HHS Mandate and Conscience: they hate what they do not know

There is that great quote from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church. Which is, of course, quite a different thing.

My First Things column today responds to some of what I’ve seen in my email and my comboxes over the past week or so, as regards the HHS Mandate (and perhaps the Komen story. The two have brought out a lot of the same folk, so I may be mixing up some of the hate.)

The culture, cognizant of almost nothing about the whys and wherefores of Catholic teaching, is being encouraged to believe that religion is not simply unenlightened and unnecessary, but a socially negative force best driven from the public square. Its historic mission of outreach—its healthcare, educational, and charitable service to surrounding communities in need—is being redefined as not a mission at all, but an intrusion. Her effective and cost-efficient programs, to which the federal government contributed because doing so saved taxpayer monies, are now being cited as justification for wholesale government interference with the church, with who and what she is, and how she serves.

Time is running out; it is up to the Bishops and an informed laity to defend the church from ideological aggression and they must do it by engaging the other side and gently, but firmly, challenging them to learn the church’s teachings before demonizing them.

I hope you’ll read the rest, here, and add your thoughts.

I’m already being accused of being “too optimistic” in the piece, or even naive — that ideologues are ideologues because their minds are closed to anything but the agenda. That’s true. But I am talking about engaging ordinary folks who are wandering around thinking they have the whole picture as regards both this mandate and the church. It will, of course, not stop what is steamrolling toward us. I fully expect civil disobedience to be in our future, and perhaps more — a great deal more. But that will, in the longrun (because God loves the longrun) only make us stronger.

This poll: is disheartening.
It’s going to be used against us and assist media in framing this issue as “only about contraception” and it demonstrates how few people are really paying attention, how few really understand the constitutional involvement.

Please go sign Frank’s petition before he has a stroke! :-)

Rounding up some more news about the administration’s move against the churches:

Andrew Klavan: Like your freedom? Thank a church!

USA Today: This mandate violates religious freedom

The Hill: “Obama may have just lost the election” Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure; he clearly thinks there is enough bad-will out there toward the church that this is a winner; with media help in distorting the issue as being about “contraception” instead of conscience, he may think he’s just won the election.

Tom Hoopes: Ten ways the administration has alienated Catholics

Jeane Kirkpatrick: Dictatorships and Double standards (from 1979)

John C. Wright: The Pile of Shoes in the Modern Age</a>

Charlotte Allen: An affront Catholics agree on

Bookworm: Obama gives churches a Hobson’s choice

Jonah Goldberg: Resist and You Will Pay!

Sam Schulman: Honor Killing, American Style (from 2009)

Jonathan Last: Administrations Breach of Faith

Newsbusters: Pinkerton Cites Media Double Standard re Komen and HHS and more (Newsbusters if keeping a close eye on this story and the press)

EWTN News: Being Catholic means paying a price

Catholic Key: “This is not about eating a little pork”

WSJ: The risk of misreading the Catholic barometer

WHAT?: Stocking a vending machine w/morning after pills?. Hey, it seems your children are not your own when it comes to this issue.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Gerry

    I am shocked, SHOCKED that Moloch’s blood lust is never satiated – the Komen VP “resigned”.

  • Gerry

    BTW, I couldn’t add my thoughts due to lame CAPTCHA.

  • Ann

    Regarding the poll, in the PRRI article, this is the quote to take notice of:

    “Only about 4-in-10 (41%) white Catholics support this requirement [that religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should have to provide coverage that includes contraception], compared to 58% who oppose it.”

    Why is this important? White Catholics are the Catholic swing vote that can decide elections, especially in critical swing states.

  • Gerry

    And, in yet another stunner, part of the 9th Circus Court of Appeals ruled that the people of California don’t have the right to stop same-sex pseudo-marriage.

  • jcd

    Unfortunately, too many are already Catholics, Archbishop Sheen: And they didn’t “get it” like these babes do:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0vgt_ivVH8

  • Alan Clark

    Looking at those poll numbers, I wonder if, in making so much of the affront to religious/conscience rights, we have not made enough of the affront to plain and simple common sense economics. Why on earth would so many people support the Federal Government forcing ALL private health insurance plans to cover contraception at 100%?!?! Do most of these people not actually pay into private health plans? If they do, do they not understand what 100% coverage means? I’m really stunned by this. . .I would think that most people, if they had these basic facts explained to them, (and, yes, I know the MSM will not do that) would object to the HHS ruling whatever their religious or moral beliefs. It really is a horrible overstepping of government authority in almost every conceivable way.

  • kevin

    I saw MSDNC earlier today with Kris Jansing and was stunned that they actually gave the HHS mandate relatively fair coverage. I had the distinct feeling that the narrative was getting away from Obama if even that network was presenting a semi-objective report on the issue, which it noted was at least as much about the First Amendment as contraception.

  • DWiss

    So far what I have seen in the popular media is that the talking heads who have been sent out to defend the HHS mandate run out of road pretty quick. The freedom of religion argument is a strong one, and even people who don’t want to side with the Catholic church feel squeamish about this. Obama may have miscalculated, and the timing of it is bad with the camapign for the general election just ahead. I doubt that he wants to debate this on national TV.

  • Peggy R

    As for O’s election prospects, I saw an AP article yesterday in which the O team made it clear they are not worried about the consequences of the HHS mandate at the polls. Their evidence they cite is the Komen-PP flap which turned in favor of PP.

    I think all’s not revealed yet, on Komen-PP, however, as we don’t know how many pro-lifers will be turned away after learning about the PP support in the first instance.
    http://www.bnd.com/2012/02/06/2047316/birth-control-fight-doesnt-worry.html
    That O is not worried is cause for us to be worried.

    The good news is that this issue has legs, is legitimate of course, and remains a primary topic on the web and radio and TV.
    Your writing is great. Your thorough scanning of the web for related articles is unmatched. Thank you!

  • Manny

    That poll proves that this was a calculation by Obama. Of course they took internal polling. Which means they lied to Bishop Dolan’s face. They stuck a knife in his back.

    [Of COURSE he lied to Dolan's face. Of COURSE he lied to everyone. And they'll backtrack and lie again, and some will say, "oh, yea! Now I can vote for him." And they won't stop to think what a second term with no re-election concerns will permit the man to do -admin]

  • http://scrutinies.net Dorian Speed

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of self-identified Catholic poll respondents were in the pews when the letters from the bishops were read.

  • SteveP

    I apologize if the comment I left on your First Things article was terse to the point of sounding accusatory. I know the tide will break on the Rock; however I am not optimistic that we will not be dampened.

  • MIke

    The Obama administration appears to have been right in finding Catholics, outside of elites, aren’t all that sympathetic to Catholic Inc. and can see the difference between their local parish and the multibillion dollar health care and education industry. There has been no groundswell of outrage beyond “professional Catholics” and there likely won’t be.

    In places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, Catholic Inc. isn’t the local priest but the hospital that pays poorly and where people work 12-hours a day for limited benefits and pay.

  • kevin

    My surmise a week ago or so was that this could be a calculated move by Herr Obama, i.e., come out with this mandate, see how much of a ruckus it causes. If it gets so bad that it looks like he could lose the Catholic vote, step in around August or September and declare that he is rescinding it. This will be met with much rejoicing by people like Kmiec and he will appear to be the “adult in the room,” as someone said earlier.

    And I agree with Anchoress and the others who’ve noted that he will go right back to his anti-Catholic ways the second he gets an electoral majority.

    Of course, he could be making it up as he goes, but I don’t put it past him to play politically liberal Catholics for suckers again.

  • MattK

    I’d be more interested in the polling on what Catholics thought of mandatory contraceptive coverage if it were done by state. Any pollster can ask across the nation, or from large areas like New York/California (which are going Obama anyway). Let’s see the numbers from Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, etc.

  • http://WordPress.com Bev Malona

    We must all keep writing (praying, fasting). This unlike any other issue to date may galvanize all who embrace freedom of conscience and religious liberty. Next there will be an attack which will affect all healthcare professionals who are now free to use freedom of conscience to avoid participating in procedures which violate not only their conscience but the oath they took “to do no harm”. Without this protection many would be subject to job termination. This already exists to a degree. We can not afford to let it go any further.

  • Manny

    “The culture, cognizant of almost nothing about the whys and wherefores of Catholic teaching, is being encouraged to believe that religion is not simply unenlightened and unnecessary, but a socially negative force best driven from the public square. ”

    I’ve been saying that the left has been trying and suceeding to drive religion from the public square for a long time, at least since the 1950′s but probably longer. We have evolved to where one party (the Democrats) are anti religion and the other, while not perfect I acknowledge, supportive of religion. As to not being cognizant of Catholic teaching, I would happen to disagree. Pelosi, Biden, and Sibelious (sp?) are all Catholics, at least in name. Their real religion, the one that takes precedence over Catholicism, is Liberalism as currently understood since the 1960s. That incorporates the sexual revolution and all its repulsive manifestations. That includes abortion, contraception, and gay marriage.

  • enness

    I can’t help thinking that much of it must come back to a poor education in civics.

  • Thomas R

    Unfortunately Catholics are one of the more irreligious groups in the nation. Although I think part of this is Catholics, unlike many other religions, identify as Catholic regardless of their religious beliefs. For many Catholics, not just in the US though, being Catholic is more of a cultural signifier than a religious one.

    Still it’s a bit disappointing that opposition to this mandate looked higher among “mainline Protestants.” Mainline Protestants are usually just as likely to be lax on religion as Catholics or moreso even. Also disappointing about the figures of non-white Catholics. Although possibly non-white Catholics are disproportionately poor, so desire more services, and “American” enough to see contraception as one of the needed services because being born poor is seen by at least some as worse than not being born at all. Or I’m too cynical.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I find it interesting that all this is happening at the same time that Christians in Egypt, Iraq and throughout the Middle-Eas and Africat are facing a rise in persecution.

  • Doris C

    Dear Anchoress,

    I followed your link to the PRRI poll and read their description of their survey methodology. It says nothing about how they identified Catholics in the sampling.
    What it does say is: “Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 1,009
    adults 18 years of age or older in the continental United States (304 respondents were interviewed on a cell phone.) The final sample was weighted to five different parameters–age, sex, geographic region, education and telephone usage to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total adult population.” ?????


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