BishopsIn a display of its typical arrogance, Roman Catholic bishops — a group presiding over a pedophile priest scandal that has already cost the church $2.5 billion — rejected Obama’s reasonable deal on health insurance coverage for contraceptives. The Bishops, who are trying to impose their antiquated values on female employees who don’t agree with their sexist dictates, claim their objections are due to the White House not offering enough safeguards for religious hospitals, colleges and charities that object to providing such coverage for their employees.

What the Bishops truly want, however, is a sweetheart deal where religious people are given special rights in the name of religious liberty. They desire the creation of an unworkable legal system where religious people don’t have to follow the rules, have free rein to proselytize and violate the consciences of employees, and are exempt from the boundaries that unify society. This was made clear by the Bishop’s disastrous demand to allow private employers to shield themselves from the new health law:

Under the latest proposal, churches and nonprofit religious groups that object to providing birth control coverage on religious grounds would not have to pay for it. Women who work for such organizations could get free contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies. The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. Costs would be paid by an insurance company, with the possibility that it could recoup the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births.

The administration refused to grant an exemption or accommodation to secular businesses owned by people who said they objected to contraceptive coverage on religious grounds.

The bishops rallied to the defense of such employers.

“In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage,” Cardinal Dolan said, “we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath. We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”

No employee should be forced to “negotiate” their reproductive freedom and health options with a self-righteous boss who myopically elevates his own religious conscience above that of his staff. The idea that we carve out a separate legal system for Catholics, or people  from other faith groups, is ludicrous and the antithesis what brings this nation together.

We are the United States of America and we should all be subject to the same laws. It is horribly divisive, and ultimately chaotic, for the Bishops to cynically propose that religious people, under the false premise of conscience, get to create the Divided States of America. What they propose is not all that different than Muslims proposing that they get to live under Sharia law within the confines of democratic state borders. Creating such islands of religious law — in all their slippery guises — is corrosive to society and  should be adamantly opposed by responsible public officials.