Dateline November 20, 2011
Holy Saint Pedophilias! Guess who's worried about religious liberty! The American bishops of the Roman Catholic Church! Yes, THAT church. The church that took the liberty to hide child-abusing priests from the reach of the law. The church that turned a blind eye toward the religious liberty of millions of Jews who were brutally exterminated during the Holocaust. The church that robbed, tortured, and burned to death millions of men, women and children for centuries because they were not Catholic, or not Catholic enough. (For a gruesome one-hour introduction to the Catholic idea of religious liberty, see http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm)
"Religious liberty is under attack in the United States," declared Bishop William Lori at a recent conference of bishops, who have decided to make "religious liberty" one of their top priorities.
In fact, "religious liberty" or "freedom of religion" is the current favorite strategy of conservative Christians, both Catholic and protestant. By playing the religious freedom card, the Christian right intends to trump rules that require them to follow the same regulations as other businesses or organizations that contract with the government to provide social services. They also use the religious freedom card to trump the rights of women and gays, and to get government funding for religious schools.
In Florida, this ploy has played out in the so-called Religious Freedom Amendment scheduled to go on the ballot next November. Crafters of the Amendment say the original law prohibiting direct or indirect government aid to religions was an "attempt to stifle and disrupt the constitutional rights and development of the emerging Catholic minority." In reality, the Religious Freedom Amendment would open the door to unlimited and unrestricted state funding for Catholic and other religious schools and enterprises.
In his testimony before a US House Judiciary subcommittee on "The State of Religious Liberty in the United States," Bishop Lori complained that Catholic Charities "has been driven out of the adoption and foster care business" in Illinois because they refuse to work with gay or lesbians couples in child adoptions. He complained about requirements to provide the full range of reproductive services, i.e. birth control information, in government-financed church-run health services. He also said that by calling the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) an act of bigotry, the US Justice Department was "sticking the label of bigot" onto the church.
In early November Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan met with President Obama for the second time this year. The topic was religious liberty in America. The president has not yet to fulfilled his promise to ban religion-based job discrimination in publicly funded "faith-based" social services.
Religious liberty for the Catholic Bishops is not the kind of religious liberty intended by the First Amendment. For them it means the freedom to hold their religion above the law, and to rake in government funds to indoctrinate children in their schools, deny services such as birth control and abortion to women, and block the civil rights of the kind of people they used to burn at the stake.