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American Iran?

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Locally, freedom of religion has received some reinforcement. Little Rock city government has wisely decided to run a new homeless shelter itself, rather than pay a private religious group to do so. The Conway School District has, at least temporarily, halted proselytism by clergymen on school property during school hours. There is still hope that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will abandon its rash plan to merge a public hospital with a sectarian one. (And that some patriotic libertarian will file suit if the scheme isn't scrubbed.) At the national level though, religious freedom is threatened. Hoping to force their own beliefs on everybody else, an aggressive combine of Roman Catholic bishops and evangelic fundamentalists seeks to nullify the Affordable Care Act's provision of insurance coverage for birth control. Plaintiffs in a number of lawsuits argue that if an employer is opposed to birth control because of his religion, he's entitled to deny birth control coverage to his employees, even if they don't share his faith. Error has not the same rights as truth, they say, and workers not the same rights as bosses. The Supreme Court, with a majority of Catholics, may be receptive to these arguments. The Court did severe damage to this country with its Citizens United decision. A decision knocking down the wall of separation between church and state — the Iranization of America, so to speak — would be worse.

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