The latest salvo of the ultra-conservative circus is accusing President Obama of “Trampling on Religious Liberty.”

According to The Heritage Foundation, “The Obama Administration’s mandate under the Obamacare statute that many religious employers provide health care coverage for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization tramples upon their free exercise of religion.  The Obama Administration should immediately exempt such religious employers from the contraception mandate.  The Administration’s trampling upon religious liberty with the contraception mandate illustrates yet again the need to repeal the Obamacare statute. (http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/01/obamacares-contraception-mandate-tramples-on-religious-liberty/) This is pretty representative of the rhetoric from like-minded groups.

According to ABC News, “The issue has heated up since Jan. 20, when Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued a final rule requiring that all women have access to free preventive care services, including contraceptives. The rule includes an exemption for churches and houses of worship, but not for other religious institutions such as hospitals, universities and charities.” (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-02-08/catholics-contraceptive-mandate/53014864/1)

So what was a directive aimed at providing contraception services to women, WHO MIGHT WANT TO HAVE IT, has turned into a supposed battle for religious freedom.

Why? Well, the most visible and outspoken  opponent of any form of artificial contraception, The Catholic Church, is opposed to any thing that force any of their organization to offer it to women, WHO MIGHT WANT IT, regardless of they are Catholic or not.

Now, this is somewhat understandable that The Church should be allowed to exercise its rights under the First Amendment not to have to do something it objects to on religious grounds.  So, the Obama Administration softened its stance somewhat by making the contraception services available to women, WHO WANT IT, through the private insurance they are provided, and not by the religious organization itself, thus taking the Catholic Church and any other organization that objected out of the loop.

Was that satisfactory? Of course not!

Why? Because the conservative movement created a firestorm that this was a religious rights matter and not a health issue to create yet another talking point to use against the President at election time. It rallies the base; it incites people to be more interested in Republican candidates for President, who according to the polls would all lose against the President if the election were held today.

But, it also exposes two ironies that the conservatives would rather ignore.

Irony #1 – The Catholic Bishops and Conservative lawmakers making a big deal out of this issue do not have the American people behind them and The Church does not even have a majority of its women members behind them.  According to a recent poll,

A majority (55%) of Americans agree that “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” Four-in-ten (40%) disagree with this requirement.

Key breakdowns

  • 58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.
  • 61% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say employer plans should cover contraception.
  • 50%of white mainline Protestants want the coverage. However, for evangelical Protestants, that drops to 38%.

And perhaps of greater note among election-watchers:

Women are significantly more likely than men to agree that employers should be required to provide health care plans that cover contraception (62% vs. 47% respectively).

A second poll, also released today from Public Policy Polling, has similar findings. (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2012/02/contraception-catholic-bishops-obama-hhs/1#.Tz5Y5LT4J3o)

Irony #2 – The same folks that suggest President Obama is “trampling on religious liberty” would not vote for Mitt Romney solely because he is of the Mormon faith.

“For Chuck Hofstra, Romney’s religion is flat out a “deal killer.”

“I like a lot about Romney, I get a lot of positives … but you know, his faith of Mormonism … I mean, they do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, that he is the son of God. And if you take away the deity of the son of God, who died for our sins to forgive us of our sins, all he is is just a mere historical figure, then,” he said.

“That is a huge difference between somebody who believes he’s Jesus Christ, the son of God, co-creator of the world, the Trinity, versus somebody who just thinks, ‘well he was a good man, a good prophet who walked here on earth, a historical figure, he’s a great man, but that’s the end of it.’ And see it’s just hard for me to vote for somebody who just doesn’t see the deity of Jesus Christ,” he said. (http://dailycaller.com/2012/01/21/does-mitt%e2%80%99s-mormonism-matter-in-south-carolina/#ixzz1meBo9Xua)

How is that not “Trampling on Religious Liberty?” This is but one example of the kind of talk you hear from the conservative side.