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Let’s pray the Fortnight for Freedom helps Barack Obama change his mind about the contraceptive mandate

Pregnancy is not a disease, and the pill should not be a part of any health insurance policy

By on Monday, 25 June 2012

The opening Mass for the US bishops' Fortnight for Freedom at a basilica in Baltimore (CNS photo)

The opening Mass for the US bishops' Fortnight for Freedom at a basilica in Baltimore (CNS photo)

Thanks to all those supportive and positive posts in response to my last blog. It is also always heartening to read posts from non-Catholics and non-Christians who defend the right to freedom of conscience. I’ll ignore the “ad hominem” attacks. We Christians are commanded to love our enemies, after all; easier said than done, I’ll admit.

Following on from that blog, I note that the US Bishops’ Conference has called for a Fortnight for Freedom, starting last Thursday and ending on July 4 – Independence Day. Its website describes this fortnight as “a great hymn of prayer for our country” and refers to Ss Thomas More and John Fisher “who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power”. The bishops appeal: “Please join us in continuing to pray each day for our Church leaders, for our civic leaders… and for religious freedom.” Amen to all that.

On this subject I have also read a very good article in Mercator online magazine by Fr Michael Giesler, a priest in St Louis, Missouri, which gives the wider context for the US bishops’ decision that they are not able to come to an “accommodation” with President Obama over the contraceptive mandate. Fr Giesler pulls no punches, declaring that “the federal government has no right to mandate a drug that is not really a health benefit to anyone”. The pill, he points out, is quite different from cancer treatment as it is specifically designed to alter a human organ and to destroy its natural function. Also, other medicines are now just as effective in regularising women’s cycles.

Pregnancy, Fr Giesler, reminds us, is not a disease and contraceptives should not therefore be included in any insurance policy. Looking at the wider implications, he argues that a combination of abortion and contraception have helped to cripple the US economy: “Without young people there are neither consumers or a growing work force… We are left with an ageing population, with fewer and fewer young people to support it.” He also makes the point that I have never read in any literature put out by environmental pressure groups or the Greens (or in speeches by the Prince of Wales): that the earth’s water is being contaminated by chemicals contained in the pill.

Fr Giesler adds: “I doubt that any woman, deep in her heart, believes the pill is somehow ‘liberating’ her.” Actually, I’m inclined to add it is enslaving her: frustrating her body’s natural fertility and turning her into a sex object. All these arguments are worthwhile natural reasons against contraceptives. However, as Fr Giesler also makes clear, the Church is opposed to them for deeper, theological reasons: that to separate sex from its natural purpose – the union of a man and a woman in marriage, open to love and to life – undermines marriage, leading to a huge increase in divorce in the US in the past 50 years and, more recently, to a demand for same-sex marriage: the logical conclusion to the “sex for pleasure only” principle. The bishops need prayer to stay firm. The President needs prayer to alter his unnecessary hard-line stance. It’s all about religious freedom.

  • JessicaHof

    I thought we had established that I did not believe that the whole of the Koran came from God? If this is all about you needing to be right, then you can play by yourself. For me it is about how Christians approach and deal with other belief systems. No doubt if I was as dismissive of them as you, you’d say it was evidence of the narrow-minded nature of Christians; since you cannot say that, you are reduced to insisting you are ‘right’ – about what?

    As I pointed out several times, there are a range of options between your black and white view; most intelligent people use them; why not try it and see how it feels to escape from bigotry?

  • C_monsta

    “I thought we had established that I did not believe that the whole of the Koran came from God” – from this statement, it would appear that you think that most of the Koran does come from God. How many sections of the Koran do you consider to come from God?

    I believe this dispute all started when you claimed that the evidence for a “God of love” was the millions of people of faith, which led me to question your views of those faiths.
    I thought that, as a Christian, you believe yours is the one true religion – but you tell me this is not the case., even though you claim to KNOW so much about God.

  • JessicaHof

    My point was that the god you were portraying bore no traces of the God of love we are shown in the NT. My supplementary one was that you are dismissing the religious experience of millions of people. our complain appears to be that I won’t join you when it comes to Koran.
    It is clear you have real trouble not thinking in black and white. It seems equally clear that you don’t understand any of the material I have provided for you to read, which explains how we can believe that our Faith offers us the one true access to the fullness of God, but not dismiss all others as ‘fabrications’. I am sorry you have trouble thinking in other than binary terms, and can see it would help you to confine Christianity into your existing construct, but it does not work. You may only be able to think x or y, but most of us manage with a full alphabet – try it if you can.

  • C_monsta

    I know you are not in the habit of answering my questions, but do you think that God approves of Islam? I suppose you would believe he’d think it was a good start on the track towards his fullness, seeing as the Koran is mostly his messages (so you imply).
    But I don’t really think Allah sounds like a God of love. Do you? – and his attitudes towards women are shocking. But even so, I can’t expect you to join me on this. It was actually the subject of God being a God of love that I wanted to discuss, but was sidetracked by the topic of Muslims.

  • misterheche

    The movement against contraception
    and its negative effects on our society is growing stronger and more
    sophisticated and is now educating young adults with a dynamic new
    website.

    Check out the story here:

    http://brandonvogt.com/2012/06/1flesh-org-the-revolt-against-artificial-contraception.html

  • misterheche

    Below is an insightful, explanation of the Church’s teaching on the issue of contraception.

    Personally,
    I think the Church’s teaching on marriage, sexuality and the family is
    incredibly beautiful, dignified, and uplifting.

    Whether one
    agrees or disagrees, this short essay provides a succinct and powerful
    explanation of the teaching, while leaving the open-minded reader with a
    lot of food for thought.

    http://allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/2012/02/contraception-and-catholicism-what.html

  • JessicaHof

    I have, several times, cited the views of God’s Church on this subject. Since it is that Church which speaks for Him, I am surprised you seem to require me to speak for Him, as though I would add anything. What I told you was what the Church tells you, which is that those elements of Islam which chime with the Faith are true. I don’t know how much Islamic theology you have read, and whether you have read the Koran in the same reductionist way you seem to have read the Bible, but from the crudeness of your account of its attitude towards women, I would reckon that is the case.

    More than happy to get back tot he point I raised,which is that God is love. You sidetracked yourself, so do stop complaining.

  • JessicaHof

    The Supteme Court voted by a majority of 1 and,whilst Obama had denied that his bill was a tax, the Supreme Court has declared him a liar and told the nation that his bill is a tax. This decision has united American conservatives, and the O man is already begging his diners for more cash as Romney is beginning to outspend him. The O man is going only one place, and this bill has done him far more damage than he can afford.

  • C_monsta

    I was not complaining at all. In fact, seeing as you refuse to answer my questions, I’d like to stay on the topic a little longer.
    “the crudeness of your account of its attitude towards women,” – I believe I took the text directly from the Sahih International Koran (Surah an-Nisa 4:34)
    As for whether you consider that God approves of Islam, I was asking what you believe – not whether the Church thinks that elements of Islam are true. So yes please, I would like to hear your answer.

  • JessicaHof

    Do you suppose that cherry-picking verses from the Koran without context and without interpretation is what Muslims do? If so, you expose your lack of understanding; if you know this is not how Muslims proceed, why do you proceed in this manner?
    My answer is that I believe what the Church believes, as I said last time and several times before, Where Islam teaches what the Church teaches, it has in it the truth; where it does not, it does not. The links I gave you and you pronounced wordy, all said that. It is not that I do not answer, it is that you seem not to read or understand. You may wish to have a black and white world, perhaps you are some kind of fundamentalist who likes to see the world thus, but this is not how most Christians or most Muslims see matters. Do you actually know any Muslims? Have you actually ever spent any time talking with them and trying to understand their faith, or are you simply bringing your own uninformed views to this topic?

  • C_monsta

    The question was quite specific and straightforward: do you think that God approves of Islam?
    Saying that you agree with the Church in that elements of Islam are the truth is not an answer to this question, as you can plainly see. You are blatantly avoiding to answer this question and your refusal to acknowledge this is dishonest.

  • JessicaHof

    You seem not to understand the status of the Catholic Church, which is mite surprising for someone commenting on a Catholic site. It is the Church, most specifically its Magisterium which speaks for God on earth. If you wish me to blaspheme, that is to speak for God, I cannot and will not do so. In refusuing to acknowledge this you, hardly for the first time, show your ignorance of theology.
    How on earth am I to know the mind of God? What presumption it would be of a simple laywoman to do such a thing.

  • C_monsta

    Amazing! Since when was it blasphemy to have an opinion on what you consider God may or may not approve of?? This is what Catholics do all the time! How can you be so desperate not to answer my question as to resort to this?

