The recent debate over religious freedom regarding Catholic institutions and providing birth control is interesting. Normally, religious freedom means that the government cannot dictate a state religion or make religious beliefs illegal. It can deem the carrying out of those beliefs illegal such as human sacrifice or polygamy, but it cannot tell people what they can and cannot believe.
As such, it seems like a leap of faith (no pun intended) to declare that the idea that the government can pass a mandate that requires insurance companies to cover birth control for women an assault on the church. Just think, the Catholic Church went from having it's member's discriminated against and being barred from politics for their obedience to the foreign pope in the 1800's to playing the martyr in the 21st century because their for-profit self insured hospital networks and universities are forced to provide insurance coverage that includes birth control.
Putting aside the fact that:
1) Catholic Hospitals and Universities are not churches and live in the secular world
2) Many of the employees at these institutions are not Catholic and thus not bound by management's moral convictions
3) No devout Catholic will be forced to wear condoms or take the pill as a result of this legislation
4) Most Catholics are on birth control until they decide to have children.
It seems a far cry that suggesting that the Catholic affiliated hospitals and universities having to abide by the same laws as everyone else is the same as religious persecution. It also leads to a great debate on who is the Catholic Church anyway?
Judging on the lack of families with 10 kids in Mass every week (I'm Catholic) I'd say that maybe two percent of the attending members actually believe in the fiction that God and not the parents should decide when they have kids. In addition, the Church TEACHES the rythm method, which was the highly imperfect birth control method of the medieval ages. Aren't the pill and condoms just more technologically advanced alternatives?
Based on all these points, I'm very upset at the church's continued search for irrelevance in modern times and at the politicians providing coverage for the out dated beliefs for the child less old men that run the Church.
There are real issues of religious persecution and intolerance in the United States, but this is not one of them and is not healthy for anyone other than the politicians who will continue fighting the culture wars of the 1960's at any cost.