In what is surely one of contemporary American politics’ strangest controversies, the Roman Catholic Church has demanded that its educational and public health institutions be exempt from a White House mandate pertaining to insurance coverage. Essentially, all employers will soon have to provide their employees with the means to receive contraceptives or sterilizations. As the RCC hierarchy is adamantly against these, despite nearly all of its adherents utilizing one or both, it recently launched a nonstop protest machine asserting an apparent right for special treatment under the law.
Over the last few weeks, the airwaves and Internet alike have been bombarded with complaints on the RCC’s behalf. Some fundamentalist Catholic pundits went so far as to say that incumbent President Barack Obama would lose their religion’s reliably Democratic vote during this fall’s general election. Others deduced that Obama had engaged himself in a war against Catholics for whatever reason, and this was the beginning of a pseudo-dictatorship. A few bishops and similar high ranking figures decided to boldly refuse compliance with federal regulations.
Soon enough, however, reality simply had to set in. A survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, published on Tuesday, revealed that almost 60 percent of American Catholics agree with the idea of employers being forced to provide birth control measures. Even among self-described voters, this number totaled out at 52 percent. In any case, the eminently dominant majority of mainstream Catholics are not backing the furor caused by their fundamentalist counterparts. It would seem that there might not be a Catholic exodus from the Democratic Party, anti-religious war, or tyrannical regime after all.
This entire matter is a fine example of what happens when the fringe gains control of the dialogue. According to some men and women who received ample news time, a Second American Revolution with a Catholic twist was coming into play. Instead, we see that it is nothing more than a certain element speaking up for others without their consent. This sort of thing goes on frequently in politics, but it is truly a shame when partisans opt to drag religion down into the gutter as well.
During times such as these, I ask my Christian countrypersons the following; what would Jesus do? I have a strong feeling that it would not be anything like this.