Catholic compromise isn’t

Obama, hypocrite in chief at the National Prayer Breakfast, and orchestrator of a bodyguard of lies
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Obama’s Catholic compromise will satisfy only the gullible and those in on the scam. But that Obama even made it is a win for the clergy. The clergy can still rally one another, and their flocks, against an obvious threat to religious freedom. Now they must guard against letting a politician fool them.

What the Catholic compromise does

The Catholic compromise was a hasty answer from the man now holding office as President, to hundreds of angry voters of all faiths. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the new health care reform law would force any Catholic hospital, school, college, or university to give its women employees contraceptives if they asked, free of charge. Contraceptives include “birth control pills,” condoms, and anything else that stops a woman from falling pregnant. But it also includes drugs that stop a human egg, once fertile, from implanting in the womb. In other words, some of these drugs cause abortion, and the woman taking them doesn’t even know it.

The Roman Catholic Church has long held that contraception is a sin. Everyone knows this. When Sebelius said the above, Archbishop (and Cardinal-designate) Timothy Dolan wrote an open letter of protest and asked every bishop to have every priest read this out loud to their congregants. (He also tried to have Catholic chaplains in the Army read this letter, but the Army stopped that. It was the first time that the Army had ever interfered with what a chaplain said during a divine service.)

Archbishop Dolan was not the only one. Patrick J. Buchanan spoke of a “war against religious freedom.” Then several Democratic Representatives and Senators raised their own voices. That convinced Obama that people of faith would not roll over. So today he told the country that women employees of Catholic hospitals, universities, and other charities would still get their contraceptives, but the insurers, and not the charities themselves, would pay for it.

This, then, is the Catholic compromise. Arnie Parnes at The Hill called this a “retreat.” But three dozen Catholic religious scholars had one word for it: unacceptable.

This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy. It is certainly no compromise. The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust. Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.

“An accounting trick!” cried Michael Brendan Dougherty at Business Insider. Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ-4) agreed. So do other analysts. The problem: if insurers have to pay for these goods and services, they will charge higher premiums. So the charities will have to pay for it anyway, and will not see a line item for it on their bill.

Why Obama had to act

Barack Obama: Catholic compromise will fool no one

Barack H. Obama. Photo: Pete Souza, January 13, 2009

Obama’s Catholic compromise thus satisfied no one who stopped to look at it. But because Obama offered it at all, the clergy are not totally weak. If Obama had nothing to fear from Catholic and other clergy, he would have said nothing today. In fact he might have said something far more dire.

He might, for instance, have said something along the lines of what Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said: that religious freedom is an “excuse” to “take something away” from women. Or perhaps something like what Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said:

Now, sadly, there is an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women. It is being waged in the name of religious liberty.

Note: this same Barbara Boxer once said that a newborn child is not a person until the mother brings it home.

Obama would like to do more than that. He would like to amend the Constitution and edit out many of our liberties. The right to keep and bear arms is one. Religious liberty is another. But Obama cannot be so brazen. Hence the Catholic compromise.

The Catholic compromise should fool no one, and likely will fool no one. But it shows that the clergy can still act for good in this country. They should act even more forcefully in this election. This contraceptive controversy should put all clergymen on their guard.

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Editor-in-chief at | + posts

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

39 Responses to Catholic compromise isn’t

  1. Fergus Mason says:

    “Kathleen Sebelius said that the new health care reform law would force any Catholic hospital, school, college, or university to give its women employees contraceptives if they asked, free of charge.”

    No she didn’t, and you know that perfectly well. All the law would have done is ban organisations from excluding contraception from their employees’ health plans. The way you lot talk you’d think the aim was to force nums to stand on the street corner handing out condoms.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      That might come next.

      And that you feel the need so to distort the historical record, shows that you, also, prefer hypocrisy to brass in this regard.

