sarah posner The Bishops Religious Freedom Canard DebunkedSarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, brilliantly debunked the “religious freedom” canard being pushed by the American Catholic bishops (and right-wing politicians) on both reproductive rights and LGBT rights last night on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown:

“It does not violate the First Amendment. The bishops are misrepresenting a legal issue in order to create a political issue. There are 28 states, in addition to Massachusetts, in which these very similar requirements are in place. In New York and California, the Catholic Charities challenged these laws and lost.

The courts held that these laws did not violate the Catholics’ — or any religious group’s — free exercise of religion, that in order for a law to violate somebody’s free exercise, it has to impinge — substantially burden — their religious practice. And there is no substantial burden on Catholics’ religious practice by providing coverage — insurance coverage for contraception for other people.

No one is making Catholics who do not want contraception to take it. No one is making the bishops take it, and so it’s not really a First Amendment issue in the eyes of the courts. And the bishops have tried to turn it into a political issue, by elevating questions about LGBT rights and access to reproductive care as violations of their religious freedom, which — constitutionally — it is not.”