Who would have thought that contraception would become such a major issue in this election year? Or is it? The U.S. Catholic bishops stress that the issue is not really contraception but religious liberty--the right of Catholics, and by extension any group of religious people, to practice and live out their faith. That's a plausible argument, as the Century editors acknowledged a few weeks ago, and it is certainly one designed to gain allies among other religious people.
Do we spend more time in closed rooms--trying to articulate to other church professionals why we are right--than we spend speaking to the media and articulating to the larger world why we believe in the inclusive love of God?
How do we move from Jesus' core ethical mandate to the complex issues we face in the modern world?
So, the Blunt amendment got killed in the Senate. And good riddance: you wouldn't know it from the L.A. Times's writeup, but the measure was a good bit broader than a reversal of the Obama administration's contraception mandate (which itself would have been nothing to celebrate). From the amendment text (pdf): A health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the essential health benefits package...on the basis that it declines to provide coverage of specific items or services because...providing coverage (or, in the case of a sponsor of a group health plan, paying for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan. In other words, essentially a line-item veto of whatever the boss is morally opposed to, based on church teaching or otherwise.
I recall three times when the churches I served were picketed. The one that was by far the most traumatic had to do with abortion.
In a response to complaints from Catholic leaders, last week the Obama administration revised its rule requiring some religious institutions to include birth control in health insurance. The new stance was welcomed by some Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association but was firmly rejected by the Catholic bishops--who in doing so shifted the ground of their own argument.
Are Protestants more in line with the Catholic bishops on contraception than Catholics are? Or is it just that there's some correlation between being Protestant and being politically inclined to oppose most any proposal that starts with "Employers should be required..."?
We disagree with the Catholic bishops' stance on birth control. Nevertheless, we think HHS should offer a broader religious exemption.
When conflicts come up between religious beliefs and the law, religious progressives should support certain religious exemptions--even if they disagree with the beliefs in question.
Here's an interesting clip in which Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry struggles to respond to a question about the effectiveness of abstinence-only education.
The debt-ceiling fight has been the dominant story out of Washington for weeks, and for the most part the White House hasn't looked too good. But in the last few days, the administration has taken some serious steps forward on other fronts.