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February 13, 2012 10:15 AM The Liberal Catholic Complaint

By Ed Kilgore

You have to figure nobody was much happier than E.J. Dionne when the Obama administration released a “compromise” on its insurance coverage mandate for contraceptive services that Sr. Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, could support. After all, the main argument made in E.J.’s much-discussed January 29 column blasting the administration for its original wording of the mandate was that it had thrown progressive Catholic allies like Keehan “under the bus.”

His latest column, however, combines palpable relief at the “compromise” with a churlish, told-you-so expression of resentment at the administration and at non-Catholic liberals for failing to “get it” in the first place:

Many of us [Catholic liberals] agreed that broad contraception coverage was, as a general matter, a good thing, and we shared their concern for women’s rights. But we were troubled that some with whom we usually agree seemed to relish a fight with the church and defined any effort to accommodate its anxieties as “selling out.”
As a young politician put it in 2006, “There are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word ‘Christian’ describes one’s political opponents, not people of faith.”
Barack Obama, who spoke those words, finally figured out that a sensible compromise on contraception was far better than a running cultural and religious war. The administration would do well not to lose track of that guy again.

I’ve always admired E.J. Dionne, not simply as a journalist but as an exceptionally decent man. But this time he’s just off-base.

I understand his frustration at being under constant attack from co-religionists who think he’s a “cafeteria Catholic” sellout and from political allies who think—or more to the point, E.J. suspects they think—he’s a fool in the grip of a medieval delusion. I feel enough of this myself on occasion to get it, though as a liberal Protestant, I do not have the burden of feeling pressure from or complicity with any formal hierarchy.

But nobody in the Obama administration needs to apologize to anyone for proposing—via its Catholic Secretary of Health and Human Services, and making a formal exception explicitly designed for Catholics—a simple, logical policy making it clear contraceptives were to be covered as a medically recognized preventive health care service. The idea that this represented some sort of Bismarckian kulturkampf attack on Catholicism makes sense only if you accept the premise that “religious liberty” gives the Bishops some sort of broad zone of immunity—a kind of unwritten concordat—against any public policies that it might find inimical to its teachings (in this case, teachings that are being almost universally disregarded by their own flocks).

Moreover, much as I like E.J. Dionne, none of the advocates for reproductive rights who responded in kind to the Bishops’ hysterical rhetoric on this mandate need to apologize to him for putting him in an uncomfortable position. Should the sensibilities of liberal Catholic political elites matter more to non-Catholic liberals than the actual impact of these policies in question on the lives of millions of American women, Catholics included? I’d say that carries the obligations of solidarity too far.

Catholic liberals are a tough breed who deserve great respect, particularly when their religious leaders betray their best traditions and confirm their detractors’ worst insults. But while “pluralism” depends on mutual respect, it does not require deference to other people’s private authority figures. The attitude of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops towards contraception is a constant problem for U.S. Catholic lay people, though one they manage to handle just fine most of the time. Frankly, it’s only a problem for the rest of us if we allow it to be, and we shouldn’t.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 10:24 AM:

    Ed -- be bold, already. You want to drive religious institutions out of civic life UNLESS they agree with you.

  • memekiller on February 13, 2012 10:30 AM:

    I think exempting employers from offering medical care that violates their conscience is really a back door way to convert CEOs to Christian Science.

  • Josef K on February 13, 2012 10:33 AM:

    The attitude of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops towards contraception is a constant problem for U.S. Catholic lay people

    Speaking as a Catholic (though admittedly a lapsed one), I can say I've never given two figs what the Bishops say, do or decree. I don't know of any Catholics that actually do.

    Its sad an institution that could do so much good bogs itself down like this.

  • Josef K on February 13, 2012 10:34 AM:

    From theAmericanist at 10:24 AM:

    Ed -- be bold, already. You want to drive religious institutions out of civic life UNLESS they agree with you.

    And how, precisely, do you come to this conclusion?

  • Greytdog on February 13, 2012 10:34 AM:

    Thank you Ed. I seriously doubt this brouhaha with the US Conference of Bishops would have occurred if the topic had been Viagra & not birth control.

  • Danp on February 13, 2012 10:37 AM:

    You want to drive religious institutions out of civic life UNLESS they agree with you.

    What an odd choice of words. This issue is whether public institutions can drive away employees UNLESS they agree on every issue. The only right Ed is advocating against is the right to discriminate. We're talking about Catholic institutions that regularly hire non-Catholics for non-religious functions and that get public funding and contracts.

  • DRF on February 13, 2012 10:39 AM:

    I disagree with you on this, and think that Dionne was absolutely correct to express frustration on this issue. This was a battle that the Administration didn't need to pick.

    Whether you agree with the Catholic Church's position on contraception or not, you have to respect its right to its position and the Administration should have gone further to accomodate it from the beginning on this.

    The Administration was insensitive, both from a Constitutional perspective and from a political perspective. It has only been saved here by the REpublican's absolutely stupid decision to expand this issue into opposition to any requirement for contraception coverage. The GOP should have taken the limited victory it had in hand, by claiming that it forced the President to back down from an "anti-religious" ruling, and moved on.

  • jh on February 13, 2012 10:40 AM:

    If the plans with contraception are cheaper, then what’s the beef? You’re paying Negative Dollars for the contraception. What E.J. Dionne is upset about, I think, is that (1) this whole business exposes the genteel hypocrisy of the Catholic Church's stance on contraception, a hypocrisy that has long since been recognized by Catholic women, 98% of whom use contraception, and consequently, (2) his stance as a conscientious person who juggles his Catholic faith--with its many positive aspects--- with his liberal outlook on social affairs and politics is made uncomfortable. In short, his feelings are bruised by the whole matter being made public at all. He might have been happier if the final compromise was in fact the original policy put forward. As for the bishops, they can decide to hold their breath until they turn blue, which will only stretch out the public exposure of their idiotic position, or they can accept the compromise with a mild grumble. For the GOP, though, I suspect this whole thing is just the Ground Zero Mosque again —- remember how that discussion peaked up toward the election and went competely silent an hour after the polls closed?

  • berttheclock on February 13, 2012 10:42 AM:

    Ah, the US (and Irish) Conference of Bishops, otherwise known as Protect the Pedophile Priests At Any Cost.

  • thisdave on February 13, 2012 10:44 AM:

    Ed, it sounds as if your problem is more with the knee-jerk authoritarian reactions of the Bishops than with Dionne's fairly mild objection to Obama's first proposal.

    Personally, I despise the Catholic Church's obsession with power and control. While I also disagreed with Dionne's first column about this brouhaha, it was interesting for me to read the views of a liberal Catholic who, as you write, is a decent man worthy of admiration, which stands out particularly in these vituperative times.

    One thing I hope that distinguishes liberals from conservatives, is more tolerance within our ranks. We should each stand up for our beliefs, and try to halt creeping authoritarianism when we see it, but at the end of the day, we need to stand together.

  • JEA on February 13, 2012 10:45 AM:

    FRANKLY, Mr. Kilgore, I see plenty of venom directed against Catholics on in the comments sections of liberal websites (dailykos is a particularly egregious example), comments that make zero differentiation between liberal Catholics and the hard-line bishops, as though liberal people of faith are somehow intellectually inferior.

    Yet they all bristle at the slightest suggestion this is just as big oted as when conservatives disparage liberals.

  • Rich on February 13, 2012 10:47 AM:

    Dionne has been a beltway hack for years and although he's shown signs of life recently, he seems to have no trouble going headlong into some silly beltway. I don't know that this is so much a fault of liberal Catholicism as it is someone who has spent too much time in chat show green rooms. like most of the op-ed scribblers for the Post, he really should be given the heave-ho.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 10:53 AM:

    LOL -- you guys are pitiful.

    I recall Paul Viereck (who noted that McCarthyism was the original sin of modern conservatives and defined reality as that which doesn't go away even if you stop believing in it), who also explained: "Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the Left."

    (patiently) The original HHS rule would have forced religious institutions to violate doctrine, hire and serve only those of their faith, or close. No one disputes this.

    You guys REALLY ought to listen to yourselves, because you insist the first proves what a great policy it was, the second how you're not actually anti-religion, and besides: the third would be a good idea, anyway.

    Christ, now I have to explain your own argument to you cuz you're too chickenshit to do it yourselves: somebody (bolder and more honest than Ed) said the other day that the failure to support contraception, abortifacients and sterilization (not to mention abortion) demonstrates such a lack of American-ness that it ought to be treated like opposition to women suffrage. Hell, the DNC has been trying to raise money by stating access to free contraception is a "core American value."

    Um -- sez who?

    I've noted a couple times that there is a parallel for this in US history, when a religion was forced by the government to abandon a doctrine -- when the US Congress (not to mention lots of states, like Illinois and Missouri) drove Mormons out (Mitt Romney's great great grandfather fled to Mexico) because they practiced polygamy. It was only after the LDS repudiated this doctrine that they were Americanized (cue confusion about my monicker), and Utah became a state (also, the LDS got a third equity in Union Pacific -- remember where the golden spike was driven, after all).

    That's why I noted that what motivates you guys in this -- as Ed just proved, again! -- isn't actually access to contraception, but an antipathy to religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. It's not like it's complex or hidden.

    Not to split hairs: a Catholic hospital, charity or school is BOTH Catholic -- and a hospital, charity or school. It does not negate its Catholic character that it hires and provides services to people who are not Catholic: that FULFILLS its religious function.

    You want to abolish that. When it became so clear that the President could no longer avoid the decision, he repudiated this idea by providing the religious exemption that his key allies in passing the ACA (like Sister Keehan) had sought all along.

    He did that because YOU guys are wildly out of step with the public, never mind Congress.

    Now the Bishops and the Rs are doubling down on contraception, and a conscience exemption that is wholly unlike the threat to religious liberty posed by the original HHS rule.

