Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Forthcoming Elimination of Americans' First Amendment Rights

A forthcoming denial of our foremost basic and precious God-given right, as specifically articulated in the first amendment of the United States Constitution, is soon to be eradicated by the same federal government that is sworn to uphold and protect that Constitutional right for all Americans.  President Obama’s administration has called, via the continuing implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), for all health plans to mandatorily cover contraceptives (including two abortifacients) and sterilizations as part of an upcoming expansion of “women’s services”.  The problem is that many people of faith find these “services” to be morally wrong and contrary to the dictates of their faith.
 
This is particularly the case with the Catholic faith.  In fact, this last Sunday a letter was read at Mass for nearly all of the parishes throughout the United States to explain the Church’s opposition to this law and how it directly contradicts the Church’s moral convictions regarding contraception and the sanctity of life.  Further, the Church called for Catholics to oppose the regulation and to fight to have it rescinded completely.

Within the first amendment to our Constitution lies the phrase, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  I’ll begrudgingly grant that the federal government has reasonably protected the first part of that right, but they now have absolutely missed any semblance of protecting that right as regards the second part.  If an institution of faith, such as the Catholic Church, is forced to offer a health plan that MUST offer “services” which it finds diametrically opposed to the dictates of its faith, how is the government protecting the free exercise of their religion?  In fact, government becomes the very instrument that would cause the violation of that God-given right.  And indeed, as our founders knew and stated, all of our rights are endowed by our Creator, not by decree of the government.

Now it is true that our federal government has stated that these new regulations include an exemption for all “religious” employers; however, that employer must primarily employ people of its own faith, primarily serve only people of its own faith, and be primarily involved in the inculcation of the tenets of that faith; consequently, such a standard would not exempt Catholic hospitals, charities, and schools from this onerous and evil law.  Indeed, the exemption is so narrow that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated that even our Lord Jesus Christ would not qualify for it, as he tended and cared to those outside of the faith also throughout his life and ministry.

President Obama clearly stated during the drafting of the Obamacare legislation that there would be an adequately encompassing exemption within it that would allow people whose conscience or moral convictions were violated by the law to abstain from its requirements.  It would seem that President Obama was less than truthful here.  Indeed, President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on January 20th that the administration was proceeding with this new regulation which will take effect on August 1st of this year.  She did grant a one year extension to “religiously affiliated non-profit groups” in order for them to figure out how to “adapt” to the regulation, as she put it.

When asked about this issue yesterday at a White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney stated, “I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here.”  He continued, “The administration believes that this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventative services.”

The fact is that a health care provider not providing free access to artificial contraception does not condemn a woman to pregnancy any more than not providing free diet-pills would condemn her to obesity.  Further, the idea that pregnancy is an illness or disease that must be prevented or eradicated further shows the degradation of our culture in its valuing and cherishing of human life, particularly in a nascent form.  But that, again, is not the primary issue involved here.

Now there are many folks, sadly even within the Catholic Church, that disagree with the church’s teachings on contraceptives and even abortion, and thus think this law is good accordingly.  Well no one has asked that people outside of the Catholic faith to believe in this teaching, even though millions of others still do.  It is enough that we Catholics believe this as part of our faith.  What should concern every last single American is NOT whether contraception, sterilizations, and abortions are necessary or good, but rather that the Constitutional right of a group of people to believe contrary to that and wishing to live their faith accordingly are not being permitted to do so by force of law.  A constitutional right is being rescinded for the largest Christian group in America.  That is the issue at hand and one that should frighten every American.  If the government is allowed to curtail the free exercise of religion, what other constitutional right can it some day down the road renege its support and protection thereof that might affect you?

Many folks, myself included, are dumbfounded as to how such an egregious abuse of government power that usurps our most basic freedom is being allowed to happen at all, with nary a peep from the press or the public at large.  Frankly, I suspect the implementation of this pernicious regulation by the Obama administration is done absolutely by design and with full knowledge and intent of the ramifications of it.  President Obama knows, and the Catholic Church has now pretty much confirmed it, that the Church will NOT violate God’s law and their own moral convictions to satisfy man’s law.  The result will be, assuming that the government does not back down, that Catholic hospitals, charities, and schools will no longer offer health insurance to it employees and their families.  That means millions of uninsured people will be directed towards the coming exchanges and government healthcare roles.  THAT has been the design behind this regulation from the beginning.  It is, as Obama stated years ago, the necessary incremental implementation of a state-run and mandated health care system for all, for the common good, of course.

So what is an American of good conscience to do about the necessity of protecting our first amendment right to the free exercise of religion?  Well, the first thing would be to call your congressman, senators, and the White House.  Demand that congress passes HR 1179/S.1467 “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act”.   Further, you can sign a citizen-created petition on the White House web site (lower right hand corner of site at this link) telling President Obama that you do not approve.  Again, this is NOT an issue about contraceptives or abortion; it is about the exercise of one’s religious beliefs as articulated in the Constitution and given by God.

Indeed, Thomas Jefferson said it best in 1809 when he stated, “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”  He was right.  Hopefully millions of good folk, Catholic or not, will also be right and stand up against this pernicious constitutional violation against ALL Americans accordingly.

50 comments:

John Myste said...

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

As for the first part, I don’t think the law really respects your religion, so I assume there is no conflict there. Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.

Secondly, I don’t think Obama is trying to make you do anything with contraceptives. He is saying that your health plan should cover it, so in case you need it, but not that you must take advantage of this generous law.

I know that Obama wants Universal Healthcare and that this is his goal and it has been from the beginning. In fact, I seriously doubt he would have had any use for the Individual Mandate were it not for the fact that this is a necessary step in taking us there. God Bless Mr. Obama and his ingenious guile. I don’t think his intention in providing women healthcare is to deny Catholics, including catholic women, healthcare, though I do acknowledge that if this is his intention, then it is ingenious: provide healthcare as a means of denying it. No one will figure that out!

Lastly,

OMG! Welcome back!!! Are you back or is this just your annual post?

Anonymous said...

Hurray!
MH

T. Paine said...

“Secondly, I don’t think Obama is trying to make you do anything with contraceptives. He is saying that your health plan should cover it, so in case you need it, but not that you must take advantage of this generous law.”

Therein lies the problem, John. Why should anyone, even small Mom & Pop businesses, be required through force of law to purchase services for their employees that is contrary to the basic tenets of one’s conscience and religious convictions? This is clearly a violation of “the free exercise thereof”. I figured you, of all people, would see the stark violation of people’s first amendment rights with this issue, whether you agree with the underlying position of the need for contraception and sterilizations or not.

This unjust and blatantly unconstitutional regulation is an anathema to our American civilization. Making Catholics and other folks that believe similarly regarding abortion, contraception etc to provide the option for those very services through their funding is akin to making the conscientious objecting Quakers serve in the military, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses partake of a medically-necessary blood transfusion. I don’t agree with the Quakers or Jehovah’s Witnesses on either of those positions either, but I fully support and defend their right to believe and to PRACTICE that belief of their faiths. THAT is what is at stake here, my friend.

What is wrong with Catholic institutions maintaining the current health insurance plans that they offer? Why the need for government to mandate this grotesque freedom-usurping change? If employees want to get contraception or even abortions, they are not restricted from doing so by anything other than their own consciences. They could easily purchase condoms, birth control pills, or IUD’s on their own. And unfortunately, I would submit to you that this is precisely what some do right now. The difference is that the Church would not be funding and providing the option to them for something with which it adamantly disagrees and sees as a grave mortal sin.

For the record, I agree with you about President Obama and the necessity for the individual mandate merely being a necessary step to his ultimate goal. If he could have just been the “benevolent dictator” he seemingly so greatly desires to be, he could have just ordered universal healthcare for all by decree and been done with it. Perhaps then he could have gone on to making the waters recede and the earth stop warming next.

I do disagree about his motivations regarding Catholicism though. It is my opinion that he absolutely knew that the Church would react in such a fashion and thus refuse to offer healthcare plans with these literally unconscionable dictates to their employees. This allows for all of these future newly uninsured folks to have to join the forthcoming insurance exchanges setup by the government. It is an incremental step in getting to that universal socialized health care for all that you acknowledge is his ultimate goal. It is the further degradation of our freedom and the gross violation of our first amendment rights that is at stake.

@ anonymous: I am curious. Does “Hurray” mean you agree with my take on the issue, or that you think that President Obama deserves a “hurray” for his actions here?

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine,

Your issue is not with a forced supply of contraception violating freedom of religion.

It is with forced purchase of a service. Before you protest, see the following explanation:

I know this because you use contraception as your example of a constitutional violation, yet you never mentioned the fact that some wise religious folk believe that God should handle all illness and they refuse to even take their children to the doctor.

I must assume that the Affordable Healthcare Act also violates their religious freedom, as do any legalities related to "punishing" someone for denying their children healthcare in honor of religious fidelity.

Sometimes we have to take extraordinary measures where prayer and shake charming fail us.

The current Supreme Court has a 5-4 conservative majority and a Chief Justice who has no use for precedent, which is itself, unprecedented. It is very possible that much of your fundamentalist agenda will be legislated and / or un-legislated by three backward hillbillies, John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy, none of who belong to the Legislative Branch of government, so just hang tight and be patient.

John Myste said...

Where prayer and SNAKE charming fail us. Shake charming could not making anyone well, obviously.

T. Paine said...

Indeed, those hillbillies on the Supreme Court may be the only ones left in our current federal government that can understand the actual meaning of "shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof" and uphold the danged constitutional right for all Americans.

-That is assuming that Lord Obama is not thrown out of office and his whole unconstitutional and unconscionable signature health care "law" is not subsequently repealed in it entirety thus making this a moot point.

Thank God for the saving common sense of hillbilly folk, just in case though, huh? :)

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine, I noticed how you skillfully avoided answering the question of why forcing someone to take his gravely ill child to the doctor is not a violation of religious freedom, and instead chose to focus on the fundamentalists in the Supreme Court.

Shall I reiterate my question?

P.S.

Also, are you back or is this your annual post? I have suffered severe post traumatic stress due to your absence and I may never be the same again.

free0352 said...

Hey Paine is back whahoo.

Anywho, forcing a Catholic company to pay for birth control is like forcing an abolitionist plantation to own slaves. It's just wrong on its face, and obviously so. If you can't see the part of the 1st Amendment that allows exemptions for Catholics in this matter, or the Amish from taxes, or Unitarians from the Draft, or... well you get the idea... then you're a moron. Pure and simple. It's called the "free exercise clause" kids. They teach that in middle school civics class.

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine,

It would seem that I am moron.

T. Paine said...

Mr. Myste, your question was a red herring, sir. It doesn't matter what T. Paine or anybody else thinks about other folks' religious practices. They have a Constitutional, and more importantly, a God-given right to practice their faith as they see fit.

The government has absolutely no legal or moral standing in their application of this un-constitutional mandate.

As for your other question, I am not "back" as it were, but may on rare occasions write a post when the need becomes unbearable to me. :)

Free, glad to see you are direct and to the point, and accurate as ever!

S.W. Anderson said...

T. Paine wrote: "The problem is that many people of faith find these 'services' to be morally wrong and contrary to the dictates of their faith."

"Many" is a highly subjective term. I went to the Washington Post's fact checker blog seeking some more-definite numbers about Catholic women. This following is from a post on this.

"“Data shows that 98 percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives.”

". . .The data listed in the Guttmacher report, meanwhile, referred to current contraceptive use among 'sexually active women who are not pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant.' That is a smaller universe of women, and it shows that 68 percent of Catholic women used what are termed 'highly effective methods:' 32 percent sterilization; 31 percent pill; five percent IUD.

"Again, only two percent currently used natural family planning. Interestingly, 11 percent used nothing, even though they were not trying to get pregnant. Four percent were placed in an “other” category, which mainly consisted of “withdrawal,” which is also not accepted by the Catholic Church as a birth-control method.

". . .The first NSFG survey, which in 1973 was administered only to married women, shows that 66.4 percent of all married Catholic women of child-bearing age at the time used contraception. (Table 17). Among those using birth control, only 8.3 percent relied on rhythm; 2.9 percent relied on withdrawal."

The survey involved more than 7,600 females of childbearing age. Clearly, 68 percent qualifies as "many," while the combined portion of those using rhythm or nothing, 13 percent, qualifies as few.

The picture that emerges from this brouhaha is that many higher-level Catholic clerics who seem to have inceasingly had it in for Democratic politicians over the past quarter century, and many of whom have seemed to bear a grudge against Obama since he began running for president, seized on this issue in a way that's more than a little hypocritical.

(continues)

S.W. Anderson said...

It's hypocritical because the data indicate loud and clear that the bishops and others in high dudgeon about the administration's effort to make contraception available and affordable for all women who want it have done a less-than-effective job convincing their flock to follow the church's teaching. It's much easier to wave the bloody shirt and wail about religious persecution than utter "mea culpa" with humility.

To put it another way (and it's odd this should have to be pointed out to a conservative) it's not President Obama's job to see to it Catholic women follow the teachings of their church. Nor is it the job of the federal government, health insurers, employers or anyone else.

The bottom line is, the bishops and conservative Catholics are beating up on Obama and the Affordable Care Act because it suits their political attitude and is easier than doing the work of convincing Catholic women and perhaps others as well to do as the church says.

In any case, bending over backward to accommodate the church, Obama came up with a reasonable compromise that goes beyond the initial conscience exception.

The reaction from a conservative Catholic quoted in my local paper was, (to paraphrase) "Yeah, well it doesn't do any good for a Catholic who owns a Taco Bell; he still has to buy insurance that covers birth control."

As if a fast-food joint is a Catholic place of worship. The truth is, some people will never be satisfied living and having to get along in a free and diverse society. If it can't be 100 percent their way, they will act nasty. They're not conservative, they're authoritarians who, no matter how much they say about freedom and democracy, want power and control.

Meanwhile, the golden rule and admonition "judge not" go all but ignored.

S.W. Anderson said...

"Why should anyone, even small Mom & Pop businesses, be required through force of law to purchase services for their employees that is contrary to the basic tenets of one’s conscience and religious convictions?"

Yes, and why should a Quaker have to pay tax to a government that regularly gets involved in fighting wars?

Why should a muslim have to pay tax to any government that allows the sale and consumption of alchohol?

Why should someone whose religion teaches that having one's picture taken can steal his soul be required to have a photo made for his driver's license? Or have a mug shot made if he's arrested?

Why should someone whose religion encourages having multiple wives be limited by law to having only one?

Why should someone whose religious beliefs preclude buying auto insurance be required to do that?

We could make exceptions for all these and more. And pretty soon we wouldn't have a country, just a territory filled with privileged characters with nothing in common but geography.

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine,

They have a Constitutional, and more importantly, a God-given right to practice their faith as they see fit.

I consider this a non response, sir.

Let's start here: If I don't want to give medical treatment to my two-year old daughter who fell from a rooftop, should my right be respected?

Ryan said...

John Myste and S.W. Anderson are correct.

The government does have the authority to trump religious law in matters of need. It uses precisely this authority when it taxes anyone for a program to which he has a moral objection or in any of the cases that Anderson brought up.

