Ms. Matalin frames it, an issue of forcing religious institutions to provide something they find morally repugnant, they should leave it at that and cease legislating against those things outside of religious institutions. But their attack does not stop there because their real goal is to ban contraception and healthcare for all Americans everywhere. Surely, Ms. Matalin is aware of this. The rest of us certainly are.

So when Ms. Matalin claims that “This debate is about whether the full force of government can be used to force religious institutions to violate their own faith and pay for services and products that violate the tenets of their teaching” I can only stare in incredulity. No, what this debate is about is whether the full force of government can be used to force moderate Christians and non-Christians to violate or surrender their own beliefs (or non-belief) because government has surrendered to the extremist views of one particular religion.

My religious beliefs do not oppose contraception; my religious beliefs do not oppose abortion; my religious beliefs do not oppose same-sex marriage; Yet you are telling me none of those beliefs matter because they offend you based on your religious beliefs.

Where then, Ms. Matalin, is the Establishment Clause? Your religious beliefs do not trump mine and these specious attempts to undermine true religious freedom in this country under the guise of defending them is morally repugnant and hypocritical.

Ms. Matalin says that “Our nation has had a long-held tradition backed by legal foundations and precedents that religious groups are allowed ‘the free exercise’ of their beliefs.” That’s true. And Ms. Matalin and the rest of the Christian Right claim to be champions of religious freedom; but the only freedom they care about is their freedom to ignore ours.

You have to wonder how people like Ms. Matalin can keep a straight face.


43 Replies to “Sure, the Christian Right Champions Religious Freedom – For Themselves”

  1. As far as I am concerned the Catholic Church is a fraudulent organization that exists solely to oppress the people that suck up to it. While 90% of the people in it use or have used contraception, the church goes on making a mockery of its members while the members make a mockery of themselves supporting the church’s stance on birth control. How stupid are you people?

    I am not interested in any religious institutions attempts to make our laws from their beliefs. Thats not how it works. It is how its working in some states right now however, these cretins, fundamentalists and Catholics are forcing their religion on the rest of the people. Other religions who have no belief against birth control are too busy making a mockery of themselves to complain they are being held to rules they dont believe in.

    Remember kids, when one religion reigns supreme your religion will no longer be allowed.

  2. “This is the most despicable violation of religious liberty that this nation has ever seen.”

    Really? Cause I can think of way worse, how about the torture inflicted on Native Americans in an attempt to “civilize” them when they tried to practice their own religion? How about the millions of Pagans that are discriminated against everyday simply because they are not Christians? I love how Christians scream about religious rights when it is about them but to hell with anyone who is different. You said it best my friend…it is all about “them”…

  3. My, my, Sister Mary has been thrown out there on orders by the one of the well-funded radical clerical groups; she’s throwing a “Hail Mary Pass” on their behest (I doubt if it’s a local bishop as her diatribe smells more like “C Street” scree). She hasn’t had any room to crow for such a long time as she’s been so busy making 2 babies a long time ago…(“BC”; before Clinton).

    In her desperation to appease, Sister Mary is being good little, obedient girl; it’s all “death and duty” as an “official” from some past administration that failed…sigh, why bother boring everyone with the same old “Father O’Brien” drama, as if “Miracle the Horse” will save the day? (too much? mixing movie heroes?)

    Sister Mary is just another member of the “Perpetual Order Hair-Pulling Fundamentalist” who knows they’re going to loose this election. She’s only obeying orders from some unknown SuperPac “god-father” bent on the destruction of Obama….yaaawn, Hail Mary Pass, death and duty.

    The stench of desperation is growing strong day by day, kiddies. She sounds like someone who is operating on bad food and too little sleep…I wouldn’t stand too close to her… (peeuuwwww).

  4. SinghX, I don’t think it’s desperation. I think they’re winning, and everything she says fits right into their worldview.

    I only see little glimmers now and then that they might loose (giving a twinge of hope), but November is still over 5 months away and that’s a long time in the politics of this country. We must fight any tendency towards complacency, even the hint of “we’re winning” could convince some to get lackadaisical regarding the elections.

    Their worldview is that they are right because they follow Jesus (never mind their Jesus is one that the rest of us cannot recognize and certainly doesn’t fit the historical Jesus). When you’re absolutely certain that you’re right and acceptance or recognition of any other view (or religion) means putting your eternal soul in jeopardy (so they think), any compromise whatsoever, any equality whatsoever is not only loosing but dangerous.

    Logic, truth, anything like that cannot penetrate their worldview unless one lucks out and hits on the one thing that each thought-controlled person has in them… a keyhole so to speak, which the “magic key”… the right words, will start working to unlock their brains from the programmed continuous loop (circular thinking) which keeps facts and reality out.

  5. Maybe it’s time to stop to the subsidies to religious organizations – no more real estate tax breaks, no more subsidies to private schools, no subsidies to private hospitals, charities, etc.

    Religious people want to bitch about their tax money being used to subvert their beliefs, maybe we should actually make them pay those taxes that the rest of us have to pay.

    Our local Planned Parenthood protesters think they have an ironclad argument whenever they say that only supporters of PP should pay for it, and no government funds or subsidies. Well, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, I say.

  6. That’s logical, accurate, and fits the facts. In other words, something that they can’t comprehend.

    I’d qualify it a bit, because there ARE churches “out there” that do a lot of good in their community (we belong to one). I’d put a test on keeping a tax-free status – that they have to demonstrate that their actions are a benefit to society and that they don’t do harm. I’d also put a limit on the amount that can be tax-free, because the “good” churches (for-real good) are usually not that big or that rich.

  7. The IRS already has a mechanism in place to monitor charitable trusts – it’s simply waived for religious institutions.

    Good basic discussion here:

    “Charitable trusts under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code technically have to make their financial records available to the IRS for inspection, but it is rare that such a review ever occurs with a church because of the possibility that it might result in an excessive entanglement between church and state. Other organizations which receive direct subsidies from the government are not so free to keep their finances secret from the general public.

    These and the other exceptions and exemptions which churches and religious organizations receive as a consequence of being charitable trusts all represent some sort of disadvantage to the community. Some disadvantages are surely slight while others, like the tax funds which must be made up by others, can be quite substantial. These disadvantages are borne by the community on the theory that there is some fair exchange — namely, the benefits which the community receives from the charity’s work.”

  8. That’s nice that it only cost $9 at some retail chains for birth control pills; you still need a script for it.

    In other news, as usual, OTHER “Christians” are embarrassing the hell out of me. I now refer to myself as a “Christ follower”, because if doing what these aye-holes do is what it means to be a Christian, than I sure as hell am not a Christian.

  9. …also, I think most of those “Christians” would be damn surprised to find out that historical Jesus felt that he was still Jewish. And “those” people certainly aren’t the right kind of Christian! (note sarcasm)

  10. I just googled “How to start your own church.”

    My, my, my–small wonder it has become such fertile ground for fleecing the faithful. And the I.R.S.

  11. In no way did my post imply complacency or dismissal of the issues, or, who is winning in the polls or gonna’ loose the election.

    I was merely pointing out that this woman is no more concerned with the Catholic Church, contraception, or the Establishment Clause than Karl Rove!

    This is about Sister Mary’s self-serving, opportunistic interest to act as a “First Communion Scout” and punt the ball for “Father Gipper” (dead president). She’s a pro; she’s just politicking as usual desperately trying to stay in the “mean girl” spot light as long as she can.

    Connecting the Establishment Clause, is far-fetched, hasn’t legal legs to stand; it is desperation on her part to justify her bad choices and behavior while serving in Regan/Bush admins. I don’t believe for a minute that she believes this stuff as her “world view” just as her clone, Bay Buchanan. I would have give credit if it were said she believed in a white male patriarchal system as she’s just that kind of a gal…but to think she’s out there winning one for “Father Gipper” and Mitt Romney for President via freedom for Christians is a laugh.
    She’s desperate and her party is desperate or they wouldn’t be using religion and fear as their calling card.

    BTW…check out the old polls from the time Obama was nominated through the debates with McCain; the media is playing the same 3 ring circus game with the stats almost to the day; I feel like this is all becoming “Ground Hog Day; Part Two”.

  12. So Amish can demand we all shun electricity and cars? Orthodox Jews get to shut down everything for Sabbath? Women who work for devote Muslims must wear veils?

    I think not. Not here. Not yet.

  13. The fundies are full bore on doing it. Look at all the laws in Arizona and other states over your vagina

  14. Try getting a beer with your meal in a lot of places. You can’t.

    Read up on the “Sunday Blue Laws”. I used to hate them when I was a kid growing up in Virginia.

    Read about Prohibition? That was driven by right wing “gotta control everyone” types.

    I could name dozens of instances. I know I got more than a bit pissed not too long ago because of one of those Bible-pounder based laws.

