Why the hell should we care so much about the HHS mandate…

Why the hell should we care so much about the HHS mandate… January 31, 2012

… Do you ever feel like Catholics are the ones fighting the majority of the battles lately? Maybe it’s because we like to fight about everything, being members of the Church Militant and all. Or maybe it just seems that way because blogging affords me the luxury of surrounding myself with passionate Catholics of the more orthodox ilk. Oh, I know… it’s probably because politicians have no qualms picking fights and hurling insults at Catholics. Yeah, it’s probably that last one.

So there I was minding everyone’s business, making sure enough people knew about the petition to request the HHS Department’s mandate requiring Catholic employers to provide contraception and abortifacients to their employees be rescinded when someone asked me …

“Why the hell should Catholics care about this when sixty MILLION Catholics use birth control?”

Why the hell indeed. My first reaction was, wow, sixty million. Prove it. And he did. So I thought on this and thought on this some more. If the majority of Catholics have no issues with contraception and abortifacients how can we make them care about this mandate enough to sign a petition?

There aren’t enough hours in the day to write about how pathetic it is that so many Catholics are ignorant of Humanae Vitae and where our Church went so drastically wrong. Equally, I can’t change the minds of sixty million Catholics in a matter of weeks even I talked till I was blue in the face and passed out on the floor. I’m just not that influential or eloquent.

This past weekend my parish priest gave a fantastic homily on the mandate and told his flock “quit cooperating with the culture of death“. He was so impassioned and forceful it made us all squirm – the good kind of squirm that indicates a pricking of the conscience. I had never heard the Profession of Faith recited so weakly after a homily. Awkward.

Again, why should we care? Because contraception and health care insurance is just one part of the issue, the other has to do with the deliberate stripping of Catholic’s civil liberties. This mandate is directed specifically at Catholics and is seeped with religious intolerance. We are simply asking that we be respected enough to live our faith without moral compromise and government intervention. I believe the term is “religious freedom” and “free exercise” which can be found somewhere in here.

Ask me who's paying for these "free" pills. Go ahead, ask me.

Really this is only the beginning. Who or what is next on their agenda? And finally, just because sixty million Catholics choose to do something wrong doesn’t negate our obligation to do something right, to quote a very wise woman. So to that, I invite the Big B.O. and his cronies to engage in the physical act of love with themselves.

Related Links:

Continually updated link with individual Bishops’ statements.

HHS move on contraception mandate amounts to ‘to hell with you’; bishops’ protests mount

Bishop Peter J. Jugis: We must stand up and protect religious freedom

Will the ACLU protect Catholic’s civil liberties; not a chance in hell. Read their love letter to B.O.

Belmont Abbey College has vertebrate fortitude.

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama Concerning Recent Tyranny (With Pictures!)

Sen. Rubio pushes for faith exemption from birth-control mandate

And for your reading pleasure, some quotes dripping with bad-assery…

“Not only can women get contraception elsewhere, but there exists utterly no “right to contraception.” And why would there be? I know our world is idiotic and sexist to the point of the embarrassing belief that women cannot prevent pregnancy without pills, but as it turns out, they can. In fact, if you’re a woman reading this, chances are you’re preventing pregnancy right now. (If not, rethink your sex life.) Thus a health-care provider not providing free access to artificial contraception does not damn women to pregnancy — oh, the horror — any more than not providing diet-pills would damn them to obesity.” – Marc Barnes

‎”The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.”
– Archbishop Dolan of NYC

Now sign the petition. SIGN IT!

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  • Dr. Eric

    There are Catholics whose heads are buried in the sand and who will take you to task for posting data from sources with which they don’t agree.  These Pollyanna Catholics think that every Catholic person in America is toeing the line of the Vatican.  I’ve known more than a few families who left the Church in the 80s when our parish priest (R.I.P.) told them to stop contracepting in the confessional.  (They relayed this to my mother later at social gatherings.)

    • Rpmaccl


      • Anonymous

        OH SNAP…wait, who compiled the bible?

      • Amylpav22

        Yeah, that whole “be fruitful and multiply” thing was totally thought up in Rome.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. There is no right to contraception. The things the mandate requires- covering vasectomies, the Pill, and abortofacient drugs like Ru486, are not medically necessary for living. If my insurance won’t cover LASIK eye surgery because I can just wear glasses or contacts, why should it cover other unnecessary things like contraception? The immorality of contraception doesn’t actually matter in this case (aside from, you know, people’s souls being in danger because of ignorance….).

    • kenneth

      The Scientologists say psychiatric meds, ie even antidepressants, are not necessary. If they start buying and operating mega-bazillion dollar hospital networks and other corporate entities (they have the juice to do it), would you be ok if they refused to cover such meds based on their right of conscience?

      • Amylpav22

        Yes, it would be. Freedom of religion — even for religions and doctrines you don’t necessarily like — means freedom of religion.

  • Kimberly_whelan

    “But that Catholics choose to ignore doctrine does not justify the U.S.
    government imposing on Catholic institutions a policy that violates
    Catholic teaching.”  A quote from Pat Buchanan’s op ed piece/website today.  I agree there is a complete difference.

    I also agree that even if you aren’t Catholic people should stand up and say enough.  What and or who is next?

    • kenneth

          I would agree, IF the mandate were being forced on churches and enterprises directly related to them, like religious schools. On the other hand, when churches start involving themselves in multi-billion dollar businesses that serve and employ the general public more than their own membership, that ain’t a church anymore.

           People have this idea that anything a religious entity touches somehow becomes magically converted to an indispensible free-exercise-of-religion activity that should be beyond the reach of any regulation, ever. That’s nuts. If the RCC or some other church acquires a controling stake in, say GE or British Petroleum, does that really make them “Catholic institutions?” 
           For that matter, if religious affiliation is indeed a magic force field against any government interference, why doesn’t Big Oil and Big Pharma and Wal-Mart just re-charter themselves as churches? They could organize around Mammon or the Prosperity Gospel and a worship of money. Certainly no one could question the sincerity of their belief on that. 

      • Barbara

        Huh?  Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals, Catholic parishes…What the heck are you talking about?

        • kenneth

          Well, I might be confusing this with some other federal regs like employment laws, but it’s my understanding that this mandate draws a distinction between, say, a parish or Catholic school as an employer and a Catholic institution like a hospital chain. If the government doesn’t, it should.
               A church parish or school – something that really is about the core worship and formation activities of the church, should have broad exemptions to labor laws and from mandates like this. If they serve and employ primarily people who are, let’s say, Catholic, who are all there by choice, then it shouldn’t be for government to butt in and tell them how to live, within reason (safety, zoning, criminal law etc). If, on the other hand, we’re talking about mega corporations and enterprises that are not truly crucial to worship, or tax-supported adoption agencies, that changes the calculus,  for me, at any rate. 
              At some point, when you start engaging in enterprises that serve and mostly non-church members, you’re not acting like a church anymore. You’re a business group like any other, and should get no special exemptions in law. 
             I don’t have a problem with Catholics or anyone else who wants freedom of religion. I’m all about that. I get accused of being an atheist on these boards all the time, but I’m not. I’m pagan, and I’ve been involved in some big-time legal struggles for our own basic rights. 
              The problem I have with Catholicism, no, the bishops primarily, is that they define their freedom of religion in such a way that it pre-empts everyone else’s freedom.  If you look at every issue at play, gay marriage, this, and many others, the bishops basically say that they must have the power to completely order all of civil society and government to comply with doctrine. Anything less than that, we’re told, is stepping on Catholic’s right to be Catholic.  

             That’s not hyperbole. If you look at 15 centuries plus of the faith and its interaction with government, you will see that the Church leadership presses for as close to a theocracy as their secular influence will admit.  That ain’t gonna go with me, and it’s not going to fly with the vast majority of Americans, including, frankly, most Catholics. 

          • Amylpav22

            So you’d be cool with a government mandate forcing Jews and Muslims to buy bacon for their employees — after all, if it’s an organization like CAIR it’s not really a mosque or a Muslim school, so no big deal, right?

            The First Amendment does not make exceptions for Catholic schools v. Catholic hospitals or any sort of Catholic organization.  Period.  “Free exercise” means just that…free exercise.

            I hope we Catholics stand together, ignore this unjust law, and stop letting the secular culture dictate our faith to us (while they whine about us getting “close to a theocracy”). 

            That separation of church and state thing never seems to apply when the state is sticking it’s anti-Catholic nose into our business.  Hypocrisy.

          • kenneth

            I’d be cool with a government mandate if the purpose of it was to prevent Jewish or Muslim employers from forcing their dietary laws on non-believers in their employ, yes. 

               And I’d be more sympathetic to the “stop letting secular culture dictate our faith” when the concessions begin to flow the other way too. When bishops stop trying to dictate their faith to the secular culture.

                That’s exactly what they’re trying to do with the gay marriage issue. There is simply no other way to characterize it. They are not simply insisting on their (proper) right to define sacramental marriage. They are asserting a right to enforce that definition of marriage on the rest of the culture through civil law. If that sort of thing isn’t an honest attempt at theocracy, I don’t know what would be. 

               The real issue with religious sovereignty is that yours, and mine, each have to end to a degree where the other person’s begins. Sort of like the rights on our own land and yards. If you trespass in my yard, I can call you a trespasser. If, however, I assert ownership of all of the public streets and rights-of way surrounding your house and seek to prevent all access in or out of your property, the rights you have to your own property are rendered meaningless. 
               I think I speak for a fair number of non-Catholics when I say that I’d love to have a real truce in all of this. I’d love to be able to not think about the Catholic Church any more than I do about Jains, or Sikhs or Seventh Day Adventists. They do their thing, I do mine. That truce is not going to happen, however, if the terms of it mean me living in the Papal States of America. 

               In regards to the mandate, I think a very sensible alternative presents itself. The issue really is not that Catholic employers should have to provide contraception. It’s that non-Catholic employees should not have to suffer a lesser level of benefit by working there. Provide a flexible health savings account roughly commensurate to what they would have had with the full objectionable coverage. The Catholic org isn’t underwriting contraception, the employee isn’t getting stiffed. Win-win. 

          • Amylpav22

            Doesn’t work that way. Freedom of religion guarantees the right of the religious to express their faith — without limit or restrictions.

            Nothing is stopping employees of Catholic institutions from paying for their own contraception, etc. — just as nothing is stopping employees of Jewish/Muslim institutions from buying pork…with their own money.  See how that works?

            There is no sensible way you can argue that Catholics should stop dictating to secular culture but turn around and demand Catholics fund contraception (because secular culture is okay with it).

          • kenneth

            “Freedom of religion guarantees the right of the religious to express their faith — without limit or restrictions.”…………….
            If that’s really true, why is Warren Jeffs in prison for life plus 20? Why is David Koresh dead? Everything they did was done in sincere expression of their faiths.

          • Amylpav22

            Because they violated *actual* laws and the *actual* rights and safety of others.

            Birth control is not a right. Repeat as necessary until that sinks in.

          • kenneth

            That reveals the heart of the American understanding of freedom of religion. 

            “It guarantees the absolute right of expression of OUR religion, not yours….”

          • Anonymous

            So Catholic organizations have to be punished for serving non-Catholics?

            It’s because they are Catholic they started these institutions to begin with. 

            The government did not start them.

  • For some reason, my sister in law who had gone through RICA and converted several years ago didn’t realize and wasn’t taught the gravity of sin contraception is.  Thankfully she now understands and is spreading the word!  I think part of our battle should start at our own parishes making sure those who teach are not afraid to talk about sin & it’s consequences.  How can we be angry at how our fellow Catholics vote or lead their lives if they are ignorant?  It would also be interesting to do a poll of those using birth control to see how often they attend Mass.

    • Rpmaccl


      • Is your keyboard stuck on caps and is English a second language for you?  

  • AnnF

    I have so many thoughts that I can’t even form a coherent statement.  Just wanted to say THANKS Crescat.  I’m seeing two new items of interest on FB, BTW:  Friday as a day of prayer and fasting in support of the bishops’ stand on this ridiculous violation of the first amendment, and our beloved Marc Barnes is posting that Susan G. Komen is suspending donations to Planned Parenthood.  What a week!  Archangel Michael defend us in battle!

  • Annabelle

    The Church went drastically wrong at Vatican II? How so?

  • Mary

    Have you noticed that whenever the media breaks down which group voted for which political candidate there is no “Catholic vote”?  There is, however, an “evangelical vote” that is always taken into consideration. The simple fact is Catholics have stopped being influential. How sad that it takes something like the HHS issue to motivate the majority of us  to “fight”.  We as a group should have been “fighting” all along for all the injustices that plague our country and our world.  Why? Because we’re Catholic and it’s the right thing to do!

    • kenneth

      Actually, Catholics, at least those who vote primarily according to religious identity and one or two hot button issues like abortion, are part of the “evangelical vote”. That combined bloc, whether you want to call it the Religious Right or something else, is pretty influential. They’re not nearly a majority in this country and never will be, but they’re passionate and well-organized and hit well above their demographic weight. Even if they don’t often get their way on every issue, they’ve had the power to define the terms of debate on social issues for going on 30 years now. If you’ll notice, every Republican candidate fielded this year comes from the religious right, with the exception of John Huntsman and perhaps Mitt Romney, although Mitt is certainly no secular humanist either. 

      Why don’t all U.S. Catholics vote in lockstep together, at least on a few issues? For the same reason 68.5 million people never march in neat formation.  Ten percent of that number represents ex-Catholics.  Something like 23 percent are faithful enough to go to Mass every week. Even among that core of loyal folks, there is a wide disparity of views on issues like contraception, gay marriage, you name it. More than a few are openly pro-choice. 

           Even some of those who happen to agree with the bishops on everything don’t like the idea of being told how to vote.  The rest of the spectrum of Catholics includes every political leaning and viewpoint as the general public.  People who don’t bother to vote, and people who do their best to vote according to the competence of individual candidates and their own consciences. They might be more interested in a president who will bring jobs rather than fighting abortion 24/7. Others might vote more on war and peace issues etc. 

  • ds

    file this under the “why should we care?” column:  28 states already require coverage for prescription birth control.  Including New York, something Archbishop Dolan conveniently left out.