A "moral objection" is irrelevant if the government has a stronger, secular moral argument that shows a need, otherwise our government could collapse. Moral objections, after all, are not limited to minority religious opinions. As an atheist, my philosophical objections can be moral as well. What if I became an anarchist and opposed everything the government does on principle? What if other people saw that they could get away with not paying taxes by simply making a moral argument?

We don't want to infrige upon liberty. We want to make sure that people have their needs met. Sometimes the two desires conflict.

The question, then, is: does contraception qualify as a need? Many of us believe that it effectively does because of the social and economic costs, both to the family and the government, of unplanned pregnancies.

Perhaps it is possible to have a society of people who can control themselves completely, even in marriage. But that is not the society that we have today. Those who want it to be can work to make it so by promoting and justifying their values, but that must come before they deny to others what is a need right now.

If you want to protest this law, you could argue that the free market, charity, and existing welfare already provide contraception sufficiently and efficiently or that some alternative method is preferable. As a matter of religious liberty, however, I just don't see a case against it.

One last point. You wrote:

"The result will be, assuming that the government does not back down, that Catholic hospitals, charities, and schools will no longer offer health insurance to it employees and their families."

I hope that these organizations would consider following this law to be, as Pope Benedict XVI said in 2004, "remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons." If the moral value and importance of helping people and saving lives do not trump the "evil" of being forced to pay for contraception, then I have been overestimating Catholics' moral sense.

S.W. Anderson said...

"The result will be, assuming that the government does not back down, that Catholic hospitals, charities, and schools will no longer offer health insurance to it employees and their families."

Where does this end?

If your daughter wants to join the Navy, see the world and get a lot of help with a college education, do you tell her no, she mustn't because any female Navy member, dependent wife or teenager accompanied by a parent can get a prescription for the pill on request at the nearest Navy hospital or clinic?

Say that you're applying for quite a good job somewhere, Paine, and while being interviewed you ask, "Does the company health plan cover birth control?"

The HR person says yes. Do you then thank her for her time and withdraw your application?

What about drug stores? Do you really want to provide profits to businesses that sell all kinds of contraceptives? If you invest in mutual funds, do you reject those that include shares in Walgreen's, Osco, Wal Mart and so on?

How about Catholic hospitals' position on doctors who prescribe contraceptives? Should those doctors not be allowed to practice in Catholic hospitals? What about nurses who use contraceptives. What about the drug companies that make the pill, should all their products be rejected by Catholic hospitals, and for that matter, by Catholics?

Fair questions, don't you think?

T. Paine said...

Anderson states, “The picture that emerges from this brouhaha is that many higher-level Catholic clerics who seem to have increasingly had it in for Democratic politicians over the past quarter century, and many of whom have seemed to bear a grudge against Obama since he began running for president, seized on this issue in a way that's more than a little hypocritical.” Anderson, that statement right there tells me that you haven’t a clue about which you are talking sir. Yes, there is indeed a resurgence of orthodox Catholicism that is becoming ever more in conflict with the leftist politicians, but I would submit to you that this is not because of any anti-Democrat strain in the church but rather the ever-increasingly radical positions being adopted by the typical Democratic politician that flies in the face of Catholic Church doctrine.

You are nuts if you think that many Catholics don’t support Democrats, especially in the clergy. I give you arch-bishop Mahoney, formerly of the huge Los Angeles diocese as exhibit one. Heck, there are vast bastions of parishioners and clergy that ONLY support Democrats, especially in the northeast. Indeed, President Obama would still be Senator Obama today without having captured a majority of the Catholic vote. I won’t even get started on the real hypocrisy of supposedly Catholic Democratic politicians like our current VP and former Speaker Pelosi.

“To put it another way (and it's odd this should have to be pointed out to a conservative) it's not President Obama's job to see to it Catholic women follow the teachings of their church.” Damn straight it’s not! It’s his job to protect and defend the United States Constitution, including the first amendment to it! Instead, he wantonly violates any number of enumerated powers and usurps rights reserved to the citizens and the states. THAT is exactly what this whole debate is about. It isn’t even about contraception, although the left seems darned determined to make it so. It is about the federal government dictating that people CANNOT freely exercise their religious faith.

T. Paine said...

Continued

Contraception and abortion (including the abortifacient contraception that Obama is mandating) are not some side issue for the Catholic faith. The protection and sanctity of life which begins at conception is a central tenet of the faith, for God Almighty’s sake!

“The bottom line is, the bishops and conservative Catholics are beating up on Obama and the Affordable Care Act because it suits their political attitude and is easier than doing the work of convincing Catholic women and perhaps others as well to do as the church says.” Again, I’ll refer you to my previous statement of how the Catholic Church was supportive of Obama’s election and was even supportive of most of his Obamacare Act. It doesn’t matter one iota if 99.99% of all Catholics use birth control. The church is not subject to the whims of society and culture. They teach what Christ taught. Life is sacred. Yes, the Church absolutely needs to do a better job of convincing its parishioners of the error of their ways on this subject, but that is something between Catholics and the Church to work on accordingly. It is NOT the place of the federal government overstepping its constitutional boundaries, and indeed violating the Constitution, because of their radical leftist ideology.

“In any case, bending over backward to accommodate the church, Obama came up with a reasonable compromise that goes beyond the initial conscience exception.” This statement further tells me that you are clueless and looking at the whole topic from a political agenda-based perspective instead of the usurpation of a fundamental Bill of Rights matter. How in the hell, and I do mean hell, does his asinine compromise change anything? Let me state it for you simply: Originally Obama said that the Church would have to purchase insurance and the insurance would provide free morning after pills. After his “compromise” we now have the Church having to pay for insurance and the insurance providing free morning after pills. That’s a great compromise for the Catholic conscience, Anderson.

T. Paine said...

As for your litany of questions, Mr. Anderson, I suppose a person applying for a job could in good conscience accept or reject an offer based on whether they offer contraception. Indeed they are not being forced to utilize contraception by taking the job. Frankly, your question there is ludicrous and a straw man argument. As for doctors practicing in Catholic hospitals, you are absolutely right that they should not be performing abortions or prescribing contraception as a condition of their employment. If a doctor disagrees with those tenets, then he should seek employment at a hospital without those restrictions. As for your hypothetical drug company question, yes, a Catholic hospital should find an alternative drug in treating its patients rather than supporting a company that makes abortifacients.

Moving on to Ryan… “The government does have the authority to trump religious law in matters of need.” Indeed? I imagine that a hypothetical situation of national security could be made where this could be true, but constitutionally, I am having a failure of imagination in coming up with one. Government mandating free contraception in violation of the first amendment certainly doesn’t strike me as being within the bounds of national security or any other constitutional provisions granted to the federal government.

Ryan continues, “We don't want to infringe upon liberty. We want to make sure that people have their needs met. Sometimes the two desires conflict.” This is exactly the problem, sir. It is NOT the federal government’s job morally or constitutionally to “meet peoples’ needs”. It is the job of the federal government to do ONLY what it is specifically authorized to do in the Constitution. No less and no more. All other powers are reserved to the states and the people. It is precisely this nanny-state mentality that has usurped our liberties and driven our nation to the verge of bankruptcy.

T. Paine said...

Further Ryan says, “Those who want it to be can work to make it so by promoting and justifying their values, but that must come before they deny to others what is a need right now.” This whole issue was intentionally stirred up by a conniving president. Nobody is denying contraception to Americans, even Catholics, right now. All this “law” does is require a religious institution to violate one of its most sacred beliefs in compliance with it or chose to forgo offering insurance to its employees. It is a political calculation that President Obama made, and one that appears to have back-fired upon him. This will cost him far more votes than what it will gain him. Even many previous supporters on the left of the President are deeply vexed with this issue, as they should be. I give credit to those leftists who see the issue for what it truly is: constitutional (and God given) rights and not about contraception. They are at least being intellectually honest about what is at stake here.

Further, Obama’s “compromise” even further violates his constitutional powers. Again he tells private companies (insurers) that they must provide a service for “free”. Where exactly is that power authorized to the executive branch in the constitution?

T. Paine said...

“If the moral value and importance of helping people and saving lives do not trump the "evil" of being forced to pay for contraception, then I have been overestimating Catholics' moral sense,” Ryan states. I see that we approach this situation with very different core axioms, hence we are unlikely to ever agree on this topic, which is fine. I appreciate your arguments nonetheless. That said, I find your whole statement fallacious, sir. Helping people and saving lives, particularly nascent unborn life, is exactly the point of the Church’s stance. Indeed, I would further argue that the government’s creating a “need” for free contraception when it can already be acquired for free or low cost through many various other sources is nothing more than a political ploy. It is not a need and certainly not a right to have free contraception provided via government dictate. Protecting unborn life, and protecting women’s health from breast cancer and other various horrible maladies caused by some contraception does a far greater moral good then allowing people to have “protected” sex in order to avoid the “disease” of pregnancy.

Lastly, John Myste, you seem awfully determined to pry an answer from me, my friend. Yes, I would say that the welfare of the child trumps religious freedom in this case. It is a matter of protecting life, just as the detour in the debate here is similarly about. I suppose this gives you ammunition to charge me with hypocrisy or at least inconsistency. Fine. Guilty as charged. The irony is that the Catholic Church’s position is similarly about protecting life and women’s health too.

S.W. Anderson said...

T. Paine wrote: "Yes, the Church absolutely needs to do a better job of convincing its parishioners of the error of their ways on this subject, but that is something between Catholics and the Church to work on accordingly. It is NOT the place of the federal government overstepping its constitutional boundaries, and indeed violating the Constitution, because of their radical leftist ideology."


That last part is an emotional argument that doesn't square with the facts. No one disagrees about it being a matter for the church and Catholics to work out. They have a perfect right and complete freedom to do that. That has nothing to do with the government seeking to make birth control available to those who want it.

Face it, Paine, government workers could be handing out free contraceptives on street corners, and if Catholics were following church teachings, none of them would take any.

I think what gets you and other Catholic conservatives so riled, although you don't want to admit it, is that the government isn't the problem here. The government isn't forcing anyone to use contraceptives. The problem is that there is wholesale disagreement with the church's position by a large majority of Catholics. As I said, it's easier to beat up on Obama than acknowledge that as the real problem and address it accordingly. Apparently, you and church leaders believe it's easier and/or more effective to seek your ends by making it difficult or impossible for all women to get birth control, Catholic or not. That's an attempt to manipulate, or dictate, public policy rather than to appeal to the conscience of Catholics, and doing that is wrong.

T. Paine said...

I don't know if you are intentionally being obtuse or not, Mr. Anderson.

As I said, I don't care if 99.99% of Catholics are using contraception, it is not the federal government's job IN VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION to mandate free contraception.

(Okay, I do care that Catholics are not following the Church, but that is NOT the issue I am arguing here.) Read the title of my article, as you seemed to once again have missed my main point.

Contraception is readily available at little expense or even free from such "morally supportive" places like planned parenthood and even some high school offices. It isn't as if you have to go to back alleys to acquire contraception, even for those Catholics that choose to use it.

This federal mandate is not correcting some great un-met need by Americans. It is about President Obama, once again, overstepping his authority in hopes of political gain.

S.W. Anderson said...

This is from a Huffington Post story on Obama's entirely reasonable compromise, which is worlds away from violating Church-state separation of the First Amendment.

"Stephen Schneck, director of Catholic University of America's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, stood shoulder to shoulder with university President John Garvey against Obama's initial decision, which would have required Catholic schools to provide contraception coverage with no co-pay to employees against its religious teachings. Schneck told reporters on Wednesday that he 'worked as hard as [he] could to get the administration to pay attention' to the concerns of the Catholic bishops and expand the religious exemption.

"The revised rule Obama announced Friday, which shifts the cost of contraceptive coverage to insurers when the faith-based employer morally objects, has 'by and large resolved' his religious liberty concerns, Schneck said.

"'The announcement on Friday creates mechanisms to create even greater distance between Catholic institutions and contraception,' Schneck said. 'I feel completely satisfied.'"

Paine, what you don't seem to understand is that Obama put the matter between insurers and the insured, with objecting religious-institution employers left out of it.

Continued vituperation indicates you either don't understand that or are determined to twist the facts into a form that suits your political bias.

S.W. Anderson said...

NOTE: The first sentence of my previous comment should read " . . .or the First Amendment."

Finally, trying to conflate use of birth control pills for family planning or to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancies with free and easy use of morning-after pills isn't intellectually honest or helpful. Tens of millions of women who use BCP never have and never will use the morning-after pill.

Indeed, I think you'll find only a very small percentage of women ever do use the morning-after pill. I also think you'll find that a fairly high percentage of those who do, do so in the most dire circumstances, such as having been raped, possibly by a family member.

Regarding those tragic situations, maybe a measure of humility at not having walked in their shoes or faced their reality would more closely follow Christ's example than weighing in with harsh judgment. And perhaps as well for those in less extreme but still deeply trouble circumstance.

" 1 JUDGE not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
— Matthew 7:1-5

and . . .

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."
—Romans 12:19

"I will repay ... - This is said in substance, though not in so many words, in Deuteronomy 32:35-36. Its design is to assure us that those who deserve to be punished, shall be; and that, therefore, the business of revenge may be safely left in the bands of God."

Good advice that's too often ignored.

S.W. Anderson said...

"I would further argue that the government’s creating a “need” for free contraception when it can already be acquired for free or low cost through many various other sources is nothing more than a political ploy."

You can't be serious. No president seeking re-election wants to start off the election year by getting on the wrong side of a substantial number of people of one of the major religions. And, Obama and his people had to know that even a good many Catholics who personally have no problem with contraception would resent what seemed to them an affront to their church.

Obama didn't become president by being tone deaf and hopelessly dumb about politics. He did what he did out of an intention to ensure availability and affordability of something many millions of women consider critically important. Not all women using BCP do so to avoid pregnancy, by the way. BCP are used for a number of other women's health purposes, and were used for some of those things years before they were approved by the FDA for use as birth control.

T. Paine said...

“This is from a Huffington Post story on Obama's entirely reasonable compromise, which is worlds away from violating Church-state separation of the First Amendment.”

Okay, never mind the fact that your citing of a Huffington Post article would be akin to me referring you to Michelle Malkin’s blog, with the obvious difference that Malkin is usually accurate and truthful in her reporting, but you still don’t get the point. The bottom line is that even with this asinine “compromise” the Church STILL has to offer insurance plans that cover religiously unconscionable services in its estimation and pay for those “free” services. HOW is that addressing these matters of conscience?

“Paine, what you don't seem to understand is that Obama put the matter between insurers and the insured, with objecting religious-institution employers left out of it.”

Yes, the objecting religious-institution employers are left out of it alright, except for the fact that they are still required by law to financially support the offending insurance. Further, some of the various Catholic institutions are self-insurers, meaning some of the Catholic hospitals etc provide the insurance through their own facilities. That means such institutions would be required to offer sterilization procedures, contraception, etc in its own facilities. How do you square that away with this “wonderful” compromise?

