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I’ve had it up to my ears with the moralizing, fact-twisting, narrow-minded U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Last Sunday, Bishops all across the land sent out terse pronouncements calling the Obama Administration’s new rule requiring Catholic hospitals, universities and other Catholic institutions who employ non-catholics to provide insurance coverage for contraception “a severe assault on religious liberty.” which will force the church to “violate its beliefs by providing coverage for medications and procedures we believe are immoral.”

Now wait just a minute. Before you swallow this ludicrous gobbledygook from an all boy’s club of Catholic Monsignors, consider the concession these fellows are demanding:

What they want is a blanket exemption from the rules that will apply equally to all American businesses who provide health insurance for their employees. This exemption would deny all women in the employ of the church, whether they are Catholic or not, the right to choose contraception for family planning. This is the assault on religious liberty, not the other way around. These millions of non-Catholic employees (and for that matter, the 98% of Catholic women who use or have used contraception) have the same right to choose contraception as all other American women. Do they not have the constitutional right of freedom from the religious dictates of their employer?

There is nothing in the new rule that denies any religious freedom to anybody anyway. Catholics who choose not to use contraceptives may freely continue to abide by that choice. There is no mandate requiring Catholic hospitals have to offer contraception or morning-after pills. The mandate simply requires all Catholic and other religious institutions who employ non-Catholics to include coverage for contraception in their insurance plans. The new rule has nothing whatsoever to do with the rights of the institution, which to my mind has no rights in the matter in any case. (The constitutionality of such a mandate has already been ruled to be constitutional by the United States Supreme Court. )

If the Bishops’ logic were to prevail in this dispute, what is to prevent any Catholic businessman who morally opposes contraception from deciding that he won’t offer his employees coverage for it? What if a businessman morally opposes all vaccines? Could he decide that he was exempt from providing the children of his employees coverage for inoculations for polio, chicken pox or the flu? Perhaps he’s a Christian Scientist who doesn’t morally believe in doctors and hospitals at all? Considered in that light it seems to be a ridiculous argument.

On the other hand, if this debate somehow puts the whacko, wingnut, right-fringe Rick Santorum on either end of the Republican presidential ticket, I’ll be very glad of it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Right. This is nothing but an attempt by the (14+ / 0-)

    Catholic bishops to force their religious views onto people who don't share them.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:36:23 AM PST

    •  Not really (9+ / 0-)

      It's part of their pact with the GOP to cause Obama as much problem as possible in an election year, despite the fact that 28 states already have the same law (was that in the letter?)

      And part of their "obey or go to hell" campaign to make sure they still have influence.

      Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

      by MrMichaelMT on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:46:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is the same group that... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MNGrandma, agnostic, mama jo, bethcf4p

        just insisted on changing the language of the Mass by inserting inscrutable terms like "consubstantiate" reminding the faithful that using that language was a matter of obedience.

        My favorite change is the insertion of "dewfall" into the canon of the mass. Now, as a scientist (actually since third grade) I've known that dew condenses, doesn't fall. But I guess in the third century that's what they thought, and non-science belongs there.

        Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

        by MrMichaelMT on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:56:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And it took a full decade (0+ / 0-)

          for the new and revised mass wording to be
          agreed upon and implemented.
          Let's see now...what was going on 10 years ago
          that may have prompted this diversionary tactic....

          Do you know which 28 states already have this law?
          [please let ohio be one of them :) ]

      •  Nietzsche called it Will to Power. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Some philosophers think of that as our most pressing drive, more pressing even than our search for pleasure.

        Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

        by Ice Blue on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 11:43:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I am a Catholic, and I am pretty pissed off (4+ / 0-)

      about these Catholic Bishops and all the hoopla over this. This Pope is against birth control, but it wasn't always this way, there were other Popes in the Catholic church that told people birth control was a "matter of conscience".
      One would think the Catholic Church being so pro-life and against abortion, they would endorse Birth Control for all people, not just for Catholics.
      BTW, this is not about Catholic doctrine, it about health care and what or what not should be covered by health care insurance. I could see them bitching if abortion were covered, but it is not, and there is no doubt that birth control prevents abortion.
      The Catholic church preaches abstenice, but yet, I think these Health Care Plans offered pays for Viagra or Viagra like drugs, Why?
      Before the Catholic Church gets it's panties in a knot over something as harmless as birth control, perhaps it should concentrate on cleaning up it's ranks from the pedophile preists, who do much more damage to society than the pill.
      While the G.O.P. thinks it has a winning issue with the Catholic Church at war with this President, I say be careful what you wish for, the Catholic Church as of late, has not be the paragon of virtue it portrays itself as.
      My message to the Catholic Bishops, is stop raping little boys, and then we will listen to what you have to say, until then, just shut up and follow the rules.

