Rhode Island’s Home-Grown Religious Extremism

The Article “Meet Some Religious Extremists” (Vol. XXXIV, No. 2), resonated with me because of home-grown religious extremists in Rhode Island, where church officials exert pressure upon elected leaders to enact antiabortion policies. Rather than addressing the rising budget deficits, high unemployment rates and high school dropout rates with real interventions, the state General Assembly spent its final hours trying to fund religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy centers. Yes, Rhode Island has the highest unintended pregnancy rates in New England, but the root of the problem is the need for low-cost contraceptive access for low-income families.

Even after the law recognizing same-sex marriages was passed, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin threatened parishioners with the instruction to “think hard” before attending the weddings of gay friends or family members. Recently, Bishop Tobin publicly announced he had switched his political affiliation to the Republican Party, citing the party’s platform against reproductive rights.

Thankfully Gov. Lincoln Chafee vetoed the license plate program that would have funded a CareNet crisis pregnancy center, citing the separation of church and state. But I begin to wonder—when are we going to start making laws that honor all beliefs in the Ocean State?

PAULA HODGES
RI Public Policy & Advocacy Director,
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Providence, RI

Let us know what you think.

Email your letter to the editor to conscience@CatholicsforChoice.org