Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catholic Bishops and their Religious Liberty

This past year has brought about a multitude of altercations and debates between the Roman Catholic Church and the United States Government. The church claims that their religious liberty is under attack due to the fact that their religious beliefs are being challenged by the reproductive health care policies and government funding. The U.S Bishop believes that the fact of the matter is that contradict church doctrine is being overlooked by legislation.

On November 14th through the 16th, there was a fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops held in Baltimore, Maryland, at which Bishop William Lori led the campaign. With hundreds of bishops in attendance, Lori opened with, "For some time now, we have viewed with growing alarm the ongoing erosion of religious liberty in our land,", these few and simple words served as a catalyst to the rebellious thoughts of the numerous amounts of Roman Catholic Bishops against the U.S Government.

Lori is the chairman of the conference's Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. The Committee was created after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decided to cancel a contract with Migration and Refugee Services. This Catholic organization is one that helped victims of sex marketing. The main concern here is that the contract was terminated due to the fact that the group strongly repudiated referring marketing victims for any form of contraceptive or abortion, all with the hopes of promoting their Catholic beliefs.

Lori believes that the previous as well as the same-sex marriage laws which have been ratified in at least a half-dozen U.S. states are part of an overarching inclination within America to limit religious liberty. On the other hand, I believe that in accordance to the Constitution and thus, the rights granted to every citizen within the U.S, each individual should be able to freely decide on any matter that will lead them to be happy, so long as it does not infringe on another’s safety or wellbeing. Due to the fact that the new health care policies mandate that contraception be provided, I can see why the Catholic Bishops would be wrathful and thus in turn lobby so that Obama’s health care campaigns could be overturned, but if you look at the facts and logistics, the Catholic Church has a lot of work to do within their multitude of believers. Jon O'Brien who is the president of Catholics for Choice recently testified before a congressional committee that “98 percent of Catholic women ignore the church's ban on contraceptives”, this percentage rate is astounding and it should serve as a clear indicator that not all people are in accordance to the Catholic creed.

In short, the idea of having the Roman Catholic Bishops dictate what happens within the American households is absurd. Though I am strongly for respecting others beliefs and their freedom to pursue them, topics like teenage pregnancy shall not be overlooked. The rates are steadily escalating and if contraception can help, I believe it should be an accessible option. What’s most important here is the freedom of the people to choose an option that will best suit them individually. Let us also keep in mind that the women that were being “helped” by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty were denied abortion and contraception though they were sexually abused.


Chris R. said...

Just because it is possible that a majority of women in the Catholic Church violate the doctrine forbidding contraception does not mean that this is not a firmly held belief of the Church. The Council of Catholic Bishops is rightly concerned that they are being forced to provide the opportunity for services or products which lie counter to their beliefs. This stands in direct violation to the Free Exercise Clause. What is the point of this constitutional guarantee if the government is going to force a religion to violate their religious beliefs?

Harry R. said...

I feel that the Catholic Church should be granted an exemption in these cases. This law is mandating support of a policy which goes directly against their free exercise beliefs. While individuals are free to undergo any medical operation they wish, I feel that it is appropriate that the church not be forced to provide insurance for items which contradict their religious beliefs. The option to purchase contraceptives would still be available, it would just not be covered under health care plans of the Catholic Church, an easily learned fact before being one would apply for a job.

Zoey Goldnick said...

I think this is an interesting intersection of the Free exercise clause and the Establishment clause. Although these Churches feel that their religious free exercise is limited, for others, granting this Church an exemption is a form of establishing the Catholic faith for all those who need to use the public service of a Hospital. The government would then be funding this public service that a religion would have the right to mandate what others in the community had access to.