Columns Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

It’s time for a grand compromise on religious freedom and contraceptives

An organizer for contraceptive birth control pills. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) — Those who felt that the Obama administration was heavy-handed in its promotion of reproductive rights are pleased with the Trump administration’s support of religious freedom in these areas. Not only has Trump rolled back the imposition of the contraceptive mandate on objecting religious groups, he has also packed the U.S. Supreme Court with two conservative justices who will look favorably on the proponents of religious liberty.

No longer do the Catholic bishops and others have to worry that employers will be forced to cover contraceptives in their employee health insurance plans if it goes against their religious beliefs.

But before the winners do a victory dance, it would be good for them to remember that administrations come and go. The recent midterm election puts the gains made during this presidency in doubt. Now is the time for the proponents of religious liberty to offer to negotiate a grand compromise with those who promote women’s rights.

Compromise has become a dirty word in American politics as we have become more polarized. We should all listen to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), who in 1988 wrote, “It is not refusal to compromise but compromise that in political things is the true morality.” After all, politics is the art of the possible, not the perfect.

But why should religious freedom advocates compromise when they are winning? The truth is that their victory is on shaking ground.

Take the Catholic bishops’ opposition to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Their position has almost zero support nationally. Only 4 percent of American adults think contraception is morally wrong. Even among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, only 13 percent believe contraception is sinful, according to the Pew Research Center. Public policy needs a stronger foundation than this to survive.

“Broad support for contraception coverage.” Graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center

Some may object that the issue at hand is about religious freedom, not contraception. Won’t Americans support employers who have religious objections to contraceptives? The answer is no. Two-thirds of Americans, according to Pew, say that employers who have a religious objection to birth control should be required to provide it in health insurance plans for their employees as other employers are required to do.

Bottom line: The bishops do not have the voters behind them in their opposition to the contraceptive mandate.

There is a second reason that the opponents of the contraceptive mandate should negotiate a compromise. They may have won on the federal level, but they are losing at the state level.

Currently, about 30 states have a contraceptive mandate (with some exemptions), including the majority of the most populous states. No matter what Trump does, these states can still force employers, including religious institutions, to provide contraceptives in their employee health plans. Some of these states, such as California, even require coverage of abortion by Catholic colleges and universities.

Opponents of these mandates hope the U.S. Supreme Court will rule these state laws unconstitutional, but this is doubtful. In order to do so, the court would have to reverse the Employment Division v. Smith decision, written in 1990 by Justice Antonin Scalia. The Smith decision gave almost unlimited power to the states in promoting public policy over the objections of religious believers. It overturned decades of court precedents to the shock of supporters of religious freedom.

So what would a compromise look like? It would probably require the Catholic bishops to give up their fight against the contraceptive mandate except for a limited exemption for dioceses, parishes, religious orders and religious institutions that do not receive any government money or employ large numbers of non-Catholics.

In return, the bishops could demand a more sweeping exemption on both the federal and state levels for abortion coverage in health insurance. The bishops must be willing to sacrifice birth control exemptions in order to get an abortion exemption. The public will be much more sympathetic to an abortion exemption than one for contraceptives.

Nuns and their supporters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington on March 23, 2016, as the court hears arguments to allow birth control in health care plans in the Zubik vs. Burwell case. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

I am not so naive as to believe that such a compromise would be easy to negotiate, but it won’t get any easier for the proponents of religious liberty. Their current position of strength is on shaky ground. Now is the time to make a deal.

Their opponents would be equally rash to pass up the chance to negotiate a comprehensive compromise. After all, decisions by the Supreme Court are unpredictable. If the new court reversed the Smith case, they could lose badly. Besides, a limited contraceptive exemption for religious employers would affect relatively few women, who would still be able to buy contraceptives with their own money.

The supporters of reproductive rights may even be willing to accept a wider exemption for abortion. If they truly believe, as they often claim, that contraceptives will eliminate unwanted pregnancies, there will be less of a need for abortions.

In addition, as the number of abortions in the U.S. continues to decline, their coverage in health insurance plans becomes less important. And after all, it will still be legal and the employees of these religious institutions (mostly universities and hospitals) will be able to afford an abortion on their own.

As I say, I am not naive. Many on each side want the fight to continue. The left wants to continue saying that there is a war on women, while the right speaks of a war on religion. It is good politics and it is good for fundraising. But it does not help heal the bitter divisions in our country, which is in need of a few good compromises.

About the author

Thomas Reese

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest, is a Senior Analyst at RNS. Previously he was a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter (2015-17) and an associate editor (1978-85) and editor in chief (1998-2005) at America magazine. He was also a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University (1985-98 & 2006-15) where he wrote Archbishop, A Flock of Shepherds, and Inside the Vatican. Earlier he worked as a lobbyist for tax reform. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley. He entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1974 after receiving a M.Div from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.


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  • The one and only rationale given against the use of contraceptives in this already overpopulated world is the dubious theology that insists that all sexual activity (which in this same theology is limited to men and women, of course) must be “open to the formation of life.” In other words: because God supposedly said to Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis, “be fruitful and multiply” when the earth (according to Genesis) only had two living human beings in it, we’re supposed to take that admonition seriously today when the earth is already beyond its capacity to comfortably sustain life with roughly eight billion human beings all clamoring for ever-dwindling natural resources. And this is supposed to be a responsible, “pro-life” position? I think not. This is fundamentalism expressed in Catholic form that has fossilized a teaching that should have evolved a long, long time ago in response to new data. But because it is still needed to prop up an ancient doctrine so that the churches who believe this way won’t have to admit that they were ever wrong about anything, it has left in its wake extreme overpopulation and children born with the HIV virus all over the world, and it will eventually lead to future starvation as the world’s resources become depleted, a process which will accelerate rapidly once a certain tipping point is reached. And so I ask again, this is supposed to be “pro-life?”

  • The grand compromise is that contraceptives are available to people without undue restriction and Catholic dogmatists will continue to claim its a bad thing and keep their noses out of the private affairs of others. There is zero reason to take the “religious freedom” argument seriously. There is no religious freedom argument made for forcing others to follow your faith.

    There is no reason whatsoever for an employer of any type to be micromanaging the care options of employees. Especially as to what is federally determined minimum coverage they demanded in existing legislation.

    The problem has nothing to do with religious faith or dogma or even attitudes towards contraception. It has to do with allegedly religious people having no regard for the lives of others and demanding by coercion that people follow their beliefs. The Little Sisters of the Poor ultimately lost their case against signing a waiver and letting employees obtain their own insurance.

  • They’re not.

    In fact the word “sex” almost invariably winds up in the Comments first in the comment of an LGBT or atheist commenter, sometimes a commenter who is both.

  • “Take the Catholic bishops’ opposition to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Their position has almost zero support nationally.”

    Prescinding for a moment from the fact that their position did NOT have almost zero support nationally, this is an amazing comment coming from a priest in Catholic Church, albeit in the Society of Jesus, the same order as the author of “Who am I to judge?”.

    “No matter what Trump does, these states can still force employers, including religious institutions, to provide contraceptives in their employee health plans.”

    That is demonstrably untrue.

    The President can support legislation which conditions receipt of Federal funds by states for health care on not forcing religious institutions to provide contraceptives.

    Fr. Thomas “Can’t we all just get along” Reese continues to demonstrate why he was removed as editor of America magazine.

  • I love how the Catholic bishops have worked so hard to outlaw contraception — on the premise that, since they believe it to be wrong, and that it’s wrong for everyone (not just Catholics), ergo their “religious freedom” rights grant them the authority to outlaw them for everyone (otherwise, their religious right to outlaw it for everyone is being thwarted). But they haven’t similarly worked to outlaw other things, like capitol punishment and divorce, both of which are also wrong, according to Catholic doctrine, and wrong for everyone, not only Catholics. 

    Talk about things that make you go “hmmmmmm.” Right? 

  • “They’re not??” Really? 300 pedophile priests recently revealed in Philadelphia alone!! Let that sink in, clueless deity worshipper. 300!!! That’s like…all of them.

  • I hate to disrupt one of your rants with facts, but the Catholic bishops did not try to outlaw contraception, let alone “work.. so hard to” do it.

    What they opposed was compelling those with religious objections to participate in procuring contraception.

    And several non-Catholic bodies joined them in that.

  • The word “sex” almost invariably winds up in the Comments first in the
    comment of an LGBT or atheist commenter, sometimes a commenter who is both.

    We can add “pedophile/pedophilia” which almost invariably is first mentioned in the Comments by anti-Catholics like yourself.

  • Sorry to have mortally offended you by not splitting that sufficiently. I’ve edited it. Please see if it passes muster with you. And by all means, please edit everything I ever post! I wouldn’t want anything I write to offend you again. 

  • I’m not here to advance discussionsn. I’m a truth troll. I’m here to point out when people like you choose to hide behind lies instead of telling the truth.

  • Re: “There is no religious freedom argument made for forcing others to follow your faith.” 

    Actually … there is! You see, Catholics believe certain things are forbidden … for everyone, not just Catholics. Because they believe those strictures are universal, if they truly have “religious freedom,” then it’s incumbent on everyone, not just Catholics, to obey them. For anyone to insolently refuse to live according to the dictates of Catholicism is to deny Catholics their belief in the universality of their rules. Not obeying them denies their freedom to believe as they wish. 

  • So…. a Catholic priest that compromises on contraception.

    What do we compromise on next Father?
    The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

    I really don’t get it. I understand that the world likes contraception; but the church is supposed to be the moral compass. The church is supposed to hold the line on morality throughout the ages as man becomes more immoral – no?

    We wonder why Catholics leave the church. Maybe it’s because it’s Shepard’s don’t believe in it, or the super-natural or the catechism enough to convince the faithful. Look no further that the episcopate that worries more about homosexuality and global warming then shepherding souls to heaven.

  • Why are you telling me what you are “sure” of, I’m not your mother? Please stop treating me like I’m your mother!! I’m not! I couldn’t care less what you are sure of.

  • If it were obvious that contraception is morally wrong, the Catholic magisterium would not have to resort to coercive tactics to “convince” people of the correctness of its position.

