Commentary Religion

The Bishops on Religious Freedom: “We Get More Than You”

Sally Rasmussen

The bishops' recent actions show that they believe in unlimited freedom for themselves, but only the freedom they are willing to allow for the rest of us.

Published in partnership with the Freedom for All Campaign.

The Catholic bishops have been talking a lot recently about the First Amendment. They’ve made the remarkable claim that their tradition is a source of First Amendment freedoms, but their interpretation of such freedom is that it should shield them from prosecution for collaborating in the sexual abuse of children, at the same time that they are doing their best to deny freedom of religion, speech, and assembly to American nuns. Nor do they believe in freedom of conscience for the Catholic Church which is the people of God – a Church that has thoughtfully concluded that contraception is morally acceptable.

Nevertheless, they are now promoting a “Fortnight for Freedom” to foster the notion that they are suffering persecution when the government of the people does not bow to every aspect of their demands. It doesn’t matter that even those who at first sided with the bishops in their fight over contraceptive coverage have found the compromise offered to them completely reasonable.

No, the bishops have made their decision. Believing that their orders to the Church will be accepted by enough people to do harm to a particular political party, they have chosen to dive into the endless partisan dog fight.

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The bishops’ recent actions show that they believe in unlimited freedom for themselves, but only the freedom they are willing to allow for the rest of us. As the Fourth of July draws near, all sorts of political ads will try to use the sentiments of the day to an advantage, including ads read from the pulpit. But the message of the day is not one that gives comfort to those who claim a divine right to impose their will on the people.

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