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Dec 29 2013

Think of the implications of this argument

Ron Lindsay raises an important point about judges and the Catholic church.

According to the Church, it violates the moral obligations of a Catholic to do anything—anything—that would facilitate the provision of contraception to an individual. (See this summary of recent court decisions for an overview of this argument.) According to the Church, this includes the simple act of filling out a form certifying that the employer has an objection to contraception. This act by itself would make the employer complicit in evil. It’s for this reason that some religiously affiliated nonprofits are suing over the mandate—even though as result of the government’s accommodation they will not have to pay a penny or spend one minute to arrange for contraceptive care for their employees.

Golly – even that is complicity in evil. So…that’s kind of worrying in light of the fact that six of the nine justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic.

Think of the implications of this argument.  If simply filling out a form objecting to contraception makes one an accomplice to evil, what about rendering a judicial decision upholding the contraceptive mandate? This would appear to be a much more affirmative and consequential act than the completion of a form. But if that is the case, how can a judge who is a good Catholic by Church standards possibly render a decision upholding the mandate?

In the past, Catholics in the U.S. have suffered from prejudice and bigotry. One of the traditional knocks against Catholics had been they did not and could not support the separation of church and state. John Kennedy, along with many other progressive Catholic politicians, did much to lay those fears to rest. They showed that support for a secular state is not incompatible with being a good Catholic.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church may now be resurrecting concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen, or at least between being a good Catholic and an impartial judge. In arguing for an extremely expansive understanding of a Catholic’s moral obligation, the Church is effectively undermining confidence in Catholic judges.

It is, isn’t it. Not to mention hospital administrators, pharmacists, obstetricians and gynecologists…all because the church insists that it’s evil for people to use birth control. A stark illustration of the evil of substituting the imagined rules of an imagined god for the needs of actual humans.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    If contraception is that evil, then even talking about how evil it is must be evil. So why are the Catholics committing evil by complaining about how evil contraception is?

  2. 2
    Peter Hilton

    Haven’t stopped playing the fantasy, have they?

  3. 3
    surreptitious57

    The Church must be fully aware of how many Catholics practice contraception themselves. So making pronouncements on how evil it is is basically pointless as obviously the message is not getting through. But I suppose they have to be seen to be doing the right thing [ at least as far as they are concerned ] I would love just of sheer curiosity to know though how many of the six Catholics on the Supreme Court have themselves used contraception. I remember Peter Tatchell once asked a Catholic he was interviewing if she used it herself given that she was completely against it. She became embarrassed and refused to answer the question. But if you are making moral statements it is only right that you should be questioned as to whether you practice what you preach. And she did use it because she could not deny it. And so do many millions of Catholics too. And all the posturing of the Church is not going to change that one jot

  4. 4
    angharad

    But don’t something like 90%+ of Catholic women in the USA use contraception? Presumably all those Catholic women (and their husbands too by association) are also evil.

  5. 5
    Silentbob

    @ 3 angharad

    Well that’s what confession is for isn’t it? A few Hail Marys and you’re all square. ;-)

  6. 6
    chigau (違う)

    Silentbob #4
    No.

  7. 7
    screechymonkey

    I’ve never received a good answer to this question: doesn’t the same argument imply that Catholic employers are forbidden to hire employees who use birth control?

    After all, if it’s “facilitating” an unethical practice for money to take the following path:
    Catholic employer —> Health insurance company —-> doctor who prescribes birth control

    Why isn’t it also “facilitation” if the money takes this path:
    Catholic employer —> Employee —-> doctor who prescribes birth control (or pharmacy that sells condoms, etc.)

    This issue also reminds me of why it’s so frustrating when Catholic apologists dismiss complaints about the Church’s archaic and oppressive rules on the grounds that “nobody really follows those rules anyway.” Even if it’s true that the vast majority of Catholics (or American Catholics, or “western” Catholics, or whatever other subgroup) don’t practice those rules, they still matter because they’re still affecting the health care and insurance that even non-Catholics can get. It’s not just meaningless boilerplate.

  8. 8
    Jackie

    So US Catholics overwhelmingly use birth control and then fund a church that tries to prevent them and the rest of us from being able to use it?

    0.o

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