  •  Three lies in that letter (11+ / 0-)

    First, the law does not apply to "almost all" institutions--only those whose main mission isn't religion.

    Second, it doesn't require anyone to provide drug coverage at all. The main organizations affected here are groups like the Jesuits, not the Bishops at all. And at places like University of Detroit, they could simply provide cash in lieu of drug policies, and let the employees decide themselves.

    And third, the use of "abortion-inducing drugs" as a euphemism for birth control is just criminal!

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    by MrMichaelMT on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:39:13 AM PST

  •  The problem with your analysis (0+ / 0-)

    is that it is belied by the view of the Administration.

    The Administration has already recognized the Catholic religious belief that paying for contraception for anyone violates their religious teaching. It has already recognized that that religious belief deserves First Amendment protection. It has already said that my local Catholic Parish, when it hires perhaps non-Catholic women to act as a secretary, to clean the Church, or to do housekeeping for the priest, is exempt from the requirement of providing coverage for contraception for those women, whether they are Catholic or not. That is a validation from the administration that the Catholic church's view on not paying for contraception is a religious view protected by the First Amendment. (And, of course, one is denying those women contraception; it simply means that their employer is not paying for it.)

    The ONLY question is how do you define a religious organization for purposes of the exemption? I think that the test the administration has put out is overly broad and frankly provides completely wrong incentives. If, for example, a Catholic Charity -- which is an arm of the
    Church and run as an arm of the Church -- wants to provide charitable services to people without asking their faith, according to the administration, that organization has to violate its religious teachings to do so. On the other hand, if that same charity wants to ask people before they provide services to them what religion they are, and to serve only Catholics, the administration says that they get to keep their religious teachings intact, and they don't have to provide contraceptive coverage to their female employees, Catholic or not, regardless of their position. Presumably, the same kind of analysis would apply to a hospital -- they would greatly increase the chance that the administration would not force them to violate a religious teaching (already recognized by the administration as protected by the First Amendment) if they asked for a person's religion before they were hired or were admitted. That's a wrong incentive, it seems to me.

    •  Joan Walsh sez: (6+ / 0-)

      Note that the administration is OK with church-run institutions that only employ Catholics prohibiting contraception coverage. It simply won’t let the church impose its teachings on non-Catholics. This shouldn’t be a controversial decision.

      Let’s make a couple of things clear here. Obviously, the law won’t force Catholics to use contraception. And 98 percent of Catholics already practice birth control (and not the “natural family planning” kind), according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. It’s not as though Catholics are an endangered minority of true believers being forced to transgress a fervently held and widely practiced church rule. This battle is over a Catholic Church teaching that even Catholics ignore almost unanimously.

      The administration’s requirement comes from the Institute of Medicine within the National Academy of Sciences, which considers contraception access part of a total healthcare plan that brings down maternal and infant mortality rates. The government sets minimal basic standards for the benefits and safety conditions employers must provide to employees. What if Catholic hospitals and universities and public agencies objected to occupational safety rules for doctrinal reasons? Child labor laws? Would people argue they should be exempt from those regulations? Of course not.

      Now Catholic bishops are urging priests and parishes to rise up against the Obama administration’s alleged violation of religious freedom. It’s bad enough that men with no credibility on the issue of sexuality get to tell their fellow Catholics what to do. They do not get to tell the American president what to do.

      The Whole American Hog : Commentary and Analysis by O'Neal Compton

      by Earl Haffler on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 08:58:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope. read the policy. (0+ / 0-)
        Note that the administration is OK with church-run institutions that only employ Catholics prohibiting contraception coverage. It simply won’t let the church impose its teachings on non-Catholics. This shouldn’t be a controversial decision.
        It's a three part test -- a religious purpose, employs primarily (not only) Catholics, and serves primarily Catholics.

