Letter From The Editor

| February 16, 2012
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I have been trying all week to find out Jesus' position on contraception. According to the Catholic Church, he was definitely against it. They could be right, I suppose. I was raised in the Methodist Church, and I don't recall Reverend Pegues or my Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Cornett, having much to say about it.

The reason I have been searching for this information is because contraception is in the news, thanks to President Obama's edict last week that religious-based employers must provide contraceptive health care for their employees. Mitt Romney immediately claimed that Obama was waging an "assault on religion." His fast-rising rival, Rick Santorum, said the administration was "trying to shutter faith." And fast-fading Newt Gingrich proclaimed that the president had "declared war on the Catholic Church."

The administration quickly amended its position, requiring insurers to provide contraceptive services, rather than the institutions themselves. Polls show that most Catholics are okay with this, and, in fact, a majority (58 percent) believe that contraception should be covered in health-care plans. This is not surprising, given a recent survey that showed 98 percent of Catholic women had used artificial birth control at some point during their lives.

The truth is, one version or another of this proposed "new" national mandate is already in effect in 28 states. The nation's fifth-largest health-care system, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), provides contraceptive coverage, as do Catholic universities Georgetown, Fordham, and DePaul. This is a tempest in a political teapot, mainly serving to provide rhetorical fodder for candidates looking for fresh ammo to attack the president.

I have lots of Catholic friends. I get why they love their church — its traditions, the fellowship of friends and family, the excellent and reasonably priced schools, the music, pomp, and circumstance, the good works the church performs for the downtrodden. When I go to Catholic services, I'm always moved by the power of their communal faith.

But for the majority of Catholics, that faith doesn't extend to letting the church into the bedroom. They know contraception helps prevent unwanted pregnancies that increase family size to unrealistic levels — and can lead to abortions. It's a case where common sense trumps church doctrine. I can't prove it, but I suspect Jesus would be okay with that.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments (25)

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Well Bruce, when you figure it out, please let the rest of us know. Very few have had a face to face with Jesus lately and those that claim they have are usually under some sort of medical observation. Personally, I see it much to do about nothing myself. Besides the Pope is more Protestant than he is Catholic what with the Church's position that only he has a direct pipeline to God...... I would think us Protestants should be happy, apparently he thinks like we do in that matter.

On second thought, can we really trust what a long haired hippie type social minded fellow would say about the subject......... come to think about, can we really trust a man who wears and long dress and pointed hat in public.........hummmmm. Conundrum.

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Posted by lifespalette on 02/16/2012 at 5:16 AM

This is my favorite part of Article II of the Constitution. It's even better than the Seventeenth Amendment!

While he is at it, Precedent Obama shouldn't overlook his Constitutionally defined power to force insurees (pretty much everyone) to subsidize folks' lubricants and various "marital aids"

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Posted by Ted Underhill on 02/16/2012 at 5:22 AM

My great-great grandmother, an Italian immigrant, is buried in Calvary Cemetery. Died in childbirth, along with her 11th child.

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Posted by Packrat on 02/16/2012 at 8:23 AM

Every sperm is sacred.

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Posted by God on 02/16/2012 at 9:08 AM

The issue has nothing to do with contraception. It has to do with religious liberty. When the government can force a religious body to pay for something that it is opposed to, this is an abridgment of the free exercise of religion. This is not merely using tax dollars for capital punishment; this is forcing an individual to pay for insurance to go for something their religion opposes.

The next step in this is to insist that health insurances cover abortion. If a majority of the nation thinks that is fine, will it be ok to impose that view upon others? Will I be forced to pay for abortions because Reverend Pegues or Mrs. Cornett had nothing to say about this?

If this were an issue about trimming down the freedom of the press, I'm sure that the Memphis Flyer would be going nuts. Even if a majority thought this move was ok, the Memphis Flyer could ask "Does the constitution allow for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or not?"

The same is true with a free exercise of religion. Is this a part of the constitution or is it not?

That is what the issue is; not contraception.

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Posted by lutheranguy on 02/16/2012 at 9:36 AM

I wonder if those religious institutions pay for Viagra treatment for unmarried males. If so, why would an unmarried man need Viagra?

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Posted by Packrat on 02/16/2012 at 9:46 AM

Regardless of the J-man's view on this, I fully expect to burn in hell for the vasectomy I got years ago. I'll be escorted to the door with the sign that reads, "Whippin' Cuzza Snippin'."

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Posted by Phlo on 02/16/2012 at 10:02 AM

I wonder if all these Catholics who are crowing about religious freedom are going to show up the next time a Mormon wants to take a second wife or a Rastafarian wants to smoke a joint.

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Posted by autoegocrat on 02/16/2012 at 1:18 PM

Who needs contraception when the rhythm method works so well?

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Posted by M_Awesomeberg on 02/16/2012 at 2:07 PM

I find that having a good rhythm usually leads to pregnacy.

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Posted by BartlettVol on 02/16/2012 at 2:48 PM

"This is not merely using tax dollars for capital punishment"

So it's ok to use tax dollars for capital punishment, but it's not ok for health insurance to cover abortion? What if capital punishment is against someone's beliefs? Or does it only count if it's against someone's religious beliefs? What if someone has their own religion that says capital punishment is wrong?

One person getting an abortion isn't preventing other people from the free exercise of their religion.

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Posted by Sour Cherry on 02/16/2012 at 2:58 PM

Problem is my progressive friends is that the President is opening a Pandora's box of government control over your life. Imagine the power being exercised now to mandate that a private company provide birth control free of charge to individuals or that a individual must by a product (health insurance) as a condition of living in our country. Imagine President Right Wing Zealot (populist, not small government) deciding that everyone should have to own a gun or pay a fine, or that health providers should mandate a 5 day waiting period for birth control or abortions. Once that smoke is out of the bottle, its going to be hard to put back in.

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Posted by BartlettVol on 02/16/2012 at 3:27 PM

Once upon a time in America there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of communities that were predominately Catholic. Most of the fathers were WWII vets. Families were large, many with five, six children. Some with as many as eleven or twelve. Catholicism was the common religion of the immigrants who had come from Italy, Ireland, Germany & other parts of Europe. Women were taught to use the "rhythm" method of "natural" contraception. According to most state laws, contraceptives were only available to married women. The Catholic Church taught that both premarital sex and masturbation were mortal sins. Then something called The Baby Boom happened. Schools in the 50's had as many as 50 students in a classroom. Over the next decade, Sputnik, the civil-rights movement, the Pill, women's liberation, the Vietnam War & gay liberation would all happened. Boomers grew up, a majority having at least some college. They learned to think for themselves and to make their own moral decisions based upon their practical experiences in the world. Recently, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded his brethren that there are 70 million Catholics in the U.S. What he failed to mention, however, is that the majority of those 70 million Catholics do not obey & never intend to obey their clergy on matters concerning much of what is taught as faith, especially regarding sexuality and contraception. Americans, including Catholics, embraced modernity decades ago. They won't be returning to the past. Not surprisingly, the Bishops' instrusion into politics, aimed at derailing President Obama's re-election, will have about as much sway on their flocks' voting decisions as their silly, Medieval encyclicals calling for the forbidding of birth control.

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Posted by cd on 02/16/2012 at 4:12 PM

cd just nailed it. The bishops lost that battle about 40 years ago.

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Posted by Packrat on 02/16/2012 at 4:20 PM

Guys, the issue is not BC per say. Its religious freedom. If the government can force the Catholic Church to pay for birth control, it can force Jews to pay for bacon or Baptist to pay for dancing lessions. You are just asking for it when the next time someone you don't agree with gets into power. Why should Uncle Sam have the power to make a Church violate its core beliefs or an individual purchase a product from a private company? You're hung up on birth control because you like it, what if it forced churches to pay for female circumcision? Just because you find it objectionable ...

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Posted by BartlettVol on 02/16/2012 at 4:27 PM

Bart, if the Catholic Church is willing to stop taking in billions of dollars from the government in medicaid, medicare, and other healthcare support (which it pays no taxes on), then they can make the rules (which the great majority of their parishioners ignore, anyway). I respect your point of view but I believe you have it precisely backwards. No employer should have the right to decide what kind of healthcare is available to their employees on "moral" grounds. That would be chaos. Say, for example, FedEx decided (for moral reasons) not to offer any medical benefits to its Muslim employees, or to any unmarried person who gets pregnant? There has to be a baseline for health benefits, not a cafeteria where employers can discriminate at will. It's about uniform healthcare benefits. And, as I point out, it's already the law in 28 states. This is political posturing at its worst.

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Posted by BruceVanWyngarden on 02/16/2012 at 5:04 PM

No one will require Catholic women to actually USE the birth control provided, bartlett. They'll have the choice as to whether to listen to what their bishop says, or most likely, to ignore it. btw, I was raised catholic and went to parochial schools.
Like Bruce said, if those hospitals want to turn down federal money, fine, then opt out.

