Mandating coverage is not requiring use

Proposed regulations in the Affordable Care Act would provide preventive services for women that Catholic doctrine considers sinful. I am not surprised that John Garvey, President of Catholic University, doesn’t approve. But I thought I was reading George Orwell’s novel 1984 when he said: “In objecting to these regulations, our university does not seek to impose its moral views on others. All we ask is respect for the religious beliefs we try to impart to our students.”

Huh? Has the Catholic Church not spent over 30 years trying to impose on everyone in the world its moral views on contraceptives and abortion? It is not the place for government to either respect or disrespect the religious beliefs that Catholic University tries to impart on its students. It is up to informed students to decide whether they respect such beliefs. And they don’t. Some 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church. (

Perhaps Garvey should focus more on the Catholic Doctrine of Free Will. Like it or not, female students have a choice to use or ignore services offered in their health care plan.

The law doesn’t require Catholics or anyone else to exercise all available options. No one is forced to commit the “sin” of taking a contraceptive. It is up to the Church to persuade their faithful that Church doctrine is correct. Since public money is being used for healthcare by Catholic University, they must either live with the regulations or set up another system without any public funding.

If the University wants to deprive its students and employees of access to certain forms of preventive healthcare, even if those students and employees are not Catholic or are Catholic and prefer to make their own moral choices, then it needs to limit its student body and staff to those who share their beliefs. It would have to modify significantly its website: “The Catholic University of America welcomes students of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds and recognizes that diversity is essential to a modern experience in higher education.” (

Perhaps the University can then require a loyalty oath that students and staff remain faithful to Catholic doctrine, with the threat of immediate dismissal for anyone found using contraceptives or engaging in unmarried sex. I wonder what that will do for enrollment, or for the quality of education at Catholic University.

About Herb Silverman

Herb Silverman is Founder and President of the Secular Coalition for America, and founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston, South Carolina. He was founder and faculty advisor to the College of Charleston student Atheist/Humanist Alliance. He is a board member of the American Humanist Association as well as a Humanist Celebrant, advisory board member of the Secular Student Alliance, and member of the Advisory Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He has served on the boards of the Atheist Alliance and the Humanist Institute. He has written for "On Faith" at the Washington Post and for the Huffington Post. He has spoken at a number of conferences and written articles for many freethought publications. He has appeared in a number of debates on topics like: Can we be moral without God? Does God exist? Is America a Christian nation? He has also debated at the Oxford Union in Oxford, England on the topic: Does American Religion Undermine American Values? Here is information on his recent book, Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt