Congratulations, President Obama, for Safeguarding Religious Freedom!

Angela Bonavoglia – Journalist and author Posted: 02/ 6/2012 6:25 pm

The Sunday morning talk shows were a cacophony of apoplectic right wingers like George Will and Matthew Dowd on This Week and David Brooks and GOP Strategist Alex Castellanos on Meet the Press attacking President Barack Obama for finally standing up to Catholic big business.

Obama did this by insisting that if a religious institution serves the general public, employs the general public, has a secular purpose, and takes public money, it must abide by the law: in this case, the Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to provide women with insurance coverage for all forms of birth control, without a deductible or co-pay. Excluded from this responsibility are directly religious entities, like churches.

These hysterical conservative voices are doing no more than echoing the latest spin brought to us by the Church’s master spinmeisters: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops have been shouting from the rooftops that by this action, the administration is trampling “religious liberty.”

The question is: Whose religious liberty?

Catholic women who choose to use birth control (more than 90% of American Catholic women) are making that decision based on one of the most cherished beliefs in the Catholic faith: the primacy of conscience.

Following one’s conscience is not only the right of a Catholic, but the duty. Conscience is described eloquently (with a gender tweak) in the Vatican II document, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. It says: