Contraception and Separation

By Mike Appleton, Guest Blogger

In Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, Stephen Daedalus is asked by his friend Cranly whether, having forsaken Roman Catholicism, he will become a Protestant.  “I said I had lost the faith,” he replied, “but not that I had lost selfrespect.  What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?”

But God works, as they say, in mysterious ways.  A black man, accused of being secretly a Muslim, a socialist and an illegitimate pretender to the presidential throne, has accomplished what all of the post-Vatican II reconciliation committees and joint worship services and inter-faith conferences could not.  Rev. Mike Huckabee has declared that Protestants will at last abandon illogic and incoherence.  No longer will the Pope be called the Antichrist, nor Holy Mother Church the Whore of Rome.  Once again, he says, we are all Catholics.  My late Irish grandmother’s faith has been vindicated.

Christians have reunited under the banner of Richard “Coeur de Lion” Santorum to defeat apostasy and reclaim America for Christendom.  The enemy this time?  An HHS regulation requiring most health insurance plans to include FDA approved forms of contraception in coverage for preventive health services.  There is, of course, an exception for churches, but not for religious institutions serving the general public.  The outrage has been intense, widespread and misguided.

The newest crusade, like its historical predecessors, is largely fueled by the bad faith of its leaders and the ignorance of its foot soldiers.  The President has graciously described the controversy as a difference of opinion between reasonable people, but his comments are undeservedly charitable.  The argument that the requirement is an assault on religious freedom is legally frivolous.  The suggestion that it raises serious questions under the Free Exercise Clause or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is laughable, unless one is a graduate of the Michele Bachmann School of Constitutional Revisionism and Beauty Culture.

It has never been the law that the First Amendment exempts religion from all civil authority.  The First Amendment “embraces two concepts,-freedom to believe and freedom to act.  The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be.”  Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303-304 (1940).  Public policy demands have been found to trump freedom of religion in a number of contexts.  The Mormon practice of polygamy was long ago held to be subordinate to criminal statutes.  Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879).  Jehovah Witnesses have been compelled to comply with child labor laws prohibiting the sale of printed materials on public streets by minors.  Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944).  Bob Jones University was unable to prevent the loss of its tax exempt status despite its religious convictions opposing interracial dating and marriage.  Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983).  And the courts have frequently ordered the provision of emergency medical care to minors over the religious objections of their parents.

The new regulation implements portions of the Affordable Care Act intended to expand the availability of preventive health services to women by requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for those services.  Meeting the public health needs of millions of women pursuant to a grant of legislative authority surely fits any reasonable definition of a compelling governmental interest.  And the impact on religious expression?  None.  Religious institutions are not required to change their moral views on contraception.  No woman will be compelled to practice birth control.

But if the regulation does not raise constitutional issues, why all the fuss?  The answer is that the reaction is a contrived and cynical political attack for election year consumption by Catholics and right-wing evangelicals.  It is an effort to extend the notion of religious expression to include what are clearly non-ministerial functions.  It is also part of an effort to further weaken the wall of separation between government and religion.  Indeed, the position of the Catholic bishops reinforces my opposition to the entire faith-based initiatives program.  How is it that a religious body can assert the propriety of accepting public tax dollars to support what it asserts to be a public function, such as operating a general hospital, and simultaneously insist that the operation of that same hospital is protected religious expression for all other purposes?

The government is obligated to respect the free exercise of religion.  Religious bodies engaged in the operation of public facilities are obligated to respect the rights of all employees, including those having incompatible religious beliefs, and to comply with applicable laws.  Once this has been made clear to all, Christians can return to warring among themselves.

526 thoughts on “Contraception and Separation

  1. Really good article. I also find the hypocrisy of the bishops disturbing (accepting federal funding on one hand, while spouting religious freedom on the other hand).

    One would think that this point would receive more airtime, but such is the reality in the bizzaro world of the religious / right wing.

    Politics and religion is an interest of mine–I hope to read more from you!

  2. I didn’t see anything here about the recent USSC decision to allow a Lutheran outfit to fire a woman in violation of ADA rules. It appeared to me that they were saying religious organizations could violate US law if they felt the law impinged on their beliefs Who did they reach that conclusion? Wouldn’t that allow the dreaded Sharia law? Could the HRC claim sex with minors was actually a tenet of the faith & avoid all those nasty law suits?

  3. Bron,

    What is the real issue…. I seem not to know anymore… I thought it was the economy….Ron Paul….. now its womens rights….. would you please educate us?

  4. It’s not a scientific poll or anything like that, but CNN’s ‘Quick Vote’ feature this morning is showing 62% support for the President’s contraception provision initiative.

  5. Well done, Mike! It’s good to read such a well-reasoned argument on the contraception issue. The Catholic Church took the wrong stance on contraception decades ago–and refuses to change it. 98% of Catholic have to chosen to ignore the church and use birth control.

  6. You quote: The First Amendment embraces two concepts,-freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be.

    This formulation seems misleading. One can hardly regulate a person’s secret thoughts. Your statement that “Religious institutions are not required to change their moral views on contraception” is surely beside the point.

  7. Good presentation. Irrelevant of course because, as you state, illogic is king, and the objective is to elevate the culture wars, That pits one politically explosive tactic against an underlying and politically powerful concept womens’ right’s

    By choosing to accept the right wing, Catholic Bishop, evangelical and so-called liberal dem Catholic (read Panetta, Dione, etc.) framing of the issue as religious in nature the administration, and the President, has I think, made a serious error. The framing both downgrades the importance of women’s rights (which some may argue is implicit) and dignifies the fatuous argument from religious freedom.

    None of this matters too much substantively, yet, because the Bible thumpers and pedophile protectors will not be deterred, regardless. But by, once again, seeking to be compromising and reasonable, the President has shown the relative unimportance to him of a major constituency, and indirectly elevated the status of the ignorant, or at least of ignorant argument.

  8. By “beside the point”, I mean insufficient.

    I don’t understand, don’t know, the church’s argument. Is it the money or is it the support, second-hand, of contraception. Would the situation be different if the coverage in question were late term abortion or assisted suicide, or in vitro fertilization?

    You say “why all the fuss? The answer is that the reaction is a contrived and cynical political attack”. Here you have gone beyond a legal analysis, and into mind-reading.

  9. martingugino: I’ve been a Catholic for all of my 65 years. There truly isn’t any mind reading necessary on this controversy.

  10. The republicans went to the bishops and said. “Put us in office and you’ll get school vouchers, prayer in schools, millions/billions in NGO money”. So the bishops sold their souls in a Faustian deal. That is what this is about.

  11. I appreciate the succinct explanation your post provides.

    Part of this “contrived and cynical political attack for election year consumption by Catholics and right-wing evangelicals” that so bothers me is the linking of contraceptive devices and abortion to breast cancer. I feel very badly for the religious women who, suffering with breast cancer, must also fight the perception of their spiritual leaders that their disease stemmed from either an abortion or using birth-control pills/devices. It’s a stigma placed on them by their religion almost as if we had dropped back in time to the Middle Ages when a badly placed mole condemned one to being burned as a witch.

  12. “She has got a wart!”

    “What makes you think she’s a witch?”

    “Well she turned me into a newt!”

    “A newt?”

    “I got better.”

  13. Is there any substantive difference between this controversy and the prior kerfuffle over pharmacists dispensing the Plan-B birth control pill? This issue, like the one before, presumes people in authority have the moral freedom to refuse to do their duty, yet still keep their positions of power. In essence they are saying, “Since we are in charge of X, and we have a moral problem with X, therefore X is prohibited for everyone”.

    Imagine if firemen were permitted to say they have a moral problem with putting out fires in Jewish homes, and of course they alone control the fire trucks, so I guess Jewish homes always burn to the ground. Bummer.

  14. The Bishops want to take federal money collected from Atheists, Muslims, snake-worshippers, Druids, Wiccans and Pastafarians, and use it to pay salaries with Catholic strings attached. That violates MY freedom of religion!

  15. Elaine,

    That’s where they get all blurry in their claims. It’s most insidious.

    Having experienced three deaths from breast cancer in my immediate family, I can’t begin to explain the horrors experienced by the patient and her loved ones … and it goes on for years.

    To add to that suffering with this ridiculous political gambit is something that disgust me to the bottom of my soul. It’s as if these priests and politicians have traded in every once of humanity they ever possessed in the hopes of gaining … what? Certainly not salvation.

  16. Freedom of Conscience and Its Limits

    Let me pull a point out of a rather long John Holbo post. Start with the assumption that ObamaCare is repealed, in its entirety, tomorrow. The day after tomorrow Abdul Hussain, owner and CEO of a large private firm with 5,000 employees, announces that his firm will no longer offer employees health insurance that permits women to visit male doctors or male employees to be treated by female doctors. This is a newsworthy event, and the day after the day after tomorrow Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder both offer the opinion that this is a form of illegal discrimination and that if it’s not already illegal it should be made illegal. Will Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans stand up for Hussain’s “freedom of conscience” in this case? Will my conservative Twitter followers?

    I’m going to guess no.

  17. Mike A.,

    Maybe it’s me, but I’m so used to reacting in a litmus sort of way when it comes to the separation between church and state that I can’t help but see this issue as a mandated secularization of Catholic institutions.

    How do you come in and effectively say “You will ignore this part of your religion because we say it’s good for you.”

    As I mentioned on another thread to Gene…

    what if one of the tenets of Catholicism was that guns are sinful? Do you really think that a mandate forcing Catholic institutions to make guns available to their people wouldn’t be a violation of the free exercise clause?

    No one’s forcing them to use the guns; right?

    I believe you zeroed in on the issue with this:

    “How is it that a religious body can assert the propriety of accepting public tax dollars to support what it asserts to be a public function, such as operating a general hospital, and simultaneously insist that the operation of that same hospital is protected religious expression for all other purposes?”

    Does the acceptance of tax dollars open the door to mandated secularization of the church institutions? I don’t know.

    Intuitively, I find this issue as annoying as the health care mandate; disregarding religion as easily as they disregarded federalism.

  18. Bob,

    That’s specious reasoning and you know it. Availability of guns is a distinctly Constitutionally protected right. Guns are available to Catholics. Like contraceptives, they don’t have to use them.

    “Does the acceptance of tax dollars open the door to mandated secularization of the church institutions? I don’t know.”

    You should know. All I’m going to say is 14th Amendment and “open to the public”.

    But you’re right it is an annoying issue. That’s why it was picked as a fulcrum issue for the culture wars. However, I don’t think it disregards religion unless that line of mandated use were to be crossed.

  19. Blouise said:
    “It’s as if these priests and politicians have traded in every once of humanity they ever possessed in the hopes of gaining … what? Certainly not salvation.”

    It’s certainly not love of mankind nor of JC and his teachings.
    Power hunger and top steering start early in both hierarchies.
    Thanks for the sharing. It gives it all a sting of reality.

  20. Gene: “That’s specious reasoning and you know it. Availability of guns is a distinctly Constitutionally protected right. Guns are available to Catholics. Like contraceptives, they don’t have to use them.”

    And the availability of contraceptives is, according to Griswold, just as much a right as the right to follow the tenets of one’s religion.

    The issue, as much as you may want to deny it, is whether the acceptance of tax dollars empowers the state to supplant their ideology over that of the religion.

    The lyrics to that Monty Python skit are instructive:

    “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great.
    If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.”

    The knee-jerk reaction is to apply the ‘reasonableness’ standard; i.e. since providing access to contraceptives is more reasonable than denying them because of a particular belief about the will of a certain being that no one can prove even exists, then we can mandate that Catholic institutions make contraceptives available.

    You can’t apply the reasonable standard to a doctrine that is by definition a-rational. That’s part and parcel of the deal between church and state; ‘you don’t f’ with me and I won’t f’ with you.’

    In order for me to retain my right to be indignant about any attempt to put prayer into schools or declare Christianity the national religion, by denying ANY access on even the smallest level, I must adhere to the same standards per the converse. The same principle is at work in the clean hands doctrine.

  21. Bob,

    By that reasoning, we should void the 2nd Amendment because Buddhism advocates non-violence.

    I don’t see how Griswold impacts this. I just don’t see how availability without mandated use f’s with anyone right to free exercise. The tenets of their faith require abstention for followers of their faith. As multi-cultural employers and public service providers, to not make contraceptives available if forcing their religion upon others and a clear violation of free exercise. Since they are not allowed to discriminate (generally) in their hiring practices and most certainly not allowed to discriminate in their provision practices as a public provider taking public money, letting the burden of following the tenets of their faith fall to the individual practitioners in the form of abstention in use is simply logical. And reasonable as well. :D

  22. Blouise,
    A blanket if eutopic solution, based on CIA and FBI internal control mechanisms.

    All aspirants to political offices and also political appointees shall be vetted by commissions, staffed solely by women equally vetted, by use of polygraph testing. Automatic periodic re-tests shall be routine.

    Finding an appropriate list of questions should be easy. Am sure that the increased suveillance forces employed in citizen surveillance can bridge over the hiring gap upon startup. Findings shall be published on the net as they are released one week after being certified.

    Ho, ho.

  23. Gene: “By that reasoning, we should void the 2nd Amendment because Buddhism advocates non-violence.”

    Does it really Gene?

    “The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. ” — Madison

    Which part of that do you not understand?

    “I don’t see how Griswold impacts this.”

    I just made the comparison to a clearly identified right.

    ” I just don’t see how availability without mandated use f’s with anyone right to free exercise.”

    For everyone except Catholics; it doesn’t.

    “The tenets of their faith…”

    Are a-rational by definition and cannot be analyzed by a ‘reasonableness’ standard.

    Part of the beauty of the free exercise clause is that it allows people to worship any way they want. You say your Catholic based institution won’t give you access to contraceptives; join the protestant reformation; whatever.

  24. Bob.

    ” I just don’t see how availability without mandated use f’s with anyone right to free exercise.”

    For everyone except Catholics; it doesn’t.


    I’d change that to the following:
    For everyone except Catholic bishops; it doesn’t.

    Most Catholics don’t think the use of contraceptives is immoral. Most Catholics approve of the use of contraceptives. I guess mandated availability only f’s with what the bishops believe is the right to free exercise of their religion.

  25. Bob,

    Gee, conflate much on the issue of national religion? No. Mandating using contraception would f with Catholic’s free exercise. Availability only provides choice, which they are free to make to the dictates of their conscience. Just like Buddhists and available guns.

  26. To be clear, Bob, let me continue the point about Buddhist. A law requiring them to own guns would be a violation of their free exercise. Giving them the option to own them isn’t (even though that option happens to be a distinct protected right).

  27. Gene: “Gee, conflate much on the issue of national religion?”

    “By that reasoning, we should void the 2nd Amendment because Buddhism advocates non-violence.”

    How is the foregoing not theocratic?

    “Availability only provides choice, which they are free to make to the dictates of their conscience. Just like Buddhists and available guns.”

    And compelling a Buddhist institution to provide access to guns is not a violation of the free exercise clause how?

    May the Fed mandate that Burger King be made available in Hindu institutions?

    How about mandating that Muslim and Jewish institutions to follow FDA guidelines in lieu of Kosher?

    I don’t have a problem with bacon cheeseburgers or lobster bisque; but they do.

  28. Here in my neck of the woods I have seen a flurry of commercials with the tag line to Catholics “Come home”. The Church is apparently trying to drum up some enthusiasm among the lapsed and disgusted church folk that aren’t practicing any longer. Man, the Church’s public relations people must be apoplectic about now :-)
    I find it amusing; what is that bible verse about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

  29. Bob,

    The key here is that the Catholic institutions in question are both multi-cultural employers and service providers taking public monies. If the Catholic Church proper doesn’t want to provide access? They shouldn’t be forced to, but when they cross the line into employing those outside the church and providing public services for which they take tax payer dollars, they shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate based on the tenets of their religion. With very narrow exceptions, they are not allowed to discriminate once they move operations to the public arena whether it posses a dogma problem or not. If they Westboro Church opened a hospital, took Medicare/Medicaid and said they weren’t going to employee or treat homosexuals because it’s against their dogma, would that be permissible? No. The fact is this really narrows down to freedom of choice: choice to follow the religion of your choice to the degree you choose. An option isn’t a choice. An option is an option. The choice is up to the individual.

  30. Bob,

    The more I think about this, the more I think I know where our disconnect lies. You’re drawing the line at the institution. I’m drawing the line at the individual. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but the rights protected by the 1st Amendment apply to individuals first and foremost, not an organization but especially not an organization involved in direct public commerce and taking government payments. Those activities come with strings attached.

  31. “If they Westboro Church opened a hospital, took Medicare/Medicaid and said they weren’t going to employee or treat homosexuals because it’s against their dogma, would that be permissible?”

    Excellent hypothetical. Touche.

    However, may I ask how said hospital is ENTITLED to said Medicaid/Medicare?

    Now you’ve made the remedy the issue. Going to deny Long Island Jewish Hospital Medicare/Medicaid funding because they don’t serve bacon cheeseburgers; or do you deny the funding to Westboro Bigot Hospital Medicare/Medicaid funding because of Equal Protection violations?

  32. Gene,

    All this talk about burgers and bisque has made me hungry; and I haven’t eaten dinner yet.

    As a type 2 diabetic, I don’t think I have the requisite blood sugar to bring the issue of corporate personhood into this seeing I still have a hard time accepting that SCOTUS had the power to effectively amend the constitution via the incorporation doctrine.

  33. Bob, you have been around long enough to know a false equivalence fallacy, let alone use one. Sheesh!

    There is a hell of a lot of difference between denying a prescription drug used for health care–after all that is what prescriptions are for, by definition–and a food item in the cafeteria. Or for that matter discriminating on the basis of sexual preference, since that is not a protected class, unfortunately.

    If they see nothing wrong with paying for ED drugs, then they need to pay for the woman to prevent the consequences of use of ED drugs. Where do you draw the line? Big employer does not believe in medications, so only pays for chiropractic? How well would that work?

  34. Bob,

    I’m going to apply the first prong of Lemon; valid secular purpose.

    LIJH? No. There are perfectly valid secular health reasons for not serving a bacon cheeseburger. Westboro? Yes. There is no secular rationale for denying employment and treatment. Just so, there is no secular rational reason for denying access to contraception; it’s purely religious.

  35. Gene H.
    You wrote. availability offers choice.

    So we have pharmacies, gunshops, liquor stores, etc.
    All supply products and services effecting the public.
    Are they regulated? Yes.
    Are they allowed to plead religious or moral standards not endorsed by others than their institutions, companies, or the proprietor?

  36. OS,

    You’re dealing with an a-rational ideal set; false equivalency does not apply here. To the a-rational, the amount of angels on the head of a pin is just as real as a condom.


    “Just so, there is no secular rational reason for denying access to contraception; it’s purely religious.”

    And that’s why it fails prongs 2 and three of Lemon:

    The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

    The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    It bears repeating that I fight this battle in the same manner that I demand a client keep his hands clean in any legal matter; so that I may retain the right to get indignant per the violation of my clients rights.

    I abhor the notion of breaching the separation of church and state; on either side no matter how silly the notion may be.

  37. Bob and Gene,

    You guys remind me of the churches feud in 200 AD (?) how to define the father and the son. I won’t try to clarify, wiki does a better job.
    They fought over a hundred years over this. You won’t last that long.
    BTW, it concerned one letter in a greek word, ie with or without the “o”.

    Goodbye from Buttinsky.

  38. Bob,

    How does it fail prongs two and three?

    “The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;”

    By forcing non-Catholics to live with Catholic dogma, you are both advancing Catholicism and prohibiting religions other than Catholicism (or indeed practicing the parts of Catholicism one may deem fit to adopt).

    “The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.”

    Again, it’s not excessive entanglement to present the option under Equal Protection. These are publicly open commercial enterprises with a diverse employee and customer base. The line for excessive entanglement would be crossed only if use of contraception was mandated and infringed upon the free exercise rights of individual Catholics.

  39. “By forcing non-Catholics to live with Catholic dogma, you are both advancing Catholicism and prohibiting religions other than Catholicism”

    That’s what’s happening; you’re forcing Catholic institutions to deny a tenet of their faith; i.e. “every sperm is sacred.”

    “Again, it’s not excessive entanglement to present the option under Equal Protection.”

    The argument that the Catholic institution has the right to obey the tenets of its religion is far stronger than any Equal Protection argument mandating that it does not. Why not start small; say over turning Citizens United first.

    And again, mandating the use of contraceptives would be tyranny per se; irrespective of the free exercise clause.

  40. The issue is not so much what is reasonable, rather does the legislation directly conflict with the faith.

    Per the Catholics…

    “If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.”

    Excessive entanglement that inhibits the Catholic religion. Check.

  41. Bob,

    You’ll get no argument over me about CU needing to be overturned, but these are not Catholic Churches we are talking about here. Why do you keep glossing over the fact these are commercial public service providers taking government money and diverse employers? If the RCC’s dogma is so goddamn important to them? They can always get out of the hospital business if they don’t want to play by the rules that particular endeavor requires. The organization chose to enter into business, just like their individual members can choose to not use contraceptives even when available.

  42. Bob,

    I don’t see how it inhibits the Catholic religion. Catholics are not being forced to use contraceptives. They are being given an option. Maybe the bishops are frustrated because Catholics choose not to listen to them when it comes to birth control and their personal lives.

  43. “If the RCC’s dogma is so goddamn important to them? They can always get out of the hospital business if they don’t want to play by the rules that particular endeavor requires.”

    Did the issue exist when the institution got in the business; or did the issue arise only recently with a mandate happy administration?

    Once again Gene, it’s not so much what the Obama administration is doing, but how they’re going about it.

  44. Elaine,

    Forcing contraception on individuals would be tyrannical per se; i.e. it’s not a gray area.

    Forcing Catholic institutions to deny a tenet of their faith by mandating that they make that which contradicts their faith available (optional) is a free exercise problem.

    It’s not the Bishops or the individuals that are claiming standing here; but the Catholic institutions themselves.

  45. Bob,
    It can’t be inhibiting Catholic universities and hospitals to require that they provide or that their insurance companies provide contraception care for women because many of them carry that coverage now without the rule.

  46. “It can’t be inhibiting Catholic universities and hospitals to require that they provide or that their insurance companies provide contraception care for women because many of them carry that coverage now without the rule.”

    It’s their objection to raise; that’s all I’m saying.

  47. I view the current controversy as an inevitable and wholly foreseeable consequence of the intentional blurring of lines. Separation of church and state is a principle deemed important only by religious groups in their infancy or when they occupy a disadvantageous political position. It is no coincidence that Thomas Jefferson’s famous letter in 1802 was written to Baptists, a highly unpopular and frequently persecuted sect at the time. The early migration of Catholics to the U.S. in great numbers was also met with hostility, often violent. Once religious groups become politically and numerically established, they attempt to secure benefits in the same manner used by secular groups, lobbying and voting.

    The unremitting attacks on the “wall” of separation, particularly over the past 30 years, parallels the rise of evangelical conservatives. Separation of church and state has gradually come to symbolize “hostility” toward Christianity rather than neutrality. If we are a Christian nation, after all, Christianity should be accorded a place at the head table. The faith-based initiatives programs are a reaction to demands that religious groups performing public functions receive public funding to the same extent that secular organizations performing identical functions receive. Religious groups have also successfully demanded that school vouchers be made available to them on the same basis as they are available for use with secular private schools, since religious schools are still performing a public education function. No one appears to recall that the big push for tax support of religious schools became successful only with the growth of private fundamentalist “academies” following the proliferation of school desegregation orders. Thus it is hardly surprising that the Catholic hierarchy has found it useful to form an alliance with fundamentalists for certain purposes.

    As more public tax dollars flow into religious organizations for their “public” services, a dependency is created and those same groups begin to demand various exemptions from public laws based upon their constitutional right to free exercise. The courts’ efforts to draw distinctions between public functions and ministerial functions have been pointless since, as the decision in the Heller case teaches, a church can declare anyone a “minister” if the need should arise.

    The wall of separation was intended to avoid the very problems we now face. For my part, I subscribe to Justice Jackson’s dissent in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947), in which he said, in part:

    “… the effect of the religious freedom Amendment to our Constitution was to take every form of propagation of religion out of the realm of things which could directly or indirectly be made public business and thereby be supported in whole or in part at taxpayers’ expense. That is a difference which the Constitution sets up between religion and almost every other subject matter of legislation, a difference which goes to the very root of religious freedom … . This freedom was first in the Bill of Rights because it was first in the forefathers’ minds; it was set forth in absolute terms, and its strength is its rigidity. It was intended not only to keep the states’ hands out of religion, but to keep religion’s hands off the state, and, above all, to keep bitter religious controversy out of public life by denying to every denomination any advantage from getting control of public policy or the public purse. … But we cannot have it both ways. Religious teaching cannot be a private affair when the state seeks to impose regulations which infringe on it indirectly, and a public affair when it comes to taxing citizens of one faith to aid another, or those of no faith at all.” 330 U.S. at 26-27.

    Religious groups are simply trying to have it both ways.

  48. “Did the issue exist when the institution got in the business; or did the issue arise only recently with a mandate happy administration?”

    Irrelevant. Business is business and conditions change. Did the RCC have hospitals before the enactment of the 14th Amendment? Before OSHA standards? Before Heart of Atlanta Motel?

    Yes. And yet they made adjustments.

    The outrageous precedent of CU gave corporations political free speech rights which – as corporations have no native rights not being real people – was a political gift from the Roberts Court. Giving a corporation, and make no mistake about it – the RCC is a corporation, free exercise rights?

    Is insane. Just as insane as CU. Do you realize the hornet’s nest you’re trying to kick here?

    We’re Microsoft and We don’t believe in abortion.

    We’re BP and We don’t believe in tort liability.

    We’re Prudential and We don’t believe in paying claims . . . ever.

    A church proper might be able to make the free exercise argument. A commercial public service endeavor? Not so much. If the rules of business change and the owners, religious organization or not, aren’t willing to adapt? They should get out of the business.

  49. Gene: “Giving a corporation, and make no mistake about it – the RCC is a corporation, free exercise rights? Is insane. Just as insane as CU. Do you realize the hornet’s nest you’re trying to kick here?”

    No more insane than recognizing that the NY Times has free speech and free press rights; it’s the fundamental purpose of the institution.

    Mike A.,

    You’re right; they can’t have it both ways. Thus the issue is what’s the proper remedy.

  50. Bob,

    The press is a specifically protected activity. Free exercise is an expressly protected individual right. As I said, as a strictly religious endeavor, churches – which are exempt from this – might have a free exercise claim. However, when you cross the line into commerce, you enter the secular world and leave the spiritual.

    The proper remedy is to make the option available, not remove choice by removing option for those of other faiths who may want or need them. Free exercise is a personal choice, not an institutional one.

  51. Bob,Esq: ” “If the RCC’s dogma is so goddamn important to them? They can always get out of the hospital business if they don’t want to play by the rules that particular endeavor requires.”

    Did the issue exist when the institution got in the business; or did the issue arise only recently with a mandate happy administration?”

    Valid question, Bob. In substance it’s not a new issue.

    When I lived in the city there was a catholic hospital 3 blocks from my house and it had a contract with the city to provide emergency care for the city; crime victims and victims of accidents etc. would be taken to that hospital (along with several other hospitals) when ambulances were called by the police. There arose a serious controversy because this hospital would not do the routine D&C for rape victims which was part of the mandated care based on the Church policy on abortion. They lost/gave up their contract with the city, no accommodation was made by the city for the hospital and no concession to the secular need was made by the hospital. It was a big news item for weeks because St. Louis was a big Catholic town at the time.

  52. Bob,

    “Forcing Catholic institutions to deny a tenet of their faith by mandating that they make that which contradicts their faith available (optional) is a free exercise problem.”

    Who determined that contraception was immoral–even for married couples–and that it was a tenet of the Catholic faith?