        If a local parish church hires a non-Catholic woman to answer the phone in the rectory, that church does not have to provide contraceptive coverage as part of her employee health care package.

        The test is based on the nature of the employer -- NOT whether the employee is Catholic.

    •  I don't think this holds, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gramofsam1, Gary Norton, Danali

      for a couple of reasons.

      First, HHS chose this approach specifically because nearly half the states are already using it or something very like it in their own health insurance regulations, and it has already passed constitutional muster (Catholic Charities et al. v. Serio, 2007).

      Second, it accepts that religious liberty is an issue because you can't just deny that it is; the fact is that religious liberty isn't and can't be absolute, it has to be negotiated with an eye to public health and civil rights--peyote OK, human sacrifice no, and so on. Instead of denying the relevance of religious liberty, it weighs that of a few dozen bishops against that of hundreds of thousands of employees. The exception is tailored to cases where the non-Catholic employee is really a special case to begin with; the parish priest may be forced to hire a non-Catholic by lack of Catholic candidates, he certainly doesn't have a human resources department to negotiate for him, it's not a very formal arrangement, probably part-time, almost all of them are Catholic anyway, and so on.

    •  Not clear (3+ / 0-)

      you seem to be criss crossing a line of logic to me, and I want to be sure I understand what you are saying.

      There is a difference between 1. asking the religion of a job candidate as a condition of their employment, and 2. asking a client, patient, customer, student, to whom non-religious services are provided, their religion as a condition of providing that service. The directive in question, as far as I am aware, does not require that contraceptives be offered free of charge to anyone seeking services (patient, client, customer, student) from a Catholic affiliated institution.

      There is an actual difference between a religious institution (like a Catholic parish) whose mission is primarily spiritual or religious in nature and in fact, and a hospital or a university whose primary mission is to provide health care or a college education without regard to the religious faith of their students/patients or employees. A seminary, for instance, would appear to meet the first test, and would appear to be exempt from the mandate. Notre Dame University, which provides an excellent education but does not demand that its students or employees are Catholic would appear to fall in the non-exempt category.

      If you do not have a faith test for employment at an institution (Catholic or not), then it does not seem reasonable then to impose a faith test in the refusal to offer contraceptive benefits to female employees. If these institutions of higher learning or hospitals chose to redefine themselves and their mission, to make a religious test a BFOQ for employment, then they would be exempt.

      What is curious is that the Catholic Bishops did not object to the 28 states that currently mandate this kind of coverage. Nor to the 15 of those that require that it be offered without co-pay. It unfortunately gives the impression that their passion and righteous indignation about their First Amendment Rights have less to do with actual passion and righteous indignation, and more to do with a conservative political interest in unseating the current Democratic President.

      I am also curious whether or not all Catholic affiliated colleges and universities that offer educational benefits to the children of their employees deny these benefits to the children of second marriages because divorce is prohibited of Catholics, or deny other health care or educations benefits to second wives or husbands, whether or not those employees are Catholic. If there was a consistency to how Catholic affiliated institutions imposed a faith based test on all their benefits, I would say the Catholic Bishops case might be a better one, but, this does not appear to be the case.

      ps. It is unlawful for an employer to ask a person what religion they are, or to make a candidate's religion a condition of employment unless the job specifically meets the BFOQ test (bona fide occupational qualification). It's been the federal law of the land for years.

      "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:42:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Freedom of Religion, Drugs & Marriage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Earl Haffler, bethcf4p

    There are plenty of Americans who use drugs as part of their religious practices. It's not confined to wine. Yet under American "freedom of religion" most of these drugs, except for wine and a limited exception for peyote use by Native Americans, are illegal. So talk to me about freedom of conscience and religion in regard to drugs when you're ready to extend these freedoms to everyone.

    Likewise, anyone who wants "freedom of religion" who won't allow a religious group to perform any marriage between any two people it pleases (or more than two!) doesn't really believe in the words they're saying. Either the bishops should support the right of other religions to perform gay weddings with hallucinogens as sacrements, or they should admit that all they're after is dominion over all of us, in their own version of sharia law.