    The need to coerce bespeaks the tenuousness of the foundations on which the magisterial prohibition of contraception rests. The more the bishops engage in power plays and coercive tactics, the less convincing the magisterial teaching becomes to people with informed consciences.

    It’s interesting to imagine a church in which the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church might permit and rely on open dialogue about so-called closed magisterial teachings from the ban on contraception to the rejection of women’s ordination. If those teachings are so self-evidently right and so persuasive — as the magisterium wants Catholics to think — then why the need to prohibit open discussion of them, and why the need to threaten employees of Catholic institutions and theologians who call for such discussion?

  • Ah, the old slippery slope theory – change one little thing and next thing you know the whole house of cards falls apart, as though human beings are incapable of making fine distinctions between different matters. I hope you didn’t get the vapors when they (gasp!) changed doctrine and said you could now eat meat on Fridays without burning in Hell for it.

  • I think the time for compromise has long since passed. Why should women’s rights advocates compromise when they are winning the cultural war?

    It is the “my way or no way” attitude of religious conservatives that drive their opponents to take extreme positions. With regards to homosexual marriage rights–there was a time when activists would have settled for civil unions–but the conservatives wouldn’t even consider that option–so the activists aimed for full marriage rights and eventually won.

    I predict the same will happen with abortion rights and contraception rights.

    Religious freedom has come to mean the right to persecute those that reject your beliefs NOT the right for everyone to practice theirs in their personal lives. If the Cardinals don’t like contraception they shouldn’t use it!

  • If you’ve read Thomas Reese, SJ, for any length of time – here, at National Catholic Reporter, America, Commonweal, etc., this article is standard issue waffling tripe.

    It’s the same reason that Francis is not only the first but probably the last Jesuit Pontiff.

  • “Why should women’s rights advocates compromise when they are winning the cultural war?”

    But neither the Catholic war nor the legal war.

    It is the “my way or no way” attitude of “feminist” extremists like yourself that drive their opponents to extreme positions.

    “If the Cardinals don’t like contraception they shouldn’t use it!” is an idiotic slogan.

  • If it were obvious that sexual immorality, stealing, and murder were wrong, God would not have to resort to Hell to “convince” people that they ought to do the right thing.

    The need to coerce bespeaks the stiff-necked human nature that lead to the Fall.

    Since the Catholic Church purports to teach with authority, the notion that in prohibiting free-for-all debate in Catholic institutions and the Church violates anyone’s rights is nonsensical on its face.

    One generally hears that from “Catholics” like Charles Curran and others who gave the Church the one-finger salute and found themselves on the outside looking in.

  • The proponents of religious liberty on contraception already have it. They are free to not use any forms of birth control, as they choose. They are also free to not engage in any kind of sexual activity, as they choose. On abortions, women are free to not have them and men are free to not cause them. On same-sex marriage, every woman is free to not marry a woman and every man is free to not marry a man. On prayer, everyone is free to put absolutely anything they want to pray into a personal prayer. On matters of dress, almost everyone is free to wear (or not) what they want to wear. We are not short on “religious freedom” EXCEPT where religionists want to lean on and impose upon other people. That, when it occurs, is the opposite of freedom.

    We are now living through what happens when religionists vote for their version of “religious freedom”. A narcissist has taken over your White House and installed himself head of American Christianity. Corporations are being released from regulation to run wild in questionable business practices. Concerns about environment are pooh-poohed. Nationalists of every stripe are on the rise. Racism is resurrected. Public education is derided. The free press is assaulted. The rest of the world is off-put. Your government is flat broke—-digging itself deeper into debt by the day.

    Why all this? BECAUSE those from religion voted for it.

  • The actual issue that Reese is talking about is not resolved with “They are free to not use any forms of birth control, as they choose.”

    The actual issue is outlined here:

    and on the legal front it was resolved in favor of the opponents of compelled participation in contraception.

    So far not ONE comment – nor Reese’ article itself – reflects the legal realities.

  • The more “stiff-necked” the contraceptive opponents are, the more they show the totalitarian aspirations of some of the religious.

  • “The proponents of the abolition of slavery already have it. They are free not to own any slaves if they so choose. They are also free not to engage in any kind of slavery-related activity, as they choose.”

    See how that works?

    Your line of reasoning just doesn’t work for moral evils.

  • The freedom aspect with respect to slavery is about whether all people are free from being personally owned by someone else, not about the freedom of would-be owners to own or not own as they choose. Good grief, Rick. Do you turn things upside down on purpose, or do you just not know any better than this?

  • “The freedom aspect with respect to slavery is about whether all people are free from being personally owned by someone else” Ah no, they had an answer for that — the same one the pro-abortionists love.

  • I fully agree with Fr. Tom’s idea that it is time for a grand compromise on contraceptives. But…

    The “grand compromise” was already offered once – it was the offer to institutions to sign a form so that the contraceptives could be provided through an alternative, more indirect path than directly through the insurance plan of the employer. All it would take is signing a form. So, what do you want to offer that is any easier? It would be easier if all employers, including Catholic organizations, included contraceptives in health insurance coverage, made a point of teaching the pitfalls (sins?) of contraceptive use, and left it up to the conscience of the individuals.

    What is resented is the attempt to economically coerce people to follow the Catholic “rules” whether or not that person is Catholic or, if Catholic, whether or not that person agrees with the “rule.” The greatest effect of not providing contraceptives in health insurance is on those who cannot afford effective contraceptives. Fr. Tom offers a compromise that offers no help to the lowest paid people when he suggests a compromise of “limited exemption for dioceses, parishes, religious orders and religious institutions that do not receive any government money or employ large numbers of non-Catholics.” The ones affected will still be the lowest paid – the cooks, cleaners – it will not be the well-paid executives or professionals. Okay, this will work for a cloistered order of vowed religious who covers only vowed religious. But even a parish has non-vowed religious/clerical people who do a great deal of work for the parish and deserves the right to make a decision of conscience when it comes to contraceptives.

    Abortion is a tougher issue, but even here the “compromise” that allows abortion to not be covered at all will impose the limit only on those who can’t afford it – the lowest paid. Fr. Tom says “…it will still be legal and the employees of these religious institutions (mostly universities and hospitals) will be able to afford an abortion on their own.” That is fine for the doctor, the professor, the deans, the nurses, the accountants, and executives. But there are also people who work for these organizations who don’t make a high salary, who live week to week or month to month without extra in the budget.

    I still think it is economic coercion that targets those who have the least to force some people to live by “rules” that could be very detrimental to their lives, their families, their health.

    Just stop trying to use economic coercion – teach but do not coerce.

  • I don’t know if man is becoming more immoral.

    Perhaps people are leaving the Catholic Church because they no longer believe in the message or, in many cases, the messengers.

  • I think we’ve been down this road before. An omniscient God who needs to coerce doesn’t seem logical.

  • The pro-abortionists understand that there are plenty of reasons why abortion is a better outcome for some than living to be raised by someone who would have decided on abortion if they could. Many youngsters basically live one misfortune after another from birth day forward and we are supposed to care about that too.

  • To you.

    If it at some point you become a lot smarter than you are, omnipotent and omniscient, your opinion will carry a lot more weight than it does now.

    Now you’re just one more schlemiel with an opinion.

  • I’m sorry. If I disagree with you I’m a schlemiel? This coming from someone who has an obsessive interest with being a defender of the faith on RNS and pats his own back regularly due to all his clever quips? You are a classic hypocrite and represent what goes wrong with people of faith who delve into self-righteousness. It must be lonely.

  • I happen to be against abortion personally. As a man, I never had one or caused one. My one wife never had one, and neither she alone nor us together would have ever chosen one. We didn’t have to and were not leaned upon by any of the personal circumstances which do weigh on some women who become pregnant. We are not everyone else, however, and it is not our business to presume we can tell everyone else what to do. It’s a woman’s choice, period. I hope most of them choose life. If any don’t, there were reasons for that and there is the opportunity for the rest of us to understand that a child being thrust into a bad raising, a bad life, is not so hot an insistence for us to be wishing on just every conception that somehow occurs.

    Meanwhile, this is mostly about birth control that is not abortion and those who are trying to deny that to other people are just crazy. As we all know, even most of the Catholics don’t buy the position of their church on the subject. They just do what they need to do as couples and, as a nation, we need to be on the side of that freedom.

  • You have an obsessive interest in being right. Yes, you are good at digging up facts but not at delivering them. You quickly lose your point through your tone. You don’t see it that way, I know.

    As for your second sentence, I don’t even know what it means. Self-righteous this, self-righteous that. What? Clarity is important when writing to a schlemiel.

    How many more times are we going to go back and forth? It is entertaining, yes. Useful, no.

  • “The “grand compromise” was already offered once – it was the offer to institutions to sign a form so that the contraceptives could be provided through an alternative, more indirect path than directly through the insurance plan of the employer. All it would take is signing a form.”

    In other words, all it took was to perform an act to obtain contraceptives, which violated the beliefs of the Christians – not just Catholics – who had conscientious objections.

    “So, what do you want to offer that is any easier?”

    It did turn out to be easier.

    Under pressure from the Supreme Court itself, who took the unusual step of ordering both parties to supplement their already filed briefs, the Federal government admitted it did not even need the institutions to sign a form. In other words, the Obama Administration through the Secretary of HEHS, ex-Catholic Kathleen Sebelius, had ginned up up fake requirement to get around the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act.

    And off the Federal government slinked, and the objectors never had to sign the forms.

    “What is resented is the attempt to economically coerce people to follow the Catholic ‘rules’ whether or not that person is Catholic or, if Catholic, whether or not that person agrees with the ‘rule.’”

    What is resented is the attempt to coerce people with sincere religious beliefs to violate them because atheistic/feminist/abortion-uber-alles advocates want to knee cap religion.

    “The greatest effect of not providing contraceptives in health insurance is on those who cannot afford effective contraceptives.”

    But it did not have that effect.

    The government and the insurance companies provide the contraceptives at no additional cost to either the insured or the company paying for the insurance.

    I see in looking the archives you have already had this correct information provided to you at least twice in the past.

    You may want to bookmark it this time so the next time you have your facts in order.

  • Worse — slaves were not “people,” and supposedly neither are unborn children.

    It’s uncanny how identical the arguments are.

  • Yep. I always wonder why we don’t discuss the psychological challenges women have after having an abortion. It’s as if one “problem” is replaced by another.

  • Yes! +100.

    I’m so glad you pointed that out. As you say, their arguments are virtually identical, yet they never seem to grasp that. Willful blindness?

  • Unborn children is a contradiction in terms. Children are born. One has to be born to be a slave.

    But pregnant women are considered property by fetus worshipers. What do you call a person whose body is under the control of others? A slave.

  • Because the subject is largely mired by lying fetus worshipers who make long debunked claims on the subject. No point in discussing the matter with them.

  • “One has to be born to be a slave.” And one had to be free in order to be a person.

    “What do you call a person whose body is under the control of others? A slave.” No, you don’t. A slave is not a person. Which is what makes slavery ok. Just like abortion.

    Isn’t it fun to redefine the obvious to make the reprehensible acceptable? LOL!

  • One still has to be born to be a person. To have rights of their own independent of the existence of any other person.

    Slaves are still born. You couldn’t sell someone until they were born. Even unborn livestock is not considered property until born.

    “Isn’t it fun to redefine the obvious to make the reprehensible acceptable? LOL!”

    That explains most of your posts. 🙂

  • You’re still ignoring the obvious: that conditioning personhood upon birth is as much a matter of semantics and personal taste as conditioning it upon freedom was. Because it’s as necessary to the lib agenda as it was to another agenda 200 years ago.

    The Uniform Commercial Code defines unborn livestock as “goods.” Stick to making coffee in New York, Tater.

  • Not at all. I am giving a bright line based on an obvious physical condition. Birth is what separates a person from a fetus. One can be babysat while the other cannot. A fetus exists inside a person. A person whose life you have no say in. That is unless you consider that person a slave, your property. Its interesting however that you consider unborn as having rights but its mother does not. Very hostile to people. Very much in character for you.

  • Unlikely, because in the end…for the Christian conservatives, it is not really about contraceptives or even abortion, it is about control of other people’s lives, especially women. Even if the other side would agree to a deal…too many Christians don’t really want a trade-off…they mostly want an end to Sexy-Time — especially for women !!

    Note — these same Christian fundy’s and Catholic clergy (celibate? Ha, Ha!) — don’t have a problem with child sex abuse in their own ranks…just Google “Youth Pastor” or see the latest Catholic child sex abuse coverup news. For them, contraception means loss of power.

  • -> “What do we compromise on next Father?…”

    Abortion? When women become priests there will be compromise!.
    Sin? Easy, it’s always in the eye of the beholder.

    “The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist?” — As a young Catholic, I tried not to think about that during Mass — so I could swallow not spit !!

  • Look out, Mark! He’s discovered the disqus Block User function! You’ll be cast into [his] outer darkness.*

    * It may be he believes it removes all of one’s posts from the thread. It does not.

  • “Birth is what separates a person from a fetus.” For you, perhaps. For others conception is the defining line. For the entire pre-Christian world (and even some modern-day humanists) the line was acceptance into the family unit— they would have found your “birth” line ridiculous, and deservedly so, for without a transcendent source of human rights your preferences are no more valuable than anyone else’s.

    You remind me of the slaveholders of yore, kvetching about having their sacred property rights attacked by zealots convinced that the life and liberty rights of non-persons was more important. So out-dated, you are.

  • ” … those who promote women’s rights.”

    I support women’s rights, including the right of the half of all prenates that are female to live.

  • May I be permitted to do cite the Bible here? Well, I will anyway. 🙂

    Those of us who take it seriously have found an excellent thumbnail description of the gestation process, at Ps 139:13-16, NJB
    “You created my inmost self, knit me together in my mother’s womb. For so many marvels I thank you; a wonder am I, and all your works are wonders. You knew me through and through, my being held no secrets from you, when I was being formed in secret, textured in the depths of the earth. Your eyes could see my embryo. In your book all my days were inscribed, every one that was fixed is there.”

    Please note:
    > knit together. Good description of what will take place over 9 months.
    > Formed in secret. I.e. in the womb.
    > Could see the embryo. Man can, with modern tools. The God of the bible, the creator of life, certainly could even then. David, the writer of the psalm, could not*.
    > All my days. A better translation is “all my parts”, that is, of the embryo. The various “days” translations smack of predestination, not taught in the Bible. [Gen 2:17, ‘IF you disobey, you will die.’] And, “parts” corresponds to the theme; see my footnote.

    Summary: As does science, the Bible teaches that a healthy embryo if not tampered with will become a human infant with no more input than 9 months of time.
    But, before that the egg and sperm individually cannot become anything more than waste material if not combined. So, the RCC has its reasons for prohibiting the use of condoms e.g., but they are not based on science.

    I hope this fosters a somewhat ‘kinder and gentler’ discussion. After all, we’re not the U.S. Congress, are we? 🙂

    * Yet, he gets it right. Recall that, as late as the time of Henry VIII it was thought that the man implanted a sort of stick figure of himself, the homunculus, which was modified into a complete person by the mother’s “humours” or some such. The Bible agrees with science that the embryo is complete, even though the organs and limbs don’t differentiate in the blastula for about two weeks.

  • When the tide of history is demolishing one’s argument – he seeks compromise.

    Reminiscent of the man whose penis turned green from gangrene.
    Dr #1 told him he needed to have his penis surgically removed.
    Not wanting to lose his ” manhood ” he sought a 2nd opinion.

    Dr #2 told him he needed to have his penis surgically removed also.
    He was terrified.

    A friend told him about an Asian Dr well versed in such conditions.
    He went to see that Dr.

    The Asian Dr said ” No need for surgery….”

    The man was very much relieved.
    Until the Dr finished his diagnosis saying :
    No need for surgery – in one or two days – fall off by itself !

  • It’s a very fair question.

    Prosecutors’ reports are invariably one-side.

    Prosecutors pick the witnesses they present to the Grand Jury.

    Defense lawyers are not allowed to appear with their clients, or to present witnesses they might contradict the prosecutor’s witnesses or arguments.

    Prosecutors are not required to provide exculpatory evidence, even if they are aware of it.

    Nor need they interview witnesses that might contradict their narrative.

    That is why it is generally considered unfair for prosecutors to issue “reports”.

    Normally prosecutors announce a subject has been indicted, or not, without further comment.

    The elected Pennsylvania Supreme Court – all trained lawyers – knew all of the above, and its approval of the release of a one-sided Grand Jury “report” was political circus.

  • The more “stiff-necked” the screamers of the Left are about their “rights” over the rights of the majority to form a society in which they wish to live, the more it becomes clear that inside every “Liberal” there is a Fascist trying to get out.

  • In the end for the nattering nabobs of “progressivism” it is not about contraceptives or abortion, it is about control of other people’s lives who disagree with them.

    The Obama Administration’s contrivance of contraception as “necessary healthcare” in order to construct a battle between those with religious objections, and the eventual slinking off the Government when they had to admit the conflict was contrived, illustrates just what is going on.

    This particular anti-Catholic commenter knows full well that the notion that his opponents “don’t have a problem with child sex abuse in their own ranks” is a blatant lie.

    He illustrates that inside every Progressive there is a Fascist trying to get out.

  • I happen to be against forced prostitution personally.

    But it is not my business to presume I can tell pimps what to do.

  • But, but, but….Spuddie’s “bright line” HAS to be correct one (according to Spuddie) because it’s the only SANE (according to Spuddie) and HONEST (according to Spuddie) one.

    She cracks me up.

  • If you can watch a fetus while the mother is away, you could make your point. But unfortunately for you it’s a very clear difference of physical condition. Reality has an anti fetus worship bias here.

    I don’t have to hold myself to the traditions and thought processes of ancient people to assert a rather obvious fact about our physical existence. People are born. They are not physically attached to the bodily systems of other people.

    People have innate right of control of their bodies. That comes at birth. When you have independent physical existence. When you are s person. A person whose power is taken from them is a slave. You consider pregnant women to be slaves.

  • Abortion vs. Contraception- the reality:

    Why are there ~ one million abortions every year in the USA?

    The failure rate of unprotected sex ? 85%

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by “Perfect use”:

    – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by: (the two most widely used forms of contraception)

    The Pill, at 0.3 percent failure rate) (33,000 unplanned pregnancies)

    Male condom at 2.0 percent failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies)

    So where is the problem?


    Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy


    Pill……… 8.7 (resulting in one million unplanned pregnancies- the Pill was not taken daily was the major reason for the high failure rate)

    Male condom ……….17.4 (resulting in one million unplanned pregnancies- the condom was available but was not used is the major reason for the high failure rate)

    All the numbers are posted on line by Guttmacher if you want to run the calculations.

    So again we see the BRUTAL EFFECTS OF STUPIDITY!!!!

    o Bottom Line #1: The failures of the widely used birth “control” methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and STDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other more reliable methods(e.g. IUDs) in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and STDs.

    Bottom line #2-
    Currently, a perfect barrier system/condom does not exist. Time to develop one! In the meantime, mono-masturbation or mutual masturbation are highly recommended for heterosexuals who need a natural contraceptive. Abstinence is another best-solution but obviously the sex drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to temporarily eliminate said drive?

  • We hear so much whining from evangelical Christians about their so-called “religious freedom” being repressed, but the term, “religious freedom,” has become nothing but a sleazy euphemism for “religious dominion.”

  • When an employer objects to the provision of insurance on religious grounds that is only one party to the issue. The other is the employee. The reason the position of the Church is unsupportable — to say nothing of immoral — is that it seeks to impose its values on those who disagree with its positions. It’s none of Church’s business how non-members elect to tread a basic healthcare issue. Happily employees greatly outnumber employers and you can see the results in the poll data offered by Father Reese.

  • The meaning of Religious Freedom has changed from Freedom from Persecution to Freedom to Persecute those that reject your beliefs.

