The recent Huffington Post article by Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us quite a bit about the veracity of the USCCB’s claims that religious freedom is under attack in the United States.
Sister Walsh portrays Catholic institutions as just wanting to be able to give away services as acts of charity without government interference. But the truth is Catholic institutions (or those who claim to speak for them) are demanding they be able to participate in the market without having to adhere to the same standards as anyone else selling products or services, and to do it with government funding to boot.
The idea that some religious organizations should not have to meet the general standard has been widely accepted, but Sister Walsh finds the resulting exemption to the contraceptive coverage mandate, “miserly.” As the USCCB has told us repeatedly, the issue isn’t contraception, but religious freedom. The problem, they claim, is just that too few Catholic-affiliated institutions are exempt from the HHS regulation.
As Bishop William Lori, of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty put it to Congress:
This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.
Now, there is a first-grader in plaid somewhere inside of me who hesitates to say this, but: this is a big lie. I know this is a lie because I read the USCCB’s Statement on Religious Freedom.
In the Statement, the Bishops quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who wrote that, “[a]n unjust law is no law at all.” I’ve found the frequency with which opponents of the contraception mandate quote Dr. King very odd, given that he supported family planning and once accepted an award from Planned Parenthood, but I didn’t comprehend what was going on until I read the Statement, in which the Bishops go on to say: