Crying Religious Intolerance While Violating Rights
Last week Notre Dame and more than 40 other Catholic institutions announced they are filing lawsuits suing Obama on the contraception mandate. As usual, they’re claiming that the government is running all over their religious rights.
Meanwhile, bills have been proposed claiming to protect the conscience of employers to opt out of providing coverage that goes against their religious convictions, including the Bunt Amendment and a similar bill in the Arizona Legislature.
Are Catholic Bishops and other employers the only people who hold religious beliefs? Or the only ones whose religious beliefs count?
You’d think so to hear the debate on the matter.
In the face of this war on women progressives have rarely questioned whose religious rights are in play. And so conservatives have undisputedly argued that employers – Bishops or otherwise – must be free to follow their conscience. But that leaves women forced to follow the conscience of their employers. The argument is then framed as “right to contraception” vs “religious rights” which makes the latter stronger since that is undisputedly in the constitution.
Maybe women’s religious beliefs are ignored because the perspective of the powerful tends to trump the perspective of the powerless. The powerful have a history of airing their beliefs and they can bully from their pulpits. The Catholic Church has historically been powerful. Women have not. Business leaders have historically been powerful. Women have not.
I was heartened to hear Salon editor, Joan Walsh, finally make the reverse argument last week, five months after the start of this debate. She pointed out that the Priests have religious freedom backwards as they try to force their religion on everyone else. They and the Republican Right are working to impose their religion on the country. Maureen Dowd and the New York Times editorial page have thankfully followed suit.
Shouldn’t the pious be the ones to sacrifice for their convictions instead of asking everyone else to sacrifice for their beliefs?
And when there is a conflict, the religious beliefs and conscience of those whose bodies, health and well-being are directly affected should certainly trump the conscience of those who simply hold the purse strings.
Posted on June 1, 2012, in feminism, gender, politics, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged feminism, gender, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, War on Women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.