This morning the panel discussed the recent federal rule requiring religious institutions to include birth control and contraceptives in their health care to employees.
Individual churches are exempt from the ruling, but Catholic universities and charities are required to observe it.
Newt has been talking about it, and he discussed it yesterday on Meet the Press. Catholic leaders are protesting the ruling as well.
Joe, Mika and the Rev. Al Sharpton shared their thoughts today about the ruling:
Joe Scarborough: Rev. Sharpton, a lot of people are going to focus on the abortion side of this and on the contraception and the sterilization. Those specific issues, but this is a much larger issue for clergy, for members of the church who have to be wondering if the federal government can do this to the Catholic Church, can they not do this to any church?
Rev. Al Sharpton: No, I think you have to have the reverse argument, and that is if I want to seek employment and have employment in a church but that I disagree with the dogma and theology of the church, do I have the right to be protected by law? And I think that what the Obama administration is saying that you do not have to follow the tenets of a church organization to be an employee of a church.
Scarborough: Do you think this is a good decision?
Sharpton: If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we’re going to have a separation of church and state. Whether I would personally agree with the decision or not, the question is do I have a right to make that law?
Scarborough: Do other clergy that you know think this is a good decision?
Sharpton: A lot of clergy I know disagree with it, but a lot of clergy I know disagree with a lot of things. It doesn’t mean you don’t take a principled decision. Clearly this is not calculated by politics, this is based on principle.
Mika Brzezinski: Obviously they’re getting money from the government. Having said that, the Catholic religion believes certain things; they believe it to be fact. And so you’re asking them not to be Catholic if you impose these regulations on them.
Scarborough: You have a lot of Catholics who are pro-choice who were offended by this decision…The very idea that a centralized government, a centralized state can reach out and tell the church…Kathleen Parker put it this way “You have to forfeit your most fundamental beliefs or face prohibitive penalties or close hospitals, schools, charities, etc…” I must say it’s a staggering, staggering decision by HHS…[to Mika] You’re a Catholic. What are your thoughts?
Brzezinski: I think it’s wrong; I agree with you. And I think it was an overstep.
Later in the conversation:
Scarborough: If you are offended by the theology of the Catholic church, then do not work for Catholic institutions.
Watch video of the discussion here: