I remember the days when people were worried that John F. Kennedy would take his marching orders from the pope instead of from the people. Today, a candidate taking his marching orders from the pope would be regarded as a good Republican. The only person in the Republican Party who might be miffed is Grover Norquist, since he thinks Republicans must serve no other master but him.
Somewhere along the line, probably around the time a black man with an odd name managed to cature the White House, right-wing Christians, particularly the candidates who purport to represent them, decided that the "bloody Papists" were OK after all, and that perhaps they could band together to fulfill their most important spiritual obligation: getting back at Eve for eating the apple. Yes, all that stuff about Martin Luther no longer matters, as long as common cause can be made ensuring that all those dirty sluts keep their legs closed and if they don't, are punished with children they don't want. As long as women can be made slaves to their reproductive systems and be dependent on men, even those men who abuse them, where they belong, those little trivialities like the Pope don't matter. And that is why we had evangelical voters going gung-ho for Newt Gingrich, at least until St. Rick the Frothy marched through the Midwest again, reminding the vaginaphobic that HE's the one who walks the walk instead of just talking the talk.
But there's always been political hay to be made in claiming that we're still in ancient Rome and Christians are being thrown to the lions at every turn, except that today, Christian victimization takes the form of not being able to force everyone else to believe and practice as you do. And of course this particular battle between those who for some strange reason have turned a mystic who preached that everyone should be nice to each other and help the poor into a supply-side Capitalist who regularly put women in their place, and the sane among us, is being turned into yet another example of the virtuous and spiritual vs. the unwashed heathen. Ever since the days when John F. Kennedy had to reassure voers that he would not take his marching orders from the pope, these people have likened not getting their own belief system enforced by government to being messacred by the millions.
I don't know what the obsession is that these people have with sex, but they've sure got it in spades. And for some reason, the obsession isn't what white straight males do with their genitalia, it's all about what women and gay men do with theirs. I'd say it's because straight white men aren't doing anything with theirs, except that Rick Santorum has seven kids and always touts his "miscarried" eighth. And yet he's the poster child for Obsession with the Sex Organs of Others.
I've been saying for years that once the right gets abortion, they're going after contraception, because it's all part of the same fear and loathing of women. But they aren't even waiting around for some Presidential Executive Order or reversal of Roe v. Wade; they're going after birth control now. And the only thing standing between us and them is a President who is still laboring under the delusion that you can find common ground with absolutists.
Last week we were relieved to find that contrary to our expectations, President Obama had refused to cave to a bunch of men in Rome and kept the Affordable Care Act's mandate that copay-free contraceptives be part of health insurance plans provided to women, even by religious-owned employers whose primary mission is not religious (such as Catholic hospitals). For a few brief, shining moments, we could actually believe that this president wasn't going to take 51% of the population and throw us under the bus with every other part of the reality-based community. But as the hue and cry has become louder and more shrill by the minute, there are ominous signs that President Part-the-Waters is about to cave one more time, proving once again that Democrats are simply unable, or unwilling, to take a tiny bit of time to frame a sane argument.
So New York Times columnist Gail Collins does it for them them today, in a few well-chosen words even a ten-year-old should be able to understand:
The churches themselves don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage. Neither do organizations that are closely tied to a religion’s doctrinal mission. We are talking about places like hospitals and universities that rely heavily on government money and hire people from outside the faith.
We are arguing about whether women who do not agree with the church position, or who are often not even Catholic, should be denied health care coverage that everyone else gets because their employer has a religious objection to it. If so, what happens if an employer belongs to a religion that forbids certain types of blood transfusions? Or disapproves of any medical intervention to interfere with the working of God on the human body?
Organized religion thrives in this country, so the system we’ve worked out seems to be serving it pretty well. Religions don’t get to force their particular dogma on the larger public. The government, in return, protects the right of every religion to make its case heard.
And David Boies explained it further in The Last Word:
Of course the solution is very simple, then: Let Catholic hospitals refuse to provide contraception coverage. But then they get not one thin dime of government money. And while we're at it, let them create an unsafe environment in which employees are not protected from toxic substances and where children are hired to empty bedpans. And let's see just how long that hospital stays in business. Besides, amidst all the foofarah about "I don't want my tax money paying for things that might allow dirty sluts to get away with it," when do I get to decide what MY tax money will pay for? And I don't want my tax money going to misogynists and bigots.
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