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By Scott Hennen, Published March 03 2012

The Forum Face Off: Who are the real extremists?

A long standing rule in today’s polite society is to avoid talking about our religious beliefs. Presumably, we’re too emotional to handle these themes in a constructive way, so it’s better to just stick our heads in the sand and leave well enough alone. What a pity. Imagine if our forefathers approached religion with the same kind of willful indifference.

When Rick Santorum visited North Dakota two weeks ago, he told our panel of local business leaders that if they thought the media treated George W. Bush unfairly, just wait until they start digging their hooks into him. Amen to that.

As long as there’s a Republican candidate who’s unabashedly candid about his religious beliefs, nothing is off-limits to the mainstream media smear squad. But who, exactly, is the politician that’s taking a radical position on religion in a political context? Here’s a revelation for you – it’s not Santorum.

It’s Barack Obama.

The administration’s Health and Human Services mandate on contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization is an egregious affront to religious liberty, and the so-called “compromise” the president impetuously scrambled together to quell Catholic outrage is a farce. The administration is entitled to their opinion, but not to the facts – whether or not employers choose to opt-out of the mandate, those who feel the use of contraception is morally wrong will still have to pay for it, in one way or another. It’s a bad joke. Under this administration, we have diagnosed pregnancy as an unanticipated medical condition necessary to hedge against, and at the expense of the taxpayer who may be obligated by their faith to take a principled stand. That’s the real issue at stake here.

There was an appropriate uproar in the conservative echo-chamber over the religious implications of the HHS mandate … but where is the effort to revoke the source of this injustice? That’s what’s being lost here. My colleague wants the debate to center around accessibility to contraceptives as a “right”, indispensible to women’s health care. She presumes that women are entitled to free contraceptives (which seem to contradict the feminist mantra of women’s independence, but that’s a topic for another day), and I reject that. Not just as a Catholic, but as an American; if we’re forced to pay for contraception, why not toothpaste, or band-aids?

When it comes to matters of religion, it’s time for the media to review its cast of extremists.

Santorum stands by his faith – acknowledges that it may run counter-culture – and reaffirms the distinction he makes between personal belief and public policy.

Obama enacts legislation that affects every living American, violating the Constitution and the consciences of people with specific religious views.

Who is the extremist?

And which view best represents America?


Hennen is host of “The Common Sense Club" radio show. Email Scott@ScottHennen.com