Ted Frier

Ted Frier
Location
Boston,
Birthday
April 02
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Speechwriter
Bio
Ted Frier is an author and former political reporter turned speechwriter who at one time served as communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party, helping Bill Weld become the first Bay State Republican in a generation to be elected Governor. He was Chief Speechwriter for Republican Governor Paul Cellucci and Lt. Governor Jane Swift. Ted is also the author of the hardly-read 1992 history "Time for a Change: The Return of the Republican Party in Massachusetts." So, why the current hostility to the Republican Party and what passes for conservatism today? The Republican Party was once a national governing party that looked out for the interests of the nation as a whole. Now it is the wholly-owned subsidiary of self interest. Conservatism once sought national unity to promote social peace and harmony. Now conservatism has devolved into a right wing mutation that uses divide and conquer tactics to promote the solidarity of certain social sub-groups united against the larger society while preserving the privileges of a few.

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FEBRUARY 8, 2012 1:40PM

Bishops' rift with Obama about politics, not religion

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Like all Fox News talking heads, Kirsten Powers employs a simple (if not simple-minded) narrative to incite maximum tribal resentment among her listeners, in this case conservative Catholics.

 

And so, in her Daily Beast column on the current controversy over birth control, Powers argues: The Catholic Church says birth control is a sin. A bullying “secular progressive” government says the Church is no different from other employers who must provide health insurance to their workers. The Church complains its religious liberties are being trampled on. All right-thinking Catholics should therefore be outraged. Wash, rinse, repeat.

 

"It's hard to escape the feeling that the Obama administration is trying to run America's Catholic charities and institutions out of business,” Powers intones with characteristic Fox News nuance. “How else to explain the mean-spirited decision mandating that Catholic institutions be required to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives, and the 'morning-after pill,' which violates their fundamental religious beliefs?"

 

Like the Catholic bishops themselves, Powers frames the controversy as one involving religious freedom. Reality, however, is far more complex and efforts are thankfully underway to spotlight the promiscuous posturing going on here as well as put the controversy in its proper context.

 

It turns out, for example, that this is not a new issue at all, as Michelle Goldberg notes. Catholic institutions, in fact, have been operating for a long time in many states that already require contraceptive coverage for Church workers -- such as New York and California. These laws are on the books in 28 states.  In only eight of them are Catholic hospitals and universities given an exemption and “nowhere has the Catholic Church shut down in response,” says Goldberg. 

Jonathan Cohn of New Republic also points out that from a strictly “policy wonk perspective” the Catholic Church isn’t bankrolling birth control at all.  Instead, it’s merely paying wages and benefits to the workers who are the real policyholders.  “It’s really your money that's paying for your health insurance, not your company’s,” says Cohn, so “the only objection that ought to matter is yours.” 

It’s true, that arguments like these are unlikely to assuage conservatives who now accuse the administration of engaging in religious persecution – and for students of mass hysteria, I highly recommend the sulfurous letters banged out by the Catholic hierarchy and read aloud in churches throughout America whose rhetoric reeks of the scorched remains of Christian martyrs who’ve been roasted at the stake.  

But now that the Catholic bishops have had their tantrum, I’m confident cooler heads will ultimately prevail and a face-saving compromise will be found that allows women to get the affordable contraceptives they require while sparing the Catholic hierarchy of being complicit in sin. 

The place to begin in untangling this controversy, however, is by recognizing that the American Catholic hierarchy forfeited its right to portray Church teaching on birth control as a religious matter instead of a political one a long time ago.  Why are so many critics of President Obama, in other words, ready to take the Church at its word that this is a dispute over religious freedom when there is such a clear history here that says it isn’t?

In one of my rare moments of clairvoyance, I wrote last September that to understand why modern democracies need to erect steep walls of separation between Church and State, it was important to recognize that without those walls it would still be a crime in America for married couples to use contraceptives in the privacy of their own homes.

Most people today find the idea of such priestly meddling in our private affairs to be laughable, if not incredible.

But such was the power of the Catholic Church that -- beginning with passage of the Comstock Act of 1873 -- a century-long ban prevailed in most states against the transportation, distribution or sale of contraceptives to married couples as well as singles, Catholics as well as non-Catholics, until the Supreme Court finally stepped in and knocked down these ridiculous laws as unconstitutional in 1965.

Because of these morality laws, American "doughboys" who fought against Prussian authoritarianism and in order to make the world safe for democracy way back during World War I suffered an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases after being sent overseas without condoms.

Indeed, as Susan Jacoby writes in Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, World War I marked a turning point in the growing political aggressiveness of the American Catholic leadership.

"Before the First World War, the American hierarchy generally confined its pronouncements on sexual issues to matters directly affecting Catholics," says Jacoby. But with its crusade against birth control, "the church set out on a radically different course, intended to prevent non-Catholics from gaining access to something deemed immoral by the Church, not merely for its own members but for all."

According to Jacoby, the Church hierarchy overplayed its hand in November 1921 when New York City police, acting at the "suggestion" of Archbishop Patrick Hayes, raided a meeting of about 1,000 who were attending an educational conference on birth control, and dragged feminist activist Margaret Sanger and another member of the British Parliament off the stage in full view of the audience.

Participants were booked for disorderly conduct by police who openly admitted they were acting on the archbishop's "recommendations." Nearly every major paper in New York denounced the police action as a violation of free speech, said Jacoby, earning public sympathy for the right of women to control their reproductive lives.

This is not ancient history, for while it’s impossible to imagine such a thuggishly Taliban-like confrontation occurring today, the underlying attitudes about society and morality that provoked that incident almost 100 years ago prevail even today among the right wing fringe of the Catholic Church.

“Liberal modernity exasperates traditional religion,” writes Damon Linker, who once worked for right wing Catholic theocrat, the late Fr. John Richard Neuhaus.  

 

What religious conservatives find so offensive about modern society, says Linker, is that it “fosters a pluralism that denies any one faith the power to organize the whole of social life. It teaches that public authorities must submit to the consent of those over whom they aspire to rule, thereby undermining the legitimacy of all forms of absolutism. It employs the systematic skepticism of the scientific method to settle important questions of public policy. It encourages the growth of the capitalist marketplace, which unleashes human appetites and gives individuals the freedom to choose among an ever-expanding range of ways to satisfy them.”

 

Linker says that conservative Catholics like Fr. Neuhaus are quite open in calling upon the Roman Catholic Church to assume "its rightful role in the culture-forming task of constructing a religiously informed public philosophy for the American experiment in ordered liberty."  

 

Those reactionary views strongly resonate in the present controversy between President Obama and the bishops and echo in the Catholic hierarchy’s recent letters to the Church faithful.

 

So reactionary in fact, that Neuhaus’s idea of popular sovereignty and consent of the governed was for a free people to voluntarily subordinate itself to its God and to the Church hierarchy that presumed to speak in God’s name.

 

The important question for Neuhaus, and for conservative Catholics in general, says Linker, is not whether Catholicism is "compatible with democracy" but whether American democracy "could survive” without recognizing it’s ethical and philosophical roots reach back not to the liberal Enlightenment but to “the Catholic medieval theory of man and society."

 

Conservative Catholics believe that the United States will either “return to its medieval Catholic roots or the very existence of its democratic order would be imperiled,” said Linker. And that, to Neuhaus and the conservative Catholics for whom he speaks, “were America's only options.”

 

 It’s true that the network of hospitals, schools and charitable institutions run by the Catholic Church advances the Church’s historic mission of service to the community.  But also true is the equally important mission Church leaders have carved out for themselves -- which they are understandably reluctant to advertise openly -- as stewards of society, custodians of culture.

And as our self-appointed moral custodians, the Church hierarchy continues to think Americans would be far better off if contraception was outlawed altogether so as to emphasize that sex should be for procreation not recreation.

If the Catholic Church could have its way today I am quite sure that no one – neither Catholics nor non-Catholics -- would have access to birth control. We'd all be better people, the bishops say, more responsible and less selfish if unprotected sex with the possibility of conception was the only kind of sex we could have.

Rick Santorum says as much openly out there on the stump when he worries out loud about sex becoming "deconstructed to the point where it's simply pleasure."  

Consequently, Santorum believes it is perfectly permissible for states to outlaw the sale or distribution of birth control so as to promote “family values” within their borders. 

Santorum, it should be remembered, is not running to become the Vicar of Christ but President of the United States.  Yet, he is running as THE Catholic candidate for president as he wages a conspicuously Catholic campaign whose major themes -- “family, faith and freedom” -- are torn directly from the pages of conservative Catholic paternalism.  Indeed, the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne (a Catholic himself) says about the candidate who just won the last three Republican primaries that Santorum’s Catholicism “is the most important thing about him.”

The Catholic Church knows that, politically, it could never get a bill through Congress to re-criminalize birth control. So, by exploiting the present controversy with President Obama the Church leadership hopes to do the next best thing, which is: To humble and humiliate another secular leader the same way it has done to many others in the past and, at the same time, to make a statement by depriving the tens of thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics who work for Church hospitals, schools and charitable organizations of easy access to birth control.

At the end of the day, this conflict with the President is the culture-shaping political agenda the Catholic bishops hope to sneak through underneath the protective camouflage of "religious freedom."  

 

 

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Again, you are spot-on in your analysis. I won't bother repeating the long, long laundry list of reasons why the Catholic Church has NO business preaching to anyone about morality.

But leaving morality aside, wouldn't it be wise for the Catholic Church -- now suffering such a severe loss of membership (not to mention credibility) that it has been compelled to advertise on television -- wouldn't it be wise, I say, for the Catholic Church to encourage Protestants to have abortions and use birth control?

As you say, this is about politics, not moral absolutes. If it were, the Catholic Church should simply excommunicate any Catholic that uses birth control. As to why that won't happen, I refer you back to the previous paragraph.

Of course, the Catholic Church is now second to Protestant Evangelicals when it comes to mixing politics and religion. The bishops pronouncements reminds of a similar sin visited upon Protestant congregations from the pulpit on a Sunday morning before the election in 1860. They were warned in no uncertain terms that a vote for Catholic John Kennedy was a vote for the Devil himself.
Excellent article, Ted.

My first thought upon hearing of the controversy was the "you can always switch the set off" resolution of what some people consider objectionable broadcasting.

The institutions are required to follow the law. This does not mean any Catholic will be required to use contraceptives, morning-after pills, or any of the other things.

This is nonsense...and I think you are correct that it will be resolved with some face-saving on both sides.

Too bad this kind of crap has to happen...but, it allows for everyone to take a fresh look at all sides of the story. I am beginning to suspect the Bishop's stand on this works much like the Vatican's ban on certain books and movies. There are authors and producers who pray the Vatican will issue a condemnation. Great for sales.

In this case, it is showing everyone an argument that works in favor of more freedom...rather than in the direction the Bishops intended.

Somebody ought to teach the Church about the Law of Unintended Consequences...and the meaning of the word, "counterproductive."
And if you'll forgive me one more rant ...

As for this: Conservative Catholics believe that the United States will either “return to its medieval Catholic roots or the very existence of its democratic order would be imperiled"

One would have hoped that the Catholic Church had grown past it's medieval roots -- after all, the Crusades and the Inquistion and the witchhunts should have taught the Church something about its supposed infallibility on things moral, but alas, apparently not.

If the Church wants to turn back the clock, maybe it should revisit John Wycliffe, who seven centuries ago was courageous enough to say the Church had no inherent authority, that its authority extended only so long as it comported with God's will.

The question, of course, is how do we know God's will? Well, since we can't trust the Church hierarchy to be infallible, maybe we ought to look to some of God's lesser -- as in less politically motivated -- creatures.

The Church insists God wants sex to be only for procreation -- despite abundant evidence to the contrary among God's other creatures -- and that it's God's will that all God's creatures be fruitful and multiply. If that is God's will, then why are those supposedly among the most godly of humans -- popes, cardinals, bishops and priests -- not engaging in sex and procreating?

Oh, wait, they are, aren't they?
that's what "cognus interruptus" (sp?) will do to you. what are you still doing in this religion?
Thanks Tom and Frank for your comments. It will interesting to see how this plays out and what kind of arrangement Obama makes with the bishops as I am sure he does not want an all out war with the Catholic hierarchy going into an election. But I'll be fascinated to see the polling on this to see which way the rank and file laity go, given that most ignore their own Church teaching on this issue as absurd.

And Ben, I guess I am still in the Church because no one has kicked me out yet! I've always been able to make a distinction between the Church as a political entity whose politics I mostly detest and the the Church as that small religious community I see face to face at the local level. And so far, I have been very fortunate that this community is so small that it tends to fly under the radar and so escapes all that heavy-handedness you get the closer you get to the hierarchy. But you are right, it really wouldn't take much for me to walk away if push came to shove.
i left as a matter of conscience. i stopped liking myself for being part of an institution that so abused spirituality, and i'm a guy who needs a faith he can believe in. the last place to find "god" these days is in organized religion. she's gone elsewhere and the need for community can be easily met by the joining the grange and the pot luck suppers are a lot better. p.s. it also helped my blood pressure.
This is more Coitus Exploitus, ben. We can't let this corruptus interruptus.

Having experienced some immersion in the civil rights social justice element of Catholicism, it's been disappointing watching the Church become wrapped in a reverse effort. The civil rights effort was from the ground up - to sway public sensibilities so THEY would be the means to the ends. This birth control flap is top-down, attempting to coerce politicians into enforcing a Catholic law dictate on an unwilling secular majority...turning the hapless pol into...wait for it......Canon fodder.

There are probably at least 20 more BC pills at every Mass than there are reproductive-aged women. Nobody pays attention to the ban like my parents did -- which ended up being a limited support -- or my aunt and uncle who spawned 10 kids.

I have a very loose theory, not qualified, but anecdotal, that says the heavy Catholic (and Jewish) involvement in civil rights showed the proddies how to get involved in politics. The difference then being the Protestants were out to force their morality on much smaller, more personal matters, like forcing their religious education on kids regardless of parental rights and establishment clause restriction (Catholics don't have a problem with science-v- beliefs).
Civil rights was the opposite -- making justice align with the Constitution.

As the Protestant religious Right grew in power, the Catholics figured they had best jump back in, lest the clock be wound back 400 years without them regaining their former position in the scheme. So they have adopted the same insult to logic that stretches religious freedom over religious rule frame. Thus the big political effort at condom-nation.

The irony, as one looks back at the Reformation, is the Protestants rebelled over things like Catholic political power and selling indulgences. But now they have started dreaming the implausible dream of restoring religious rule (sans Pope, of course), and the commercial evangelicals have turned selling indulgences into a very big business.

Proving that, in the end, we all become our parents.
Paul,

I love your take on the irony of history!

Here is my own twist: What if part of Obama's thinking in picking a fight with the Catholic bishops over birth control was knowing it would throw red meat to the far right thus empowering the Catholic theocrat's candidate Santorum, who just won three straight primaries? Then once Santorum wins the nomination beating out the more electable Romney the President pulls the rug out from under Santorum by making nice with the bishops by finding some way to diffuse the controversy without alienating Obama's female supporters. I can't say that the President's people are quite that cynically calculating. But I also can't say they aren't! The more I think about it the more I like the strategy.
Like I stated in one of your earlier posts on this issue, it is absolutely immoral to force one person, through the threat of violence and aggression, to pay for the birth control or STD tests of another.

You can not possibly defend such governmental policies without, sooner or later, being forced to defend the use of violence and aggression against peaceful, non-aggressors; not to mention being forced to defend the idea of forcing people, through threats of violence, to subsidize something that they don't believe in.

This tyrannical, regressive, statist world-view that you seem to have is just as villainous as any other authoritarian system -- religious or secular based -- that humans have had to contend with since the beginning of time.
Larry,

What if the Catholic Church got into the pizza business and bought up all the pizza chains in the US, establishing a pepperoni monopoly? Would free delivery in 30 minutes or less now be considered a form of "worship" to the extent that Catholic bishops considered themselves a victim of religious persecution if they had to pay for the birth control of their delivery boys and girls?

Once the Church leaves the sanctuary of the church and starts engaging in society alongside other secular institutions like hospitals, schools or even pizza parlors it loses the ability to use the tenets of its religion to create its own rules for those big pieces of our society its carved out for itself with its money that under ordinary circumstances would be governed by secular law.

A hospital is not a church. A school is not a church. A pizza parlor is not a church. And to regulate a Catholic pizza parlor in exactly the same way as a Jewish (Kosher of course) one is not an attack on the religious freedoms we enjoy under the First Amendment.
thanks paul, yes, coitus not cognus--different root, but the same thing. i remember when the nun had me read the section of our religious text on masturbation. i was the only one who could do it with a straight face. that "nun" is still my friend today. the bishop had a moment of "cognus and coitus" interruptus with her. poor souls. it wasn't enough that the best of them walked in the 60's. the ones who stayed (for the most part) did so because they had no place else to go.
Larry,

This "tyrannical, regressive, statist world-view" that you say I have is one that decides advancing the health of women is more important than an all-male self-selected oligarchy forcing on the larger society backward beliefs that 98% of its own Church members reject as absurd.

I get the basic equation: Church hates birth control. Church must fund birth control. Ergo attack on religious liberty. But that simple-minded equation ignores the fact that all of us wear many hats in life, and that when the Church steps outside the sanctuary of the church to run hospitals, schools and other businesses it is no long a Church engaged in is not "worship" but an employer running a business. And these are businesses that get government assistance just like every other business. So, the idea that these Church leaders would be able to write their own rules using religious freedom as pretext is, to my way of thinking, its own form of tyranny -- which I define as the exercise of arbitrary and unaccountable power.

Look, being able to accommodate everyone's beliefs as much as possible is part of the challenge of living in a complex society like ours. But one of the prices we pay for a democratic society like ours is the inability to make non-negotiable demands like the one the Church is making here when it says the peculiar beliefs of the priesthood regarding birth control must take precedence over all other considerations because faith, presumably, is superior to good health.
my grandfather was chief counsel to the archdiocese of detroit, and disinherited me when i quit the first time. he used to also nominate "saints," the greatest of which i believe used to stay at our house: dorothy day. so i'm not just another antagonist. i paid me dues. i have a post on "syncronicities" where i tell the story. one of those that you can't make up no matter how hard you try.
Wow, Ben, all this must be particularly painful for you. Your roots in this religion are far deeper than mine. Dorothy Day? Wow. I was blessed with having as a principle at my Catholic high school in Alabama an intellectual now teaching at Notre Dame who had very nuanced views and was an educator first and an enforcer second -- or third, or fourth. He believed he had to win my trust and respect not just demand it, and that may be why I give the Church the benefit of the doubt. But the alliance is fragile.
Karen Santorum is 51, the age at which the average American woman reaches menopause. Whether or not she's reached it, the chances that she is still fertile are minute. I'd love to ask Santorum if he's still doing it and why, since the only reason could be pleasure.
I wonder -- is Larry okay with his tax dollars going to kill innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan? How about funding torture?

One of the prices we pay for living in a civilized (sorta), democratic (sorta) society is to surrender some of our individual principles to what the majority perceive as the greater good. Is the majority always right? Hardly. Is the Church always right? History says otherwise. Am I always right in my stiff-necked beliefs? Certainly not.

So where does one draw the line? For me, this particular issue is a no-brainer. No Catholic is being forced to use birth-control, tho it is commonly accepted that 98% do. The govt should do what most Catholics do in this case -- let the pathetically out-of-touch Church elders babble in the beards and pontificate from the pulpit, but otherwise ignore them.
Ted,
I could buy the meat-throwing part, but righteous Rick has no hope of winning the nomination. He does the altar boy part well enough, but his domestic and foreign policy launches can't escape the weak gravitational field of his prickly schoolboy class president nebbish persona.
Besides, only the clergy is pissed. The average Catholic, methinks, sees the BC thing as something the "company men" have to say, but they don't feel bound by it and it won't influence their vote. Just don't bring it up in conversation with a priest. Not even in the confessional, unless you planned on doing the 20 rosaries, 100 Hail Marys and 50 Stations of the Cross anyway.
it's always - i was going to say "amusing", but the alternate word is "terrifying' to watch Lawyers debate religion. How many pin heads can dance with utter assurance that, because they are deaf and hear no music, that the "music" is a politically constructed myth that must conform to whatever logical "dance step" they word bend out of the lyrics.

“Letter” of the Law vs “Spirit” indeed.

Every violent revolution there has ever been has come about because lawyers insist that “The Law” is Reality, and that stuff happening in the real world must conform under threat of force.

“Amusing” because you seem to think anyone will pay any attention to your witty and facile arguments when the time comes to hang all the lawyers, “Terrifying” because you always push “Law Enforcement” past the point where it can no longer masquerade as Justice, and thereby precipitate the hanging of the lawyers. And the lawyers are always so naively hurt, bewildered, and self-righteous as the mob hangs them. Wonderful entertainment, much better than listening to the pompous asses proclaim their notions of “morality' as “The Law of the Land!”

Sorry guys, you can piffle away all you like about what the “Law” is and what my “legal” obligations are, my MORAL obligations always take precedence. Lawyers can't be expected to understand such stuff, because as creatures of the Mind, they have no morals- which are of the Spirit. Lawyers at best have “Ethiics” and damn few of those any more. Our founding Fathers understood that “law” is by definition “A” if not “Im” moral” , hence the “separation of church and state”- not to prevent the church from exerting morality on the state, but to prevent the state from requiring immorality from the church. Freedom of conscience.

That you can even contemplate the notion that a Catholic Doctor or Nurse can be forced by the state to commit what is to their conscience murder, and say “Well, they just have to put up with it” shows how far out of touch with reality you are. Such idiocy is why warriors (spiritual people) usually wind up hanging Lawyers (mental people). Shame really, lawyers are responsible for civilization. They are also responsible for violent revolution when they forget that warriors are basically barbarians.

Lawyers always forget that something is not “Evil” because it is against the Law. The idea is that it is against the Law because it is Evil. Lawyers don't get to decide what is evil, churches do.
Token

At the end of the day our moral and spiritual commitments are what matter most. But to prevent the end of that day from arriving a lot sooner than we expect we have to find a way to live together without our most deeply held commitments ripping us apart, and that requires law. More heartache and tragedy has been brought about by the good intentions of the true believer than anything else. When people try to bring Heaven to Earth all they end up doing is creating a Hell. To say that your moral commitments take precedence over everything else is to say you cannot live in civil society unless that society is composed of people who are exactly like you -- which, as I have been writing for years now, is exactly what I think the objective of the dominant radical right wing of the Republican Party really is.
Paul,

Good advice and you are right about Righteous Rick. Before mass on Sunday our priest had a handful of yellow mimeographed letters from our Cardinal on the birth control flap. The priest was replacing the previous batch of letters which were all gone. Since he did not think his congregants were heavy readers he surmised someone had made off with the previous batch not liking its message! Small acts of rebellion!
Ted

The fact that you will not or cannot give proper weight to the priority of most people's realities is precisely what I am talking about. I personally don't believe that either having or performing an abortion necessarily makes you a bad person. But then, I feel the same way about other killings of human beings. I also believe it is no one else's business whether you have or perform abortions, certainly it is not the governments. it is a personal choice.

That said, neither does the government have the authority to demand that if you wish to be a Doctor or Nurse, or provide other Health services, that you must also provide services that you find morally repugnant. How about we require that all health providers provide funds for and perform "Female Circumcision?"-

There is the problem. "Female Circumcision" is against YOUR religion of Secular Humanism. ( Mine as well, but make no mistake, Secular Humanism is your RELIGION) Therefore TO YOU female circumcision is Evil, but abortion is not. So, by your religion, it is barbaric for anyone to insist they have a right not to fund or provide abortion on religious grounds, because, hey, it isn't against YOUR religion,

The larger point is that legislation and laws are only necessary because we are savages. If everyone was truly aware of their relation to the "Circle of Being', the only law necessary would be "Love God (The circle of Being) and do as you will." If everyone truly experienced their relationship to the "Circle of Being" (Godhead?) then they would no more harm each other than they would cut off their nose to spite their face.

This is the realm of spirituality. Once upon a time even lawyers recognized it (One nation, under God- In God we trust) It is not something that today's lawyers, politicians, legislators, or judges generally can't experience, because they are taught that it is a delusion as part of their training to be "Blind" to emotion.

What has happened is that instead of being merely "blindfolded" or actually blind in the cause of Justice, and recognizing that sight exists, today's lawyers insist that being blind is the only reality, and that sight is a delusion.

Lawyers think that because they can't fly, there are no such creatures as birds, or mechanisms as airplanes. And then they proceed to dictate laws of the sky.
Token

No man is an island, but I am afraid that on one is the only place you will find happiness.
Ted

The fact that I currently find my happiness in providing food and shelter for the homeless in my community through the community of my church shows just how out of touch with reality (as I and my community of faith lives it) you are. please don't claim to know what's best for me- you have no idea.
"Lawyers can't be expected to understand such stuff, because as creatures of the Mind, they have no morals ... Such idiocy is why warriors (spiritual people) usually wind up hanging Lawyers (mental people). Shame really, lawyers are responsible for civilization."

