President Obama plans to give a press conference later today. I'm hoping, however naive this makes me, that reporters will ask many questions about the federal government's brazen attack on religious liberty.
Even though this is far and away one of the most important issues of the day, the media have steadfastly ignored any line of questioning regarding religious liberty and have grossly mishandled the issue, preferring instead to frame this as a battle over birth control, downplay Catholic outrage, ignore Lutheran outrage, manufacture statistics, lie about the role women play in the religious liberty battle, ask loaded questions, paint this as a partisan issue, fall for PR scams, rewrite partisan talking points, and ignore vehement attacks on false framing, to name a few problems.
The Wall Street Journal writes today in "Bishop Dolan's Liberty Letter":
The debate over the Obama Administration's birth control mandate has been ingloriously fact-free, even more than usual. So amid demonstrably false claims about a plot to relegate women to the era of "Mad Men," if not Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692, Cardinal Timothy Dolan's letter on religious freedom deserves more readers.
"We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans," the archbishop of New York wrote in a public epistle to Catholic bishops last Friday. It's an eloquent and powerful document, though not one that received much of any media notice. "We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it," he continues.
Cardinal Dolan explains that "As pastors and shepherds, each of us would prefer to spend our energy engaged in and promoting the works of mercy to which the Church is dedicated: healing the sick, teaching our youth and helping the poor." The problem, and the genesis of this Catholic confrontation with Washington, is the government's "bureaucratic intrusion into the internal life of the church" and its bid "to define what constitutes church ministry and how it can be exercised."
Dolan goes on to tell about a chilling visit to the White House, ostensibly to negotiate some sort of compromise to protect a scrap of religious liberty:
Having accepted the invitation, the bishops asked if concrete policy changes like broadening the mandate's exemptions were "all off the table. They were informed that they are."
In other words, the White House's solution is merely for the bishops to shut up about the wrinkles. Cardinal Dolan writes that "there was not even a nod to the deeper concerns about trespassing upon religious freedom." White House staffers also cited some writings by vicars of the Catholic left in support of the mandate, in effect telling the bishops that they know less about church teachings than your average Washington Post columnist.
As a study in ideology and power, the anecdote is chilling, compounded by all the recent claims by Democrats and liberals that Catholics who actually abide by their faith are opposed to modernity. Such prejudice is supposedly defunct in contemporary America, except when it's practiced against religion.
There has been a media blackout on this letter. I guess Dolan, leader of American bishops, isn't quite as important as phony outrage over political gimmickry.
But it should be important to everyone here at Ricochet, regardless of our religious convictions. This is a horrific attack on religious liberty, the media are complicit in allowing it to happen, and we simply must do more to fight it.
Now, to end on a lighter note, I have to share this stick-puppet video a friend of mine made to make fun of the religious liberty panel discussion that was held (if perverted and downplayed by the media by Democrats and willing media):