Director of New Ways Ministry Sees Growing Abuse of Religious Freedom
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has worked fiercely to deny LGBT rights, and now it’s using the banner of religious freedom to provide political cover for antigay positions. Although we hope any voices that still prefer discrimination over equality will be drowned out soon enough, the bishops’ campaign is more than just background noise.
The Catholic hierarchy is trying to fundamentally change the legal understanding of individual liberties, weighting the supposed rights of religious institutions more heavily than individual rights. At New Ways Ministry, we think there are good secular and religious arguments for not twisting the law into a tool for discrimination. Last fall, the Catholic bishops created the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty to protect against a host of alleged threats, with five of the six predictably having to do with sexuality. The committee opposes same-sex marriage and endorses “ministerial privilege,” which sets different employment standards for religious groups, allowing discrimination that is illegal for other employers. In addition, religious institutions should not have to cover contraception in employee health plans; Catholic charities should continue to be awarded federal funds to serve victims of human trafficking while refusing to provide a full range of reproductive services; and international HIV prevention programs should not require condom distribution.