Token confesses that he's out of his mind and argues in favor of barbarism rather than civilization. Then for good measure, he throws in his usual self-serving sanctimony -- "providing food and shelter for the homeless in my community".

God save us from your followers!
Tom confesses that, as usual. he has no conception of why humans care about each other, he being a simple unit of the borg, content to jerk himself and his playbuddies off with no more notion of social relationship or love of fellow beings than your average pit bull- or lawyer.

God won't save us from people like you, Tom, but then he/she/it doesn't have to. We are ourselves prepared by Samuel Colt et alia for preventing jerk-offs like you from ruling us.
"And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them"
That's nothing. My history goes back generations before to an ancestor who was a Catholic chaplain in the civil war and went on to help found Notre Dame, where my grandfather went to school at a time when the Irish were on the bottom rung. Others built some of the first churches in Southern Michigan and taught in seminaries around the world. (The day I learned the meaning of the world "celebacy" it was all over for me.)

I now think of "Catholicism" as something we outgrow both individually and collectively. That's pretty much Kung's thesis as well. He says the Church is now being run for the "third world" where it still has a valid, civilizing purpose.

In the West, I think its time has come, especially in a post-Campbell world. He pretty much put the lid on the coffin from an intellectual standpoint--even among believers of one stripe or other. They'll be sorting out and battling over his contribution for generations to come. Genius will have its due, but like the snail--slowly, slowly.
Ben

I think you are right about the Church being something you outgrow and that it is useful primarily in the third world with its lack of education. I actually heard a priest refer to the Church that way -- off the record of course -- trying to explain some of its more inexplicable parts.

My high school principle liked to talk about Church teaching and requirements in psychological terms. The old demand that you had to go to confession every full moon, or whatever. My principle said it was a ridiculous idea that not going to confession was a sin. But confession is not only good for the soul, he said, it is also good for the psyche.

And so perhaps we can forgive the Church when it tries to scare people into going to confession by saying they will go to hell if they don't if we keep in mind it also helps promote good mental health. It's the same way for me on birth control. I get the ethics. The idea that it should not be used helps us be less selfish. But actually forcing people to live their lives by that rule is preposterous. And that is where the Church seems childish -- because unrealistic and utopian.
@Tom

"And it's not surprising that when they find people can't stand to be around them because they haven't any human social skills, that they tend to hang around in circle-jerks and stroke each other off, all the while telling each other what great lovers of mankind they are, and how correct they are in how all things should be run, and how things would run so well, if only anyone would let them run things."

When was the last time you ever actually helped anyone just because you could? Using your own time and money?
I have a suggestion read a couple chapters of Medical Apartheid (you can google it) then have this conversation. Because there are things people of all faiths were doing in the name of medicine that I'm sure no viable religion would condone. Things like early medical books were often bound in black skin, hysterectomies were performed on slave women without their consent, and the graves of slaves were routinely robbed for medical experimentation, in direct violation to their spiritual beliefs. I'm guessing someone will say that was going on then based on people' beliefs at that time.

Well I heard several times yesterday and the day before that something like 98% of Catholic women practice some form of birth control. If that is the case regardless of church doctrine it would appear that believers are choosing to exercise control over when and how they will get pregnant.

Could a compromise be reached that if there isn't a neighborhood clinic or county hospital within say 40 miles of a Catholic facility that they would have to offer a full line of legal services excepting abortion?
And can someone tell me why DePaul the nation's largest Catholic University is able to offer contraceptive coverage? http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/02/08/421242/nations-largest-catholic-university-we-offer-a-prescription-contraceptive-benefit/
Ted- it's very good to see your work here on OS. Well done, sir.

As the next one to wade in I am dumbstruck by the male nature of this conversation! Just what, exactly, do any of our gender have to contribute to a women's issue? Seriously. And, and Ted trust me when I say I'm about the most testosterone juiced aggressive alpha you'd ever meet at times myself, hopefully depending on the situation, but just look at this conversation here and I ask does this not simply reflect the misogynist nature of the whole equation?

Simply put, if you yourself can't give birth than butt out!

rated
Token
One difference between us is that I don't go around boasting about what I do for other people.
Token wrote:

That said, neither does the government have the authority to demand that if you wish to be a Doctor or Nurse, or provide other Health services, that you must also provide services that you find morally repugnant. How about we require that all health providers provide funds for and perform "Female Circumcision?"-

Token said this almost word for word in a another thread he started, and when I challenged him on it, the conversation deteriorated. I remained calm, courteous, and on topic…but Token just would not actually discuss the issue.

No one is suggesting that any doctor or nurse MUST PROVIDE services they find morally repugnant.

That is not the issue at hand.

No doctor can be forced to perform an abortion or to anything that goes against his/her moral sense.

Token is wrong here…and when I challenged him to provide any evidence that the government was forcing doctors to do those things, the name-calling started.
As a member of an entire family of the Catholic Faith, I want to remind the Bishops that if they had concentrated as much on NOT providing alter boys to degenerate priests (and then the Bishops covering up for them) as they are in NOT providing contraception in the health plans for employees of Catholic run institutions—THAT ARE NOT CATHOLIC, but exist instead to serve the general public, our Church would not be in as much trouble as it is now.