  • JessicaHof

    You seem to understand very little. Catholics do not tell you what they think God thinks. Where do you get such a notion? What do you think the Magisterium is for. Any Catholic who tells you she speaks for God speaks more than she can say. I am beginning to believe you understand nothing and are simply here to insult. Answer me a clear question. Have you ever read any Catholic theology or writing on Islam?

  • C_monsta

    How ridiculous! Catholics are always considering what Jesus or God would think of this or that, as you know full well. – and you are not a Catholic anyway! The truth of the matter is, as we are both well aware, that if you answered my question honestly it would allow me to take apart your previous arguments.

    “I am beginning to believe you understand nothing and are simply here to insult” If you look back through the posts it is clear that you have monopoly on the insults.

    Q: “Have you ever read any Catholic theology or writing on Islam?”
    A: not nearly as much as you I’d imagine, but I’ve read a bit.

  • JessicaHof

    Of course we are always guided by what God wants. You have not, it seems, understood the nature of the Magisterium. It is not up to me or any individual Catholic to pronounce for herself, but rather to refer to what the Church believes. I am not a Roman Catholic, that is true, but I am an Anglo-Catholic and would contest any right to deny me the name Catholic.

    I am sorry you take this rather silly and reductionist approach that I am avoiding your question because you would take my argument apart. As you don’t actually have an argument, I find that hard to credit without a laugh.
    Try, instead of imputing dishonesty and low motives, to understand that not everyone proceeds from a place such as that.

    I have told you that, where the Koran does not conflict with the teachings of the Church, there it has in in the truth; where it does not, it errs. You seem to feel that those latter points must be called by words such as ‘fabrication’ and ‘delusion’. Why? Can people not make honest mistakes? Is all error malign in intent and purpose@

    You are, of course, correct about the amount of reading. Not all the reading in the world would, I suspect, make a narrow mind able to see in the broader colours in which God paints.

    You clearly do not regard calling me dishonest as an insult if you think I hold the monopoly. You will find you began that line, and I make it a policy to respond in kind. If you cannot take it, refrain from dishing it out in the first place.

  • C_monsta

    In case you hadn’t noticed, the Church does not say whether it thinks that God would approve of Islam or not – it only mentions aspects of Islam to which it agrees. Considering the nature of the content of the Koran i.e. it claims that God said a whole heap of stuff to which the Church does not validate, it follows that the Church does not approve of the Koran, and therefore Islam to boot.
    The Church invalidates the Koran, so it seems God does not approve of Islam as you would see it. To override the mealy mouthed to take things back to their basic principles is not necessarily silly reductionism.

  • JessicaHof

    So, you ask me a question about what God thinks, and I say I can’t speak for h
    Him. You then admit that the Church itself does not answer your question. So, if you knew that, why try to tempt me into going further than the Church? Why then, saying that the Church does not say whether God approves, do you take it upon yourself to speak for the Church. I just checked, and no one died and made you Pope.

  • C_monsta

    If the Church considers the Koran to be invalid, then it follows that it considers Islam to be invalid. How could it be any other way? You don’t have to be a pope to work that out.

  • JessicaHof

    Now all you have to do is provide evidence that the Church teaches what you claim.

  • C_monsta

    I don’t need to, as you know the Church considers most of the Koran to be invalid.

  • JessicaHof

    You made the claim that the Church considers Islam invalid. If you are unable to back that up you have one honourable course open to you.

  • C_monsta

    If the Church doesn’t think the Koran is valid, then obviously it considers it invalid. If you have any reason to think otherwise, please tell me.

  • JessicaHof

    In other words, you have no evidence to back up the claim you made? I knew that, and if you are honest, so did you. I offered you at least three links to what the Church thinks, and none of them support your contention it thinks Islam ‘invalid’; that is because it is not dismissive as you are. Why not just admit it – you are misrepresenting the view of the Church.

  • C_monsta

    If the Church does not consider the Koran to be invalid, why does it not follow the Koran? As you have a better understanding of the Church than me, maybe you can work it out, as I’m very puzzled about this.

  • JessicaHof

    If you insist that things are black and white and that the Church must be so too, you will be puzzled. Some parts of the Koran do not conflict with Christian teaching and those parts are valid, many do and would not be considered so. But if we are to follow Christ’s teaching, we need to approach those who have not had the full revelation of the Truth in love and understanding – and not be calling them delusional.

  • C_monsta

    I never said that Muslims are delusional, but they have been deluded by the Koran to believe that Jesus is not divine (for example). How are you arguing against that?

  • JessicaHof

    I am not, and never have. My argument has been that it is not right for you to say that the Church regards Islam as invalid.

