Letters & Op-Eds 2017

Wednesday’s letters: Bishops’ agenda lacks a majority

This weekend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will convene in Orlando to continue to evaluate their role in U.S. policy. Very simply, that role should be minimized.

As chair of the Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health, I can tell you that the bishops’ discriminatory agenda does not represent the views or theological positions on reproductive health care or religious liberty for the vast majority of people of faith and no faith. The Florida Interfaith Coalition includes people of diverse backgrounds, perhaps most notably, Catholics for Choice, who represent the majority opinion of everyday Catholics. Catholics for Choice emphasizes that real religious freedom means the ability for everyone to make moral decisions about their reproductive health care regardless of their faith, income or place of employment.

In contrast, the bishops’ religious liberty agenda seeks to strip real religious freedom of its meaning and instead allow a license to discriminate against and impose their beliefs on Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Why should students attending a religiously affiliated university be forced to decide between paying for books or birth control? Every person should be able to access the full range of affordable health care options from cancer screenings to birth control to safe abortion care, and that care should remain available at their local Planned Parenthood center.

Many religious perspectives support access to birth control, sexuality education and safe and legal abortion care, and more importantly none of these religions believe their theologies should be privileged over the beliefs of any other religion. Our country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion and freedom from religion. While evaluating their role in America, the bishops should be cognizant that the voices of millions of Americans who represent many different faiths and spiritual beliefs, including Catholics, must be heard and respected.

This letter was originally published by Tampa Bay Times.