No one demands that the Church provide Church-employees these contraception services. So priests, nuns and other para-clerical personnel are exempt from this obligation in keeping with a 1st Amendment Freedom of Faith. But the brouhaha is over NOT providing these services to institutions that DO NOT live off doles from the Church and faithful but from mostly tax dollars that keep the hospitals and schools going (the few left run by the Church intact and profitable). These funds and payments are provided in exchange for meeting a universal secular standard of service and employment for the clients and employees of these Church-run-but-NOT-Church-funded institutions. Consequently, such institution’s employees are not Catholics but, legally speaking, SECULAR, thus entitled to all benefits do to all employees and clients of any such institutions no matter who runs them. Let us recall that, BY LAW, the Church cannot choose who will work in these institutions any more than can any other employer, applying NO issues other than prospective quality of employee for duties contracted. Therefore, a Church run institution cannot arbitrarily, or based on theological considerations, decide what services it will provide its employees as these are PUBLICLY FUNDED institutions; so no more limits can be set than by any other employer. A "Catholic Hospital" is not Roman Catholic, but true to the word "catholic," must be UNIVERSAL in terms of whom it hires and what benefits it provides them. So it must provide all the services a secular institution provides to both those it serves and those it employs. To do otherwise would be as absurd as denying a Catholic or non-Catholic employee the right to frequent a Protestant Church on grounds that he works for a Catholic run PUBLIC institution.

A Catholic school for Catholics only or a Catholic Hospital for Catholics only is possible ONLY if it receives no public funds. It is then like a church. But the "Catholic" institutions and social services are all HEAVILY financed by public funds. Therefore, they can no more IMPOSE Catholic religious or theologic precepts on its clients and employees than it can demand that they live by Catholic teachings. Similarly, a Jewish Hospital for the general public cannot impose Kosher foods and behaviors on the public paying fees for services.

The Roman Church has abysmally failed in attracting a clergy of high moral standard. It has allowed accepted all sorts of perverts and malfeasants for whom, in practice, it has often covered rather than weaning them out. The victims have been the Catholic laity. This could spell the end of the Roman Church despite the intervention of police agencies.

Our religion took from the teachings of Jesus the concept of forgiveness. But to apply it selectively to its clerical bureaucracy while denying the services for which both clients and employees contract when availing themselves of a Catholic run institution -- FOR WHICH THE PUBLIC TREASURY PAYS-- once again raises the same issues about the ethical philosophy of the Bishops that had their manner of dealing with molestation of children by perverted clergy. If you take Federal funds you must provide clients and employees what Federal law proscribes. If I go into a "Catholic" Hospital, I expect the same services as when I go into a municipal hospital. Nothing in the paperwork I sign upon admission challenges that. The reason is because my care is paid for mostly with—NOT CATHOLIC CHURCH FUBDS-- but government funds. The same non-exclusion applies to me as an employee as when a patient. The issue is not one of forcing the Church to do what is against it's teachings but of not imposing its teachings on employees and patients availing themselves of Church run secular services; one goes in a hospital for medical services, not *Catholic* medical services; nor does nor go in accepting restriction to Catholic dogma. Just as health plans do not cover Christian Science healthcare services because that church does not allow that Catholic medical services should limit obstetrical care limited to Church dogma. The State will not pay for “Catholic healthcare services” if they deny therapeutic contraception and abortion. Catholic healthcare, Catholic employment and Catholic social services are secular (nowhere is it stated that “non-Catholics need not apply” and so must provide all LEGAL services offered by state mandate in order to obtain any Federal funds. In the same way, a Jewish hospital cannot use Federal funds to pay the extra cost of Kosher foods and practices; nor can it impose them on the patients of a Jewish run institution. Any violations—and there are many—do not negate their illegality because they happen to be current standard practices. These are as illegal as theft and violations of freedom of or from religion.
It's interesting that so few women commented. Maybe they are just sick to death of old men in red dresses telling them what they can and cannot do to get into heaven. Shame on the bishops. I can't believe this is still up for discussion.
I was having a very exasperating discussion with an old friend - who is NOT Catholic and doesn't think using birth control is a sin, as far as I know - about this just now. It is like we're speaking different languages. To hear her and her friends, it's like the President is about to declare all moral beliefs illegal! This is a thorough, backgrounded look at the issue, and I thank you.
Thank you for your excellent analysis.
The Affordable Care Act, President Obama's health-care overhaul passed by Congress last year, was designed to make it easier for Americans in situations like Verone's to get health insurance BTW check "Penny Medical" for more information
Laura,

You and your friend ARE speaking different languages. The Right has an undeserved reputation as being masters of political messaging and framing. But all of their attacks boil down to some variation on the theme that liberals are insulting your mama for wearing Army boots. On Fox News and elsewhere liberals are always accused of insulting conservative's race, faith, or patriotism. It's tribal politics through and through. And it works. Old time Catholic liberals like Mark Shields, EJ Dionne and Chris Matthews are critical of the administration because they are looking at the Church through the lens of the priests and nuns that they know, so the charges that Obama is engaged in a "war" on the Catholic Church resonates even with them. This controversy was ready made for right wing hysteria. But that also means it was an invitation for them to show their true extremist colors when they think they have the upper hand and let down their guard -- as Santorum did with his psycho talk of the French Revolution and guillotines. That is why I think both the policy and the politics work for the administration in the end.

