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Hullabaloo


Friday, February 10, 2012

 
Cooperating with evil

by digby

That's an interesting phrase, isn't it? I guess evil is in the eye of the cooperator.

The big news this morning is that the White House has "reached accommodation" on the birth control issue. (No word on whether the Bishops have been accommodated.)At first glance, it seems to me that it's actually a retreat on the politics but an accommodation on the policy itself that isn't too bad.(It's possibly better for Catholic workers, who may not have to share their evil birth control habits with the Church bureaucrats.)

One source familiar with the decision described the accommodation as “Hawaii-plus,” insisting that it’s better than the Hawaii plan — for both sides.
In Hawaii the employer is responsible for referring employees to places where they can obtain the contraception; Catholic leaders call that material cooperation with evil. But what the White House will likely announce later today is that the relationship between the religious employer and the insurance company will not need to have any component involving contraception. The insurance company will reach out on its own to the women employees.
How changing the paperwork trail isn't "cooperating with evil" and will salve the institution's "conscience" is anyone's guess. Apparently, God is mostly concerned about keeping up appearances. Who knew?

Whether or not the Bishops accept this accommodation, I do think this has put birth control permanently on the sex police menu and it's not going to go away. From this point on, contraception will be "controversial" in health care politics. How can it not? It's "evil." So, in that sense they win regardless. It's moved the ball a little bit, drawn attention to the issue and reinforced the Bishops' authority. And that's why they did it.

This piece by Sarah Posner from last month spells out the "Religious Liberty" campaign that's been in the works for the past couple of years:

By framing efforts to prevent government establishment or privileging of particular religions as infringements on religious freedom, the Bishops’ religious liberty campaign is the latest evidence of the strengthening of the alliance between the Catholic Church and the evangelical right, whose precepts were laid out in the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which stated:

[W]e are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

These “fashionable ideologies” and “instruments of coercion” are later in the document less euphemistically alluded to as “despotism” and “tyranny.” In the parlance of the Manhattan Declaration, “such persons claiming these ‘rights’ are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”

While evangelicals do not generally share the Catholic Church’s prohibition on contraceptives, sixty conservative religious leaders have nonetheless sent a letter to President Obama and Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, arguing that objections to the mandate are not limited to Catholics. The signers, including representatives of the National Association of Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Orthodox Jewish groups, wrote “to stress that religious organizations and leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow exemption.”
[...]
In short, don’t be surprised if the “religious freedom” argument finds its way into conservative arguments about “big government” in 2012. It’s not just for the religious right anymore.
I'm guessing the Tea Party congress is going to have fits of "conscience" every time they want to hold up a bill. Should be fun.

Update: And if this is supposed to end the culture war for this campaign, the Democrats had better hope that Nate Silver'sscary post this morning is quickly proven wrong:

Mr. Santorum closed strongly and outperformed his polls in several states so far, including Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and South Carolina (where he was projected to place fourth by the polls but finished in third). That could indicate that voters like Mr. Santorum the more they get to know him — indeed, his favorability ratings are strong among Republican voters — or that his supporters are more enthusiastic. Either quality would be an asset going forward, allowing him to win his share of close calls against Mr. Romney.

Thus, it seems at least possible that Mr. Santorum’s momentum will be more sustainable. To have a chance at winning in the delegate count, he will need to supplant Mr. Gingrich as Mr. Romney’s major rival in the South. The results in Missouri, a borderline Southern state where Mr. Santorum beat Mr. Romney by 30 points without Mr. Gingrich on the ballot, suggest that he could run strongly if Mr. Gingrich were to bow out.

It is certainly not a straightforward path, but nor is Mr. Romney’s at this point. And so far in this Republican race, betting on the underdog has yielded dividends.


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