Catholic bishops vow to keep up the pressure on President Barack Obama over administration efforts to force religious institutions to provide birth control coverage as part of their healthcare plans.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement
framing the controversy as nothing less than a pitched battle for religious liberty.
The bishops’ statement came after they participated in a two-day, closed-door meeting amid fears that they are losing the public relations battle. “This dispute is not about access to contraceptives but about the government’s forcing the church to provide them,” the statement insists.
The government policy would have forced such groups as church-affiliated schools, colleges and hospitals to cover birth control as part of their health plans. The White House backed off, saying that insurers instead of the institutions must pay for the coverage, but the issue has continued to simmer as it has been cast as an assault on women.
However, larger issues are at stake, the bishops’ administrative committee warned.
“If this definition is allowed to stand, it will spread throughout federal law, weakening its healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity,” the bishops contend.
Last week, Cardinal Donald Wuerl
, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. issued similar sentiments in a Newsmax interview, saying the Obama administration’s attempt to force religious-linked organizations to pay for employees’ birth control is an unprecedented “invasion” of government into religion.
The bishops plan to highlight other government intrusions into the religious realm such as laws requiring religious ministries to turn in illegal aliens, limitations on college religious groups, and restrictions on religious groups renting public school space.
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