By msnbc's Xuan Thai
The Obama administration is under fire today from Catholics on both sides of the political spectrum for its decision to require religiously affiliated employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives.
"This has struck a tribal nerve in Catholicism," Catholic scholar George Weigel said to Chuck Todd on the Daily Rundown. "The Catholic Church has been beaten up over the last 10 or 11 years and I think Catholics are tired of the government and others beating up on the church."
The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, who wrote a book on politics and religion, told Chuck Todd that the Obama administration did a couple of things wrong, such as misreading Catholic opinion but more importantly, going back on their reassurances.
"They had given reassurances to some people inside the church, you don’t give reassurances on one side and then do this,” said Dionne. “There were so many people who were [White House] allies in a number of questions [such as health care reform] who said look, this puts us in an entirely untenable position," said Dionne.
According to a survey by the University of New Hampshire, three quarters of Catholics say it is okay to use birth control and nearly two thirds say it’s up to the individual, not the church, to make the decision on contraceptives. Despite the high numbers of support for the use of contraceptives, the reaction to the White House Administration’s decision has been vocal.
"I think one of the reasons the Administration is surprised by this is a lot of liberal Catholics, who effectively have no objection in principle in extending contraceptive coverage to people, do believe the church…has a legitimate liberty interest here.” Said Dionne.
The White House is defending its decision saying 28 states have similar policies. However, when asked about the reaction to the mandate President Obama's senior campaign advisor, David Axelrod, seemed to hint at the possibility of a revision on the policy.
"We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms," Axelrod said on msnbc’s Morning Joe. "So we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventative care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,”
Weigel said there's little room for compromise.
"I don't think there's a fifty yard line here. I think the mandate itself is the problem there will undoubtedly be an attempt to find the 50 yard line, but the bishops of the U.S. on the Catholic side of this are in this to fight it all the way," Weigel said.
"This is a constitutionally new step that I think has created an enormous fuss,” Weigel continued. “So there are a lot of people upset across the spectrum."