Last Sunday at church we were subjected to a "sermon" by the Deacon about the sanctity of life which he claimed was not a political sermon. However restrained his message,it was for me another attack echoing the Catholic hierarchy which has kept up a steady attack against Mr. Obama in particular and the Democratic party in general primarily about abortion issues. The relationship between President Obama and the religious right and Catholic bishops started out badly and still is not good. When he was a candidate he was widely attacked by them as an advocate for abortion. Among the many outrages, we had one New Jersey Bishop compare him to Herod and others warned that Catholics who supported Obama over the Republican McCain risked damnation. Masses were even offered for his conversion.

Then as he took office the bishops launched an intensive nation wide campaign focused upon Mr. Obama Constitution' as an abortion advocate. Great apprehension was expressed that the Freedom of Choice Act was about to be passed which would make abortion a federal right. In my parish literature about this was distributed at church, sermons were preached while the local Catholic newspaper wrung its hands in print about this alleged catastrophe, all due, it was claimed, to President Obama. Catholics across the country were told from the pulpit and by their bishops that the new president's top priority was to pass this law expanding abortion rights. Then, suddenly, all the hysteria ceased and now, six months later, it is obvious that it was all a false alarm. 

After that, we had a fresh attack on the president. Bishops and the Catholic right were outraged about  the fact the President of the United States had been invited to speak at Notre Dame. Never mind that previous presidents had also historically been invited without any protests. Leading members of the Catholic hierarchy expressed shock and characterized the president as "the most aggressive pro-abortion politician in our history." These attacks were personal and totally overblown. Yet it was an illustration of the fact that the American Catholic hierarchy have been guilty of political posturing against any candidate (almost exclusively Democratic) who does not conform to the precise moral stance they demand about abortion. However, when Mr. Obama was elected in spite of every effort by the religious right and the Catholic bishops, the intensity of the attacks against him have increased sharply.

The insults and vilification against the President have profoundly gone beyond the line of appropriate political or moral comment. U.S. church leaders have been correctly seen totally disrespectful to the office of the president. They have been seen as throwing a tantrum with hysterical attacks on the office of the president which goes well beyond anything one would expect from religious leaders professing to be Christian. At his meeting with the Pope, the president referred to Cardinal Bernardin who had said "We can keep our deepest convictions and still keep our civil courtesy." I hope the American bishops were listening.

I thought to myself on Sunday, let's suppose the bishops were granted their wish. Suppose all political candidates elected to office were in lock step agreement with the religious right and the bishops on all moral subjects. The state legislature, the governor, the members of congress and the president of the United States of America were unanimous in adopting their positions on all matters of morality which were then imposed on the people through laws everyone had to obey. Isn't that in fact exactly what the American bishops and the religious right want? They try in every way they can, including moral intimidation, to get the American people to vote only for candidates who claim to be in aagreement with the religious position adopted by the bishops and religious right. So, let's say they are are successful. Is that really the America we want? A government religion imposed on every American? Do we really want tyranny of the majority imposing their beliefs upon everyone no matter what their individual conscience dictates? If this is a country which guarantees freedom of thought, speech and religion then the goals of the bishops and the religious right seem awfully anti-American to me.

A constitutionally valid America is one where people have the absolute right to be atheists, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, protestant and every other form of thought and religion so long as they don't harm others in carrying out their beliefs. The kind of America the religious right and the bishops seem to want to force upon us is one that is not sanctioned by our constitution, at least the constitution I believe in.

 Enough already. Let the religious leaders of this country cease and desist. Let's us have civil discourse which honors the right of every American to have freedom of conscience. Let's have an America where we do not have religious leaders involved in political action as a means of imposing their religious beliefs on everyone else.

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