You know it’s election season when you start losing track of Catholic conservative organizations. Thanks to the National Review Online, I’ve learned of another one — the Catholic Association, whose senior fellow, Ashley McGuire, just enjoyed a relaxing game of slow-pitch with NRO‘s editor-at-large, Kathryn Jean Lopez. This exhibition match focused on the issue of religious freedom, which works out for McGuire, because her group just put out a “religious-freedom scorecard.” A scorecard? That sounds a lot easier to digest than another Catholic voting guide. But it also sounds a little like play-at-home Jeopardy. Turns out it’s even simpler. According to McGuire:
The purpose of the scorecard is to provide voters with the facts about President Obama and Governor Romney with regards to religious freedom…. Our system of government only works with an informed citizenry, and this country was founded on the notion that religious freedom is our first freedom. Anything we can do to help voters see how these two men fare on this most crucial of issues, we at the Catholic Association will do.
A benevolent aim, to be sure. Who doesn’t like facts? And, according to McGuire, the Catholic Association is willing to do anything to help further its goal. Apparently that includes redefining the word “fact.”
Lopez lobs McGuire a pitch designed to allow her to repeat one of the scorecard’s tall tales: that the Obama administration wants to protect freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion. McGuire:
Beginning a few years ago, the president and important members of his administration such as Secretary Hillary Clinton have been replacing the phrase “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship.” The space between these two phrases is enormous. Freedom of worship implies that religion is something that belongs within the four walls of a church, mosque, synagogue, etc., or around the dinner table in one’s home. The phrase “freedom of worship” treats religion as if it were something unsavory to be kept indoors.
That claim was debunked months ago, yet McGuire peddles it as though it just fell off the meme truck. Paul Moses was on this in February. After a quick search of the White House website, he turned up a dozen examples of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton using the approved term “religious freedom” (there are many more). And in April Mollie Wilson O’Reilly corrected the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which included the meme in its statement on religious freedom, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” She also noted the apparent source of this claim: a 2010 post on a First Things blog. Care to guess who wrote it? That’s right, Ashley McGuire (then Ashley Samelson). Read the rest of this entry »