Late Night: Jon Stewart rips Catholic church over birth control
Monday night on "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart weighed in on the ongoing standoff between President Obama and the Catholic church over mandated birth control coverage. After a week off the air, Stewart was clearly gunning for a fight.
As he explained, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops objected to a measure that would have required Catholic charities, hospitals, and universities -- though not actual churches -- to adopt insurance plans that provide free contraceptive care.
Stewart went right for the jugular. "We are men of God! That money must not be used for contraception," he said, impersonating the bishops. "That money has been set aside for out-of-court altar boy settlements and of course some priest relocation."
Stewart also suggested that the controversy was being stoked by the "old dudes" who run the church, rather than Catholic lay people.
These same "old dudes" -- and their conservative allies -- also object to the compromise Obama announced on Friday, which would allow religious groups to opt out of the mandate and require insurers to provide birth control directly to consumers.
"This is simply someone trying to impose their values on somebody else with the arm of the government," presidential candidate Rick Santorum said in a clip from the Conservative Political Action Conference gathering held in Washington over the weekend.
In yet another clip from the campaign trail, the staunch Catholic explained why he believes our legal system ought to have Biblical origins."When God gives us rights, he doesn’t say 'Here are your rights, do whatever you want to do with them.' In fact he has laws that we must abide by," he said.
Stewart suggested it was Santorum who was trying to impose his belief on others, not President Obama: "In the American system of government, you’re saying we should all be free to live by Christian law. "
In the latest development, now some Republican legislators are trying to extend the exemption to any employer opposed to birth control, not just the Catholic church. Stewart warned this would create "chaos" in the healthcare system, allowing employers to object to any kind of coverage for any reason whatsoever.
To demonstrate his point, Stewart invited Elliott, a "sick" member of his writing staff, to join him on stage. "I’m an employer and I personally believe in the healing power of comedy," Stewart said, dousing his employee with seltzer.
"Why can’t you give me Zithromax?" Elliott wondered.
Stewart's response? "I don't believe in Zithromax."
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— Meredith Blake
Photo: Jon Stewart. Credit: Frank Ockenfels / Comedy Central.