    LOL -- but Ed (and the rest of you) are too dumb to recognize a victory for women's health when you get it: because that isn't actually what motivates you on this one.

    You want freedom FROM religion. Thank God the President is smarter'n you are.

  • jsjiowa on February 13, 2012 10:54 AM:

    I think what bothered me the most about Dionne's position was that he took the Bishops position at face value -- that they could not directly pay for birth control because it was immoral. Personally, I don't think that they ever really believed that position (except for the immoral part), or they would have been satisfied by the compromise. It's quite clear that they have an agenda based on their dogma, and there's really no room for compromise.

    I thought Gail Collins really hit the nail on the head last week when she observed that the Bishops had lost the war with parishioners on using birth control, and they are now using public policy to impose their beliefs on as many people as possible. That means we're not talking about protecting religious liberty at all, but about an organization that is using law to proselytize, which is clearly not what the First Amendment is about. In fact, it makes me more sympathetic to those who plead for freedom FROM religion, as groups like the Bishops keep overreaching under the pretext of the First Amendment.

  • Thaumaturgist on February 13, 2012 10:54 AM:

    What I don't
    T understand is how someone who used to work for the Cardinal in Chicago did not see this coming. even if he is a Protestant, he had enough exposure to the Church in Chicago to know how the hierarchy would reattach to something like this.

  • jpeckjr on February 13, 2012 10:55 AM:

    The attitude of the Catholic Bishops is consistent with the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding contraception. It is their job to promote the doctrines of their Church.

    That doctrine states that since the potential for life exists in every sperm and egg, it is sinful to prevent the sperm and egg from getting together. In other words, life begins BEFORE conception.

    This doctrine is not grounded in either the Bible or science or, for that matter, common sense. I am not walking around with unborn babies in me. Imposing this doctrine on non-Catholics when vast number of Catholics have rejected it themselves only makes the Bishops appear to be disconnected with the realities of human living.

  • walt on February 13, 2012 10:55 AM:

    I'm not exactly sure why we should tread so gingerly around the refined feelings of people who routinely covered up child rape in their midst. Catholics do many good things, and like all humans, many bad things as well. Their clergy's medieval views on human sexuality are probably worth the respect they fail to inspire in the Catholic laity. There is no issue here except the special pleading of religious hysterics for their own horrifying smugness.

  • brent on February 13, 2012 10:56 AM:

    I happen to think Dionne is a great journalist, a decent man and in the grip of a medieval delusion but I really don't care about that last part. He is free to believe whatever he likes and given his honest agreement on the importance of contraception availability, I am happy if a relatively simple accommodation can be reached that makes him more comfortable and has substantially the same positive effect on public policy although I think that is of secondary importance at best. But I think it is also important that he understand that the "fight" here was always inevitable whether people who agree with me, relished it or not. That is because there is no accommodation that will appease the people that actually started this fight.

    The fight is about how women's health will be treated within the context of our health care system and to the extent that the Bishops speak for people of his faith, they are on the wrong side of the issue and need to be opposed.

  • ComradeAnon on February 13, 2012 10:58 AM:

    Look. (Going all Krauthammer on you.) I know that the republicans don't give a rat's a$$ about the Catholics. Look at all the other issues the Catholic Bishops have asked consideration on. This is nothing more than a chance to oppose Obama. But from another perspective, wouldn't allowing all Catholic institutions to avoid what virtually every other church had to comply with be the federal government imposing one set of rules on one church and another on the other churches?

  • bcinaz on February 13, 2012 11:01 AM:

    All this Religious Liberty hyperventilating informs me of 2 things:

    1) Muslims should, right this minute, demand equal "religious liberty"

    2)Gay and Lesbian marriage advocates should refine their arguments and frame them as a case for Religious Liberty.

    Yes, this is just advocating to fight dumber with dumb, however, there doesn't seem to be any other grounds to fight this kind of stupid except to get stoopid too

  • brent on February 13, 2012 11:03 AM:

    The original HHS rule would have forced religious institutions to violate doctrine, hire and serve only those of their faith, or close. No one disputes this.

    As usual, l I won't bother engaging with your ridiculous bafflegab but I will point out that the idea that no one disputes this is a flatly false statement very much in line with your usual disregard of reality. In fact not only were there many who disputed this. There were many Catholics who disputed this.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 11:06 AM:

    Bullshit, Brent.

    The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy. What violates doctrine is up to the Vatican, not to any number of nominal Catholics in the US, or anyplace else.

    The Roman Catholic Church can NOT pay for contraception. So requiring a Catholic institution as an employer to pay for health insurance that covers contraception violates Catholic doctrine.

    Going too fast for you, asshole? Take your time, read it again.

  • Danp on February 13, 2012 11:07 AM:

    Americanist - If "freedom from religion" means not allowing someone to claim God's authority to impose their beliefs on me, then I suppose I'm for freedom from religion. Get over it.

  • dp on February 13, 2012 11:08 AM:

    I find it strange that the only contradictions of Catholic teachings that get the bishops riled up involve women having sex.

    Politicians can start wars, implement the death penalty, screw the poor or whatever, and it barely gets a "tut, tut." But let women having sex come into range and they're in the pulpits the next Sunday, ready to fire up the Crusades again.

  • Mimikatz on February 13, 2012 11:08 AM:

    EJ should have consulted Sister Carol BEFORE he wrote his column. Look, the Catholic church threw women under the bus oh, about the 5th Century when St Augustine wrote his sick, twisted view of sexuality. Or maybe all the way back to St Paul. They have been trashing and literally burning women for centuries, blaming women for the "fall of man" and for their own inability to control their own sexuality.

    The bishops have no authority, NONE, on sexual issues and women stopped paying attention to them in the 1960s. Men, however, still revere the patriarchal hierarchy of the Church precisely because it reinforces their own sense of superiority. Even someone as generally humane and compassionate as EJ Dionne finds it hard to admit that the Church that nourished and educated him could be so blindingly wrong on an issue of critical importance in modern times as birth control and the even larger issue of population control. (Remember the Pope fought against condoms for HIV/AIDS protection in Africa and elsewhere.).

  • FlipYrWhig on February 13, 2012 11:10 AM:

    I think pundits, and blog commenters, need to sort out a few things here:

    1. In what way is a Catholic hospital or charitable organization "Catholic"?

    2. To what degree does an employer get to view the money and benefits he pays his employees as _his_ money?

    I'd say to (1) that a Catholic hospital or charity may be _inspired by_ Catholic teachings, but, especially since it serves and employs a substantial number of non-Catholics, it needs to act under the law like any other employer, not like a church.

    To (2), IMHO my employer has no ability to dictate to me how I spend my compensation. It's a matter of my conscience, not theirs.

    It seems like Dionne and many other Catholic liberals feel like organizations can be Catholic, and money and bennies paid by those organizations is accordingly Catholic too, hence spending Catholic Money on wicked things offends the religious liberty of... money.

    That's exceptionally odd.

  • LAC on February 13, 2012 11:10 AM:

    Frankly, I thought Dionne showed a myopic and small minded view that some Catholic males in this society are prone to at times. That clusterfuck that Tweety presided over at MSNBC was exactly what is off-putting about the Catholic faith - a bunch of old white men framing the discussion and making decisions that impact women negatively.

  • brent on February 13, 2012 11:14 AM:

    What violates doctrine is up to the Vatican, not to any number of nominal Catholics in the US, or anyplace else.

    You stated that no one disputes this. You are, as always, entirely incorrect. No amount of your usual bluster and childish invective will change that basic fact although I am sure you will certainly be making the effort. Furthermore, if one accepts the basic premise you have set forth than of course nothing has actually changed and as I already stated, there is no accommodation to be made because, as the Bishops have made clear, they still consider the current rule to be a violation of doctrine.

  • SYSPROG on February 13, 2012 11:15 AM:

    EJ Dionne is an extremely decent human being and I'm sure it was hard to reconcile his religious and secular beliefs. That being said I think the BISHOPS doubled down on an issue that was settled long ago. Whether they think the Republicans will win and so they wanted their two cents in or not, this was an old war. I would have loved to be a fly in the discussions between the President and the Bishops but I DO think that this was a manufactured controversy to show to the PUBLIC the intransience of the Catholic Church. IF they wanted it quiet and wanted to work on the problem, they had a YEAR to do it behind closed doors. THEY chose to get their minions out there and force the President's hand. As we've seen on other issues, Obama doesn't do well with 'forcing his hand' (think Keystone). I was raised Catholic and I recognize the good they do in the world. However, they are NOT 'too big to fail' and this country was NOT founded on the church running this country. What the Founding Fathers did was give churches the Establishment Clause. In NO WAY did that mean the Church could tread on anyone ELSE because of their 'religious' protection. I even heard in the last week from several prominent Catholic leaders that they are 'tired' of being picked on. Maybe you should rethink some of your hidebound dictums, quit covering up crimes within the church and you wouldn't be.

  • guster on February 13, 2012 11:15 AM:

    Dionne thinks that Jewish women who work at Catholic hospitals deserve worse healthcare than Catholic women who work at Jewish hospitals.

    Do I think that makes him -personally- an antisemite? No. Just politically.

  • June on February 13, 2012 11:22 AM:

    I believe Ed gets this one exactly right. Dionne's shirt-rending over this one was misguided.

  • Mimikatz on February 13, 2012 11:26 AM:

    Again, this is not an issue of religious liberty, but whether the Catholic Church, in it's LAY enterprises such as hospitals and schools, which admit and employ a great number of non-Catholics, have to abide by the same laws as other people who enter the stream of commerce and employ people. They do not have a religious tax exemption for these enterprises, and they do not have an religious exemption from wage and hour laws or sexual discrimination laws. Over 10 years ago the courts determined that the refusal to provide contraceptives as part of a health plan discriminated against women, because only women experience the health risks of possible pregnancy and periods that forms of birth control, especially the pill, can prevent. They don't have to provide contraceptives for nuns, only for employees in their lay institutions, just like Jehovah's Witnesses can't have health insurance that excludes transfusions for lay employees or the Christian Science Monitor can refuse to provide health coverage for it's employees at excludes doctors.

    The only fight over religion here is within the Catholic Church over where Papal Infallibility still applies, and within some Protestant denominations over where Obama is a secret Muslim.

  • Memekiller on February 13, 2012 11:27 AM:

    As its been since the 1960s, bosses should retain the right to do what they want with the women's bodies under their employ.

  • Bat o Moon on February 13, 2012 11:28 AM:

    One problem here is that this generation of Catholic bishops lacks any moral standing. They aided, abetted and covered up for decades of child rape. I know quite a few Catholics, and most of them feel that way. I don't know of a single Catholic woman who cares a whit what the church says about birth control.

  • Steve LaBonne on February 13, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Catholic liberals are a tough breed who deserve great respect

    Catholic liberals are hypocritical apologists for baby-f*ckers who deserve nothing but contempt.

  • Memekiller on February 13, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Decisions of reproductive health should remain private ones made between one's insurance company and employer. The employer should, however, be encouraged to inform you of their decision via sticky note.

  • memekiller on February 13, 2012 11:31 AM:

    You have to choose between the life of the mother or child. Your company cannot in good conscience pay for both.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 11:35 AM:

    Flip -- you're losing ground.

    1) A Catholic hospital is Catholic to the degree that it is owned and operated by the Catholic Church. (This can confuse people who don't realize that even in America, the church is both authoritarian, and old. Humans being what they are, this produces quirks. Some hospitals, for example, are owned and operated by the diocese -- that is, they are under the authority of a bishop or cardinal -- while others belong to a religious order, so they are not under diocesan authority. Still others fell between the two -- this happened to a lot of colleges at one point -- while some, having become neither the one nor the other, have become wholly secular while retaining a Catholic name and outlook, for want of a better term. This last category would be subject to the revised mandate, the others not.)

    Because Catholic doctrine forbids contraception (abortifacients and sterilization, as well as abortion), no Catholic institution can pay for it. You really should just honestly embrace that this is what you cannot accept, so you want to abolish Catholic institutions -- all religious institutions, in fact -- who play a role in civic life UNLESS they accept your odd (and not exactly unanimous) views of what is and is not "American".

    2) An employer who provides health insurance to employees (as opposed to a voucher system) chooses the provider. They may offer a choice of plans to their employees, but it is still the employER who buys the insurance, and then provides it to employees as a benefit. You may want more or different coverage than the employer plan offers -- but then you are buying it yourself. That's why it is the EMPLOYER, not the employee, who is buying the employer-provided plan.

    3) You confuse the fact that a religious institution has to obey the law, with whether a proposed NEW law is a good idea, as well as with the proposition that a new law (like the now-repudiated HHS mandate) would be upheld by this Supreme Court.

    It's important to realize just what a HUGE break from the entire history of the United States folks like Ed are advocating -- defending, even, despite the fact that Obama repudiated precisely what they think is soooo kewl. You want to drive religious institutions out of civic life.

    It's not too much of an exaggeration to note that Catholic hospitals carrying out precisely a Catholic mission pretty much invented the modern American safety net in the immigrant-heavy cities of the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. They ALWAYS served people who weren't Catholic, and they ALWAYS employed people of other faiths -- and it would never have occurred to any but the worst Know-Nothings that the US government had the authority to force them to abandon Catholic doctrine in order to heal the sick and care for the dying.

    But there have always been folks -- like you guys -- who followed the Know Nothing course. That's why Arthur Schlesinger described anti-Catholicism as "the deepest bias in the history of the American people," while John Higham said it remains "the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history..."

    Another guy, I forget, called it the last acceptable prejudice. It ought to embarrass you guys that you prove that.

  • Trollop on February 13, 2012 11:46 AM:

    Just like the Catholic Council of Pedophiles and Bishopry; those with glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

  • Memekiller on February 13, 2012 11:48 AM:

    As people, corporations have freedom of religion, too. Employees can't ingringe on that with their own.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 11:59 AM:

    "ingringe" -- now, that's a typo worth stealing. I know you meant "infringe", but this is better: what should it mean?

  • SecularAnimist on February 13, 2012 12:00 PM:

    theAmericanist wrote: "You want freedom FROM religion."

    I'd be happy just to have freedom FROM your irrelevant, inflammatory and dishonest ranting about "anti-Catholicism".

    You have been pretty much flat out WRONG in everything you have said about this whole matter.

    And the more you are proved WRONG, the longer, more frantic, and more irrelevant become your comments.

  • Barbara on February 13, 2012 12:02 PM:

    Ed's analysis is spot on. This is about people like Dionne feeling a sense of tribal dislocation and desperately trying to avoid the conclusion that their Catholic identity is soon going to be irrelevant to the vast majority of Americans. This is really hard for liberal Catholics, in particular, who have long tried to emphasize the Church's role in social justice issues. Being connected to the orthodoxy on contraception is annoying, but they still care more about saving the Catholic voice from gradual elimination than they do about access to contraception by women and their families. The tension will only grow stronger and stronger.

  • Robert on February 13, 2012 12:03 PM:

    NOTICE TO "theAmericanist"

    Please be advised that you have exhausted the patience and good humor of the majority of the people, liberal Catholics included, who visit this site. You have hyper-ed and vented too much. You are hereby excommunicated.

    THE ROMAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY

    PS:Be a mensch and go troll elsewhere.

  • Anonymous on February 13, 2012 12:04 PM:

    Because Catholic doctrine forbids contraception (abortifacients and sterilization, as well as abortion), no Catholic institution can pay for it

    Actually, a number of states have this requirement already (e. g., California) and Catholic institutions manange somehow to comply.

  • SYSPROG on February 13, 2012 12:05 PM:

    Hey Americanist? WHile you were pounding out your screeds about how STUPID the progressives are, how the Church 'gets to have' it's inborn prejudices in secular matters, how we 'only want to drive the Catholics out of the hospital business', you really should have spent some time listening to constitutional scholars and their take on this fake controversy. Even Scalia the head Catholic of the Supremes, does not agree. This is it. The CC get's an exemption when it does GOD'S business. It follows the LAW of the nation when it wades into secular business. There is NO F'ing WAY this would ever get past the lower courts. EVER.

  • bob h on February 13, 2012 12:08 PM:

    Dionne is, regrettably, a VSRP.

    The Bishops mount a political attack on the leader of a Party which shares their concerns about the very poor, war, the callousness and excesses of capitalism,...etc. in behalf of the Party of Social Darwinism. There is a knee-jerk, pig-headed stupidity about the Catholic Bishops.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 12:20 PM:

    LOL -- anonymous demonstrates there's a reason not to post by name: "a number of states have this requirement already (e. g., California) and Catholic institutions manange somehow to comply."

    They self-insure, which renders the mandate moot. The HHS rule would have banned the practice. Try to keep up.

    Sysprog: I keep pointing out that 1) I'll be happy to take odds from anybody who thinks Scalia would have voted to uphold the HHS rule, and 2) th ee reason why -- his vote to uphold the law against peyote as a sacrament was about the primacy of the law in prohibiting an act that some people find sacred.

    The HHS rule was about imposing an act that some people find sinful.

    If you don't see the difference, perhaps you should consult a dictionary and look up words like "freedom", and "liberty". Then you might re-read the First Amendment, which starts "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

    The US government has long drawn the line so that you can't found a religion based on crime, and get First Amendment protection. But the Congress has NEVER prohibited a religion from practicing a doctrine that is not a crime -- with the exception of the LDS and polygamy (cited above), and even that was more like the peyote case in that Mormons were doing something prohibited by the government; they were not being forced by the government to do something forbidden by the LDS.

    Yanno, you guys couldn't prove my point more if you simply admitted it: this post and thread shows, entry after entry, that you want to drive religion from American civic life UNLESS it conforms to your views.

    [Seriously. Give it a rest. Please. Because I really don't want to ban you, but I will if you persist. --mod]

    Whatsamatta with you people?

  • Lauren Marinaro on February 13, 2012 12:24 PM:

    I work with a lot of elderly people through my job and am frequently in contact with the county's Adult Protective Services organization. They are run by Catholic Charities. They are the sole provider of APS in the county--the state gave them the contract and they do it and no one else does. And that's fine, they do a good job with limited resources. With that state contract comes federal Administration on Aging dollars. They frequently work with a major Catholic hospital system that takes federal dollars through Medicare, Medicaid and VA and state dollars through Charity Care. And this hospital system is the only game in town for a lot of people. My point is, Catholic entites take federal dollars happily and are fully in the social service provision business. And people who want to be orderlies and nurses and social workers who want to work with vulnerable elders have to work for them if that's what they want to do for a living. Are those employees lesser people who deserve less health care because they have the bad luck of working for Catholic employers who have cornered a social service provision marketplace? They may or may not be Catholics and they may or may not practice contraception--I really don't care and I don't think their employers really care either. But since the Bishops do, suddenly HHS Secretary Sebelius is being tone-deaf for caring what happens to these employees?

    When will these people, EJ Dionne included, realize that Catholic social service providers shouldn't be able to have their cake (federal dollars) and eat it too (conscientious carve outs to federal strings attached)!!

  • ComradeAnon on February 13, 2012 12:27 PM:

    "Because Catholic doctrine forbids contraception (abortifacients and sterilization, as well as abortion), no Catholic institution can pay for it"

    "Actually, a number of states have this requirement already (e. g., California) and Catholic institutions manange somehow to comply."

    Include Georgia in this list. At least until the wingnuts that run this state change it. They are pretty busy right now trying to cut taxes and give money to business. Go to take care of the donors first.

  • bdop4 on February 13, 2012 12:35 PM:

    SecularAnimist and Sysprog: thanks for articulating what we all are thinking.

    Remember folks, the scroll wheel is your friend.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 12:46 PM:

    [Seriously. Give it a rest. Please. Because I really don't want to ban you, but I will if you persist. --mod]

    At what?

    You really DO want to drive religious institutions from civic life -- unless they conform to your views. It's not like it's complex or hidden.

    You just figure that you can say "a Catholic hospital has non-Catholic employees and serves non-Catholic patients", so therefore it's okay to force it to abandon Catholic doctrine.

    That IS what you want -- and, oddly, it's more important than access to contraception. (being as how that's precisely the change in policy that the President just made)

    LOL -- it's not like your arguments are gonna get better or more popular when you stick your fingers in your ears and go 'neener-neener'.

  • CDW on February 13, 2012 12:48 PM:

    What DRF said.

  • LJL on February 13, 2012 12:52 PM:

    What is more disappointing than Dionne hypocritical subtext (which is to be expected from a believer), is the intellectual dishonesty he used to make his point. The fact is that Obama 1)stated the perfectly legal goal of providing cost free contraception through health insurance policies, and 2) because he recognized the difficulties some religious sects might have with this goal, he offered an extended period (18 months) for mutual discussion on how to accommodate the religious scruples of some churches with their legal obligations under the law. Unfortunately, the Catholics decided to irrationally attack the government rather than accept the offer to rationally negotiate. And Dionne just as irrationally fell into lock step with his religious superiors without exercising his intellect. It was not Obama who was 'ham handed' but the bishops and Dionne who reflexively reacted the same way they did when little boys accused them of buggery.

  • SecularAnimist on February 13, 2012 12:57 PM:

    theAmericanist wrote: "You really DO want to drive religious institutions from civic life -- unless they conform to your views."

    You really DO want to drive people from participating in these comment pages with your endless repetition of that stupid, dishonest, baseless and deliberately offensive flame bait bumper sticker slogan -- unless they conform to your anti-liberal bigotry.

  • cmdicely on February 13, 2012 1:10 PM:

    Should the sensibilities of liberal Catholic political elites matter more to non-Catholic liberals than the actual impact of these policies in question on the lives of millions of American women, Catholics included?

    The question is poorly framed: Reaffirming the right-wing frame of the political left being actively hostile to Catholics per se isn't just a matter of failure to respect the sensibilities of liberal Catholics (whether "political elites" with national media access like Dionne or, more importantly, the large masses that make up about the same share of US Catholics that liberals make up of the US public at large) with no further effect, but its something that reinforces the identity politics that pushed by right-wing interests who want Catholics to feel compelled to vote for conservatives out of self-preservation, or at least stay home rather than voting for the liberals cast as anti-Catholic bigots.

    This makes it much more likely that extremely conservative policies affecting the same groups you express concern about will be enacted.

  • Paolo on February 13, 2012 1:18 PM:

    Wow, these bishops really don't know how to lower the stakes, do they?

  • Barbara on February 13, 2012 1:22 PM:

    cmdicely, that may be true with abortion, but it is not true for contraception. The lack of institutional integrity simply cannot be overlooked: Dionne can afford to choose the side of the bishops because he works for WaPo where no doubt contraception has been provided for a long time. But Catholic families over the last two generation have voted for contraception with their actions, which is why most have no more than two or three well-spaced children. The likelihood that a majority of these pro-contraception people will view the issue as an abstract matter of hierarchical prerogative to maintain religious liberty borders on nil.

  • brent on February 13, 2012 1:37 PM:

    You really DO want to drive religious institutions from civic life -- unless they conform to your views. It's not like it's complex or hidden.

    You have somehow convinced yourself that repeating something obnoxiously and repetitively will make it more true or at least, more persuasive. This is not the case.

    More importantly, as I and others have already pointed out and which, unsurprisingly you have studiously ignored because it further exposes the weakness of your basic assertion here, the opinion of the Catholic Bishops have not changed. They believe the new proposal forces a violation of doctrine.

    If that is is the case, and if, as you have repeatedly asserted the opinions of the Catholic hierarchy are authoritative on this matter, then from the perspective of observant Catholicism, nothing at all has changed. The compromise is not acceptable and we are exactly where we were a week and a half ago. If EJ Dionne's concern is with the fact that the law is an imposition on faith and the Catholic hierarchy is the sole arbiter of whether or not this is true, than his article is entirely irrelevant to the question at hand.

  • MattR on February 13, 2012 1:43 PM:

    theAmericanist - I would love to hear your twisted pretzel logic that allows the government to restrict the free excercise of religion by banning certain practices that are considered sacred by that religion but they are not allowed to restrict that expression by forcing them to undertake a practice they consider sinful. Let's start with the simple fact that not practicing the sacrements might be considered a sin. By prohibiting the use of peyote, the government is forcing the practioners of that religion to sin if they want to live freely in our society.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 1:43 PM:

    LOL -- Secular Animist: that's nonsense on ice skates.

    1) I note that nobody actually DENIES that there is a consensus among you guys (not unanimous, but close) that what you want is to force religious institutions out of civic life, unless they agree with you on contraception, etc.

    2) To the (slight) extent anybody disputes it, you guys make two contradictory arguments: first, that you're not really forcing religious institutions out of civic life because all they'd have to do is.... either violate doctrine OR hire and serve only those of their faith, which pretty much means abandoning civic participation. Then when that doesn't work, you try a second argument that religious institutions shouldn't doing civic work in the first place, since when they do civic work, they are no longer religious institutions, e.g., Flip's question: "In what way is a Catholic hospital or charitable organization "Catholic"?"

    3) And just to remind folks who has earned cred -- Secular Animist claims that I "have been pretty much flat out WRONG in everything you have said about this whole matter."

    Three days before the President repudiated the HHS policy, I predicted the solution was simple: exempt religious institutions from paying, and require insurance companies to pay instead.

    That's exactly what the President announced last Friday. (I came to this conclusion from looking at the polling data, which you guys continue to insist proves the opposite. Odd that you persist.)

    LOL -- you guys dis me for being blunt, but you DO realize how childish you are, right?

    Respond to the ARGUMENTS. If somebody wants to claim 'why, no, we don't want to drive religious institutions out of civic life', kindly explain how a Catholic institution can pay for contraception -- and remain Catholic. When you do this, you might mention the Church's authoritarian character: it's not a democracy.

    So it doesn't work to insist that Catholics disregard doctrine on contraception, therefore using contraception is Catholic. I keep pointing out that we sometimes shoplift, too, but we don't expect the government to force the church to PAY for it.

    If somebody wants to claim that the quintessentially American proposition that religious institutions can run hospitals, charities and schools without being forced by the government to violate their doctrines no longer applies UNLESS they hire and serve only people of their faith, kindly reconcile that with the 22 decades in which the opposite has been true. What's changed?

    If somebody wants to argue that the original HHS proposal was, so! popular, kindly explain why the President repudiated it.

    And, extra bonus example of how argumentation works (as opposed to the mod's threatening to throw me out for knowing what I'm talking about), for those who want to argue that the President planned this all along (which I note contradicts all of your current arguments, but let it go), kindly explain why he argued FOR the original HHS proposal to Democratic Senators -- including the SEVEN who had announced their opposition -- the day before he reversed course.

    See how it works? You guys aren't very good at invective (which is too bad, cuz it's fun), so you might at least try engaging in argument.

  • Crissa on February 13, 2012 1:54 PM:

    Can anyone tell me how these 'ask me first' Catholics would've solved this 'problem'?

    Because mostly their suggestions see to be 'don't do anything populist or centrist or liberal, always bow to their needs' which isn't a solution.

  • brent on February 13, 2012 1:57 PM:

    Three days before the President repudiated the HHS policy, I predicted the solution was simple: exempt religious institutions from paying, and require insurance companies to pay instead.

    Except that if the issue is, as you claim whether or not Catholic churches are being forced to violate doctrine, then according to the Bishops, this hasn't been a solved the problem, has it?

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 1:58 PM:

    Seriously, how has the Americanist not been banned yet? He is always abusive, almost always wrong, and he absolutely refuses to listen.

    He was banned from Crooked Timber after some egregious behavior, and he's ruining the threads here too.

  • Gretchen on February 13, 2012 2:00 PM:

    One interesting aspect of this is that the pope can speak infallibly about matters of faith and morals, and this applies to core matters of faith and doctrine. No pope has ever chosen to speak infallibly about contraception. They've spoken, but neglected to put the full authority of the papacy behind this particular doctrine. The faithful have responded according and made up their own minds.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 2:00 PM:

    LOL -- careful, Brent: you are perilously close to learning something. Try VERY hard, cuz it is oh, so close for you.

    1) The Bishops do not determine the political views of American Catholics. (This speaks to the essence of the Americanist heresy, in many ways. JFK was an Americanist, when he gave his famous speech in 1960.) That attempting to drive Catholic institutions out of civic participation (hospitals, charities, schools) was likely to cost Democrats Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Florida does not mean that 27 million American Catholic voters think individual employers who happen to be Catholic, as distinct from Catholic institutions, should be exempt from providing contraception coverage.

    2) As a substantive (rather than a political) matter, the religious liberty objection to the original HHS proposal was NOT about contraception as such (that is, there would have been an identical objection to any similar policy) as it was to the government's attempt to force religious institutions as employers to violate doctrine -- OR, as noted, to cease participating in civic life.

    3) As a political (rather than a substantive) matter, the President's repudiation of the HHS proposal's attack on religious liberty doesn't eliminate the Bishops' objection to contraception. I've twice explained on these threads where the theology on this stuff comes from, but since you guys are literally hysterical in not GETTING the simplest observations it's probably not gonna help if I do it again here: ask, though, if you wanna know. The important thing is that because the President has decided that religious institutions do NOT have to pay for contraception, the religious liberty issue has lost all traction here. Since it was hurting Democrats badly, it is a wonder that you're trying to throw your sand under it.

