Monday, March 12, 2012

Is Religious Liberty Just "Code Words" to Be Bigoted Against Obama ?

Over the course of American history, “religious freedom” has been a shape-shifter invoked just as often in the name of prejudice (in 19th-century Protestant campaigns against Catholic schools; in fundamentalist colleges’ racial discrimination a hundred years later) as on behalf of liberty. It is a code phrase alternately benign and sinister, much like that other clever cloak for bigotry, “states’ rights.” In the context of the 2012 race, the charge that Obama subverts religious freedom is a code meant to label the president as an impostor, a blasphemer of the American gospel who adheres to another religion entirely.

So says Molly Worthen at the NYT.

Notre Dame Law Professor and Religious Liberty defender Rick Garnett has something to say about that at Misunderstanding (or misrepresenting) the concern for religious freedom via the Catholic legal Blog Mirrors of Justice.

There is no doubt some people on the right will abuse these legitimate concerns about religious freedom for their own means. I will likely find these people a distraction , but there is not much I can do about that. The point is that many people in the GOP are reacting to the concerns of Catholics and other FAITH groups. Making this all about "code" is not helpful or very productive.

There is no doubt some abused "State Rights" in the past in a quest to stay in power and to control. That does not mean FEDERALISM ceases to exist As Justice Kennedy so eloquently reminded us recently. The same as to Religious Liberty.

Obama is sort of this position because of things he did and did not do. You really can't blame the President for various infringement on religious liberty and accommodation of religious liberty in the States themselves. We see that as to problems with Catholic Social Ministries in the District of Columbia,to some state mandated birth control mandates , to Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois, to from the other side of the political spectrum over broad anti Sharia laws.

But as to the Federal Level Garnett is correct. From the a suspicious grant denial, to the Administration's shocking position in the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church Supreme Case the Bishops as well as many other Non Catholics were spooked.

The HHS mandate is what sent the Bishops to push the Defcon 2 alarm. And not just Bishops at that but many others. The Catholic Church because of the size of its INSTITUTIONAL make up is sort of the canary in the Coal mine for some of these religious liberty issues.

It gets caught up in them before in affects the more local congregational Church. I think people that range from the Missouri Synod Lutherans to the Eastern Orthodox get that thus their concerns too.

It is hard to get Americans to focus on religious liberty issues in the States with their attention span. Plus our beltway /East Coast media is often ready to move on pretty quick from such issues. They are sort of filler for the important news happening in D.C. But a HHS Mandate is something people can understand. A law that would supersede all State laws.

The power and precedent of such a Federal action needs to be taken seriously and debated. It is a game changer.

As I mentioned at this post today, this is relevant for many issues that just go beyond this immediate case of birth control. See Illegal Aliens and Church Sanctuary Versus The HHS Birth Control Mandate

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