  • C_monsta

    Islam regards the very foundation belief of your religion to be mistaken. This is very much a ‘black and white’ issue. If God doesn’t disapprove of Islam it doesn’t look good for Christianity, does it?

  • JessicaHof

    Just because some sections of Islam take a black and white view does not mean they speak for all Muslims. I do worry about you. You seem to need to think in extremes – try some nuance – but that means learning something about other faiths and not just dismissing them.

  • C_monsta

    Don’t worry about me.
    Please tell me more about these nuances. For instance: at a rough guess, what proportion of Muslims do you think consider Allah’s view of the status of Jesus’ divinity to be false?

  • JessicaHof

    At a rough guess, about as high a percentage as among Unitarians or Quakers – the point being that rejecting the divinity of Our Lord although heretical from the point of view of the Church, does not mean the rejection of all His teaching. I worry because you keep needing to see the world as black and white when it is not, has never been and never will be.

  • C_monsta

    To be a Christian is a black and white position, as you believe Christianity is the only true path – which means the other religions are false.

    Why would God allow all this chaos of beliefs to continue?

  • JessicaHof

    To be a Christian is to confess Christ as Lord. He tells us God is love and that by the measure we judge, so shall we be judged. If you think that makes for a black and white world, I’d recommend more thinking.

  • C_monsta

    You said that Christianity was the ONLY true path – so the others must be false – you said it

  • JessicaHof

    It is, but that does not mean that other faiths do not have within them part of the truth. This is what you appear to be unable to grasp. You told me that the Church said that Islam was invalid. I asked for evidence. You have provided none.

  • C_monsta

    I said that if the Church does not believe that the Koran was God’s word, then the Church must then consider the Koran invalid, and therefore Islam is invalid as a religion. You admit that Christianity is the ONLY true path and so the others are false.
    Hinduism also contains things that the Church agrees with, but do you think that the elephant headed Ganesh really exists? Even so, you ally yourself to these things because of the shared experience of having faith.
    You accuse me of thinking in black and white, while it is you who claims to know the truth – not me.

  • JessicaHof

    I offered you sources which explained the teaching of the Church on this. That teaching is nothing like as crude as your formulation. Many other faiths contain elements of the truth so they are not entirely false. It is this need you have to see black and white which leads you astray. When one knows the Truth, one also knows that things are not black and white. Your question about Ganesh has an obvious answer – unless of course, the book you once read said something different.

  • C_monsta

    Well, “not entirely false” will do for me, thanks. However, you still seem to confuse the desire to pare things down to fundamental facts as a need to see things in black and white.
    But I still don’t see how God expects people to find ‘the Truth’, when he allows them to grow up indoctrinated by all these “not entirely false” religions. Surely all religions must feel equally authentic to the religious.

  • JessicaHof

    It is a good point. He gave us minds so that we can think. If religion really were indoctrination then no one would ever have been an atheist. Nowadays few seem to take the trouble to read and study Christianity – there seems to be a view it should somehow just come to you. God is already offering His love – but we need to go half way to seeking it.

  • C_monsta

    Religion is generally indoctrinated, as you must know, which gives it a sense of authenticity to the indoctrinated. In countries such as England, where religion is not treated so seriously, and there is free access to information, people have more freedom to think for themselves – hence you get more atheists.
    If God is really offering his love as you profess, he hasn’t given many of us a reasonable chance in seeing it. Even a large number Christians are evidence to the contrary, with their primitive, backward views and intolerances.

  • JessicaHof

    Religion is taught; if you consider that the equivalent of brain-washing then you ought to do more work on the subject. Where I was brought up and where I live now religion is taken very seriously, so don’t presume to speak for everyone in England; I don’t, why do you?
    You have exactly the same chance of me of encountering God’s love. How much trouble have you taken to find out more about it?

  • C_monsta

    In general religion is not take as seriously in England as in most other countries.
    “How much trouble have you taken to find out more about it?” how am I supposed to know where to look, what with all the conflicting information. God doesn’t help.

  • JessicaHof

    He does. He gave you a brain and intelligence. If you can find your way here, you can find way to any number of places on the Web which will tell you more.

  • C_monsta

    Why would I choose one direction over another? I followed my brain this far.

  • JessicaHof

    You were saying God didn’t provide much help, now you admit it is you who is not willing to help yourself – fair enough. It is up to you.

  • C_monsta

    No. We can only make sense of the world by what we experience of it. God isn’t giving me any pointers.