  • The meaning of Religious Freedom has changed from Freedom to express and act on your religion to keep your religion at home where it belongs.

  • There have been no gains for religious liberty under Trump, only losses — losses for women’s rights of conscience and health, losses for public education under the Trump/Pence/DeVos/GOP war on our public schools. Two thirds of Americans oppose the denial of contraception to employees of ALL employers.

  • Employees who are in plans regulated by Obamacare receive contraceptives through the insurance companies without any involvement of their employer at all.

    The Obama Administration tried the “position of the Church is unsupportable — to say nothing of immoral — is that it seeks to impose its values on those who disagree with its positions” argument by rigging the regulations implementing Obamacare in such a way as to require involvement of religious organizations in obtaining the coverage.

    In two cases – one decided by the Supreme Court involving Hobby Lobby, the other involving religious organizations where the Supreme Court sent the Government packing after it admitted it could provide the coverage with NO involvement of the employers and that the entire deal was a put-up job by an Administration with an axe to grind – the Obama Administration came up empty.

    NO employee is NOT getting contraceptives because of any action or inaction on the part of the employers.

  • Indeed. And the human costs of what has happened as a result are incalculable. It’s a big deal for environmentalism, human rights, major courts, sensible economics and civic courtesies to all be pulled backwards at once—–as is happening.

  • Connelly/Arnzen and his fellow worshipers of misogyny, patriarchalism and clericalism simply cannot abide the idea of women enjoying the benefits of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. They ignore the fact that their Bible does not condemn abortion or contraception and indeed puts the beginning of personhood at the first breath (see Gen 1:27 and 2:7),

  • Why does Connelly/Arnzen assume that everyone who disagrees with him is an atheist or an anti-Catholic. More Catholics approve than disapprove of contraception and abortion, as in last May’s referendum in predominantly Catholic Ireland.

  • Gen 1:27 and 2:7 put the beginning of personhood at the first breath. The Hebrew word for person is the word for someone who breathes.

  • The catholic institutions should not be allowed state, federal or local government funding or any other government benefit for the various charitable activities such as hospitals, schools, colleges, social service agencies, etc.

  • one can build churches anywhere within zoning . one can develop your own religious schools and exempt the your students from the state laws on public education . one can pass out leaflets on most any street corner . one can have parades down city streets with the same permits required of any secular organization . and one can join the zillions of preachers on the airwaves and internet to promote your specific faith .

    how has religious freedom been restricted to the home ?

  • If the RCC would end their ban on contraception which most Catholics do not obey anyway and sexually active men and women were responsible by using the Pill and condom properly, abortions would be reduced by 90%. The switch to IUD’s would result in an even greater reduction. Bottom line, Father Reese would not even be discussing the issue.

  • So you don’t support the rights of people and expect women to be property whose body is somehow yours to command. A fetus is still not a person, nor has any rights of its own. That is what birth is for.

  • Please note that those scriptures refer specifically to Adam and Eve. They were created by God, as adults, from dust and a rib.
    Since then, we rely on the placenta to give us food and oxygen. That is the situation being described at Ps 139.

    You are correct about the Hebrew word transliterated nephesh. It does mean a ‘breather’, and can be translated living thing or soul, as at Gen 2:7.
    The Hebrew word transliterated ruach can mean breath, spirit or wind, as an invisible active force. Gen 1:1; 8;1.
    A common belief is that soul and spirit are the same; they are not. Heb 4:12.

    These definitions are important, because they clear up some long-held misunderstandings about life and death.

    Gen 2:7. Note that Yahweh blew into the inert Adam the breath [spirit] of life, at which point he _became_ a living soul. We do not HAVE souls, we ARE souls. When we die, our “spirit goes forth”, at which time we ‘return to the earth’, as stated clearly at Ps 146:4.
    Souls can die; “immortal soul” is not a Bible term. See Eze 18:4, where the NJB translates nephesh three times as “life” and once as “the one”.

    This also bears on the important question of the condition of the dead; another topic.

  • moral decay, has only resulted in more pestilence, plague, and famine. abortion is just another plague, of the occult pagan religion of the great whore of babylon. and their occult pagan religion, is nothing new from thousands of years ago. and it, has resulted in the death of every nation that was involved in it’s way of lust.

    contraception no mater how, it is administered is the result of immoral lust not love. and is contrary to The Commands of ELOHEEM and THEIR Son. and any, attempt to compromise The Commands from ELOHEEM shall backfire on us all with more pestilence, plague, and famine to include mass murder, murder, wildfire, drug, suicide, climate alteration, illegal invasions, and other plagues.

    and all compromises that, reject The Word of ELOHEEM shall only result in more disgruntled and hateful divisions. an immoral lust, between the pagan dead is not a big help in idolatry. it is just, having lusting sex on each others dead ground. pagan religious idolatry, has destroyed every nation it became prominent in. for pagan idolatry, has only resulted in more hell and death which is in observance right now.

    The Command is to be fruitful and multiply with ELOHEEM and Son not without. The very First Law from ELOHEEM, given to The Noachides before the additional Seven. The 613 Laws, given to The Multitude of all known nations is the maximum. and no one on earth today, can perform all 613 Commands. which means they, have all reverted to being Noachides. they, destroyed their religion themselves for being untrue to ELOHEEM. whether they, can recover or not remains to be seen.

    the pharaoh of egypt, could not prevent the climate change or other pestilence, plague, and famine. and neither can, any occult pagans idolatry which promotes more hell and death to all.

  • I’m not sure of the details, but the “strict constructionist” Catholic view of, say, condom use is that it is akin to abortion. As I noted, science says not; the Bible doesn’t say.

    It is curious to find that Jerome, the great scholar and Bible translator, argued strongly that celibacy is a ‘purer’ life than marriage. [Contra Celsus] Yet the first command given to man, at Gen 1:28, is ‘go forth and multiply’! Go figure.

  • Most by far of the Jewish descendants of the folks who wrote the OT are pro-choice, regarding personhood as beginning with the first breath. As a staunch defender of women’s rights of conscience, religious liberty, and church-state separation I am pro-choice. I served for 30 years on the governing body of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which represents a wide spectrum of Protestants, Catholics and Jews.

  • The descendants of the Bible writrrs were not Bible writers.
    God is not a small-d democrat; he created us and sets the rules. We choose freely to follow them or not.
    The first slip is recorded in Genesis 3. How did that turn out for us?

  • The Bible is full of contradictions and absurdities and borrowings form older religions, so it is good to take it with a grain of salt.

  • “People have innate right of control of their bodies.” There are all kinds of rules about what we can and can not do with our bodies, Einstein. We can not consume illegal drugs, nor sell our organs, nor marry near relatives. Most states prohibit prostitution. Others (as well as many countries) prohibit surrogacy. Men must serve in combat if called, and must labor to support their children. Suicide is also illegal, and while you probably wouldn’t be prosecuted if you tried it and survived you WOULD probably be committed and thereby lose your autonomy.

    “That comes at birth. When you have independent physical existence. ” Not a single newborn in existence has control over its body. It has no independent existence. It can not survive without the continuous care and support of another, and it matters not at all how many are available and willing (or not) to provide that support. It makes the most sense to charge with that responsibility the persons who had the choice and ability to avoid the creation of that life in the first place but did not — and that’s the parents. To do otherwise is to, wittingly or not, endorse infanticide. Which is, of course, the default to which we can eventually expect to return if we abandon the Imago Dei which was the rationale for repudiating infanticide (and slavery) in the first place.

  • Most Catholics do not obey the RCC ban on artificial contraception anyway and if sexually active men and women were responsible by using the Pill and condom properly, abortions would be reduced by 90%. The switch to IUD’s would result in an even greater reduction. Bottom line, Father Reese would not even be discussing the issue.

  • Typical crap analogy and deliberate misstatement of examples.

    Using illegal drugs is not a crime unless behind the wheel of a car or being a public nuisance. Selling organs is a crime because its aspects of commerce, same with prostitution. Its not the act itself but the selling aspect which is criminalized.

    At no point does the government have a right to control your bodily functions without your consent or permission. Not even in prison. That is what one does with property, not people.

    Its funny how you have to attack the entire notion of personhood and autonomy in order to support your views. Reality apparently has a bias against fetus worship. I guess its tough to rationalize how a fetus is considered a being with rights but its mother is somehow your property.

    But that is because it is never about protection of the unborn. Because you can’t actually protect the unborn from the sole person whose will keeps it alive. Its always about the latter. Reducing women to the status of property for its own sake.

    “Not a single newborn in existence has control over its body”

    Not a single newborn requires physical attachment to the bodily system of its mother to exist. Same is untrue for a fetus. This is an obvious fact that flies in the face of your dishonest language and argument which somehow finds no difference between born and unborn.

    “it matters not at all how many are available and willing (or not) to provide that support. I”

    Only because such facts are inconvenient to your dishonest POV. The fact that anyone other than the mother is available and capable to do so is the most important distinction of all. It means independence from the mother’s existence and personhood and individual rights can exist for it.

    “It makes the most sense to charge with that responsibility the persons who had the choice and ability to avoid the creation of that life in the first place but did not — and that’s the parents.”

    And their choices are none of your business. Just because you approve or disapprove of what they do does not mean you have any say in the matter. They are not your property to command.

    “if we abandon the Imago Dei which was the rationale for repudiating infanticide (and slavery) in the first place.”

    Another l1e, since you have shown zero regard for people, the born. So any idea that such ideas prompt you to find all life sacred is complete fantasy.

  • Even worse — at the Chapel Mass in my Parish…you kneeled at the facade of the Altar platform as you swallowed on your knees.

    So Fruedian !! …No wonder bizzare pathologies have taken over our celibate RCC clergy.

  • Come on now…as an Altar Boy, I spent an untold amount of time on Sunday mornings next to a priest during communion…as he offered the “Body and Blood” of Christ for consumption to all…

    How could I not think quite hard — at an altar-boy’s hormone raging age — about the implications of this lurid, disturbing ritual?…With our chruch’s beatiful Crucifix hanging behind the Altar — holding our thin savior, dressed in merely a loincloth.

  • At least you’re honest about your apostasy and contempt for religion.

    And, of course, that you were disturbed as a child and it’s emerged full-blown in adulthood.

  • The dispute about paying for contraception is a result of America’s lack of a national health system. As a result, employers offer to pay for health insurance for their employees. This gives them the whip hand in deciding what can or cannot be covered. With a national health system, everyone is covered, whether employed or not. If people want to top this up with private insurance, they are free to do so. Employers don’t provide health insurance, and so the question of employers paying for contraception does not arise.

  • If the Catholic Church (I assume that is what you meant by “RCC”) would end its ban on prostitution, income of pimps would be increased by at least 90%.

    Bottom line: you have no clue at all as to what the basis for the Catholic position is, and even less clue as to why that Church cannot change it.

  • Without an actual argument to support that, I will just chalk that up to your copying and pasting it from the Freedom From Religion Foundation website, or the Americans United website, or perhaps a KKK flyer.

  • “Using illegal drugs is not a crime unless behind the wheel of a car or being a public nuisance.” You can be charged with a crime for merely having illegal drugs in your possession, let alone using them, Einstein.

    “Its not the act itself but the selling aspect which is criminalized.” So you have a rationale for controlling what people do with their bodies. Big deal. So do pro-lifers — because it kills a human being. It’s not the removal of life from the womb but the killing of it in the process. Perhaps if you had some expertise besides coffee-making and internet bloviating you could get to work on a solution to that.

    “Not a single newborn requires physical attachment to the bodily system of its mother to exist.” Typical ignoramus who has neither borne nor nurtured an infant. I’ve done it twice, and let me assure you that children impose upon one’s bodily processes far more AFTER they are born than before, and continue to so do into the foreseeable future. It does not matter how many people are available to be burdened by said infant — the fact remains that an infant by definition requires the constant care and support of SOMEONE, whose availability and willingness can not be presupposed, and therefore to deny personhood on such grounds necessarily condones infanticide.

    “And their choices are none of your business. Just because you approve or disapprove of what they do does not mean you have any say in the matter.” That was the official position of the slave states just prior to the Civil War. Congratulations — you recited some history by accident! Imagine what you could do if you took up reading!

    “you have shown zero regard for people, the born” Your resentment at the prospect having your property rights lessened by the rights of non-persons to life and liberty has already been noted, Ms.Tuberous Slaveholder from 1861. No need to reiterate.

  • Again you are telling about crimes of commerce. Being high is not a crime. You really have to go out if your way to stretch facts for crap analogy arguments. Which is why they are a sign of factual weakness in your part.

    The government does not own or control our bodies, nor should they. That is morally repugnant. No wonder you make such arguments.

    Your response to care of infants is just insults and lying. Evidently the concept of maternity wards, adoption or orphans do not exist in your world. Newborns are all physically attached to their mothers like in pregnancy according to you. You really have to deny basic facts and biology for your point. Reality makes a mockery of your position.

    I can babysit a newborn. I can’t babysit a fetus. You are too dishonest to acknowledge a simple obvious fact.

    You are a l1ar of the most obvious sort. Nothing about my position is related to support of slavery. Your position requires denying clear obvious physical reality

  • Twas a Catholic for 55 years. Then I started to read outside the bible-dogma box and discovered that only 10% of the NT is authenic
    that coupled with horrors of priestly pedophilia made me an atheist to the core.

  • Well goody for you.

    Everyone over the age of 55 was something or other for 55 years.

    Unless you have some remarkable credentials you’ve hidden since joining Disqus and letting fly with these personal assessments, all you have is an opinion.

  • “Being high is not a crime.”. Possessing the substance necessary to get that way is. Time to quit regretting not getting to be a lawyer; you would never have made it.

    The existence of maternity wards etc is irrelevant. Personhood can not be conditioned upon the existence of a caretaker. You are unwittingly making the same argument which the ancients used to justify leaving an infant exposed to die if no one was willing to assume the responsibility for it. You’re 2000 years behind the times.

    “Nothing about my position is related to support of slavery.” Sure it is. You’re making the very same arguments — denying the personhood of the powerless to the advantage of another who possesses power and choice. No need to hyperventilate; the parallels have been obvious and recognized for a very long time.

  • But drug possession is a crime of commerce. If you are high on a prescription drug, not a crime. Being drunk is not a crime either.

    Your entire argument is talking out of both sides of you mouth, flinging poo and outright lying. To you, people evidently have no autonomy or right to control their bodies but a fetus does. Their bodies are at the state’s command to you, but I somehow promote slavery. Funny.

    Your alleged concern for life is only for nine months of gestation but not for the lifetime afterward. There is nothing moral or sane about that. Your lack of respect for the life of people is duly noted.

    No personhood is not conditional on anything other than birth. You are born you are a person. Thats it It makes no difference if your life is sustained by a caretaker or several. Your life is separate and distinct from them. Your existence and interests are always going to be independent of them. You are not physically attached to any other person after birth. There is no analogy for people with a fetus. No equivalent in any sense. You are dishonestly avoiding such obvious facts here.

    Your entire spiel is about pretending the woman keeping a fetus alive is not a person or worthy of consideration. You don’t mention her except in defamatory tones. Immorally pretending she is of no concern. A slave

    Again unless you can babysit a fetus, any attempt to pretend it’s indistinguishable from a born child is just plain laughable. Your response on that front was too ridiculous to even bother responding to.

    There is nothing moral about extolling a fetus and attacking its mother. There is nothing moral about declaring people are property of the state. There is nothing moral or sane in fetuscworship.

  • Here’s how I figure. A good lifespan is about 30,000 days (82.2 years). In an ideal setting of no sex before a lifelong marriage, a person might be in a married state for about 22,000 of those days. The wife might be pre-menopausal for about 11,000 of those days. And——-, most married couples cannot afford more than one or two or three or four children, period. Unmarried couples who might be having sex cannot afford ANY children, period.

    As for personal opinion, my favorite birth control for marriage is the male vasectomy. Condoms, obviously, are also important for anyone whose relationships involve any risk of STDs.

  • No commerce is necessary to possess an illegal substance. But again, you’re grasping at straws to justify a restriction on the use of one’s body. Abortion prohibitions are easily justified in the exact same way.

    “Personhood is not conditional upon anything other than birth.” To your way of thinking, which matters not one iota more than anyone else’s. That’s the problem with repudiating both natural and revealed law—you’re left with mere opinion. And even your opinion owes itself unconsciously to the pervasive influence of Christianity upon the West; otherwise you’d be as blasé about outright infanticide as the rest of the pre-Christian world was. You’re certainly not a sufficiently original thinker to come up with a foundation for inherent human rights for the powerless on your own — you can’t even come up with one now, although you were assigned that project quite some time ago.

    “Your response on that front was too laughable to bother responding to.” Don’t make me laugh. The only response you won’t “bother” to respond to is the one you have no response for — and can’t find a Wikipedia entry to help you. Such as what it’s like to bear and care for a child, or to look at its perfect and complete face on a sonogram or see its fist or foot rippling across your belly and try to imagine that it’s not a human being and a “person” as it so clearly is.

    How sad to be you.

    “There is nothing moral about extolling a fetus and attacking its mother.” I already told you, Mrs. Legree, we’ve duly acknowledged your preference for your property rights over the right to life/liberty of powerless “non-persons.” We get it. We just weight your preference differently.

  • Abortion restrictions are not justified in any way like that. The only real rational ones are based on safety for the mother and the ability of the fetus to be born. Most are arbitrary based the nonsense rationale of fetus worship. That abortion be restricted any way possible finder any pretext. Mostly by lying about conditions. There is nothing moral or sane about tem for the most part. You are arguing that personhood and personal rights to control ones body are immaterial yet expect a fetus to be protected. Seems rather skewed and arbitrary. Not at all the sign of actual moral or ethical concern.

    Ultimately since you do not hold the life and rights of the mother with any regard, it is easy to see you don’t hold them for a fetus in any way. It’s all simply an issue of being a finger wagging control freak. Demanding people do as you command. Nothing else.

    Your constant need to lie or ignore the obvious difference between born people and a fetus undermine any pretense of a rational or worthwhile basis to your view.

    Btw “natural law” is nothing more than Catholicspeak for making crap up because one cannot support an argument. Arguing by empty declaration and nothing more. To invoke it is to declare you have nothing of value to your points.

  • “The only real rational ones…”. That is arguing by empty declaration and nothing more.

    “There is nothing moral or sane about them for the most part…”. That is arguing by empty declaration and nothing more.

    “You are arguing that personhood and the rights to control one’s body are immaterial”. Straw man. Not immaterial but certainly not absolute

    “Most are arbitrary based the nonsense rationale of fetus worship.” “Fetus-worshiper” is uncannily reminiscent of another term that people who bought and sold “non-persons” used for those who opposed such practices — a compound word with the letters n and l which would probably trigger the censors if it were mentioned. But even without stating the obvious, you are keeping up the slaveholding persona remarkably well

    “Seems rather skewed and arbitrary.” Your opinion. Also an empty declaration.

    “Your constant need to lie or ignore the difference between born people and a fetus.” Well, you’ve obviously reached the limit of your already limited powers of argumentation now that you’ve had to resort to lies-lies-lies once again. Of course there is a difference. There were visible differences between the races as well. The difference does not preclude the fundamental right to life/liberty, Mrs. Legree.

    “It’s all simply a matter of being a finger-wagging control freak.” Echoes of history: “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life”. — Lord Melbourne, in opposition to a William Wilberforce’s efforts to end the slavery trade.

    “Arguing by empty declaration and nothing more.” By all means, present an objective case for the rights of the powerless that includes neither natural law nor majority vote. Of course, you’ll have to do it without relying on assertions that it is the only “sane” or “honest” position, because that would be arguing by empty declaration and nothing more.

  • ““The only real rational ones…”. That is arguing by empty declaration and nothing more.”