    If only the Catholic bishops had felt that covering up the sexual abuse of children was against the tenets of the Catholic faith.

    I am a lapsed Catholic too–with good reason.

  53. Bob, Esq.: I believe that the only rational solution is for contracts between religious organizations and governmental bodies for the provision of public services to clearly spell out the nature of the services to be provided. If a religious group is unable for any reason to adhere to the requirements, it should decline to enter into the contract. We have seen recent examples of Catholic organizations losing public service agreements due to their opposition to gay adoptions.

  54. In looking at the current dispute, I think it is also important to remember that the Catholic Church has historically regarded itself as outside the jurisdiction of secular authority. I find it remarkable, for example, that one of the reasons the clergy sexual abuse scandal was hidden for so long was the belief on the part of the hierarchy that it had the right to treat such incidents as matters for internal investigation and discipline rather than referral to the state for criminal prosecution.

  55. Does any of this sound familiar … The Catholic Church wanting it both ways isn’t just in this country but all over the world. This report out of Germany last Spring should be read with the knowledge that Germany was preparing for a visit from their fellow-German Pope

    “Paedophile priest scandals in Germany contributed to a 40-percent rise in the number of Catholics leaving the Church last year, a report said …

    Based on figures from 24 out of Germany’s 27 dioceses, 180,000 Catholics terminated their membership, more than 50,000 more than in 2009, the Die Zeit weekly’s religious supplement Christ und Welt said.

    Since early 2010 and in common with other countries, Germany has been hit by revelations that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in institutions, all but a handful run by the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Church has said it failed to investigate properly claims of abuse and that in some cases there was a cover-up, with paedophile priests simply moved elsewhere instead of being disciplined and reported to the police.

    It has also faced accusations of foot-dragging on reparations for victims, most of whom suffered their abuse several decades ago, too long ago for criminal charges to be brought.”

    “The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.” – Dave Barry

  56. Blouise,

    Be sure to step outside their machete swing, grab their wrist and make a circle. When they are down on the ground (and they will go down, flipping in a spectacular manner), kick them in the naughty bits and elsewhere while still holding on to the weapon hand. They’ll give up soon enough.

    Or just shoot them.

    Or maybe a good spray from a can of machete repellent.

    I’m just sayin’ . . . :D

  57. As for the mercy of the RCC, am reminded of the decision made in who to kill when fighting the Cathars: “Kill them all. Let God sort them out.”

    As far as we know, (again it’s the victors who writed history), they weren’t heritics. Just a competing religion.

    Someone mentioned the “tyranny of the majority”. How is that countered?

  58. Any religious belief whose chief concern is the sexuality of their flock is to be questioned. There are so many more vile sins that humans commit, that the focus on sex seems peculiar. The only explanation is that sexual sins and their punishment don’t offend the powers that be, who seem immune from scrutiny. Were the RCC deal with the real sins of humanity, they would step on the toes of the powerful, on whom they depend for their existence. For the RCC this has been so since they kowtowed to the Sun Worshiper Constantine I, at the Council of Nicaea in 320CE. This is not a sin in which only the RCC has guilt, every religious establishment has acted in the same way towards the use of sexuality as the standard of immorality. Were all religious people to pay heed to understanding the actual wisdom of their prophets, perhaps the world would be a better place. Perhaps?

  59. Concisely put. Encourages imitation or….
    “Any religious belief whose chief concern is the sexuality of their flock is to be questioned.”

    Forced to be a contrarian (improving on yours is impossible), I’ll only refer that that includes those who are or were positively inclined to these concerns. Draw the line yourselves. But they could at least be applauded for being closer to the biological imperative, at any rate.

    I would rather conclude that organized advice on life in moral terms is suspect in my eyes. Although I may respect the content, the form of ensuring conformity is damaging……in many ways.

  60. PLEASE allow a off-thread post about an info site which seems worthwhile:

    This issue of the blog seems especially worthwhile on a number of issues.
    One “suspicion-less drug testing” for welfare recipients (federal) interested me. It is a Congressional Research Service report for members and staff of Congress. And for us too thanks to this blog, as public requests are reportedly denied.

    But check it out, it’s all from DoD IG new program on follow up of classification review, to Mil drones in our airspace, to almost you-name-it.
    I mean secrecy follows everything today.
    There’s even a full-length book linked on it for federal guidance, including views on Wikileaks, and how to counter these and “counseling” of the media, etc.

    Have fun.
    Hope some read it already.

  61. I707,

    There is a great deal of information you posted….. did you see the opt piece that the House is attempting to take away unemployment benefits and is also going to make it easier for governmental agencies, political subdivisions… hence school districts to file paperwork to eliminate contracts of work and established pensions benefits….

  62. Often when I find myself in debate with people I normally agree with or when I generally find myself at an impasse, it helps to further analyze and explore the premises upon which I’ve been leaning on.

    I made sure not to put the beliefs and practices of the Catholic church on trial. Since all religion is a-rational it matters not how unreasonable a particular belief may appear for purpose of legal analysis. It is simply to be treated as a neutral variable in the equation. Further, the prior bad acts of the Catholic church are also irrelevant per the issue of whether a state mandate is overreaching on religion X.

    With that bias aside the issue quickly turns into a litmus test; i.e. does the legislation secularize a particular tenet of the religion. The answer is clearly yes.

    What I failed to sufficiently take into account earlier was best laid out by Mike Appleton; i.e. the contractual angle.

    Yes it’s true that the legislation mandates the secularization of a particular tenet of the religion; but the religion has also entered a contract with the government. Since contracts require the element of consideration, this for that, a religion that has entered into a particular contract with the state must abide by that contract and deal in good faith per any foreseeable conflicts arising under the contract.

    Since Mike Appleton aptly described how the situation should be handled, I won’t repeat what he already said here.

    I will add this. In re-assessing my argument, I realized that my intuition to object was so strong because I was reacting to the same pattern of conduct by the Obama administration that I previously objected to in the Health Care debate. Good intentions do not necessitate good law; nor are they justification for exercising power beyond right. Just as I saw the Health Care legislation as a blatant abuse of the commerce clause and complete disregard for federalism, I saw the same disregard for the free exercise clause in this debate.

    And that’s my two cents.

  63. Bob,

    While I agree with Mike’s statements regarding contracting remedies in regard to Medicare/Medicaid payments as part of a solution, I still don’t think it addresses the RCC’s duties as a multi-cultural employer. “Just as I saw the Health Care legislation as a blatant abuse of the commerce clause and complete disregard for federalism, I saw the same disregard for the free exercise clause in this debate.” No, Bob. The free exercise clause was not disregarded. You and I just think the line is drawn in different places regarding individuals and organizations, but it wasn’t disregarded. Free exercise is an intensely personal right that, to me, extends even within an organization. Many practitioners of many faiths don’t buy the institutional dogma line lock, stock and barrel (including Catholics on the issue of contraception but you don’t see mass excommunications for it), but rather have an amalgam of beliefs and attend services where they feel their amalgam has the best fit. These people are employees too. I see the contracts only solution as incomplete regarding employees rights to free exercise. That is the disagreement. But free exercise has not been disregarded.

  64. AY

    Every time I get the Secrecy email with the blog link is kinda overwhelming.
    Reading the email is just like a menu of evil. And we all know both who the villains and the victims are. It’s only the torture methods and how long it takes which is unknown. Shakespearian? Perhaps.

    Glad that my burden is shared out now.

  65. AY

    Thanks for the interest.
    So far from Gene H and Bob it would appear to have been wasted time.
    Will try again on more appropriate post.
    One where the effects of political maneuvering counts for more than various juridical precedents merits. Not that they are passé, just that there is not where the bedbugs are sucking our blood.

    Where are you Mike S. and Blouise, when I need help getting attention to what is being done to our nation in SECRET.

    See link in previous post in which case; or go to

  66. i707,

    If I don’t get to it soon, I’ll get to it next time you mention it. This is usually kind of a busy week for me and while I can juggle quite a few objects, I do indeed have an upper limit. This week meatspace is trumping cyberspace.

  67. Gene: “No, Bob. The free exercise clause was not disregarded. You and I just think the line is drawn in different places regarding individuals and organizations, but it wasn’t disregarded. Free exercise is an intensely personal right that, to me, extends even within an organization.”

    Intensely personal?

    Tell that to Kennedy and SCOTUS:

    “Petitioner Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. (Church), is a not for profit corporation organized under Florida law in 1973. The Church and its congregants practice the Santeria religion.”

    Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (91-948), 508 U.S. 520 (1993)

  68. Gene H.

    Thanks for the note. Good humpin’.

    The spook I see, are y’all listening, is that what they do to the welfare clients, is only a test run on what they will do to us in the far too near future.

    “OK”, says the black clad man**, looking at his workup sheet for you, “Has citizen NNNNN done his community service this week, including the truth sendout terminals?, etc,etc.

    (**they’re always black clad nowadays, have you noticed?)

  69. Bob,

    To which I have to say, “So what?” To me, that only points to the distinction between a church and public commercial endeavor even more. Lukumi Babalu Aye points to legislation specifically designed to suppress Santaria church services even though it was on its face neutrally worded and that determination was made based on the specifics of the case as related to the legislative history behind the laws regarding disposal of animal carcasses and animal slaughter for anything other than food purposes. Intent was a huge part in determining that the legislation – although neutral on its face – was actually an impermissible attack on a specific religion. Are you suggesting that this is the case with this issue? That the mandating of contraception coverage is a plot specifically designed to attack the Catholic Church and materially interfere with their free exercise within the Church proper? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, Bob.

    In the issue at hand churches proper are exempt from the provision requirements in this instance. A hospital still isn’t a church no matter who owns it. If churches were not exempted and the mandate was for use rather than provision of option? We’d be on the same page. But they aren’t and it isn’t.

  70. “…they’re always black clad nowadays, have you noticed?” -idealist707


    Careful about judging those who wear black. ;-)

    There’s a joke that I like:

    Male employee from the Midwest to his NY editor/boss: Do you always wear black?

    Her reply: Until they come up with something darker.

  71. anon nurse,
    I will repeat Blouise, but in reference to your joke—-am still absorbing. Duh.
    Not implying she is dumb, but that I am.

    As for black clad, it seems that many have that color in common.
    Is it death that is the unifyiing factor?
    When do the generals and congress embrace it?

    I told AY that just reading the email menu overwhelms me.

  72. Well, so much for that “Prince of Peace” guy.

    Not according to the RCC Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, Bishop R. Walker Nickless. He wants us to “violently oppose” birth control.

    You know, the power of evil is going to try any way that it can to get a hook into our world and the values that we hold as so dear and so important to us believing people. And the power of evil—the devil—can certainly look—is looking everywhere to find places where they can—where the power of evil can make a difference. To tear us apart, to get us to just look at the worldly values and forget about—you know, that there’s something more important than the values of the world. And that’s why we’ve got to stand up and violently oppose this. We cannot let darkness overshadow us. We’ve got to be men and women who proclaim the light, and we’ve got to tell the truth, and we’ve got to be transparent, and we’ve got to say that government cannot do this to us.

    Contraception is the work of Ol’ Scratch. Who knew? Pedophilia, not so much, apparently. Another thing. The Bishop ought to work on his split infinitives.

    Via Right Wing Watch:

  73. Anon nurse,

    Thank you, I have so missed Jon Stewart. We in Europe are often dismissed at his own site with “you guys didn’t help us enough…….so you don’t get to see Jon tonight.”
    I mean we Swedes, the others, I’m still Amurkan, sent 6 jets (I almost wrote 6 jests) to help you in Libya. Doesn’t that get us a few JS shows?

    His moment of rage at the Nazi slippery slope allegory was wonderful to see.

    Now if i were a benign dictator, he’d be all you could view…..
    And the Fox program…….unspeakable.

    Those things that call themselves human, really are in the same class as a certain billionaire and his foundation, only smaller in scale. Sorry, that’s what you are doing, paying peanuts as Lady Bountiful, buying yourself a nice elegy. In the meanwhile, we have to deal with these idiots reaching a guaranteed audience through Fox. I mean it is self-selection; it is Saturday night at the bingo hall. A preacher’s delight; and a politicians too.

    Btw, who carries Jon?
    Nuf rant for now.

  74. OS,

    Violent opposition in the name of an RCC God is OK.
    Violent opposition in the name of Allah is not OK.
    I mean fair is fair. When do those proposing to sacrifice their lives as well as their alter boys, get their own Guantanamo? They sure can’t share one with Muslims. Or with women for that matter.

    How about Buddha, and the millions of gods on Africa, India, and the multifarious shrinal gods of Japan. Practically every vacant lot has one in Kyoto. When can they qualify as incitement to enemy combatants?

    Just to show how ridiculous (and serious) it is.
    If I do a rant on Boehner and some pophead hears me and nails Boehner, do we qualify for the big league?

    Something says yes.

  75. US bishops plan aggressive expansion of birth-control battle
    By Stephanie Simon
    Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:19pm EST

    Feb 14 (Reuters) – Catholic bishops, energized by a battle over contraception funding, are planning an aggressive campaign to rally Americans against a long list of government measures which they say intrude on religious liberty.

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to work with other religious groups, including evangelical Christians, on an election-year public relations campaign that may include TV and radio ads, social media marketing and a push for pastors and priests to raise the subject from the pulpit.

    “We want to make it something that will get peoples’ attention,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.

  76. Gene: “To which I have to say, “So what?””

    Again…you said:

    Gene: “No, Bob. The free exercise clause was not disregarded. You and I just think the line is drawn in different places regarding individuals and organizations, but it wasn’t disregarded. Free exercise is an intensely personal right that, to me, extends even within an organization.”


    Gene: “Giving a corporation, and make no mistake about it – the RCC is a corporation, free exercise rights? Is insane. Just as insane as CU. Do you realize the hornet’s nest you’re trying to kick here?”

    To which I said…

    Tell that to Kennedy and SCOTUS:

    “Petitioner Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. (Church), is a not for profit corporation organized under Florida law in 1973. The Church and its congregants practice the Santeria religion.”

    Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (91-948), 508 U.S. 520 (1993)

    And after pointing out that ‘the Catholic church, Inc.’ would have standing to assert a right of free exercise, as clearly necessitated by the mere existence of Lukimi, you said…

    “Are you suggesting that …the mandating of contraception coverage is a plot specifically designed to attack the Catholic Church and materially interfere with their free exercise within the Church proper?”

    Not for nothing, but that’s so insulting that I think you owe me an apology.

  77. Bob,

    I owe you an apology because you took a case for illustration that has materially different facts and questioned its application to the current scenario?

    Eh, not gonna happen. It’s a valid question.

    I think that the Lukumi case is materially different in that the church proper was the issue and statutes in question had a legislative history that showed intent to discriminate against the church proper, not a public commercial enterprise owned by the church. If the Lukumi Church opened a day care center as a public commercial venture and a statute prevented sacrificing animals around children for purely health and safety reasons, would you still argue free exercise for the church? Or valid secular purpose?

    That a church can incorporate doesn’t make corporate form its salient and defining feature when it comes to free exercise. Foremost, it’s a place of worship. A hospital isn’t a place of worship. It’s a hospital. The church itself in this instance is not being required to provide coverage, but its ancillary businesses are. Business that employ and serve people of other denominations. Again, if the churches proper were not exempt? I’d have a problem with this. But a church owned business is not a church. It’s a business.

  78. OS: The Bishop ought to work on his split infinitives.

    “And that’s why we’ve got to stand up and violently oppose this.”

    Not that I normally bother consciously keeping track of infinitives, but wasn’t the preposition ‘to’ claimed by the verb ‘stand up’ leaving ‘violently’ as a normal adverb modifying the verb ‘oppose’?

  79. Gene,

    Is the right of free exercise intensely personal?

    No. No it’s not. Period.

    The Catholic institution, i.e. a corporate form, has free exercise rights.

    Now if you’re going to raise the objection that a Catholic hospital does not have standing to raise a free exercise right,

    We’re not dealing with the issue of whether a Catholic hospital would have standing to raise the right, you’ll have to completely extricate it from the Catholic institution proper. This is about as likely as you separating the predicate ‘unmarried’ from the term ‘bachelor.’

    Further, you’d be contradicting yourself when you said:

    “Free exercise is an intensely personal right that, to me, extends even within an organization.”

  80. Bad post corrected:


    Is the right of free exercise intensely personal?

    No. No it’s not. Period.

    The Catholic institution, i.e. a corporate form, has free exercise rights.

    Now if you’re going to raise the objection that a Catholic hospital does not have standing to raise a free exercise right, you’ll have to completely extricate it from the Catholic institution proper. This is about as likely as you separating the predicate ‘unmarried’ from the term ‘bachelor.’

    Further, you’d be contradicting yourself when you said:

    “Free exercise is an intensely personal right that, to me, extends even within an organization.”

  81. Bob,

    How does an incorporated church having a free exercise claim render moot or lessen the individuals right of free exercise and how that relates to employ and availing themselves of commercial public services?

    It doesn’t. You’re expanding corporate personality as bad as CU if you want to ignore the individual’s claims or render them inferior to a corporate claim. And I know you’re not for expanded corporate personality.

    “Now if you’re going to raise the objection that a Catholic hospital does not have standing to raise a free exercise right, you’ll have to completely extricate it from the Catholic institution proper. This is about as likely as you separating the predicate ‘unmarried’ from the term ‘bachelor.’”

    Not at all. A subsidiary is not a parent and in the purpose of a corporation is germane to it’s function and relationship to the law. That’s why it’s spelled out in the charter. The purpose of a church is not the same purpose as a hospital.

  82. Bob,

    Do you think the people who work for religious colleges, hospitals, etc., have to accept the fact that the government will allow them to be treated differently from people who work for non-religious colleges, hospitals, etc.?
    Should churches be allowed to disregard child labor laws or any other laws that protect workers?

    What do you think about the argument that David Boies made?

  83. The end result of all this squabble will find those ideologue Bishops more and more removed from their flocks. They are largely ignored anyway.

    Anyone who has even a glimmer of understanding of the principles of social psychology can predict the outcome. As the Bishops become more and more strident, they will find their power diminishing as they are increasingly ignored. Then they will wonder why they are functionally impotent with regard to motivating the flock. An ever-diminishing flock; as their influence diminishes, their irrelevance increases.

    Law of unintended consequences at work.

  84. Otteray,

    I agree. The bishops’ mindset and intransigence and the church’s position on contraception–along with the clergy abuse scandal–are reasons why so many people like me have left the church…and decided never to return.

  85. Gene: “How does an incorporated church having a free exercise claim render moot or lessen the individuals right of free exercise and how that relates to employ and availing themselves of commercial public services?”

    Where did that come from? I never said anything like that; much less understand what you said.

    Gene: “You’re expanding corporate personality as bad as CU if you want to ignore the individual’s claims or render them inferior to a corporate claim.”

    What the f’ Gene? Where are you getting this crap? You simply said that the right of free exercise is intensely personal and didn’t apply to the corporate form and I showed with Lukumi that you were categorically wrong.

    Please stop attributing these secondary and tertiary arguments of yours to me.

  86. Bob,

    “Where did that come from? I never said anything like that; much less understand what you said.”

    You didn’t ask that question. I did. If you don’t want to answer it, that’s fine.

    “What the f’ Gene? Where are you getting this crap? You simply said that the right of free exercise is intensely personal and didn’t apply to the corporate form and I showed with Lukumi that you were categorically wrong.”

    I’m not arguing that point, Bob. I’m arguing that when you are arguing the corporate angle for free exercise beyond the church proper and into an ancillary public commercial enterprise then you are expanding corporate personality.

    These aren’t secondary or tertiary arguments attributed to you. They are counters and/or questions built upon your reasoning. They’re my statements and/or questions to you.

    You’re getting a little grumpy. Have you checked your sugar recently?

  87. Idealist, you are probably familiar with a slogan making the rounds: “They only call it class war when we fight back.”

    The Bishops really want to be careful who they pick fights with these days. Women have gotten the idea, somehow, that they are equal to men. Uppity, some might say, but there you are. How are the old gobblers running the RCC going to keep them in line if they control whether they get pregnant or not. They did not get the memo that women are not supposed to have fun.

    Somebody said the other day that if altar boys could get pregnant, then abortion would be a sacrament.

  88. Elaine: “Should churches be allowed to disregard child labor laws or any other laws that protect workers?”

    No, no I don’t. Are there any child labor laws that conflict with the tenets of the Catholic church? I don’t think so, and if not, how is this an appropriate analogy?

    Elaine: “What do you think about the argument that David Boies made?”

    Let me begin by stating that David Boies is the same idiot who failed to raise the justiciability objection in Bush v. Gore

    “Bush v. Gore obviously attracted enormous public and media attention. Yet, one crucial aspect of the case was largely overlooked: justiciability. For all of the discussion about the decision, no one seemed to pay much attention to whether the Court properly had the legal authority to hear the case. Most likely, this is because justiciability doctrines are complicated and unfamiliar to the public. Perhaps, too, this is because neither of the parties raised justiciability issues in their briefs. This, however, does not excuse the Court’s failure to raise it, because it is firmly established that justiciability issues are jurisdictional, and courts are to raise them even if the parties do not. See, e.g., Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750-52 (1984); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498 (1975).” BUSH V. GORE WAS NOT JUSTICIABLE, Erwin Chemerinsky, 76 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1093 June, 2001

    Thanks to the incompetence of Mr. Boies, a cadre of five SCOTUS Justices led by his Lordship Scalia were able to appoint a president much like the Catholic church appoints a pope.

    Having gotten that off my chest, let me further state that I find Lawrence O’Donnell to be the most insufferable liberal I’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to. The man is a veritable contradiction of good smart liberals, like Rachel Maddow.

    Note how at the 1:50 mark of the video he makes the claims that this is all about labor law and that the Catholic contraception issue only came about in the 20th century.

    Gee, before making a statement like that, don’t you think it would be wise to do a little research first? I’m sure Rachel Maddow would think so. Let’s see what we find on Wikipedia….

    “Prior to the 20th century, contraception was generally condemned by all the major branches of Christianity (the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism)[1] including the major reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin.[2] However, among Christian denominations today there is a large variety of positions towards contraception.”

    “The Catholic Church has been opposed to contraception for as far back as one can historically trace.[3][4] Many early Catholic Church Fathers made statements condemning the use of contraception including John Chrysostom, Jerome, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus of Rome, Augustine of Hippo and various others.[5][6][7] Among the condemnations is one by Jerome which refers to an apparent oral form of contraception: “Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception.”[8] The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that all sex acts must be both unitive and procreative.[9] In addition to condemning use of artificial birth control as intrinsically evil,[10] non-procreative sex acts such as mutual masturbation and anal sex are ruled out as ways to avoid pregnancy.”

    So getting back to your question Elaine, I’ve had little respect for David Boies since f’ing up Bush v. Gore and I have even less respect for Lawrence O’Donnell.

    That aside, as I stated at the beginning, I don’t think any of the examples the two of them provided were of laws that directly contradicted a particular tenet of a religion.

    Do I find the idea that an entire religion should bow down to the edicts from a man in a funny hat? You bet; but that’s part and parcel of the Catholic religion.

    Nonetheless, as I stated before, “Since all religion is a-rational it matters not how unreasonable a particular belief may appear for purpose of legal analysis. It is simply to be treated as a neutral variable in the equation. … With that bias aside the issue quickly turns into a litmus test; i.e. does the legislation secularize a particular tenet of the religion. The answer is clearly yes.”

    Where the argument goes from there is anyone’s guess.

  89. How about the Klan? They claim to be a religion-like structure. They even have crosses, robes, and pointy hats kinda like the Pope.

    Suppose they start a hospital or nursing home. Get some Federal funds in the form of Medicare/Medicaid and Hill-Burton money.

    Along comes a gentleman of color asking for services. Sticking to their deeply held moral beliefs and teachings, the man of color is turned away, since they regard him as an inferior being no better than a dog. In their view, they are running a hospital, not a veterinary clinic.

    Then the bad ol’ Feds tell them to get with the program because they have Federal laws to obey that violate their belief system. So they go looking for a lawyer. Reckon Bob, Esq. is available?

  90. Lottakatz,

    I forgot to thank you for that example you posted last night.

    If neither side was willing to budge, then the result seemed logical; did it not?

  91. OS,

    The day the Klan gets federal funds for a hospital it runs as a religion is the day I take your example seriously.

    I’m more interested in your take on my comment regarding the alleged split infinitive.

  92. SR: Do I find the idea that an entire religion should bow down to the edicts from a man in a funny hat [absurd]? You bet; but that’s part and parcel of the Catholic religion.

  93. Bob, you picked up on a throwaway joke instead of the real meat of my comment. That is my take on it.

    Several bloggers around the intertoobz are all over the story. They seem to “get it.” Kaili Joy Gray (aka Angry Mouse) has a good take on it. She is one among many.

    As a matter of fact, I am becoming bored with the whole argument, which dances all around the real issue of a religious organization running a totally secular non-religious public company, and expect it to be treated like a church.

  94. OS,

    I find it surprising that a man with an ear for such subtle and rarely objected to (alleged) errors in grammar could be so deaf when it comes to the subtleties of law.

  95. Bob, there are a lot of lawyers here who are more in agreement with me than with you. I know that law is not a matter of polls, except with juries. Take it for whatever it is worth.

    Where polls do matter is the ballot box, and things will go, hopefully, in a progressive rather than retrogressive direction this November.

  96. Bob,

    “Are there any child labor laws that conflict with the tenets of the Catholic church? I don’t think so, and if not, how is this an appropriate analogy?”

    I’m looking at the big picture. One can extrapolate. If the government caves on this issue, doesn’t it open the floodgates? What about religions that forbid blood transfusions? What about Christian Scientists? How many religions are there? Should we look only at the Catholic Church in our discussion of this issue?

  97. Gene, SwM, et al.

    As I said earlier, those guys with crosses, robes and pointy hats are becoming more and more irrelevant.

    Just like after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, those other guys with crosses, robes and pointy hats became more irrelevant than they were already.

  98. OS,

    I couldn’t care less how many lawyers agree with you; I care only about the argument.

    Per the Bishop, what did you expect from a man who follows the edicts of the men in funny hats:

    In issuing Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI relied on the Minority Papal Commission Report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control. The Minority report argued that: “One can find no period of history, no document of the church, no theological school, scarcely one Catholic theologian, who ever denied that contraception was always seriously evil. The teaching of the Church in this matter is absolutely constant. Until the present century this teaching was peacefully possessed by all other Christians, whether Orthodox or Anglican or Protestant. The Orthodox retain this as common teaching today.”

    Your bias against the Catholic church and its man in a funny hat is duly noted. Nonetheless, the law is a search for process; not for what we ‘feel’ would be a just result.

  99. Elaine: “I’m looking at the big picture. One can extrapolate. If the government caves on this issue, doesn’t it open the floodgates? What about religions that forbid blood transfusions? What about Christian Scientists? How many religions are there? Should we look only at the Catholic Church in our discussion of this issue?”


    If you look up the cases regarding things like Christian Scientists, you’ll easily extrapolate that deciding this issue does not open the flood gates. My Grandfather, a family doctor, was routinely called into court to testify in matters compelling Christian Scientists to have their children treated so as to avoid death.

    The issue of contraception is not a matter of life or death yet is treated as such by the Catholic religion and has been for a long long time.

    The fact is the Obama administration really f’d up by allowing this to become an issue. The more liberals resist letting this issue go as a battle not worth fighting and admitting they were wrong, the more it will turn into a Vietnam like quagmire favoring the republicans.

    Giving the enemy a point to rally around is just f’n stupid.

  100. Bob,

    “If you look up the cases regarding things like Christian Scientists, you’ll easily extrapolate that deciding this issue does not open the flood gates. My Grandfather, a family doctor, was routinely called into court to testify in matters compelling Christian Scientists to have their children treated so as to avoid death.”

    We’re not discussing the medical treatment of children. We’re talking about religious organizations and the health insurance they will be required to provide to their workers. If one believes the Catholic Church is correct on this “moral conscience” issue–wouldn’t it follow that other religions could claim the same for their religions and their longstanding “medical issues?”

  101. Bob, in the edict, the Pope ignored the overwhelming recommendation of those appointed to advise him and took the position of the minority of theologians.

    I could care less about the teachings of the RCC, except when they try to control the lives of non-RCC citizens. Then it becomes personal.

  102. Elaine, I was answering Bob’s question, in which he asked, “Am I the only one here……”

    Yep, looks like he is the only one here, with the possible exception of ‘those who shall remain nameless.”

  103. OS,

    Sorry but you spoke too soon. While I wouldn’t go so far as call O’Donnell a blowhard of the same caliber as Rush, I’m certainly not a fan.

  104. You are most welcome, Bob.

    Just callin’ em’ likes I sees ’em before seein’ if Raylan can help Dewey out of his fix.

  105. I think it’s time to post one of my original poems about Rush Limbaugh that I wrote about three years ago:

    Winnie the Pooh-Bah and the Hundred Acre Wood
    (With apologies to A. A. Milne)

    He lives in the forest
    But he can’t see the trees.
    He suffers from
    Far right optical disease.

    He looks at things his way—
    And not as they are.
    This Winnie Pooh-Bah reigns
    As GOP Czar.

    He sits on his wooden throne,
    An old oak stump…
    And talks into his microphone.
    He likes to harrumph

    About the feminazis,
    Liberals and their kin.
    And for one Know-Nothing?
    He can make an awful din.

    He blathers and he blusters
    And he bloviates.
    He’s the pope of the radio.
    He pontificates.

    He’s the GOP prophet,
    Its spokesperson divine.
    Its senators and congressman
    Must toe his party line.

    They all must pledge allegiance.
    They must grovel at his feet…
    And like a flock of dittoheads
    Must follow him and bleat.

    The Tiggers and the Piglets
    And all the little Roos
    Consider this plump Pooh-Bah
    Their one official Muse.

    The heffalumps and jagulars,
    The foxes, deer, and pheasant
    Have all left the forest
    ’Cause they find his noise unpleasant.

    He spouts and he sputters
    In the Hundred Acre Wood—
    This lord who wears a crown beneath
    His snowy white hood.

  106. Gene, I think the difference is that Lawrence does not make up stuff out of whole cloth, whereas Rush lies and revels in his lies.

    As for style, you cannot be the host of a political teevee show unless you have some bombast. It is for that reason I miss Aaron Brown on CNN–and Arron’s laid back and quiet demeanor was exactly why he was fired. And replaced with the likes of Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace.

  107. Elaine: “What about religions that forbid blood transfusions? What about Christian Scientists?”

    You asked about the floodgates being opened by a ruling in favor of the Catholic church on this issue and I provided the classic example of religion over-reaching into health care, i.e. the Christian Scientist parents denying life saving care to their children and then go on to distinguish it from non life/death issues like birth control and you say…

    Elaine: “We’re not discussing the medical treatment of children. We’re talking about religious organizations and the health insurance they will be required to provide to their workers.”

    That’s not how you originally framed your question Elaine. You brought up a parade of horribles to ‘extrapolate’ your point, and I showed that the Court has dealt with such issues in the past; thus raining on your parade.

    There is a triable issue of fact here; whereas Gene thinks the Fed will prevail, I think SCOTUS would rule in favor of the Catholic church.

    Regardless, this is an issue that no smart liberal should be fighting. It’s political quicksand favoring right wing band wagon jumpers like Santorum.

  108. “I think the difference is that Lawrence does not make up stuff out of whole cloth”

    I see, so when Mr. O’Donnell claims that the Catholic contraception issue only came about in the 20th century, he’s not making shit up as he goes along?

    Oh the blinders…

  109. Bob, I have no idea. I believe Lawrence is an Irish Catholic, so you might ask him. I don’t keep up with the details of religious organizations other than my own.

  110. Bob,

    I wrote: “I’m looking at the big picture. One can extrapolate. If the government caves on this issue, doesn’t it open the floodgates? What about religions that forbid blood transfusions? What about Christian Scientists? How many religions are there? Should we look only at the Catholic Church in our discussion of this issue?”

    I wrote the above taking into consideration the context of this discussion. If the Catholic Church isn’t required to provide insurance coverage for drugs or medical treatments that are in opposition to its religious tenets/moral conscience–wouldn’t the same hold true for other religions?

  111. Elaine, so true. Gene does not care for LO, but that is probably more due to taste than substance. As I see it, the only similarities between Rush and Lawrence are that they are both male, white and talk loud. After that, the similarities end.

    At the moment, my preferred teevee talk show host is Dr. Maddow. Smart, witty and on point. You do not get a doctorate from Oxford unless you have something going for you in the brains department.

  112. OS,

    That’s exactly my issue with LO. It’s a style over substance for certain. Too much bombast in news just annoys the Hell out of me, but not nearly as much as that lying hate-monger Rush does. You can’t even laughingly call what that clown does news. It’s pure propaganda. But as far as newsmen go, even KO’s bombast gets to me sometimes, but he’s really good at cutting the edge down with humor and he is a genuinely funny guy (which doesn’t hurt). I’m a bit like Det. Joe Friday when comes to news preference: “Just the facts, ma’am.”

  113. Gene, I agree on KO. However, lesbian or not, you have to admit that Rachael is a lot easier on the eyes than the whole lot of the rest of the talking heads. And she doesn’t try to outshout her guests, which helps a lot.

  114. I like Maddow just fine, OS. She’s not only prettier than Keith, but as you allude to, she’s very low bombast and the quality of the writing and research on the show is excellent. I can’t say I watch her on a regular basis, but I catch her once or twice a week. I get much of my news from various spiders I have scraping the Internet. I really prefer to read news. My first love – before I discovered girls smell really good – was the printed page. Even though a screen has replaced the page for news, a man never forgets his first love.

  115. Gene I am with you on that. I hardly watch the “television machine” any more. Also dislike those news stories on sites like CNN and MSNBC that, instead of putting the text up, want you to watch a video. Usually with an advertisement at the beginning. I read fast. Watching somebody read stuff to me is slow. My ADD kicks into overdrive with TV news.

    I read somewhere that Rachael does not even own a TV. Good for her.

  116. OS,

    Yeah, the commercials thing drives me nuts too. That’s one of things I used to like about Huff Po – videos almost never had an add unless they were from Hulu. Since AOL bought HP? Not only does almost every video force a commercial, but they’ve started using these annoy “slide down” ads that automatically open when you go to a section and a lot of stories just start playing the video whether you want to see it or not. They still aren’t a bad aggregator, but their original writing has always been suspect and their editorial control and ad policies have gone right in the toilet since the sale. I regularly catch grammar and language errors there that make me want to pull my hair out. Especially the misused words. For example, you don’t “dissect somebody alive”. You “vivisect somebody alive”. I’m just glad my spiders take in a lot of direct news service feeds from groups like AP and Reuters so I can bypass all the fluff and poor quality the MSM deems fit to foist upon us.

  117. Bob,

    I do not care to watch Lawrence O’Donnell at all … I find him to be too often careless with his facts, overly emotional, and I simply don’t care for his style.

    I keep putting off watching my recording of Justified in order to catch up on this discussion.

    Talk with you later.

    By the way … your discussion with Gene has been very educational and I have really enjoyed following it. I get your point and find validity in it, though it is somewhat Jesuit, if you know what I mean.

  118. id707,

    I’ve read FAS’ main site before and check it out periodically, but the Security Blog was a section I had never hit before. Very interesting. Thanks for the links.

  119. Bob,

    The validity I mentioned has nothing to do with my personal views on the Catholic hierarchies position on birth control and their congregations’ snub of said position.

    What little I know about “Free Exercise” – religious beliefs, not religious practices etc. are fairly well summed up on this site: (I give you the site so that you and Gene may look at it and tell me whether or not what is written there is reliable information for a layperson.)

    It is from that information that I took the following and thus see the validity to your position that today’s Supreme Court would most likely rule against the government:

    In 2004, the Supreme Court in Locke v Davey considered the reach of Lukumi Babalu in a case involving a Washington State scholarship program for gifted students. The program allowed students receiving a state scholarship to pursue any major, with one exception: a degree in devotional theology. When Joshua Davey, a scholarship recipient, was denied funding to pursue a theology program at Northwest, a private religious college, he sued, alleging that Washington had violated his Free Exercise right. Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for a 7 to 2 majority, found that the Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause, read together, offered enough “play in the joints” to allow Washington to exclude a major in devotional theology, “a religious calling” as much as “an academic pursuit,” from the list of endeavors it will support with taxpayer funds. Justices Scalia and Thomas disagreed, finding the exclusion to be a clear violation of Free Exercise principles laid down in Lukumi Babalu.

  120. That last long paragraph was taken from the site cited and should have been enclosed with quotation marks. I plead lateness of the hour.

  121. US bishops plan aggressive expansion of birth-control battle
    By Stephanie Simon
    Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:19pm EST

    Obama agreed to modify the mandate a bit, so that religious employers wouldn’t have to pay for contraceptive coverage directly. That satisfied some Catholic groups, but the bishops were not mollified. They want the mandate repealed altogether.

    And now, they are aiming higher still, lobbying Congress to enact a law that would let any employer opt out of covering any medical treatment he disagreed with as a matter of his personal faith.

    So, for instance, a pizzeria owner who objected to childhood vaccinations on religious grounds would be able to request an insurance plan that did not cover them, in effect overriding a federal requirement that vaccinations be provided free with any health-insurance plan.

    Leaving coverage decisions up to each employers’ conscience might create chaos in the marketplace, “but chaos is sometimes the price you pay for freedom,” said Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who is backing the bishops whole-heartedly.

    Democrats, who control the Senate, are likely to block any bill with such broad opt-out provisions.

    But supporters, including prominent Republicans, say they will keep pushing for the change, which fits into a wider theme of defending individual freedoms against government intrusion which is expected to play prominently in the November election.


    Along with the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals stands ready to contribute money and manpower to the bishops’ campaign, said Galen Carey, an association vice president.

    The group is also considering the unprecedented step of asking pastors of every evangelical denomination across the country to read their congregations an open letter protesting the contraception mandate as an assault on religious liberty.

  122. Editorial
    Obama’s contraception compromise
    The accommodation on insurance coverage takes all parties’ priorities into account, and Catholic bishops should accept it.,0,1654630.story?track=rss

    The continued wrangling between the Obama administration and the Roman Catholic Church over federally mandated insurance coverage for family planning services illustrates another reason why employer-provided health insurance is a less than optimal model. It seems wrong to require employers to provide coverage they find morally reprehensible, but equally wrong to let them make moral decisions for employees.

    President Obama is offering a compromise that takes into account the priorities of all concerned. Religiously affiliated employers — largely Catholic hospitals, schools and universities — would not have to pay for contraceptive coverage, but employees who want the coverage could request it, and the insurance company would provide it without raising the cost of their premiums. The insurance industry has accepted the solution because it’s less expensive to pay for family planning than for pregnancies.

    Some Catholic groups have praised the compromise, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to object that this interferes with religious rights. Its previous objection was that faith-based groups should not have to pay for services that conflict with their religious beliefs; now that the cost issue has been eliminated, it’s unclear in what way their rights would be violated. Further, the bishops want legislation passed to give all employers the right to deny coverage that conflicts not just with their religious convictions but with moral ones as well.

    It follows logically that if faith-related organizations are allowed exemptions from insurance mandates based on their beliefs, so should other employers. And yet this is the best argument for exempting no one. There might be employers whose convictions include the belief that overpopulation is a moral evil; should they be allowed to deny maternity coverage? And what about the rights of employees, most of whom pay a portion of their premiums? Why don’t their moral beliefs come into play?

  123. A woman Senator (a Democrat) in Virginia introduced an amendment to the bill that would require men to get a cardiac stress test and rectal exam of the prostate before getting a prescription for an ED drug. It was voted down of course, but not before she made her point. A point that was ignored as a “stunt” by the hard-right wingnuts.

  124. Contraception objections fail Catholic’s moral reasoning
    By David Gibson, Religion News Service
    USA Today

    When President Obama last week bowed to political reality and changed the rules on mandated contraception coverage, the White House was trying to find an elegant solution to a political conundrum. Under the revised plan, insurance companies — not faith-based institutions — would arrange for the coverage and pay for it.

    The president’s plan meant that religious employers — mainly Catholic universities, hospitals and social service agencies — would not be involved in paying for or administering something they deem sinful: contraception. At the same time, all employees would still have access to the same contraception benefit, no matter whom they work for.

    Critics of the president’s plan, however, didn’t see it that way.

    “Dangerous and insulting,” a group of leading Catholic bishops wrote to their fellow churchmen. “A cheap accounting trick,” Robert P. George, Mary Ann Glendon and several other leading culture warriors complained in an open letter that has generated more than 100 signers.

    The “compromise,” said New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, “asks the parties involved to compromise their reasoning faculties and play a game of ‘let’s pretend’ instead.”

    Yet that “game,” as Douthat put it, is actually a venerable tradition in Catholic moral theology that for centuries has provided a way for Christians to think about acting virtuously in a fallen world.

    ‘Cooperation with evil’

    The category of moral reasoning is called “cooperation with evil.” The term “evil” isn’t as ominous as it sounds, but rather is shorthand used by moral theologians to describe anything sinful.

    A classic example of cooperating with evil: A servant who ferries love letters to his master’s mistress is not personally culpable because he himself is not committing adultery and does not intend to promote adultery, but must keep his job to feed and raise his family.

    A more contemporary example involves whether a Catholic can vote for a politician — like, say, Barack Obama— who supports abortion rights.

    In 2004, a year before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told U.S. bishops that a Catholic voter would be unfit to receive Communion if he or she voted for a candidate “precisely because” of that candidate’s support of abortion or euthanasia.

    But, he added: “When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

    “Remote material cooperation” is also the issue in the contraception coverage debate.

    ‘Formal’ vs. ‘material’ cooperation

    The distinctions start with two basic types of cooperation:

    • “Formal” cooperation means that you agree with the sinful action being performed by someone else. Put another way, your “intention” is the same as the person doing the evil deed. In the church’s eyes, that is always and everywhere morally wrong.

    • The contraception battle, like most ethical dilemmas, is more focused on “material” cooperation. This means you neither approve of an action nor want it to occur, so you take steps to separate yourself as much as possible from the action.

    That is what the Obama administration has tried to do for Catholic employers by requiring insurance companies (rather than Catholic employers) to pay for the contraceptive coverage and to contract separately with the individual employees who might want that coverage. The Catholic employer has no involvement or knowledge of the separate contract for contraceptive coverage between the employee and the insurer.

    ‘Immediate’ vs. ‘mediate’ material cooperation

    There’s also a second distinction, between “immediate” and “mediate” material cooperation.

    “Immediate” cooperation means that the action of both the wrongdoer and the person aiding the wrongdoer are the same. It is as if the servant was committing adultery on his master’s behalf, or if the Catholic institution were providing the contraceptive insurance and paying for it.

    That is not the case under the revised contraception mandate. Rather, the involvement of the Catholic institution here is “mediated” because contraceptive coverage is provided at several steps removed from the institution.

    And that leads to the final element of this type of moral reasoning, which is distance. Under traditional Catholic thinking, Catholic employers whose insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage to employees at no cost to the employee or the institution, and without the institution’s involvement, are engaged in what is called “remote material cooperation” — a perfectly legitimate way for a Catholic individual or organization to function in a sinful world.

    “In fact, unless you live in a monastery that doesn’t have investments, it’s unlikely you are innocent of remote material cooperation with something the church condemns,” Matthew Boudway, an editor at Commonweal, a lay-run Catholic periodical, wrote on the magazine’s blog.

    “Nor does the church condemn you for this; it asks only that you be as conscious of these entanglements as you can be, that you minimize them whenever possible, and that you be sure they really are offset by a greater good.”

    Competing greater goods

    In the contraception battle, the greater good for the bishops is universal health care, which has been a longtime priority for the hierarchy, as long as it does not involve illicit moral compromises. For others, the greater good might be providing women with contraceptive coverage and using greater access to birth control to reduce the number of abortions.

    Some critics of the administration’s “accommodation” for faith-based employers argue that the distance between a Catholic (or other religious) employer is deceptive on two counts.

    One, they say that the organization’s health insurance company will simply pass on the cost of the contraceptive coverage to the religious institution in the form of higher premiums, so the institution will in effect be paying for contraceptive coverage. But studies show that providing coverage for birth control actually saves insurers money (pregnancies and abortions cost more than contraceptives) and it is at least revenue neutral. So there are no costs to pass on.

    The second objection is that the faith-based institution will be sending its money to an insurance company that provides objectionable coverage, and so the religious group’s dollars will still be subsidizing a sinful practice.

    One response is that health care premiums do not “belong” to the institution but are actually part of an employee’s compensation, like their paycheck. Just as an employer deducts withholding for taxes, it is sending the employee’s money to a health insurance company for coverage. An employer has no control or culpability if an employee buys condoms with either her paycheck or her insurance plan.

    In addition, insurance works by pooling risk and premium dollars, and anyone who buys a policy from an insurance company is indirectly paying for the birth control — or chemotherapy or Viagra or heart bypass surgery — of other clients of that company, just as those clients indirectly pay for treatments you will need.

    As Boudway put it: “It is very difficult, not to say impossible, to avoid remote material cooperation with evil in a complex modern economy. … If one does business with a company that offers its employees insurance that covers contraception, that, too, is remote material cooperation with evil (though the cooperation is more remote).”

    ‘Moral Theology 101’

    In fact, the insurance issue at this level is akin to someone objecting that their tax dollars go to the Defense Department or for food stamps or something else they might object to in principle. But people still have to pay taxes, and the Catholic Church and other religious organizations have done that without much protest throughout history.

    “This is Moral Theology 101,” said one moral theologian who, like several others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of angering the hierarchy on such a sensitive topic.

    “I do not think the bishops and their advisers have thought all the way through the entire bundle of values at stake,” said another. “The bishops do not seem to be able to take yes for an answer.”

  125. If anyone can think of a better reason for single payer public insurance, such as Medicare/Medicaid, I cannot imagine what it might be.

    There are doctors who support the public option, but are opposed to the Obama administration plan; i.e., “Obamacare.”

    A group called ‘Fifty medical doctors against Obamacare’ is asking the SCOTUS to strike down the administration plan so it will pave the way for a public insurance plan.

    “Fifty medical doctors who favor a single payer health insurance system today urged the US Supreme Court to strike down the individual mandate.

    In a brief filed with the Court, the fifty doctors and two non-profit groups – Single Payer Action and It’s Our Economy – said that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate is unconstitutional.

    The individual mandate is the provision of the ACA that requires Americans to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies if they do not otherwise have coverage.

    The doctors are challenging the government’s claim that the individual mandate is necessary to reach Congress’ goal of universal coverage.

    “The court should decide the constitutionality of the individual mandate based on the best available evidence,” said attorney Oliver Hall.

    “That’s why it is so important that these medical doctors provide the court with the information in their brief, which demonstrates that Congress can address the United States’ healthcare crisis by adopting a single payer system.”

  126. In birth control fight, Catholic bishops take hard stance on Viagra

    According to the Catholic Church, birth control is “intrinsically evil” and requiring insurance companies to cover it is a “grave moral concern.” But a man’s right to take magical hard-on pills, like Viagra, and to have them covered by his insurance? Why, that’s sacred:

    The answer on Viagra coverage is usually yes, Catholic leaders say. And they argue that’s neither hypocritical nor sexist.

    Procreation is something the Catholic church encourages. And Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs can be of help.

    Ohhhhhhh. So when Bob Dole started shilling for Viagra at the age of 75, obviously, it was because he was concerned about men not being able to impregnate their wives, right? That’s why all the ads you see for erectile dysfunction medication feature sad young childless couples who just want to be able to procreate, as the Catholic Church dictates. Right? It has nothing to do with old men who can’t get it up and apparently can’t figure out how to please their partners in a non-insert-penis-somewhere way. Or they just don’t care.

    But don’t worry. The Catholic Church is on to those few men out there who are considering taking the pill for non-procreative purposes:

    Still, Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops tells me that many Catholic-based health plans are now adding caveats that such drugs “should be prescribed for a medically identifiable problem to prevent wide abuse.”

    So Catholic-based health plans warn patients that they should only be taking hard-on pills for the serious “problem” of not being able to get it up to make babies and not for the dirty, sinful problem of just wanting to get laid. Here’s your magic pill, sir, but please remember, it’s for baby-making only. Wink wink.

    After all, that’s the only not-sinful reason to have sex, isn’t it? Just ask poster child for Catholic sharia law Rick Santorum. He’ll tell you why he wants to take away contraception, even from married couples, because it just lets them enjoy sex, and God knows how wrong that is:

    It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen.

    Yes. How things are “supposed to be.” Everyone knows sex is only supposed to be between a married man and a woman who want to have babies. Or, you know, between a priest and an altar boy.

  127. OS,
    While I am a big fan of single payer, killing the individual mandate will not pave the way for single payer. The opposite will happen. If Obamacare is approved, it will be the beginning of the end for insurance companies and they know it. Once Obamacare takes hold, the jump to single payer will be easier.
    The Church loves it when men can get erections and impregnate their wives. Does that mean that they will outlaw Viagra for Bishops and priests and married men?

  128. Catholic Voters Break With Church Over Contraception Coverage | Catholic voters are breaking with the Church’s opposition to insurance coverage of contraception, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds. Sixty-five percent of voters — including a majority of Catholics — “said they supported the Obama administration’s requirement that health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control, and 59 percent, said the health insurance plans of religiously affiliated employers should cover the cost of birth control.” A Public Policy Polling survey conducted on Friday similarly found that 57 percent of Catholic voters — and 59 percent of Catholic women — support the requirement. Under the administration’s policy, “women who work for institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities can obtain birth control from their insurance company without a co-pay, but their employers don’t have to include contraception in their healthcare plans.”

  129. Elaine,

    I knew you’d find that eventually…. there is a whole discussion on the net about this very hypocrisy…..

  130. raff sez: “The Church loves it when men can get erections and impregnate their wives. Does that mean that they will outlaw Viagra for Bishops and priests and married men?”


    Now that made me LOL. We all know the answer to that.

    I am not a supporter of the stance of the fifty doctors group, but see their point. They want to increase the pressure on the administration and congress to actually–you know–do something. They are hoping that if the rug is pulled out from under the mandate requirement, then the government will be forced to do what it should have done in the first place. I don’t think they are counting on the combined facts of the congress being intransigent and Obama’s innate tendency to try and get along with everyone.

    Did you know that Max Baucus had two of those fifty doctors arrested? Max should not let the doorknob hit him in the butt on his way out.

    Where is this guy? He ought to run for President.

  131. Elaine, as far back as 1938, FDR said that, contrary to stories being spread by the GOP, he did NOT have grilled millionaire for breakfast every morning.

  132. Amendment Would Take Us ‘Back to Medical Dark Ages’
    By Elizabeth Harrington
    February 14, 2012

    On Tuesday, the Democratic senators blasted the Blunt amendment as being too vague, saying it would lead to any employer to deny coverage for any moral reason, and for being unrelated to the highway bill.

    “In 2012, I stand here in complete amazement that in a country known for its medical breakthroughs and advancements, Republicans would have us go back to the medical dark ages,” said Sen. Boxer.

    “This is an attack by the men’s club here who say they want to decide what’s best for women in this country,” said Sen. Lautenberg, who criticized the amendment’s 19 male cosponsors and only one female cosponsor, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), calling it the “malegarchy.”

    “The GOP agenda gives women one option: barefoot and pregnant,” Sen. Lautenberg said. “It’s time to tell the Republicans to mind their own business.”

    Blunt introduced the amendment to virtually rescind the controversial Health and Human Services mandate.

    “This is about the First Amendment. It’s about religious beliefs. It’s not about any one issue,” said Sen. Blunt in floor statements when he attempted to introduce the amendment on Feb. 9.

    “This bill would just simply say that those health care providers don’t have to follow that mandate if it violates their faith principles, and whether it’s faith principles that are part of a health care delivery system that could be through any number of different faith groups – and I’ve talked to a lot of them,” he said.

    “The Blunt Amendment is nothing to do with religion,” said Sen. Boxer after the press conference. “It says that anybody in this country who has a conviction that they shouldn’t have to provide chemotherapy to children, HIV/cancer screening, breast cancer screening, birth control, anything they decide they oppose on a moral ground, they don’t have to do it.”

    “This amendment will allow any employer, a barber, a banker, a multi-national corporation to be given an exemption to not cover contraception or any essential preventative benefit for any religious or moral reason,” said Sen. Murray.

    “Now, I didn’t just misspeak, that’s exactly what this amendment does,” she continued. “And we didn’t just magically go back 50 years in time when limitations on women’s access to contraception like this were commonplace. But make no mistake. That amendment will take us back there.”

    Murray called Blunt’s amendment “extreme” and “dangerous.”

    The Democratic senators handed out a press release from the liberal National Women’s Law Center, which claims the amendment will create loopholes that employers can exploit.

    The press release lists hypothetical health services that the group alleges will be curtailed if the Blunt amendment is adopted. For example, “An insurer could refuse to provide coverage of any health care service to an interracial couple because of a religious or moral objection to such relationships,” claims the law center, and “An employer could refuse to cover screening for Type 2 Diabetes in its plan because of a religious or moral objection to a perceived unhealthy lifestyle.”

  133. Blouise,

    So you see Kennedy as the swing vote? So do I; which is why I think it will swing toward the Catholic church. Although I do think Mike Appleton had a point; i.e. that a religious institution can contract away a tenet of the religion as quickly as the pope can create one.

    And btw, thank you for that reality check on Lawrence O’Donnell.

  134. Elaine: “If the Catholic Church isn’t required to provide insurance coverage for drugs or medical treatments that are in opposition to its religious tenets/moral conscience–wouldn’t the same hold true for other religions?”

    See my comments about contracting away tenets of a religion above.

  135. Republican Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will convene a hearing tomorrow, “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

    The lead witness is the Most Reverend William E. Lori, Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. Judging from Lori and the rest of the witness list, it’s obvious that Issa has posed what he considers to be a rhetorical question and lined up nine like-minded rhetoricians to answer it anyway. None of the religious groups supportive of the Obama administration will be heard from.
    Continue Reading

  136. Much of the moral argument on this issue reminds me of the debate in the ’60s on the notion of “selective objection” in the context of the war in Vietnam. The argument was that if one determines through a good faith evaluation of the just war doctrine that a particular war is immoral, freedom of conscience requires that one be excused from participation in that war despite the fact that one is not a conscientious objector in the traditional sense, i.e., morally opposed to all war. The government wouldn’t buy that position.

    With regard to U.S. bishops and moral theology, the following queries come to mind:

    1. When a Catholic hospital accepts payments from an insurance company which it knows offers contraception coverage among its insurance products, is the hospital materially cooperating with acts deemed immoral?

    2. Is the answer to the foregoing question affected by the amount of revenue realized by the insurance company from the sale of contraception coverage?

    3. May a Catholic hospital morally grant staff privileges to physicians whom it knows provide contraception counseling and prescriptions to patients in their private practice?

  137. rafflaw,

    Do you remember when the RCC forbade Catholics from eating meat on Fridays?


    Catholics told to abstain from eating meat on Fridays.
    Practising Catholics will no longer be permitted to eat meat on Fridays after the Church in England and Wales announced it was reintroducing a rule dating back, hundreds of years.
    By Martin Evans
    14 May 2011

    Traditionally members of the Roman Catholic faith abstained from eating red meat on Fridays as part of a penance to mark the day of Christ’s death.

