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Michael Sean Winters reads Sebelius’ speech at Georgetown:

In her speech she, too, referred to JFK’s famous Houston speech, and quoted the single dumbest line of the entire text. Sebelius said: “In that talk to Protestant ministers, Kennedy talked about his vision of religion and the public square, and said he believed in an America, and I quote, ‘where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials – and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against us all.’” Hmmm. Was the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a “religious body” seeking to “impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace?” Of course it was.

I do not expect much from Secretary Sebelius in the way of thoughtfulness. But, I was deeply disappointed that the nearly 100 Georgetown professors and administrators who wrote such a forceful letter to Congressman Paul Ryan in advance of his speech on campus last month could not bestir themselves to write a similar letter to Sebelius . . . . The signatories of the Ryan letter are as morally compromised by their failure to address a similar letter to Sebelius as the USCCB is compromised by its unwillingness to point out that Republicans only care about religious liberty when it suits them.

That last point is the main one of Winters’ piece: that the Catholic bishops are effectively partisan because they’ve failed to agitate forcefully enough against unjust and un-Christian laws like the statute in Alabama that bars the church from serving illegal immigrants. I think that’s a very great misreading of the bishops’ actions, but the larger point still stands: religious liberty is not a partisan issue. It faces threats from the right as well as the left.

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