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My Take: Catholic bishops against the common good
The American Catholic bishops celebrating Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
April 15th, 2012
08:00 PM ET

My Take: Catholic bishops against the common good

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN)–The U.S. Catholic bishops who claim, increasingly incredibly, to speak on behalf of American Catholics hit a new low last week when they released a self-serving statement called “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” As this title intimates, the supposed subject is religious liberty, but the real matter at hand is contraception and (for those who have ears to hear) the rapidly eroding moral authority of U.S. priests and bishops.

On Easter Sunday, Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBS that the controversial Health and Human Services contraception rule represents a “radical intrusion” of government into "the internal life of the Church.” On Thursday, 15 of his fellow Catholic clerics (all male) took another sloshy step into the muck and mire of the politics of fear.

In “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” there is talk of religious liberty as the “first freedom” and a tip of the cap to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. But first and foremost there is anxiety. “Our freedoms are threatened,” these clerics cry. “Religious liberty is under attack.”

But what freedoms are these clerics being denied? The freedom to say Mass?  To pray the Rosary?  No and no. The U.S. government is not forcing celibate priests to have sex, or to condone condoms. The freedom these clerics are being denied is the freedom to ignore the laws of the land in which they live.

When I first heard of the HHS rule requiring all employers to pay for birth control for their employees, I thought it should include, on First Amendment grounds, an exemption for Catholic churches. And in fact it did.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Moreover, when Catholic bishops and priests opposed the contraception mandate, HHS modified its rule, exempting not only Catholic churches but also Catholic-affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service agencies. (For these organizations, employees would receive contraceptive coverage from insurance companies separately from the policies purchased by their employers).

Once the Obama administration presented this compromise, I thought Catholic clerics would withdraw their objections. I was wrong. Instead they acted like political hacks rather than spiritual authorities, doubling down on the invective and serving up to the American public an even deeper draught of petty partisanship.

The bishops refer repeatedly in their statement to “civil society.” But think for a moment of the sort of "civil society" we would have if religious people were exempt from any law they deemed “unjust” for religious reasons.

Mormon employers who object to same-sex marriages could deny life insurance benefits to same-sex couples.

Jehovah’s Witnesses who object to blood transfusions could deny health care coverage for blood transfusions.

Christian Scientists who oppose the use of conventional medicine could refuse to cover their employees for anything other than Christian Science treatments.

And Roman Catholics could demand (as the bishops do in this statement) state financing for foster care programs that refuse to place foster children with same-sex parents.

As the Roman Catholic Church has taught for millennia, human beings are not isolated atoms. We live together in society, and we come together to pass laws to make our societies function. Virtually every law is coercive, and care must be taken not to violate the religious liberties of individual citizens. But care must also be taken to preserve the common good.

In their statement, Catholic bishops accused American political leaders of launching “an attack on civil society.” They also attempted to cloak themselves in the mantle of Dr. King. But theirs is a vision of an uncivil society, and their cause has nothing to do with the civil rights movement.

The civil rights movement succeeded because its cause was just, and because its leaders were able to mobilize millions of Americans to bring an end to the injustice of segregation. The effort by male Roman Catholic leaders to deny contraception coverage to female employees who want it does not bear even a passing resemblance to that cause. And even the bishops behind this so-called "movement" must admit that it is failing to mobilize even American Catholics themselves.

At least since the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, Catholics worldwide have been asking, “Who is the Roman Catholic Church?” Is it the hierarchy–a collection of priests, bishops, and cardinals overseen by a pope? Or is it the "People of God" in the pews whom these leaders are ordained to serve?

In recent years, this question has jumped by necessity from the realm of Catholic theology into the rough and tumble of American politics. Does American Catholicism oppose contraception? It depends on who speaks for the Church. The 98% of American Catholic women who have used contraception?  Or the 15 male clerics who issued this statement?

According to “Catholics for Choice,” which has published a rejoinder to "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty," “The bishops have failed to convince Catholics in the pews to follow their prohibitions on contraception. Now, they want the government to grant them the legal right to require each of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to set aside our own guaranteed freedom from government-sanctioned religious interference in our lives."

The bishops' statement gives lip service to “civil society” and the “common good,” but what these 15 clerics are trying to do here is destructive of both. To participate in civil society is to get your way sometimes and not others. To seek the common good is to sacrifice your own interests at times to those of others.

I will admit that the HHS contraception rule does ask these Catholic clerics to sacrifice something. But what is this sacrifice? Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers. To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.

Toward the end of their statement, the 15 bishops who signed this statement called on every U.S. Catholic to join in a “great national campaign” on behalf of religious liberty. More specifically, they called for a “Fortnight for Freedom” concluding with the Fourth of July when U.S. dioceses can celebrate both religious liberty and martyrs who have died for the Catholic cause.

As Independence Day approaches, I have a prediction. I predict that rank-and-file American Catholics will ignore this call. They will see that the issue at hand has more to do with women’s health than with religious liberty. And in the spirit of Vatican II, which referred to the church as the “People of God,” they will refuse to allow these 15 men to speak for them. Whatever moral capital U.S. bishops have in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the nation for decades will be insufficient to win over lay Catholics to what has been for at least a half a century a lost cause.

These 15 clerics write that American Catholics “must have the courage not to obey” unjust laws.  I think the courage called for today is something else—the courage not to obey those who no longer speak for them.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Health care • Leaders • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

soundoff (783 Responses)
  1. Wayne

    Reblogged this on luvsiesous and commented:
    What a weirdo.

    Cloaking his beliefs with semi-religious words, he attacks the faith of the Catholics as if they are not allowed the same rights to their beliefs as he is ....

    What an outrageous attack on one's faith. Merely deny the faith of the Catholic church, because you deny their right to practice their faith.

    It is a sad day in America.

    What do you think? Should government be able to force people to worship according to government guidelines?

    Should a non-believer be able to force a religion to change to fit his definition of their beliefs?

    Wayne

    April 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • duckforcover

      I think perverts and their co-conspiritors should be imprisoned regardless of the position they hold in any religion. There must be no sanctuary for child molesters.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:50 am |
      • Wayne

        I agree! What do we too about the progressives behind the gay agenda?

        April 24, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • sam stone

      The "gay agenda"? Are you calling equal rights the gay agenda?

      April 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • Wayne

        Since when has the agenda been about equal? When someone gains, someone else loses.

        The agenda has been about taking from others. IMHO

        Wayne

        April 25, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • sam stone

      wayne: my belief system revolves around me consuming copious amounts of ganja. should the government be able to prohibit me from the free exercise of my religion?

      April 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
      • Wayne

        Of your religion? No.

        April 25, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • sam stone

      Come on, Wayne....tell us about this "agenda"....do you have a point, or do you just seek an outlet for your bigotry?

      April 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
      • Wayne

        You mean I do not hate, therefore, I must be a bigot?

        OK. I am bigoted against those who hate children.

        Wayne

        April 25, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • sam stone

      "Since when has the agenda been about equal? When someone gains, someone else loses.

      The agenda has been about taking from others. IMHO"

      And how does this "agenda" take from you?

      April 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
      • Wayne

        My right to be a Hollywood writer .....
        The right to see children grow up without fear of assault ....

        And I can go on.

        April 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
      • Wayne

        And I forgot respect, jobs, and family. Even though gays do not always demand that from me, when they take those platforms as theirs, men lose.

        I am tired of being disrespected, because I am a man.

        April 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow....you want your kids to grow up "without fear of assault"?

      And gays are the ones doing the assault?

      Gays take respect away from you? How?

      April 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wayne: You still have a right to be a Hollywood writer. Perhaps is not the right, but the dearth of talent

      April 26, 2012 at 11:12 am |
      • Wayne

        Sam,

        I really don't believe that. Hollywood only accepts gay advocates.

        Have you watched any programs lately?

        Wayne

        April 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      perhaps you should be concerned about being disrespected for other reasons than your gender

      April 26, 2012 at 11:14 am |
      • Wayne

        Naturally, we should all be concerned about disrespect.

        But, we live in an age when it is politically correct to disrespect some, but not others.

        Wayne

        April 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I really don't believe that. Hollywood only accepts gay advocates."

      How many screenplays have your written that have been turned down by Hollywood?

      "But, we live in an age when it is politically correct to disrespect some, but not others."

      Right, like granting some adults rights that others are denied?

      What time in our history are your looking back at where respect for all was a cornerstone of our society?

      April 27, 2012 at 3:58 am |
      • Wayne

        Sam,

        My ancestors fought for equal rights.

        The gay agenda is not 'equal' it is special rights for a vocal minority.

        And already it is costing society a HUGE amount of money.

        Marriage has been a religious celebration for a husband and wife for at least five thousand years in every culture I am aware of.

        Why not civil partnerships? Why do you have to change the meaning of words to make someone equal?

        Then you infringe much less on my Religion and my religious expression.

        Wayne

        April 27, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  2. Joseph

    These are very strong words...the only thing I can think of as a practicing Catholic is to pray, research and hope that God's will be done.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Mister Jones

      That is your solution? ... Are you still surprised that the free-thinking peoples of the world consider religious people a threat?

      April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  3. CarrotCakeMan

    The good Catholic Sisters who actually OWN and OPERATE the hospitals announced publicly long ago that they support the revised regulation. We know 98% of lay Catholics use contraception.

    So why are the silly bishops still whining? All along, their whining was nothing more than a GOP Dirty Trick®.

    Face the fact, silly bishops, no one cares what you want except for other GOP apologists.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • mabel floyd

      the pope is so outraged at the nuns and their assistance to the poor rather than their using their energies to hate the gays he has put them under the supervision of a bishop until they mend their way.
      wow-the idea that the nuns put helping the poor above hating the gays-i guess you can go to hell for that one.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      What utter nunsense.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  4. DDean

    Imagine what kind of country we would have if strongly held religious beliefs were ignored by the government and people of faith were forced to support things which were totally against their beliefs...oh, excuse me, that's what we have now! How many of my tax dollars are already paying for abortion, wars I believe are immoral, etc?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      Face the fact, DDean, contraception is not even mentioned, much less criticized, in the Bible. The silly bishops aren't expressing a "religious belief," they are making a right-wing political attack on the President. As such, their tax exempt status should be revoked.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Unless you are the sole taxpayer for our country, you do not have the right to expect all of your personal opinions to matter. Millions of others that also pay taxes want to support those things. Whether you or I individually agree or not is barely relevant. We live in a pluralistic society and as such it represents others who do not believe all of the same things as you or I.

      Basically, get over yourself.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      DDean: Contraception is used for more than preventing pregnancy. Does your church believe that heavy periods are immoral?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  5. Etalan
    April 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Etalan

      [img] http://i.imgur.com/bOeZi.jpg [/image]

      April 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  6. Mike

    Religion is a mental illness.

    April 22, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • John

      I concur. The only law that should be tailored to priests and bishops is life in prison, for even attempting to take advantage of little boys and girls.

      April 22, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Think

      Really? It is men who have the mental illness. They come up with FAKE laws that have nothing to do with what the Bible teaches. The Catholic church is more concerned with doctrine than mankind following God's laws.
      What government do you know that has a law that you are to Love one another" only God's government. They do not follow that law.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      "They come up with FAKE laws that have nothing to do with what the Bible teaches"

      And they came up with the bible

      April 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  7. Inesita

    Stephen Prothero, are you annoying?
    “Ladran, Sancho. Señal que cabalgamos" (“When the dogs bark, it is because we are working),” said Don Quijote

    April 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • chief

      hey nacho .... normally i would slam him but this article was well thought out...

      April 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  8. One one

    This isn't about religious liberty or contraception. It's about the church fearing the steady erosion of power and influence they have enjoyed for so long. They are using the contraception issue to make a stand to against further losses.

    April 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      And of course, certain politicians know exactly where the power lies and how to keep it happy.

      April 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  9. One one

    DefinitIon of "religious liberty": receiving special accommodations like tax breaks and exemptions from rules and laws because you are a "religious" organization.

    April 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Rene

      Reason: because it can support itself and does need government funding under IRS Code 501.

      April 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Victim

      catholic charities is able to operate because they receive MOST of their funds from our tax dollars, grant money. And you know it's a money maker or they'd close it down as they did schools, churches and hospitals that were not that profitable.

      April 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  10. on StreetWise

    Jesus has something to say on the issue; It would be better to have a mill stone's tied around your neck, than to harm one of these... To the Bishops; your whitewashed tomb is not more than "Rotten to the Bones"

    April 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  11. gary

    RCC is steeped in bureaucracy, deceit, manipulation, control; has been for centuries. It's really a sick dangerous cult that is harmful to USA. RCC is not about god or heaven; it's about power and control. Always has been. BTW .. god is pretend.

    April 21, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • exposure

      As proof to what you are saying, children abused by this cult are denied justice due to the catholic church lobby efforts in states as NY, Pa, OH,.. Politicians cater to this group for votes. That makes for lots of catholic votes. Catholics don't stand up and tell politicians they won't vote for them if they do not pass laws. That makes catholics part of the cover up to harm victims again, doing nothing and letting the bishops use their promise of votes. Sad, but true.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • mary smith

      Really? We'll see what you have to say when we meet at "the pearly gates", sir.

      April 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • exposure

      hey, it's father mary smith! How are you. Deceiving must be lots of fun for you. You should read up on pedos..

      April 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      It is interesting to see an organization responsible for so much suffering in this world complain about the potential loss of its rights, namely the rights to decide what will become of the bodies of those with whom it does business.

      April 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  12. Vinney

    Testing/Testing/Testing

    April 21, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  13. gary

    Read "God's Jury" by Murphy. Centuries of RCC abuse; bureaucracy, torture, murder, wars, oppression, lies, deceit to keep people under control, and keep a few old men in power. It's a dangerous, harmful cult.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Darwin

      I'll check it out. Most of my family is catholic. My father is the most vehemently anti-catholic person I've ever met. When I was growing up he told me stories of the beatings he took from the nuns and priests when forced to go to catholic school. I don't want to know what else they did to him.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • mary smith

      Pardon me, it's not just the Catholics that have sinned in this area. But it is the Catholics, as usual, that gets picked on. Too bad you just like to hear your mouth run. Too bad there really is no substance behind what you claim.... stupid!

      April 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • exposure

      well, it's father mary smith! How are you. Deceiving must be lots of fun for you. You should read up on pedos..

      April 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • chief

      re father mary... how many others that havent been picked on have paid over 3 billion in out of court settlements? this doesnt count the in court settlements? how many others have had 4000 convictions? and 6000 more arrests that are pending?

      April 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Tr6

      @mary smith Pardon me, it's not just the Catholics that have sinned in this area. But it is the Catholics, as usual, that gets picked on. “

      So because everyone else is not perfect the catholic priests should have free and unfettered access to bugger any one they want?

      April 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Think

      Mary Smith so sorry to tell you but your Catholic Church has done so much wrong time and time again it is proven.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  14. TA85

    My take: Nobody gives a rat's ass about YOUR take Stephen Prothero... if that's your real name.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Rationalmind

      I give a "rat's ass" and I agree with him.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • chief

      i gives a rats TA85 and its funny brother catholic..... if one doesnt subscribe to all your catholic BS then they shouldnt speak..... hmm... sounds like al queda

      April 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  15. krt

    Stephen Prothero is an unreliable "scholar" and an author of one book which probably nobody buys and reads anyway. For one, he decietfully states in the beginninng of his article that the "US Catholic Bishops," making it appear all the US bishops which is about 195, made the statement, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” of which he was complaininng about. At the end, it came to light there were only 15 bishops who signed it. He is more of an anti-Catholic propagandist, who happened to have a degree in religion or theology, than a "scholar."

    April 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • david mann

      He alludes to one thing that is for certain. The RCC has been a pedophilia factory for centuries, and no amount of pomp and religious ceremony can cover the stain of molesting tens of thousands of innocent children. "Crimes against humanity". Their clergy is as guilty as the most heinous war criminal, and the hierarchy ALWAYS covered it up. If there is a hell there will be many catholic priests there.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  16. Joe

    I may not always agree with or abide by all church teachings to the letter of church law, but feel strongly that on this issue and others, the "state" has no business dictating to any church how they practice their faith.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      ...which is simply not at issue.

      April 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Chicagoatty

      No Daniel, that is precisely the issue: whether, consistent with the First Amendment, the federal government can force a church to provide insurance coverage for something prohibited by the Church's doctrine; i.e., can the government require the Church itself to provide such coverage? The answer is "no."

      April 22, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  17. Karen

    What a GREAT and Well written read. Thank you for saying and giving voice to what many Catholics believe and practice within their families. Women are feeling beaten down within the Catholic Church today rather than an Equal part of the team to serve the Lord. I do not believe the Bishops see women as their equals, and it feels as if this issue around contraception is being manufactured for election day politics more than principle. As a Catholic I believe Priest who stand at the alter and preach votes and outright tell their parishioners what party line to vote for are putting at risk our tax status and should be ashamed of themselves . The parishioners still have their own free will to follow and must adhere to that teaching and live within the teachings of the church. However it is our Church’s roll not to teach a false doctrine either. Women historically have played a great roll within the church, there have been women Popes, women Deacons, and only in recent years in the church history have we all been forced out of those roles due to the power of male role in the current church model of hierarchy. In our church we talk about fairness and the good of all, however in this area of the church it is simply Lip Service….. so sad women have much to offer to make “OUR” Church better and stronger.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Spock

      I know this may be a shock to you but you are not equal to the Cathlic Biships and preists... where did you ever get that idea... you are not equal and never can be... get it... they are holy and you rare not...but lets wait and see what Jesus has to say on this....when the New testament first began it was a woman who anounced the good news first ...

      April 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Michael Veritas

      Karen, you're making a big mistake. Being a priest is not the highest calling in the Church, being a saint is. If you have an issue with female ordination, take it up with Jesus because out of all his disciples clearly Mary was the holiest and he did not call her to the priesthood.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Josh

      We can also see Mr. Michael, Jesus also never changed the Sabbath but if Catholics are honest with themselves, we all know what happened with that. Also, just because she was not called to "priesthood," means nothing, though I have never seen priesthood in the bible. And finally, I also did know that the Pope can name people saints or what ever, though he is only a human himself. No offence, but the Catholic Church has many faults and beliefs which make no sense.

      April 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • gary

      RCC is scam cult. Priests are just guys pushing the sponsored delusion. God is pretend, Jesus dead for eternity. Bible is every changing folklore and legend. "IN the beginning, man created god."

      April 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  18. Debbie

    I love how this is still about contraception for everyone who disagrees with the bishops. Abortifacients never seem to be mentioned. Mr. Prothero seems to think it is ok for me to pay for other people to murder their babies. Most women used to be willing to lay down their life for their child. Now they all want to lay down their childs life for themselves. Here's and idea: if you dont want to have a child, dont engage in the act which produces children.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • hey all

      Murder children? You've lost it. The bishops are the LAST group that we should look to for protecting children. .....Now if you want to talk abortion, then how about this.. 1) When all catholics no longer have abortions, then talk. But since you can't control your own population, quit trying to control others – you have only proven yourself to be hypocrites. 2) When you start having expensive funerals for all miscarriages, we'll then maybe take you a bit more serious. Until then, you are not treating this tissue as any other human, making you liars as usual.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Spock

      you pay for people to get murdered all the time...ever read Revelation 6:14-17...

      this is what Jesus thinks of every war on earth.....now look to the previous verse in 9-11 in that chapter..
      also read Revelation 13:9-10 and Matthew 26:52 ...

      April 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Joel

      The pill is not an abortifacient. Also, the government requires that I pay for missiles and bombs that murder innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan, against my will. You reimburse me for that, and the birth control pill is on me.

      The truth is that we live in a nation where we will never all agree with one another, and we all must compromise.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      Debbie: Please point out anywhere in this United States that the law says abortion is murder.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  19. victim

    the bishops are freaks

    April 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • exposure

      The pope and bishops bear false witness. That includes Bill Donahue president of the Catholic League, as well. This group present the many victims of clergy abuse and the very group who supports those children harmed, SNAP, as liars. The ninth commandment broken by Bill Donahue, the pope and the bishops,

      How could anyone stoop so low as to deny children who seek the truth exposed? We must applaud SNAP and the victims for not giving up, they are doing God's work. Imagine if Jesus gave up exposing the truth? He didn't and these followers of Jesus have shown us they too will not give up. In fact they are tortured by the church's lies and deceit. Jesus fought Satan and so these Victims and Snap do the same as they expose the Catholic church's crimes of abuse and destruction to innocent children. Thank you for doing God's work by following in the steps of Jesus, SNAP and children victims.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:34 am |
  20. You are lazy, Mr Prothero

    this is a very weird editorial with even odder responses. the author prothero asks "what would happen if religious were exempt from every rule." huh? give the name of some religious who has requested this type of freedom. religious people are using the established political system of free speech and open discussion to argue their case. Name a single threat that a religious person has made if they don't get their way in this matter. Prothero says religious are "political hacks" and use politics of fear. Name a presidential candidate who has not used politics of fear to get elected. Prothero states "The freedom these clerics are being denied is the freedom to ignore the laws of the land in which they live." Huh? name a civil rights worker or community organizer who doesn't argue that certain laws should be changed. I can think of a thousand more arguments Prothero could have used for his case. But he was apparently too lazy and too interested in trying to create controversy than in thinking the issue through. CNN, get rid of this idiot.

    April 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Faithful

      What a great post. Thank you. Good to see intelligence and reason here. God Bless, friend.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Spock

      tyhere are 8 pages on this subject already...plenty people interested...soo... your point ...instead of commenting on the isssue you make the authoru of the article your subject... 🙂 very lazy indeed..

      April 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Larry Moniz

      Your rant against the article sounds more absurd than the allegations you say are made by the author. Two wrongs don't make something right. Rowandan genocide isn't justified because Nazis also conducted genocide. You appear to me to be a pro-religion bigot. Just remember, more people have died in wars based on religion than on all the plagues ever to hit mankind.

      April 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      Agree...not with the Author being lazy, lol, but with the infantile attempt at logic, reasoning, and principle. There is fighting going on constantly about everything, some including street protests and even civil disorder. People just cant leave others alone. Then there are those with the " dont you know that wars over religion have caused more suffering and death than..." Folks, stay tuned. you havnt seen anything yet. Its all about good and evil. Be careful who you tell this to as some may go into shock: " God does nothing in partnership with Satan".

      April 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      "People just cant leave others alone"

      Some people call that evangelism

      April 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.