    But in 1984 the rules were relaxed allowing Catholics to choose a different form of penance, such as offering up extra prayers or attending Mass.

    As a result, the abstention of eating meat on Fridays, fell out of favour with many Catholics, who now generally only observe the rule on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

    However following a decision made at the Bishops’ Spring Conference this week, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, announced a return to the traditional method of penance every Friday.

    Catholics are therefore being asked to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays, while vegetarians are being advised to abstain from another sort of food that day.

    The rule change is to come into effect on Friday 16 September, to mark the first anniversary of the visit to Britain of Pope Benedict XVI

    Archbishop Nicholls said the decision had been taken after noting how seriously Catholics had been observing Lent in recent years, when their faith requires them to make some form of sacrifice.

    He said he hoped it would provide Catholics with a common sense of purpose and unity whereby they could reflect on the sacrifice made by Christ.

    He said: “Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord.”

    He added: The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness.

    “It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.”

  138. Excerpts from “Timeline: The Pill”:

    July 25: Pope Paul VI reveals his decision on the Pill in an encyclical titled Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life). To the dismay of Catholics around the world — and ignoring the recommendations of the Papal commission on birth control — the Pope states unequivocally that the Church remains opposed to all forms of birth control except the rhythm method.

    Catholic Americans make their own decisions about birth control. In spite of Church doctrine, two-thirds of all Catholic women are using contraceptives, and 28% of them are on the Pill.

    In spite of the Pope’s ruling against the Pill and birth control, almost 80% of American Catholic women use contraceptives, and only 29% of American priests believe it is intrinsically immoral.

  139. Bob,

    “So you see Kennedy as the swing vote? ”

    Yes and I see Scalia and Thomas as the driving forces. I’m not certain that there is “a play in the joints” in this matter that Chief Justice Rehnquist saw in Locke v Davey.

    What is very interesting, however, is that this particular “religious belief and or practice” seems to be neither held nor followed by the majority of the rank and file in the American arm of the Roman Catholic Church. Also, this particular issue could become moot at the drop of a hat should one man, the Pope, decide to do so as has been the case in so many other Catholic “religious beliefs and practices” … meatless Fridays and Mass only in Latin come to mind as just two of the many. That is also part and parcel of their historic fact sheet.

    The Bishops lost this battle over contraception years ago within their own congregations and compounded that loss when they permitted their priests to establish sex-without-procreation rape-rooms on Church properties all over the world including the United States.

    It would be a very interesting case if the Bishops could frame it keeping out all the realities of their actual practices.

  140. SwM and others,

    Thanks for the tip on Rachelmaddowshow, which SwM gave a link leading to discussion of you-know-what. I’ve been like off the TV teat for a couple of years now.

    Her talking head dialogue with the pundit in Washington as to the whys of why Pubs are talking up a losing issue, can you guess?…..waked an old thought to life. Long intro.

    It kind of confirms the suspicion I got from looking at the Pub candidates this year, and this loser issue now seems to confirm. (Trumpets and flourishes)

    The Republicans want to loooooooose (pronounced lose) the race.

    They don’t want to be the ones steering when the world goes into the next (inevitable, as they are supporting it) biggggg DEPRESSION. Hoover failed for them once.

    And besides, it’s easier to get support for draconian measures when your shooting against the ones in “power”.

    Just remember George knew this when he put up the boogy man Al Qaeda to put fear in us. “Anything George, just let us go on spending…..”

    Just maybe it’s true. In the meanwhile they get more space in Congress to disable Obama. Smart!!!

  141. One gets into questions of infallibility with the Human Vitae encyclical. It makes it harder to change. The meat on Fridays and the latin mass fall into a different category. I wonder what Mike A thinks about the infallibility question. Is it infallible or quasi infallible or not at all?

  142. SwM,
    How did you fall into that hole?
    Are we back in 200CE discussing the difference between JC and God the Father?
    Let’s get back to politics and religious steering of public policy.
    For me the bishops have noted a positive trend for SuperPAC spending thanks for SCOTUS, and decided the time was ripe for them to recover from the alter boy scandal, using this issue. To the devil with what our parishioners think (we’ve always ignored that). We are here to……..????

  143. SM:

    Although Catholic teaching on contraception represents theological consensus, it has not been decreed to represent infallible truth. Regardless of what one reads, a determination of infallibility is a rare event. There are many doctrines, but few dogmas. Therefore, one may disagree (other than for frivolous reasons) without losing one’s standing in the Church. The phrase “quasi infallible” would have no more meaning than “quasi pregnant.”

    BTW, the belief that life begins at conception is not a matter of dogma.

  144. SwM,

    I know but … the matter in law is the Free Exercise Clause – “religious beliefs and practices” … whether those beliefs and practices are grounded on the doctrine of infallibility or the Church’s Code of Canon Law is a theological debate for Catholics only.

  145. Since this is a policy discussion, I would add that the abortion/contraception controversy won’t be resolved by simply arguing over when life begins. For purposes of the law, the proper question is at what stage of development should living tissue be accorded legal status as a human being? The Court in Roe v. Wade, which virtually no one has actually read, specifically declined to address that issue.

  146. Mike Appleton,

    Look to the “Personhood” legislation being introduced through many of the States legislatures for that particular choob … if you ken that.

  147. From Catholics for Choice:

    Library – Catholicism
    Women, Reproductive Rights and the Catholic Church
    Rosemary Radford Ruether
    May 2006

    Roman Catholic Christianity has a problem with women. This problem is deeply rooted in its history, in its assumptions about gender and sexuality. The foundational thinker of Latin Christianity, St. Augustine, in the late fourth and early fifth centuries established certain assumptions that still plague Catholicism. Although Augustine acknowledged that women possessed the image of God and were redeemable, he believed that as feminae or females they were created by God from the beginning to be under male subjugation. Women’s disproportionate guilt for the fall of humanity into sin, rooted in women’s disobedience to their subordination, meant that women could only be redeemed by accepting a redoubled subjugation to the male, even coercively so. For Augustine the female could never represent God. Maleness was the appropriate image of rationality and spirituality, while the feminine represented the body and the material world.

    Augustine’s view of women was worsened by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century by the appropriation of Aristotle’s view of gender. For Aristotle and Aquinas, women were intrinsically inferior, being produced biologically as incomplete human beings. This meant that women could never represent normative humanity. For this reason Christ had to be a male in order to represent normative humanness. This also meant that women could not be ordained, since they could not represent Christ. Women were also excluded from leadership roles. They lacked autonomous humanness and thus had to be always under male authority.

    Augustine’s view of woman was complicated by his view of sex and reproduction. In the original state of innocence humans would have procreated without concupiscence or sexual pleasure. The fall into sin distorted human sexuality, making every sexual act concupiscent. This meant that every sexual act was objectively sinful, although this was forgiven or allowed within marriage for the sake of producing children. But sex even within marriage, if the reproductive effects of the sexual act were impeded, was sinful or “mere fornication.” This view made any form of birth control sinful and is the basis of Catholic teaching on birth control still today.

    These views of women and sexuality have been challenged by modern feminism. In the late 19th and 20th centuries women began to struggle to win the vote, civil and political rights, higher education and access to professional employment. Catholicism was hostile to feminism, arguing in the 1920s against women’s suffrage. Women’s place was in the home, Catholic bishops argued, and their female nature would be debased by such rough masculine activities as voting. In 1930 Pope Pius XI condemned women’s emancipation as undermining the divinely founded obedience of the wife to her husband and a false deflection from her true and sole role as mother and homemaker. [1]

    Once women won the vote, however, Catholic bishops in the US and elsewhere moved quickly to organize Catholic women to oppose liberalism, socialism and feminism. Officially recognized Catholic women’s groups, such as the National Council of Catholic Women, campaigned against birth control, divorce, child labor laws and the Equal Rights Amendment. The earlier view of women as inferior, incomplete human beings was replaced by complementarity. Women were defined as having a different nature from that of men. Women, it was claimed, were “naturally” more spiritual, moral and loving than men, but they maintained this feminine nature only by remaining in their traditional roles in the home.

    In the pontificate of John XXIII there was some embrace of liberalism. Particularly in the encyclical Pacem in Terris it was said that women had the right to equal inclusion in all the rights of the human person in society and entrance into public life, work and politics. In what sounded like a surprising endorsement of feminism, the encyclical said, “Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons.” [2]

    But the battle of the Catholic hierarchy with movements for women’s rights was far from over. In the late 1960s the renewed feminist movement added a demand for reproductive rights—for sex education, birth control and legal abortion—to its quest for equal education, employment and political participation. Some Catholic women also began to argue for women’s ordination. Thus traditional Catholic views on women’s gender roles and on sexuality and reproduction became joined.

    This struggle was precipitated by changes in Protestant teachings on these subjects. In the Reformation, Protestants had accepted the traditional views that women could not be ordained, that their role was in the home and that sex was restricted to marriage. Birth control was not allowed. Some Protestants began to ordain women in the second half of the 19th century, but the most rapid change in this practice came in the 1960s, when most Protestants in Europe and the US began to ordain women. In 1976 American Episcopalians accepted women’s ordination.

    In the late 19th century conservative Protestants had crusaded against contraception in the US, even making advocacy of birth control a crime. The struggle to legalize birth control and make it accessible was taken up by Margaret Sanger in the 1920s. By the 1930s, mainstream Protestantism began to change its teaching on birth control. In 1930 the Anglican churches, meeting at the Lambeth conference, tentatively endorsed it in some cases, and they more fully endorsed it in 1958. Catholicism responded by making opposition to artificial contraception the centerpiece of its teaching on marriage, although it conceded something to the demand for family planning by allowing the “rhythm method.”

    By the 1960s criticism of the rhythm method was growing in Catholic circles as couples experienced its psychological stresses and frequent failure. Books criticizing the Catholic teaching on birth control were circulated at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). [3] Pope Paul VI, wishing to exclude this topic from the council, formed a separate Birth Control Commission in 1964. This commission included not just bishops, priests and theologians, but also demographers, doctors and lay representatives of the Catholic Family Movement. Pat and Patty Crowley, representatives of the USCFM, brought a collection of testimonies from their members on why the rhythm method was stressful and not conducive to good family life.

    The result of the consultations of the commission from 1964 to 1967 was an overwhelming majority vote in favor of allowing any method of birth control that was medically safe, within marriage committed to having (some) children. A few dissenting theologians and bishops were horrified by this result and issued their own report, which they gave to the pope, urging him to accept it, rather than the official report. They argued that any change in the Church’s teaching would undermine the laity’s belief in the inerrancy of official Catholic teaching. [4]

    In July 1968, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, reiterating the traditional Catholic teaching against birth control. However, the tacit consensus in favor of this teaching had been broken. Moral theologians and pastors openly dissented from it. Most Catholic laity decided they could ignore it. Catholic practice, especially in the US and Western Europe, began to approximate that of Protestants, 98% of US Catholic women having used contraceptives and 72% believing one could use them and still be a good Catholic.

    Many Catholic bishops, sensing that the birth control debate was lost, began to focus instead on the prohibition of abortion. Abortion had been traditionally rejected by Catholic teachings, although earlier views did not define abortion as murder in the early months. Medieval scholasticism did not define the fetus as a full human person until the fourth month. This was based on the Aristotelian view that the soul was the form of the body, and so one could not have the presence of the human soul until the body had developed to its human physical form—a view still held by Islam. The Declaration of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 unsettled this view, since it suggested that Mary’s soul was present from the first moment of conception. But commentary at the time noted that this was a special privilege of Mary and did not apply to other conceptions. The 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion said that there was no unanimous agreement on the moment of ensoulment, although abortion was forbidden in all circumstances. [5]

  148. ” For purposes of the law, the proper question is at what stage of development should living tissue be accorded legal status as a human being? The Court in Roe v. Wade, which virtually no one has actually read, specifically declined to address that issue.”

    True that. It really only defines the woman’s right to privacy and the threshold of viability as it relates to abortion.

  149. The contraceptive kerfuffle
    by Gene Lyons

    For the record, the priest who married my wife and me in 1967 advised us that we could in good faith practice birth control. He reasoned that as Pope Paul VI was then preparing an encyclical regarding faith and sexuality, young Catholics could reasonably assume that church dogma regarding contraception would soon change to reflect contemporary realities: specifically that a couple intending to bring children into their marriage might legitimately seek to do so in their own time.

    A university chaplain, he no doubt understood how the combination of Rome’s authoritarianism and theological nit-picking tended to drive educated young people from the church. Anyway, everybody knows how that worked out. Next came Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 doubling down on the church’s blanket condemnation of artificial means of birth control — a blast from the medieval past as most American Catholics now see it.

    “Vatican Roulette,” we called it, and like the vast majority, declined to play. Surveys have shown that approximately 13% of the faithful agree with the Roman Catholic Church’s categorical ban on birth control; a mere two percent actually practice what the bishops preach. For most, it isn’t a serious personal issue. Sure, Your Grace, whatever.

    For that matter, birth rates are declining in Catholic countries around the world. And a blessing it is, if poverty and human dignity concern you.

    Until the US Conference of Bishops recently got crosswise with the Obama administration, even the church rarely emphasized the contraceptive issue. So at first, I was mainly struck by the sheer quaintness of it all. (As, evidently, were many Catholic universities and hospitals quietly complying with state laws mandating contraceptive coverage.) The bishops’ indignant fulminations about their wounded consciences put me in mind of the hilarious production number in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life,” with its chorus of impoverished Catholic urchins singing: “Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.”

    Coarse jokes about priests, altar boys and contraception virtually wrote themselves. I’ll spare you. But while we’re at it, let’s light a candle for Sinead O’Connor, an eccentric woman in combat boots with a shaven head, who tore up the Pope’s photo on “Saturday Night Live” in 1992 to protest clerical sexual abuse of children in her native Ireland — wrecking her U.S. career to make a point entirely lost upon most viewers at the time.

    In a bankruptcy proceeding last week, the diocese of Milwaukee listed 8000 claims of sexual abuse among its liabilities. I’m with Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce, who writes that the great contraceptive kerfuffle with the Obama administration represents a fairly obvious power play by “the institutional American church to regain the power and influence in the secular government that it lost when it was exposed to be a multigenerational conspiracy to obstruct justice.”

    If the reader detects bitterness, that’s an error of tone. The best priest I know is prone to remind his parishioners that the church is not God; rather, it’s a human institution, prone to sin and error. Recently watching him bless four little girls who carried alms to the altar, I was moved to think how humble, hard-working priests like him are also victims of the church hierarchy’s grave moral failure.

    So you’d think they’d be a bit more modest in their rhetoric, the bishops. Particularly in anything touching upon human sexuality. This may be the place to say that I speak for nobody but myself. Not for Irish Catholics, Catholics in the South, Catholics Who Raise Fleckvieh Simmental Cows, nor even for my wife.

    Her issue is how easily rich people are granted marriage annulments. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s marriage was declared null and void after 24 years and three children because — get this — he’d entered it with reservations. Specifically, he never intended to quit “dating.” (Evidently a family tradition.) Never mind that Kennedy’s ex-wife Joan agreed. Mine found it sickening, a patent end-run around the church’s unwillingness to countenance divorce.

    For that matter, a couple of bishops attended Newt Gingrich’s third wedding. So don’t tell me they couldn’t find a way to accommodate President Obama’s downright Jesuitical compromise to the effect that Catholic hospitals don’t have to offer employees contraceptive care, but their insurance companies do. Canon lawyers make distinctions like that one every day.

    Instead, they’ve settled upon a partisan power play to subvert the First Amendment rights they claim. Look, nobody’s forced to use contraceptives; it’s an individual’s choice, nobody else’s. Religious organizations have the right to believe anything they like, but not to impose those beliefs upon others. By essentially demanding a Catholic veto, the bishops and their GOP allies would impose their theological views upon millions of American women as a condition of employment.

    That’s not “liberty,” it’s liberty’s opposite; and precisely what the First Amendment was written to prevent.

  150. However, that being said, the only meaningful definition for the purposes of law and society has to come with some attachment to viability because 1) its a logical extrapolation of Wade‘s narrower ruling and 2) non-viable (i.e. dead) beings don’t really have rights other than testamentary rights (and a “person” who was never viable in the first place would not have property to dispose of).

  151. “True that. It really only defines the woman’s right to privacy and the threshold of viability as it relates to abortion.” (Gene)

    Which, I think, given the present state of our scientific understanding, is exactly right. A woman’s right to privacy under the law is as far as the government should go … and it is enough.

  152. Blouise and SwM,
    MA should know the doctrine of “once impugned, twice guilty”—–as to his theological and legal merits.

    “quasi-infallible” being equally meritous to “quasi-pregnant”.
    You know the former is false when the ladies vote with their bodies.
    And the latter when your body says; “Yoo-hoo. Guess what?”

    And the bishops are against the post-coitum alternative because some little sucker might have swam fast and won the brass ring.

  153. Blouise,

    I agree. The privacy issue is paramount, especially in light of what I said about the rights of the non-viable/dead. Of all the rights recognized and protected by the Constitution under precedent that I wish the Founders had addressed specifically in the document to minimize the “wiggle room”, privacy has to be at the top of that list. I’m pretty sure if Madison, Adams and Jefferson had known the Information Age was coming, they’d have given a lot more thought to the issue of privacy.

  154. Gene H.

    I know you were talking to Blouise, but:
    The FF’s didn’t need the horrors of our age to know human failings.
    They certainly were acutely aware that we could condemn for witchcraft or whatever on the “proof” of your choice of colors and the wart on your nose.
    Not faulting them however. 200 years of subversion is difficult to out-guess.

    Is it true that Jefferson said we’d need a new revolution every 20 years?

  155. Gene,

    “I wish the Founders had addressed specifically in the document to minimize the “wiggle room”, privacy has to be at the top of that list.”

    I have often thought about that very thing but, and this may be the reason … let’s try to write a Privacy Clause now and see how far we get with it.

  156. id707,

    Join in … see if you can draft a privacy clause … after all, it’s not too late … we still have the Amendment procedure.

  157. id707,

    “The FF’s didn’t need the horrors of our age to know human failings.”

    True, and I think they did a remarkable job, but neither did they have an inkling of how technology would amplify those failings and their potential costs.

    As to Jefferson, it was something like that. :D It was in the same letter as one of his most famous quotes. He said in a letter to William Smith, dated November 13, 1787, “God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. [. . .] [W]hat country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”

  158. Blouise,

    I have an article I’m considering for this weekend that will (probably) touch upon that very issue. A guaranteed right to privacy needs to be very carefully worded or their can be some interesting unintended consequences.

  159. idealist,

    Since you liked the piece by Gene Lyons, I thought you might like the following one by Charles Pierce:

    “United” Catholics in the Prism of Beltway Power
    By Charles P. Pierce

    In case you missed it, and God be praised if you did, yesterday’s Meet The Press was a nightmarish mishmash of Beltway smugness, Beltway ignorance, and Beltway clownishness. The peak probably came when David Gregory held up a sweater vest and had a good giggle with Rick Santorum, and have I mentioned recently what a dick he is? Santorum, that is, not Gregory, but, then again…

    Prior to that, Gregory interviewed Jack Lew, the White House chief of staff:

    I want to ask you this, I asked Newt Gingrich this last week, why shouldn’t austerity be a centerpiece of what the United States government is about these days given how high the budget deficit is and how much economic uncertainty that fiscal insanity contributes?

    Not enough people are yet suffering out in the country for David Gregory’s liking, and Jack Lew — who used to work for Citigroup, running a hedge-fund that bet against the crap mortgage securities that were at the root of the entire financial meltdown — had to explain to the King of Pain that “austerity” is really not what you want in the middle of a fragile recovery, and he also had to explain to Gregory, politely, and over the entire remainder of his segment, the basic truth of the blog’s fundamental economic philosophy: Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money.

    But it wasn’t until they started talking about lady parts that everything really went off the rails.

    Gregory brought on a panel consisting of Squint Scarborough, E.J. Dionne, and Peggy Noonan, the Madwoman Of Merlot, to discuss developments in the “controversy” over contraception, which the president had attempted to defuse last week by trying to reach an accommodation with creepy celibate authoritarians and their academic enablers. It was generally agreed that the president had made a mistake at the beginning by not recognizing the question of “religious liberty.” The following colloquy ensued:

    MS. NOONAN: That’s what the church thinks. Can I just note, by the way…

    MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

    MS. NOONAN: …as Catholics it was so great for three weeks that we all got along. We were all in agreement.

    MR. DIONNE: Yeah.

    MS. NOONAN: I mean, this is a church that…

    MR. GREGORY: Yeah, exactly.

    MR. DIONNE: President Obama united Catholics.

    MS. NOONAN: Yeah.

    We have to spend some time discussing the phenomenon of the Beltway Papist. Many of them are Catholics-come-lately, courtesy of a priest named John McCloskey, who is a member of Opus Dei and runs what is essentially a conservative Catholic lobbying shop that actually is located on K Street. (It was McCloskey who famously baptized both the late Robert Novak and former Kansas senator Sam Brownback.) I wrote about McCloskey and his operation nine years ago. And then we have the likes of Dionne and Noonan, who are opposites politically, but who apparently believe they speak “for Catholics” because they know the same 30 people and attend the same dinner parties. Consequently, you get the kind of fact-free assertions we see above. Yes, out in the country, Catholics were “united.” By the same kind of overwhelming majority with which they’ve rejected the Church’s stand on birth control for the nearly 50 years, they’d lined up in favor of the president’s position, and against the bishops, before the president came out with his accommodation. Noonan and Dionne simply don’t know what they’re talking about. They see everything through the prism of Beltway power, mistaking the bishops for “the Church,” which, as the council fathers of Vatican II taught us, is the entire people of God, and the people of God have demonstrated, time and time again, that, in their informed consciences, they do not see this as an assault on their religious liberty. They see it simply as a way to make their lives a little easier.

    What this plainly has been is the attempt of the institutional American church to regain the power and influence in the secular government that it lost when it was exposed to be an multigenerational conspiracy to obstruct justice. (It already had moved swiftly, and ruthlessly, against the dissenters within the Church. The best priest I know lost his parish, and had his good name slandered, because his opposition to business-as-usual-while-the-altar-boys-got-raped was too high-profile for the institutional Church’s liking.) This is the best chance they have of doing that, because an entire political party is treating the Catholic bishops as though they were Jesuits hiding from Elizabeth I, because voices of influences are arguing (seriously) that there are First Amendment implications in making the Church choose between contraceptives and tax breaks, and, yes, because a Democratic president, with all the trump cards in his hand, sought to accommodate them by moving off what was an unassailable political position and, in doing so, “recognizing” the legitimacy of a “religious liberty” issue that is all my granny.

    It has been argued that the president has maneuvered the Republicans, and the bishops, into a corner from which they cannot escape. That is only the case if the president mercilessly pressed his advantage on this issue. As long as Santorum, and Dionne, and Gregory get to spout off about “religious liberty” without somebody from the other side pointing out what a crock that argument is, then the political profit alleged to have been gained by this accommodation goes a’glimmering. It must be made clear within our politics that this whole affair has been an affront to the rule of law, an attempt to enshrine the doddering nonsense of Humanae Vitae into our secular lives, and that politicians like Rick Santorum who espouse it are not simply people of good will who disagree, but authoritarian extremists to whom the health of women is less important than the power of clerical bureaucrats in our lives. There is only one person who can make that case stick. We’ll have to see if he decides to do that.

  160. Liberal Catholics challenge bishops on Obama’s contraception rule
    By Dan Gilgoff, Religion Editor

    Washington (CNN) – America’s Catholic bishops have criticized the White House’s mandate for insurers to provide free contraception coverage to employees, but plenty of other Catholic groups have endorsed the plan – some taking swipes at the bishops in the process.

    “The Catholic bishops and their allies in the Republican Party are increasingly isolated,” James Salt, executive director of a liberal group called Catholics United, said in a statement over the weekend supporting the White House’s contraception rule.

    “The bishops’ blanket opposition appears to the serve the interests of a political agenda, not the needs of the American people,” Salt continued, e-mailing his group’s support for the White House to tens of thousands of Catholics nationwide.

    Another Washington-based Catholic operative, John Gehring, e-mailed reporters over the weekend to knock the bishops for criticizing President Barack Obama, even after his administration revised its contraception rule Friday to mandate that insurers – not Catholic institutions – pay for birth control coverage.

    “You have to ask why the bishops can’t take yes for an answer,” wrote Gehring, who works with the progressive group Faith in Public Life.

    On Wednesday, Gehring helped organize a call with reporters to discuss a congressional hearing this week at which some bishops are expected to testify against the contraception rule.

    For the White House and Democratic Party, such expressions of Catholic support have been helpful, providing political ammunition against conservative allegations the administration and party are anti-religion and are at war with the Catholic Church.

    But the support has not come easy. It reflects a years-long campaign by liberal Catholic activists to push back against the leadership of their church on controversial political matters – and years of White House bridge-building with a spectrum of Catholic groups.

    In an election year in which Catholics will constitute one of the nation’s biggest swing voting blocs – and in which the bishops are likely to continue slapping the White House – the political heft of a new generation of progressive Catholic groups and the White House’s Catholic outreach efforts are about to face a huge political test.

    Groups such as Catholics United and Faith in Public Life got off the ground during and just after the 2004 election when a Catholic Democratic presidential nominee – Sen. John Kerry – was hard-pressed to find Catholic support in the face of condemnations from some Catholic bishops over his support for abortion rights.

    Kerry, the first Catholic presidential nominee since John F. Kennedy, wound up losing the Catholic vote to George W. Bush, who made Catholic outreach a priority.

    “For too long, the far right owned the values debate and there were very few progressive and religious groups willing to speak out in specific and strategic moments to help shape that debate,” Catholics United’s Salt said. “But since 2004, there’s been a turnaround.”

    The emergence of progressive Catholic groups such as Catholics United helped Obama handily win the Catholic vote in 2008.

    And such groups provided Catholic support for the president in 2009, when he faced conservative Catholic criticism over his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, and in 2010, when the bishops opposed Obama’s health care law, alleging that it left the door open to taxpayer-funded abortion.

  161. Thank you all. I will continue with my pas-de-deux with myself, exposing my ignorance with each post.

    Such rewards: Gene gives the full text, which in itself proves Jefferson was indeed a genius.
    Blouise invites me to contribute with something other than kibbitzing (my natural character from high school as someone pointed out on the VA killing thread). And Elaine acknowledges with a a new chapter.

    Did you plan this “lets kill him with love”-attack?

  162. Catholic Bishops Join the Culture War on Obama: Margaret Carlson

    I was surprised when the bishops didn’t declare victory last week. Heeding their protests, President Barack Obama relieved Catholic institutions of the indignity of having to pay directly for contraception for their employees.

    In the compromise worked out by the White House, insurance companies would instead provide contraception coverage separately and absorb the cost, which is less than paying for the alternatives.

    Instead of marveling at this miraculous turnaround, the bishops raised holy hell, calling the deal an “outrage” and a “sham.” Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, said it was like letting Catholics have pornography as long as someone else paid for it.

    To borrow a football metaphor, the bishops moved the pearly gates. They want the president to enforce a religious doctrine against artificial birth control that they gave up enforcing long ago.

    I grew up in a devout Catholic family of three children, small for my neighborhood. My father called out numbers at Friday night bingo. My mother delivered starched linens to the sanctuary on Saturday night. But they didn’t take Communion on Sunday morning. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach at every Mass because I was ashamed of them, though I didn’t know what they’d done wrong.

