Thursday, May 24, 2012
Where’s Howard Beale When We Need Him?
After months of pleas, negotiations, meetings and conferences, the Catholic Church got absolutely no cooperation from the Obama administration on religious exemptions from Obamacare for religious institutions which oppose abortion and birth control. Unless an Obamacrat is passing out condoms during mass or performing an abortion on the altar, the administration’s position is that the government’s activity cannot be thwarted by the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.
Religious hospitals, church-sponsored insurance companies (there are more than you might think), homeless and women’s shelters (even on church grounds) and church schools are not religious activities which should be allowed exemptions from the Obamacare mandates, according to the administration. The official position of the Catholic Church is, and has long been, that artificial birth control violates church doctrine. Along with that, traditional Catholics and a great many Protestants oppose abortion in any form, including abortifacients.
Nevertheless, the administration says that only sermons and activities within the church worship facilities are proper subjects for exemption. No matter how intimately the church-sponsored activity is tied to its religious base, if it takes place outside the sanctuary, it is not a religious activity. This leaves the church hospital, for instance with two options—either cure all disease through Vatican-sanctioned exorcism, or participate in the government’s insurance program. The third option is to seek redress in court, which is the actual subject of this article.
Regardless of which side a news reporter might come down on, it is still extremely big news when forty-three Catholic dioceses file suit in federal courts on the same day. But when big news conflicts with the networks’ officially unofficial love affair with Barack Obama, out come the blinders. On the night that the lawsuits were filed, ABC and NBC made zero comment about them during their national news segments. CBS gave the subject nineteen seconds. And in that brief nineteen seconds, CBS framed the issue as a “contraception lawsuit” with no mention of either religious conscience objections or the First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion.
It should also be noted that leading clerics in the Catholic Church, along with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and some evangelical leaders have declared that they will go to jail rather than comply with the birth control/abortifacient mandates of Obamacare. These lawsuits reflect a much deeper commitment to religious belief than the birth-control and abortion zealots in the Obama administration were expecting. These are not nuisance suits that can be dealt with by a quick payoff or a federal jobs program. The nets would like to report that they are nuisance suits, but then they would be required to discuss the actual issue, which might get their viewers thinking. Better to ignore it.
So what was more interesting than the church lawsuits that would require spiking the religious news in favor of something “more important?” ABC gave three and a half minutes to the sentencing of the Rutgers student who posted photos of his unsuspecting roommate having gay sex, which resulted in a suicide. CBS and NBC both ran lengthy stories about prostate cancer screening, including the reasons why Medicare shouldn’t routinely cover the screening. NBC did a big feature piece on the “ring of fire” solar eclipse.
Fortunately, the big three networks are fading as fast as their counterparts in the print media. Dan Rather’s “fake but true” story about George W. Bush was probably the swan song for network news anchors. People who were once considered nearly sacrosanct are now regularly taken with a grain of salt by a doubting public that has access to cable news and the internet. People watching the national network portion of the news are outnumbered by those who wait for the late affiliate news to see what’s going on locally.
I wish the Catholic Church every success in court, and I pray for a really hot place in hell for the Obama News Corps (that’s pronounced “core” even though network news is pretty close to being a corpse).