Americans United for Separation of Church and State doubles down on its stand against religious liberty, insisting that not only do Catholics have to pay for what they consider immoral, but they have to sit down and shut up:
The Obama administration’s continuing commitment to birth control access is commendable, but powerful religious and political forces are still trying to roll back women’s health care rights, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The White House announced today that access to birth control will remain an important part of the health care reform plan. But some revisions to the plan will be made to meet the concerns of religiously affiliated institutions.
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “I am glad that the president is still seeking to ensure that women have access to birth control, but Americans need to know that this battle isn’t over. Powerful sectarian lobbyists and their allies in Congress are still pushing to deny individual freedom.
“Right-wing members of Congress are pushing bills that would interfere with Americans’ access to birth control,” Lynn continued. “Americans who believe in individual freedom and church-state separation must make their voices heard.”
Two points: First, no one is “pushing bills that would interfere with Americans’ access to birth control,” unless by that he actually means, “access to free birth control that they can get through their employers’ health insurance.” Last time I checked, there was no such right in the Constitution, no obligation on the part of employers to provide it, no obligation for the government, even, to make sure everyone has it. Birth control will still be available on practically any street corner, or if you have to have something prescribed, from tens of thousands of doctors and pharmacies nationwide. The dishonesty of this kind of rhetoric is simply breath-taking.
Even more so, and this is my second point, is the unmitigated gall of Barry Lynn to couch this in term of “church-state separation” and complain about “powerful sectarian lobbyists and their allies in Congress.” Lynn has never–and I do mean never–uttered a single word of criticism of the National Council of Churches, any of the mainline denominations including his own United Church of Christ, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, or any other liberal or left-wing religious organization for their lobbying activities on behalf of liberal causes. Though AU presents itself as a church-state watchdog, it is actually nothing more than another left-wing political organization with a religious veneer. To AU, religious groups may lobby all they want, just so long as they lobby for the right (or actually left) causes. Any religious group wishing to lobby on behalf of conservative causes, on the other hand, is a threat to the republic, abortion, free birth control, secularism, and everything else that is good and holy.
Added Lynn, “In a nation that separates religion and government, it is wrong to let the Catholic hierarchy and the Religious Right write laws that impose their theology. American women, including the 98 percent of Catholic women who have used birth control, have every right to be outraged by the disproportionate political influence of the handful of men who run the Catholic Church and the Religious Right.”
But there is nothing wrong with having the Religious Left write laws that impose their theology, nor do Americans have any right to be outraged over the disproportionate influence of the people who run the NCC, the mainline churches, and their friends (remember, they’re the ones with all the friends in high places in the White House and the federal bureaucracy that is making these unconstitutional regulations).
The mind boggles.
UPDATE: For more on the universal and inexpensive availability of birth control, take a look at Andrew McCarthy‘s column at National Review Online. He provides lots of information about the many specific forms of contraception, where they can be obtained, and how much they cost, and concludes with this:
So to summarize, contraception is broadly and inexpensively available. Voluminous information about birth-control methods, prices, and comprehensive support services is free and easily accessible online, by telephone, and at hundreds of clinics that encourage the curious or needy to walk in. And though there is no constitutional right to public funding for abortion and contraception, they are nevertheless richly underwritten by taxpayers — including religious believers whose contribution is coerced despite their profound moral objections to some or all of the practices at issue.
There is no crisis in “reproductive health.” There is not even inconvenience. Contraception and abortion services are readily, affordably accessible to anyone who wants them, including anyone — Catholic or not — who works at or otherwise gets health insurance through a Catholic institution.
The bottom line is this: this controversy is not about contraception. It is about religious liberty, and the crabbed view of it that seems to dominate the thinking of the White House and the federal bureaucracy. In that regard, I would highly commend to your reading Charles Krauthammer‘s take on “The Gospel According to Obama.”