    Despite the misplaced shame, I wanted to be married in the church. By 1972, many priests and most Catholic women had given up on church rules on sexual conduct. When I volunteered at my obligatory pre-wedding confession that I used the pill, the priest said that would no longer deprive me of a state of grace. I said five Hail Mary’s, took Communion and later baptized my daughter at St. Ann’s.
    Good Faith Effort

    Last week, the federal government made a good-faith effort to comply with a religious doctrine that isn’t taken seriously even by many of its most vocal champions. Why do the bishops want to continue this fight? Plenty of Catholics would like to rally around a church still (justly) paying a price for protecting priests who sexually abused children. Despite all, the church continues its commitment to helping the poor and the sick.

    But if the controversy evolves from a conflict over religious prerogatives to one about contraception, the bishops will lose cafeteria Catholics who are accustomed to picking and choosing our doctrines.

    The bishops are being encouraged by the Republican right, which is forever recruiting reinforcements for its culture wars. Rick Santorum, a Catholic with seven children and a wife who, he boasts, properly stays at home with them, outdoes the bishops. He wants no insurance coverage for contraceptives lest we live in a world where the irreligious “impose their values on somebody else.” (Only Santorum’s values should be imposed on somebody else.)

    Newt Gingrich is almost as zealous — or at least pretends to be. A convert to Catholicism, Gingrich’s multiple marriages make a mockery of at least one church doctrine. His destructive politics and personal vitriol pretty much take care of the rest. Obama, Gingrich said, “will wage war on the Catholic Church the morning after he is re-elected.”

    To compete with Santorum and Gingrich, Mitt Romney, the suspect moderate, grows even phonier. Providing “contraceptives, morning-after pills — in other words, abortive pills — and the like at no cost,” he said, “is a violation of conscience.” Yet a similar policy didn’t violate his conscience when he was governor of Massachusetts.

  163. I should have included the following from Margaret Carlson’s Bloomberg article:

    War on President

    To the extent conservative voters support the bishops, it is largely on abortion, not contraception. Evangelical doctrine doesn’t prohibit birth control. If they pursue their current course, the bishops risk looking like allies of the Republicans’ war on all things Obama: health-care reform, big government, fiscal policy and now contraception.

    Balancing the desires of our varied religions without endorsing any one in particular can be messy. Should insurers tailor their policies to conform to Shariah law for Muslim employers? Should reporters at the Christian Science Monitor be deprived of health care in favor of prayer healing? If not, why should Catholic employers be allowed to deprive employees — who pay insurance premiums — of coverage for contraceptives?

    The president has no obligation to yield to the anachronistic, largely unenforced policy of one religion. Americans didn’t leave the Church of England behind only to embrace a Church of the United States as defined by an overreaching Catholic hierarchy. Thank God for that.

  164. SwM,

    re; Their bumper stickers said,”Viva Bush”.

    “This advertisement has been approved……”

    George had heard that double-entendre since he was 13.
    He’d used it many times (ho-ho) himself.
    Now it was his big chance. He seriously expected to be met with it by each local potentate on his campaign rounds. Breaks the ice, you know, he said….

  165. Public backs Obama in birth control fight, poll suggests
    By Olivier Knox

    It’s not even close: By a lopsided margin of 66 percent to 26 percent, Americans support President Barack Obama’s proposal to require private health insurance plans to cover the full cost of birth control for women, according to a new CBS/New York Times public opinion poll.

    Rephrasing the question to ask specifically about “religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university,” barely moved the needle, to 61 percent to 31 percent.

    Those numbers, which come with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, are better for Obama than his numbers on foreign policy (50 percent approve, 36 percent disapprove), Afghanistan in particular (51 percent approve, 36 percent disapprove) and are nearly the mirror image of public opinion on his handling of the federal budget deficit, where he loses 32 percent to 59 percent.

  166. Gene,

    “I have an article I’m considering for this weekend …”

    Okay … I’m hooked … that was pretty sneaky ;)

  167. id707,

    Just wait till the snark starts … you’ll figure you’ve died and gone to heaven.

    We have all been very good this last week or so … it is most unnatural.

  168. raff, I am all in favor of contraception for Republicans. In fact, I am beginning to believe retroactive birth control should be an option for some Republican parents.

  169. They just may go with Santorum and no contraception. There is a Rasmussen poll out tonight that shows Santorum getting 54% if Gingrich drops out.

  170. Gene:

    You’ve piqued my interest as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say. I didn’t know that guest bloggers could do sneak previews.

  171. Blouise,

    Sneak preview please. What’s a snark?

    PS That clause “beliefs and practices” is worrisome loose.Particularly practices.
    I assume that precedents have been set early, not just child labor and health.

  172. Fox Panel: Liberals Support Birth Control To ‘Get Rid Of The Poor’ | Taking the war on birth control to the paranoid extreme, the panel on Fox News’ “The Five” agreed this afternoon that contraception is really scheme of the left to eliminate poor people. Often-sarcastic co-host Greg Gutfeld first floated the idea, saying, “it’s more about getting rid of the poor.” “The right want the poor to get rich, the left want the poor not to exist,” he added. “It’s not a bad point,” former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino chimed in. Co-host Andrea Tantaros added, “Yeah, population control.” “Did you really just say that?” liberal co-host Bob Beckel responded flabbergasted.

  173. TPMDC
    GOPers Only Enraged By Birth Control Rule When Obama’s Pushing It
    Sahil Kapur February 16, 2012

    What do you do if your party’s marching behind an issue that your likely nominee for president has a spotty record on?

    That conundrum faces most congressional Republicans right now. When it comes to their push to reverse the White House’s mandate to expand access to birth control — which they argue violates religious freedom — Mitt Romney’s record is unfortunate. As governor of Massachusetts, he presided over the same policy critics are now assailing President Obama for: obliging most employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control for their female employees, even if the employer belongs to a religion that opposes those services. Indeed, because of the White House’s compromise, which would allow religious nonprofits to opt out of paying the insurer for those services and demand that the insurer offer them to the female employee directly, Romney’s law was arguably even stronger.

    On Wednesday more than two-dozen Republican lawmakers ran into this issue head-on. At a press conference, they fulminated against President Obama’s egregious violation of religious freedom. But none of them would rule out supporting a presidential candidate who had enacted a virtually identical mandate.

    The lawmakers called a press conference rolling out the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NB), a House version of the Roy Blunt bill. It’s aimed at making sure no objecting employer has to cover contraception in their health care plan (although it goes beyond that and lets them omit other services too).

    Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), a GOP leadership member, warned that the mandate will “reach in and manipulate the conscience of Americans.” He accused the President of “trampling precious First Amendment rights.”

    After about 10 of them took turns issuing similar missives against the mandate, while dismissing Obama’s religious accommodation as a gimmick, I put the question to them: Would any of you refuse to support a presidential candidate who enacted a similar mandate?

    There were uncomfortable smiles across the stage. “Somebody else want to do that?” asked Fortenberry, stepping aside from the podium and looking around at his colleagues as they let out a mixture of laughs and groans. A few seconds went by and none volunteered.

    “Would anybody be willing to rule that out?” I pressed.

    “We’re focused on this,” said Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH).

    “The bill before us…” one of her colleagues began, before he was cut off.

    “That’s not the issue,” declared Rep. Jamie Foxx (R-NC) in an indignant tone.

    Fortenberry then took the mic and addressed the question… sort of.

    “This is a legislative initiative that we’re trying to undertake,” he said. “Of course, we’d like our eventual nominee — but this is a bipartisan bill. I mean, I would hope that people who are cosponsors of this bill would urge President Obama to sign this because he has stated that he supports the principles of religious liberty. And so I think he should be comfortable with this measure.”

    The scene illustrates the awkwardness of the GOP going guns-blazing against Obama’s birth control requirement when their likely nominee for President this year codified the same mandate — arguably a broader one — in his Massachusetts health care plan.

  174. 2012: Year of the Woman?
    Katrina vanden Heuvel on February 15, 2012

    The Komen turnaround and the White House’s “miraculous” accommodation on contraception both had the feel of movement victories for women—proof that the Republicans’ War on Women has sparked a potent outrage with political muscle.

    On the heels of the Komen win, President Obama announced that insurance companies would have to pay for contraception coverage when a religious employer objects to providing it. As Nation columnist Katha Pollitt writes, it’s as if the administration “finally noticed that women out-number bishops.”

    But as my inimitable colleague Pollitt also observes, “Women’s health is never just about women’s health, the well-being of the 52 percent of the population that spends around thirty years trying not to get pregnant.”

    Almost on cue, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell announced that the GOP will pursue legislation permitting any employer to deny contraception in their health insurance plans. He said, “The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. This is about freedom of religion.”

    Thank goodness Mitch is there to let women know when we are mistaking religious freedom for contraception.

    And so the War on Women led by Republican men continues to rage. According to the Huffington Post, Republican Senator Roy Blunt is even using a transportation bill to try to amend the Affordable Care Act so that any employer can exclude any aspect of health coverage “by claiming that it violates their religious or moral convictions.” There might be a vote as soon as tomorrow.

  175. Santorum’s War Against Women, Continued
    By Charles P. Pierce

    DES MOINES — There are those of us who have watched the anti-choice movement down through the years who have been a nuisance on the topic that the real target of the anti-choice movement was not necessarily only abortion, but contraception as well, and, beyond that, the federal right to privacy asserted in the seminal Supreme Court decision of Griswold v. Connecticut. Out here in Iowa, Papist nutter Rick Santorum — now accompanied on the campaign trail by the ridiculous Duggar clan, the famous cable-television pullulators — has made this quite clear, over and over again.

    (Note to Ron Paul fans: What Santorum is saying about state laws regarding contraception is precisely the same argument Paul has made, tacitly and openly, about civil liberties in general. He’s vehemently opposed to federal intrusions on civil liberties, but he seems perfectly willing to subcontract the job of abridgements to the several states.)

    This isn’t the first time that Santorum has made his intentions plain:

    [Sex] is supposed to be within marriage. It’s supposed to be for purposes that are yes, conjugal… but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen…. This is special and it needs to be seen as special.

    He also maintained that contraception is “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

    Excuse me? According to whom? You? The former Josef Ratzinger? Your fourth-grade nun? Santorum’s argument is exactly the same — all conjugal relations must be “open to procreation” — rigid, anti-human stupidity that Pope Paul VI made the basis for his now widely ignored encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which did more damage to the relationship between the Catholic laity and the Catholic clergy than anything since the days when people got pissed about selling indulgences. Humanae Vitae is piss-poor theology and worse biology. It made no sense in a religious context. Bringing its logic into secular politics is beyond absurd. It’s extremism, pure and simple. In related news, Rick Santorum today called Ron Paul “disgusting.” I have discovered that, in this Republican campaign, the meanings of many words have become very elastic.

  176. all conjugal relations must be “open to procreation”

    funny, when I meet guys with this internal edict, my urge to merge skeddadles….

  177. id707,

    Snark? Rudely sarcastic, disrespectful; snide … often just plain irritable or irascible.


    My polite snark: “We have all been very good this last week or so … it is most unnatural.

    Your polite snark: “You either wift away a fly, or you swat it.
    And being kindly Jains all, you choose the former.”

    Sometimes we get so deep into it that we fool each other and have to respond with the mea culpa: “I was being sarcastic”

    “beliefs and practices” was my shortcut referring to the following

    “The Supreme Court’s first encounter with a Free Exercise Clause claim came when a Mormon polygamist in the Utah Territory challenged his conviction under a federal anti-polygamy law. The Supreme Court rejected the appellant’s claim that his religious beliefs necessitated, and therefore excused, his violation of federal law. The Court read the Free Exercise Clause as protecting religious beliefs, not religious practices that run counter to neutrally enforced criminal laws.”

    I’m a musician, not a lawyer, and although I have learned a great deal from the ladies and gentlemen who populate this blog, I have to constantly remind myself:

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    and drinking largely sobers us again.” – Alexander Pope,”

  178. nal,

    You have hit the nail on the head….. I wonder if the bishops have considered the repercussions of this stance…. I wonder what the EEOC would have to say as it relates to work place discrimination and the use of the pill..

  179. House Democrats Walk Out Of One-Sided Hearing On Contraception, Calling It An ‘Autocratic Regime’

    WASHINGTON — Three Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control rule on Thursday to protest Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a progressive woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.

    “What I want to know is, where are the women?” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Issa before walking out of the hearing after the first panel. “I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?”

    Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), told reporters in the hallway outside the hearing that she marched out because it was being conducted like an “autocratic regime.” The other members who left were Maloney and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).

    There are 10 witnesses testifying at Thursday’s hearing. None of those individuals — listed as testifying prior to hearing — are in favor of the Obama administration’s birth control rule, and few are women.

  180. Scott Brown: Elizabeth Warren Has Assumed ‘Mantle Of Oppressor’ With Health Care Stance
    The Huffington Post | By Ariel Edwards-Levy Posted: 2/15/12

    Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is accusing Elizabeth Warren of assuming “the mantle of oppressor” with her position on health care.

    Warren is challenging Brown for his Massachusetts Senate seat. In an email to supporters, Brown wrote:

    One of our most fundamental rights as a people is the freedom of religion. It was right here in Plymouth, Massachusetts that pilgrims from Europe established a colony because of religious persecution at home.

    Now, it is Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren who has assumed the mantle of oppressor. She and her allies on the left are dictating to Catholics and other people of faith that they must do as they are told when it comes to health care or face the consequences, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.

    Brown is a co-sponsor of an amendment to the Affordable Care Act by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow employers to exclude any health service coverage they claim would violate their religious or moral convictions. Warren has denounced the bill, which she said would deny basic health care to families.

    Blunt’s amendment comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s decision that religious institutions must cover the cost of contraception as part of any health care plan they offer their employees (though a compromise would offer them a way to opt-out, in which case the insurance company would cover the cost of birth control).

    “This new bill that Scott Brown is supporting is not about religious institutions — it’s about something very different. It would allow any employer or insurance company to refuse to cover any person for any treatment,” Warren wrote in an email responding to Brown’s claim. “Not only is it an attack on women’s ability to get the vital health care we need, it is an attack on every one of us.”

  181. Blouise,

    Many points; all enlightening (not being snide, just truthful).
    Shallow draughts are nececessary for some. But his point is taken.
    Assuming we aren’t angels seeking place on a pin. Seeking too much knowledge can then lead to none lighting.

    The worse thing with faith is, to the faithful; it doesn’t change the world; although he tells himself it does. Hence forced conversion or equivalents.

    Thanks for the music reminder. I’ll mention some of the things that appeal to me sometime.
    As for snarking, looking forward to it; but lacking certainly general references and knowledge of you all, will take a while to say (to myself) other than Huh?. Swedish gets in the way: snark = snore.

  182. Elaine,
    Pelosi did a good job in explaining nicely, how stupid Issa and his Republicans are. And how unfair they are. This is the losing side of this discussion and the Right is doubling up on it. “duh” is an apt description!

  183. “Now, it is Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren who has assumed the mantle of oppressor. She and her allies on the left are dictating to Catholics and other people of faith that they must do as they are told when it comes to health care or face the consequences, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.”


    I don’t think the ‘game’ of bass ackwards fingerpointing will work quite the way they are hoping….

  184. and this is my most favorite quote evah! from a political representative…thank you MS Pelosi! :)


  185. Here is a perfect example of why we end up NEEDing abortion services and why we should outlaw SUPER-PACs….

    This whole contraception debate is just so new-fangled, says billionaire investor and mega-funder to the super PAC supporting former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) for President, Foster Friess.

    In a simpler time, there were other ways to deal with female sexual desire. “Back in my day, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly,”

  186. In view of the 98% Catholic women who vote FOR contraception during their lives with their bodies, I can’t find any reason for this RCC campaign—–other than supporting the man most likely to support them and theirs.

    Kennedy proved we could have a Catholic in the White House.
    But he didn’t show that we could afford a nut. Although we’ve have had a few nuts since then, but not doubly handicapped ones.

  187. PS Anybody got any comparable statistics on Evangelical womens’ actual use of contraceptives and/or abortion?

    There is a big voting block. How reality-connected are they?

    Got any contacts?

  188. Swarthmore mom,

    Friess is proof positive that one doesn’t have to be smart to be rich. Good grief! Some of these right-wing men are trying to take women back to the stone age–from which these males never progressed. They appear to be members of the “Fetch Club. Find Mate” society.

  189. Rep. Darrell Issa’s “Religious Freedom” Sausage Fest
    —By Stephanie Mencimer
    | Thu Feb. 16, 2012

    The rhetoric at the hearing got so one-sided that, at one point, the Democratic women on the committee actually left the room, with DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) denouncing Issa’s hearing management as akin to that of “autocratic regimes.”

    The hearing dragged on, with Republicans providing plenty of fodder for future Democratic campaign ads blasting them for being anti-women, with Democrats responding with actual science on the many ways that birth control pills can save lives, not just prevent pregnancy. And on it went, in a proceeding that made it hard to believe it’s 2012 and not 1912. After three hours of testimony and questions, the committee took a break, and then returned for a second panel of witnesses. That panel included two women. But of course, they were opposed to birth control requirements, too.

  190. The comment of Mr. Friess is notable for more than its sheer stupidity. The underlying message is that avoiding pregnancy is the sole responsibility of the woman.

    For my part, I was taught that if I’m with a “gal,” I ought to keep my pants zipped. As for the aspirin, that moron got it all wrong. The aspirin was to slip into your “gal’s” coke to produce a powerful aphrodisiac effect.

  191. SwM
    Sarah Posner:
    “Few Catholics, though, according to the Pew poll, believe the use of contraceptives to be morally wrong. Forty-two percent say it’s morally acceptable, while only 8% say it’s morally wrong; 43% say it’s not even a moral issue. Next time, I’d be very curious to have Pew pose that question to the evangelicals.”

    I dead scare dthat the evangelicals will take this as a burnng cross to rally round; and put Sank-Torum over the top.
    Kennedy was OK, but this nut…….!

  192. 300 Reasons Why Contraception Is Not Being Discussed As A Women’s Health Issue
    February 16, 2012 10:11 am ET by Zachary Pleat, Leslie Rosenberg, & Kevin Zieber

    Cable news channels hosted only one expert from the public health community during a week of coverage over the controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to require most employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. By contrast, they hosted 300 guest appearances from the political or religious communities.

    On January 20, the Obama administration announced that nonprofit employers — including those connected to religious organizations — would be required to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. After the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops registered their opposition to the rule, conservative media figures accused the administration of engaging in a “war on the Catholic church.”

    On February 10, President Obama announced an accommodation that would allow insurance companies to directly offer contraception coverage to employees whose employers have religious objections to such coverage.

    During a five-day period when the controversy reached a boiling point, cable news channels hosted a total of 301 guest appearances, but only one of those guests was a public health expert. The rest were political figures or religious leaders.

    While ovarian cancer remains hard to detect despite being one of the “deadliest of cancers that affect the female reproductive system,” contraception use is correlated with reduced risk of the disease. The American Cancer Society has estimated that “30,000 cases of ovarian cancer worldwide could be prevented each year” through contraception use alone.

    As noted by Huffington Post:

    The Guttmacher Institute estimates that roughly 14 percent of birth control prescriptions are written for non-contraceptive purposes, helping some 1.5 million women with issues like ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and endometrial cancer. Their stories, filled with difficult details of medical trauma and personal sacrifice, aren’t usually the fodder for piqued political conversation, at least not until this week.

    Public health studies have demonstrated that contraception coverage leads to “a substantial decrease in unintended pregnancies, and by extension, abortions:” In January 12, 2011, testimony to the IOM, the Guttmacher Institute noted, “the scientific evidence” all pointed to the same conclusion, that insurance “must include coverage for the full range” of contraception. A February 7, 2012, Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger editorial called contraception coverage “a matter of public health” and noted: “Spacing pregnancies improves birth outcomes. And if all women had equal access to affordable contraceptives, there would be far fewer abortions and unprepared mothers.”

  193. Elaine M. cited:

    “….Cable news channels hosted only one expert from the public health community during a week of coverage over the controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to require most employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. By contrast, they hosted 300 guest appearances from the political or religious communities….

    Is there then grounds for some legal measure s against violation of “balanced reporting” according to FCC regulations?

    Freedom of speech is cheap to buy, by those accustomed to “sponsoring”

    Amazingly coordinated and compact religious-conservative campaign.
    Of course, interest in the primaries was waning in the media, but this?????

    Obviously Koch paid. Nobody else has that reach or push as they do.
    Any volunteers? Timothy McV, where are you when we need you?
    It’s coming to that. Theirs or ours.

  194. Good question, but hard to answer. Try DoS or CIA reports.

    An odd example is the situation under the Baatists and Saddam.
    Although dictatorial, women’s literacy and employment outside the home in professional category rose from 3 percent to over 80 percent, and similarly from 3 to 36 percent…..all up to 2003. Up to 2011 they both went to hell again.

    Of course treating women fairly, is more that equal education and employment opportunities.
    Suffrage, property rights, inheritance rights, parental rights, etc. must be included.

    Maybe Elaine M. can dish up a UN report. There’s certainly a ranking list somewhere too.Try googling or Time mag. Time loves lists. Or isn’t there a listomania somewhere?

  195. Elaine,
    These right wing contraception hacks are part of the American Taliban. They want the bible, or their interpretation of the Bible as the law of the land.

  196. rafflaw.

    “These right wing contraception hacks are part of the American Taliban.”

    You got that right. One has to wonder why these men are so afraid of women.

  197. Elaine,

    For the same reason that the oldest idol found is that of a pregnant woman.

    However, in fairness sake, must mention that some point out that it includes a phallic element too.

    And for the same reasons that killing the men and taking the women and children was standard practice. You’re irreplaceable. We are not.

  198. Rafflaw,
    The CIA gave Stinger missiles to the Afghans fighting the Russians
    What are they going to give these Evangelibans?
    (hey, maybe that term could be campaign useful)

  199. Indeed. But I think he would want access to them to raise a clamor in wild pursuit of their joint issues. But where will they introduce the fear facrtor?
    Will it be fear of islamicizing and Sharia law. I mean if they get theirs then the muslims will ask for theirs too. Too many they/theirs but you know……!.

  200. MA
    Iceland for the reason that it was so homogenously subsistence farming and fishing for trade.
    The men went fishing and sometimes didn’t come back; the women were the basis of contuinuation. They are not ball-busters, just know their value.

  201. PS to Rafflaw,
    It all sounds fo cool and secure in your neutral words. Don’t disapprove, just worried. Greater consequences than erosion can be ultimately feared.

    Futures are difficult to predict. That’s why we have astrologers and pundits.

  202. I found this link on AlterNet relating to Pope Benedict’s position that guaranteed access to health care is an “inalienable right.” I found this interesting because both “practicing” Catholics and those who have remained Catholic, either by theological inclination, tradition, or both, are “cafeteria Catholics” to a greater or lesser extent. For some reason, however, conservative Catholic politicians tend to restrict their selections to the spiritual food group comprised of rules on sexuality and skip right past the tables containing “universal health care” and “labor rights.”

  203. Rep. King (R) holds a hearing on Islamic radicalization in the U.S. and only anti-Muslim testimony is allowed.

    Rep Issa (R) holds a hearing on contraception coverage and no women are allowed to testify.

    It seems that they are doing Orwell one better. if you construct the record of the present ‘properly’ you don’t have to go back and bother rewriting it. Saves a lot of time and effort.

    “Dems walk out of House GOP’s contraception hearing

    Female Democrats on Thursday walked out of a House GOP committee hearing on contraceptive coverage after the only female witness requested to speak during the first of two hearings was rejected by the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).”

    “Featured front and center were an all-male panel of witnesses from the Catholic church, the Lutheran Church, a Jewish Rabbi, and a Southern Baptist ethics professor, among others, all of whom seemed to object to being required to pay for contraceptives. Each man present said they felt that the requirement went too far and trampled on their religious beliefs.”

  204. From Brennan Center for Justice:

    Ahead of the 2012 elections, a wave of legislation tightening restrictions on voting has suddenly swept across the country. More than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year — a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

    This report is the first full accounting and analysis of this year’s voting cutbacks. It details both the bills that have been proposed and the legislation that has been passed since the beginning of 2011.

    Download the Report (PDF)

    Download the Appendix (PDF), a compilation of potentially vote-suppressing legislation proposed in the 2011 legislative sessions.

    Download the Overview (PDF), a four-page summary with key findings.

  205. Mr. Issa’s hearing demonstrates that the Republican Party has completely abandoned any pretense of intellectual legitimacy.

  206. If you can’t change their votes, take away suffrage.

    The executive summary, very little meat, notes that the state legislatures are at the half-way points now. More restrictions will be coming.

  207. It’s over midnight here.

    It looks like war to me. But I was not there under Jeffersonian-Federalist times, nor other hotpoints in time.

    Will we have a civil war? Assembling armies is not possible for freedom fighters. They are well-anticipated, and surrounded literally by surveillance.

    What did Edward R. Murrow say, as he took his final drag on his cigarette?

  208. Maybe the Repulicans just think that with all the voter disenfranchisement, big money and unverifiable voting machines in use it really doesn’t matter how many people they piss off; 2012 wouldn’t be the first Presidential election they stole after all. 2000 and probably 2004 maybe should be informing our thoughts about what is going on with the Republican party today.

  209. Elaine M.,

    Very much indeed.

    As I feel that a “committee” type coordination, such as RNC wouldn’t accomplish what we see; the campaign would be a consultant/thinktank product. Contradiction? No, Thinktanks are bossed by someone who is payiing. The RNC lacks that kind of decision maker.

    So who is paying the thinktank, and dictating the ambition of the outcome…!!!

  210. TPM2012
    How The GOP Went Back To The 1950s In Just One Day

    Very neatly, and on three separate fronts, conservatives in America turned the clock back to the 1950s with their rhetoric about women’s rights Thursday, according to women in politics on both sides of the aisle. This could be a big problem for the GOP when the calendar reaches November.
    Let’s take a look at Thursday, February 16, 2012, the day Washington fell into a time-warp.

    • On Capitol Hill, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) held hearings on contraception and religious freedom that produced the now-famous picture of a table full of men called to weigh in on access to contraceptives. Democrats wanted a woman — a Georgetown law student with a friend who lost an ovary because the university doesn’t cover birth control — to say her piece at the hearing, but Issa wouldn’t let her on the panel. He said she wasn’t “appropriate or qualified” to discuss the topic at hand.

    Jaws dropped in the women’s rights community.

    “She didn’t have the right credentials?” NOW President Terry O’Neill scoffed. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Buddy, you and your little panel over there don’t have the right anatomy to talk about birth control.’”

    • Politico published a story about a right wing firestorm that had been burning for days: Did the young women who attended this year’s CPAC wear skirts that were too short? The days following the massive conservative conference, which closed Saturday, were filled with tweets and blog posts weighing in on what conservative pundit Melissa Clouthier called outfits that made the college-age women at CPAC look either “frumpish” or “like two-bit whores.” CPAC needs these women to survive — 55% of attendees at the 2011 conference were under 25 — but apparently conservatives want to make sure they don’t show too much of their legs lest they detract from the solemnity of the proceedings. The general agreement among conservatives after days of debate: a CPAC dress code would go too far — but ladies, please.

    • Foster Friess, the billionaire backer of Rick Santorum’s campaign, became an instant celebrity when he went on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show and said, “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

    Friess’ comment was astonishing in two ways. First, it derailed the entire contraception debate that Republicans have been desperate to keep about “religious freedom” rather than make it about, well, who does or does not keep her knees together. Second, there wasn’t a woman around who didn’t have a guttural reaction.

    “I want to punch that guy in the face,” said one female operative who called me on an entirely unrelated matter. Phone calls and IM conversations for the rest of the day included similar appraisals of Santorum’s biggest financial backer.

    So there you have it: modern women being told by Republicans that they’re not qualified to talk about their own sexual health, are dressed like “whores” and probably need birth control because they’re so slutty. And this is just in one day.

    Democratic women say this is all part of a general pattern that began in 2010 when the tea party helped Republicans win a congressional election based on jobs and deficits and the Republicans then set about passing new anti-abortion legislation and declaring war on Planned Parenthood once in office. They agreed Thursday stood out, though.

    “Republican policies have been stuck in the 50s for a while now. I guess this week they decided they wanted the whole retro package,” said Jess McIntosh, communications director at EMILY’s List. “Darrel Issa, you are no Jon Hamm.”

  211. Attributed to Joseph Stalin:

    “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.”

    Sounds like the view of the modern Republican party on how to run an election.

  212. Elaine,
    The contraception debate will be great for Republicans. Remember, it wasn’t contraceptives but rather forcing a Religious institution to provide something that it doesn’t believe in. In the General election that will become quite clear no matter how much Dems want to make the argument about contraception.

  213. Jim,
    Twist it as you will. The church wants to own its parishioners, body and soul. Its beliefs were/are not divinely established, they are created by men, yes men. Although they preach that belief. Gods does not speak to them, only their wishes do. And these are sickly.
    Nuf said. Your mind is closed perhaps to arguments, guided by the holy church.
    Perhaps I misunderstood you????

  214. Jim, New polling is not reflecting that at all. Single women are favoring Obama over Romney 65 – 31%. Now just imagine what the numbers would be if the candidate is Santorum.

  215. Swarthmore mom

    It won’t matter. Single women can’t overcome 18-24 year olds and the enthusiasm that will mount from Republicans as was visualized in the 2010 elections. Also, Santorum’s views are not to deny contraception. He personally disagrees with it but would do nothing in preventing women to get it. Just wait and see what is going to happen this fall.

  216. Swarthmore mom

    Also, watch what will happen when Obama says pay your fair share and Romney can say I gave over 40% of my own money and all you did Mr. President is 1%. And by the way, Mr. President, you are real good at giving away other people’s money.

  217. Swarthmore mom

    Also,McCain wasn’t a fighter. The Republican nominee will be. Gas prices are going to be over $4 a gallon and unemployment over 8%. Who would want to run on those numbers? Obama can’t blame Bush anymore. Commercials will run with his own words like when he voted against raising the debt ceiling and now embraces it like a mouse wanting cheese.

  218. Jim,

    The Obama compromise doesn’t require the church to provide “something it doesn’t believe in.” The insurance companies will provide it.

    Do you think using contraceptives is immoral? Do you think health insurance providers should make contraceptives available to women? Do you think that non-Catholics who work for Catholic hospitals and colleges, etc., should have contraceptive coverage? What do you think about using birth control pills to treat conditions like endometriosis and ovarian cysts?

    I happen to think the Catholic bishops are wrong on this issue. I think married couples have the right to practice birth control and to limit the number of children they have–even if they are Catholics. I think married couples have the right to have sexual relations whenever they want–and not just for procreation.

    The Catholic Church–like many religions–is a sexist organization. This is the 21st century–not the Dark Ages. Women have a right to decide when they will have children and how many children they will bear. If the Republicans think contraception will be a great subject for debate, let them at it.

  219. “The insurance companies will provide it.” -Elaine

    Elaine M.,

    I’m with you on this issue, but it’s worth noting that some of the hospitals are self-insured (I’m not sure of the numbers)… and this fact is being raised in the debate, as you probably already know.

  220. Jim,

    Here’s the candidate for you:

    On birth control, Santorum out of step with nation
    Associated Press

    Most Americans don’t share Rick Santorum’s absolutist take on abortion. He’s out of step on women in combat. He questions the values of the two-thirds of mothers who work. He’s even troubled by something as commonplace as birth control — for married couples.

    Even among a Republican presidential field anxious to please religious conservatives, Santorum’s ideas stand out.

    A Catholic father of seven whose kids are home-schooled, Santorum may seem to wear his conservatism as comfortably as his sweater vests. But he’s walked a careful path, keeping the more provocative opinions that helped sink his re-election to the Senate in 2006 mostly out of his presidential campaign.

    That is until he leaped to the top of the polls, alongside Mitt Romney.

    Now Santorum’s record on social issues is getting a closer look. On several matters, he’s outside the Republican mainstream. And if he becomes the GOP nominee, some of his ideas would likely be surprising, even puzzling, to general election voters.

  221. Elaine M
    It doesn’t matter if we are in a new era. The church stands on what the Bible teaches and they are not going to change. What individuals choose to do is their decision. Obama did begin this issue by trying to get the church to provide it and then had to walk it back. I have no problem with insurance companies covering contraceptives but it should be the people paying for it. What Obama’s problem is he only wants the rich to pay for things and everybody else get it for free. America was established on the principal of hard work. I teach that one should get what they pay for not go out and expect it for free.

  222. anon nurse,

    I know. And some catholic hospitals and colleges already provide contraceptive coverage.

    Being required to provide contraceptive coverage for employees does not force Catholic employees to use birth control. What should happen to all the non-Catholic employees of Catholic institutions?


    Not all Catholics are on the same page on this issue:

    Obama Shift on Providing Contraception Splits Critics
    February 14, 2012

    The near-unified front led by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to oppose a mandate for employers to cover birth control has now crumbled amid the compromise plan that the Obama administration offered last week to accommodate religious institutions.

    The leaders of several large Catholic organizations that work directly on poverty, health care and education have welcomed the president’s plan as a workable compromise that has the potential to protect religious freedom while allowing employees who request it to have contraceptives covered by their insurance plans.

    The bishops, however, have continued to voice strong objections to the White House plan. And they have taken it one step further, arguing that individual Catholics who own businesses should not have to provide birth control to their employees in their health insurance coverage.

    The uproar threatens to embroil the Catholic church in a bitter election-year political battle while deepening internal rifts within the church. On the one side are traditionalists who believe in upholding Catholic doctrine to the letter, and on the other, modernists who believe the church must respond to changing times and a pluralistic society.

    To many Catholics, it is reminiscent of the rifts that surfaced in 1968 when Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which reaffirmed the prohibition on artificial contraception, disregarding a Vatican commission’s recommendation to do away with the ban.

    Now, as then, even the nuns are not on the same page. The organization that represents a majority of women’s religious orders, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said the Obama administration had listened to the concerns of Catholics and found a “fair and helpful way to move forward.”

    But a traditionalist order in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, which was formed 15 years ago and has about 100 members, said in a statement that the “so-called compromise” by the White House was “insulting.”

    Leslie Tentler, professor of history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, said: “Part of what is going on is a larger authority issue of who speaks for the church. And I think most Catholics would take exception to the bishops’ argument that only the bishops get to say what is Catholic morality in very difficult situations.

    “It also reflects the unresolved status of the teaching on contraception, which is widely violated not just by Catholics, but also by the clergy, who don’t even talk about the issue,” said Dr. Tentler, the author of “Catholics and Contraception: An American History.”

    A new New York Times/CBS News poll has found that 57 percent of Catholic voters supported the requirement for religiously affiliated employers, like hospitals or universities, to cover the full cost of birth control for their employees, while 36 percent opposed it (7 percent said they did not know). There was almost no difference between Catholic and other voters on the question.

  223. “America was established on the principal of hard work.”


    If that was true how do you explain the Koch Bros., Trump, Romney, the Bush family, etc.? While there are many on the list of the 100 richest Americans who have earned it, the majority inherited, or benefited from the status of their birth. The inheritance of wealth and position are principles of feudalism and I do not see them enshrined in the writings of the “Founding Fathers”.

    “I teach that one should get what they pay for not go out and expect it for free.”

    No doubt noble sentiments, but then how do you explain that so many of the ultra-wealthy and their corporations receive far more from government, than they put into it? Inheritance is not hard work, nor is taking more than your fair share from government. Yet you are concerned that those getting a “free ride” are unfairly put upon. Would that my parents had made me the heir to a “fortune”, unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Had it been though, given their moral teachings, I would gladly have paid my fair share. In fact though, through my life I’ve never had wealth, but actually had to pay more than my fair share to support the people you so assiduously protect.

  224. idealist707
    Don’t blame God for contraception. You have not read my statements above. People are free to make their own choices-FREE WILL. Government though, should never tell a religious institution to do something that violates its beliefs.

  225. JIM
    Well, the Supreme Court, according to an informed person here, did tell a mormon that he could NOT have more than one wife; in spite of his beliefs.
    Free will is not supreme, the law is supreme on this the USA.

    And coverage not offered by an insurer is not availabe. Yes, you can pay.

    But the point which irritates you, is that somebody is getting something for nothing (the rich pay—boo hoo. Romney weeps all the way to the Cayman bank).

    Now tell us Jim, your story of working hard to get to the top with all you’ve amassed. Let’s go away from high-flown principles and slogans; exemplify from just your life. Do you have something instructive to tell?

  226. Jim,

    “The church stands on what the Bible teaches and they are not going to change.”

    What does the Old Testament teach about contraception? What about the New Testament?

    The church has changed its position on certain issues before. It doesn’t torture and burn heretics any longer. It no longer holds the belief that the Earth is center of the solar system. The Catholic Church eventually issued an apology to Galileo.

    Maybe one day, the Catholic Church will “see the light” on the subject of contraception.

  227. Birth control debate exposes divide between bishops and Catholics
    By Reuters
    Friday, February 17, 2012

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a powerful institution, at least on paper.

    But a recent debate over contraception coverage has exposed a deep divide between the 271 active bishops and the rank-and-file U.S. Catholics who are supposed to follow their moral authority. It also has raised questions about why some prominent Catholic intuitions ignore the bishops’ teachings – and whether the bishops will be able to reassert their authority.

    The gulf has left some politicians, ever eager to court the Catholic vote, struggling to figure out who now speaks for the Church. Some ordinary Catholics in the pews are wondering the same.

    “The bishops have lost their monopoly on speaking, and they have lost a lot of their clout,” said Father Thomas Reese, a Georgetown University theologian and church scholar.

    Led by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the bishops have been pressing a muscular campaign to fight a federal mandate that would have required all health insurance plans, including those offered by religious employers, to offer free birth control.

    A leading voice, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut., was scheduled to testify on Thursday on Capitol Hill.

    But other widely-respected Catholic groups, including the Catholic Health Association, which represents hundreds of Catholic hospitals, have disavowed the bishops’ fight. They have accepted a compromise, announced last week by President Barack Obama, to allow religious institutions to opt out of paying for contraceptive coverage. (Their insurers would pick up the tab instead.)

  228. Mike Spindell

    Did you ever read about Jamestown 1607. Don’t compare today with our founding. There were no government handouts then. Also, there is nothing wrong with inheritance. What I work for I should be able to leave that to my children and the government has business taking any of it.

  229. Elaine M
    But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.
    Genesis 38: 9-10

  230. Nothing says you’ve joined the 21st Century like using the Bible to rationalize the death penalty for masturbation.

  231. Jim,

    “What Obama’s problem is he only wants the rich to pay for things and everybody else get it for free. America was established on the principal of hard work. I teach that one should get what they pay for not go out and expect it for free.”


    You mean like the poor corporations that pay no income taxes???

    Wasn’t the country also founded on the principle of freedom of AND from religion?

    People do pay for part of their health insurance coverage. Should they be denied certain types of medical/prescription coverage because the catholic bishops say they should be denied it?

  232. Elaine M.
    Yes, pay for the parts you want. You said nothing about the 48% of Americans who pay not income taxes and because of the pay-roll tax holiday many are paying NOTHING. Also, most of them qualify for the Eraned income credit so they are actually mooching off the government.

  233. Gene,

    I was looking forward to what Bible excerpts Jim would provide to bolster his case.

    BTW, I thought God punished men for masturbating by making them go blind!



    What does the Bible say about birth control pills, condoms, IUD’s, vasectomies, and tubal ligations?

  234. Jim,

    And you said nothing about the wealthy corporations that pay no income taxes. Many corporations even get government subsidies.

    There are many working poor in this country. I’d prefer my tax dollars help people in need than help corporations “in greed.”

  235. Self-Insured Complicate Health Deal

    Published: February 15, 2012


    The Obama administration thought it had found a way to ease mounting objections to a requirement in the new health care act that all employers — including religiously affiliated hospitals and universities — offer coverage for birth control to women free of charge.

    It would make the insurers cover the costs, rather than the organizations themselves.

    But the administration announced the compromise plan before it had figured out how to address one conspicuous point: Like most large employers, many religiously affiliated organizations choose to insure themselves rather than hire an outside company to assume the risk.

    Now, the organizations are trying to determine how to reconcile their objections to offering birth control on religious grounds with their role as insurers — or whether there can be any reconciliation at all. And the administration still cannot put the thorny issue to rest.

    “We’re all kind of waiting and seeing,” said Jim Liske, chief executive of the Prison Fellowship, a Christian charity that insures itself and objects to offering the morning-after pill to its employees.

    The administration has remained mostly silent on how self-insured institutions will be treated, other than to say that the details will be worked out in meetings with religious leaders in the days and weeks to come.

    “This policy will be developed collaboratively so that the ultimate outcome works for religious employers, their workers and the public,” an administration official said Wednesday.

    But some expressed skepticism that any satisfactory solution could be reached. “That’s quite a trick,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of “pro-life activities” at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has been among the most vocal critics of the birth control mandate.

    “Putting the obligation on the insurer and not the employer doesn’t help much if they are the same person,” he said.

    …and the article continues

  236. Elaine M.

    Those are personal choices but it is very clear about abortion. Why won’t you mention the people who pay no taxes?

  237. Jim,

    “Those are personal choices but it is very clear about abortion. Why won’t you mention the people who pay no taxes?”

    What are personal choices? I don’t know what you’re referring to? What does people paying taxes have to do with the Catholic Church contraception debate? BTW, churches are tax exempt.

  238. Off Topic:

    Virginia Poised To Enact ‘State-Sponsored Rape’ Law Forcing Women To Be Vaginally Probed Before Abortions
    By Ian Millhiser on Feb 17, 2012

    Earlier this month, a bill requiring women to receive an ultrasound before they can receive an abortion passed the Virginia senate, and it recently cleared a state house committee with an overwhelming majority. As Dahlia Lithwick explains, the effect of this bill would be to force most women to undergo a stunningly invasive procedure for no medical reason whatsoever. “Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced.”

  239. Elaine M.1, February 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm


    “What Obama’s problem is he only wants the rich to pay for things and everybody else get it for free. America was established on the principal of hard work. I teach that one should get what they pay for not go out and expect it for free.”
    You cannot put singular human beans on the same playing field as corporations and expect the same rules to apply. And the cost of paying for healthcare has been exponentially inflated by corporate subsidies, market profits, insurance drecht and blah blah blah to such an extreme that affording it is impossible UNLESS there is some sort of assistance besides bankruptcy. That said. The NEED and PURPOSE of healthcare has never changed. The conversation however, has. It now reflects the desires and profit motives of corporations rather than the NEED of the public….rich and poor alike.

    ps…those subsidies bailouts and grants that funded research and built businesses were given to what is NOW a corporation but that USED to be a company….but it came from the US taxpayer regardless of whether they had health insurance.

  240. Woosty’s still a Cat

    I agree, We are all hurting because of rising healthcare costs. But when illegals get it for free that too hurts all of us. Greedy corporations who break the law should be punished. But, everyone should be treated equally. When 48% of Americans pay nothing into the federal treasury, that is wrong and unjustifiable. People should pay for their own contraception if thewy choose to use it and that should not be covered by tax-payers.

  241. To all,

    I ask all others, why do we allow ourselves to use Jim as a punching bag to vent our outrage against those evil (as we see them) ones outside our reach?
    Let us spend our time in jousting and strengthening our knowledge, not is talking to a troll.

    And an off-thread thought: Where is our match for ALEC?

    To Jim,

    “When 48% of Americans pay nothing into the federal treasury, that is wrong and unjustifiable”, you say.

    That is your opinion, but it does not make it “right and justifiable”.

    The levels of taxation, cut-off points, etc are politicaly established, not given by the church, nor by your opinions.

    This nation may be to a large degree Christian, but it does not follow the Bible literally nor in spirit. That could lead to both catastophes and tragedies, and perhaps a greater state of spiritual pureness, but judging by history, the latter won’t happen.

    But it is obvious that you are a religious person, who like most, use it as a justifucation for your opinions, which you would force on others.

    Minorities must be protected from majorities, as did not happen in Nazi Germany.

  242. anon nurse,

    Thank you for reminding everyone that the “thorny issue” here is a very narrow and fine point of law; all the rest would weigh a legal brief down with needless distraction.

  243. “Gene H
    Isn’t spilling it on the ground the same as what contraception does?”

    No, Jim, it’s not. That’s the problem with Biblical fundamentalists. The Bible is no more a sex education textbook than it is a history textbook. When you try to make a book of parables and fairy tales a literal plan for living, you invite disaster and disappointment. If masturbation was a sin? Every man (and most women) breathing, let alone posting here, would be going to Hell for doing it and/or lying about doing it. It’s human nature. Also, you may be surprised to learn the Earth wasn’t really created in six days.

    I’d also like to point out that not all tax payers belief in using antibiotics as a religious matter and yet tax payer funded Medicare/Medicaid pays for them. They just don’t force you to use them. If you don’t like contraceptives? Fine. Don’t use them. But to deny others that choice because you have a problem with them is simply you trying to force your religion upon others and using the force of law to do so. The government cannot promote one religion over another, even yours, and the simple fact is that not every American shares your religious values on contraception. The only option with contraception and religion is the same one taken with antibiotics and religion: make them available but leave the choice to use them where it belongs, with the individual. Those are the facts.

    All these other gyrations are just that. Meaningless spinning and turning in trying to rationalize forcing your views upon others in contravention of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the 1st Amendment. Really, it’s just a form of mental masturbation when it comes down to practical application and the defense of individual free exercise. And we all know how you feel about masturbation.

  244. Jim,

    When you talk about masturbation in terms of “spilling seed on the ground” you are of course discussing Onan. It is a shame that you really don’t understand the Bible you are reading. Onan was punished for not planting his seed in his dead brothers wife, not for pulling out of intercourse. It has nothing to do with masturbation and those who claim so are ignorant of their faith.

  245. And I invite you to do the same, Jim.

    Whether people choose to use contraception is none of your damn business, so why don’t you quit trying to insist that their tax dollars shouldn’t be used to pay for it simply because it doesn’t comport with your religious beliefs.

  246. Constitution Check: Does mandated birth control insurance violate religious freedom?
    By Lyle Denniston | National Constitution Center – Tue, Feb 14, 2012

    The statement at issue:

    “In imposing this requirement, the federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries, encroaching on religious freedom in a manner that affects millions of Americans and harms some of our nation’s most vital institutions.”

    –Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, on the floor of the House of Representatives, February 8, commenting on the Obama Administration’s plan to require hospitals and clinics to include insurance coverage for birth control, without an exception for such facilities that are operated by the Roman Catholic Church, which treats contraception as a violation of its beliefs.

    We checked the Constitution, and…

    For more than four decades, public policymakers have been trying to fashion exemptions from government programs when those would violate the religious views of those taking part in the program. And, while constitutional issues have always been in the background of efforts to write “conscience” exemptions, the constitutional boundaries that Speaker Boehner discussed are not yet as clearly defined as he suggested; the lines are blurred, and might vary depending on the details.

    President Obama and his aides are continuing to struggle over ways to avoid violations of religious doctrine (mainly, Roman Catholic dogma) as they move to implement a provision in the new federal health care law requiring health insurance coverage of birth control for employees. They also are developing arguments to use in defending that provision in three lawsuits already challenging it, in cases filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

    So far, the government has given churches, as such, an exemption, but the regulations do not give an exemption of equal scope to hospitals, colleges, or other social service institutions directly affiliated with a religious organization but not primarily involved in spreading the faith. After a strong political protest came rushing at them, Administration aides began tinkering with a broader exemption, and are still working on its details.

    As this controversy unfolds, in the courts if not in the political realm, judges will not find it easy to sort out where the Constitution stands. A split decision by the California Supreme Court in 2004, upholding a state law that does very much what the new federal law requires in mandating birth control coverage, illustrates how judges can and do differ on how to interpret prior Supreme Court rulings that do not deal directly with that issue (Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. Superior Court).

    It is settled under the Constitution, of course, that the government may not operate a program that favors one religious faith over another, nor can it carry on a program that is based on hostility to one disfavored faith. The First Amendment guarantees religious neutrality in government action, and it assures religious organizations wide freedom to run their own internal affairs without government intrusion.

    But those are broad principles, and the Supreme Court has not spelled out, in a specific case involving a “conscience clause,” just what the Constitution requires, or allows, when a public policy or scheme falls somewhere between the extremes and a religious organization claims its religious freedom has been compromised or violated.

    The Justices, though, over the years have decided numerous cases that will now be parsed by lower court judges as they prepare to rule on the constitutionality of the new federal mandate on birth control for employees of religiously affiliated medical and educational facilities.

    In chronological order, here are perhaps the most significant rulings that might favor the challenges to that mandate: Watson v. Jones, 1871, government may not second-guess internal tenets of faith or religious discipline; Corporation of Presiding Bishops v. Amos, 1978, allowing government to exempt religious employers from claims of religious bias in workplace policies; Larson v. Valente, 1982, government is forbidden to discriminate against one religious denomination, based on how they raise church revenues; Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, government may not ban specific forms of religious practice if that is done out of hostility to the tenets of that faith; Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2012, government must provide an exception to laws against discrimination for workplace policies involving church ministers or faith leaders.

    Also chronologically, here are the key rulings that might favor the birth control mandate: United States v. Lee, 1982, an employer must pay Social Security and unemployment taxes despite a religious objection; Alamo Foundation v. Secretary of Labor, 1985, religious organizations must pay their workers minimum wages despite a religious protest; Employment Division v. Smith, 1990, laws that apply generally and do not single out religious groups may be upheld even if they intrude on religious practices.

    In the 2004 Catholic Charities decision by California’s Supreme Court upholding a birth control mandate, it took the majority and dissent a total of 80 pages to sort through those, and other, Supreme Court precedents. It involved considerable judicial labor.


    Lyle Denniston is the National Constitution Center’s Adviser on Constitutional Literacy. He has reported on the Supreme Court for 54 years, currently covering it for SCOTUSblog, an online clearinghouse of information about the Supreme Court’s work.

  247. Elaine M.

    I said government should not tell a religious institution to provide something that goes against their beliefs. What you said is idiotic because you fail to acknowledge what I said. I am still waiting for you to promote the idea that it is ok for 48% of Americans to pay no income tax and due to the payroll tax holiday, most pay absolutely nothing. Most of them get the earned income credit so they are really nothing more than moochers. Is that right or wrong and justify your position?

  248. Jim1, February 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Woosty’s still a Cat

    I agree, We are all hurting because of rising healthcare costs. But when illegals get it for free that too hurts all of us. Greedy corporations who break the law should be punished. But, everyone should be treated equally. When 48% of Americans pay nothing into the federal treasury, that is wrong and unjustifiable.

    well, soon it will be 99%.

    THE 99%

    people who don’t pay taxes because they don’t meet the minimum requirements to pay taxes are the VICTIMS of the greedy 1% who allow no-one to work or safely own anything and will now stop at nothing to keep them from even receiving healthcare so they can go back to work.Not to mention a justice system that is supposed to protect thier interests from crooks and creeps.
    Our delightful corporate owned polticians seem to think they will be safer with a sick, tired and hurting public rather than a robust and well cared for body of ctizenry. Why?

    The answer isn’t taxes , it’s respect…

    Most of the HUMAN BEINGS you are kicking around work harder between 5 and 11:30 a.m. than you will ever have to work in your whole entire life. It’s too bad you need a whole fucking church and a bunch of pervy self-stisfied (oh yeah, go there…) old men to tell you what to do and who you can hurt without offending G*d.

    What will you do if they are wrong??????

    Cause last time I talked to G*d she was really pissed off….

    I come to this blog to hear what intelligent people are saying about the current events. I like to think some of that intelligence is cornered in the legal proffesion because that is the front line against my living in a fascist or dictatorship run country. Or one governed by an invading hoarde of self serving other-hating Orcs.

  249. Mike,

    I never said it did. You did! My point was a Biblical reference that acts like contraception. Pulling out or wearing a condom has the same effect. Can you read?

  250. Woosty’s still a Cat

    Is that so? Two years ago statistics showed more people on the internet than actually working. Our society has become lazy and that is a fact. If you a social society then move to Greece. You will feel right at home. Don’t criticize those of us who want turn off the road that is leading to Greece.

  251. Jim,

    You can save your insults. I don’t really care what your opinion is of me. This thread is about contraception and the separation of church and state. You can try to hijack the thread and spout off about people and the payroll taxes they do/do not pay. Be my guest. I don’t have to respond to any demand from you. I take orders from no man.

  252. Elaine

    Just like a liberal!!! As a matter of fact many of those who pay no taxes use contraception and would love for others to pay for it.

  253. Jim,

    “Two years ago statistics showed more people on the internet than actually working.”

    Problem with that?
    I see those people at the library everyday….waiting in line to use the computers. Do you know that a computer is no longer a luxury it is a necessity?
    It is because after they lost their jobs, savings, retirements and property to private banks, corrupt officials and corporate greed they had to go online to beg for the assistance they had paid all thier lives to merit….you know, unemployment insurance….but they were denied….the money was needed to give the auto-barons gas for thier jet planes.

    Why don’t you go to Dubai…apparently it’s all the rage…. ;) (and I think they have a mahvellous healthcare system….

  254. What a pleasure to see the slaughter. But he feels nothing.

    Mike S can read, the question is can you——-or better yet, can you think.
    He spelled Onan out so clearly for you, but you literally could not absorb it.
    A remarkable blockage. Pathological I believe. Do you experience this often?
    Where do you go when the impulse comes on you?
    Haven’t seen you here before. Your setting up of straw men is admirable.

    PS Mike S. Thanks for Onan. I am also ignorant, but willing to learn.
    Jim is incapable.

  255. Jim,

    Don’t you understand your idaa of the world went out with the frontier life.

    In the next two hundred years, say some “experts”, 90 percent of the world’s population’s needs will be met without “working”.
    Can you realize what that means?

    We can then spend our days as our ancient forebears thought was paradisical. Contemplation, dialogue, congenial socializing, creative self-expansion, reflecting on new forms of mutual aid and responsibility, etc.

    Add your own item if you wish.

    But don’t propose the fairy tale you believe in. It won’t happen.

    For us, it is either death or enlightenment. Your way leads back to the first civilization in the Indus valley. The streets were straight, the houses uniform, the plumbing/sewera excellent. But no art was found. Ï wonder what their religious handicap was.

  256. idealist707

    Ancient or not it is still the best way to go. Just like not living with one before marriage or waiting until after marriage for sex. These may seem ancient but they are still the right way to live and best for any society. Those two examples alone if practiced would save our country so much trouble and a lot of money. Not to mention, many relationships.

  257. Elaine M.
    I guess Jim will abstain from Medicare too, when the time comes

    Shall we ask him what his tax class (?) is?
    Right now for unusual reasons mine is over XX%, but then pension income is not tax free here, even if it is a legacy.. (Don’t want to take away the socialist illusion of paradise)
    And he complains!

    Where are the religious when we need help in beating swords into plowshares, or whatever. Think if we all converted to active Quaker peaceniks.
    But that would involve taking it from corporations and war criminals, stock owners, w—-s in Congress, local politicianns etc etc.

    And that particular Bible verse is suspect. Certainly written by a liberal.

  258. idealist707
    Medicare is not a handout. People pay for it. I am glad to see that nobody could disagree with what I said becuase it is true.

  259. Jim
    1, February 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Ancient or not it is still the best way to go. Just like not living with one before marriage or waiting until after marriage for sex. These may seem ancient but they are still the right way to live and best for any society. Those two examples alone if practiced would save our country so much trouble and a lot of money. Not to mention, many relationships.

