Obama and Women Priests

Obama and Women Priests February 18, 2012

It has been clear since he was elected that there was an irrational element to the conservative opposition to President Obama.  Let me be clear:  I am not saying that all such opposition is either irrational or wrong:  the current imbroglio over the HHS mandate shows that there are legitimate grievances which can be made and which we need to take seriously.  I have not fully parsed the religious liberties issues involved,  and don’t particularly want to rehash them here, however.  My point is that there are good arguments which have been made against Obama and his policies.

On the other hand, it is equally clear that a lot of the opposition to him is quite irrational, fueled by conspiracy theories that  belong in the pages of the Weekly World News and not in mainstream political discourse:  he is a Muslim, not an American, a socialist out to destroy America, etc.  And now Rick Santorum has brought a new one to the fore:  Obama wants to force the Catholic Church to ordain women in order to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.

After seeing this, I had to ask myself:  where did this come from?  The only link I could find was to a press release from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:  commenting on Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the League said

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that churches are entitled to make employment decisions without interference by the government. In doing so, the high court affirmed what is known as the doctrine of “ministerial exception,” the long-standing right of churches to be shielded from discrimination lawsuits brought by employees.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue spoke to this issue today:

This is a great victory for religious liberty and a huge defeat for the Obama administration. Last October, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case, the Obama administration’s lawyer proved to be such a secular zealot that she stunned even the more liberal members of the high court. Leondra R. Kruger made such an extremist argument that she even got Justice Elena Kagan to agree wholeheartedly with Justice Antonin Scalia.

Had the Obama administration won, the government would have been able to order the Catholic Church to accept women priests. Looks like the old guard, entrenched in the 1960s, has lost again. 

(Emphasis added.)

For a more nuanced discussion of this important decision, please see the NY Times.   I can imagine this argument as the conclusion of some kind of slippery slope argument:  if the Administration’s argument been accepted by the Court, the path might have been opened for this kind of over-reach.  (I don’t give this argument any credence, but I can see it.)  But what I cannot see is the idea, expressed strongly by Santorum, that Obama himself wants to force the Catholic Church to ordain women.  This strikes me as irrational and borne not out of any rational analysis of Obama and his policies, but rather out of a fervent hatred for the man and everything he seems to represent.

Has anyone else seen this argument, and can you provide links to its earlier incarnations?

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