"The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart has fired on Monday his take on the new "war on religion" claims made by some conservatives over the Obama policy on contraceptives, suggesting that in a democratic society it is natural to not always get what you want.
The controversy surrounds a recent policy change by the Obama Administration that forces institutions affiliated with religious groups to provide coverage for birth control, sterilization and "abortifacients" – all of which the Roman Catholic Church is opposed to. The church's official position is that the ruling is unconstitutional and infringes on religious rights.
Catholic and Christian leaders have been firmly opposed against allowing Christian organizations to be linked in any way with contraceptives, even after Obama amended the policy so that only insurance providers are charged with providing coverage of things the Church is opposed against, such as birth-control pills.
The first thing Stewart ridiculed the Catholic Church on during Monday's show was its refusal to pay for insurance costs, when at the same time it allocated large amounts of money towards settling child sex abuse lawsuits and paying for relocating priests accused of committing such crimes to different parishes.
Stewart even insisted that the amendment Obama made that does not require Catholic institutions, but the insurance companies themselves to provide coverage free of charge as being too giving and paving the way for "chaos" if all religious institutions were allowed the same exemptions.
The Daily Show asked as an example what would happen if a Christian Scientist organization claimed they do not believe in medicine of any kind and denied basic medical coverage to its employees – and presented a comedy situation where he, as an employer, also took advantage of exemption policies on the grounds that he believes comedy is the best medicine.
He also focused heavily on conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity, who on his program last week invited a panel of religious figures who all agreed that the Obama policy is waging war on religion with the new bill. When asked if they were willing to go to jail over the issue, most members of the panel raised their hands.
The first criticism Stewart made concerned Hannity's decision to include only men on the panel, who, ironically, where there to discuss a topic closely related to women's reproductive health issues.
The second issue he scrutinized was the religious leaders' belief they are being persecuted for their faith in America because of a health reform bill – pointing out that Christians in other regions in the world, such as Egypt and China, are the ones facing real, serious persecution.
Stewart suggested that the constant complaints voiced by some conservatives claiming that there is religious discrimination in America are overblown. An example he gave of faith-based organizations enjoying greater freedoms than others was that the government lets them keep billions of dollars in donations every yeah tax free.
"You have confused a war on religion with not always getting everything you want. It's called being part of a society – not everything goes your way," Stewart suggested, to which the audience applauded.
It's not about contraception," GOP candidate Rick Santorum said about the health bill, the National Review Online reported, one instance where Obama has been accused of targeting religion. "It's about economic liberty. It's about freedom of speech. It's about freedom of religion. It's about government control of your lives. And it's got to stop!
Obama has fired back against such accusations with an initiative called "the Truth Team", a website that explained in an early February entry that the president is simply trying to ensure that all women have access to commonly used preventive services.
"Scientists and medical experts agree that contraception is important for women's health. The fundamental belief behind this decision is that women should have access to this care, without having to worry about cost," the team argued.