    If this were all that was necessary the Bible would be a 10 page paperback.
    apparently, in those ancient times there was little to think about BUT sex ….(not that that isn’t a lovely subject but it really is secondary to many things…..)

  260. Wrong Jim.

    “Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a good will. Intelligence, wit, judgement, and the other talents of the mind, however they may be named, or courage, resolution, perseverance, as qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good and desirable in many respects; but these gifts of nature may also become extremely bad and mischievous if the will which is to make use of them, and which, therefore, constitutes what is called character, is not good. It is the same with the gifts of fortune. Power, riches, honour, even health, and the general well-being and contentment with one’s condition which is called happiness, inspire pride, and often presumption, if there is not a good will to correct the influence of these on the mind, and with this also to rectify the whole principle of acting and adapt it to its end. The sight of a being who is not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will, enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an impartial rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness.”

  261. And why don’t you use contraception, Jim? I’m going to avoid the obvious joke about you need a woman to make contraception effective. I’m going to go with the reason you’ve espoused up to this point; that the reason you don’t use contraception is religious.

    Also, “nobody could disagree with what I said because it is true” is the logical fallacy of argumentum e silentio. Silence can also come form you not having met your burden of proof or persuasion in the face of contrary logic and/or evidence.

  262. Getting back to the issue, the regulation does not impact religious expression under the First Amendment. The difficulty with the compromise offered by Pres. Obama is that, regardless of his motives, it lends credence to the bishops’ position.

  263. Jim,

    People have paid for a lot of things that are threatened, Like SS, Medicare, Medicaid—even if personally unused provideing benefits for othere is called doing the human thing, and sharing your neigbors’ burdens. Most religions endorse it, even without conversions or lipservice.

    As to nobody disagreeing, you are indeed blind to criticism.

    You did not specify what two principles you espoused:
    I presume you mean abstention outside of wedlock, and procreative sex only. Then why do priests practise sodomy? Or nuns conjugal relations?
    Or evangelistic pastors the practice of screwing anything that moves, often only for money, but that’s only nature setting limits on them.

    Wouldn’t abolition of war be of the greatest benefit to mankind at this point??
    Won’t get an answere I fear. Like you alwaya avoid the most barbed points.

    Rant on.

  264. Gene:

    I might also add that silence is frequently an acknowledgment of the futility of giving a rational response to an irrational argument.

  265. idealist707
    Have you ever heard of free will? People will do what they choose but there are consequences. You still didn’t disagree with what I said but rather tried to switch the issue.

  266. “Our society has become lazy and that is a fact.”

    I love my country and the people in it, even if some are as ignorant as you. The problem is you don’t love the country, or the people. That is why you would destroy the Constitution and turn this country into a Theocracy.

    Secondly, as much as I know that all you would prefer to do is blow propaganda for the rich people whose behinds you worship perversely, this thread is about contraception. The chief religious argument against contraception is taken from the story of Onan and those who make it have perverted its meaning through ignorance.

    Thirdly, it is the states where your philosophy is king who have the highest rate of out of wedlock births and also divorces. They also take more money per capita from the federal government than do the “liberal” states. The truth is that those who profess their religious views the loudest are usually the biggest hypocrites. That hypocrisy, rather oxymoron, is characteristic of someone that would call themselves a “Conservative Christian”, if one understands the Gospels, they would know you can’t be both. Now in your case I bet you’ve never read your Bible completely through and what you’ve read you don’t comprehend. You are the type who obeys someone who pretends to be an authority on morals, when all they are doing is watching the collection plate. In that respect you are hardly the independent thinker you think you are.

  267. Mike A.

    Most of the chapters in my life are filled with rough notes in passing.
    Categorical imperative.
    I can’t even see what it relates to: grammar, law, philosophy, scientific method., something to do with Nero?? Wish we had come so long that the computers could enable a quick download for me.

    Please enlighten me.

  268. Mike A.: “the regulation does not impact religious expression under the First Amendment.”

    Not sure what you mean by religious expression, but it does in fact affect the free exercise rights of Catholicism; no matter how silly it may seem.

    Speaking of silly, if they couldn’t find a compelling governmental interest in the ban of choking the chicken in Lukimi, how will they find one mandating the option to choke the chicken here?

  269. Jim,
    Evasive little devil. Chicken! Declare yourself, or has your rant tired you?

    Mike A and Gene H.
    I plead ignorance, not a legal but perhaps human defence.
    So what is the categorical imperative. Specific or generic. Legal. Come onl don’t play keep-away with me.

  270. id707: “Bob, Esq. Who is the quote from.?”

    I believe a frog living in 18th century Prussia whispered it to some guy with the instructions: “now discuss.”

  271. BOB

    It is the pattern of Obama trying to mandate what he thinks we need. I believe from now on everytime their is a mandate of any nature the People will respond like a roaring lion.Remember Pelosi saying we have to pass it first before we know what is in it? That is the problem with government and why it is failing.

  272. Bob,

    Not to re-open an old wound, but church proper meet church owned public commercial enterprise. A church of any denomination is not the same thing as a church owned business that avails themselves to the culturally diverse public, is a diverse employer, and takes government money for their services. The Lukimi facts were fairly narrow, so unless like that case you can prove this is some sort of planned attack on the RCC and wasn’t written to serve a legitimate secular function, your position may not be at the bottom of the hill, but I think it stands on the downward slope.

  273. idealist707

    You have much to say but nothing of substance. You probably are a loaner who needs this blog to get day “High”.

  274. id707,

    It’s one of those philosophical ideas that you’re best to try on for size yourself first rather than to have someone explain it up front. There’s a lot of meat on them thar frog bones Bob refers to.

  275. Gene H.

    “Start here.”

    Only Kant knows where it will end.
    Kant’s name only gave me palpitations. Scared of heights.
    But will check it out. If it is all so accessible and rigorous, then fine.

  276. Jim,

    You’re right in that Obama is mandate happy but your metaphysics of morals is severely wanting.

    For example, before entering into a life long commitment of marriage, the concept of trying before you buy (i.e. living together first), or measuring twice and cutting once is far more wise than the contrary.

  277. Mike spindell,

    Wrong! What Onan did is exactly what contraception does. No fertilization! I have never said anything about making our nationa theocracy. I live by what the Bible says and I have said nothing to contradict that.

  278. “What Onan did is exactly what contraception does”


    Are you normally obtuse, or are you just having a bad day? This thread is about the church not wanting to pay for health plans for their employees that want contraception, even if they are not Catholic. The basis for the Churches anti-contraception stance is Onan, because Jesus certainly never discussed it. Yes pulling out is a form of contraception, as is the “rhythm method”, though neither works particularly well and that is why so many people who share your beliefs have children out of wedlock.

  279. Gene,

    The article anon nurse posted, about institutions that are self-insured, highlights where and how the free exercise problem comes into play.

    BTW, just how do you word the compelling governmental interest in mandating insurance for birth control without sounding totalitarian?

    Unless medically required, how is birth control not an elective type procedure?

  280. Gene H.
    I did (?) understand the quote.
    and you write so purty, and so demolishingly, to those who can think. Not Jim.

    Mike S.

    ““Conservative Christian”, if one understands the Gospels, they would know you can’t be both”
    A similar realizaion at ten years, was enough to end my Christian indoctrination after two church services with my neighbors. Professing Jesus, but not following him was hypocrisy I felt.

    PS My father did, but that meant abandoning his family. Just as Jesus admonished his disciples to do.

  281. “That is not what God said and therefore I will not agree to it.”


    Just for my information could you give me the exact quote from Scripture where God said that?

  282. Dear Jim,

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your [posts] … however I do need some advice from you regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16.

    Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    Stay in your own movie,


  283. Bob Esq.

    You addressed Gene, but permit a comment from me.

    Fortunately, even medically motivated procedures are ELECTIVE.
    We provide a service but do not compell its use.

    And further, while seemingly elective, contraception has been shown of worth to people without the special medical needs mentioned by Elaine.
    Spacing gives healthier and happier mothers, children, husbands, and whole families, including relatives not overly taxed by frequent baptism gifts.
    Tha last meant jokingly you of course know.

    But you of course were pursuing another point, and I come with another.
    Please ignore.
    As Bob accuses me, I get a high here. But I at least meet queries, he just ignores them.

  284. Bob, Esq.:

    The first point is that the court in Lukumi was concerned with an ordinance directed at a specific religion and which essentially forbade believers to perform a sacramental ritual. In the current dispute, the regulation under attack is neutral in its application and intent.

  285. idealist707,

    In an ideal world I’d like to see mandated dental insurance before mandated contraceptive insurance. Compare the cost of buying a few rubbers or a prescription for the pill to a tooth extraction and implant.

    I’m just saying it’s hard to argue that there’s a compelling governmental interest in mandating the insurance coverage for birth control; especially considering how evil (no matter how silly we may feel it sounds) it is perceived by Catholicism.

  286. Mike A.,

    I was stretching Lukimi for the joke; but like I said, I don’t see the compelling governmental interest in mandating insurance coverage for birth control outweighing a tenet of Christianity that’s been around for 2000 years; albeit limited more to the Catholic church as of late.

  287. Ummm . . . allowing non-Catholic employees to make their own informed health care decisions based on available medical technology instead of religion tenet (belonging to someone else’s religion no less)?

  288. Bob, Esq.:

    It seems to me that whether mandatory dental coverage should have priority over mandatory contraception coverage is the sort of debate that legislative bodies should have when determining public policy. A “compelling governmental interest” is created when the legislature makes a public policy determination and enacts legislation to implement it.

    In this instance, I still perceive the goal to be universal health coverage, and coverage for contraception is one more step toward that goal. What confuses the discussion is the fact that we have to pursue the goal (so far at least) through the private insurance market.

  289. Gene,

    The problem, as with the health care law, lies in the mandate.

    If you made contraception coverage available to all above the age of consent through medicare and medicaid — where’s the conflict??

  290. Mike A.: “What confuses the discussion is the fact that we have to pursue the goal (so far at least) through the private insurance market.”

    The mandate; exactly.

  291. Bob Esq

    Well meant, well intended..
    I too am ashamed that dental status is a class questio in the uSA.. Not so here fortunately. Free including orthodontal procedures up to 18 years.

    As for rankings, you can get dentures on welfare.

    But considering the number of youths who can’t afford the costs of the pill, and college students here also find it economically burdensome, and the consequences of conception on both the possible parent and child, I would still rank contraception higher.

    Unfortunately, the church and its followers see it as encouraging SIN.

  292. Bob,
    Many Catholic institutions already cover that same contraception coverage in their employees plans and have for some years without a whimper. This contraception uproar is an attempt by the Church to control everyone, not only their members. Their members agree in significant numbers that the contraception tenet is bs. The need for contraception services is far from just pregnancy avoidance.
    By the way, growing up Catholic, the joke about the “rhythm” method of conraception was What do you call people who use the rhythm method?….Parents.

  293. Bob Esq,

    “especially considering how evil (no matter how silly we may feel it sounds) it is perceived by Catholicism.”

    Since when does the Constitution permit sins to guide our laws. I thought it was just the protection/exclusion we were expounding.

    As for 2000 year old churchly tenets, they were 1750 years old when the Constitution was written, and specifically ignored except for an almost philosophical reference to God somewhere in the DoI etc.

    Admit one tenet and we are lost. God said that, as Jim would claim.

    I admire you, and your writings, but will take exception. Ignorance (mine) does not recognize the claims of tenets nor that of hubris or insubordination.

    Mild snark. Smile.

  294. So now you’re going to hinge your argument on the mandate issue instead of the free exercise issue? Interesting idea (because as we both know the purchase mandate has other legal flaws), but that doesn’t eliminate the flaw in the free exercise argument which seems to be the hook the RCC is hanging their hat upon. The flawed reasoning behind mandated purchasing is really quite different from the flawed reasoning behind the coverage issue regarding free exercise. If this is long game (as Mike A. suggests) for universal coverage, I’ll have to give major points in the strategy department, but honestly, I don’t think most in Washington have a good long game if they have one at all. The microcosm and cycle time of begging for graft, er, campaign finance money makes that kind of play unwieldy at best and impractical at worst. So that leaves what? Happy accident?

  295. rafflaw:

    My parents used the rhythm method and succeeded in producing five children in four years (two of my siblings are twins).

    I remember complaints in the ’50s that Catholics were having too many children. The right was concerned with over-production of Democrats. Now the right is demanding that production of whites be increased because they fear that we will be overrun by black and brown people. My cynical self believes that much of the debate over contraception is related to political demographics. Perhaps the disagreements would resolve themselves if the President proposed another compromise limiting the availability of free contraception coverage to blacks and Hispanics.

  296. BobEsq,

    “The problem, as with the health care law, lies in the mandate. ”

    You are soon mired up to your knees.

    Mandate hither and yon. Interesting legally. But where were you and yours when Congress enacted the Patriot Act without reading nor understanding it, published as it was two hours before voting on it, and pertaining to word changes in over 200 laws. No where in sight. As most of the nation was.

    Congressional laws are not god-given, although they do have power and status. So please clarify or link me to where the limits of mandates are, so I may understand your concern for this one, as being in some way untenable?

  297. SwM,

    Women got cigarettes, suffrage, to work bringing home real money and managing it (WWII), got to choose furniture, got the pill—-look what a mess that’s got us. Let’s go back to “barefoot and pregnant” and chained to the woodpile, etc.

    The Grand Old Party, with emphasis on OLD.

  298. idealist707, I retired from politics. Now I am a volunteer and an observer, but I will probably always be a political junkie. When Ann Richards lost in Texas in the nineties things went downhill for the democrats here. I am not a Texan just live here until my husband retires. Austin is the only place I would consider retiring to here.

  299. SwM,

    Love to see a memoir.

    Jokingly, my experiences of Texas have been brief but pleasant, flying in. That said living where there’s a day’s travel within the same mindset and border would be “Appropriate Gulliver’s adjective please”.

    The ocean around Hawaii was in some way surpassable.
    But two days to pass Texas by car in the 60’s was tough to take.

    What are the merits of Austin, is it the attraction of the formal center of politics?

  300. We need a Democratic ALEC. Now that Mr what’s-his-name from Hungary who breaks national currencies including the pound, is RETIRING.
    Perhaps he could devote his funds and energies to pushing this to solution.

    Obama has other concerns. And his charisma does not move the politicians, apparently, I say.

  301. Idealist, go that website and you will get a feel for the place. Most of the residents there try to ignore Perry and the legislature. You don’t seen republican bumper stickers or yard signs there. Obama signs are mixed with a few Ron Paul signs

  302. Bob

    Those were commands for only the Israelites; not the Gentiles. I am under Grace and not the law. I suggest you speak with your local Rabbi

  303. Jim,

    You have grace. Who imparted that. It’s all a con game. Tell us about your epithanícal moment.

    Imitating JC, “Surely it will be easier for the stupid to enter heaven than the wise.” I said that.
    If you can pick and choose, and ignore points besides, then I can make up my own gospel

    Just last night, lying in bed, I invented a Lenny Bruce inspired monologue about the true story of Saul of Tarsus, aka as St. Paul.

    It all starts with Saul, a used donkey salesmen, having heard about the “Hebs” (Lenny’s word) in Jerusalem bding hot to buy donkeys after their leader popularized them as the IN thing to ride on. (Something to do with the Torah (?) being fulfilled in quintuplicate (insert appropriate multiplication factor).
    Saul, who often writes of his “affliction” (masturbation?), departs thither post (something I won’t write again).
    His auditorial experience was a cover story.
    He meeting “the Rock”, finds the market flooded with donkeys, but listening to Rocky, he decides this could be a franchisable idea to sell to the Greeks hanging around the synagogues of Asia Minor. The Greeks, having found that philosophy was tough to handle, thought that the Jewish menu for daily use more appetising.
    ——–this continues until Saul is crucified in Rome (upside down I contend).
    Etc, etc.

  304. SwM,

    Thank you, the question was not in jest.
    It is, with that description, a gated community guarded by your option.
    Just guessing, the University influence and very old money, which is indifferent to misogynists, flagellists, and Ponzi salesmen.

  305. idealist707

    You obviously have absolutely no understanding of scripture. Jesus came to fulfill the law but not do away with it. Levitical laws do not apply to any race except the Jews. All but 0ne of the ten commandments were reinforced in the New Testament and therefore the New Testament Church (including Gentiles) come under them. However, the Greatest commandment is to Love God with all of our Heart soul and mind. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is why I help people. Jesus never commanded that government do it. Simply following the laws though can’t get one to heaven. That is all about faith and trust. Grace is God giving me what I do not deserve which is eternal life. My part is simply trusting in him.

  306. rafflaw

    You can’t blame the whole for the actions of a few. This shows your ignorance. If you put your trust in people they will let you down because none of us is perfect.

  307. I’m thinking about selling some pro-contraceptive t-shirts. The slogan?
    Lend a hand . . .
    Beat the Bishops!”

  308. Jim,
    The bishops and the Vatican have been involved in a decades long obstruction of continual abuse of children. That is not the “few”. This is the many screwing the few.

  309. the Greatest commandment is to Love God with all of our Heart soul and mind. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
    Love and Judgement are not the same thing. Persecuting others because they do not share understanding in your manner exactly as you do is not Love. Forcing people to live like chattel or to bring children into a world which will not support or Love them is not Love. Judgement and manipulating people for your own ends is more apt to be antiChristian than Christian. It is hateful and unGodly and neither Christian or Islamic or Judaic.

    It’s also not legal in the USA.

  310. Woosty’s still a Cat
    I do not know where you get judgement from my comments. Loving people is doing what is right for them. Sometimes that is called tough love. Making excuses for people is wrong and in the end will backfire. Contraception is a difficult subject. People who use it simply because they are not married and do not want to have a child are not living according to the standard that God has set. That is not judgemental. That is their choice and one they will have to answer for. Government has no business legislating contraception one way or the other. Healthcare is not a right but rather a priviledge. We have to pay for it. Rights are given to us by our creator. The reason people are frustrated is that government under Obama has decided to get involved by issuing mandates and providing free stuff at the expense of others. As I said earlier, Mitt Romney gave over 40% of his money away and Obama gave 1%. Yet, Obama is heralded as a saint. That is the deception and blindness many have in this country. I would like to see every business in America close its doors for one week and then the government and the people will know who really controls this country.

  311. raff,

    This is one of those situations where I am in total agree with Jill and contraception….. there have been made some fairly unthoughtout statements made on here….. as you said to Jim….no one has the right to force their own belief on anyone else……stating an opinion and/or pimping for a canidate is pretty much the same….

  312. Jim:

    “You can’t blame the whole for the actions of a few.”


    True enough but you CAN blame the whole for the actions of its duly authorized leaders. And that I believe is rafflaw’s point, though he makes it better than I do. By the way, you are undoubtedly correct that Jesus came to fulfill the law — every jot and tittle. One then must conclude he came to promote human bondage, sexual slavery, and complete obliteration of apostates down to the last man, woman and child. That, after all, is the law of the scriptures. Cites available.

  313. mespo727272
    No Jesus did not come to promote sexual slavery. Human bondage has been around a lot. Here is one for you. Putting our country 16 trillion dollars in debt is also bondage. Jesus said ” I have come to give you life and have it more abundantly, Satan has come to seek kill and destroy. ” You need to put the blame where it belongs.
    If you knew Jesus as your savior then you wouldn’t have to conclude anything but rather you would know.

  314. Jim,
    Consider me the Doubting Thomas. Give me a link that says Mitt gave $8 million to charity in one year. And what did he gain in tax write offs for any of the money that he did give?

  315. Jim-
    “….People who use it simply because they are not married and do not want to have a child are not living according to the standard that God has set. That is not judgemental. That is their choice and one they will have to answer for.”
    yes, this is a judgement (yours) and an opinion (yours) unless you are G*d (you are not)…

  316. Jim:

    “You obviously have absolutely no understanding of scripture. … The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is why I help people. Jesus never commanded that government do it. Simply following the laws though can’t get one to heaven. That is all about faith and trust.”


    Sure he did Jim:

    1 Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king�s son.

    2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.

    3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

    4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

    5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.

    6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

    7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

    8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

    9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.

    10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.

    11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

    12 For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.

    ~Psalm 72

    Then in Proverbs:

    4 “It is not for kings, O Lemuel—
    not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
    5 lest they drink and forget what the law decrees,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. …
    8 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
    9 Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

    ~Proverbs 31

    Daniel disagrees with you, too:

    27 Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

    ~Daniel 4

    They even get into it in the New Testament:

    4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    ~Romans 13

    So Jim, you see, your capitalistic to-hell-with-the-poor fervor doesn’t mesh with your Christian one. Bummer!

    You’re wrong about your ticket to Heaven too:

    21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[a] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

    ~James 2

    Do you ever read that Book you quote to us as authoritative? Doesn’t look like it there, padre. I don’t think idealist707 is the one with no understanding of scripture.

    I think you’re the one full of sacred dung!

  317. and there is no Biblical directive against having your head up your own ass either so here’s some reading material for your trip….

  318. Jim:

    Oh, I know Jesus. I read His book about the laws and His insistence on fulfilling every part of the Old Testament Law. As your Master (that says a lot doesn’t it) said, “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

    Let me know when you want more cites proving just what I said. I ‘ve already proved your just a typical Bible thumper who has never read the damn thing.

  319. Jim:

    “If you knew Jesus as your savior then you wouldn’t have to conclude anything but rather you would know.”


    It would probably help if I was a “True Scotsman,” too.

  320. Jim1, February 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Woosty’s still a Cat
    I do not know where you get judgement from my comments. Loving people is doing what is right for them.
    you really do think you are G*d…….

    so do you actually use that heady super hero omniscience to talk to your ‘flock’ or is it all just action without words….?

  321. W=^..^

    You ol’ bait and switcher! You got me laughing with “Conception” and madder than Hell with the Blankfein video. Well played. :D

  322. mespo/W=^..^

    So Jim is Him now?

    Him Jim,

    What’s up with avocado pits? Were you high when you made the platypus? Why did Stevie Ray Vaughn dies in a helicopter and we can’t get the Hansen Brothers near one? Wouldn’t it have been a lot less trouble to build a just and loving universe in the first place instead of yanking the cranks of all of creation?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  323. Including the free will not to follow the Bible, Jim, or to let another human tell us they know what God wants as if they were His personal message boy without laughing at them.

  324. Mespo

    Abraham BELIEVED that was credited to him as righteousness. He trusted God no matter what even if that meant sacrificing his son,
    Absolutely I am a SERVANT of Jesus Christ and proud of it. Your quote is accurate about submitting to authorities. We obey the laws of the land but that doesn’t mean compromising our Godly values. When a question arises between Man’s law and God’s law, we always follow God. That is why we believe abortion is wrong. You are just like Satan. Using scripture but not using it correctly.

  325. Jim:

    “No, God gave us free will. That is a trully loving God.”


    What free will did all those 70,000 babies exercise when they were pulled from their mothers’ arms and washed out to sea the day after Christmas during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami?

    Loving God? What dictionary are you using?

  326. Gene H.

    We had a perfect universe until Eve gave in to temptation. That was her choice and then Adam’s. That it is why Paul said I crucify my flesh daily. Our flesh strives to have its way but we walk by the spirit and feed the spirit daily.

  327. Jim:

    Sure Jim you have the market cornered on morality and everybody who disagrees is just Satan. Here’s a revelation: I’m not going to Hell and neither are you ’cause there isn’t one. if you can’t argue your own book, let’s call it a day. i don’t need to waste any more time with an automaton:

  328. Mespo

    They went home to an eternity with God. What a much better place to be. We live in a world where things will happen. Did you see the aftermath of that. The Christians came to their aid in Indonesia and showed the love of Christ. Have you seen the love of Christ shown in Haiti. Disasters happen and Christians step up.

  329. Gene H:

    “Why did Stevie Ray Vaughn dies in a helicopter and we can’t get the Hansen Brothers near one?”


    I’ve just now stopped roaring laughter at this one!! Hey, you woke up Suzanne. At least you’re getting blamed for it. :D

  330. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle gave $10,772 of the $1.2 million they earned from 2000 through 2004 to charities, or less than 1 percent, according to tax returns for those years released today by his campaign

  331. Jim:

    “They went home to an eternity with God.”


    Personally I ‘d like them all back allowing the religious wackos to take their place at “home to an eternity with God.” Most of the kids weren’t Christian by the way so I guess they get an eternity with Satan. Sound about right to you? Those infants were sinners, you know.

  332. Jim,
    “When a question arises between Man’s law and God’s law, we always follow God. That is why we believe abortion is wrong. You are just like Satan. Using scripture but not using it correctly”

    abortion IS wrong. And no woman or child should ever be put in the position of having to need one. Ever. BUT AS LONG AS THE WORLD IS IMPERFECT …and it will blessed with imperfection (and therefor existance) as long as I live and as long as your grandchildren live.., and hopefully thier grandchildren, .then you have no right to batter, impregnate, mislead or commit theft from me or any other woman and use G*d as some flimsy willing excuse and accomplice in absentia….against my will. And if you do….GOD, by granting me free will, has allowed my life to continue sans oppression by way of abortion, and to protect myself, by way of contra-uninvitedfuction. Because my G*d is a Living G*d and not just a dusty old pile of papers….your application of the bible is like a judas-goat leading the flock to the abatoire.

    Heres a thought….quit catering to the fat-ass 1% and forcing the rest of the world to try to have and raise children in a state of terror and want….afraid there won’t be healthcare, afraid there won’t be a roof over their heads, afraid to speak up to local law enforcement, afraid to speak up to an abusive usurious boss…..your attitude is stale. The Bible even directs people to quickly solve problems….which may be the true root of the Onan story….his refusal to come to terms unless he got his own way.

    and Dude, your blaming Eve…hahahahahaha! you don’t even know who she is…..;)

  333. Jim
    1, February 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm
    I pay taxes and do not use contraception.

    359 Elaine M.
    1, February 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Then you’re just like me–a liberal woman!


    Elaine, a real LOL moment there, Thank you. And thank you for the great links in this thread and other threads over the last several days.

  334. Jim, are you the same Jim that was posting the same bitchy statement about illegal aliens getting free medical care to some of the threads yesterday? Just wondering.

    1, February 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm
    I wonder since Obama is requiring all of us to purchase health insurance if he will also require Illegal Immigrants to be turned in when they go to the hospital so that they do not get FREE Healthcare. What a tragedy, Americans have to pay and illegals get it for free.”

  335. Thank-you Mike A. and all above for this is a great thread.

    In the difference of opinion between Gene H. and Bob esq. I’m with Gene.

    The Catholic Bishops have been down this road before and LOST.

    The NY Leg. passed the Women’s Health & Wellness Act which (among other services) mandated that employer insurance plans which offered covered prescriptive medicines as benefits must include coverage for contraceptives. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany joined by some Baptist’s org. brought suit in 2002; with the same argument, that this requirement was an infringement on their religious freedom. In 2003 the NY Supreme dismissed the complaint upholding the act as constitutional. The divided appellate affirmed the original decision in 2006. Appealing once again the NY Court of Appeals affirmed the decision and preserved the WHWA as constitutional. The SCOTUS decided not to consider the challenge in2007. Charities v. Serio – NY Ct of Appeals Decision.pdf

  336. Oops maybe this will work; if not you all know how to look it up.

  337. Gene H.

    Better living through contraception. Apologies to Dupont
    My condom or your pessar?
    Pullout is xx % successful. Feel like gambling tonight?
    She: What are you wearing? He: You. She: Oh well. (Courtesy Assange)
    For girls: Mine is guarded by a rubber sniffer.
    Planning is important in life. Think contraception! Courtesy your bank.
    Contraception: A winner for all persons, even weenie ones.
    For girls: The red spot on my nose means I’m safe tonight (Popular!!!!)
    For girls: Of course! Do you have to ask?
    For girls: My bishop will not bless me
    For girls: Holy Mary! See what anti-contraception got her.
    For all: Holy Mary! Screwed by God. And now bishops on us.
    See what bare-backing got Assange.
    For guys: I will if you haven’t.