    4) There is a sorta WSJ editorial page argument (which is actually true, not that it matters) to the effect that this isn't immaculate contraception, after all: SOMEBODY is gonna pay for it, even when it's "free". So there might possibly have been marginal leverage for the Bishops to insist -- well, we will have to pay MORE for coverage because the insurance companies will be providing contraception "for free", and thus we'd be back in the same place. But we're not, because as any # of folks point out, prevention is cheaper. D-uh.

    5) So the President's decision to repudiate the original HHS proposal resolves the religious liberty issue. It leaves the Bishops, et. al, opposed to contraception, and Republicans have inexplicably volunteered to attempt to graft the Hyde amendment onto private contracts. That's not gonna work, but you guys ought to be delighted that they're going to try -- I certainly am, because I want Ds to keep the White House and Senate, and I'd like to see us take back the House.

    6) But -- as I've said all along -- the surest way for us to fuck up the chance to run the table in the fall is for folks like you clowns to insist that your aggressive dislike for the centuries-old tradition of religious participation in American civic life is what REALLY defines these issues.

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 2:05 PM:

    Also, how does he get away with saying he has "lefty" credentials. He has some minor Democratic cred, but nothing approaching the "left" by any definition of the term.

  • Robert on February 13, 2012 2:06 PM:

    For anyone interested, the Supreme Court of California does a good job of refuting the CC's apparent constitutional claims even in the case where law was similar to the first Obama proposal.
    http://reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/Supreme_Court_Opinion.pdf

    BTW- I read on the internet that Americanist is Karl Rove.

  • FlipYrWhig on February 13, 2012 2:08 PM:

    @theAmericanist, who is dogged and arrogant but isn't IMHO trolling...

    You write "the Congress has NEVER prohibited a religion from practicing a doctrine that is not a crime -- with the exception of the LDS and polygamy (cited above)"

    But that's just not what's happening here, no matter how much you repeat it. What is the "doctrine" they "practice" in this case? The doctrine in question seems to be that they don't want their money to pay for medical services they abhor, for anyone. To endorse that view would seem to be an _immense_ expansion of the idea of what the free exercise of religion is, as well as an immense expansion of employers' power over their employees. As any number of people have said, if this is truly the "doctrine" they want to defend, they would have to countenance any number of discriminatory acts, including Mormon-sponsored organizations barring insurance claims by coffee-drinkers and Jewish-sponsored organizations barring claims by people who don't keep kosher.

    The principle of free exercise of religion doesn't cover these claims to "doctrine" that apply to people who are not adherents to them. I respectfully suggest you reflect upon the way you use "doctrine" in your discussions here. I think you'll find that "You can't make me pay indirectly for other people to potentially do things I reject on religious grounds" is not, in fact, something baked into the cake of American politics. You'd have to argue for that first... Win that argument... And only then use it as a cudgel on people you think are inferior political and ethical thinkers.

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 2:16 PM:

    "BTW- I read on the internet that Americanist is Karl Rove."

    As he reminds people here ad nauseum, he's Paul Donnelly, writer of weird rants in the NYTimes on how the death penalty gives his brother's killer a chance to repent and advocate of making hating immigrants a Democratic priority.

  • Josef K on February 13, 2012 2:34 PM:

    From theAmericanist at 10:53 am:(an eternity ago)

    He did that because YOU guys are wildly out of step with the public, never mind Congress.

    That's rather contradictory, given how wildly out of step Congress is with the public. Which is it?

    I was going to try to respond to your on-going argument about "our" (whoever "we" are) wanting to "drive religion out of civic life", but frankly the whole concept is nonsense. Religion is going to be part of our civic discourse however this controversy plays (or hopefully peters) out, given it exists independent of institutions. The question facing doctors and care-givers here is which master are they going to serve: the Vatican's, or their legal and moral responsibilities per the Hypocratic Oath?

    The President is trying to give them a legal out where they don't have to make that choice, and therefore possibly lead to someone's death due to their inaction, and still ensure women's access to contraceptives is not interrupted. That the Bishops want to argue against it is their own decision, and they're probably in for a rude awakening on how uninterested the laity are in them.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 2:35 PM:

    Two different points:

    Flip raises what he thinks is a Constitutional matter, but is actually a political one. The coffee analogy is pretty good, I think -- the LDS decides to open a news stand, say, because they see that as consistent with the LDS mission. Somebody wanders in, tells the LDS: what this place needs is a coffee machine. Don't your employees drink coffee? The LDS replies -- we don't buy coffee, it's against our religion.

    You want the government to FORCE that news stand to buy a coffee pot. I don't.

    If somebody who works there wants to buy coffee, they can go next door and use their own money. (Let's not stretch the contraception analogy by asking whether they will be drinking their own coffee on the job.)

    I learned the 'I don't want to pay taxes for stuff I don't like" arguments 30 years ago, when I first worked in the Senate. It's important to make the distinction between a law passed by Congress (like the Hyde amendment) for a similar purpose, and an individual tax protest.

    If individuals could simply refuse to pay taxes for stuff they don't like, self-government would be impossible. (For one thing, Congressmen would never get paid.) But Congress CAN write laws like the Hyde amendment to insist that no tax dollars be spent on abortion -- it's been tested and found Constitutional. So you're not making a Constitutional argument, just a political one -- and the political answer to that was made by the President Friday, rather more forcefully than I have been making it. (Although, I brag again, just exactly the way I predicted.)

    But looking at the way you guys are so last Thursday, yegodsandlittlefishes, here is a story worth knowing for the POLITICAL insight it offers -- from the Americanist heresy itself, back in the day.

    Orthodox Catholic historians insist there never was such a thing as the Americanist heresy, it was all a big misunderstanding. (Orestes Brownson, call your office.) But it was quite real - Pius IX declared in 1854 that core American principles like religious liberty, freedom of speech and the separation of Church and State were not compatible with being a good Catholic. (He also once excommunicated the entire Italian Army, which for some reason impresses me.) Since this was the heyday of Know Nothings who insisted that (much like some say of Muslims today) it wasn't possible to be BOTH an American and a Catholic, the Pope wasn't exactly making faithful patriotism easier on American Catholics.

    Skipping ahead 40 years, a Civil War veteran named Cardinal Gibbons (the guy who authorized the Baltimore Catechism and sang hymns with Babe Ruth as a little boy) saw all this coming to a head -- provoked by the French, who envied the way the American church was far enough away from Rome not to pay to much attention to the Vatican's troubles in Europe. There really WERE folks who wanted to fight for something specifically American about being a Catholic (much like folks like Jamil Diab and W. Deen Muhammed insisted on something very American about Islam), notably those associated with the founding of Catholic University in DC. Their opponents argued that no Catholic should ever vote -- while Bishop Ireland (of Minnesota) said that voting was sacred. Heavy stuff.

    So, looking at the repudiation of the HHS proposal by the President, I commend to you the wisdom of Cardinal Gibbons: when Leo XIII formally condemned "the Americanist heresy" for the sin of insisting that civics has a moral value in itself, Bishop Ireland and others wanted to go to Rome and argue that the Pope was wrong, that there was nothing incompatible with being an American and being a Catholic, and so on.

    But Cardinal Gibbon (who outranked Ireland) wrote a truly brilliant letter to the Vatican to the effect of: gee, Boss, you're absolutely right in condemning that damn heresy. Good thing nobody around HERE ever believed anything like THAT.

    <
  • brent on February 13, 2012 2:38 PM:

    TheAmericanist says:
    A bunch of irrelevant garbage designed to hide the fact that he/she doesn't know what the hell he/she is talking about

    So, just to clarify your particular confusion and inability to follow your own logic,

    1) when you said, that no one disputes that the original rule forced a violation of religious doctrine, I pointed out that this was not the case. In fact there were many, including many prominent Catholics, that disputed just that. They did not believe this rule forced anything of the sort.

    2) You suggested, despite the fact that you were the one that brought general agreement into the conversation, that this was irrelevant. the Catholic hierarchy alone decides what whether a rule constitutes a violation of Catholic doctrine.

    3) I suggested that, if that is the case, and I certainly don't concede that it is, then nothing has changed. The Catholic bishops continue to insist that what the President is proposing forces a violation of Catholic doctrine. Thus, if literally anything you have said is true or correct (and of course we are all aware that that is a big if) then nothing has changed at all. According to the only authority that matters on whether the proposed rules infringe on religious liberty, then we are in exactly the same place where we started.

    But what we all know, and which you have consistently pretended is not the case, this was never about religious freedom, at least not mostly. It was always about cultural politics and the people who started this fight wanting to 1) hurt progressive politicians and 2) make it as difficult as possible to treat reproductive concerns as a health issue in the new health care system. But by all means, keep beating that drum about anti-Catholicism. That argument is a real winner.

  • Oregoncharles on February 13, 2012 2:40 PM:

    Ironically, I think Americanist is at least partly right.

    You really don't get to be both a liberal and a fully practicing Catholic anymore, because the CC is part of the Religious Right. Oddly, as someone pointed out above, that only applies to sexual or end-of-life issues, but those are the ones the Bishops care about. They make no effort to impose their views about, say, war on all of us.

    But they do take a very Inquisitorial attitude about sex and death - Inquisitorial and un-American. They also, as Lauren Marinaro very effectively pointed out, use their "charities" as instruments to impose their dogma on all of us. So Americanist is right: we really do want them to shut up and go away, and we have little sympathy with someone like Dionne who is stuck in between. Their history of utter moral defectiveness only adds to that attitude.

    Fortunately, the Bishops are SO morally defective they can't even get the PR right, adding to Dionne's problems. And they're so obviously clueless and heartless that very few Catholics respect them, making their political power much less than it appears.

    Which makes we wonder why the administration bothered to placate them; but if they can do it without yielding the essentials, I'll grant them grudging acquiescence. Stick it to the insurance companies - nobody'll complain about that.

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 2:43 PM:

    Is anyone else sick of hearing about the fucking Americanist heresy every five minutes? TheAmericanist is like someone's demented uncle whose only connection to lucidity is some obscure and irrelevant bullshit, so he brings it up every 5 seconds.

  • cmdicely on February 13, 2012 2:48 PM:

    cmdicely, that may be true with abortion, but it is not true for contraception.

    I have no idea what "that" you are talking about.

    The lack of institutional integrity simply cannot be overlooked: Dionne can afford to choose the side of the bishops because he works for WaPo where no doubt contraception has been provided for a long time.

    Somehow, I don't think that where he works is particularly relevant to why Dionne has little at personal stake in the contraception debate.

    But Catholic families over the last two generation have voted for contraception with their actions, which is why most have no more than two or three well-spaced children.

    Yes, on contraception, just like abortion, there is ample evidence that the American Catholic laity has views and practical actions that are distributed very much like the general public.

    The likelihood that a majority of these pro-contraception people will view the issue as an abstract matter of hierarchical prerogative to maintain religious liberty borders on nil.

    You mistake my argument. I'm not arguing at all about how they will rationally, analytically view this policy debate. I am arguing about what high-level narratives that operate on a non-analytical level the particular approach might reinforce.

    [theAmericanist has been given a time-out. He's been given in-school detention and he won't be rejoining the class until this whole issue has been resolved. --Mod]

  • Mark on February 13, 2012 2:49 PM:

    So do I get a check from the govt. for my vasectomy? The stupidity and over-involvement in my life causes my blood pressure to go up, is the govt. going to pay for those pills? My insurance has gone up over $100 a month since this "affordable health care act" was crammed down our throats, is the added cost for free birth control going to be added to premiums? The more govt. involvement the higher prices go. If it wasn't in the constitution it was meant for states to address. I think the working people of America know how to run their lives than the pinheads in D.C. that would need to watch a video to learn to operate a shovel.

  • FlipYrWhig on February 13, 2012 2:49 PM:

    The Mormon newsstand selling coffee isn't the right parallel, because in that case the offensive activity is being enjoined directly, while here it's indirect. The leap, and it's an important one, is between a Catholic hospital that has to provide contraception on site, on the one hand, as opposed to having to buy into an insurance plan that its employees may use (not MUST use, obvs) to buy contraception.

    The Catholic bishops are essentially claiming that it's still their money even after it's been pooled, exchanged, re-pooled, and re-exchanged -- the "fungibility" arguments. That's not the way we generally understand whose money it is after our employer pays us. If the Andrea Dworkin Foundation barred an employee from using her retirement fund to buy p0rn, the amount of sympathy for that view, especially on the right, would be, shall we say, limited.

  • Oregoncharles on February 13, 2012 2:50 PM:

    "That attempting to drive Catholic institutions out of civic participation (hospitals, charities, schools) was likely to cost Democrats Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Florida " -

    Dubious claim; even more dubious that they really would withdraw from "civic participation," because those institutions are their only source of real power - to say nothing of money, in the case of the hospitals.Sa

  • FlipYrWhig on February 13, 2012 2:53 PM:

    I wrote "enjoined" earlier, but I think I meant "compelled.". Stupid words.

  • cmdicely on February 13, 2012 2:55 PM:

    Is anyone else sick of hearing about the fucking Americanist heresy every five minutes?

    I'd be less sick of it if it was (a) relevant to the conversation, or (b) bore some relation to what Leo XIII actually condemned as "Americanism".

  • stan chaz on February 13, 2012 2:55 PM:

    was raised as a Catholic....or perhaps lowered. :-) Whatever. But seriously: I strongly disagree with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops statement, which denounces President Barack Obama's attempts at compromise as "needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions". On the contrary, the Bishops comments are themselves a needless religious intrusion upon the proper and legitimate functions of government...functions that serve to promote women's rights, equality, and fairness for ALL. No one is coming into our Churches and trying to tell parishioners what to believe. BUT If the Bishops want to start businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the rules. Just because a religious group in America claims to believe something, we cannot excuse them from obeying the law in the PUBLIC arena, based on that belief. They can legally attempt to change the law, not to deny it outright. And if they want to plunge overtly into politics from the pulpit, then they should give up their tax-exempt status. Did I miss something, or when it comes to the "sanctity of life", is every single righteous Catholic still a card carrying conscientious objector, refusing to take up arms, totally against the death penalty, and against contraception in all its forms? Oh well, hypocrisy is at the heart of politics, and politics masquerading as religion even more so. This country is an invigorating mixture of all the diversity that life has to offer, drawing its strength FROM that diversity. We need to work together to preserve, enrich, and strengthen this unique experiment - NOT to tear it down with poisonous, paralyzing, and un-Christian demonization of each other.

  • FlipYrWhig on February 13, 2012 3:09 PM:

    @stan, even the phrase "religious institutions" in that statement begs the question. Is a hospital, school, or charitable organization a "religious institution" the same way a church proper is? A lot of Catholics, including Dionne, want to say, yes, they're all branches from the same tree, the Catholic mission in the world. But I don't think American law and politics are set up for that. Like I said earlier, the degree to which a religious institution is religious is a highly debatable topic, and it appears that liberal Catholics of the Dionne variety draw the line in a different place than secular liberals do -- but even they know there's a line, because they know that there's no such thing as a Catholic hardware store chain with similar powers to restrict what reproductive services the company plan covers. But the bishops, it seems, think there is such a thing, and Republicans want to follow them down that primrose path.

  • brent on February 13, 2012 3:29 PM:

    So do I get a check from the govt. for my vasectomy?

    What do government checks have to do with anything? Is someone supposed to be getting a check for birth control? Do you have the faintest idea of what you are talking about?

    My insurance has gone up over $100 a month since this "affordable health care act" was crammed down our throats

    Thats interesting because for most other people the growth in health care premiums has actually slowed considerably over the last year. I guess you are just one unlucky dude especially considering that aside from a few minor provisions, very little of the Affordable Health Care act has even gone into effect.

    The more govt. involvement the higher prices go.

    Citation please.

    If it wasn't in the constitution it was meant for states to address.

    So is your truism about government involvement no longer applicable if it involves State rather than Federal Government?

  • Josef K on February 13, 2012 3:31 PM:

    From Mark at 2:49 PM:

    So do I get a check from the govt. for my vasectomy? The stupidity and over-involvement in my life causes my blood pressure to go up, is the govt. going to pay for those pills? My insurance has gone up over $100 a month since this "affordable health care act" was crammed down our throats, is the added cost for free birth control going to be added to premiums? The more govt. involvement the higher prices go. If it wasn't in the constitution it was meant for states to address. I think the working people of America know how to run their lives than the pinheads in D.C. that would need to watch a video to learn to operate a shovel.

    Dear gods, is this was our discourse has been reduced to? Men griping about their various aches and pains?

    And besides you're in the wrong place, friend Mark.
    FreeRepublic.com and Redstate.com aren't even linked here, so I've no idea how you blundered in. But please, feel free to blunder out again.

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 3:32 PM:

    "crammed down our throats"

    You should get that checked out.

    "If it wasn't in the constitution it was meant for states to address."

    14th amendment, incorporation doctrine, 9th amendment, 200 years of constitutional jurisprudence, etc. etc.

  • Ted Frier on February 13, 2012 3:34 PM:

    Kilgore nails the Catholic attitude exactly when he says: While “pluralism” depends on mutual respect, it does not require deference to other people’s private authority figures."

    EJ Dionne is a hero of mine but I too think he succumbs to the Catholic conceit that "bias" in our society means a failure on the part of others to think about Catholics and Catholic beliefs exactly as Catholics think about themselves.

    And I say this as a practicing Catholic who sometimes thinks its a demand for deference that we get from our own hierarchy who expect equal deference from us.

  • Tom Dibble on February 13, 2012 3:53 PM:


    A few thoughts.

    First, I don't see an open "morality" escape clause in any other legislation for any other thing. Scientology organizations have to pay for psychiatric coverage, even though that religion completely disagrees with it. Christian Science organizations have to pay for healthcare even though they object to 90% of it. Why are the Catholic Bishops so influential?

    Second, I don't see how an employer's morals matter one whit when it comes to healthcare coverage. The person who matters in coverage is not who held the funding dollar last, but who is in the exam room receiving services. No one ever said that Catholics would be forced to accept birth control. As societally unsound as the policy is, they can continue without birth control of any sort and instead burden the health care system 10,000x over when their pregnancy comes due. They can refuse service based on their moral values or any other reason. Why does it matter what their employer believes?

    Third, I think that if there is an exemption for an insurer that they can not provide preventative care then they need to be held liable for all accrued costs. In other words, if Sally is working for Catholic University, and that University doesn't cover contraception on moral grounds, they must fully fund neonatal care and childcare expenses, even if Sally leaves her job at Catholic University after having gotten pregnant. Otherwise you introduce the dreaded "moral hazard".

  • schtick on February 13, 2012 4:01 PM:

    Let Catholic priests get married and have children of their own and we won't be having this discussion.

  • Barbara on February 13, 2012 4:05 PM:

    Actuarially, it's hard to know how it all shakes out, but insurers tend to hire very smart people. The thing is, the population that tends to use contraception is generally speaking comprised of "good risks," that is, under 40, attentive to their health (you need to visit a physician to get BC), and if they are using OC, less likely to smoke or have blood pressure or other cardiovascular risks (contraindicated for OC). So if, for instance, they are more likely to join as a dependent in their spouse's coverage (because it's not through a Catholic organization), the Catholic employer really will end up paying more on average becuase it made its pool sicker. Maternity costs are just part of the equation, although a very real part.

  • Tom Dibble on February 13, 2012 4:11 PM:

    @theAmericanist - "(patiently) The original HHS rule would have forced religious institutions to violate doctrine, hire and serve only those of their faith, or close. No one disputes this."

    Um (raises hand) I do. And, as a matter of fact, almost all Catholic Universities (who presently fund contraceptives) and a large number of other Catholic agencies and institutions who employ non-Catholics also dispute that assertion.

    The Catholic Church has no doctrine declaring that their money can not be used to "sin". It is not a sin in the Catholic Church to shop on Sunday, even though the act of shopping on the Sabbath requires that someone NOT be Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy in order to exchange your money for their goods. (Sidebar: in contrast, this is indeed seen as a personal "sin" or rather the equivalent thereof in the LDS Church)

    Similarly, it is NOT doctrinal that allowing one's money to indirectly fund medical services which are seen as sins by the Church is itself a sin. Enabling has NEVER been deemed a sin in the Catholic Church.

    Now, it IS doctrinal that no Catholic woman should ever be partaking of any sort of birth control more reliable than "rhythm and pray". No pills, no IUDs, no condoms, no "pulling out", etc. The fact that 49% of Catholics disobey this order (the remaining 51% are 50% men and 1% "good catholic girls") doesn't negate the fact that birth control is in fact antidoctrinal in the Catholic Church. BUT THAT IS THE INDIVIDUAL'S SIN, NOT THE INSURER OR THE DOCTOR OR THE EMPLOYER.

    So, no, "No one disputes this" is abjectly false. It is completely untrue that the original ruling would force Catholic-funded non-Church institutions - MANY OF WHICH ALREADY FUND CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE OF THEIR OWN ACCORD!!! - to violate doctrine or materially change how they hire or operate.

  • KarenJG on February 13, 2012 4:20 PM:

    I think Obama was on firmer Constitutional grounds with the original policy: All secular-purpose companies must comply with validly enacted laws, full stop. Instead, he tried to appease the unappeasable by exempting *some* secularly purposed companies from the law, because their "owners" pitched a fit. And, predictably, getting one concession simply encouraged them to demand more. And, so, as some of us predicted at the time, Obama's appeasement has simply served to open a giant can of steroidal worms, which have now escaped into the wild to threaten women everywhere.

  • Barbara on February 13, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Karen, I agree with you, and if the new rule ends up interfering with access, I for one, would be willing to challenge it on just those grounds.

    But the thing is, it's a big if as to how many employers are even going to ask for the exemption. For one thing, insurance regulation (and premium development) is a complicated business, and refusing to cover contraception might kick a group into a higher risk category -- because underwriting looks at both the demographics of the group and the demographics of the pool vis a vis the benefits that are being sought. This is where the bishops (and a lot of other people) are simply not understanding why it is that, far from "subsidizing" contraception, more likely, contracepting women are subsidizing the godlier but more expensive lifestyles of other people in the pool. I can't say this definitively, but I suspect that many Catholic hospitals and universities have no intention of changing their benefits and will keep their heads down on this one. I am sure they regret this brouhaha as much as Obama does. And that's probably why Sister K agreed right away with the compromise (in addition to the fact that Obama had already consulted with her and knew she would agree).

  • KarenJG on February 13, 2012 5:07 PM:

    Barbara, in practice, I agree with you - in terms of access, what matters is whether employers actually try to avail themselves of this exemption.

    But in theory, I'm concerned about the precedent that some "religious objections" are deserving of accommodation under the law with the potential result that other "religious objections" may demand the same kind of "accommodation." Of course, this isn't a new concern for me - I've been against all but the most narrowly-drawn "conscience clauses" (i.e., only for religious organizations acting for a religious purpose) for just that reason.

  • Barbara on February 13, 2012 5:13 PM:

    No, you are exactly right in my view. Giving an exemption that is clearly grounded in a specific credal pronouncement violates the establishment clause, IMHO. This was actually understood by Congress in the prior "conscience clause" protections, which is why one of them is extremely broad (and unworkable) and the other seeks specifically to protect both sides of the coin (yes, a Catholic hospital taking federal funds isn't allowed to penalize a doctor who provides abortion services in another setting). This is also why Obama could not "change" the rule without guaranteeing equal access (and protection) of women working for Catholic employers. I am sure whoever was giving legal advice was very clear on this: either scrap the mandate altogether or guarantee that everyon benefits. In between based on religious views is highly problematic, even if it would be convenient.

    Most of the people bloviating on this issue have no idea what the Constitution requires.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 5:37 PM:

    1) Dibble: As noted before, not all "Catholic" institutions actually ARE Catholic. Those which are, are generally owned and operated by dioceses or religious orders. There are many which are not, but were once -- notably colleges, some of which operate hospitals, which were founded as "Catholic" institutions but for various reasons (orders run out of money, usually) are no longer under the control of the church.

    I pointed out they continue to be covered by the HHS mandate. You shouldn't confuse them with the religious institutions threatened by the HHS.

    2) Barbara and Karen: you are learnedly going back and forth AS IF you're the Supreme Court. You're not. No one makes decisions based on what you think is, or is not Constitutional. (I suggest all of you guys take that dose of humility, now and again: keeps things clear when somebody with a better perspective explains what DOES affect those decisions.)

    3) What counts here, is that the original HHS mandate would have forced religious institutions to violate their doctrine (or hire and serve only those of their faith, or close altogether). That you guys keep insisting that religious institutions which hire and serve people of other faiths are no longer religious institutions doesn't make it so -- it has not been true in the entire 200+ history of the US, and it's not true now. I dunno why it is so difficult for you guys to distinguish between your own opinions about what OUGHT to be true, and what actually is true. You don't have think something is good, to recognize that it's real.

    4) I've noted for more than a week around here that the original HHS proposal was a political killer, to scoffs and whoops and insults and gobsmacking ignorance about public opinion: but as it happens, the President did exactly what I predicted he would do.

    5) So it is very, very odd how you guys have reacted: a string of personal insults (and, puh-leeze, there's a difference between what I do, e.g., "Brent is an asshole", then making an argument that indicates WHY he's an asshole, and folks who post with my monicker without engaging any argument -- cuz they can't) and the mods deciding that, gee, can't have somebody who knows what he's talking about posting here.

    6) That's why I told the Cardinal Gibbons story -- it's a pretty exact parallel. The Pope in his day condemned a heresy that (Dice's ignorance notwithstanding) many American Catholics believed then -- and believe now, much the way you guys insist that Obama was right when he put November at risk with the original HHS proposal. Some of Gibbon's flock at the time (notably Bishop Ireland) wanted to go to the Vatican and fight about it.

    But in a response that was both very American -- and very Catholic -- Gibbons did what you guys should do, responding to Obama (and his critics): since he turned on a dime to reverse the HHS attack on religious liberty, take Gibbons' lesson and agree -- yup, that was a terrible thing. Good thing none of us ever did anything like it.

    7) See, by insisting that there was nothing wrong with the HHS attack on religion, you're NOT taking the high ground that Obama cleared for you. You really DO want to drive religious institutions out of civic life -- and somehow, that's more important to you than women's health.

  • Doug on February 13, 2012 6:17 PM:

    Sorry tA, but there's nothing inherently "religious" about a hospital open to the general public or a university that accepts students from any/all faiths or a charity that assists people who need help regardless of their faith, if any. If the bishops wish to forego ANY Federal/state/local funds AND operate solely for the benefit of Catholic communicants, THEN they can make all the silly rules they wish.
    Until that happens, I refer you to Tom Dibble's post @ 4:21 PM and suggest you try to refute what he posted and NOT the strawmen you prefer. Good luck with that.
    By the way, you do know most of what you've been posting is either provably false? I especially like your ex cathedra announcement that the original HHS announcement would lose the election for Mr. Obama.
    I'm not certain where your finger is (or care), but I can safely assert that it's NOT on the "pulse of the nation"...

  • cmdicely on February 13, 2012 6:25 PM:

    Pope in his day condemned a heresy that (Dice's ignorance notwithstanding) many American Catholics believed then

    I've never said that Leo XIII didn't condemn a something described as "Americanism" (in fact, I've explicitly stated that he did), nor have I taken any position on how many American Catholics of the time believed in it.

    I have said that if one reads the actual condemnations, what was actually condemned at that time wasn't what you describe as the substantive content of "Americanism". Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, which was the vehicle by which Leo XIII condemned certain aspects of "Americanism", did not address the idea that you keep presenting as the essence of the heresy of Americanism, "insisting that civics has a moral value in itself"; what was condemned as Americanism was summarized thus in the encyclical:

    The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.

  • John on February 13, 2012 6:49 PM:

    I condemn the actions of the Catholic Bishops. I've gone through 12 years of Catholic school and have relatives in the bureaucracy. I've rarely seen an instance where the church proper cares much about people, but they sure do take offense when their power or public image is threatened.

    In this case the Bishops want to extend their power at the expense of women who might suffer severe health problems or death because of the lack of access to birth control.

  • brent on February 13, 2012 7:43 PM:

    What counts here, is that the original HHS mandate would have forced religious institutions to violate their doctrine (or hire and serve only those of their faith, or close altogether).

    Once again, I think its important to point out that the fact that this is almost the entirety of the matter in dispute, 1) whether the HHS mandate would force any such thing and 2) if that is indeed what counts here, is entirely lost on you. Your obtuseness in nothing new and honestly, its just kind of pathetic. But for the record, these are questions in dispute and they were not and have not been settled. The fact that you simply keep asserting otherwise is entirely unpersuasive especially since you have completely contradicted yourself on the basic premise of your argument in this very thread.

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 8:52 PM:

    (snicker) And this time, shall I use crayons? I can't make it much simpler.

    I pointed out that the original HHS proposal would have forced religious institutions to violate doctrine, employ and serve only their faith, or close.

    Since the third -- "close" --stems from the first two, I won't bother to prove it.

    The second -- "employ and serve only their faith" -- succinctly states the actual proposed exemption that was limited to churches performing explicitly religious functions with people of that faith. So obviously that ain't what you guys think you're disputing, either.

    Which leaves "forced religious institutions to violate doctrine".

    I suppose you guys might still be so ignorant as to insist that contraception does NOT violate Catholic doctrine, but I shall give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Which leaves "forced religious institutions..."

    1) Dibble says: "almost all Catholic Universities (who presently fund contraceptives) and a large number of other Catholic agencies and institutions who employ non-Catholics also dispute... [violate doctrine]."

    I've pointed out a buncha times that not all "Catholic" institutions actually ARE Catholic, e.g., Webster College, whose revolutionary president Jacqueline Webster just died. The specifically Catholic institutions we're talking about are those owned and operated by dioceses (and thus under the direct control of Bishops, the College of Cardinals and the Pope), or religious orders (under the control of the heirarchy of the order, and then through the Curia to the Pope).

    2) Doug says: "there's nothing inherently "religious" about a hospital open to the general public or a university that accepts students from any/all faiths or a charity that assists people who need help regardless of their faith, if any. If the bishops wish to forego ANY Federal/state/local funds AND operate solely for the benefit of Catholic communicants, THEN they can make all the silly rules they wish..."

    Which proves all three: violate doctrine, employ and serve only the faithful, or close. You guys really oughta at least NOTICE when you prove what you're claiming to refute. It'd save time.

    Finally, on what the Americanist heresy actually was:

    3) Dice, you really ought to know better by now. You quoted the wrong passage from the letter. This is the right one:

    "These dangers, viz., the confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world, have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church's teaching office than ever before, lest people become unmindful both of conscience and of duty.

    We, indeed, have no thought of rejecting everything that modern industry and study has produced; so far from it that we welcome to the patrimony of truth and to an ever-widening scope of public well-being whatsoever helps toward the progress of learning and virtue. Yet all this, to be of any solid benefit, nay, to have a real existence and growth, can only be on the condition of recognizing the wisdom and authority of the Church."

    But of course, we've long since established that literacy is not your strong suit, so understanding history is obviously beyond you.

    The Americanist heresy's roots go back to John Carrol's refusal to condemned all heretics when he became the first American Bishop (as had been required), because that would have meant condemning George Washington personally (he was a Mason). They made him a bishop anyway. It grew with Father Hecker's lack of enthusiasm for Marian philosophy when he revived Catholicism among the German stock in the Midwest (which is what led directly to the English-language Baltimore Catechism). The convert Orestes Brownson, who coined the word "Americaniza

  • theAmericanist on February 13, 2012 8:54 PM:

    Er, Jacqueline Wexler. Webster College, later at Hunter.

  • cmdicely on February 13, 2012 9:40 PM:

    Dice, you really ought to know better by now. You quoted the wrong passage from the letter

    I quoted the one which summarized the problem, which was exactly what I intended. The one you quote also doesn't support your characterization of the essence of what was being condemned (it doubly fails, first because it is not the overall summary but a discussion of one aspect of the problem, so even if it corresponded to your characterization it would only support the characterization you made as one of many aspects of the heresy rather than its heart, and second because even there what is condemned is not the idea that civics has a moral value but that equation of license with liberty (i.e., the idea that freedom absent any moral constraint is desirable.)

    But of course, we've long since established that literacy is not your strong suit, so understanding history is obviously beyond you.

    Hey, you're the one that can't even understand the excerpt you posted yourself. Complaining about other people's literacy or understanding of history probably isn't something you should do.

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 9:47 PM:

    Spending all day barfing up paragraphs and paragraphs of sophistry and unearned disdain without really providing any content. Impressive, Americanist.

  • Anti-Americanist on February 13, 2012 9:50 PM:

    In case you guys are still considering banning the Americanist:

    He bullied some guy at Crooked Timber until they had to ban him, and there was another story going around about him posting people's phone numbers at ThinkProgress or something. Anyway: eminently banworthy.

  • Doug on February 13, 2012 10:34 PM:

    Apparently tA can't (won't?) read.
    Tom Dibble explained, in two clear and concise posts, exactly how Catholic Universities and Catholic hospitals and Catholic charities DO provide HCI that includes contraceptive coverage and that in doing so they are NOT committing any "sin".
    By tA's reasoning, such as it is, the Catholic Church would ber committing a sin if it, IN ANY WAY, provided funds for an activity that Catholic doctrine bans. Sorry tA, you're arguing for a status for the Catholic Church that hasn't existed since, at least, the 14th century.
    28 states have given the lie to your assertion that NO Catholic institution can provide HCI that includes contraception. Those institutions seem not to have been either driven from the civic activity OR been condemned by the bishops for their actions. In other words, the very people you say are solely attempting to protect their religious sensibilities have ALREADY agreed to participate in the very action YOU say their doctrine prohibits. Can't have it both ways, tA. Either the bishops are merely mixing in politics, which seems to be the general consensus, OR, for some strange reason, they have decided NOT to take action against all those Catholic institutions in those 28 states. Which is it?
    By the arguments tA has so far proposed then he must also agree that the Catholic Church should pay NO taxes of ANY sort into ANY Federal, State or local general funds? After all, some Federal and State monies go FROM the general funds to cover the cost of executing convicted criminals.
    And the wars, don't forget the wars...

  • Andy Olsen on February 14, 2012 12:41 AM:

    Nice job, Ed. Well put. I hope the part about us allowing it refers to the policymakers. I'm a bit riled up over the suggestion anyone needs to allow the Catholic hierarchy influence in their medical decisions.

  • Maine Independent on February 14, 2012 9:41 AM:

    Tax the churches, including mine. Why should the agnostics and athiests subsidize the child rapists? It is a violation of THEIR rights. Time to investigate, charge, bring to trial, convict and imprison the guys in the red robes. Enough is enough. E.J. Dionne and the other so called liberal (I call them, very confused about reality) Catholics should just shut up.

  • T. Halkowski on February 14, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Well said Ed!

  • theAmericanist on February 14, 2012 12:18 PM:

    LOL -- let the ephemeral record show that Anti is lying.

    There was a discussion, not unlike this one, at Crooked Timber in which one poster complained that I was harsh. Others actually engaged the points I was making, so I argued with them. The guy who complained I was harsh brought up his personal history (child abuse), which I noted wasn't actually helpful to a discussion about other matters. I kept arguing with the other guy -- which is when CT banned me. Small loss on either side, I suppose.

    As I said, not unlike this thread, with the mods deciding that Anti is okay but I'm not.

    I have never -- NOT FUCKING ONCE -- invaded anyone's privacy, posted anybody's phone #s online, etc, although several folks have posted mine, which they got off a website for a client. I use theAmericanist as a sort of avatar, but I don't pretend that I'm not the person behind him/her/it. When somebody posted my phone #, I pointed out that, now and then, people who desperately need help call me on that # -- I've had two people threaten suicide, which I noted struck me as suggesting that posting my phone # online was not a legit response.

    So Anti is simply lying. I note the mods don't suggest Anti should be banned.

    As for Doug: honest, it'd help if you could read.

    Dibble claimed that "Catholic" institutions do two things -- one, some supported the original HHS mandate, and second, some provide health insurance covering contraception, notably in states that mandate it.

    Each time this claim has been made, I've noted that it's not actually true. The primary distinction is that not every "Catholic" institution is actually Catholic.

    Those which are owned and operated by dioceses and religious orders ARE Catholic, in that they are directly under the control of the Church, which goes up an established heirarchy to the Vatican.

    There are a # in the US (as well as other countries) that are not. Some were originally founded by dioceses or religious orders, and there are some which were collections of such institutions (like the huge health care corporation Catholic West, now known as Dignity), but many have for various reasons ceased being "Catholic" in the precise sense the word has to be used in this connection. For example, the Catholic Health Association which was decisive in its support for the ACA condemned the original HHS mandate, and has said nice things about the President's repudiation of it.

    But in neither case is it controlled by a diocese, nor a religious order.

    Tell us, Doug: do you often have trouble with such distinctions? Perhaps you've noticed that you have two hands, each (presumably) with five fingers -- but one is your "left" and the other is the "right" and they are NOT the same hand?

    And a note to the mods: In this thread alone, my privacy has been invaded (I didn't bring my name into this), I have been slandered AND you've threatened to ban me -- for what?

    I've said nothing but the simple truth: you guys just don't like it that, by endorsing the original HHS mandate to force religious institutions to violate their doctrine, hire and serve only those of their faith, or close, you really ARE trying to drive religious institutions out of civic life -- a revolutionary change in American culture and law.

    I've also pointed out that this is a political mistake of the first magnitude, and I cited as evidence both BEFORE and after it happened, what has become the President's repudiation of that position.

    In literally hundreds of posts over nearly a month, you guys have consistently tried to argue that you couldn't possibly be doing that -- and yet, every time you're challenged, the following pattern occurs: first, somebody (like Dibble) insists that there are, so! some Catholic institutions which do what the government wants to force all religious institutions to do.

    Then I or others point out that, in fact,

  • pseudonymous in nc on February 14, 2012 4:18 PM:

    It's a generational thing: Like Matthews and O'Donnell, Dionne is a male Boomer Catholic from a regional Catholic powerbase, whose life spans Vatican II and Humanae Vitae, and the rise of Catholic politicians to national prominence. To suggest that Dionne speaks for younger generations, or for the rising number of American Catholics whose lineage is from Latin America rather than Europe, would be a mistake.

  • pseudonymous in nc on February 14, 2012 4:40 PM:

    In this thread alone, my privacy has been invaded (I didn't bring my name into this)

    Might you have considered mentioning that you're a lobbyist who receives money from the American Hospitals Association, among others?

  • Anti-Americanist on February 14, 2012 5:52 PM:

    It's funny--normally pseudonymous's revelation would destroy tA's credibility, but his whole approach read like paid shill anyway, combined with an inability to reason, so he didn't have any credibility to start with.