Religious Crusaders Are Imposing Their Views on America

abortionI have warned before that America is in danger of becoming a theocracy, but in those blogs my complaint was against evangelical extremists. Now,  I wonder whether the Roman Catholic church might not represent at least as great a danger to the country’s freedoms.

First the disclaimer: The Catholic church long ago declared me a pagan although my mother was a devout Catholic and my father a descendant of generations of Anglican (Episcopalian) clergy. The declaration was made to allow my first wife to remarry in the church after our divorce. By declaring me a pagan, the church was able to annul the marriage (and made a few bucks doing it).

You might think I bear some grudge against Mother Church and that’s why I am picking on Catholics today. And, of course, I cannot be entirely sure that my motives are selfless. So, you can take my comments in that context and decide for yourself.

What troubles me is the way the Catholic church has joined forces with evangelical zealots who vehemently, and sometimes violently, seek to take away the reproductive rights of American women – as specified by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade (see photo of protest placards above).

I have noticed for some time the subtle “spin” that some Catholic commentators give the news. Chris Matthews, for example, is one of several “Irish Catholics” on MSNBC who consistently manage to “ask questions” that challenge abortion rights in America.

Incidentally, Matthews is supposed to be a “liberal” MSNBC host, but he doesn’t seem very liberal to me. He gave that now-infamous scatterbrain Michele Bachmann her first national soap box. And he often invites right-wing spokesmen like indicted Senator Tom Delay and discredited presidential candidate Tom Tancredo on his show. Ostensibly, he does it to rebut their views, but he actually gives them a platform they could get nowhere else.

However, Chris Matthews is not the subject of my complaint today. My quarrel is with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Yesterday morning, they met with House leaders to press their case for eliminating the coverage of abortion expenses under the health care bill that was being considered.  And the craven Democrats caved in.

When the House passed its version of the health-care overhaul bill last night, it included an amendment by Michigan Representative Bart Stupak – supposedly a Democrat – that would block women participating in the program from getting insurance to cover abortions even if they paid the premiums with their own money – not just government subsidies.

Despite the Republican clamor for the ban on abortion coverage, only one opposition representative – Louisiana’s Anh “Joseph” Cao – joined the 219 Democrats voting for the bill. The other 176 Republicans, along with 39 Democrats, voted against it.

You won’t hear me rejoicing with other “progressives” in the passage of that “historic” bill. I think it’s 2,000 pages of shameful compromise, full of concessions to religious and commercial special interests. I’m with Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, a real Democrat, who commented in a recent interview with Huffington Post reporter Kathleen Wells:

If that’s the best that we can do with 47 million Americans with no health insurance because they can’t afford it and another 50 million Americans under-insured because they are very vulnerable with the co-pays and the deductibles, then we have to ask ourselves what’s wrong with this system?

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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