Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Barack Obama’s “War on Religion"

Answer this question: As Americans, do we live in a country where we are encouraged to make choices based on our own interests? I would have to argue that the answer is yes. Why am I asking this question? I believe that requires a little background information. Currently, the country is in the middle of a political storm because President Barack Obama signed a bill that would make Catholic hospitals, educational institutions, and other Catholic facilities to purchase health insurance that covers contraceptives and “morning after” pills. If anybody has any sort of background knowledge about Catholics, they know that they believe they are to have as many children as God wants them to have, and therefore ban the use of contraceptives and morning after pills. In other words, the Catholic Church now believes that Barack Obama is attacking their religious rights by forcing them to carry contraceptives and thereby taking away their ability to choose to not promote these types of things.

There are two problems with this situation. The first issue is that President Obama should not be forcing this upon Catholic institutions. While this is not a malicious attack on Christianity, this issue does indeed infringe upon Catholic beliefs. It is the Catholic Church’s right to not carry things they are so strongly opposed to. It could be the equivalent instituting a time for prayer in public schools. The students could choose not have to pray, but there are people that would be offended because religion would be in the schools. In this instance, the students at the universities and people at the hospitals would not have to accept the contraceptives, but would be offended that they are being offered.

While President Obama is wrong, the Catholic Church is also wrong for furthering what some call Barack Obama’s “war on religion.” Right wing media outlets, such as Fox News, are claiming that Barack Obama wants to take away “religious freedom” from Christians. One Fox News correspondent even stated, “This (in reference to the bill), of course, is going over about as well as a BBQ joint in a Hasidic neighborhood.” President Obama is doing this to help people who are in times of their lives when they do not want children.. This legislation comes from a good place. Furthermore, while Obama is forcing the Catholic institutions to carry contraceptives, he is not forcing people to take the contraceptives and morning after pills. If the Catholic universities are doing a good job at instilling its morals into their students, then the students will not take the pills. Barack Obama may not give the Catholics a choice in the matter, but it is ultimately the choice of the people whether to use the contraceptives or not.

After stating all of this, the fact of the matter is everyone involved in this is wrong. President Obama is wrong for forcing this upon people with such strict beliefs pertaining to contraceptives. The Catholic Church is also wrong because President Obama is not attacking religion. His motives are to encourage more people to use birth control.

People get themselves into problems all the time due to unintentional conception. Therefore, if more people use birth control, the problem would be lessened. It truly comes down to whether Catholics at hospitals and universities choose to take the contraceptives.

Days after this whole debacle occurred, President Obama decided that the insurance Catholic institutions would have to purchase would not cover contraceptives and morning after pills, but these things would instead be given to them for free. The right wing is still claiming this is his “war on religion,” but this is really a sign that President Obama acknowledges concerns, but will not back down. I am sure that this issue is certainly not over.

Trevor Kurtz
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

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