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January 30th, 2012
06:49 PM ET

Catholic clergymen come out swinging against HHS regulation

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Catholics around the country got an earful on Sunday from the pulpit over a new health insurance policy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that forces employers to cover contraception and abortion as part of preventative care regardless of religious beliefs. The use of abortion and contraceptives violates Catholic teachings.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, Bishop David Ricken denounced the policy at Mass in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on Sunday and received a standing ovation, CNN affiliate WLUK reported.

"If we pay for those services for people who work for us, we are in effect saying don't do it, but then giving the money to pay for it," said Ricken.

In a letter read to congregants in the Atlanta Archdiocese, Archbishop Wilton Gregory called the policy "a matter of grave moral concern."

"In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty," the letter continued and was read at all English and Spanish language Masses, the diocese said in a statement.

The policy goes into effect on August 1, but U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in a statement January 20 that religious organizations that do not provide contraceptive coverage based on religious belief will have until August 1, 2013, to comply.

"This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services," Sebelius said in the statement.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan in a statement.

“To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty," said Dolan who is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the public policy arm of the church in the United States.

Just before the release of Sebelius' statement, President Barack Obama called Dolan to discuss the change in policy, Dolan's spokesman told CNN. Dolan expressed his disappointment to the president and asked if the measure could be changed to include more religious exemptions, to which the president said no. Dolan's spokesman said the two had discussed the measure earlier in November before the HHS policy was set.

A White House official told CNN's Dan Lothian late on Monday that "there are Catholics who support the administration's decision." The official also noted support from other religious groups for the policy.

A spokesperson for the conference said there was no way to tell how many parishes  addressed the issue this weekend, but said after receiving multiple queries from dioceses around the country, they posted a draft letter on an internal website for churches to adapt and read to congregants.

The Conference of Bishops is also urging congregates to reach out to the White House and members of Congress to express their disagreement with the measure.

The Food and Drug Administration first approved the birth control pill in 1960.  When  oral contraceptives first entered the market, theologians across the religious spectrum wrestled with how to the deal with new medication.  Many Protestant denominations said the use of contraceptives was OK for married couples.

The Catholic Church came out against the use of any type of contraceptives in 1968.  In an encyclical letter to Catholics entitled Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI outlined the church's teaching on the matter.

"Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children," the letter reads.

The encyclical also reiterated the church's ban on sterilization for men and women, either temporary or permanent, and left no room for interpretation on the new birth control medications.

"Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means," it reads.

Birth control is the most common type of medication taken by young and middle-aged women. Women’s health advocates said the new rules would affect millions of women. Currently, 32 states require insurance plans to cover contraceptives, but 16 of them provide a “conscience exception” for religious employers, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Contraceptive coverage is one of several services that must be covered without co-pays or deductibles in the new Affordable Care Act, which critics have dubbed "Obamacare."  Other such services are annual checkups, mammograms, testing for HIV and breastfeeding support.

The Sebelius statement also said the rule won’t affect existing conscience laws, which allow doctors and hospitals to avoid providing services, such as birth control, that violate their religious beliefs.

CNN's Caleb Hellerman and Dan Gilgoff contributed to this article.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Health care • Mass • Politics • United States

soundoff (740 Responses)
  1. Robert

    Catholics, it's called being part of the public square. If you are going to own and run public for profit businesses than you have to go along with the same laws as everyone else.

    January 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Gerald

      I wish you people knew what the issue was before you insert your foot in your mouth. It's not just about businesses. It's about all Catholic agencies, including parishes who employ any none Catholics, they will be forced to provide things that are objectionable to ALL their emplyees if they have any employees who are non-Catholic or minster to people who are non-Catholic. Even the local parish will be forced to do this. Of course they won't. In the end most will stop providing health coverage all together as they must.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Robert

      Actually, that is exactly what I meant. If you get health insurance through your employer it should cover the same things regardless of just who the employer is. This is what I meant about being a part of the public square. It's about being a part of basic business practices which includes providing for birth control among other things Catholics find objectionable. This is the cost of doing business in this country.

      January 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  2. SteveH

    People will actually be forced to use birth control, whether they want to or not! Yes, forced to use birth control!

    What? They're not? Oh... Never mind.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  3. urafknwh0r3

    people just want an excuse to be f@g5 and wh0r3s without having to take responsibility for their actions. JUST STOP WH0-RING AROUND ALREADY!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Yeah!
      We need to pass a law to keep the birth control pill out of the hands of the gays!

      January 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • urafknwh0r3

      @Doc Wh0rstibule: you're obviously too stupid a wh0r3 to actually understand what I said. Condoms help f@gs. Pills help wh0r3s. Get it?

      January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @urafknwh0r3
      So you're OK with lesbians, since they use neither pills nor condoms?
      How about married gay men (I know it's a foreign concept to you, but here in Canada there are plenty) who don't use condoms since they're in a monogamous relationship?

      February 1, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    Once upon a time, God commanded a man named Onan to impregnate his sister in law.
    They got down to business several times, but Onan kept pulling out at the critical moment – and so God killed him.
    And that, kiddees, is why Catholics can't use contraceptives, get bl/owj/obs or mastu.rbate.

    Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

    January 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • KeninTexas

      Doc Vestibule said "And that, kiddees, is why Catholics can't use contraceptives,,,," Are you serious? That isn't the reason. If you don't know the real reason, then don't claim you do. If you're just trying to be funny, it's not working.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      KenInTexas
      Please enlighten us as to the source of said catholic dogma.
      Scriptural references please.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Gerald

      Doc, if Catholics believed in sola scriptura your request for a specific scriptural passage would be a valid one. There are many that relate to the question at hand including "be fruitfull and multiply". But the fact is that you don't have a clue about Catholicism and so should stop making posts as if you know something. You don't.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • J.W

      Why is it then Gerald? If you read Catholic apologist websites, those are the reasons that it gives. Most Catholics I have talked to say that is the reason. So if the isnt the reason then what is it?

      January 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Since nobody is providing the information, the Doctor will give a lesson.
      While the Catholic church are not prone to literal interpretations of scripture, they still use it to guide their tenets.
      The condemnation of birth control stems from a their belief that God wants humans to spew forth as many cro/tch critters as possible in order to populate heaven and to "be fruitful and multiply" (gen 1:28).
      To purposely countermand God's will to breed like rabits is to lie to the Holy Spirit in the same way that Ananias and Saphira did in Acts 5 : 1-11 when they held back a portion of their gift to God. God's slaying of that couple is one of the few instances of divine wrath in the New Testament.
      They also belive that many forms of birth control, like IUDs and the pill, are actually forms of abortion and therefore consti.tute murder.
      There is also a heavy emphasis on self-denial as a path to righteousness amongst Catholics, this stemming from Matthew 16:24 in which Jesus says "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
      For Catholics in terrible marriages, God allows separation (and therefore lifelong abstinance) but not divorce.
      It was the apostle Paul's opinion that it was far better to be single and abstinent, but marry if you can't control your loins.
      "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)
      There is also the old fear of witches and warlocks and their ungodly potions which God condemns in Gal. 5:20 and Apoc. 9:21. Today's sorcerers are pharmaceutical biochemists.
      But most of all, the scripture cited by Catholics in regards to contraception is Genesis 38:9 – the aforementioned Onan whom God slew for pulling out of his sister-in-law.
      Contrarily, the Vatican teaches the concept of Primacy of Conscience.
      "Man has the right to act according to his conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters". (catechism of cath. church)
      The quid pro quo is that Catholics are expected to develop their conscience based on obedience to the infallible dogmatic tenets of the Magisterium. In other words – Catholics are encouraged to make their own judgement calls when it comes to morality, but you'll still go to hell if you disagree with their edicts.

      February 1, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  5. George

    Save s.e.x for procreation. Then you won't need contraception or abortion. It really is that simple.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Conservative Atheist

      Gotta agree with you on that George.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Does that mean that post-menopausal women should not have s.ex?
      What about others who, through no fault of their own, are infertile?
      What about those for whom procreation would be dangerous – IE: Would you deny a married hemophiliac couple their right to intimacy?

      January 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • George

      @Doc

      Infertile people could still have s.e.x as long as they are open to procreation. Miracles do happen.

      If the person has a disability that could make conception dangerous, then they should avoid s.e.x altogether. There is more to life than one's genitals.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Conservative Atheist

      Good one George. LOL!

      January 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So what branch of government would like to regulate the se.x lives of your fellow Americans?
      Should the current police force start bashing down teh doors of people to make sure they're phukking in the way you approve, or would you prefer an independent militia that answers directly to the Vatican?

      January 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • George

      Good with the hyperbole, Doc. The answer is to enforce the laws against for.nication and ad.ultery and to make contraception devices/drugs illegal.