I would submit that it is you, Mr. Anderson, that is intent on ignoring damning contrary facts to your argument simply out of a political bias, sir. Indeed, I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer from anyone, including you, of why Obama and his minions find it necessary to enact this mandate in the first place, as all people working for Catholic institutions are still able to acquire contraception easily and cheaply right now before this heinous law goes into effect. Further, and most importantly, you and all others have yet to explain how this blatant violation of the first amendment is even allowable in our supposed constitutional republic. It is not a “church-state separation” issue as you characterize it. It is the federal government forcing a religious institution to pay for and provide for services which are diametrically opposed to the core tenets of their faith. Seems to me the government is inserting itself into the church rather than maintaining that separation, sir.

T. Paine said...

“Regarding those tragic situations, maybe a measure of humility at not having walked in their shoes or faced their reality would more closely follow Christ's example than weighing in with harsh judgment. And perhaps as well for those in less extreme but still deeply trouble circumstance.”

You are on extremely dangerous ground here, Mr. Anderson. You assume far too much. I don’t condemn those that fail to follow church teaching, as indeed that is not my place to do so; however, when I know that an act is wrong and my faith unambiguously affirms this, I am not going to twist words or ideals in order to excuse wrong-minded actions. That does not mean that I don’t necessarily have sympathy for people in difficult situations, rather it means that I think that their chosen method of dealing with those situations is wrong and contrary to the teachings of Christ as taught through the church He established two millennia ago. Indeed, I often pray for these people and those that have had abortions. I cannot fathom the pain, regret, and guilt that many such women must suffer through for having made such a decision.

What is annoying and dangerous is when people justify their wrong actions by saying, “don’t judge until you’ve walked in their shoes”. I don’t need to walk in someone else’s shoes to understand that murder is always wrong. When one starts twisting scripture to justify evil, one jeopardizes oneself and society on the whole. I give you Isaiah 5:20 through 5:24 accordingly:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (emphasis is mine)

Also, good advice that is often ignored, don’t you think? Although, I wouldn’t really call it advice but rather a dire warning.

John Myste said...

Sorry, Mr. Paine, but this is mistaken:

It is the federal government forcing a religious institution to pay for and provide for services which are diametrically opposed to the core tenets of their faith. Seems to me the government is inserting itself into the church rather than maintaining that

No one has to provide anything they were not already providing. They simply have to provide it a different way. If you say, you, not the company, must provide the contraceptives, then you can only do this with funds the company paid you, instead of doing it with insurance the company paid you. In both cases the company if funding the contraceptives in exchange for your work.

I think you realize that the dispute is political. Therefore, your new position should be that you oppose the law for political reasons.

T. Paine said...

John, I am surprised at you for such an obvious legalistic ploy, and I mean that in the worst possible connotation of the word “legalistic”. Surely you can see the difference here, sir. You are far too brilliant, despite your liberal proclivities, to not see the truth of the matter. What you, Ryan, and Anderson are championing is very much like what the Pharisees would do when they continuously violated the spirit of God’s laws but were very good at keeping to the letter of the law ---something Christ continuously railed against.

If the church pays for insurance without the pernicious requirements and pays it employees a salary for their work, then their moral obligation to following their own doctrine is secure. The Church further teaches members of the faith why it is sinful for them to procure such services. It then becomes incumbent upon the individual, if he or she is to remain faithful to their own professed faith, to abide by that teaching and not seek out contraception etc. If they choose to do so anyway with their own salary, then the onus is upon them for their moral failing and not the church.

The Church also tells that drunkenness is a sin, but they have no power to stop a parishioner from going to the liquor store to purchase three bottles of Jack Daniels and four of Wild Turkey for their own consumption over the three day weekend with their own wages. They teach what is right and leave it up to the parishioners and their consciences to do, or not do, what is right.

I know you know this and can see the difference, so why you choose to continue arguing this fact makes it painfully obvious that your motivations are political, my friend. Again, while I absolutely agree with the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception, my main argument goes back to the violation of our first amendment rights by the very state that is supposed to be defending those rights. I will also refer you to the title of the original post, just as I did for Mr. Anderson. Contraception is only a symptom of the problem being discussed. It could very well have been about some other specific matter. The matter in contention is that it should NEVER have been made an issue in violation of the constitution and with the usurpation of power that the executive branch is not constitutionally authorized. You have yet to explain to me otherwise how this is not so. Where in the Constitution does it grant President Obama the power to do this, let alone the fact that he once again is mandating that private companies must provide certain services? (and supposedly at no cost, to boot.)

Ryan said...

You never responded to this point:

"A "moral objection" is irrelevant if the government has a stronger, secular moral argument that shows a need, otherwise our government could collapse. Moral objections, after all, are not limited to minority religious opinions. As an atheist, my philosophical objections can be moral as well. What if I became an anarchist and opposed everything the government does on principle? What if other people saw that they could get away with not paying taxes by simply making a moral argument?"

If we are to understand that the First Amendment's protection of the free exercise of religion means that you can avoid paying for something based on a moral objection, then why can't I legally stop paying taxes for programs with which I disagree on moral grounds?

You either need to adjust your understanding of the "free exercise of religion" or acknowledge that the First Amendment was invalidated as soon as the federal government required anything of the public, which was a very long time ago.

You wrote: "It is NOT the federal government’s job morally or constitutionally to “meet peoples’ needs”. It is the job of the federal government to do ONLY what it is specifically authorized to do in the Constitution. No less and no more. All other powers are reserved to the states and the people. It is precisely this nanny-state mentality that has usurped our liberties and driven our nation to the verge of bankruptcy."

I hold that it is the federal government's task to meet the needs of the people where the free market, charity, and states do not. Many people--including some conservatives--agree with me. We merely disagree over whether or not some need is already sufficiently and efficiently satisfied. Your most effective argument, then, would address precisely this. You think that this law is an unnecessary violation of the First Amendment, so run with the "unnecessary" aspect.

The Constitutional argument is not very effective. Even if many people did not interpret the Constitution differently, you can't convince others by using such an argument if they don't really care about the Constitution in the first place. Furthermore, in its reliance on what the law is, it avoids discussing what the law should be.

Now, you clearly have a practical and moral argument against the government as it is now. You claim that we have a nanny-state that has robbed us of freedoms and spent too much money. I would argue that there are other significant factors that have done this and that, while we may overspend on existing programs, the so-called "nanny-state mentality" does not necessarily lead to bankruptcy. Proper reform could fix the system.

Before I move on, I have a question for you: would you be just as upset if your own state required these religious organizations to pay for contraceptives, as 28 have already done?

Ryan said...

You wrote: "Further Ryan says, 'Those who want it to be can work to make it so by promoting and justifying their values, but that must come before they deny to others what is a need right now.' This whole issue was intentionally stirred up by a conniving president. Nobody is denying contraception to Americans, even Catholics, right now."

More accurately, no one is denying our right to use contraceptives. That's why I am disappointed that many liberals have tried to make this an issue of women's rights.

Here's the point of what you quoted:

Some people believe that contraceptives are both necessary and unaffordable for the poor. If that is true, then the government is justified in forcing religious groups to provide them to their employees. (You don't have to agree; I'm just explaining my point.) If these religious groups wish to disagree, then they must offer an equally compelling secular argument against contraception. That must come before our government can ignore what it currently considers to be a need.

I have heard some attempts to make such arguments. The trouble is that they all require our society to have a set of values that it does not yet have. There's no sense in rejecting contraception if it doesn't stop people from having sex and producing children whom they cannot afford. That would only cause harm. So, until the Church can effectively convince us all of the value of abstinence/self-restraint, we are unprepared for a society without contraceptives. This means that their secular argument is not as strong as that of the government.

You wrote: "This whole issue was intentionally stirred up by a conniving president....It is a political calculation that President Obama made..."

You have such a poor opinion of President Obama's character that this is your inevitable conclusion. You even treat it like a fact instead of a suspicion. This is one of my least favorite aspects of politics.

You wrote: "This will cost him far more votes than what it will gain him."

I can't imagine that anyone who planned to vote for him before this controversy is now going to vote for someone else. Perhaps some will stay home because of it, but I doubt that it will be many. Polls, if you can believe them, suggest that a majority of Americans approve of his efforts in this case. From what I have seen, those who do disagree are overwhelmingly conservative.

As for independents, it could go either way. Both liberals and conservatives have been spinning this controversy to convince undecided voters that the other side is either out of touch or unconcerned with the Constitution. I will not attempt to guess which side will win out.

Ryan said...

You wrote: "I give credit to those leftists who see the issue for what it truly is: constitutional (and God given) rights and not about contraception. They are at least being intellectually honest about what is at stake here."

It is truly about whether or not contraception is a need and whether or not we need religious organizations to provide it. If it were truly about our (not God-given) rights, then we would have this argument every time the federal government required anything from us. If you think I am intellectually dishonest, then there's no point in responding to me.

"That said, I find your whole statement fallacious, sir. Helping people and saving lives, particularly nascent unborn life, is exactly the point of the Church’s stance."

I am not going to argue with you over abortion, since that is not the issue here. But contraception does not kill "nascent unborn life." Contraception is the prevention of conception. If your religion's organizations refuse to serve actual people in need because they object to contraception, then I repeat: I have been overestimating Catholics' moral sense.

"...I would further argue that the government’s creating a “need” for free contraception when it can already be acquired for free or low cost through many various other sources..."

Say no more! This is your best argument! Stick to it.

"...the “disease” of pregnancy."

This is one of the Right's inventions. If you repeat this line often enough, you convince yourselves that liberals believe that pregnancy is a disease that must be stopped. This is not the case at all.

I see that you also ignored the Pope's words on remote material cooperation. Care to respond?

Ryan said...

You wrote: "What you, Ryan, and Anderson are championing is very much like what the Pharisees would do when they continuously violated the spirit of God’s laws but were very good at keeping to the letter of the law ---something Christ continuously railed against."

This is a terrible analogy. How am I keeping to the letter of the law? I don't hide behind the Constitution when I make my moral arguments. That document does not represent my moral philosophy.

I also do not care about what you call the "spirit of the law", since that is just your own understanding of what a group of people wrote nearly 250 years ago. I admit that I want what I believe is best for everyone in the country without caring about the law is now or what other people think it is or should be.

With all of that said, however, your argument based on the First Amendment does not hold for very obvious, non-political reasons. I don't need the First Amendment to justify my beliefs, but that doesn't mean that I won't call you out on faulty reasoning.

Ryan said...

That should read: "I admit that I want what I believe is best for everyone in the country without caring about >what< the law is now or what other people think it is or should be."

And, now that I think about it, you are the one using the letter of the law instead of the spirit. You believe that the federal government should not interfere with the free exercise of your religion because the First Amendment says so, but do you really think that the "spirit" of the law was: let religious people follow their own beliefs even if they affect other people? Or: let moral objections trump the law?

If you take the letter of the First Amendment too literally, you face many problems.

John Myste said...

Did my last, super insightful comment vanish, or is it pending?

John Myste said...

They teach what is right and leave it up to the parishioners and their consciences to do, or not do, what is right.

Kudos to you, as this is a difference. Either way the church bought the contraception, but one way it is they who decide to supply it and the other way, it is the employee who makes the decision to use church funds to purchase it. That is a real-word distinction. Therefore, to that degree, you made a good point atop a weak philosophical and political position. I am impressed that you could make any good point at all with such an asinine stance. You can focus on that fact, or just focus on the fact that I am impressed.

I know you know this and can see the difference, so why you choose to continue arguing this fact makes it painfully obvious that your motivations are political, my friend.

Actually, I find the whole debate to be logically absurd and therefore political.

Again, while I absolutely agree with the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception, my main argument goes back to the violation of our first amendment rights by the very state that is supposed to be defending those rights.

If that happens, I too will be riled up.

Contraception is only a symptom of the problem being discussed.

I agree with this. It is lack of the use of contraception that is the real problem.

he matter in contention is that it should NEVER have been made an issue in violation of the constitution and with the usurpation of power that the executive branch is not constitutionally authorized.

That is a subject change. If you want to post a bogus argument indicting the Affordable Healthcare Act, can you do it in a separate bogus post, just to keep the discussion organized?

You have yet to explain to me otherwise how this is not so.

I don’t have to in this post. Is Obamacare your real issue and you are using birth control as a red herring?

Where in the Constitution does it grant President Obama the power to do this, let alone the fact that he once again is mandating that private companies must provide certain services?

Ask that question in a separate bogus post, so I can refer you to the Social Security Act and the judiciary and what its function is. I am ready.

Before I move on, I have a question for you: would you be just as upset if your own state required these religious organizations to pay for contraceptives, as 28 have already done?

That is a very good question. If you would, then stop talking about the fact that you think Obamacare is unconstitutional, as that too is a red herring (or a separate question at best), and if not, then stop acting like Separation of Church and state is the issue. In other words, address each question separately, arguing what you believe for the reason you believe it, and do not try to entangle the questions into a mesh of other questions in order to advance your point through guile. (I am not suggesting you are doing this. I am only requesting that you do not).

S.W. Anderson said...

Paine, churches, seminaries, convents and parochial schools reasonably fit the definition of religious institutions, in that a substantial part of their mission is inculcating religious faith. Hospitals, no. A hospital is not a church.

I just read that the administration is open to working out an accommodation with self-insuring institutions.

Your continued insistence that the compromise provided — and approved by respected Catholic leaders like the ones I quoted — is no compromise or improvement makes it clear you're operating in an emotional area where facts don't matter and no effort to compromise will ever be enough.

I understand because I've seen it before. It's a kind of irrationality that makes keeping religion, politics, governing and public policy-making as separate as possible a necessity.

T. Paine said...

Addressing Ryan: “Moral objections, after all, are not limited to minority religious opinions.”

First, 24% of the over 300 million Americans are Catholic; I would hardly characterize this a minority religious opinion, particularly when you have various evangelicals and other Christian denominations that also support this stance. Further, there are plenty of disparate people of varying faiths, and no faith at all, that see this issue as it truly is and stand with the Catholic Church regardless of their belief regarding contraception. They understand it is a 1st amendment issue, sir.

Ryan continues, “You either need to adjust your understanding of the ‘free exercise of religion’ or acknowledge that the First Amendment was invalidated as soon as the federal government required anything of the public, which was a very long time ago.”
I would submit to you, Ryan, that your preceding statement right there is the very crux of the problem in America today. To the left in America the Constitution is an impediment to their agenda. Even President Obama stated that the Constitution is a list of negative liberties. He takes this view because indeed the Constitution restricts what the federal government is allowed to do and specifically spells out rights that are guaranteed to the people. The fact that progressives find the document to be anachronistic and something to have to work around or flat out ignore is precisely the problem. This is especially true regarding the Bill of Rights. Respectfully, I do not have to adjust my understanding of the Constitution or the First Amendment. On the contrary, we as Americans need to re-establish the primacy of this supreme law of the land and teach it as such to our children. After all, it was under this magnificent document that liberty and prosperity flourished. By ignoring it or re-interpreting it to mean something it doesn’t has been the catalyst for the decline of our nation, in my opinion.

To make a point in my case, you write, “I hold that it is the federal government's task to meet the needs of the people where the free market, charity, and states do not.” This expansive mindset of the federal government’s power is dangerous. I would agree with you that some of those people’s needs are the responsibility of the federal government, where they are specifically authorized under the Constitution. There really is not a “good & plenty” clause to the Constitution to give free reign to the government otherwise. Indeed, by the government assuming ever more responsibility for things which the Founders never intended only serves to erode our freedoms and create further dependency on that government. If these things are something that the majority of Americans want, then the Founders left us a way to provide for that through the amendment process. If the government refuses to obey the law of the land, even for supposedly altruistic reasons, at what point does that power become abusive to what is left of a free people, sir? I would argue that right now is precisely such a case of that federal power stepping on the religious practices and thereby the primary liberties of a once freer people, albeit for the “common good” as seen by many secular eyes.

T. Paine said...

“The Constitutional argument is not very effective. Even if many people did not interpret the Constitution differently, you can't convince others by using such an argument if they don't really care about the Constitution in the first place. Furthermore, in its reliance on what the law is, it avoids discussing what the law should be.”

That above statement makes my point quite clearly regarding the disrespect and degradation of the law in this nation. If the law “should be” something else, then amend the Constitution to make it so. If there is not the public will to do so, then it is probably not a good idea for a currently trendy or fashionable law to be implemented accordingly.

“Before I move on, I have a question for you: would you be just as upset if your own state required these religious organizations to pay for contraceptives, as 28 have already done?”

My answer is that while none of the laws in these 28 states are as draconian as the federal law is and that there is a state’s right presumption for these laws, I still have serious issues with them. Every state law that is contrary to the Bill of Rights should be nullified based on those grounds accordingly.

“Some people believe that contraceptives are both necessary and unaffordable for the poor. If that is true, then the government is justified in forcing religious groups to provide them to their employees. (You don't have to agree; I'm just explaining my point.) If these religious groups wish to disagree, then they must offer an equally compelling secular argument against contraception. That must come before our government can ignore what it currently considers to be a need.”

No sir, they do NOT have to offer a compelling secular argument against contraception. That is the exact point. Sanctity of life is a core tenet of the faith which is protected under the supreme law of the land. That, in and of itself, is all that is required to lay this matter to rest in a sane America where the Constitution is still followed.

That said, there are plenty of compelling secular reasons for not using contraception. The first reason being that use of the pill shows a very strong increase in the likelihood of breast cancer developing in women. The morning after pill is an abortifacient and actually kills a fertilized egg--- a human.

T. Paine said...

“…until the Church can effectively convince us all of the value of abstinence/self-restraint, we are unprepared for a society without contraceptives.”

The Church teaches that the sexual act should be practiced only in the context of a married relationship. The value of this should be self evident. Look at all of the children born out of wedlock nowadays, even when contraception such as condoms are used. Let me tell you that these are not always effective. The vast majority of those children end up being raised by single mothers, often in poverty. Myriads of studies show that the best case for children is being raised in a stable family with a father and a mother. The “value” of contraception” is that it allows men to use women for their desires, supposedly without consequence, and typically without commitment. That is not always the case. The consequences are that women, in their desire to be “happy” often are objectified as a means for sexual pleasure and nothing more. Is the result of this sexual revolution now that women and men are more happy today than when birth control pills first came on the market? I would think that the answer from any objective person would be a resounding NO!

The irony is that the divorce rate among married couples that practice natural family planning has been reported at 0.2%. Why is this true? I would submit that it is because the couples are committed to each other and always open to the possibility of life in the unitive and procreative functions of that marital act. They realize sex for what it was intended: the bonding in unity of the couple with the possibility of creating new life. Those seem like pretty good practical arguments against contraception to me.

“But contraception does not kill ‘nascent unborn life.’ “ Yes sir, it does in the case of the morning after pill which is prescribed as a contraceptive, although technically the term is indeed inaccurate. That pill is an abortifacient. It is one of the items being required by this new mandate.

You took exception to my analogy of the Pharisees and following the letter of the law rather than the spirit. In retrospect, you are correct that I should not have included you with Myste and Anderson in that case. You have stated repeatedly that the 1st amendment holds no sway over you in spirit or letter. I do not mean that statement to sound condescending or derogatory but rather a simple statement of fact. My apologies to you for including you with my other leftist friends in that analogy accordingly.

T. Paine said...

Moving on to Mr. Anderson’s comments. (Sorry Mr. Myste, but you requested full separate posts on my “side topics” so I will eventually oblige your request when time permits.)

“Paine, churches, seminaries, convents and parochial schools reasonably fit the definition of religious institutions, in that a substantial part of their mission is inculcating religious faith. Hospitals, no. A hospital is not a church.”

Indeed, however, a huge part of the Catholic faith is not simply going to Mass and praying. We are taught as Christ commanded to love our neighbor and go forth and serve the Lord, which we do through serving others; therefore, institutions such as Catholic Relief Services and Catholic hospitals are the working arms of the faith in serving our fellow man… in loving our neighbor. It is part and parcel of Catholic philosophy. Just because you and the secular world see these as separate institutions does not make them so. They are very much a part of living out that mission of faith.

Anderson continues, “Your continued insistence that the compromise provided — and approved by respected Catholic leaders like the ones I quoted — is no compromise or improvement makes it clear you're operating in an emotional area where facts don't matter and no effort to compromise will ever be enough.”

First, the “Catholic leaders” that you quoted are NOT in full communion with the Holy See and are definitely out of touch with Catholic Dogma and doctrine. The Vatican and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, in other words the real leaders of the Church, do not approve of this so-called compromise. Further, why in the world should ANY compromise of the free exercise of religion be necessary when it is a right guaranteed to all Americans? The Catholic Church is not infringing on anyone’s right to seek and use contraception. There is not a lack of availability at low cost for these items. In other words, there is not a critical need that can only be met by forcing the Church to provide it. Contraception is available to all that wish to use it. The Church merely is saying that they will not be providers of it. The “compromise” offered by the Obama administration does nothing to prevent Catholic organizations from having to provide it. Those are the simple, unemotional facts, sir.

Ryan said...

You wrote: "Addressing Ryan: 'Moral objections, after all, are not limited to minority religious opinions.'

First, 24% of the over 300 million Americans are Catholic..."

You misunderstood. I am referring to your and the Catholic Church's objection to contraception itself. This is clearly a minority opinion.

But that is irrelevant, since you also missed the point: anyone--Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, and so on--can offer a moral objection to a law. Why is your moral objection to contraception so special when my or some other theist's objections to certain government programs are not? Why should anyone have to pay taxes if those taxes go towards a cause that he finds morally objectionable? Where does the freedom that you imagine the First Amendment to offer actually end? Why does it end there?

You wrote: "Ryan continues, 'You either need to adjust your understanding of the ‘free exercise of religion’ or acknowledge that the First Amendment was invalidated as soon as the federal government required anything of the public, which was a very long time ago.'

I would submit to you, Ryan, that your preceding statement right there is the very crux of the problem in America today."

I understand your concerns, but you misunderstood again.

The "free exercise of religion" absolutely requires some degree of interpretation. If my religion instructed me to kill you, it would be well within the government's authority to stop me, even though that interferes with my free exercise of my religion.

The example is extreme to make the point: the free exercise of religion is not unbounded, nor was it intended to be if our country's founding fathers were even remotely intelligent. You simply cannot argue that we are violating the First Amendment whenever we require someone to do something that he finds morally objectionable. If you allow this, then you undermine the rule of law, the government and all of its programs (hey, I object to these taxes!), and social cohesion.

And so I tell you: to maintain consistency, you must either re-think your personal understanding of religious liberty or conclude that the Constitution undermines our country by allowing "moral objections" to trump the law.

You wrote: "To make a point in my case, you write, 'I hold that it is the federal government's task to meet the needs of the people where the free market, charity, and states do not.' This expansive mindset of the federal government’s power is dangerous."

So: even where state governments, the good will of the people, and the free market collectively do not satisfy the public's needs, you object to using the federal government to provide them? Indeed, we do have a fundamental disagreement.

Ryan said...

You wrote: "If the law 'should be' something else, then amend the Constitution to make it so. If there is not the public will to do so, then it is probably not a good idea for a currently trendy or fashionable law to be implemented accordingly."

My point was simple: arguments based on what the law is are not convincing to those who believe that it should be otherwise. If you want to convince others that your understanding of the Constitution is best, then you must make moral arguments and point to real-world effects, not merely point to existing law.

We really don't have enough debates of this kind. Consequently, we have an ethically ignorant public, so each party constantly tests the political winds to determine whether the populist appeal or the legalistic appeal is the better strategy for achieving its goals. If you can't tell: I don't really trust the public will.

You wrote: "No sir, they do NOT have to offer a compelling secular argument against contraception."

You missed the point again: If we take as a given that the government has the authority to override so-called religious liberty in cases of need and that it believes that contraception is a need (I even told you that you don't have to agree, just that you have to follow the point), then the only reasonable way that the religious can respond is through similarly secular arguments that challenge the need for contraception or even show that it causes harm. I basically conclude at the end that there is no compelling secular argument against it.

You wrote: "The morning after pill is an abortifacient and actually kills a fertilized egg--- a human."

We will never agree on abortion, so let's keep this simple: if the morning after pill were not covered, you would still oppose the law and the contraception coverage it mandates.

You wrote: "The Church teaches that the sexual act should be practiced only in the context of a married relationship. The value of this should be self evident. Look at all of the children born out of wedlock nowadays, even when contraception such as condoms are used. Let me tell you that these are not always effective. The vast majority of those children end up being raised by single mothers, often in poverty. Myriads of studies show that the best case for children is being raised in a stable family with a father and a mother."

The potential consequences of pregnancy outside of a committed relationship are unrelated to the moral value of contraception. From my perspective, you have only made an argument for the use of many types of contraception at once.

You wrote: "The 'value' of contraception' is that it allows men to use women for their desires, supposedly without consequence, and typically without commitment. The consequences are that women, in their desire to be “happy” often are objectified as a means for sexual pleasure and nothing more."

The value of contraception is that one can have sex without having children. That is it. Why an individual does not want children and whether or not he waits until he is in a committed, loving relationship to have sex are separate matters. Similarly, I can use prescription drugs to commit suicide, but that does not mean that I must or will, nor that prescription drugs are bad.

Ryan said...

You wrote: "The irony is that the divorce rate among married couples that practice natural family planning has been reported at 0.2%. Why is this true?"

I can think of many possibilities, including that such people tend to be very religious and regard divorce as wrong in all circumstances, that such people have more children and thus feel more of an obligation to stay together to care for them, etc. Let's not speculate.

I agree, of course, that some of your concerns are realistic, but here is more realism: people are going to have sex and children out of wedlock with or without contraception. They always have, since natural desires can trump both reason and religion. Sometimes, the best we can do is eliminate or reduce the harm to which our desires can lead. You could regard it as a necessary evil.

Many of the problems that you probably believe are the results of turning from religion and the Constitution are what I believe are the results of turning from reason. We are both capable of identifying excess and both inclined to resent it, yet we see the world quite differently.

You wrote: "You have stated repeatedly that the 1st amendment holds no sway over you in spirit or letter."

The First Amendment was probably intended to prevent the federal government from needlessly infringing upon the public's religious practices, particularly in case it wanted to establish a state religion. There is no compelling reason, for example, for the government to stop you from singing in your church or praying. The trouble is defining "a compelling reason." We absolutely must define it, otherwise the entire public can get away with not paying taxes, Muslims can stone adulterers, and Christian Scientists can deny their children necessary medical care. If each man's personal morality becomes his sole law, then the rule of law ends.

So, what we have in this contraception controversy are two reasonable groups: one that believes that the government has no compelling secular reason to force religious groups to pay for contraception and one that believes it does. The latter group argues that contraception is necessary while the former group argues that it is not or that there is already reasonable access to it without religious funding. These are the only arguments worth our attention. If the government insisted on enforcing this law after it were established that contraception is unnecessary or that there is already reasonable access to it, then it would be violating the First Amendment as I understand it. To skip directly to the First Amendment, however, is a mistake.

Ryan said...

I leave you with the last word. Given your other posts and your responses to comments on this one, I do not believe that this is a place for me. John can have you.

John Myste said...

Ryan and T. Paine,

Firstly, I believe the gist of it is what Ryan said: congress can make no laws to abridge the free practice of religion. That is all that is meant. Obviously, some religions believe you should kill infidels. Others believe you should not seek medical treatment for a baby whose leg was crushed by a train and became infected. Others believe birth control is not a medical need, but a sinful one.

The discussion about birth control laws and the catholic church is political rhetoric argued as a retained attorney would for political gain.

In any case, Freedom of Religion is not bound to medical need and the argument about whether contraception is a medical need should not be tangled up in the red herring about religious freedom.

Now, Ryan, I have a long history with T. Paine. He gets riled up and sometimes acts arrogant and then tones it back down. I have noticed since his return, greater aggression and less humility than when he left.

I do not judge him based on this small slice of time (not to suggest he would score poorly or anything). I judge him based on my entire history with him.

Of the conservatives I have met, I have found that when I am respectful to him, he has been by far the most gentlemanly and civil of all. Also, of those I have engaged aggressively, he and Burr Deming have been the most gentlemanly of anyone, conservative or liberal (I cannot include a blogger named Vincent, who, though gentlemanly, refuses to engage in political debate, and besides, he is a conservative!).

Knowing T. Paine substantially softened my opinion of conservative thinkers.

It is easy just to see only the Tea Party nut, because that is out there, prominent as a pointed cone hat at a funeral; but under the surface of this maniacal backward goofball is pretty impressive human being. You have to dig down to where he lives to appreciate it. I ask that you reconsider your evaluation of Mr. T. Paine. As for me, he is one of the main characters who shaped my blogging experience. I cannot join you in your departure, so if you decide to leave him to me, I will take him. Trust me, you could do far worse.

Ryan said...

John,

T. Paine has been a respectful debater. I do not fault him for how he has conveyed his thoughts on this matter.

I simply meant that my participation here would be a waste of time for both of us because our beliefs are rooted in fundamentally different religious and moral philosophies. If I thought that I could change his philosophies or that he could change mine, I would stay, but I think it is more productive for me to carry on with my own blog and learn from other utilitarians.

Besides: you argue my perspective well enough on your own. If you insist on these masochistic endeavors--and you do seem to enjoy Paine--then so be it.

John Myste said...

Ryan,

Fair enough. Mr. Paine has changed my mind at least twice that I can recall from memory (admittedly this was mostly on details and specifics and not fundamental philosophy).

However, you point resonates with me as wise.

The Heathen Republican said...

T.Paine, let me join in by welcoming you back. I will never again believe anyone who tells me you've closed up shop.

As for your post, I think your strongest argument is that the federal government has no business forcing businesses to purchase a service for its employees. You returned to it several times, and should have made that your main thrust.

The freedom of religion argument is less convincing. I know, I know, the pope has said birth control is bad, but Obama's actions do not prevent any person of faith from continuing to express his/her faith. For most people, holy books make up their theology, not the interpretation of fallible men.

As much as I hate our dear leaders first decree about contraceptives, it does nothing to infringe on religious belief.

(I see that I am just echoing John Myste's comment, so I'll stop typing and read the remaining comments.)