Throughout recorded history, religion has been responsible for most of the atrocities perpetrated against human beings, and it is why nations governed by theocracy are suppressive, regressive, and by all accounts, destructive to freedom. This nation’s founders attempted to assuage the likelihood of governance by religion with the Separation Clause in the Constitution, and it worked fairly well for over two-hundred years. Republicans have spent a major portion of the 112th Congress attempting to impose Old Testament edicts in their war against women’s reproductive health, and despite the upcoming general election, they are still attempting to control women as the Christian holy book directs. Americans were appalled at the Taliban’s treatment of women in Afghanistan, but America women are one election away from forced birth and burkas if Republicans are victorious in November.
The good news for America’s women is that starting August 1, they will no longer be charged a co-pay for contraception, plus they receive free preventative care, cancer screenings, and myriad other benefits including maternity and well-baby care as a result of provisions in the Affordable Care Act. However, the good news should be tempered with trepidation because Republicans have not abandoned their war on women to control when they have children, when they have sex, or if they perish from cancer, and it is being done in god’s name. One Republican, Representative Mike Kelly compared the new healthcare benefits with Pearl Harbor and the terror attacks on 9/11, or as Kelly explained it, “the day the terrorists attacked.” He continued, “I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.” First, Kelly just accused the United States Congress, the President, and Supreme Court of a terror attack on America, so if any American thinks these religious sycophants are not serious, they are deluded.
Kelly was not alone assailing the health law’s benefits for women because over a dozen House Republicans held a press conference to assail the law as an attack on religious freedom. Another GOP representative said, “Americans are going to be forced to act against the principles of their faith; this coercion by president must stop and it must come to end now.” Other Republicans joined in the “death of religious freedom” meme with comments such as; “thinly veiled religious bigotry,” “the day religious freedom died in America,” “we’re not the land of the free anymore,” “the largest assault we’ve seen on first amendment rights in the history of our country,” “unprecedented government coercion in health care,” and “that President Obama has such a low opinion of the first amendment that he would trample on these rights.” With all the Republican assertions that the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court stripped religious freedom from Americans, it is important to consider what religious liberty means to Republicans, pro-life fanatics, and religious extremists like the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
First and foremost, the provisions that went into effect yesterday do not force Mr. Kelly or any religious Republican to use birth control pills, inter-uterine devices, or submit to screenings for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or accept maternity and well-baby care. However, Kelly and the religious freedom defenders are attempting to enforce their religious dogma in what is conservative Christian-imposition by legislation. One anti-choice Republican, James Sensenbrenner proposed a new bill allowing any employer to refuse to provide coverage based on personal or religious reasons. In Republican parlance, the concept of religious freedom means the freedom of Christians to force women to submit to bible edicts and subsequently, lose their First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
Apparently, Republicans demand the right to dictate to women when they give birth and by extension, when they are sexually active. According to Republicans, a woman can have sex if she intends on becoming pregnant, although even that does not take into account their wild opposition to cancer screening or preventative medicine. The ACA’s provisions that went into effect are much more than contraception coverage so it begs the question; does Republican religious freedom give them the right to condemn women to death by eliminating cancer screenings? Of course it does. Part and parcel of the Christian faith is that women are duty-bound to submit to a man’s will regardless the issue. One thing is certain, Republicans will not say their religious freedom means forcing women to submit to their will, so they decry the loss of their religious liberty which is nothing more than loss of patriarchal domination over every women under cover of the Christian bible.
If Republicans are going full-bore to enforce bible laws on women in the middle of an election year and when they do not control Congress and the White House, women should shudder at the prospect of a Romney presidency with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. The past two years should give all Americans pause at what conservative Christians in control of the government means to real religious freedom that will consist of forced obedience to Dominionists’ dictates, and forced birth for women. In state after state, Republicans are taking their cues from congressional Republicans who are reviving extreme attacks on women’s health and freedom that were blocked by the Senate earlier in the 112th Congress, so this war is not restricted to federal laws.
The “national crusade” against women is beyond abortion rights, and it is manifest in a new Republican spending proposal barring Planned Parenthood from receiving federal money, eliminating Title X, and preventing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Although the Republican plan is shelved until after November, it portends harsh consequences for women, and especially since House Republicans’ regressive policies are espoused by Willard Romney; it provides a glimpse of the effects of a Republican victory in November.
American women are under assault from Christian Republicans, and although the majority of women use contraception and will benefit from newly implemented ACA provisions, the GOP’s perception of religious freedom gives them authority to enforce bible law on every woman in America. They (Republicans) also believe women are not worthy of equal pay or anti-violence protections, and their perpetual ACA repeal efforts means they oppose women paying the same rate for healthcare insurance as men. Romney has made “getting rid of Obamacare” one of the hallmarks of his campaign and his anti-woman agenda foretells a dark time for women should he be elected.
A few months ago several women opined that they were confident they would never be threatened with Taliban-like existence in America, but after learning Republicans were still intent on imposing Old Testament edicts in an election year, they were not so sure. One woman said if the election goes terribly wrong, the subsequent Christian inquisition meant returning to Dark Ages and American women in burkas. Sadly, her assessment of a theocracy is not far off, and the very real threat of government by religious fanatics is as close as a Republican sweep in November. There is hope though, women are weary of the non-stop assault on their rights regardless if it is equal pay or their ability to acquire contraception, and if Republicans think they will not turn out in November to make a statement that they have had enough, they are incredibly naïve. Women’s organizations have been mobilizing to evict Republicans who supported the Blunt Amendment, forced vaginal ultra-sounds, and attempts to ban contraception. Groups like NARAL, NOW, and many others are mobilizing to defeat Republicans who have made attacking women’s rights their main priority throughout the 112th Congress, and news of new attempts to restrict their rights has engendered mass rage that will reach fruition in November.
There is a fight to preserve religious liberty in America, but it has nothing to do with contraception or women’s rights. It is a battle to prevent one group of religious fanatics from imposing bible dogmata on every man, woman, and child in America and it will culminate in either sustaining the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom, or revisiting the Inquisition and Crusades. Dominionists and the religious right have spent twenty years infiltrating the highest levels of government, and a Republican victory in November means a theocracy in 2013. The only question left after a Republican sweep is will it be a Christian theocracy, or a Mormon theocracy, and either way it spells doom and gloom for America’s women and the Founders’ concept of religious freedom.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.