Last Saturday, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Catholics: “It is a freedom of religion battle,It is not about contraception. It is not about women’s health. We’re talking about an unwarranted, unprecedented, radical intrusion  into  a church’s ability to teach, serve and sanctify on its own.”

The more I engage, challenge and debate sensitive issues of the day with social conservatives, the more aware I become of how authoritarian governments and religious institutions obtain power and impose their will on others.

Make no mistake about it, religious conservatives in the United States are trying to impose their values and doctrine on the rest of us.  No, they won’t try to directly legislate their doctrine into law by telling us that abortion, marriage equality and contraceptives are sinful and against the will of God; that arrogant strategy would surely backfire.   They are doing it in a much more sinister and deceptive way:    They are suggesting that by not legislating and implementing their dogma the rest of us are guilty of denying them religious freedom.  In a country that celebrates freedom of religion and separation of church state, what patriotic demagoguery is to the sleazy politician, victimhood is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

In a commentary entitled, “Imposing ‘Sharia’: Roman Catholic,”  (Huffington Post), Rabbi Arthur Waskow astutely observes that:

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

“During the last few weeks, we have seen an outrageous attempt to impose sharia law on the US government and the American public.

NOT Muslim sharia; it is Roman Catholic “sharia” about contraception that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been trying to impose on Americans of all faiths and beliefs who happen to work at a Catholic-sponsored hospital or university.”

The irony of this effort  to portray Catholicism as under attack, is that comes in the shadow political and social conservative efforts to promote the myth that all American Muslims would  ultimately like ‘Sharia,’ Muslim law to be the law of the land.

  • Are Catholic clergy still free to preach Church doctrine to their congregations?
  • Are American’s who subscribe to Roman Catholicism free to not have abortions; not practice birth control; not participate in same-sex marriages?
  • Why should a non-Catholic (or progressive Christian) working in Catholic school or hospital be denied his/her religious freedom and civil right to reproductive choice, contraceptives or same-sex marriage?

Considering that a majority of Catholics surveyed indicate that a) they practice birth control and, b) they support President Obama’s efforts to include contraceptives and abortion procedures in medical coverage provided to employees of the Church, could it be that what the Roman Catholic Church is really trying to do is use the US Government to impose Church doctrine on Catholics who won’t follow it voluntarily?   Or worse, is Rabbi Waskow right; is the Church trying to impose their doctrine on all of us?