CPAC, D.C.—The controversy around the Obama administration's decision to mandate birth-control coverage in health insurance has dominated the talk at CPAC. "You may not agree with what that religion agrees. That's not the point. The point is, the First Amendment still applies," Marco Rubio said in his early morning address on Thursday.
A group called Confronting Religious Persecution in America was primed to take advantage of the latest controversy. They're a Catholic men's organization that favors the conservative interpretation of social morals. "We have a desire to fight in a peaceful manner," said James Bascom, who stood with perfect posture, "to defend the Church, to defend the teachings of the Church, and to defend the remnants of Christian civilization that are being undermined and being destroyed in our society."
The move to increase birth-control access didn’t sit too well with this group. "Catholics are worried about it," Bascom said. "Either you comply or face fines. It's really a religious persecution." While they disapprove of the lack of a religious exemption, the organization was never a fan of the Affordable Care Act in the first place, purchasing an ad in The Washington Times when the bill was first up for debate in Congress. "It's the worst part of something that is bad," he said, arguing that it forces "those who oppose sterilization to include it in their health-care plans—totally in violation of their conscience."
Beyond fighting the president's health-care policy, I wondered what exactly the group does. "We also like the virtues of chivalry and knighthood, and the examples of the crusader saints," he said, noting that they host programs for teenage boys on how to act like proper men. Crusader imagery dominated their booth—a red flag draped one side of it, a few representatives wore matching sashes, a gold lion insignia with a cross in the center seemed to adorn everything, and a pamphlet termed their mission "The Crusade of the XXI Century."