" Newt Gingrich warns the U.S. is becoming a secular country, which would be a "nightmare." Rick Santorum says there's a clash between "man's laws and God's laws." And in a campaign ad, Rick Perry decried what he called "Obama's war on religion," saying there is "something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly ... pray in school."
Of course, children can pray in school, but Perry is echoing a larger argument: that religious freedom is at risk. The story is much more complicated than either side makes out.
If you're looking for evidence that the Obama administration is hostile to faith, conservatives say, the new health care law is Exhibit A. The law requires employers to offer health care plans that cover contraceptives. Churches don't have to, but religiously affiliated charities, hospitals and colleges do. That doesn't sit well with the Catholic monks at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.
"When the government said to them, you're going to have to fund contraception, sterilization, in violation of your deeply held religious convictions, the monks at Belmont Abbey College knew that they just couldn't do that," says attorney Hannah Smith at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "