My Take: 'Real Catholics' not opposed to birth control
There has long been a division between Catholic clergy and congregants on contraception.
February 3rd, 2012
02:06 PM ET

My Take: 'Real Catholics' not opposed to birth control

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I don’t know yet what I think of the Obama administration’s policy of requiring employers, including Catholic ones, to offer contraceptive services for free as preventive care. But I know this: It is crucial in this dispute to distinguish between the Catholic hierarchy and rank-and-file Catholics.

Catholic bishops have a clear position on contraception. Citing the encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), they contend that sex has a purpose, and that this purpose is procreation inside marriage. Therefore, any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, as is any “unnatural” means of birth control inside marriage. So while the so-called rhythm method is acceptable, condoms and IUDs and the pill are not.

But is this the Catholic position? It depends on what you mean by Catholic.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has strongly condemned the new Department of Health and Human Services rule. “Never before in our U.S. history has the Federal Government forced citizens to directly purchase what violates our beliefs,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the group's Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “At issue here ... is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for conscience and religious liberty.”

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Yet survey after survey has shown that U.S. Catholics neither agree with official church teachings on contraception nor follow them.

According to a 2011 Guttmacher Institute survey, “only 2% of Catholic women rely on natural family planning.” A 2002 survey found that Catholic women in the United States were more likely than American women as a whole to use the birth control pill, and only slightly less likely to use a condom. In a 2000 poll that strikes even closer to the heart of this debate, 90% of American Catholic women surveyed said they wanted to see access to birth control services at community hospitals.

Turning from behaviors to beliefs, it is clear that the majority of U.S. Catholics also disagree with church teachings on contraception. According to a 2005 Harris poll, 90% of U.S. Catholics support the use of birth control.

Is Obama losing the Catholic vote?

Of course, U.S. bishops say that Catholics who think and do these things are bad Catholics. If so, the pool of "good Catholics" would seem to be shrinking to close to zero.

Are the only "real Catholics" in America the priests decrying the new Obama administration policy and the 2% of U.S. Catholic women who rely only on "natural" birth control? Who is to speak for the other 98%?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Bishops • Catholic Church • Health care • Politics • Polls • Religious liberty • United States

soundoff (467 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Nope

      ~~~~-The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.-

      February 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Greg

      'Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things'

      A new study shows that many devout Americans know less about religion than do atheists. To some observers, it suggests a shallowness of faith.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Prayer didn't help Leon Lett when he blundered away the Thanksgiving game for Dallas and let the Dolphins re-kick a field goal to win it in 1993.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Greg

      I take donkey dck up my @ss

      February 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    • I've noticed a lot of masochistic posting by believers and non-believers alike.

      February 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  2. DoubtingThomas70

    I take Michael Burton's comments and Sean NJ as most relvant to me personally. I would start by quoting an important theologian, who happens to be Catholic (which I am not, by the way) "In Essentials, Unity; In non-Essential, Liberty; in All Things, Charity." The Church, as a primary rule, should not allow itself to be influenced by a secular culture on matters of Essential Christiian doctrine. If the Divinity of Christ was challenged by the masses should the majority rule?? Of course not! And in these matters we need to stand firm under any secular or intra-Church pressure. This is our personal responsibility to Christ. Having said this, on what is clearly a non-Essential matter, like birth control (on which I would characterize myself as more conservative than most, but not a hard-liner) we do need to lay the issue down to protect the Faith. If it EVER impacts our unity as a Faith in Jesus Christ, this is the real threat to us as brothers and sisters. In my opinion, one of biggest weaknesses among true believers around the world is that we find every little way to argue and bicker over non-Essentials, instead of intentially focus on talking about those things that unify us and bring us joy in truth, if that makes sense. I am as guilty of this from time to time as anyone.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I could not agree more DT70. Why are we bickering over non-Essentials when the Super is THIS Sunday! We have to decide who has the biggest flat screen, why kind of beer to buy. Who is up for Bloody Marys. Plus the wings!! There are many choices for Buffalo Wings these days. We need to plan!

      February 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Sports Fan
      In the United States more women are battered on the day of the American football championship than on any other day of the year. This should not be taken as a characteristic of football itself, which has been an important and agreeable factor in stabilizing the gon.adal energy of young men for more than a century.
      The Super Bowl is relatively typical of compet.ition used as a social value. Everyone, except the few who are best at the game, is reduced to the disembodied role of a sp.ectator.
      Spe.ctators do participate through some of their senses. Eyes, ears, mouths and emotions can be used to worship their subst.itutes. But in this process the seated are deprived of their existence as individuals capable of action. Instead, they become passive participants in the mythology of gladiatorial Heroism.
      The aim in football is to move the pigskin across the goal-line. This positive skill is unfortunately little more than the exotic sp.ice of the game. The central characteristic, involving most of the players on the field, is that the movement of the football is halted in each play by a physical assault on its carrier. Spectators may well get excited about these repeated demonstrations of basic masculinity. The more excited they become through passive participation, the more their own active manhood may be put into doubt. In the final analysis, a guy’s got to prove his own worth by hitting someone himself.
      Or it may be that American women are unbearably slow fetchers of beer.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • DoubtingThomas70

      Wanted to add one more thing....

      In non-Essentials, I do not mean to imply that they are not important to us or to God, and/or that they should not be debated respectfully and vigorously – within the Faith and NOT outside it – in order to seek the Truth in all matters, using Scripture as the primary source of Truth...and for inspiration as well. Common public debates like birth control, abortion, individual rights, marriage, etc are all issues that are soooo important to a healthy family, community, culture, nation, world; but not Essential Christian Doctrine which in the end defines our Faith and answers for us the most important question of all – "What does it mean to be a Christian?" (which is a different questions entirely from "What does it mean to be a Catholic?"; which should a very important follow up question for that community, and to be asked immediately after the first I would think)

      February 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Doc: The answer is B.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Well I don't know about all that Doc V, but who do you like in the game? I am picking the Giants.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Anil Wang

      Whose to decide what is essential or not other than the Magesterium? In the Catholic Catechism, there is no gradings such as "You must believe this"/"You should believe this or you'll get into trouble"/"It's pious to believe this but okay if you don't"/"Believe it if you want, it doesn't matter". It's all "You must believe this", even if you have difficulty understanding how it can be so. Every part of the faith is tied to every other part. If one part is downplayed, the whole faith is downplayed. You can't pick and choose.

      As for contraception, it's definitely basic to the faith. All Christians believed it 100 years ago. If you really want to have a shock, look at what the founder of Protestantanism: Calvin, Luther, Wesley, and Zwingli had to say about contraception and masturbation. (Hint, it's worse than incest and adultery). Just because non-Catholics have abandoned things that used to be considered core to the faith does not mean the Catholic Church needs to. Just because priest are timid these days about letting the lay know the facts about contraception and thus lay people today are ill informed means little. Priests today rarely speak about hell. It's real and core to the faith nonetheless.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @sports fan
      Football is a Canadian game!
      We were playing it before the US.
      Our fields are bigger, we have one less down, and our football is a different size.
      In other words – the sports team from my local area is superior to the one from yours.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Yes, and the Dolphins would like to thank you for Cam Wake. 8 teams? Yes, very popular up North.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      One of the many problems with the Roman church is the non-biblical "authority" paradigm. They assume their "Holy Spirit" works from the "top down". In fact the biblical (NT) authority paradigm is "bottom up". There is simply no structure in place in the Roman Church to allow the second to work, (any longer). essentially they are mired in an early Medieval Italian authority paradigm. 😈

      February 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • TR6

      @Anil Wang:”As for contraception, it's definitely basic to the faith. All Christians believed it 100 years ago. If you really want to have a shock, look at what the founder of Protestantanism: Calvin, Luther, Wesley, and Zwingli had to say about contraception and masturbation.”

      Yes and 200 years ago most Christians believed in slavery and the inferiority of women.

      Also take a look at what Luther has to say about jews in his book “The Jews and their Lies”

      February 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Rob

      People including Catholic's that complain about the catholic church have no idea what they are talking about.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  3. lbjack

    Prothero illustrates the dubiousness of the term "scholar". I wonder whom he had to schmooze to get this podium, for he certainly didn't get it on merit.

    Prothero's "scholarship" overlooks the fact that doctrine derives not from polling but from revelation (scriptural, traditional or personal) or the reasoning or dialectic that proceeds from such revelation, as that practiced by Doctors of the Church such as Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas. It is the job of what Prothero glibly calls "the hierarchy" to articulate doctrine for the edification of believers. They do not lay down the law, as Prothero suggests. Both laity and "hierarchy,' as individuals, are free to follow doctrine or not. If they choose not, then don't blame "the hierarchy".

    Which brings me to another concept which Prothero seems not to have a clue about. It's why a religion worth the name remains faithful to its beliefs regardless of popularity. It's called integrity.

    I suppose Prothero can slither away from his disguised screed against opponents of birth control, by saying he wasn't speaking to the merits of "the hierarchy's" position, only to its unpopularity and to who represents" the Catholic church. Obviously, those who do not believe in church doctrine, regardless of percentage, do not represent the church. If they wish to leave it, then they are free to do so. If they insist on calling themselves Catholics while refusing to believe in Catholic doctrine, then they are indeed "bad Catholics," i.e. heretics. And if Prothero were a scholar rather than a polemicist, then he would recognize this.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      You know you had a fairly decent point up until you dropped the word heretics. A word like that is charged with history and negative thoughts, not to mention the amount of horrible things done in the name of "purging the land of heretics".

      February 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Is Primacy of Conscience not a catechism of the Catholic Church?
      Everyone is free to follow their conscience in spiritual matters.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      It is that very lack of integrity that makes me despise the NCAA so much. Double standards, ridiculous by-laws, under the table dealings. The University presidents and alumni should vote to remove the NCAA and stay true to the real spirit of the student athlete!

      February 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • lbjack

      HawaiiGuest, I used "heresy" because regardless the polling of the laity, artificial birth control is not Catholic. But you're right, the word carries a lot of baggage, and if I wanted my argument to be persuasive, then I probably shouldn't have used it.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • lbjack

      Doc, good point. Note I said the hierarchy is not laying down the law. it's up to the individual conscience to decide what to do. But the issue here, I think, is who or what defines the church. Prothero suggests the Catholic Church should be like this: http://goo.gl/eRBdC

      The Catholic church, or any church for that matter, except Islam, who's very name is "submit," is not telling you to do what they define as good and bad. They are merely offering a set of beliefs that you can accept or not. But if you accept this set of beliefs, then you undertake to be faithful to them. This is what Confirmation is about. When you are deemed old enough to know right from wrong, then you are taught church beliefs, then asked if you accept them. This is a matter of conscience. Of course, if later on you find you no longer in good conscience can accept them, and you have integrity, then you should leave the church, or at least not take communion. To say you believe, which you imply by remaining in the church, and then to deny those very beliefs, strikes at the very existence of the church. Can you imagine the absurdity of a church which says, This is what we believe, but members can go ahead and believe what they want?

      February 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    There are too many people in the world.
    We are out of aerable land. We do not have the resources to feed everyone.
    Infant mortality is a fraction of what it used to be and we live longer.
    Any species left to grow unchecked in a finite environment with finite resources will eventually die in its own effluence.

    Help control the people population. Have yourself spayed or neutered.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • I_get_it

      I hear ya' Doc, but have you watched the movie "Idiocracy" - a look into the future where smart, responsible people did not reproduce... but guess who did? Hilarious movie, but also scary.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Soccer will help control the world's population.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • sam

      Just look what it's done for Egypt!

      February 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  5. fakextian

    That's a good question. Who is a real catholic ? Who is a real christian ? Do people who hardly even pray or go to church real christians ? Do they even know the bible ? If not, then they don't speak as christians. They speak as non-christian.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Stevie7

      So where would you draw the line. How well do you have to know the bible to get in the club? How often do you have to pray to be a 'real' xtian?

      February 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      A real Christian is Christian Okoye, former running back for the KC Chiefs. He now has a foundation that offers young men and women the opportunity to develop and refine the essential skills in their respective areas of interests.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    Thank God for abortion, or we would be neck deep in Jesus freaks.

    Please people, abort as often as possible!

    February 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Axis

      Please tell me you're not a sperm donor.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • moerons

      That's right. eliminate all the mo rons
      On the other hand the next Einstein could have been smoked as well.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Technically William, the Quarterback should only abort the play (throw the ball away) if he is outside the tackles and can get the ball at least back to the line of scrimmage safely without risking an interception. And then only if he is in imminent danger of being sacked. You never want to take a sack of you can get rid of the football.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • periwinkle

      Abort abort abort!

      February 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  7. tallulah13

    Birth control actually lowers the rate of infant mortality by allowing a woman to prevent a pregnancy that she doesn't have the resources to support. The poorest countries have the highest infant mortality rate, because of the starvation or disease caused by poverty. Fewer children allow parents to concentrate their resources. It's it more responsible and loving than popping out kids without any concern for how you are going to take care of them.

    The church can't compete with the love of a parent for their child, so I'm not surprised that so many women are willing to "risk their soul" to defy the nonsensical ban on birth control.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I think what your talking about is an ectopic pregnancy, and and birth control pills definently reduce the chance of those greatly.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Ladies, don't drink too much during the Super Bowl if you are pregnant. It is not good for the baby.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  8. Reality

    "Facts on Contraceptive Use" – The important information S. Prothero forgot to mention:

    January 2008


    • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

    • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

    • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]


    • 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?)


    • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]


    Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

    Method ...........................Typical

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

    Periodic abstinence ,,,,,,,,,25.3 (RCC approved)
    Calendar ......... 9.0 (RCC approved)
    Ovulation Method ......... 3.0 (RCC approved)
    Sympto-thermal .......... 2.0 (RCC approved)
    Post-ovulation ........... 1.0 (RCC approved)

    No method ................. 85.0" (RCC approved especially important for those trying to get pregnant)

    (Abstinence)......................... 0... (RCC approved)...............

    (Masturbation) .......................0

    (Wet Dreams).........................0 (RCC approved)

    More facts about contraceptives from



    Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

    Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
    Pill 11,661 30.6
    Male condom 6,841 18.0 "

    The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

    i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
    x 62 million (# child bearing women)
    x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
    x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

    1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
    during the first year of pill use.

    For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

    1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

    The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
    (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

    o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer to include combination methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    Added information before making your next "move": (Something else S. Prothero forgot to mention)

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (i.e. the Bill Clinton Syndrome)

    February 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • sam

      What about kissing while wearing a wet bathing suit? Are there stats for that? And you forgot anal. Be thorough, godd.amnit.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Reality

      an-al .- ................0

      BUT (T)

      "How to Reduce the S-TD Risks of A-nal Pe-netration

      The risks: H-IV, he-rpes, HPV (w-arts), syp-hilis, chla-mydia, gon-orrhea, he-pati-tis B

      "Unprotected an-al se-x, regardless of whether it is practiced by straight or g-ay couples, is considered the riskiest activity for se-xually transmitted diseases because of the physical design of the an-us: It is narrow, it does not self-lubricate, and the skin is more fragile and likely to tear, allowing S-TDs such as HIV and hepati-tis easy passage into the bloodstream."

      (many words hyphenated to defeat the dreaded word filter)

      February 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • sam

      LOL Thanks dude.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • VanHagar

      You are the Cliff Clavin of this Blog. No go back to your comic books.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Athletes really have to watch out for themselves in the locker room too.

      February 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • sam

      Holy crap, it IS Cliff Clavin!!

      February 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • periwinkle

      Especially with Sandusky or a priest around......

      February 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Jeana

    Why come I've never been asked to participate in these surveys? Well, I'm a Roman Catholic women, and I totally agree with the Church on this health care mandate. The Obama administration should not tell any religious organization to ignore and go against the teachings of their religion. As far as those surveys go, until every Roman Catholic woman in the world participates in them, we will never have a true picture of things. These surveys represent an incredibly small percentage of Catholics. Also, most of the women I know who use birth control do so because they want regular menstrual cycles and have been told by doctors that birth control is the only thing that will work. They have never considered (or been told of) alternative/homeopathic remedies. They don't like taking birth control and don't agree with it, but they are desperate to have regular cycles.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      " As far as those surveys go, until every Roman Catholic woman in the world participates in them, we will never have a true picture of things. These surveys represent an incredibly small percentage of Catholic"

      Epic Statistics Fail

      February 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Seamus

      Chruch members and employees of the church are exempt. The Secular activities of the church are not. So you are patently wrong.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Why? We told you slavery was immoral.

      You and yours resisted.

      We then killed huge numbers of you in the civil war and you capitulated.

      Do we need to do it again?

      February 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm |

    • William-

      Your "we" must be a strange, violent bunch indeed. Have you tried abilify?

      February 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "They have never considered (or been told of) alternative/homeopathic remedies."

      Homeopathy is basically useless. In many forms it is essentially, plain water or sugar pills, and is no more effective than placebo. (http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/)

      February 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • periwinkle

      "WHY COME"????
      I don't know, maybe because it feels good

      February 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Men don't typically like to disucss "regular cycles" during the game. Anyway, I think women who take birth control like sports better. My wife LOVES Football and Basketball. It's awsomoe!

      February 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Greg

      "My wife LOVES Football and Basketball. It's awsomoe!"

      So does mine – Go PATS!!!!!!

      February 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  10. Observer

    Catholics who oppose artificial birth control appear more numerous because they have sought out forums like this one where they can be overrepresented. Such forums do not sample. To appear larger than you are just show up and post often.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Exactly Observer. When you go with a full on blitz package in an obvious passing situation, there just aren't enough Offensive players to block the blitzers. The Defense looks like the have 50 guys on the field!

      February 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  11. linda sheridan

    I fully support the Catholic Bishops stance. A Catholic hospital should not be required to provide services which run contrary to its core beliefs. Those who work for Catholic hospitals are aware contraception is NOT included in their insurance coverage. If they don't like it, they don't have to work there. End of debate. Whether or not the majority of U.S. Catholics practice artificial birth control is not relevent to this issue.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Seamus

      Does that Catholic hospital hire and serve only catholics? Then you are patently wonrg

      February 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam

      Ok, then, how about this: catholic hospitals that don't want to follow the federal mandate because they don't agree can also stop accepting federal money for programs. How's it sound now?

      February 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • periwinkle

      Does the "Catholic hospital" receive secular funds, and does it serve non catholics?
      Enough said...

      February 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      The problem is the Biships are not employing the 3 technique. They need to line up in the middle of the B gap or outside shade of the guard and be responsible for maintaining outside leverage and not letting himself get hooked or reached blocked by the sperms.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  12. Kevin

    The author implies that the interests of Catholics who accept birth control should trump the free exercise of religion for those in the Catholic hierarchy who do not accept birth control. He misses the point, which is that the free exercise of religion is the key issue here. It is not for the government to step in and force a religious group to go act contrary to its religious beliefs. If the majority of practicing Catholics are not only pro-birth control, but go so far as to believe their church should fund birth control for those who want it, then they are free to form their own organizations and follow their own beliefs.

    I am neither Catholic nor utterly opposed to all forms of birth control, but I am for the free exercise of religion, and so should be Mr. Prothero.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Seamus

      OK so you do know that whatever happens in the "church" doesnt change, they don't have to. But at their secular organizationm, aka hospitals and schools, they do. What government intrusion could you possible be referring to?

      February 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Stevie7

      How is any one person's free exercise of religion being trumped? I'm unaware that congress is compelling people to take birth control against their wishes.

      The bill of rights applies to individuals, not churches.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      Kevin said, "The author implies that the interests of Catholics who accept birth control should trump the free exercise of religion for those in the Catholic hierarchy who do not accept birth control."

      On the contrary, Prothero implied just the opposite. Finish reading the article. Prothero closes the article by asking us who is looking out for the interests of the majority of Catholics who Do Not believe in the church's teaching on birth control. Why are they not being heard?

      February 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I agree Kevin, that is why coaches like Bill "Hoody" Belichek are so succesful. Rather than trying to force his personal into a specific philosophy, he looks at the talent he has and builds the team based on that, putting the players in the best position to use their skill sets. Maybe you go 4-3 on D, or maybe 3-4. Maybe a hybrid. You have to be flexible! Good call Kev.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • The moon is made of green cheese.

      Rev Rick,
      This is a democratic republic. The tyrrany of the majority is addressed in the Declaration of Independence. If they don't like the law, they can WORK to elect other representatives, stop taking Federal funds, not hire any non-orthodox Catholics who have non-othodox family members, (thus rendering the issue is moot), fire anyone who strays, close down their insti'tutions, etc etc. No one is being forced to do anything. They just wish to frame, (as usual), the issue as "black and white".

      February 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Green Cheese said, "This is a democratic republic. The tyrrany of the majority is addressed in the Declaration of Independence." You completely missed the point. This (the U.S.) is a democratic republic, but the Roman Catholic Church is not. According to Prothero, the "majority" of Catholics do practice birth control which means they, in theory, wouldn't have a problem with contraceptives being offered. It's the RCC heirarchy that has the problem, not it congregants. If the church wants to address the problem internally, excommunicate those who don't follow the RCC's teachings. Of course that means the RCC would end up with another schism. The American Catholic Church? Has a nice ring to it....

      February 6, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  13. Rev. Rick

    Most Catholics practice birth control.
    So what. Many Baptists I know drink and smoke. (And even worse, they dance!). But they still call themselves Baptists.
    No one is perfect. Keep the church out of the bedroom.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • William Demuth

      And keep the preachers out of the locker rooms!

      February 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • periwinkle

      and churches don't belong in the public...

      February 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      It is kind of a tradition to have a man of God pray with the team before the game. You know, for everyone to stay healthy.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  14. PStJTT

    I'm always a little amused that a religion organized around a belief that God could make a virgin have a child is afraid that a pill can defeat the will of God.

    "I don’t know yet what I think of the Obama administration’s policy of requiring employers, including Catholic ones, to offer contraceptive services for free as preventive care."

    I'm not sure that's a fair statement of the facts. I don't think the Obama administration is requiring Catholic Bishops to pass out condoms to their employees. I think they're requiring the employers, including Catholic ones, to provide health care benefits and one of the benefits that the employee may choose to avail themselves of is contraceptive devices.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • sam

      "I'm always a little amused that a religion organized around a belief that God could make a virgin have a child is afraid that a pill can defeat the will of God."

      Good one, LOL

      February 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Don't underestimate what a little pill can do. Watch Wes Welker (former Miami Dolphin) on Sunday in the Super Bowl. He's a little guy with a big heart and bigger talent. With Gronkowski possibly out, he might just get MVP!

      February 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  15. Michael Burton

    Count my wife and I and many of our friends as the "near zero" Catholics who use Natural Family Planning and have Faith that Christ gave His Church the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, the ability to bind and loose, and believe in His assurance that the gates of Hell will never overcome that.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Do you also think that evolution is a farce, at least where it concerns our own species?

      February 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • periwinkle

      Do you guys have any inkling how batsh1t crazy you sound?

      February 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      That is really important Michael. You HAVE to buy completely into the coaching staff's philosophy and execute in all phases!

      February 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  16. Seamus

    If the Catholic chruch dabbles in secular activities, those secular activities have to adhere to the secular worlds rules. So Obama was correct. The fact that every Catholic I know is on some form of birth control (as a couple or single of course) serves to make the bishops appear middle aged as in the Middle Ages.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of how a young kid from the inner city, if he or she works hard and believes in themself, can make it to the top of the mountain in sports in 2012. A peasant who excelled in Medieval sports of the Middle Ages could win a purse at a Sporting contest, gain an important reputation and increased value by his lord and his position in life would improve. Clearly little has changed. Very insightful Seamus!

      February 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Nope

      ~~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~~~

      February 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Matthew 6:5-6
      5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
      6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

      Go into your closet where you dont have a computer (I hope).

      February 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • ForPeteSake

      "Atheism is not" piss off you're posts are annoying and aren't doing any good, you're worse than Reality. What a TROLL!

      February 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Don't Feed The Trolls

      Do not waste another second of your life on this loser. Ignore with extreme prejudice.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      February 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Nope

      "Prayer changes things"

      ~~~-The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.-

      February 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Greg

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      A new study shows that many devout Americans know less about religion than do atheists. To some observers, it suggests a shallowness of faith.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Don't study studies studies are useless study God

      February 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Prayer didn't help Tony Romo when he fumbled the snap for a game winning field goal in the 2007 playoffs.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  18. Michael Burton

    Unlike Judaism where you can claim to be Jewish due to bloodline, Catholicism is based on faith in Jesus and His Church. While it might make sense to some to call someone Jewish yet doesn't believe in G-d or following His law, it makes no sense for someone to consider themselves or someone else a Catholic if they do not believe in the authority of the Church. If the Church is wrong about contraception, it could likely be wrong about anything including which books should be in the New Testament, Christ's Resurrection and Divinity, and whether someone needs to go to Mass on Sunday, too. If you don't agree with the Church, you are more than welcome to join one of the many other organizations in the world that also don't agree with the Church. I just ask that you have the honesty with yourself and others to not continue to carry the label of "Catholic."

    February 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Michael Burton: You said, "I just ask that you have the honesty with yourself and others to not continue to carry the label of "Catholic.""

      Based on the statistics cited in the article, you would be turning a major world religion into a fringe movement. I can't imagine the RCC would be thrilled with that turn of events.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Stevie7

      This is a pretty good example of the No True Scotsman Fallacy. If you only consider people to be catholic who line up in lock-step with the churches teaching on everything, you probably don't have any catholics.

      You certainly see a lot of infighting between christians on these boards. People love to say how the adherents this or that denomination are true christians. Catholics seem to be the only sect to do it to themselves.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Michael Burton

      What good are numbers to a people of Faith? It's like letting dead leaves fall from the tree. Don't get me wrong, I pray that all would come to know the fullness of Truth in the Catholic Church. It's one thing to sin and repent of your wrongdoing. It's an entirely different thing to deny that it was wrong in the first place.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Michael – many Catholic priests support positions that are not in line with the US bishops – there's always dissension. Encyclicals are not something made by the pope ex cathedra. Would you want to kick these priests out of your club as well?

      February 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Rita

      I totally agree.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • sam

      Congrats on being a One True Catholic. LOL Hilariously, some of the folks you would like to stop calling themselves catholics are just as likely to be considering themselves very good catholics, as well, and think you're trying too hard. I guess you're all wrong.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Mike, I think you are spot on regarding the honesty issue. If you are not 100%, you need to let the coaches know. You might be hurting the team rather than helping. Let the trainers decide if you can go no matter how bad you want to play!

      February 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  19. maria_lourdes

    That is why there are so few known saints. They are the only ones who truly follow God's ways. Not the world's ways. It's a sad sad world.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • jimtanker

      And just how do you follow "gods" ways?

      February 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There are over 10,000 named saints and beati from Catholic history.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • sam

      Waiting for the standard 'read the bible' response in 3...2...1...

      February 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Yes it has been tough on the Saints. Especially this year after Brees breaks Marinos passing yardage record but they can't get out of the second round. Two years in a row there aren't enough Saints. To bad.

      February 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  20. Uncouth Swain

    Isn't this ti_tle pretty much a No True Scotsman Fallacy?

    February 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      It's in quotes, so it's ok.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      I thought the same thing, Swain.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
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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.