Mitt Romney is a Mormon
Mitt Romney:
I don't think we've seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we've seen under Barack Obama
This is a little past the news cycle and it's probably been pointed out already (that should be the tag line of this blog, now that i think of it), but it should be noted that, especially coming from Mitt Romney, this statement is incredibly ignorant of American history. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. It's possible that no other religious group has been more violently persecuted in American history than the Mormons. Watch the PBS documentary on the Mormons. They were quite literally chased across the country. The founder of their sect of Christianity, Joseph Smith, was killed by a mob in Illinois. Certainly Jews and Catholics have a claim of religious persecution in this country, but I don't think there was ever anything as systematically widespread and violent as what happened to the Mormons.

A federal law requiring businesses to provide contraception in their health insurance coverage is what spurred this statement by Mitt Romney. That doesn't constitute a strong claim of religious persecution. Letting businesses owned by religious organizations - and by extension, any employer with any religious belieft - have exemptions for their religious beliefs would just undermine the Affordable Care Act (which is what I suspect this is all about). I do, however, agree that providing contraception in their health insurance coverage is not what some people of faith want to do based on what their religious beliefs are. That indicates a conflict between enforcing a law and religious freedom - a conflict that will always exist.

There is a point at which exemptions are warranted, but I think it should be a fairly high standard. Should members of pacifist Quaker sects be allowed to join the military but not fight? The courts have given some latitude in cases like this (or when a person converts), but I'm not so sure. Should Muslim women be allowed to cover their faces for driver's license photos if it undermines road safety? I don't think so. All of these examples are restrictions on religious practices to a certain extent. They don't come close to the religious persecution faced across the world. But that's not a fair argument. What should be argued is that these restrictions don't come close to the level of persecution some religious groups have faced in this country.
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