      Otherwise you would be calling for precisely the Constitutional amendment that we both know that the man now holding office as President would love to pass. Namely:

      “The first article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”

      • Fergus Mason says:

        “That might come next.”

        Don’t be silly; of course it won’t. All the law was meant to do was apply the same standards to all employers, which seems reasonable to me. In any case, the compromise means that religious organisations can no longer disadvantage their female employees by forcing their beliefs down their throats, so it works for me.

        Why on Earth would Obama want the first amendment repealed and what could ever make you think I’d support him if he did? It’s what keeps Bronze Age mythology out of a nuclear-armed government.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Replay the video of Obama’s speech. “Free contraceptives.” He said it. This is no time for denials. Not from him, not from Secretary Sebelius, and not from you.

          If you don’t like the policies of any given employer, then do not seek to have them engage you. Go find some fellow atheist to engage you, and leave the rest of us free to associate—or not—as we see fit.

          Why on earth would Obama want the First Amendment repealed? So that he could deem the free exercise of any religion ipso facto evidence that someone is non compos mentis and send someone to take us away, ha-haa. And what makes me think you would support that? That’s easy. You do think that being religious is ipso facto evidence that someone is non compos mentis and would like nothing better than to send someone to take us away, ha-haa.

          http://www.youtube.com/embed/l-lJZiqZaGA

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Free contraceptives.”

            Yes – as part of the employees’ health plan. NOT provided by the religious organisation.

            “If you don’t like the policies of any given employer, then do not seek to have them engage you.”

            On the other hand, if you don’t like contraceptives don’t use them yourself, but don’t have the arrogance to force your beliefs on others.

            The problem in the USA right now isn’t that theists are a persecuted minority, and all claims to that effect are either the product of delusions or outright lies. The problem is that THEISTS are trying to violate the first amendment by bringing their religious beliefs into government.

            A likely result of the compromise, by the way, is that the insurance companies will just make employers pay more for health plans that exclude contraception, to compensate for having to provide it free to those on such plans. The bigots who insist on those plans are going to end up paying anyway. They’d have been better off just accepting the law.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            No one ever proposed to enjoin, arrest, or use any other legal force to stop women from obtaining contraceptives, at their own expense.

            “Not provided by the religious organization” is another Enron-style accounting trick.

            And again you persist in distorting the issue. And again that is a sign of the inherent weakness of your position.

            You do not dare be as brazen as Richard Dawkins has been.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “No one ever proposed to enjoin, arrest, or use any other legal force to stop women from obtaining contraceptives, at their own expense.”

            The key words being “at their own expense.” They basically said “YOU can’t get this medical care paid for because WE don’t like it.” As I said, the moral right to oppose contraception starts and ends at choosing to not use it yourself. As soon as you start pressuring other people you’re not an advocate of religious freedom any more; you’re just a cheap fascist.

            “Not provided by the religious organization” is another Enron-style accounting trick.”

            No, it’s a simple statement of fact. Religious organisations were not being asked to provide contraception; they were just being asked to give their employees the same standard of health care as everyone else gets. Or would get, if the USA had a functioning health system.

            “You do not dare be as brazen as Richard Dawkins has been.”

            Huh? What are you talking about?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Richard Dawkins went so far as to say that any parent who raised a child in his faith was guilty of child abuse.

            I’ll say this for Mr. Dawkins. He’s honest.

            Which you are not.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Richard Dawkins went so far as to say that any parent who raised a child in his faith was guilty of child abuse.”

            He did, and I agree 100%. Children should be left to make their own minds up about religion when they reach adulthood, instead of being pumped full of nonsense by people they trust.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Now you’re being honest. You would have us dissemble on the founding history of the planet, and to wear your blinders. We will not.

            Now come and take us away, ha-haa.

            If you think you can.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “You would have us dissemble on the founding history of the planet”

            The history of the planet is a matter for science, not religion. Children can learn it in school, from qualified people. They don’t need to be taught rubbish about talking snakes and floating zoos.

          • Panegg says:

            I find it amusing how the commenting quickly went from contraceptives to “Obama’s going to repeal the First Amendment” and “haha you’re just like Dawkins!” comments. Either address other comments or don’t respond.

            That said, it’s all about fairness. And irony, don’t forget that. People are saying it’s intrusion of “Big Government” to impose its will on others, but the same could be said on these religious organizations trying to impose their will on their employees. Contraception doesn’t always apply to women, either; in terms of medical NEED, men sometimes require a vasectomy, which would also discouraged (or however it’d be declared). There are sometimes medical needs for them or else quality of life for some would be lessened. How would it feel to hear from your employer that you can’t have a better life because THEY don’t believe you should?

            I don’t understand how it’s such a big deal when 98% or more of all Catholics practice contraception anyway. Just because the Heads of the Church (most if not all male, telling women what to do with their bodies? REALLY?) aren’t successful in getting their followers to practice their beliefs, doesn’t mean they should impose their belief onto them.

            So, why is it “an obvious threat to religious freedom” when that “freedom” is to ultimately be able to deny rights to one’s own body?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            For one thing, the things you mentioned are goods, not fundamental rights. Your rights are to life, liberty and property, not to any particular goods or services.

            For another, we’re talking about members of a voluntary-consent relationship. If you don’t like the culture at any given workplace, don’t work there. Period. End of memo. Don’t come in and try to change the culture!

  2. Terry,

    Spot on with that summation in your commentary’s last paragraph! It reads, as follows:

    “…….The Catholic compromise should fool no one, and likely will fool no one. But it shows that the clergy can still act for good in this country. They should act even more forcefully in this election. This contraceptive controversy should put all clergymen on their guard.”

    For too long churches and their local pastors have been silent, while secular government shapes public policy, thereby molding (bad) morality to accommodate the ever encroaching downward trend of fallen human nature. In short, Christianity, as represented by modern churches, its leadership and flocks, has shirked their responsibilities, failing to be the “salt of the earth” and “exposing the deeds of darkness,” as commanded by Holy Scripture, the same Scripture they profess to trumpet. [Christian New Testament – Matthew 5:13,14 and Ephesians 5:11]

    For too many decades, Christian churches and their leadership have allowed themselves to be mum on moral issues while liberal politicians exercise their raw influence by abusing the public trust given them by election. Rather than carefully appropriating hard earned taxpayers’ money, irresponsible and unworthy politicians misuse those entrusted monies for their selfish and politically targeted interests, among which have been to feed the insatiable immoral desires of destructive culture bashing endeavors, such as Planned Parenthood’s subtle agenda of abortion genocide. And, all this, on the taxpayers’ dime, contrary to citizen individual consciences:

    “Abortion genocide:”

    http://conservapedia.com/Abortion_genocide

    Many others and I are most concerned about our nation’s preservation, according to the Declaration of Independence principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We could list other areas of government attempted political molestation where First Amendment rights are under assault. For instance – the whole area of the taxpayer funded Educational Industry, where government collusion with bully (type) unions, have mandated the godless instruction of evolution and the exclusion of opposing views.

    http://conservapedia.com/Public_education

  3. Fergus Mason quoted from the article:
    “Kathleen Sebelius said that the new health care reform law would force any Catholic hospital, school, college, or university to give its women employees contraceptives if they asked, free of charge.”

    Then Fergus insisted that statement was incorrect, explaining that:
    ‘All the law would have done is ban organisations from excluding contraception from their employees’ health plans.’

    Sincerely, what is the difference between the construction of those two statements? I’ve read both five times, and the only possible distinction I can detect is the ‘free of charge’ portion.

    If the Catholic charity employee is getting contraceptives from the health plan, which is paid for by the Catholic charity, then yes indeed, the nun is handing out condoms. That nun would rather go to jail, and she would be joined in spirit if not in physical presence, by others of serious and convicted faith.

