I just wrote a letter to Obama urging him not to back down in requiring contraceptive coverage options for non-church employees at Catholic affiliated organizations. I decided to make it an open letter, because I do not see enough reporting on this story that points out that Obama is the one standing up for religious freedom and it is the church that is fighting against religious freedom.
The church is trying to prohibit employees, many of whom are not Catholic and do not work in church related jobs, from having health plans that cover contraception. It should also be pointed out that no one is forcing people to use contraception just because it is covered. The cost of covering contraception in an insurance plan is much lower than if that burden is put directly on individuals. Yet, somehow the narrative keeps getting framed as "Is Obama violating Catholics' freedom of religion?"
I say "Hell No!" So, follow me beyond the Fleur de Kos below and I will explain this from the point of view of an Irish Catholic who did time in Catholic schools and churches until the age of 18, and is now a happy atheist (like many ex-Catholics).
The subject and body of the message are shown below. Please let me know what you think.
I should also note that I grew up with many Irish and Hispanic Catholics who basically continue to be Catholic (or at least act Catholic) for cultural reasons, even though many of us frequently disagree with what the Pope or church hierarchy decrees. Sometimes it can be a bit of a balancing act to not offend family members by arguing with the priests in public. However, I also happen to know that many practicing Catholics agree with me in private...some of the priests even do.
Subject: Do not allow Catholic affiliated organizations to take away employees' freedom of religion
Catholic affiliated employers are arguing that it takes away THEIR freedom of religion if your administration does not let them prohibit all their employees--even if they are not Catholic employees and do not work in jobs directly related to the church--from having contraceptives available in their health insurance plans. If Catholic employees object to contraceptives, they can certainly choose not to utilize this option. I was raised Catholic, though I now disagree with many positions the church holds. The majority of Catholics do in fact use contraceptives, so they obviously disagree with the church leadership as well.
Freedom of religion means I should be able to decide not only what religion I follow, but what parts of it I agree or disagree with, and even that I could to remain a member of a cultural faith community without believing in any of its teachings. This is about the rights of people, not the rights of a church to impose its will on people who may not even be members of that church, but simply work in organizations affiliated with the church. Corporations are not people and neither are churches. It is people who have the right to freedom of religion. It is not freedom of religion to allow a church to take away other people's freedom to believe or act as they choose.
If the Catholic church is allowed to ban those who work in affiliated organizations from having coverage for contraceptives, then that takes away people's religious rights and gives the right instead to the church to dictate beliefs to anyone it employs, even if it does so indirectly. That turns the very idea of religious freedom on its head.