Blog Post

Ethicist's Solution to Religious Liberty Issue: Close Catholic Institutions

The U.S. bishop's Fortnight for Freedom campaign is barely underway and the erosion of religious liberties continues as a controversial ethicist says the way to handle the problem is to do away with Catholic institutions!

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) is reporting that Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University, believes the solution to the religious liberty problem in the U.S. is to recommend that Catholics either shutter their institutions or hand them over to secular interests.

“The Obama administration’s requirement to provide health insurance that covers contraception does not prevent Catholics from practicing their religion,” Singer writes in The Cap Times, a progressive journal. “Catholicism does not oblige its adherents to run hospitals and universities.”

Therefore, according to Singer's reasoning, the government can tell Catholics how to run these institutions without infringing on religious liberty.

Perhaps Singer is unaware of the Bible's requirement that one have both faith and works, surmises CNS president Patrick Reilly.

"In the end, Singer’s argument, far from being uniquely brilliant, is just one more humdrum attempt to reduce religion to the private sphere," Reilly states.

He goes on to quote the writing of pro-life activist and attorney Wesley Smith who wrote about Singer's remark on his popular Secondhand Smoke blog, saying the ethicist is trying to redefine religious freedom as meaning only that a person has the right to worship as they please but not live their faith in the public square.

"That’s the old attempt to shrink 'freedom of religion' to 'freedom of worship'," Smith writes, calling it an "advocacy sleight of hand" which was previously used by President Obama.

"But the practice of religion isn’t limited to the ceremonies and rubrics of worship. Rather, the exercise of one’s religion involves how the faithful live their lives outside of the church, synagogue, temple, or mosque–whether as individuals or in juridical associations and religion-related institutions and organizations…."

Smith sees through Singer's distorted definitions and calls the ethicist what he is - a utilitarian who doesn't believe in individual rights or religious freedom.

"By seeking to hollow out freedom of religion and render it impotent freedom of worship, Singer seeks to impose secular values on everyone who acts in the public square," Smith concludes. "And if you don't like it, just get out of Dodge."

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