    Thankfully, God gives us freedom of conscience to accept and comply willingly to His mandates. This administration is not so gracious.

    Best regards, Peter Warner.

    • Fergus Mason says:

      “then yes indeed, the nun is handing out condoms”

      Don’t talk rubbish. The people the law was aimed at helping are the employees of catholic-run hospitals, universities etc. Those employees aren’t necessarily catholic themselves, and in any case it’s irrelevant as the vast majority of catholics have no issues with contraception whatsoever.

      All that’s going to happen is that the insurance vultures will hike up the price of “catholic compliant” health plans, and if you think they’ll restrict the price increase to what the contraceptives are actually going to cost them I’ll have a pint of what you’ve been drinking.

      • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

        Then why do they go to work there? And how dare they try to change the company culture? If you don’t like the culture at any given company or other workplace, don’t work there. Full-stop. End of memo.

        • Fergus Mason says:

          “Then why do they go to work there?”

          You may not have noticed this, Terry, but it isn’t really the best economic climate to be voluntarily leaving your job.

          “And how dare they try to change the company culture?”

          This isn’t a company culture; it’s small-minded bigots trying to use financial means to impose their own outmoded views on their employees. The staff in catholic-run hospitals, universities etc are there to do jobs, not be socially engineered.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Have I got this straight? Generations of Keynesian and Marxian nonsense creates the “climate” where “voluntarily leaving your job” isn’t the best option, and those of us who opposed those policies are supposed to accommodate that?

            I don’t think so.

            And it is a company culture.

            Unless you are prepared to admit that what you really want is full government ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.

            A boss ought to have the right to run things at his company, as he sees fit, for any reason or no reason.

            Neither you nor TMNHOAPOTUS nor the SecGen of the UN nor anybody else has any authority to interfere with that. Or rather, I don’t recognize any such authority in natural law.

            What part of “voluntary consent” don’t you understand?

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Unless you are prepared to admit that what you really want is full government ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.”

            Don’t be stupid. Why would I want that? Unlike you, Terry, I’ve lived under a socialist government. Socialism is a disaster and has demonstrated its failure repeatedly, but it also bears no resemblance to Barack Obama’s policies. Most of the world regards him as centre-right and are correct to do so. Labelling him as a socialist is just ridiculous.

            “A boss ought to have the right to run things at his company, as he sees fit, for any reason or no reason.”

            Well, no. Not if it means unfairly penalising employees for no better reason than religious prejudice.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            If Barack H. Obama is a center-right politician, then I have a partnership stake in a bridge spanning the East River, and another partnership stake in another bridge spanning the Thames, both of which I should like to offer for sale.

            Now if the world regards him as you say, that is only because the world is socialistic.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “the world is socialistic”

            Oh yeah. It’s riddled with socialist countries. Like Germany, for example, that exports more than the USA does despite having a quarter of the population and unlike the USA doesn’t even have a nationalised post office. Or Luxemburg, with a 9% top income tax rate.

            You have no idea what socialism is.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Then how can the world regard Obama as center-right?

            Somebody’s lying here.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Somebody’s lying here.”

            No, I don’t think so; you’re just wrong.

            Obama is not a socialist. He’s not trying to nationalise the means of production, directly set prices and wages or plan what should be produced by industry and in what amounts (not that the USA has much industry left these days.) He’s not trying to set up anything that’s REALLY socialised medicine, as opposed to what you THINK is socialised medicine. He’s not calling for all the utility companies to be directly owned by the government. He is, in short, not socialist. He’s a bit too left-wing for my tastes, but he’s still centre-right.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Not yet.

            But that’s his plan.

            His behavior makes zero sense in any other context. The only reason he hasn’t moved faster is that he knows that no American would tolerate it if he did. He did try to impose what you call “real socialized medicine,” and couldn’t get the votes.