  •  What about Viagra? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Vera Lofaro

    Will they allow insurance to cover that? And while they're at it, why not deny coverage to people who are gay, divorced and remarried, living together, unmarried moms and their kids? I mean really...

    •  Yes They Do Allow Viagra. They do Deny Various (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      things to people who are gay or divorced and all the rest.

      And they don't even fight for fetus protections from any threat whatsoever, with the sole exception of deliberate abortion.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:32:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reason 437 why we need public health care nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vera Lofaro, bethcf4p
  •  Very good discussion here : (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  The Catholic's (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, Gary Norton, cai, Ice Blue, bethcf4p

    Should clean up their own house, I was brought up as, before they condemn anyone for anything!!

    Vets On FLOTUS and SLOTUS, "Best - Ever": "We haven't had this kind of visibility from the White House—ever." Joyce Raezer - Dec. 30, 2011

    by jimstaro on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:06:47 AM PST

  •  Good point: (4+ / 0-)
    If the Bishops’ logic were to prevail in this dispute, what is to prevent any Catholic businessman who morally opposes contraception from deciding that he won’t offer his employees coverage for it? What if a businessman morally opposes all vaccines? Could he decide that he was exempt from providing the children of his employees coverage for inoculations for polio, chicken pox or the flu?
    Do Catholic bishops now go after Catholic pharmacists who sell contraceptives?

    I too have had it with those people.

  •  tis okay to fuck little yutes because we repent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vera Lofaro, bethcf4p

    Lzter. But to have sex with a loved be, and not wanting (or financially) able to care for ein Junger is bad?

    For years, since I was involved in a coverage dispute against the Chicago archdiocese, I have maintained that RICO was the perfect statute with which to deal with these criminals. The lies, the hiding of evidence, the moving of key witnesses, destruction of documents and perjury - these kiddie fuckers deserve serious jail time. They have NO moral authority to tell anyone anything, especially about family values.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:12:51 AM PST

  •  It's Not Logic It's Propaganda. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justmy2, cai, mijita

    They know full well what the issue is and isn't.

    Their goal isn't to get abortions out of insurance programs, it's to get them totally outlawed. Every step anywhere that interferes with abortion access is a step forward on that road.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:29:47 AM PST

    •  any every capitulation makes it more (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cai, mijita


      "But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower." - President Obama, 12-07-2010

      by justmy2 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:34:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      Not only that, on issues of contraception, the bishops have already lost the battle with the laity. Most sexually active Catholics (married or not) use birth control. Anyone looking out at the congregation on a Sunday, and the very small number of families with more than two children, knows it.

      "There once was a union maid..." Political compass: -9.75 / -8.72

      by mijita on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 10:51:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The church hierarchy has no moral authority (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cai, bethcf4p

    They lost it when they knowingly allowed children to be sexually abused and then covered it up for decades.

    If they want anyone to take them seriously on questions of morality they must first come completely clean.

  •  What about other religions... like Mormons... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... deciding that they have a moral objection to monogamy? Or Neo-Aztecs having a moral objection to murder laws because human sacrifice is central to their tenets of faith?

    Even from a Christian position, the Bishop's position is fucking stupid.

    Here's Christ on the role of Church and State.

    Matthew 22:20-22
    New International Version (NIV)
    20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
     21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

      Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

     22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

    Seems to me that Jesus advocates for religious people to abide by the laws of the lands they live in.

    Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

    by ravagerofworlds2 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 09:42:23 AM PST

  •  The majority of Catholic bishops in the U.S. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have knowingly transferred at least one child sex abuser priest.

    Fuck 'em.

  •  I harbor ill will toward the Church on this. (0+ / 0-)

    And I resent them for their backward, deadly stance on birth control. WHEN will they stop this foolishness?

    How many deaths from AIDS and unwanted pregnancies has their pro-life prohibition on protection racked up?

    I badly want to tax the Catholic Church; all churches. If they are meddling in government, they can help support it.

    Lover, fighter, dreamer

    by kate mckinnon on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 06:50:24 PM PST

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