    It’s been here all along, and they’re fighting to make it worse. The problem is, their religion is infringing on our rights.

  15. My wife loves to tell people that. She’s brought a few up quite short, and had people even express denial! The usual response is shock, and then a dawning awareness.

    A good friend of mine -ordained minister and Real Christian- wrote a book on “The Radical Rabbi of Nazareth”. It’s pretty good.

    I find it amusing, although also sometimes disgusting, how people try to remake Jesus in their own image. Hate LGBTs? They project that. Hate minorities? Ditto. Believe in trying to dictate the lives of everyone within earshot? Again they project. They don’t take the time to study and try to come to know the real Jesus… the Rabbi from Nazareth.

  16. While the writer makes some valid points, there’s also some sloppy thinking here:

    On what grounds is *non-medicinal* contraception a “right”? Why is anyone guaranteed the ability to engage in sex (married or not) without risk or consequence? People can do what they want, but why should the rest of society have to compensate them for those choices?

    While I certainly think abortion should be legal in the early stages of development when that “life” is little more than a blob of cellular tissue, you can’t dance around the fact that at some point, that blob ceases to be a clump of cells and becomes a person as most rational people define one. Even as a libertarian, I would insist that your rights end when they start to cut into the basic natural rights of others. That’s less a moral claim than a constitutional and legal one.

  17. Prohibition was a naive attempt by a bunch of well-meaning folks to try and curb dowdy, drunken behavior.

    Unfortunately, it started an era of murder, graft, corruption and crime that these people were responsible for. The first drive-bys we NOT in the 1980s, but the *1930s*!

    In the grand American tradition of forgetting our past, another group of well-meaning religious types said “Just say no” to drugs and began *another* round of prohibition, with the same rash of murders, graft, corruption and crime!

  18. Here’s another twist you can give the fundies, m’dear.

    Because they follow Paul’s personal opinions more than they to the words of Jesus, they should actually be called either Paulines, or Paulites.

    These fanatics also never take the historical, sociological, and cultural context of these passages, nor do they even fathom the fact there were words in the bible that didn’t even an equivalent in Old English of the KJV, let alone Modern English!

    Next time when you or your wife encounter these perverts, ask the what “malakos” means. Do they know what the word “arsenokoitai” means?

    Finally, remind them that NONE of the bible’s admonitions about “homosexuality” refers to a loving relationship, but *celebrates* it! See Ruth and Naomi, and David and Johnathan.

  19. As I said above, goddess… they’re more Paulites than they are Christian, because they blindly follow one man’s opinions about Jesus, rather than Jesus himself!

  20. We all need to start an awareness campaign to let people know that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.
    It’s ridiculous the way the religious right imposes their will on the masses and then makes an argument that they are ones who are being discriminated against. For instance, denying gay people their right to marry is somehow an attack on their religious beliefs! Talk about lack of logic. I guess that comes from the fact, that to take the bible literally means throwing away all logic.
    I wish we could all start a class action suit to challenge the fact that churches pay no taxes! I find that my rights are being violated when my tax money goes toward funding them.

  21. L.L., I was wondering that too. How, exactly, is the article related to the illustrative photograph of Wonder Woman bound over an S/M bench? LOL.

  22. As we all try to understand all of the arguments pro and con, we are, as a country, being distracted, and wedged apart. This has been the right’s plan for years. Right wing think tanks have proven their worth and are now in the process to complete the take over of our country. Voter ID laws. Stand your ground laws. Vaginal probe laws. And the all too useful PURGE the voter rolls. There are so many attacks on established law and community, it is difficult to keep track of…..a tactic in the “War” of Theocratic/corporate dominance.

  23. Non-medicinal contraception shouldn’t be a right, but there is no non-medicinal use for contraception. Carrying (or attempting to carry) a fetus to term results in death for about 10 in 100,000 women in America (the numbers vary by country). Even surviving the ordeal can result in long-lasting health problems (which some women are happy to take but some women aren’t, and which no men have to worry about for themselves).

    Is sex a right? No. But when an individual has HIV they aren’t allowed medications if they got it through blood transfusions but denied it if they got it from sex.

  24. I hate to throw a wet blanket on your impassioned rhetoric, but the issue here isn’t whether or not right-wing fundies want the rest of us to have these things or not (although of course they don’t, ultimately); it’s whether or not THEIR tax dollars should be used to pay for those services to which they are morally opposed. Note that the fight against using Title X funds for Planned Parenthood is a separate fight from the fight to repeal Roe v. Wade, completely outlaw abortion and shut down all abortion providers. I have to agree with the general principle that , just as much as we loathe our tax dollars being used to pay for senseless wars over oil and to bail out mega-corporations.