    Hardly, because it involves respecting the woman as a person who has control over her body. As opposed to arbitrarily wishing to ban or limit a procedure based on completely phony concern for a fetus while envicing complete contempt for the born. All the while requiring dishonest language to pretend there are no physical existential differences between born and unborn. The most ridiculous is the failure to acknowledge people, the born have rights and interests that never involve removing the personhood of anyone else (as you demand)

    The main problem with your view is it assumes your opinion matters and you have some authority over the body of another person. Demanding they are your slave. Nobody requires your input as to whether a pregnancy can continue unless its your own. Nothing about your view shows respect for life or even moral thinking. Quite the opposite. It is rather malicious in nature requiring s1utshaming as a matter of course to justify the position.

  • Arbitrarily…completely phony concern…dishonest..ridiculous… .malicious….
    s1utshaming. .nothing about your view shows respect for life or even moral thinking….

    All of it is “empty declarations and nothing more.” Opinion, opinion, opinion. Just like about 98% of your postings.

    You libs and your chronic lack of self-awareness crack me up.

    Still no non-natural-law and non-majority-note case for minority rights? Of course not. Not going to be one, either … just more opinion. Which nobody cares about. Opinions are a dime a dozen.

    Tater, you picked the wrong topic to spew about today. Every single word you’ve said is straight out of the Confederates’ excuse book. Spitting on the right to life of the most powerless to advantage those with power, and denigrating their personhood in order to do it. It’s very old news, as old as time in fact, and you’ve made the case for my original statement better than I ever could. Live examples are always the best. Thank you for being…what you obviously are.

  • “(M)any NT and history exegetes of the past 200 years” = the liberal German school, not Orthodox, Catholic, Southern Baptist.

  • They probably grasp it, but of course admitting it might deprive them of what they want so they just stick with the party line. See the exchange above for a demonstration.

  • LOL

    You still can’t babysit a fetus. Only the mother keeps a fetus alive. Her womb is not your property. People have rights. People are by definition of every aspect of the term, born.

    These facts undermine all your arguments and pretensions to a moral view here. It all about controlling people for you. Nothing else. You can’t show concern for the unborn and contempt for the born as you do without a serious moral, factual and intellectual disconnect there.

    Just to top it off, fetus worship is just a tool to get excitable bible thumpers to vote against their own economic interests. Republicans have done more to advance neo liberal economic policies in 45 years than they ever did in advancing fetus worship agendas. You are grifted:

  • The “facts” of personhood fly over your head entirely, Einstein. One’s personhood can not be premised upon the availability and willingness of a caretaker, no matter how many, which is the only support you can offer for your so-called “bright line” of birth personhood, because it leads inevitably to the condonation of infanticide as well.

    But Judge Taney would probably have liked your “facts” in 1857 when his SCOTUS ruled that blacks had no legal standing as persons in our courts, nor any rights as persons that REAL persons were bound to respect, and that we of course couldn’t attack slave-holders’ rights to their property.

    One of the running jokes of our times is this propensity of libs to presume to decide what everyone else’s best “interests” are and how they should vote accordingly.

    We have our own ideas about your “best interests” that you are trashing by supporting the things you support, but the determination of what your best interests are is entirely your own affair. As is ours. So butt out.

  • Personhood is premised by only one thing, birth. People are born. Everything else flows from that.

    You have deliberately misstated the point being made about it. It all goes downhill from that little bit of dishonest discourse. Your war with basic facts of biology and common sense is duly noted. If you have to argue that any born being is in any situation analogous to gestation you are so lying so obviously that no point made can be taken seriously.

  • As i noted, there’s no scriptural argument against contra-ception as such. It’s a conscience matter of the husband and wife. There are some things about it of interest.
    Gen 38 has the story of Onan. Please read it. It’s sometimes cited as a warning against birth control; it is not. Onan’s sin was in ‘getting around’ a provision of the Law for purely monetary reasons.
    I’ve discussed the difference between a fertilized ovum and an unfertilized one; the former is a person to Yahweh. That means that I would not use the ‘morning after’ pill or an IUD, both of which are designed to prevent a fertilized egg from developing. Condoms, pills, diaphragms, coitus interruptus and timing of infertile periods are allowed.

    Side note: Your citing of an ideal marriage is also the Bible’s view. Gen 2:24 and Mt 19:5. Until recently, this is one of the biblical commands that protect against AIDS. [It’s now possible of course for a first responder to acquire HIV innocently.] The others can be found at Gen 9:4 and Acts 15:20, and Lev 18:22 and 1Cor 6:9.

  • If an idea has all the bad things you ascribe to the Bible, then a grain of salt is useless. Reject it entirely! As most people do.

    Is it allowed to ask for an example of one of the above?

  • Add vasectomy: I had one long before I became a Christian. It’s a major tampering with the creator’s machinery, so I probably wouldn’t have it done now. It postdates Bible times, so it could be considered a conscience matter.

  • A list of NT exegetes. Their studies were used to prepare for example the update of the Apostles’ Creed:

    R. Bultmann
    E. Kasemann
    Alvar Ellegård
    G. A. Wells
    Gregory Riley
    Robert Eisenman
    John Dominic Crossan
    Robert Funk
    Burton Mack
    Stephen J. Patterson
    Marcus Borg
    Stevan Davies
    Geza Vermes
    Richard Horsley
    Hyam andMaccoby
    Gerd Theissen
    Bart Ehrman
    Paula Fredriksen
    Gerd Lüdemann
    John P. Meier
    E. P. Sanders
    Robert H. Stein
    Karen Armstrong
    Albert Schweitzer (The Quest for the Historical Jesus)
    Mahlon Smith
    Elaine Pagels

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of
    historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    (referencesused are available upon request)

  • Pay attention, Einstein. The only SUPPORT you have given for your “empty declaration” (also known a opinion) that birth is the correct point for personhood to attach is your notion that the availability and number of caretakers somehow matters. It does not. If it did, such an argument would justify infanticide along with abortion.

    Of course you don’t get it. I don’t expect you to. But your 19th century line of argument is coming thru loud and clear to sharper people who are listening. You came thru right on schedule like a good little marionette. Again, thank you.

  • I had one about 45 years ago, just a couple of years into the one marriage I am still in, right after we had a seven-month baby and were told by doctors that any future babies would be very risky to both baby and mother. Our little boy (and his mother) miraculously turned out completely okay. We called him our miracle baby and called it quits via vasectomy. I was grateful that such a procedure was available and have never regretted it a single day in my life. I could give my wife the gift of no worry, no more risks.

  • The support I have for my declaration is the obvious physical difference in existence between gestation and birth. The lack of physical attachment to the bodily systems of another human being which separates a fetus from a person. Being born is the sole defining part of personhood in my argument.

    Caretakers are immaterial except for the fact that one can exist for a person but not a fetus. A pregnant woman is not the caretaker for a fetus. She bears a physical burden for a pregnancy unlike any condition which exists for caring for the born. Your need to lie about the lack of obvious physical differences here between born and unborn undermine any pretension of moral thinking on your part.

    “It does not. If it did, such an argument would justify infanticide along with abortion.”

    Good thing that was never my argument. Since infanticide involves killing people. Those already born and live outside the bodily systems and burdens of the mother. Abortion does not .You are deliberately avoiding the point being made to engage in strawman burning. Facts have a distinct bias against your point of view.

    The born have interests which are distinct and can be protected solely for themselves. You don’t actually protect a fetus, nor can you. Instead you attack its mother, since the two are attached and inseparable until birth. Fetus worship positions involve extolling a fetus and ignoring or attacking its mother. To render her to the point of property whose body is allegedly at your command but sanctifying the fetus which cannot not exist outside of her will for it to do so. Not only is it immoral for its attack of the mother, but irrational. It certainly is not concern for life.

  • I’m a proponent of the ideal marriage model, of course, but I realize not everyone is in that model. When I hear the term “baby mama” used by a man to describe a woman he impregnated while not married to her, I say to myself, THERE was a dude who needed some birth control and neglected to have it or use it. Not good.

  • I took your post as “going that far”, which was your opinion, honestly given.
    OK. Got a good or useful thing?

  • The compromise proposed by Fr. Reese is not possible for Catholics, in good faith. That is because it is not simply POLITICAL, but whittles away at the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Recent articles on RNS and other sources show that such a compromise as that proposed by Fr. Reese is fueled by a sort of political blackmail given events of 30 to 40 years ago which are not the sole property of the Catholic Church. The following would be a TRUE POLITICAL compromise:

    1. We begin with the one by Fr. Reese on the hierarchy:
    He champions the idea that the laity should have a greater say in choosing the Bishops. In the face of threats of litigation leading to bankruptcy or attempts to claim the Church has some type of RICO involvement, it would be prudent to restructure anyway. Please see Fr. Reese’s slightly different take on the extent of the problem as quoted here:
    The laity can be cut from the diocesan health plan, and then could choose, not their Bishop, but their health plan. Further, it would be a real boon to the many Catholic laity, who do not work for a diocese, if a Catholic health care ASSOCIATION with pro-life and natural family planning insurance could be established, nationwide.
    2. Next we have the one on the sisters:
    This shows that the optics of this situation must respect women. It seems to be rather hush-hush, but the Attorney General of PA on Nov. 26th contacted a District Judge Beetlestone saying they will file a supplemental complaint challenging the republished HHS rules:
    This affects the Little Sisters of the Poor, who along with PA Bishop Zubik of Zubik vs. Burwell took the case to the Supreme Court. The time for compromise should have been THEN. HHS never met to compromise. I believe the liberals were waiting for the 2016 election which did not turn out as expected.The Little Sisters could definitely give input on the creation of such a health-care ASSOCIATION which would more truly benefit the poor according to nature’s laws.
    3. Finally, the one on the raid in Texas:
    This shows that the District Attorney in that county wishes to assure the laity that he is not against Catholics. But perhaps he is against cardinals? And he obviously has one in his district communicating with the Holy See. Unless we soon hear something about the case he went in for, he is fishing. But he is no fisher of men. Francis is. Who exactly LEADS the religion of the left (that is more dogmatic and autocratic than the religion it hates)? The Bishops need to personally meet with those in Congress who can vote for an expansion of a health-care ASSOCIATION for Catholics. They should tell Catholics that they are doing so, and what feedback they are getting from the members of Congress..

