What follows is not the 12 page original “Statement on Religious Liberty” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. But here's my (satirical-but-all-too-true?) version of the bishop's anti-Obama "statement."
We are Catholics who are using politics masquerading as religion to forward our agenda. We are also Americans when it suits our political purposes as laid out for us by a number of influential (mostly unknown) far right Republican Party activists we the American Bishops look to for guidance on how to remain relevant even after we presided over a worldwide pedophilia ring.
These activists who guide and manipulate us were inspired by the late Richard John Neuhaus (a convert to far right papist Catholicism who equated America with Hitler’s Germany because of legal abortion), and today we are led by Professor Robert George of Princeton University (and former John McCain advisor and anti-Obama Republican activist who accused President Obama of being in favor of infanticide) who has picked up where Neuhaus left off.
Robert George came up with something called the Manhattan Declaration that was co-authored with far right evangelical activist Charles Colson that called for civil disobedience against the government but more specifically against President Obama, someone Professor George has been working to defeat and discredit from the time he worked for McCain.
To be far right Tea Party Catholic and American should mean not having to choose between celibacy and child molestation on the one hand and making sweeping political “moral” pronouncements written for us by Professor Robert George and other Republican Party far right evangelical-style activists on the other hand. Our allegiances to both making political statements as a means to destroy the first black American president and also to cover up a decades-long war on innocent children are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow Republican Party and Tea Party citizens for the common good of all who wish to defeat President Obama in the next election by whatever means, including making the unfounded charge of his being “against religion.”
Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that the power of the Church in the United States to oppress women, children and gays is being sadly weakened. He worries that we'll get kicked out of here just as the people of Ireland finally got sick of us there. He called the bishops’ right to do one thing yet say another the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is.
Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms: the freedom for women to be baby-making vessels following the glorious tradition of the Church that sat back and denounced condoms and thus condemned millions to death from AIDS.
Religious Liberty Under Attack—Concrete Examples, Consider the following:
HHS mandate for contraception has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. We demand that women must have plenty of children to turn over to our tender care and nurturing. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will force religious institutions to abide by the laws of the land as regards women’s rights. This is unacceptable.
Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services
Notwithstanding years of excellent performance by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require us to provide or refer for contraceptive services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief no matter how crazy that belief is.
Religious Liberty Is More Than Freedom of Worship
Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home with our dozens of children. It is also about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of the Republican Party, the Tea Party and the Koch brothers' takeover of America via the Supreme Court without having to compromise our faith in Ayn Rand, who was crucified, raised and ascended that American corporations might be saved by us.
Without religious liberty properly understood, all Republicans will suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, civil rights, and social services that Fox News-watching Americans make every day to keep America ignorant of science and progress.
What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society where rich and connected white men rule women and minorities -- or whether the state alone will determine who has rights. All far right and religious right Republicans make their contribution to our common life, and they do not need the permission of the President Obama and his death panels to have access to children to molest, women to bully and gay people to discriminate against.
So this is not just a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an issue that binds together every American reactionary misogynist homophobic right winger that hates our not-born-here Muslim, communist, socialist, infanticide-loving “president.”
It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law to protect women that makes us bishops subject to the law rather than to our Bronze Age mythology. In the face of an unjust law that deprives WE THE BISHPOPS of the RIGHT to deprive women, children and gay Americans of their civil liberties an accommodation is not to be sought.
We the Bishops know that by raising a possibility of civil disobedience we can grab a headline or two make religious liberty a campaign issue and thereby do our bit to get a Republican Mormon elected while holding our noses because of course not long ago we would have had him burned at the stake.
The Lord Jesus came to liberate us from the dominion of sin and so he put Us Bishops in charge of women and gay people and children. We ask nothing less than that the Constitution and laws of the United States, which recognize our right to operate an anti-democratic institution within a democracy, be respected.
Finally to our brother bishops, let us exhort each other with fraternal charity to be bold, clear, and insistent in denying that we have been part of a cover-up of crimes against children, women, minorities and gay people by warning against threats to the rights of us bishops to boss the American's around (including those "Catholics" who no longer obey us) who work in the multiform-billion dollar institutions we control. Let us attempt to be the “conscience of the state,” to use Rev. King’s words against the first black American president.
In the aftermath of the decision on contraceptive mandates, many others who hate President Obama spoke out forcefully sensing that "religious liberty" is a good and useful smokescreen to defeat that man with.
A Fortnight for Freedom
We suggest that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More and the Vigil of the Upcoming Republican National Convention—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom to get rid of Obama by any means”—a great hymn of prayer for our country.
We invite you to join us in an urgent prayer for religious liberty by which we mean the defeat of President Obama, no matter what.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer, speaker, political activist and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back