Baltimore’s new archbishop, William Lori, is getting a higher and higher profile as a national Catholic voice. He is headed to Washington, DC to speak at a conference on the theme of “Rising Threats to American Religious Freedom.” The same lobbying group that is sponsoring the conference is presenting Archbishop Lori with the American Religious Freedom Award for his “gracious-but-vigorous defense of religious liberty in the face of increasing hostility,” which is to say that he has been a vocal opponent of mandatory birth control coverage in employee healthcare policies.
Certainly we couldn’t expect him, as a Roman Catholic archbishop, to take any other position on the issue. But in an age when various factions of the United States are purported to be perpetrating a “war on women,” a “war on religion,” a “war on Christmas,” a “class war,” and let’s not forget the coming “race war” (shout out to Orlando), do we need more incendiary rhetoric? Can we articulate our principles without the pretense of being under attack?
Because you know, people who are less stable than you and I sometimes take the fiery rhetoric at face value, such as the first commenter on The Baltimore Sun article reporting on Archbishop Lori’s speaking engagement, who posted an overcapitalized rant linking such disparate topics as diabetes, divorce, immigration, Israel, and “forced brain implants” under the clever and enlightening handle “HOMOBOMAISOSAMA.” I don’t know if we want to play up the “rising threats to American religious freedom” to this guy. Know what I mean?
By the way, Archbishop Lori’s award is from the American Religious Freedom Program, which claims to protect “religious freedoms for Americans of all faiths” (emphasis mine). But interestingly enough, the program is run by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which describes itself as “dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy” (emphasis mine again).
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