  • It was a minor cooperation with evil that would have respected the conscience of individuals. What the Little Sisters and bishops chose was an attempt to coerce and require others to live as they wished them to live. It was intended to control others, not to teach, exhort, persuade. It assumed a right to own how others would be allowed to behave. We are past that time when religious “leaders” were in power with “divine right” kings and the will of the bishop was imposed through the will of the king.

    If the religious employer was removed from providing contraceptives directly through their own plan, they should have stepped back and recognized that government also can step in to provide what they don’t want to provide. Signing the form was a good compromise, with what some theologians/canon law people saw as an acceptable way to remove the religious employer from something that was religiously unacceptable while still providing access to a legal medical intervention.

    You have never “corrected” me because there are several different ways to see the issue, the morality, and “material cooperation with evil.”

  • “What the Little Sisters and bishops chose was an attempt to coerce and require others to live as they wished them to live.” is not factual.

    Nothing the Sisters did or did not do denied ANYONE contraception. That fact blows “there are several ways to see the issue” with broadside. Anyway that sees the issue so that the various religious groups, including two Protestant colleges, attempting to coerce and require others to live as they wished them to live is contrary to reality and in fact is a fantasy.

    And this has been pointed out to you more than once this year.


    The government lost the cases, so there was and remains no reason for cooperation with evil, minor or otherwise.

  • Thanks for sharing your list of liberal exegetes of the German liberal Protestant school and your documentation of your complete apostasy from Christianity.

    You need not share more with me since I find your entire enterprise beyond silly.

  • Seriously, Tater? I come back from a marvelous evening out to find you still here twirling around in circles trying to make sound arguments out of your opinions and “empty declarations?”

    Birth defines personhood and its rights. Why? Because a fetus is solely dependent on the mother. So is a born infant. No, an infant can be dependent on anyone. And so if no one is available or willing,it’s ok to kill it. No, because it’s a born person and has rights. Why? Because it’s dependent on the mother. And so on and so forth ad infinitum.

    A dog doesn’t know it’s chasing it’s own tail, but everyone watches it and laughs.

    Thanks for being exhibit A again, Mrs Legree. Night night.

  • What is silly is your refusal to read outside the bible/dogma box. When you wake up, I recommend a few starting studies: Who is Jesus, The Historical Jesus, Excavating Jesus and The Search for Paul, all by Professor J. D. Crossan, ex-Irish priest and NT exegete and then Jesus After 2000 Years by Professor Gerd Luedemann, atheist and NT exegete.

  • The swill of former Christians in love with their own brilliance leaves me cold.

    There is no need at all to share any more of it with me.

  • Tis not my brilliance, but it is the scholarship of the exegetes so noted. At least now you have been pointed in the right direction.

  • There is no empty declaration in saying being born is vastly different from being unborn. Its simply a statement of obvious physical immutable facts. One inconvenient to your narrative. One which posits many ridiculous arguments, many contradictory.

    1. The state (according to your prior arguments) has no regard for the bodily autonomy of a pregnant woman but supposedly has one for a fetus. So a fetus is a person but its mother is property.

    2. Pretending physical attachment to the bodily systems between mother and fetus is the equivalent of any situation involving caretakers or acting as a guardian for a person

    3. The concept of Imago Dei applies to sanctifying the life of a fetus, but somehow showing contempt for all people. Those born.

    “Birth defines personhood and its rights. Why? [Followed by complete dishonest strawman burning having zilch to do with what I said. ”

    Why? Because a fetus is no longer physically attached to its mother or anyone else. It has a separate existence. Meaning one can act on its behalf without affecting the body and autonomy of any other person.

    A person can act as a guardian for a baby, elderly person, person on life support, any stupid analogy you throw out here. Act for its unique and singular interests. It does not affect the mother’s body in any way.

    You can’t do squat to a fetus without doing so to its mother.

    It is only hard to understand if you are dishonest.

    To “protect the fetus” you reduce her to property whose body is at your command. [To even argue the state has such or should have a right is repugnant authoritarian garbage]

    Since you clearly do not want to address the point being made and feel the need to make up arguments for me to refute, there is nothing further to say here. You clearly have to lie in an obvious fashion to sustain your nonsense immoral narrative.

  • Again, since you were obviously too busy thinking about your own opinions to hear it the first time…no one denies there is a difference. The issue is whether the difference matters enough to preclude one being’s right to life. Some say no. Some say yes. Obviously you say yes. But you are pretending that your position is based on something besides your preference alone, which it isn’t. And as we all know from history it is quite easy to prefer the rights of those with power and voice over those with no power or voice at all. We had to go to war over that one and all the “differences” that were cited to justify that preference.

    I must say it was very wise of you to not disrupt the comfortable life under your rock, with the milk of bitterness and resentment to nurture you, by attempting child rearing, Ms Legree. The “attachment to the bodily system” is the easy part. Nothing disabuses one of the notion that one’s opinion is the only “sane” one, and all of one’s pet hypocrisies, faster and more efficiently than family life.

  • Bottom line: if the sexually actives to include good faith Catholics would take the proper precautions to prevent pregnancies and STDs, there would be no abortion or STD debates. “That shalt not be Stupid” should be a commandment !!

  • Good question.
    First, understand that I believe in a creator, the one at Gen 1:1, and that he gave me the Bible as an instruction book. You’ll understand that colors my answer.

    That said, it’s self-evident that he created my reproductive system, so I call a vasectomy a “major tampering”. BTW in this discussion I assume that it’s irreversible, no matter what medicine says. Keeps one honest.

    Since the NT says nothing about it, a Christian has to consider prayrfully what the Bible does say about human reproduction. That begins at Gen 1:28, which I urge you to read for yourself. A married couple, both with functioning bits is the only way to carry out that particular command, and command it is. It’s also one of the most important verses in the Bible in general theology and one of the most misunderstood and ignored by the churches. Again, please read it for yourself.

    One reason why a Christian couple would choose to use an allowed form of birth control is a specific warning given at Mt 24:19 et al.. So that opens up contraception, if not sterilization. Since I believe that time is soon, I might choose to postpone a family until after the dust of Armageddon has settled. Jeremiah was forbidden to marry – thus no family – in his day for similar reasons. Jer 16:1 ff.

    Here’s a question I ask scientific people. I’ll ask it here because it’s relevant. Where did life come from?

  • Applied in a particular account to particular people whose lives began at adulthood in a particular way. Irrelevant.
    The operation that has applied to all of us since is summarized nicely at Ps 139:14. We now know what the psalmist did not, that the embryo’s needs are supplied via the placenta.

  • Actually you deny such differences as an integral part of your position. Your very language is dishonest denial, “Unborn children” is the most obvious. The garbage analogies used in response to my views recognized an unwillingness to acknowledge what is so obvious here.

    A “right to life” can only exist if you have rights of your own to begin with. That only happens when you are born. Prior to that, any assertion of rights can only be made by the mother. The only person capable of making choices here. The only one with any semblance of an independent existence. A fetus has nothing which doesn’t come from its mother or doesn’t affect her body directly. So it can’t have any rights. Personhood is not a zero sum situation. That is why birth defines it.

    Your “right to life” involves attacking the rights of others to live. Therefore it is not an issue if rights at all. You are just attacking the mother and being coy about it.

    Your argument is dishonest, immoral and largely just made of flinging insults rather than trying to make rational statements. Your position is not for a right to life it is fetus worship. Hostile to people and frankly stupid in how its used to manipulate people like yourself politically.

    Until you can babysit a fetus all you do is reduce women to chattel property of the state. Moral people would have problems with that. You do not. Go figure

  • I will simply take my stand with the 2/3 of the voters in predominantly Catholic Ireland who give priority to the health, rights of conscience and religious liberty of women over the misogynist, patriarchalist, clericalist position of male bishops and fundamentalist preachers. And I am pleased to note that a majority of US Catholics agree with me, Let us move on. — Edd Doerr

  • Move on? From what? To what?
    I use the Bible; you follow electorates. I’m not Catholic or Irish.
    You move on; I’m staying here.

  • Contraception is for a real issue with real people; whereas religion is about imaginary people!!
    Why are you interfering in real peoples’ lives?!!!

  • If you fear that the reality and rational thinking brought to bear about the life of Jesus by many contemporary NT exegetes will result in the loss of your mythical soul, then block away.

  • You are mistaken. You have perhaps never heard of natural family planning? It is more healthy, which I think many Catholics would choose, if they could. Right now, it is a very limited decision for most Catholics of taking their employer’s Obamacare policy, or buying one that does not allow for pre-existing conditions. Politically speaking, the bottom line is that if Catholics actually had a real choice of pro-life health care they would probably take it. This is not just pie-in-the-sky. Marquette for example, has a program on it:
    Isn’t the real fear that if Catholics knew more about this, they would go for it and cut into the profits of the sellers of contraceptive and abortion?

  • Been there done that. Requires a lot of self-conrol especially during a woman’s fertile period.

  • A person who is getting heavy also has to exercise self-control, if they have high blood pressure. It’s not easy, but all things can still work for God’s glory, by the help of grace.

  • Where was your god or anyone else’s god when the following took place?

    Number of “god’s” creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

    1. 300,000,000 approx.

    2. 200,000,000 ?

    3. 100,000,000 approx.
    Black Death

    4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

    5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
    Spanish Flu

    6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Plague of Justinian

    7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

    8. 30,000,000[13]
    AIDS pandemic

    9. 12,000,000 ?
    Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

    10. 5,000,000

    11. 4,000,000
    Asian Flu

    12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

  • No, I happen to note that Jesus Christ did not found his Church upon any of the late 19th through 21st century pundits you happen to like, nor do they agree amongst themselves, and that the teaching charism does not belong to them, to you, to Charles Curant, or the late Richard McBrien.

    In short, you’re full of beans.

    I just don’t feel like having to respond to the drivel you’re aiming in my direction.

