Peter Berger’s column from a couple of days ago is (as always) worth a read (agree or disagree). The comparative point about the condition of religious liberty in the United States as opposed to many other places in the rest of the world is certainly correct. Berger makes clear that he is not at all “in tune with the vehemence” of the “campaign” of the USCCB on this issue. But he also makes the very reasonable and, to my mind, highly persuasive point that there is an important difference between agreement about the scope of government power or the cultural conditions in which religious tolerance best flourishes and agreement about matters of specific theology or policy. Here’s a bit from the conclusion:
Beyond the legal matter of cases that require new clarifications of the first amendment, there is a broader issue here—that of an increasingly intolerant culture of secularism, trying to use the state to enforce its values—itself part of the even broader issue of government over-reach. The Roman Catholic Church has been a major target of this secularist agenda, because its sexual ethics has been repugnant to many people (the ever widening scandal of pedophile priests has clearly fed the repugnance). There is a very real issue of religious freedom here—a good reason to support the Catholic bishops, even if one completely disagrees with their views on issues south of the navel.