The Post-Gazette today has a prominent article on the call for prayer by the Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania. It is another attack on the religious liberty of employees, couched as an attack against the church.
The Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania have designated March 30 as a day of prayer, fasting and abstinence for religious liberty.
Their call, in the context of Lent, was sparked by a furor between the bishops, some other religious groups and the Obama administration over a mandate requiring most employers to cover contraceptives and “morning after” drugs in employee health plans. The bishops also urged the state’s 3 million Catholics to contact their legislators.
“On that day, offer your sacrifice for the cause of religious liberty, that the church may be granted the basic right to practice what she preaches, and for our political leaders, that their eyes may be opened to the rights of all Americans, including those of faith,” the bishops wrote.
The “rights of all Americans” are not at issue. The rights of employers to control the lives of employees is at stake. The article is full of biased reporting.
As drafted, the federal mandate exempted only religious organizations that primarily employ and serve only their own members. It forced Catholic social services to provide coverage for services that the church teaches are immoral.
First of all, the federal mandate exempted religious organizations that primarily employ and serve only their own members. The qualification above (the first use of ‘only’) does not change that fact. Second, the coverage is not a gift from Catholic social services. The money used to cover health care is earned by the employee. A health care provider then provides insurance, which covers a wide range of coverage. Medical decisions are best left between a patient and a doctor. The religious dogma of the employer should not be in the equation.
The funny thing is that this request is presented as critical to faith. Yet, we know from many studies that prayer does not work, so praying is a waste of time. And, what did Bishop Zubik say about the Lenten fish frys on Friday, which many churches depend on for raising funds?
In deference to Friday fish fry fundraisers, he emphasized that people could fast from television or other pleasures, not just food.
So we have an end-of-the-word scenario that requires all PA Catholics to pray and fast, but, hey, if fasting is too difficult, no worries. They are serious about restricting non-Catholics in their choices, but restricting Catholics is just a little too much trouble.