Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the well known Rabbi who is founder and director of New York's Shalom Center, has this week condemned what he calls the Catholic Church's 'outrageous attempt to impose sharia law on the US government and the American public.'
Writing in the Huffington Post, Waskow, one of the twenty most influential Rabbis in the nation, clarifies that he is not speaking of Muslim sharia, but what he calls a Roman Catholic equivalent 'sharia' with regard to contraception.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is trying to impose on Americans of all faiths and beliefs who happen to work in Catholic-sponsored hospitals or university throughout the nation, Waskow claims.
Muslims have not been campaigning to impose sharia law on US courts he continues, yet they have had to listen to various Republican candidates for President condemn non-existent attempts to impose sharia on the US public, meanwhile, actual attempts at doing this are ongoing by the Catholic bishops, Waskow contends.
Taking an increasingly hardline stand, the bishops have spoken of their 'religious oppression' even after the Catholic Hospital Association achieved a compromise with the Obama Administration, Waskow wrote. The bishops were still not satisfied, even after they were assured that health insurance companies will pay for free contraception without involving the Catholic-sponsored employers who might object, he added.
In Waskow's view the real threat to religious freedom is the attempt by the bishops to deny religious freedom to the employees of their own institutions - Catholics and otherwise - whose consciences are totally at peace with the use of contraception.
98 percent of Catholic women use artificial contraception Waskow notes, and the rate among non-Catholic women is 99 percent. Clearly they do not obey the teachings on sexuality from what he called the all-male, all-celibate hierarchy.
Waskow then pointed to an article that ran recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer that proved that, in the last few years, Catholic hospitals have 'tied the tubes of thousands of women who after birthing a child asked for the procedure. The operation sterilizes them. No more kids.'
This practice clearly violates Catholic religious law, Waskow observes, yet thousands of Catholics have requested it and the hospitals have provided the procedures. Given this reality Waskow then asks if America's bishops are playing games and if they are, it's to the benefit of whom?
Waskow concludes his article in the Huffington Post by calling on readers to write to their local newspaper, post to their Facebook page, and distribute the following letter as widely as they can:
'Dear editor, I am horrified that all-male, all-celibate Roman Catholic bishops would try to manipulate governmental power in order to impose their own theology about contraception - one that 98% of Catholic women reject - upon women of any and all faiths and beliefs who work in hospitals and universities. This is exactly the behavior that some people hysterically ascribe to Muslim sharia, though American Muslims have never even proposed or attempted doing what the bishops have just done. It would be - it is - outrageous for any religious group to impose its theology on the public. And it is outrageous to falsely accuse Muslims or any other community of imposing its will in this way.
Speak up for religious freedom from the grass-roots up, against religious coercion by any power elite that cloaks itself in religious garb.'