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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

President Obama,

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.

Originally posted to tekno2600 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 07:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Atheist in America.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 07:07:04 PM PST

  •  Does that mean if I start a religion dedicated (7+ / 0-)

    to discrimination against one sex or the other, I am exempt from the anti-discrimination laws? That seems to be what the Catholic Church is arguing. These affiliated organizations are businesses and as businesses are not exempt from the law, even a university is in the business of education(just ask the parents that write the big fat checks). The Catholic Church is a business....bank and all.

    •  I believe many / most religions are dedicated to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Mama

      sexual discrimination. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, we could eliminate most of global poverty by empowering women. But, name me one religion that stands for that or ever has. In fact, in invariable the clergy that get in the way.

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:52:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Religion will change when women stop enabling (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neon Mama, tekno2600

        old men in power. Women do the work in most religious organizations, men do most of the talking. Women need to stop giving away their power.

      •  Doesn't Wicca empower women? n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe wobblie

        De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

        by Neon Mama on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:13:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There may be preistesses in Wicca and some other (0+ / 0-)

          religions too, but I don't know that this means Wicca truly gives women the power to stand up to men and take full control of their bodies. Most religions and cultures for that matter let me dominate women. And, to be honest, I am not sure Wicca is anything other than a recently created version of certain old, but very vague and common beliefs, plus a little bit of New Age marketing. But, I'm an atheist, so I'm not going to get too deep into religious debates.

          Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

          by tekno2600 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 07:27:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Rachel was saying tonight without this provision (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam AZ, tekno2600, tardis10, gramofsam1

    the women would pay from 600 to 1800 a year for out of pocket costs. Bet you the Bishops won't stop covering Viagra.

    Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:05:30 PM PST

    •  Very interesting. It is a major burden to pay for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gramofsam1

      this without insurance. However, the cost to the individual insurance plans is often much less. So, it makes much more sense to cover a large pool of people.

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:53:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's missing here is... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tekno2600, tardis10, Neon Mama

    These businesses are receiving government support, yet trying to claim "religious exemption" for their bigotry.

    Fuck. Them.

    (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

    by homogenius on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:18:34 PM PST

    •  True dat. This is why there never should have been (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Mama, homogenius

      government support for "faith-based charities." You might as well call them narrow minded, discrimination and superstition based con games. But, now that they get billions from the government they say look how important we are. You need to make special rules that apply only to us.

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:57:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a hypocritical policy... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tekno2600, gramofsam1, Neon Mama

    In my small town experience where many women, including farmer's wives, worked in educational and health care systems that were or came to be under the control of the Catholic church sometimes after mergers with competitors during their tenure, this is an important issue.

    These women can't just get a job somewhere else if there is only one hospital. They can't just sell the family farm. The cost of contraceptives is a burden, but the costs of not using contraception are greater, so they acquiesce and pay.

    Except for those in the know. Those women came in with stories of heavy, irregular or painful periods and the knowledge that there was an exception allowing the pill to be covered for "menstrual regulation," a catch-all for common conditions that would be improved by using the pill. Others had acne and knew that the pill could be used for this. The fact that these women were sexually active and the side effect of this medication prevented pregnancy was a convenient loophole.

    The Catholic Church can protest all they want, but they need to be prepared for a closer look at how their official church policy actually plays out in their own institutions. We already know how it plays in the private lives of their members.

    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

    by meralda on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:29:47 PM PST

    •  Good point. I think the government already gives (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Mama

      too much special treatment to churches as it is. Good thing they are finally having to abide by some rules.

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:59:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great framing, tekno (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tekno2600, gramofsam1

    I hope you won't mind if I borrow it.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 09:17:42 PM PST

  •  Rights of the Church? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama

    I have no dog in this fight; having never totally accepted the teaching of the Catholic or the Christian Church. But having descended from a line of Cherokee Freedmen my religious experience has been shaped more by Native American Ideas & Beliefs.

    If it were not about abortion; if we were speaking about cutting small trees; my first reaction like them would be to recognize the spirit of life within; something that most on the left are fain to do with procreation. Yes there is life; not yet sprung forth; but does it need to be removed.

    For rape & incest & where ther is no chance of family or prosperity; revulsion & reluctance might very well wish the budding spark of life to be removed. The life & death of many things are problematic & implausible but trees only grow where we allow. Who decides?

    An environmentalist would be reluctant to teach the wholesale cutting & deforesting of trees. That is not to say that trees should not be cut. Progress demands paper & lumber & it is a renewable resource. Cutting the wood to fulfill needs legitimizes the usefullness of the cutting.

    The question is really who is to decide whether the tree survives? The Carver? The Campfire Cook? The tree-hugger? The logger? The Builder? The Arsonist? The landowner? Or should the fate of each tree be decided by each who would cut it?

    It is not by accident that Native Americans take particular comfort & affinity in the tribe. There lies the combined wisdom of their peers. The Cheifs must be the deciders, but they carry the views of the tribe when they meet with other cheifs to decide weighty matters.

    Church leaders now want to block contraception because of technological improvements. The established law does not follow their historical teaching. It appears that many Church members ignore Church teachings anyway & often use birth Control.

    It is useful to talk of the spirits but we do not live in the spirit world. Arbitrary demands by Church Leaders that all others must follow their spiritual teaching will only cause rejection of those rules & they will fade into the obscurity of history. This matter can only be decided in the highest Councils & administered by law.

    The great spirit is found in every living thing but we must decide together whether to mow or grow.

    When everything belongs to only one person, where do the rest of us stand?

    by healthychicken on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:42:47 AM PST

  •  Thank you. In my state hospitals must be (0+ / 0-)

    licensed. They must prove a projected need for expanding services like say a heart specialty wing in their service area. So a Catholic hospital which refuses full female healthcare can prevent one which would provide for women on an equal human rights basis. Would tax dollars fund a Christian Science "hospital" that cures with prayer only? Or an Adventist emergency room that refused to do blood transfusions?

    Of course the big flaw is to have job dependent sick care labelled as health care. Insurance was allowed to trap women in jobs by calling pregnancy a pre-existing condition which made women afraid to chance getting pregnant during the "waiting period" while they were not covered.

    Faith based Hezbollah gains power by "providing" humanitarian aid like the church does here.

    Why should they be credited for dispensing tax dollars?

    Women are @ half our taxpayers. Why should filtering our tax bucks thru fearsurance plans or faith based bigotry be allowed to limit our reproductive healthcare?

    Example -- Devout pregnant Jewish woman in car crash is taken to a Catholic hospital emergency room. They choose their dogma to save the fetus rather than the mom. Her faith has --- for way longer than the church existed -- required that the fetus is not a person until it takes first breath. The potential life in the womb is NOT allowed to "pursue" (endanger, take away the human rights of) the mother.

    If you don't want to enforce the death penalty, don't get a job as the state executioner. If you refuse to treat a woman's right to life as equal ---- don't go in the hospital business.

    What if their hospital/university or other businesses refused to treat Jewish or Muslim patients? How about if they would not treat Afro-American sickle cell anemia or AIDS patients? Just because women are a very large discriminated against group --- should not let "faith" be a valid excuse to get away with bigotry. What next -- A faith exemption for honor killings?

    Bad enough that "faith based" falsehoods like abstinence only pretending to be sex ed is wasting tax bucks. Let's see how much "charity" they have if they have to pay for it from their NON-TAXED tithe money instead of being supported by hard earned tax dollars paid by men AND women.

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 11:21:14 AM PST

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