The bishops aren't alone


Chicago Tribune

Go to this article

Want to understand the Catholic faith?

ABSTRACTThe Catholic bishops aren't alone - chicagotribune.com   Editorials Home Mobile Alerts Trib Nation TribU Weather Obits Horoscopes Ask Amy Columns Photos Video Advertise Subscribe Help News Breaking Chicagoland Suburbs Nation & World Elections Clout Street Obits Watchdog Maps & apps Schools Religion Lottery Business Breaking Problem Solver Your Money Technology Chicago top stocks Promotions Executives to know Business lunches Columnists Sports Breaking Bears Bulls Blackhawks Cubs White Sox College Preps Plus Soccer Golf Smack Scores Columnists A&E Breaking TV Movies Music Theater Food & Dining Books Celebrity Events Arts Comics Puzzles Chicago Live! Columnists Travel News & Tips Weather Chicago travel Midwest travel U.S. travel International travel Family travel Cruises Vacation Starter Deals Health Booster Shots Dental Diabetes Fitness Galleries Local news Nutrition Sex & Dating Green living Julie's Health Club Cancer Central Opinion Editorials Commentary Letters Endorsements Share Change of Subject Page's Page Minority of One Stantis Cartoons Columns Blogs Real Estate For Sale Apartments Buyers Sellers Communities Foreclosure Home & Garden Latest Sales Luxury News Advertise Cars Cars for Sale 2012 Chicago Auto Show Auto News Car Care Car Reviews Dealer Specials Recalls Traffic Advertise Jobs My CareerBuilder Find Jobs Job Recommendations Post Resumes Resources For Employers Advertise Trib Careers Shopping Weekly Sales Ads Local Dailies My Brands From Our Experts Shopping Events Ads from the Paper I'm Shopping For ... Advanced Search Advanced Search X include all of these words: include any of these words: include this exact phrase: exclude: Select a date range this week past 30 days past 3 months past year Create a custom date range From: To:    Breaking news AP: Romney wins Maryland GOP presidential primary Sign up for alerts >> Loading Home  >  News  >  Editorials The bishops aren't alone A plurality of Americans aware of President Obama's contraceptives mandate now oppose it Comments 48 A survey released Tuesday shows 55 percent of Catholics, and 63 percent of Catholics who attend church weekly, now favor an exemption to the contraceptives mandate for religiously affiliated institutions. ( Tribune photo, William DeShazer / February 10 , 2012 ) February 15, 2012 In the first, fevered days of the controversy over insurance coverage of drugs that prevent pregnancy and induce abortions, early polling results made their way into conventional wisdom: The White House and supporters of its mandate cited survey results that found a majority of Americans on their side of the issue. Some pollsters found that even a majority of Roman Catholics said they favored a government requirement that religiously affiliated schools, hospitals and social service agencies provide the coverage. That narrative — Even Catholics support this! — had the effect of isolating Catholic bishops and other opponents of the requirement. Their objection that the mandate violated the Constitution's guarantee of religious liberty looked to be outside the nation's mainstream of thought. But new evidence suggests that, as Americans spend more time thinking through this polarizing issue, their attitudes may be shifting away from the White House's position, and toward protection of religious freedom. A nationwide survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life found that six in 10 Americans have heard about the dispute. Of those, a plurality of 48 percent now favors an exemption for religiously affiliated institutions; 44 percent say those institutions should have to provide the coverage. Among Catholics, 55 percent now favor an exemption, while 39 percent do not. Drill down more layers and you find 63 percent of Catholics who attend church weekly favoring an exemption, with 25 percent opposed. Of those who identify themselves as Catholic and visit church less frequently, 48 percent support an exemption; 49 percent disagree. We argued in this space Sunday that public opinion shouldn't dictate government policy in matters of conscience. To do so, we said, would force opponents of capital punishment to surrender their objections because of the most recent finding from Gallup — in line with decades of its research — that Americans now favor the death penalty by a margin of 61 percent to 35 percent. But the state of public opinion, we also said, is good to know. That's especially true if opinion is on the move. One possibility is that, early on, many Americans viewed this issue as primarily about contraception — but the ensuing debate has focused them on the notion of the federal government telling the University of Notre Dame or Catholic Charities that, despite church beliefs, it must provide these drugs to its employees. President Barack Obama sought to amend that impact Friday. He said that while "religious orga.......