How 'religious freedom' became a 'fig leaf for discrimination' | Arkansas Blog

How 'religious freedom' became a 'fig leaf for discrimination'

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THINK PROGRESS
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Michael Sherrard writes for Talking Points Memo about the cynical exploitation of religion to attack Obamacare/s reproductive health coverage mandate in the Hobby Lobby case.

He notes that Hobby Lobby didn't get interested in opposing contraceptive coverage until Obamacare came along. Its  plan HAD covered contraceptives that it now deplores. It still covers many contraceptives. It continues to invest in companies that make such contraceptives and to sell in China, where abortion is a matter of public policy.

The craft giant’s lawyer claimed during oral arguments that contraception is uniquely "fraught with religious controversy." But polling shows that nearly all Christians in America have used birth control — and that the majority of them support requiring employers to include contraceptives in their health insurance plans.

So how did the court — and the media — come to be so credulous towards such fringe and insincere claims of Christian piety?

Shameless efforts to dress up bigotry in religious garb go back to the very beginnings of the religious right, which is younger than a lot of people think. The modern politicized religious right movement was born in the 1970s in a battle over whether all-white "Christian schools" could exclude black students while maintaining tax-exempt status as religious organizations.

In the subsequent years, the religious right’s strategists grew savvier, recasting their agenda as a defense of “family values” and of “unborn babies.” And backed by deep-pocketed conservative donors, they set about building a powerful political, legal, and communications empire — largely bypassing existing church and denominational structures and relying instead on creative use of then-new communications technologies like direct mail, cable television, and talk radio.

The weakening of mainline Protestant denominations and growing secularization of liberals have contributed to the rise of conservative causes, Sherrard writes. He finds some hope in positive movements nationally on gay rights and the more conciliatory tone from the new pope.

I'd add that= the victory in Hobby Lobby should be a warning signal that the gay rights struggle is not won. The spurious "religious freedom" argument is being trotted out vigorously to not only justify discrimination against LGBT people.

And, about the pope. I remain encouraged by his tone. But this article might give you pause.


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