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Posted by Packrat on 02/16/2012 at 6:14 PM

I met a man today who owns an insurance company. He said as a devout Christian, he is opposed to all forms of birth control, as well as sterilization, fertility and ED treatments & claimed his company will refuse to follow the new federal mandates of providing payment for contraception, vasectomies, tubal ligations, & ED treatment, based on his perceived violation to his religious freedom. When I suggested that he won't be able to stay in business on the insurance exchange, he got angry & said the government would be punishing him & discriminating against him because of his "morals". We already have pharmacists who are refusing to sell condoms or fill prescriptions for birth control based on "moral" grounds. How do we deal with fanatics who are willing to break established laws because they think their religious freedoms are being violated?

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Posted by cd on 02/16/2012 at 7:13 PM

I agree with Bartlett. This is a slippery slope lined with rusty razor blades into a pool of government vodka. Forcing people to buy health insurance from a private company is just wrong.

Which is why we need a Medicare for All option. Then no one has to buy insurance unless they want to.

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Posted by Jeff on 02/17/2012 at 7:21 AM

It's all part of the gay agenda

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Posted by mad_merc on 02/17/2012 at 9:11 AM

Bruce, you are right on most of what you said. The Church has no right into one's bedroom. The Bible does have things to say about the sanctity of marriage regarding sex. Contraception is nowhere to be found, nor deduced from higher principles in the Bible. At least, I have never read it nor have I found it many commentaries from Reformed Theologians and others. The problem is that the Federal Government nor the State Governments are allowed to control the governing body or institution of churches, unless a civil crime is committed against a church member, etc. Marriage should never be under the jurisdiction of the state, as it is considered by the Church institution to be a spiritual union as well as a natural one as well. Some consider the marriage certificate issued by the state as merely 'notification' and documentation for the state to offer protection of the marriage union as an institution; i.e. protection of property inheritance, etc. (taxing inheritance is a form of theft and destructive to the family). This is debatable in most Catholic and Protestant circles. Health insurance is not listed as the role of the Federal Government anywhere in the Constitution.

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Posted by CHG on 02/19/2012 at 11:03 AM

Sour Cherry, your complaint is very valid, which is why arbitrary ethics cause chaos within a society. Bruce also mentioned something being 'morally right' in his comment to Bart regarding coerced health coverage, but cannot justify whose morality we derive this from? Is this his subjective opinion, morality by mob-rule or where? If it is not a moral law that is 'above' mankind, then why submit to it; irrespective of consequential circumstances?

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Posted by CHG on 02/19/2012 at 11:10 AM

'...Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth control “accommodation” was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless. It was nothing but an accounting trick that still forces Catholic (and other religious) institutions to provide medical insurance that guarantees free birth control, tubal ligation and morning-after abortifacients — all of which violate church doctrine on the sanctity of life...'

http://visiontoamerica.org/8246/overreach-…

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Posted by CHG on 02/19/2012 at 11:22 AM

Sour Cherry quote: "...So it's ok to use tax dollars for capital punishment, but it's not ok for health insurance to cover abortion?..."

We live under a Constitutional Republic. It does allow for capital punishment (see the Abstract New England Laws, Black's Laws up to the 3rd edition, then they were fraudulently changed, Federalist Papers, etc.). Abortion was never an issue for government involvement, whereas, punishments for crimes were and are. You are pointing out a good idea... contradictory worldviews cannot all be correct at the same time. The question is: which one is the most coherent with the tenets of reality; i.e. laws of logic, ethics, and laws of nature. Only the Christian worldview can account for why these three tenets are sound and justifiable.

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Posted by CHG on 02/21/2012 at 5:02 PM

Agree that this has NOTHING to do with contraception and everything to do with religious freedom. Not just religious freedom but FREEDOM in general which is what makes this country so great. Why do you think people want to come to this great country? Freedom. What do you think sets us apart from any other country? Our freedom. Why are you, the editor of a magazine, able to give your OWN opinion in this article? Must I reiterate? FREEDOM. Contraception is merely the tool, the means through which the President is using to nudge the system (OUR SYSTEM- the people's system- which has worked since it was established for the people by the people- our founding fathers) into something that will slowly become unrecognizable. The President is smart; I'll give him that. He is doing this little by little and will continue to use things such as "contraception" to transform our country for the worse. So, I do agree that contraception is a "tempest in a political teapot." However, the real issue, our freedom, is not "rhetorical fodder" but because Obama is so brilliant he has set the table for catholics and conservative to discuss this issue and make it look like it's only about contraception when it's really not. Like I said, the President is smart because we're all STILL talking about contraception.

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Posted by Bethany Peters Stooksberry on 02/28/2012 at 11:12 AM
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