  25. The same people also were involved in the homeless shelter system of the day, which was generally hated by the homeless because of the denigrating treatment they received. People would go out of their way to avoid the shelters for just that reason.* I argue that like the “Good Christians” today, they thought they were doing God’s will but they were forcing their religious ideology on others (in the case of the shelters then… and most today… the idea was it was the personal sin of the sufferer that brought about the suffering).

    A “do-gooder” can do far more harm than good if they don’t take the whole picture in and focus on one tiny part of it. In the instance of prohibition, a lot of men took to drinking because of the hellish situation they found themselves in – working 12 hours a day, 6 and 7 days a week without a break, in hellhole conditions with just enough pay to survive on and no prospects of anything better. They were reduced to nothing more than human machines being exploited for profit. Then they had families depending on them too. The prohibition movement didn’t care about making lives better – they wrongly figured that doing away with alcohol would force the men to be better providers, even if the means (a decent-paying job that didn’t consume most of their waking hours) was not available. I’ve read that the prohibition movement led to some suicides… and where were the families then?

    Just like today’s “Good Christians”, they think they’re doing “Good”, but are heartless and cruel towards their victims. Their ideology had become more important than people. Oh, and their hatred towards alcohol was not really scriptural (except in how their blowhard preachers interpreted them). Just as their hatred towards LGBT isn’t really that scriptural either.

    *- Citations available.

  26. (Laugh!) Know it all too well (and yes, I myself use those arguments too)… you’re “talking” to a 4-field anthropologist.

  27. The rich are “morally opposed” to paying any taxes and they believe that the rest of us should be supporting them and that only the “little people” should pay taxes.

    I don’t see them as being any different than the dominionists and like ilk not wanting their tax money to go for the things they’ve been programmed to abhor.

    Oh, and while they’re trying to force their ideology on the rest of us, at the same time the “war” (invasion of Iraq) was started by lies and ended up just about bankrupting this country. The megacorporations – yeah, the banks got bailed out and look how they treat us today. The auto industry paid back their loans… Bush would have just given the money away but President Obama demanded repayment (some of the banks also repaid the money… with money made at our expense). So that cannot be compared to them trying to force their ideology on the rest of us.

  28. Where is the evidence that these folks have ever supported “religious freedom” for any religious groups different from themselves?

    Their hypocrisy astounds me.

  29. Do you oppose healthcare that covers diseases caused by alcohol consumption? Do you oppose healthcare that covers diseases caused by lack of exercise? I have never found someone who opposes cover for contraceptions who also said he or she also opposed coverage for diseases caused buy unhealthy lifestyles. Thus it seems to me that the real subject is not one of responsability for his or her own life, but opposition to sex that does not has reproduction as its goal

  30. According to my kin and elders, back in the 70s when our religion (Native American version) was still against the law and there was a move to give us freedom of religion via federal law, the biggest opponents were (1) Pentecostals, and (2) Southern Baptists. Thank God the law passed, because after that the laws banning our existence and stripping us of all of our rights were repealed shortly after.

    They screamed bloody murder at it (and I was still hearing about recent sermons demonizing us in the mid 90s).

    One of the arguments I remember was that we were wanting special rights, as if practicing our culture and religion as we saw fit was some sort of special right.

  31. To answer your questions:

    a) Wonder Woman is a woman;
    b) Wonder Woman is a superhero, an American champion (note the red, white, and blue costume)
    c) Wonder Woman has been bound, helpless

    Do you see the relevance? This is symbolic of what the GOP has done, is doing, and ultimately intends to do to women, who are the object of most of this hateful, religion-based bigotry

  32. Why, exactly, is a man’s use of Viagra for a non-essential function “medical” and a woman’s use of The Pill to prevent the life-altering and sometimes life-threatening consequences of his using Viagra not “medical”?

  33. Because how can you impress upon people that you TRULY care for women’s rights unless you objectify them as well?

    Seriously, I understand what they were trying to go for, but they missed the mark….by a LOT. That picture calls to mind nothing but the fetish – now I have nothing against fetish, but it simply does not match, and indeed detracts from, the power of the piece.

  34. Why have that horrible, offensive picture paired with this article?It certainly does not support the article in any way.

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