President Obama and the Fake ‘War on Religion’

Republicans are once again using religion as a weapon to divide America.  We Faithful Democrats must counter this absurd "war on religion" narrative.  I’ll leave you with President Obama’s recent response to the right’s ridiculous "war on religion" accusation:


On February 10, President Obama announced a solution to the controversy surrounding the requirement that health insurance plans cover contraceptive services at no cost.  Anexemption to this requirement had already been carved out in August 2011 for many religious employers, primarily churches and other houses of worship.  Standing behind the podium of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, President Obama explained:


Today, we’ve reached a decision on how to move forward.  Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services – no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company – not the hospital, not the charity – will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.


The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly….Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.


Some faith leaders immediately applauded President Obama’s decision.  A group of Catholic and Protestant leaders celebrated the announcement as a "major victory for religious liberty and women’s health."


Religious liberty experts also offered their support.  Melissa Rogers of Wake Forest University and The Brookings Institution wrote, "With this solution in place, I hope we can move beyond this acrimonious debate and work together on the serious challenges facing our great nation."


Unfortunately, the acrimony has not disappeared.  Just a few days prior to the announcement, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land claimed that the Obama Administration has "declared war on religion."  Following the announcement, Land referred to President Obama’s solution as an "accounting gimmick."


Catholic League president William Donohue called the solution a "ploy" that "adds insult to injury" and Matthew Staver of Liberty University asserted it was "just an economic shell game."  Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, dismissed the solution and alleged that it "does nothing to change the fundamentally anti-religious, anti-conscience and anti-life contraceptive mandate."


Republican presidential candidates have also pushed this "war on religion" narrative.  While on the campaign trail in Michigan, Rick Santorum compared President Obama to "tyrants around the world" opposed to religious freedom.  Santorum even accused the president of having a "phony theology" and told Sean Hannity in a February 20 interview that the Obama Administration has waged "a war on people of faith, particularly the Catholic faith."


Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has repeatedly vowed to "repeal every act of religious bigotry by the Obama administration."  Speaking at CPAC on February 10, Gingrich declared that President Obama is "waging war on religion" and "will wage war on the Catholic Church the morning after he’s reelected."


That same day, Mitt Romney at a town hall meeting in Maine proclaimed that President Obama "has launched an assault on religious conviction." Two weeks later at the Arizona Republican presidential debate, Romney continued with this line of attack: "I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we’ve seen under Barack Obama."


Despite this "war on religion" narrative being perpetuated by the GOP and conservative religious leaders, a recent survey found that a majority of Americans (56%) "do not believe that the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today."  Of those Americans who believe religious liberty is threatened – only 6% cited the recent birth control controversy!


The facts reveal that President Obama and Secretary Sebelius have gone to great lengths to accommodate organizations with religious objections to certain contraceptive services.  Take a look at the 32-page proposed rulemaking document that the Obama Administration released on March 16.  What reasonable, honest person could read this document and reach the conclusion that President Obama is waging a "war on religion"?


This document is not a blueprint for any war on religion.  Instead, it is a blueprint for religious accommodation and the protection of both individual and institutional consciences.


Republicans are once again using religion as a weapon to divide America.  We Faithful Democrats must counter this absurd "war on religion" narrative.  I’ll leave you with President Obama’s recent response to the right’s ridiculous "war on religion" accusation:


When we start using religion as a bludgeon in politics, we start questioning other people’s faith, we start using religion to divide, instead of bring the country together, then I think we’ve got a problem.



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