      Finally, I am not a Catholic. I am an Evangelical.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Diana B

      Ok, it's so obvious that George and Conservative Atheist are the same person. Grow up – this is CNN.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • WASP

      @george: seriously? save intercourse for procreation? well i guess the whole world should swear off making woopie, because our population is 7 billion we're over-crowded so no woopie folks. lmao sure tell that the the hormone driven teens of the world.......you can only have woopie if your going to marry, marriage will go through the roof...........but so will divorce and lawyers will love that mentality because child custody battles make them loads of money and let's not forget the physcologist/phychiatrists that will make big money having to help all these emotionally damaged adults that were dragged through custody battles due to the fact their genetic donors procreated when it was the best time for them. intercourse is a natural thing and it scienctifically has been shown to help with stress, you burn more calories in one hour of fore-play then in an hour of running, all in all as long as adults(key word there) inter into intercourse with knowledge and the understanding that life can be one of the possible out-comes to their actions.......then i say enjoy.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  6. Diana B

    How the issue of health insurance/medical coverage turned into a religious debate is baffling to me. Leave it to the Catholics. No one is mandating that Catholics (or anyone) has to actually be on birth control, it is only mandated for employers to 'offer access' to a health plan that covers it. And since most forms of birth control are FDA approved medications, it is only logical.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Giancarlo Taliente

      You are forcing Catholic organizations to provide coverage (and pay for) something that goes against the very fiber of our faith. It is like forcing a muslim organization to serve pork at church functions. It doesn't matter if anybody purchases it or not. The mere fact that they are forcing us to do something like this is WRONG.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • WASP

      @GT: the law isn't saying catholics you must pay to teach your employees about contreceptives and abortion.........it is covering all employers. if the church doesn't like it, it can do what it has always done. turn a blind eye to the fact that most of their practicioners will be pregnant and have diseases that are preventible while using contreceptives.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  7. David Johnson

    "Catholic clergymen come out swinging..."

    Hmm... I didn't see this big of a reaction, to priest ra_ping boys. I guess this shows what this nasty church thinks is important.

    Cheers!

    January 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Evolve beyond religion already!

      The headline then was "Catholic Clergy Changes The Subject And Talks About The 49ers".

      And of course, this article too is a great way to change the subject away from their collective guilt in that ugly ongoing scandal.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Giancarlo Taliente

      you are a putz

      January 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • KeninTexas

      David Johnson said "Hmm... I didn't see this big of a reaction, to priest ra_ping boys" ... You didn't? Where have you been. It's been in the news quiet a bit and Cathoics are even more disgusted about it than most.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  8. Eric of Reseda

    OK, If the Catholic Church doesn't want it's members to pay into an insurance system that covers abortion on religious grounds, then Americans who aren't Catholic shouldn't have to essentially support the Church via tax exempt status. END CHURCHES TAX EXEMPT STATUS NOW! They have TONS of money! Let them pay for their own insurance.

    January 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Amen, Eric!

      Cheers!

      January 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Giancarlo Taliente

      Then all non profit tax exemptions should be ended.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Credenza

      Giancarlo – ANOTHER great post. Respecr to you. Sir.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • J.W

      I think people who say this are probably people who know nothing about taxes.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Catherine

      Giancarlo – you're absolutely right. Any organization who wants the protection of the government when it works to their benefit, but doesn't to follow the laws & rules that government lays down, should have their non-profit tax exempt status revoked.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Gerald

      Eric,

      So CAtholic Charities who helps tons of poor and homeless should be taxed? Who are you hurting there? stupid.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  9. Wake up

    I appologize for my ramblings last night. I missed my medication, but I'm ok now. Thanks to everyone who noticed something was wrong!

    January 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's OK dear. We all have our bad days.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  10. RBN

    The church fights abortion because it denies the church the largest possible tax base – I mean congregation. The church doesn't want women having abortions because it takes money directly out of their coffers.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • David Johnson

      @RBN

      Consider how much it must grieve the priests, that all those potential altar boys are being eliminated.

      Cheers!

      January 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Credenza

      Oh, it's MUCH simpler than that. They just object on maral grounds to the systematic butchering of 52 MILLION babies.

