This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Religious freedom and religious privilege

Quine's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Quine

Yes, Steve, it is a difficult situation. The U.S. law was set up to try to keep as much of the stupidity (as possible) locked behind the church doors so it does not spill out into the streets, and especially so it does not cause actual fighting as happens in religious wars around the globe. This has mostly worked, although it does also keep the government from coming out and calling something stupid, even when there exists objective demonstrable evidence that it is stupid. If anyone tries to do that, the result is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

This episode is interesting because it represents a kind of stupid that most of the people recognize as such, but know it can't be completely discussed without braking the public fiction that the Catholic sheeple stay in line and agree with the teachings of the bishops, when actually only a few do so, and most of the people only pretend to do so. The Obama administration understands this, and felt that the fig leaf of the "compromise" would give the bishops the cover they needed and that would be the end of it. Of course, they knew the bishops would have to make some noise about it, but the hospitals and schools were expected to take it in stride, as so many of them already were offering this health coverage.

However, this is an election year, and the Religious Right did not care about the facts on the ground among Catholics, this was a chance to drum up culture war issues, so it became framed as a situation of an arrogant government breach of the right of freedom of religion. This is where we get back to the stupidity part. The Obama administration carefully worked out enough margin from such constitutional trouble so that there would be no actual legal case against them. That has not stopped the cases from being filed, but all of those are platforms for speeches, not actions with chances of satisfaction through the Courts.

We all recognize that the Jehovah's Witness church could not stop health insurance for their employees from covering blood transfusions any more that Christian Science churches could require substitution of prayer for real medications. The first amendment allows persons to practice freedom of religion, but does not allow churches to break the general laws. Hospitals and schools do not get out of labor laws based on who owns them.

The Religious Right argues that churches should not have to pay for contraceptives no matter how indirect that may be structured. To them, any use of funds that come from the churches (no matter how they got them) can then NEVER end up paying for something that is against their teaching. So if you go by that (I can't call it "logic"), it is a violation of their First Amendment rights NOT to have a law that says that their employees must go out and find another source of income with which to pay for their own contraceptives.

It may take some time, but I still hold the position that the issues will be explained to enough people with enough brains to see fundamental bat-shit craziness of the fundamentalists in this fight. Yes, that will not include about 25% that are on the far Right, but those people were never going to be able to reason their way out of a paper bag, in the first place.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 21:29:43 UTC | #919764