Not a Good Argument for the HHS Birth Control Mandate

In response to the new HHS regulations, about which I have written several entries (see below), some have responded by pointing out that most Catholics practice birth control in defiance of the teachings of their Church. I’ve got news for you: Catholics also commit adultery, lie, cheat, steal, and sometimes even become Protestant. I suspect that there are also Mormons who drink coffee, Orthodox Jews who sneak bacon bits on their salads, and Southern Baptists who make the occasional visit to their friend Jack Daniels.

However, none of these interesting and salacious facts about non-practicing believers would justify the government coercing their religious communities to underwrite adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, counter-conversions, caffeine intake, non-kosher culinary practices, or drinking hard liquor.

It amazes me that otherwise intelligent people–those who would clearly see the injustice of the government requiring Al-Qaeda members held at Guantanamo Bay to serve pork to non-observant Muslims–cannot see the injustice of the government requiring a Church that believes it is wrong for itself to serve birth control to anyone forcing that same Church to serve birth control to everyone.

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  • June

    This is fabulous – thank you!

  • Holly Murphy

    damn, I didn’t know southern baptists could drink Jack Daniels…may have to rethink this catholic thing. Its becoming burdonsome :o)

  • jkmiles

    Yeah. I will definitely bring this up to my logic and critical thinking class. What sort of fallacy would you classify this under?

  • Perry Robinson

    Red herring with a touch of special pleading.

  • E

    And to add ask a vegan to purchase a side of beef.

    • Anne

      … or to force a vegan to pay for someone else’s steak.

  • Mary

    While I know there are Catholics who don’t follow all Catholic doctrine, I have to wonder what the real numbers would be if they asked the ‘Catholics’ how often they attended Mass, if they knew the Church’s teaching on contraceptives (surprisingly, there are many that do not), and if they are unmarried and using BC to regulate their menstrual period or acne.

  • Dee

    I was watching CNN this morning and the journalist stated to a professor from Catholic University ( whose name I don’t recall) ” But studies show that a majority of Catholics use birth control.” His response along the lines of it is not what Catholics do it is what your are asking the administrators of the hospital , school university to do- go against their conscience.
    Your post is excellent.

  • McLaren

    Thank you! That mere consensus constitutes a moral imperative is absurd. So tired of hearing that 70 per cent of Catholic women use contraception, therefore…

  • Teri Love

    Man I love your thinking. It pays to read a philosopher’s blog. Laughed out loud while I nodded my head in agreement.

  • enness


  • Norah Langendorf

    Hi Dr. Beckwith,

    The rebuttals I’ve gotten (from someone I served with as a Christian forum administrator, no less) takes the side of non-Catholic workers who up until this mandate had to pay for their own contraception. For some reason, those who argue for this mandate forget that it includes coverage for pills that induce miscarriages because they know that if they were to acknowledge this inclusion then those who oppose this mandate truly do have a leg to stand on in terms of this not being a benign issue. I am saddened that even brothers and sisters in Christ will side with the administration with regards to this mandate. :(