Our Constitution protects religion in two broad ways: it guarantees an individual the right to practice his or her religion, and it also prohibits the government from showing a preference for a particular religion or for religion over non-religion.  It is important to remember that both of these protections are part of our constitutional religious liberty, and neither is more important than the other.

Recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has attempted to muddle these distinctions, in the debate over provisions in our new national health care law.  If they are successful, it could have a devastating effect on the ability of women to access reproductive health care, including birth control.  The group is attempting to have the government show a preference for its particular religious views (that abortion and birth control, including condoms, are sinful), under the guise of asserting its right to freely practice religion.  As my ACLU colleague Sarah Lipton-Lubet told NPR, ""What the bishops and their allies are asking for is the ability to impose their religious beliefs on people who don't share them."  That is inconsistent with our religious freedom.  If a person, because of their religious beliefs, does not want to use contraceptives, or terminate a pregnancy, or get married to someone of the same-sex, then those are their choices.  But, they don't get to impose those choices on the rest of us.