            And you say that your taste is not as left-wing as his? Now that comes as a profound shock. Enough to make me renew my offer to sell you my partnership stake in Tower Bridge.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “But that’s his plan.”

            Do you have any EVIDENCE for that claim?

            “His behavior makes zero sense in any other context.”

            Delusional. It makes perfect sense in the context of a fairly inept centre-right politician trying to sort out an economic crisis caused by deregulated banks.

            “He did try to impose what you call “real socialized medicine”

            No he didn’t.

            “Now that comes as a profound shock.”

            Probably. You can’t grasp the fact that being politically right-wing doesn’t automatically involve hating gays and thinking the world was created a thousand years after the Sumerians invented beer.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            You call yourself right-wing? Prove it. Thus far every pronouncement I’ve had out of you is left-wing.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “every pronouncement I’ve had out of you is left-wing.”

            Oh really? Such as?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Well, for one thing, you seem, from what you’ve said on the subject, to favor socialized medicine, and to favor the sort of government controls I oppose. Now maybe you distinguish socialized medicine from socialized everything-else. I don’t.

            I go further: I define socialism far more broadly than do you. Under socialism, the government owns or controls the major means of production, distribution, exchange, and/or transport.

            Perhaps you have heard this joke:

            Under socialism, if you have two cows, the government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

            Under communism (the most extreme form), the government takes both and gives you the milk.

            Under Italian-style fascism, the government takes both and sells you the milk.

            Under National Socialism, the government takes both and shoots you.

            Under Keynesianism, the government buys both, shoots one, milks the other, and throws the milk away.

            And under capitalism, you sell one and buy a bull.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Well, for one thing, you seem, from what you’ve said on the subject, to favor socialized medicine”

            Hardly. I lived in the UK for 24 years, where they have socialised medicine, and while it’s both cheaper per capita than the US system and gives universal coverage I don’t like it at all. No, I prefer the German system, with compulsory insurance and a minimum guaranteed standard of policy available. That’s STILL cheaper than the US system (at least partly because it doesn’t have to soak up the costs of a huge uninsured population,) there are no waiting lists and nobody ever has to sell their house because they get sick.

            “I define socialism far more broadly than do you.”

            Be accurate please. You define socialism more broadly than SOCIALISTS do, to include any politics you don’t like. And you are wrong.

  4. Ian Lister says:

    You know who else supports Obama’s original law? Justice Scalia of SCOTUS. How about Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, which you can read at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0494_0872_ZO.html ? Read it properly. He argues there is NO constitutional problem with requiring people to follow a law even if that law contrasts with their religious beliefs. Obviously, if the intention of that law was to take aim at a particular religion, it would fall foul of the constitution, but in that case – as in this one – it doesn’t.

  5. M. Aire says:

    We have plenty of laws already that interfere with religious scripture as it is written. Since that religion is the invention of its followers and its moral implications can be and are interpreted differently by each of them the government can make any laws it sees fit without regard to religious “freedom,” no matter the duplicitious, special status you may give to such an idea.

  6. James K says:

    I find it wonderfully ironic that those who want to use legislation to impose their beliefs on the masses, scream loudest when somebody does it to them.

    In addition, why are conservatives so anti-abortion, so anti-contraception, so pro-fetus, and yet couldn’t give two stuffs about the unwanted child when it’s born and actively reduce benefits that could help these unwanted children.

    For that matter, I wonder how many neglected children Terry has adopted or supported over time?

  7. Geno says:

    Fergus, you’re way off base on this one.

    The core issue here is that religious organizations are being forced to pay for something that is against their teachings.

    It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that contraception is immoral. Period. It doesn’t matter how many Catholic women, or men, have used contraception. I’ve used it myself and I’m Catholic.

    The issue is that government is forcing a religious organization to pay for something to which that organization objects on religious grounds. If the government can do this, there is no reason they can’t force Catholic organizations to pay for abortions too.

    The UK does not have this constitutional restriction on government being involved in religious affairs. We do.

