Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has a strong track-record of opposing religious leaders and institutions who overstep their religious liberties and invade the political spectrum. The above link is about the contraception debate that I recently discussed. AU claims that religious institutions do not have a special exemption to “deny the… Read more Americans United doesn’t Get it
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has a strong track-record of opposing religious leaders and institutions who overstep their religious liberties and invade the political spectrum. The above link is about the contraception debate that I recently discussed. AU claims that religious institutions do not have a special exemption to “deny the rights” of their employees.
There are several GLARING problems with the written testimony that AU presented to Congress.
First, their definition of the free expression clause is childishly wrong. AU Director, Reverend Barry Lynn says that “The separation of church and state means that the government will not force one religious view or doctrine upon the people.” This at first glance is only half-wrong… then at a closer look it’s more like 75% wrong! The free expression clause is just that, it ensures that citizens will have free expression of their religion. It is intended to provide freedom to citizens first and foremost. But one way that government can help ensure that freedom of religious expression is possible is by not endorsing any one religion at the expense of others.
Second major problem is calling free contraceptives a “right” is laughable. Lynn says: “It is the woman’s right to exercise her religion freely and make her own decisions about reproductive health, even if she is employed by an organization that holds a different position on these matters.” That is true! But it doesn’t support your position, Mr. Lynn! The woman can (and women do) purchase birth control no matter what her church and/or employer thinks or provides. There’s nothing about Obama’s new compromise that would limit her ability to choose her contraceptive, or for that manner even get an abortion if she likes. AND… she will still get free contraceptives, it will just be paid for by the insurance companies, NOT the religious employer.
AU advocates a hyper-individualism. Lynn says: “The religious convictions of the individual employee should certainly supersede the ‘corporate conscience’ of these quasi-public institutions.” This goes back to my point in my previous post. Why should the government create a wedge between churches and congregants? The Catholic Church has been around a lot longer than the U.S. and it’s doctrines are not created in response to U.S. legislation. The Catholics have a long and well-documented opposition to birth control. Forcing the church to provide it is simply infringement.
BUT…. the main point of AU’s testimony is to speak out against the expansion of the religious exemption to ALL employers. AU is right-on to oppose that effort. The Catholic Church is overstepping its bounds when it seeks to allow its morality to be imposed on all employers.