    Etc, etc.———–
    The right of the author is asserted and incorrectly cited, etc.

  338. Rafflaw and Jim,

    Raff said: 40 per cent of $20 million in income would be donations of $8 million. Where is the evidence?

    Jim anticipated reply: Grace has the deposit slip. Ask her.

  339. Jim,

    says: “We had a perfect universe until Eve gave in to temptation. That was her choice and then Adam’s. That it is why Paul said I crucify my flesh daily. Our flesh strives to have its way but we walk by the spirit and feed the spirit daily.”—————–

    So why did you leave Jonestown?
    So complete and total racial suicide would please God?

    Free will: Some brands say all is pre-determined. Not even any wiggle-room.

    So after 700 years of writing the old testament down in the Temple’s back rooms, 1600 years of creation and editing the new testament, and 2000 years getting the priests to shut up so the unique brand——–and you believe yours is holy, divinely inspired, inalterable, infallible, a literal expression of all of the universe, etc.etc.

    Amazing how delusions overpower rationality.

    PS Have you crucified your flesh today? That means you did IT beforehand.
    You nasty boy. Cut it off. You remember what JC said about your eye offending you and adventuring your soul.

  340. Jim,
    Let’s start with you, the oh so 10% says the Bible man.

    Where did you get your income. From fleecing your flock. In service to mankind as you claim all Christians do.

    And what was your contribution? 10%?

  341. “Most recently, we’ve been treated to a new round of a battle over birth control, as the debate over whether employees at religiously affiliated institutions should be required to receive insurance that covers birth control without a co-payment…” (refer to link below)

    If this dispute boils down to a co-payment, which generally only covers a portion of the cost of a drug or medication, then the debate is really about money. The question at hand seems to be whether the insurance company or hospital (if self-insured) pays the full amount or only a portion of the cost. Any religious issues are simply a smokescreen, it would seem, if this really boils down to the assumption of a co-payment by a patient.


    “4 States Where Right-Wingers Are Promoting Shocking Measures to Keep Women Barefoot and Pregnant”

    “The birth control skirmish is not the only regressive, anti-woman, anti-science battle being waged in this country.”

    February 18, 2012 |

    “It’s been an exhausting few weeks for reproductive rights supporters. Most recently, we’ve been treated to a new round of a battle over birth control, as the debate over whether employees at religiously affiliated institutions should be required to receive insurance that covers birth control without a co-payment — a right employees of all other U.S. companies will have under the Obama administration’s new healthcare law — rages on in Washington.”

    (and the article continues)

  342. mespo,

    As long as it’s not a felony, feel free to blame anything you need to on me with Suzanne. It’s not the first time a friend has blamed something on me to the wife, I’m sure it won’t be the last. Since it’s very often true, I really don’t mind. :D

  343. This is NOT about contraception.. and you all know it. It is about abortion.It is the “next” step in MANDATED care that must be provided by Catholic Hospitals, etc –here young lady, take this pill and you will feel 8 pounds thinner soon!

    I have HAD IT with ALL (100%) of the politicians. Is anyone aware of a religion that condones “honor floggings” for all pols? 3 floggings — when elected, at mid-term, and when they leave office (with their suitcase of cash).

  344. I mean, can one say up their rights, on some condition of recompense?
    Then we could remove the effect of the 5th and require signing of a contract as a pre-requisite to elected office.

    THEN, we could bring out the polygraph for periodic testing.

    This could be coupled to guaranteed immunity if cause for prosecution were detected; conditioned on the immediate voluntary separation from his/her service. Employment within government and or corporations would be banned for five years. Corporations employing such persons, after the ban period, would be required to list them in their annual reports, and mark all advertisements with an icon of dishonor. Employment requiring public trust would also be banned for life.

    McKochalds would be encharged with providing employment dispensing meals garbed in a special uniform of dishonor. Many might choose retirement instead.

  345. “This is NOT about contraception.. and you all know it. It is about abortion.It is the “next” step in MANDATED care that must be provided by Catholic Hospitals, etc –here young lady, take this pill and you will feel 8 pounds thinner soon!”

    Nothing like a passing troll to bring this thread back on track. The argument presented by certain religionists may feature contraception and abortion as buzzwords to rally the flock, but the aim is about controlling women. This is the old religious tradition of keeping women in their place. Its’ history goes back to the writing of the Torah, done by a nomadic tribe, living in a patriarchal world. The traditions of almost all of the BCE world were that women we chattels and marriage a system of wealth transference and political expediency. The only saving grace for this patriarchy was that at least within marriage the sexual satisfaction of both partners was equally important.

    Early Christianity was egalitarian as records from its inception that escaped purposeful destruction attest. There are even scholarly proponents that believe Mary Magdalene was not only the wife of Jesus, but his most trusted confidant. Christianity began to be formalized at the Council of Nicaea 325 CE and with that formalization began a melding of both Roman paganism and original Christian concepts. The Romans were a licentious, patriarchal society and there was a large branch of Christian Bishops who saw women as sexual temptresses and who were decidedly misogynistic. These views ultimately triumphed and blended into the mainstream of Christianity. Essentially Jesus was raised to co-equal Godhood, but his teachings as detailed in the Gospels were subsumed by Paul’s theological perspective.

    When it comes to Islam, the second religion derived from Jewish tradition, its Prophet Mohammed’s original teachings regarding women were more egalitarian than the patriarchal traditions of the Arab peoples, but with his death it reverted back to the areas native patriarchy. And so it goes.

    The attempts to repress women’s rights and make them second class citizens again rages today, after all the progress made in the last century has struck fear into the heart of sexually insecure males. It interests me that these are in general men of such flagging willpower when it comes to their sexual nature, that they require universal rules to diminish the power of women’s sexuality. These are men threatened by women as powerful as themselves and thus seek religious and legal means to repress women’s natural aspirations for equality. Secondary to this, comes the fear of homosexuality and the preoccupation with its “evils” by a class of men whose own sexual nature may well be ambiguous and frightening.

    When we look at the RCC, for instance, given it’s pedophilia scandal, it seems to me that the need to find sexual fulfillment with children is indicative of an immature/uncontrollable sexuality that fears interaction of its impulses on an adult level. However, this misogynist outlook is not limited to the RCC,
    since many Christian Sects have the diminution of women’s status as tenets of faith. Perhaps it is my psychotherapeutic training that prejudices my mindset, but I can’t help but see this issue in terms of male sexual immaturity translating the objects of their fear into almost demons (from both a heterosexual and homosexual viewpoint) that must be controlled at all costs, to keep themselves from succumbing to their perceived “sinful” natures.

  346. anon nurse
    1, February 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

    It is so (not even uniquely so), that you can not deliver ‘care’ by judgement. As a nurse I learned my job was to care for patients and assist them to overcome illness…not judge them. It is an objective duty best practiced with compassion and that objectiveness has been corroded over the past 20 years by the profiteers on one side and the religious zealots on the other. Neither have a right to the discussion. And if you want a quick outcome to this ridiculous circus just point out to the Catholic hospitals that if they take insurance money or gov grants for anything they are already drinking from a poison well and if they are taking any money at all for healthcare delivery then they are the poison. And to the politicians….if they are acting as advocate to anyone or anything in healthcare that is serving up illness or it’s source (poverty, exploitatoin, theft, malfeasance,corruption, disdain, selective delivery,…etc) that they should find another profession.

    It isn’t about abortion if the baby is already dead….

  347. Gene,

    One more thing. The right of contraception is inextricably linked to the inalienable right of self ownership and thus will always trump a civil right afforded to an institution such as free exercise.

  348. Bob,

    Thanks for that. Haven’t thought about Our Gang for many years, but I remembered the scene the minute the clip started. The myth then and apparently now is that all young boys hate girls. Perhaps I was precociously hypersexual but I can remember from age 6 being fascinated and attracted to girls. It was around 8 that my parent’s first began to discuss sex with me and I first began to understand the origins of those strange stirrings in my nether regions.

  349. Mike S.

    Been waiting impatiently for you. Right on the money

    I posted earlier that the independent islamic women of the Maldives were recorded in a book some 40 years ago of sexually dominating; to the point of exhaustion, their men. Whether that included “open marriages” for the women was not clearly handled.
    But fear of women and sexuality appears to be the primary factor. Women choose them. Men only pretend to decide.
    Particularly enjoyed your showing marriage as a economic and power transaction.

    In your experience as a therapist, do men, priest, come to the insight or realizing this fear? Your therapy may not be interested in achieving such insights, so maybe it is moot.

  350. “In your experience as a therapist, do men, priest, come to the insight or realizing this fear? Your therapy may not be interested in achieving such insights, so maybe it is moot.”


    While I’ve been retired for a while my experience when active is that for therapy to be successful people have to come to terms with what is holding them back from living in their own skins. Notice I don’t say happiness purposely because that is too subjective. However, if anything rings true in life, one has to be comfortable with who they are. To achieve this a person has to learn to at least be honest with themselves. The men who I refer to here would protest if they were called misogynists, even though I suspect that is their motivation.

    I’m not saying that someone in therapy would come to terms with their misogyny and the be “cured” of it. Many might actually embrace it. The therapists job is only to assist someone in seeing who they truly are and with that knowledge help work with them to change their life on THEIR terms. People and indeed therapists misconceive the practice as being one of a healer making someone better, it is really akin to that of a Yoga instructor who teaches a technique that then becomes the responsibility of the student to master. Therapeutic change in life can occur, it has in mine, but for change to occur it is the person, not the therapist who does the “heavy lifting”.

    The biggest reason that I gave up my practice and my psychotherapist training center, was that I found most people didn’t want to do the work, but wanted me to “cure” them of their ills. Also most of the therapist who trained with me in Gestalt techniques saw themselves as “healers” rather than facilitators. I didn’t become a Psychotherapist to make money off of peoples vulnerability, but to actually be of service to people as my therapist was to me. After years I came to the conclusion that many people sought out therapy not to change their lives, but to win the therapists approval of the way they lived and to also be their parental figure. I had all the tools to have made a fortune at doing just that, but living a con man’s life wasn’t my metier.

  351. Bob,

    “One more thing. The right of contraception is inextricably linked to the inalienable right of self ownership and thus will always trump a civil right afforded to an institution such as free exercise.”

    Uh, yeah. Why did you think I was saying the free exercise intrusion line was at mandated use and not mandated provision?

  352. Gene,

    I think I posted that because of the hysterics I saw on a MSNBC show this morning; the reasoning being that ruling in favor of the church will lead to forced pregnancies.

  353. Mike S.,
    Thanks so much for the time. It matchs my experience, even as to the negative aspect of seeking approval and a supportive parent.
    The heavy lifting remains for me, assuming I continue to be motivated, as I am now. But results are seen now from the effort after my stalemating for many years. Showing the patient who he is is not easy. It has taken years.
    Practically every encounter with my real self, and with others is productive now in some palpable way. I’m more in contact with my gut feeling, which the therapist finds important. Not in words, but in signs.

    Just to end on a self-critical note: I found coming here, that it was easy to abandon the independent search mode and go over to the little fledgeling following the mother Robin on the ground food search. Oh, she eats that, that must be good; even relapsing into nested behaviour of just opening the beak exposing the red target to be filled.
    But changing and finding and encouraging growth is not easy. But rewarding. How fortunate there are folks like you and my therapist.
    He refuses to raise my fee after 8 years, guess it’s not money there.
    Shan’t trouble you again. In itself, this was the little bird following you, peep peep. And therefore thanks for your special consideration.

    Seeking approval, I can assume too much in my need, asking for attention disguised in various guises.. But discovering lines not to be crossed were and are a mystery to be solved now by me.

  354. Idealist707,
    My pleasure. A tip on your posting here, you already are a regular. Relax, hang out, you have interesting things to offer and need not think you have to try hard to fit in since you already do.

  355. On the topic of “hell”, discussed briefly in this thread…

    “Hell” is the inability to love.” -Dostoevsky

    From Chris Hedges:

    “Acts of Love”

    Posted on Feb 19, 2012


    Love is not selflessness. It is the giving of one’s best self, giving one’s highest self unto the world. It is finding true selfhood. Selflessness is martyrdom, dying for a cause. Selfhood is living for a cause. It is choosing to create good in the world. To love another as one loves oneself is to love the universal self that unites us all. If our body dies, it is the love that we have lived that will remain—what the religious understand as the soul—as the irreducible essence of life. It is the small, inconspicuous things we do that reveal the pity and beauty and ultimate power and mystery of human existence.

    Vasily Grossman wrote in his masterpiece “Life and Fate”:

    My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious leaders, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.

    End of excerpt

  356. anon nurse:

    “Vasily Grossman wrote in his masterpiece “Life and Fate”:…”

    Reads like an expansion of Dostoevsky’s famous commentary on The Brothers Karamazov::

    “The dolts have ridiculed my obscurantism and the reactionary character of my faith. These fools could not even conceive so strong a denial of God as the one to which I gave expression… The whole book [The Brothers Karamazov] is an answer to that…. You might search Europe in vain for so powerful an expression of atheism. Thus it is not like a child that I believe in Christ and confess Him. My hosanna has come forth from the crucible of doubt.”

  357. Contraception Furor v. Catholic Realities
    The current flap over health care is about birth control, it is not about religious liberty, and it is not over.
    By Mary E. Hunt

    Anyone who thinks that the much-discussed compromise offered by the Obama administration will end the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ efforts to eradicate contraception and otherwise truncate women’s rights is sadly mistaken. Their show of ecclesial muscle, noticed big time by the White House in an election year, only serves to reinforce and reinscribe a moral authority that many Catholics no longer grant to the hierarchy. We understand ourselves in far more mature, differentiated, and autonomous fashions that vary widely among us. We vote accordingly.

    The furor over the provision of contraceptive services focuses attention on the Catholic community, a quarter of the US population. Generalizations are hazardous, and the obvious is not usually what it appears to be. There are not two teams—the bishops and the rest of us—nor are there just conservatives and progressives. As a quarter of the US population, we range from Opus Dei to Catholics for Choice, from parish members to base community adherents, from students to seniors, and everyone in the middle.

    We do not speak in one voice, and no one speaks for all of us. We each have one vote. Not even the seemingly middle-of-the-road folks, like some media members and lobbyists who claim to be the voice of Catholic reason, represent anyone but themselves. This is the contemporary Catholic situation, and anyone who tries to persuade otherwise has a bridge to sell in Brooklyn.

    Nonetheless, the current flap over health care reveals three Catholic realities: it is about birth control, it is not about religious liberty, and it is not over.

    Why Would Anyone in 2012 Resist Birth Control?

    Efforts to say that the controversy is not about birth control are fruitless and foolish. No one is arguing about flu shots. This is about women’s reproductive health, something the Roman Catholic Church has tried to manage for millennia. The demand for widespread religious exemptions from a common sense policy that makes coverage of contraception part of a national health care package causes most people to scratch their heads. Why in 2012 would anyone resist birth control? Why would a church that opposes abortion not want people to use effective, economical ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies? Even the insurance companies, not known for taking the moral high ground, can spot a cost-saver when it is presented to them.

    Humane Vitae, the so-called birth control encyclical promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1968, was taken out of mothballs for the occasion. Most young Catholics consider birth control a settled matter: they use it in good conscience. What they don’t know is that the decision to ban what was then called “artificial” contraception was made over and against the majority report of the Pope’s own commission. That group saw birth control pills as logical, better—a technological extension of responsible efforts to plan families. That the Pope went with a minority report in issuing the teaching against contraception shows how easily history could have gone the other way. More recent pitched battles over abortion, as well as present and future ones over same-sex love and marriage, are similarly configured; good Catholics are all over the ethical map.

    Efforts by the hierarchical institution to spin the current controversy as a matter of religious liberty are unconvincing. After all, it is not the Catholic Church whose liberty is impinged upon. Members, even bishops, can still teach and believe what they wish. No one forces them to use contraception. Rather, it is employees of Catholic institutions, including janitors and housekeepers, whose rights to make their own decisions about health care are impinged upon. Blaming the victim is an old trick, but, in this case, few people are buying it.

    Not Religious Liberty, But Religious Influence

    Religious liberty language is attractive, especially in an election year. But when it works the opposite way from what the bishops intended, they would do well to back off. If there are legal issues at stake, they are more along the lines of labor laws than Constitutional issues. The bishops’ issue is not religious liberty, but religious influence, namely, their own which is on the wane.

  358. “Why Would Anyone in 2012 Resist Birth Control?” -Mary Hunt (comment at 10:47 a.m.)

    Why, indeed. …the million dollar question… (rhetorical, of couse.)

  359. Contra-contraception
    By David Norlin
    The Kansas Free Press
    Opinion | February 20, 2012

    “Alarming” is a word that is, well, alarming. Used by editorial writers, politicians, and others, it gets attention, perhaps moves folks to action. But let’s cool off, here. As Isaiah said, “Be not dismayed.”

    The latest alarm’s about providing contraception insurance for women working in religious institutions. The Catholic Conference of Bishops and various Republican candidates/officials say it’s “an attack on religious liberty.”

    Roshana Ariel, however, points out in her Salina Journal column that, despite 1968 Catholic doctrine that “it’s always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings,” two years later, “two-thirds of all Catholic women and three-quarters of those under 30 were using the pill and other methods banned by the church.” Today it’s remains clear that for years the alarmed Conference of Catholic Bishops–and other evangelical leaders–have had little effect and, like the emperor of the story, no clothes.

    The nakedness of their posturing comes smack up against these women’s self-chosen best interests. They refused to be knocked down and will choose when to be knocked up. These women’s choices seem a near-perfect definition of “liberty” in the best American sense. That, I imagine, is why the Bishops failed to level the canon of excommunication at them. Politely, silently, and consistently, these women have repudiated the extremism of their religious leaders.

    We know that all such leaders are not this extreme. Few bishops, priests, pastors, or religious leaders agree with every single doctrine. But those who adopt this alarmist hardening of right-wing ideological rhetoric need to stop. Cool out. “Be not dismayed.”

    This seems a hard lesson for religious or political ideologists. Saturday’s Journal religion section featured the now former priest of St. Mary’s Church in Mount Carmel, IL. When the Pope and international hierarchy changed missal language to hew closer to the old Latin meaning (as they understand it), the Reverend Bill Rowe decided to stick to language his parishioners could understand. Rowe was admonished, refused the order, and now, after 47 years of service, he is gone. Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, director of Divine Worship for the Conference of Bishops, is unrepentant. The “missal” must adhere (or be pretty close) to the Latin.

    This is indisputably a misguided missal. But bad as it is, it doesn’t touch the refusal of church fathers to offer even the opportunity for insurance to cover birth control for women employees at their schools, hospitals, and universities. Not abortions—Birth. Control.

    It would be distressing enough if such closed-ear responses were limited only to this patriarchy. But Republican poo-bahs and even our local Journal editor have joined the cacophonous chorus, saying we should be “alarmed.”

    When it comes to contraception, who plays the chorus organ? Their clueless whine ignores the churches’ own special exemption–an exemption hanging its female employees on their own special cross.

    We might admire the attractive young church secretary whose devotion to the local Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, or Catholic Church is such that she finds her mission there. Yet if she wants control of her own body, perhaps to be of better service to said church, she is out of luck–unless she pays out of her own pocket, from a likely meager salary.

  360. Elaine,

    Thank you for the clarifying links on this subject. I happen to think that what is going on is less about RCC morality than meets the eye. My supposition is that this is a PR counter-offensive to circle the wagons of Catholics, by claiming an attack against their religious freedom. It is done with what I think is the mistaken idea that this will erase in Catholic minds the horrible betrayal represented by the worldwide pedophile scandal and its coverup by RCC officialdom

  361. Mike,

    I doubt anything could erase the pedophile scandal from anyone’s mind.


    Birth Control Lawsuits Have Shaky Legal Merit

    President Obama’s religious accommodation in his rule requiring insurance plans to cover birth control has failed to placate elements of the Catholic community, and, with strong GOP support, they remain determined to sue. But do the lawsuits, the latest of which was filed Tuesday, have much legal merit? Possibly, but if judicial precedent is any indication, probably not.

    The tweaked regulation says religious non-profits like universities and hospitals do not need to pay for free birth control coverage in their employee health plans, and can pass the cost on to the insurance company. (Churches and houses of worship are entirely exempt.) But like other entities, Ave Maria University, a Catholic institution, argues in a new legal challenge that affiliating itself with any access to contraception would violate its religious beliefs.

    But barring a departure from precedent, the lawsuits aren’t set to go very far.

    “I don’t think they have much of a case under current precedent,” said Jessica Arons of the Center For American Progress. “Courts in New York and California have already upheld the exemption that was initially adopted by the Administration. And I think the further accommodation that the Administration has offered shows exceeding sensitivity to claims of religious liberty that are not required under the law.”

    Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, was more blunt. “This lawsuit is inspired by politics and nothing more,” he told TPM. “Even under the previously announced rule there was little chance of success.”

    One avenue for a challenge is on First Amendment grounds. But the Supreme Court has emphatically said religious entities may not be exempted from generally applicable laws, with some exceptions that don’t apply to this issue. The second and more likely avenue to use is the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which says federal laws may only constitute an “incidental” (as opposed to “substantial”) burden on religious practices, that those laws must by justified by a compelling government interest and be narrowly tailored to meet that interest.

    Former Bush administration lawyers David Rivkin and Ed Whelan argued in the Wall Street Journal that the mandate violates RFRA.

    “The refusal, for religious reasons, to provide birth-control coverage is clearly an exercise of religious freedom under the Constitution,” they wrote. “The ‘exercise of religion’ extends to performing, or refusing to perform, actions on religious grounds—and it is definitely not confined to religious institutions or acts of worship.”

    Rivkin and Whelan said the mandate fails a key RFRA test in that there are ways for the government to expand cost-free access to contraception that are less burdensome to religious beliefs, such as through health centers, public clinics and groups like Planned Parenthood.

    Arons mentioned one plausible scenario in which a religious entity could succeed in a legal challenge to the rule — but an unlikely one by her reckoning. “If they primarily employ and serve people of the same faith and if a primary purpose of their institution is to inculcate religious values, then they may even qualify for the original exemption,” she said.

  362. Religious Groups Line Up To Support Affordable Care Act
    By Ian Millhiser on Feb 21, 2012

    Earlier this month, the nation was barraged with media coverage of the Catholic Bishops’ opposition to regulations promulgated under the Affordable Care Act protecting working women’s access to contraception. The loudness of the bishops’ complaints, which were echoed by conservative luminaries ranging from Speaker John Boehner to GOP presidential frontrunners Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, easily could have conveyed the misimpression that churches and other religious groups are at odds with the Affordable Care Act.

    On Friday, however, a broad coalition of religious organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that should give the lie to any claim that the faith community opposes the ACA. The brief includes a number of major religious denominations, including the policy arm of the United Methodist Church, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church. Additionally, the brief’s signatories include a wide range of Catholic groups:

    Benedictine Sisters, Boerne, Texas; Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Texas; Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of the Rosary, New York; Dominican Sisters of Hope; Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, Massachusetts; Marianist Province of the United States; Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth Leadership Team, New Jersey; Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul of New York; Sisters of the Holy Cross Congregation Justice Committee; Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi, Texas; Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team, Nebraska; Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, Missouri; Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, New York; Sisters of St. Dominic Congregation of the Most Holy Name; Society of the Holy Child Jesus, American Province Leadership Team; Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, US Province; JOLT, Catholic Coalition for Responsible Investing; Region VI Coalition for Responsible Investment, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee; School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund

    None of this religious support for the ACA should be surprising. After all, all that these religious groups are doing is following Psalm 82′s command to “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

    Pope Benedict XVI has called health care an “inalienable right,” and added that it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.”

  363. “I doubt anything could erase the pedophile scandal from anyone’s mind.”

    I agree, but what’s a Prelate faced with the evidence of hypocrisy by his Priesthood and himself, to do but grasp at straws in the hopes of deflecting?

  364. Pelosi: GOP ‘Censoring’ Female Witness On Birth Control

    House Republicans have refused to televise a Democratic-led hearing on birth control that features the testimony of a female witness the GOP spurned in a recent hearing, says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). And Pelosi wants you to know it.

    The hearing Thursday is set to have as its sole witness Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student whom House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) forbade from testifying at his contraception hearing last week despite requests from Democrats. Issa’s hearing instead included an all-male panel of religious authorities, partly in an effort to convey his claim that the issue was solely about religious freedom, and not really about women’s rights.

    “In an apparent effort to again silence women on the topic of women’s health,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammil said in a statement Tuesday, “the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Dan Lungren, has apparently reversed existing policy and denied a request from the Democratic leadership for the House Recording Studio to cover this event and provide video publicly so all Americans can finally hear Ms. Fluke.”

  365. Female Witness Hits Back At Issa: ‘I’m A Woman Who Uses Contraception, That Makes Me Qualified’ To Testify
    By Igor Volsky on Feb 23, 2012

    Democrats on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a special hearing Thursday morning in response to the GOP’s decision to prevent women from testifying in support of an Obama administration rule requiring employers to provide birth control without additional cost sharing. The committee invited just one witness, Sandra Fluke, the third year Georgetown Law student, who House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) dismissed as an “energized” “college student” who was not “appropriate and qualified” to testify before his committee.

    Democrats received over 300,000 requests for women to testify on the issue, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during today’s hearing, and the GOP’s male-only contraception hearing was widely spoofed in the press and on late-night comedy shows. Fluke herself responded to Issa’s snub in jest, noting, “Well, I will confirm that I was energized, yes” she said to laughter from the committee, “as you can see from the reaction behind me, many women in this country are energized about this issue.” “I’m an American woman who uses contraception, so let’s start right there. That makes me qualified to talk to my elected officials about my health care needs,” she added.

    In her testimony, Fluke reiterated the story of her friend who was denied contraception coverage from Georgetown, despite technically qualifying for an exception that provided students who use birth control for health reasons with the benefit, and had to undergo invasive surgery. She also highlighted the confusion such policies cause, noting that while Catholic employers may claim that their insurance plans include loopholes for women who use birth control for non-reproductive purposes, beneficiaries still interpret the policy as a blanket exclusion of reproductive health benefits. One woman, for instance, did not seek medical treatment after being raped because she believed Georgetown did not provide coverage for women’s “sexual health care”:

    FLUKE: One student told us that she knew birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman’s reproductive health.

  366. Two brief comments for now —I have an article I have prepared on this subject which is in the process of being submitted to another source.If it is turned down I shall,if possible enter it here at a later date.

    Suppose I am a member of the christian science faith.I need some repairs done in my house and hire someone I know who belongs to a faith that fully utilizes medical treatment.Suppose further that while working for me the man suffers what is clearly recognizable as a heart attack.Do I have a right to limit myself to praying for his wellbeing or do I have an obligation to call 911 and get the medical attention that is permissible for him?Do my beliefs take precedent over his beliefs?

    Our society rests on tolerance.I believe that tolerance amounts to equal legitimacy in the realm of social activity except where the state can prove a substantial and compelling need.It is my impression that those criteria are met when the health ,safety and welfare of women are concerned. In the 1800’s it was alleged that it was appropriate to require that women work 7 days a week at their jobs because idle hands leads to sinful
    behavior.That is, has the church ever been short on excuses for whatever it wanted to approve of or disapprove of,even in the cases of torture,burning at the stake,covering up pedophilia,etc?Here we are talking about an Insurance company covering costs of prescriptions, preventive care.and contraception.The church connected institutions are covering the same kinds of items for men.The church connected institutions are not going to pay any monies that are specifically targeted at covering the contraception and preventive care which the church prohibits.Thus,.Is the opposition nothing more more than an attempt to force upon our society its value just as is true in the case of its Roe vs Wade opposition?

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