    Further, it took me less than 2 seconds to realize exactly what Terry points out in this article. Shifting the burden of payment from the employer to the insurance company is simply a way to hide the cost. It’s nothing more than a smoke-screen.

    • Fergus Mason says:

      I see the point, but the fact is that in any society that taxes its members pretty much everyone is being forced to pay for things they consider immoral; this is just a bit more direct. What I don’t see is why catholic-run organisations should be able to force their beliefs on their employees.

      As for the constitution it’s a health care matter, not a religious one.

      • Geno says:

        Fergus wrote:
        As for the constitution it’s a health care matter, not a religious one.

        Geno answers:
        Actually, it’s not even a matter of medical treatment. The issue is will religious organizations be compelled to provide medical SUPPLIES that are not even for treatment of an existing medical condition. I can think of no legitimate reason my employer should be expected to pay for condoms for my “recreational” activities. This is especially true if my employer considers the use of contraceptives immoral in itself.

        Let’s put this another way. Obama proposes insurance companies be compelled to provide these supplies. Leaving aside the fact the cost will simply be rolled into the premiums so the customer will end up paying for them anyway……

        Many religious organizations are self-insured. In other words, they assume the risks associated with paying for health care. Would Obama’s “compromise” compell them to pay for contraceptive supplies they consider to be immoral?

        • Fergus Mason says:

          “I can think of no legitimate reason my employer should be expected to pay for condoms for my “recreational” activities.”

          As I understand it that wasn’t being proposed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the cover being talked about is emergency contraception, i.e. the “morning after” pill, which is generally used following broken condoms etc but is also commonly taken by rape victims – unless a bigoted pharmacist refuses to supply it, which has happened in the USA.

          “This is especially true if my employer considers the use of contraceptives immoral in itself.”

          That’s an issue of personal morality. If the employee and the employee’s doctor both agree that emergecy contraception is an appropriate treatment, I don’t see why the employer’s OPINION on morality is worthy of any consideration; after all it’s not their body, is it?

          “Many religious organizations are self-insured.”

          That, presumably, is their choice.

          “Would Obama’s “compromise” compell them to pay for contraceptive supplies they consider to be immoral?”

          I imagine so. However I, personally, have no issue with this. As employers their role in employee health care is to make sure it’s paid for, not butt in with unwanted moral judgements. It’s everyone’s right to hold any moral opinions they like, but they have no right to force them on others unless those opinions are also the law.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Oh, yes, it was. What do you think contraception exists to do? To turn sex into a recreational activity without consequence.

            You are definitely wrong. Emergency contraception was not the only issue. (Though even that is bad medicine, for the same reasons I gave in the article, and more besides.) The issue was regular prescriptions for birth control pills, and for sterilization operations.

            The employer’s opinion means everything when you ask him to foot the bill for it. If you don’t like it, don’t work there. Full-stop. End of memo.

  8. DinsdaleP says:

    So about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and half of those end in abortions. If someone is truly serious about reducing abortions, then making access to free birth control to prevent unintended pregnancies is one of the most simple, sensible policies that can be promoted. Non-Catholic Christians have no issue with birth control that prevents pregnancy from taking place.

    As for Catholics, about 64% of Catholic women want the free birth control benefit, which is not surprising since over 98% of Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives (a statistic that really surprised me).

    So when people talk about the conscience of Catholics, who are we talking about – the Church leadership composed of males forbidden by their faith to marry and therefore be able to relate to these issues personally, or the actual Catholic women who’d be the ones utilizing the benefit if it was available to them?

    Also, the argument that it’s just a shell game if the insurers provide birth control and leave the institutions out of it has a big catch – you can say that the cost is borne by these institutions indirectly through the policy cost, but what about the passed-along policy cost to the institutions to account for the medical care needed by all of the unplanned pregnancies that result, from prenatal care and all through their pre-adult lives.

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