Frances Kissling, the founder of Catholics For Free Choice, has an essay in Salon about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. Kissling, who is an unsung hero in the fight for civil rights and the fight for separation of church and state, describes this Supreme Court decision for what it is:
Like Bush's wholesale appropriation of John Paul "culture of life" rhetoric, the opinion is an indicator of the extent to which sectarian Catholic thought and teaching has become the framework of public policy.
I don't know why the average American willingly pays taxes to a government that apparently takes its orders on social policy from Rome. There was a Reformation about five hundred years ago that was supposed to have solved the problem of Rome dictating government policy, and then there was a revolution in North America about two hundred thirty years ago that was supposed to have prevented ANY denomination from having undue influence on government policy. Why is it O.K. for U.S. officials to follow Vatican policy, but it isn't O.K. for U.S. officials to follow the policies of the Iranian ayatollahs? What exactly is the difference between Rome and Tehran in this case?
I am in favor of all U.S. citizens being required to swear their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, and to swear that when their religious obligations conflict with the just laws of their country that their allegiance to their country comes first. For this to work well, of course, we need some democratic reforms in this country, but in principle, what it means to be an American is that you are loyal to the values of the Enlightenment, not the values of the last surviving institution of the Roman Empire.