      Abortionists :-
      [1] Cut off all 4 limbs while the baby is still alive [to make it easier for mother]
      [2] Saturate the babe with saline solution which burns the flesh off the whole body – while still alive
      [3] Suck the LIVE foetus from the womb with a specially devised vacuum cleaner
      [4] Look up partial birth abortion right up to 9 months if you've got the guts
      But they don't tell young moms this. They use words like 'choice' – 'termination' – 'procedure' etc – Makes it sound almost bearable then.

      BTW if you're offended by the descriptions – think on. It's not a walk in the park for the babies!

      January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • bigot

      You talk about the morality of the church when it is the church that has killed numerous adults over the course of history. oh the hypocrisy

      January 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  11. J.W

    I think that Catholics need a different method of reproduction. With regular s3x, many of the reproductive cells are wasted. Only one actually fertilizes the egg. They need a method where each individual cell is utilized. That sounds silly probably, but if you think about it contraception is only wasting one more cell.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • J.W

      I was really hoping a Catholic would respond to this.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • joel

      I'm not catholic, but from speaking to some it seems it is not an issue that most reproductive cells are wasted. The issue is that if conception does occur then the parents must be open to allowing it to happen.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  12. J.W

    If I were the priest at a Catholic Church, and my employee wanted to get an abortion, I wouldn't mind if the insurance paid for it, but I would fire them afterwords. Just like if I were a rabbi and one of my employees was eating ham I would fire them.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    I don't use contraceptives. I have no need. I can't get laid for the life of me.

    Prayer hasn't changed that, though I try and try and try.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  14. Eveolve beyond religion already!

    Basing you perceptions on religion is like using a very distorted lense to view the real world: the result is so perverted by doing it that you come up with bizarre notions like "contraceptives are bad" "everyone else is going to an eternal torture chamber because they don't agree with me."

    January 31, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Credenza

      When you learn to spell, I'll read your post!

      January 31, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Evolve beyond religion already!

      Actually, that was a typographical error, not a spelling error, and as there was only one in the entire thing, your point is pointless. And I do appreciate your inability to address the subject at hand, instead choosing to go for a shallow, puerile ad hominem – always the sign of failure in a debate.

      Thanks for playing. Sorry you did not do better. As a runner-up, you will get the home game of Belief Blog.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Evolve

      Be careful, to many large words might make Credenzas head explode! Logical arguments may do the same, you don't want to be known for that do you?

      January 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  15. AGuest9

    I've also noticed a disturbing trend that is making a comeback. Why are condoms again being sold from "behind the counter"? There is nothing more embarrassing for a 15 or 16 year old boy that to have to do more than covertly place a box back-side up on the counter with the money pre-counted for them. Even worse if a cashier is a female (furthermore if that cashier ends up being a family friend). Can we make it more difficult to prevent STDs and pregnancy in this society?

    January 31, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • SeanNJ

      I don't see that here in NJ.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • J.W

      Where I live there are condom stores lol. Although I have never shopped at one

      January 31, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  16. Reality

    The nitty-gritty of the contraception/abortion situation:

    "WHO USES CONTRACEPTIVES? (From Guttmacher)

    • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

    • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

    • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

    • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

    • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

    The problem is that the contraceptives of choice are the Pill and the male condom. Because these contraceptives are not used properly (e.g. some women forget to take the Pill on a daily basis), the failure rates (from Guttmacher) are 8.7% and 17.4 % respectively. This results in over two million unplanned pregnancies every year. And as per the CDC, the abortion rate in the USA is ~one million/yr. Until there is dramatic reduction in these failure rates, one wonders why Obama "Care" should support their use. ( The failure rates when the Pill and male condom are used properly are 0.3 % and 2 % respectively. )

    There are other more effective means.

    Method.......Typical Failure Rates

    Pill (combined)...... ...8.7
    Tubal sterilization..... 0.7
    Male condom ..........17.4
    Vasectomy ................0.2

    Periodic abstinence 25.3
    Calendar 9.0
    Ovulation Method 3.0
    Sympto-thermal 2.0
    Post-ovulation 1.0

    No method 85.0"

    (Abstinence) .......0

    (Masturbation).... 0

    Combined Pill and male condom..... ?? but it would statiscally be much better than using only the Pill or the male condom.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Your list is incomplete. You forgot Depo which is an injection that lasts 3 months and Implanon, which is an implant that lasts 1-3 years. Both have much safer rates.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Reality

      Depo-Provera was not forgotten. Its side effects unfortunately make its use a significant issue.

      http://www.monheit.com/depo-provera/side_effects.asp

      January 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  17. myweightinwords

    Our world is already over populated. We can not feed all of the mouths on this planet (or maybe we could if we distributed the food more equitably, but that's a different conversation) as it stands. Denying birth control (including the use of condoms), abortion and sterilization to the population in general is stupid.

    Nothing about this forces Catholic women to get birth control, though I will tell you I don't know a single Catholic woman who doesn't use birth control. And there are still ways around this. Design the policy so that it requires the use of a Catholic hospital/pharmacy that will not dispense birth control if you must.

    I think at this point we've proven that people are going to have s.ex. When that happens without access to birth control, women end up pregnant. When that happens, lives are changed and not always for the better, and abortion happens. Want to limit or eliminate abortion, make birth control easily and cheaply accessible and educate teens in how to use it properly.

    Of course, it could be that banning the use of condoms would help with that whole pesky population problem.

    January 31, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Reality

      The problem is that teens/young adults today don't know how to follow simple directions e.g. "You must take this Pill once a day to protect yourself from pregnancy". Just how much do we have to spend on education to make Pill and condom users follow simple directions that are written in large letters on the packages??

      January 31, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Reality,

      Proper instruction, rather than the half-hearted, miseducation of most "s.ex-ed" classes that I've seen, would go a long way. Parents need to stop "protecting" their children from knowledge, and allow the schools to teach teenagers in a way that it actually sinks in.

      Also, parents need to realize that even if they think their kids would never have s.ex before they get married, most teens fool around at least a little bit. Virginity past 18 is very rare, and rather than spend so much energy denying that and hiding behind archaic beliefs, they need to educate their kids in how to protect themselves.

      Besides that, the pill is HARDLY the only thing going any more. There are a number of choices that do not require taking a pill every day.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Reality: You said, "The problem is that teens/young adults today don't know how to follow simple directions"

      Are we really that concerned that we're losing budding geniuses to unplanned single parenthood? If we leave them alone, they'll probably ride motorcycles without helmets too. Problem solved.

      In all your rants, this topic is the one in which I never understand what you're suggesting for a solution. Forced sterilization? Forced abstinence?

      January 31, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Sarah M

      Absolutely no one is denying contraception to "the population in general" as you stated. This is a matter of Christians and some Jewish people (because this policy include abortafacient drugs that people far beyond the Catholic church object to) not wanting the government to force them to fund a privately purchased product they find morally objectionable. So much for tolerance! I think the beliefs of Mormons are odd, but I'd never expect a Mormon employer to allow me to drink caffeine at work, or for an Amish or Christian Scientist employer to provide me with health insurance at all since they do not believe in it. Give Catholics and others their exemption, let it be known to potential hires, and if you don't like it find work elsewhere. The Catholic Church is hardly the employer of "the general population."

      January 31, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Sarah,

      Do you deny that IF the Catholic church COULD dictate their beliefs to the entire population, they would? Why else do they spend so much time and money on campaigns to overturn abortion laws, and fighting proper s.ex ed in high schools?

      Contraceptives are not abortives.

      All human women, no matter who they work for or what insurance they have, should have access to contraceptives. Period. Not all people who work for Catholic organizations are Catholic. Why should they be denied access simply because their employer doesn't believe in it?

      January 31, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Sarah M

      Myweightinwords, there will be no resolving the disagreement if you refuse to accept that Catholics and other religious people happen to see things differently from you, and have a right to. If you believe life begins at conception, than some contraceptives ARE abortive in nature (like most forms of emergency contraception). But that is beside the point, as is this supposed plan of the Catholic Church to rule the world you mentioned.

      Employees of Catholic organizations are NOT being denied access to anything, they will just have to continue to pay out of pocket. Again, I would never ever ever work for a religiously affiliated company (or pacifists, or vegetarians, or anyone else with a particular set of beliefs) and expect them to violate what they believe for me. I'd either not work for them or accept the limitation of employment with them. If workers at Catholic hospitals, charities, etc. are already paying for their contraceptives, it does not seem like an unreasonable burden for them to continue to do so.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Sarah –

      There is a difference between working for an actual curch, and working for a business the churh owns.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Sarah M

      @ primework... that does seem to be the argument, doesn't it?

      January 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Sarah – and that is the reason the religious folks will lose this fight.

      If I start a business, I can't choose willy-nilly which federal rules and laws to follow. Same with religious groups. If they start a business – say, a hospital – they can't say that they will not treat black folks. Or they can't say that they will refuse to pay workers comp insurance.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Sarah M

      @ primewonk (sorry I missed the N before, much more suitable a screen name now) We will see!

      January 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • urafknwh0r3

      @SeanNJ: Forced Sterilization is good. Let's start with the people who breed the most: Blacks and hispanics. Sterilize them ALL!

      January 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Reality

      Sean,

      Give it a break!!! My comments have nothing to do with forced sterilization. Please read my comments on contraceptive use and the current problems with the Pill and male condoms.

      And please note the following:

      Currently, a perfect contraceptive/STD barrier system does not exist. Time to develop one. In the meantime, mono-masturbation or mutual masturbation for heterose-xuals are highly recommended for those at risk. Abstinence is the another best-solution but obviously the se-x drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to TEMPORARILY eliminate said drive?

      January 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Reality: Hey, I'm a big supporter of handjobs. Artificially removing sexual desire doesn't sound like something for which you'll get a lot of support though.

      Just sayin'.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Sarah,

      The point is that if a law makes it so that no one has to pay out of pocket for contraceptives, EXCEPT those who work for some organization that doesn't believe in contraception, you create an inequality. It is unfair.

      And yes, I can understand the fundamental differences in belief, from when life begins (which I am uncertain of myself, but I do not believe it begins at conception) to the belief in sin and the penalty thereof to the idea that we must continue to procreate unchecked, and I can respect the beliefs of others.

      Nothing in this law will dictate that a Catholic woman take contraceptives. There is no violation of belief.

      This law is about business and health care. It requires EMPLOYERS to provide a health plan that includes birth control. It is not aimed at a church or organization. It is not violating the separation of church and state. It only makes it so that if an organization or company is required by law to provide health insurance it must include birth control (at least that is my understanding of the situation).

      January 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  18. HPNIII

    Lighten up, just because law says you does not mean you have to. It would be an infringement on others rights however to deny them the opportunity to pursue their beliefs.

    January 31, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Credenza

      Good post. Short, sharp, to the point. and true. Respect to you.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  19. Colin

    Ten signs you are a Catholic.

    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when he elects to speak “from the chair” on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. geocentricity, immaculate conception, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.

    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and heralding the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.

    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.

    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does it make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their various life-after-death lands (limbo, purgatory, heaven, hell) with magic-sacred powers of some kind.

    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your own Iron Age mythology.

    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.

    7. You criticize gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Abraham, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of kings to save his own skin.

    8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Iron Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.

    9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over grocery store bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus, because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” if you prefer the more euphemistic term).

    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.

    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.

    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten.

    January 31, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Conrad Shull

      There are virtually no American Catholics who believe the fundamental inerrancy of the Bible. That's the Evangelicals. You're not as clever or informed as you think you are. In fact, the majority of your accusations do not apply to Catholicism at all. But, as I said, you are not an informed critic (understatement).

      January 31, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Colin

      Conrad -hmmm, I think 60% is a pretty significant percentage. Most polls show that about 60% of Catholic believe in the talking snake theory of galactic and planetary formation.

      January 31, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Conrad Shull incorporates an instance of the ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      January 31, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • AGuest9

      Part of the issue is "What is an 'American Catholic'"? So-called American Catholics use birth control; mis-quote the bible to the point that Protestants laugh at them; dismiss most of the creation, garden, flood and babel stories as myth; and attend mass 8 weeks out of the year, if that.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ AGuest9 –

      98% of all women have used, or do use some form of birth control.

      And educated folks laugh at fundamentalists who believe in a literal Genesis.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • M. Stark

      Troll

      January 31, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Yeahright

      "Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity."

      – Pope Innocent III

      January 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Guest

      More of your cut and paste silliness? You post this same comment anytime an article has anything to do with the Catholic Church. Can you not come up with something original or is it the best you can do is cut and paste old stuff ?

      January 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  20. William Demuth

    They want legal approval for their BIGOTRY.

    This is such a move forward that it is no surprise at all they object.

    Freedom means not permitting the indoctrinated to call the shots.

    Tax these charlatan churces, and DRAG them into the 21st century.

    January 31, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • William Demuth, child of God

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY0yjRVV1jw&w=420&h=315]

      January 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @William Demuth

      You said: "Tax these charlatan churches..."

      Sing it preacher! Amen!

      Cheers!

      January 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Freedom means...DRAG them into the 21st century.

      Now that was funny

      February 1, 2012 at 8:50 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.