  • Where? On the cross. He saw them from the cross as the God-Made-Man died a horrible death for the sins of all. Death is not the end. He showed that when he rose and opened Heaven. The point of natural family planning is not the point of artificial contraception. Artificial contraception gives as it’s aim the so-called “perfect” result — no child. Natural family planning is open to life, and respects the Creator’s role in it. As it says in today’s 2nd reading: “And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the better things…Philippians 1:9,10)” I am guessing here, but haven’t you had a child that made the sacrifices of the family worth-while? God’s sacrifice brought his children eternal life.

  • “Personhood is not conditional upon anything other than birth.”

    It appears to be conditional on Spuddie’s defining personhood.

    The law doesn’t.

    Personhood is a coined word invented by the abortion industry.

  • It’s funny that she thinks she’s making an argument — by reiterating her opinion often and loudly.

  • Yes, what the Little Sisters did and what the bishops want to do does deny people access to contraceptives. Contraceptives are a part of health care and need to be covered by health insurance to be affordable. Don’t cite stupid things like condoms. They are not an effective choice or they would be widely used, relied upon – and they are not. For women, getting effective contraceptives is a doctors appointment and a prescription from a doctor. Using contraceptives also requires follow-up with doctors – usually a part of routine health care but especially important if using contraceptives.

    Refusing to cover contraceptives in health insurance is a blatant attempt to control others, to manipulate people so that they have to follow rules they don’t necessarily agree with. The Little Sisters and the bishops can remove themselves with direct cooperation with evil by signing a form, respecting the individual conscience choices of those who work for them.

    The ACA compromise on opting out of direct provision of contraceptives was a good compromise offered by the government that both respected individual religious freedom and individual conscience rights. Sooner or later we will get there – where both forms of freedom are respected: religious freedom and individual freedom.

  • No, the Little Sisters, Archbishop of Washington, East Texas Baptist University, Southern Nazarene University, and Geneva College did NOTHING to deny ANYONE access to contraceptives.

    What they resisted – successfully – was being a party to providing contraceptives.

    Your inability or unwillingness to face that FACT makes your entire shtick an ongoing exercise is disinformation.

    Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers , the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded.

    You need to find better sources, accurate ones.

  • Are you the Edd Doerr of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State who signed the Humanist Manifesto II? The one that said that “traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence.” So there is a “humanist” religion that has had no gains under Trump?

  • Yes. I was editor of AU’s journal Church & State until 1982, when I became executive director of Americans for Religious Liberty (ARL).. With regard to Humanist Manifesto II, I suggest you read the whole complex document. Whether humanism is or is not a religion depends on one’s definition of religion. Some humanists would use the word; others would not. In any event, the Trump administration and most GOP members of Congress are not at all friendly toward religious liberty; they would like all taxpayers to be compelled to support religious private schools and they strongly oppose women;s religious liberty and rights of conscience on matters of reproductive health. As it happens, most Americans of all faiths, other than those who are in the fundamentalist evangelical camp, share our views on religious liberty.

  • Thank you for responding. The reason I asked the question is, in the manifesto it states: “We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species.” Yet the manifesto itself is a type of creed. The use of the state to establish this point of view as law makes it an established religion, does it not? The GOP, even when they are in the majority, are not able to garner support for religious schools being supported by tax money. Here in Pennsylvania, they have never been able to do it. It is probably not a good idea, as the Democrats, would use that funding to enforce support for their established agenda, in religious schools, as they already do in the public schools. No, opposition to the contraceptive mandate, is also a matter of conscience. According to the manifesto, humanists should support the Bishops in this area, as contraception definitely does a “disservice to the human species,” by separating the natural life-giving element from the reproductive act.

  • !. Humanist Manifesto II (1973) is not a creed but, rather, simply a consensus statement of its many signers — scientists, philosophers, writers, Unitarian ministers, liberal rabbis, etc. No one has ever suggested that this or any similar statement be adopted by government as a state religion. Indeed, humanists have always been strong supporters of religious liberty for all and religion/state separation.

    2. The GOP in Congress and several states has been able to pass legislation to divert public funds to Catholic and other church-run private schools, in defiance of the federal and state constitutions and in defiance of 2 of 1 public opposition as registered in 30 state referenda from coast to coast from 1966 until 2018 in Arizona.

    3. Humanists, like most Americans, including Catholics but not fundamentalist evangelicals, support universal access to contraception and abortion, as recommended by the GOP Ford administration’s 1975 NSSM 200 report. You should read the publications of the esteemed Carholics for Choice organization.

    4. Humanism is NOT promoted in the public schools that serve 90% of our kids and which are governed by over 13,500 locally elected school boards. Of course, there are many democratic values and principles shared by Americans of all faiths — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, humanist, etc. — that may be and are taught in our shared public schools.

    Edd Doerr

  • I appreciate your thoughts on this. In response:

    1. Shouldn’t Bishops then have the right under religious liberty, to NOT “sign a consensus statement,” that promotes something they do not believe in? Their signatures were never necessary for people to get contraception.

    2. Planned Parenthood also has public funding. In PA they heavily funded the Democratic Governor in his reelection campaign for office. I am sure that they will say that no public moneys went to this effort, but cannot religious schools do the same? The public funds can go to the curriculum and state standards of education for the children. Private funds go to teaching their own values.

    3. I like the typo better — Carholics for Choice. Catholics are in it for the long car ride with their children! Seriously, though, many Catholics who promise to promote Christianity by the help of God’s grace do not esteem those who try to muddy the waters of Church teaching for their fellow human beings. Why are they esteemed, and the pro-life Catholics are not?

    4. I went to public school grades 1-12. Even in those days ( I suspect I am a little younger than you, from the date of the Manifesto), I remember taking a test in “health class,” on which I was expected to give an answer, on a moral issue, according to what I believe is termed “Values Clarification.” I left a note for the teacher on the test. She “lost” the tests. We never received grades on them. I am very glad to hear, that according to you, the humanists do not support teaching values to children that are incompatible with their moral training. But do they think teachers should be trained in this “philosophy?”

  • 1. As far as I am concerned, bishops may sign or not sign whatever creedal statements they like. And most Catholics disagree with the bishops on reproductive health issues.

    2. Public funding for family planning is a health/welfare matter. OK by me. But diverting public funds to church-run private schools violates Article III, Sections 15 and 29 of the PA constitution. In 1971 the US Supreme Court in Lemon v Kurtzman ruled such aid unconstitutional. And Ben Franklin wrote long ago that “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; but when it does not support itself, and God does not choose to do so, so that its adherents are obliged to cal for the help of the government, it is a sign, I apprehend, that it is a bad one.”

    3. Last May voters in predominantly Catholic Ireland voted 2 to 1 for abortion rights.

    4. I am an honors grad of Indiana’s leading Catholic high school, but attended public summer school in order to syart college at 16. Public schools may and do promote values common to kids of all faiths.

    Edd Doerr

  • None of this is really to the point of the questions. But I’m not going to worry about it. Looks like the movement is going down-hill, and is at the current time only a survival. Wealth and Power will knock it out.

  • My replies directly answered your points. You have simply found found yourself stuck. And no, humanism is not fading; it is growing, as Pew and other polls have shown.

  • I can remember recent polls that predicted a win for a “humanist” candidate. It was wrong. True humanism is being choked out by love of money and power. It will fail since it’s first principle — that of the preciousness of the human person is denied to the child in the womb.

  • A majority of US Catholics are OK with legal abortion. And last May 25 voters in predominantly Catholic Ireland voted 66 to 33 to approve legal abortion. And remember that the church in Ireland runs 95% of the elementary schools. The church’s official opinion on when human personhood begins is supported by neither science nor the Bible.

  • That is totally irrelevant to the matter of women’s rights of conscience and religious liberty regarding abortion.

  • It is particularly relevant to human rights. You said science did not support, but now you throw that out? I repeat, you reject the child as a human being and your first principle is corrupted.

  • What is relevant is when a fetus has the capability of consciousness. And science puts that at some time after 28-32 weeks of gestation, and well olver 99% of abortions are done well before that time. That is what the 65 scientists (including 12 Nobel laureates, one of whom was DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick) told the Supreme Court in an amicus brief that I organized some years ago. The church has vacilated all over the place on personhood and its current position is based on antiquated science from centuries ago. What is important is women’;s health, rights of conscience and religious liberty, not the unscientific opinions of theologians.

  • So, if you are unconscious, then the Supreme Court would support your murder? On the contrary, the Church is the supporter of current science in this matter. Life obviously begins at conception. The antiquated theory that you seem to support is the theory of abiogenesis.

  • You misunderstand. We are discussing the possibility of consciousness, which science shows is not possible before 28-32 weeks. Human life began many thousands of years ago. My view jives with what the majority of scientists hold. BTW, most Catholics are OK with abortion and contraception, as the May 2018 Irish referendum showed.

  • No, because abortions after 20 weeks are rather few and are performed only for serious medical reasons.

  • So if you were married to someone who did not support you medically, in a serious illness, it would be OK to kill that conscious person?

  • Good bye. By not answering, you confirmed what I postulated, about the “humanist” movement.

  • Humanists value human life AND the rights of conscience, religious liberty and health of all women.

  • Then why wouldn’t you support a 20 week bill? Some of these children could survive outside the womb.

  • You don’t seem to understand that the relatively few abortions performed after 2o weeks are only for very serious medical reasons. The law should not try to second guess doctors.

  • The law second-guesses doctors all the time, when they are sued for negligence. Many doctors would shudder to do one of these abortions. And that is why you cannot force them to do so. What is the point of killing the baby inside, rather than removing the child by Caesarian, would allow both to survive? Someone could adopt that child. Further, our rights, as the founders declared in the Declaration of Independence, come from the Creator, and this “right” is not one of them. On the contrary it is the right to life which shall prevail.

  • No, a child made in the IMAGE of God is being killed. The problem is you cannot IMAGINE that for a defenseless child.

  • The problem is that you want government to impose your theological opinion on all women and you do not respect women’s rights of conscience or religious liberty.

  • I respect the woman’s right to life. Abortions (often-times in China) can be sex-selective.