But three things should be kept in mind in this dispute.

First, the Church's hands are not clean here. This is a political issue with the Church, not a religious one. This is not about the Catholics practicing their religion within the sanctuary of the church. The Church would restrict birth control for the ENTIRE society if they could, as their own history in support of restrictive laws proves and as Santorum's statements about the evils of birth control confirm even today, believing it's better for the culture if sex is for procreation not recreation.

Second, the Church is not a church when it is running hospitals and schools -- it is a business and therefore subject to the same laws as all other businessmen. If the Church decided to run pizza parlors would we consider free delivery in 30 minutes or less to be a form of "worship?" No, the Church is demanding the right to write its own rules wherever it has interests under a pretty elastic definition of religious worship. But a hospital is not a church. A school is not a Church. A pizza parlor is not a Church. In short, the Church is demanding the same sort of "sovereignty" it enjoyed in the Middle Ages when it actually ran countries.

Third, the "Church" is more than just the priests and bishops and nuns who are against birth control. When talking about attacks on religion and the Constitutionally protected right to free exercise of religion we must also factor in tens of millions of practicing Catholics who think Church teaching on birth control is absurd and so have been ignoring it for 50 years.

This is not about restrictions on the Catholic Church to practice its religion. This is about workers employed by Catholic employers being treated like all other employees and the Catholic Church being thwarted in promoting its political agenda of "purifying" American culture by making birth control less accessible for non-Catholics as well as Catholics.
Ted, that last post of yours was a thing of beauty.

I want you arguing for my side every time, because you really know how to do it.
I think it is a very slippery slope using religion as a basis for/against "treatment" there is a site called What's the harm in exorcism which tells of all the people who have been murdered trying to excise demons from them.
And Ted have I told you lately that your mind is a thing of beauty?
Ted

Once again, the problem of trying to discuss “Religion” with a “”Lawyer” ( By the definition I use here, anyone who thinks that all verbal intercourse is adversarial and that the “right” thing to do in any given situation is always decided by totaling up who scored the most debating points- Eg, people like Tom and Frank)

Whether you have experienced it or not, “Religion” is by definition the EXPERIENCE of the spiritual. Spiritual refers to nothing more than the emotions and attachments that give you a “position” in this life. Subjectivity. AKA “Real Life”

“Objectivity” is a construct, developed for the “cool” and “unemotional” analysis as if the analyst were not, himself, a creature of spirit and emotion. It is, by very definition, an unattainable state.

As an “imaginary” state, it is quite a useful analytical tool. The problem comes when those utilizing it claim to have actually attained a state of “objectivity”. In other words, they claim to be “Dead” (as in Dead On”, “Dead Solid”, ie without movement, solid, able to be used as a foundation. That kind of dead. ( Me? I've always been suspicious of “messages from the Dead” )

Never happens. Particularly never happens among those who have so deluded themselves that they think they can achieve such a state, and preach back to us mere subjective mortals. And, anyway, how ridiculous is it to accept advice on “Living “ (Subjective/Spiritual/ Actual Reality) from the “Dead” (Objective/Mental/symbolic reality) (Yes Virgina, we've given our government over to the “Zombies”- those who once had a life, but now haunt the elysian fields of the Potomac, drinking the waters of Lethe, unmindful of the lives of those who work for a living)

What I pointed out in my blog, and what I point out here, is the continual “Emperor's Fashion Show” of government in which it is so fashionable as to be absolutely required to pretend to be totally free of any subjectivity, clothed in the radiance of Reason and Logic, the Epitome of “science” , when in fact, as any good Buddhist knows, we are all naked under our clothes.

The Emperor is and always has been Naked, and he grows more and more offensive, the more he pretends he is not.

That is merely a poetic way to point out that, much as lawyers piffle and spew about “Objectivity”, they always have their own subjective goal, and it wearies me to keep having to point it out. Not that private institutions (eg The catholic church) aren't the same- - but they do not concern us here, because I have not ceded to them any power to coerce by force. Nor are their "Beliefs" usually, in the case of spiritual communities of faith, so blatantly up for sale- (as is standard among lawyers.)

The point I make is that it is at least as ridiculous, if not more so, for the administration and their “Women's Rights” lobbyists to pretend that this has anything to do with “Fairness”. It is a naked political push to subvert the power of the Church, and by that of “the Spiritual” ( Individual Conscience)

Personally, had I lived in the time of Luther, I would have felt about the Catholic Church as I now feel about the Federal government. i.e. They are a bunch of lawyers trying to masquerade as real people in order to gain power. ( I still mostly feel that way about them- )

But the argument here is a political battle over "conscience”, by two groups of Lawyers who have no idea what the concept means. (Like Frank and Tom). My post, and my comments here concerned the absurdity of such a situation. My salient point is that so long as Lawyers “debate” what they do not feel, and seek to restrict it and it's expression for and by those who DO have the experience, the only answer is “Come back and talk to me when you have experienced something that gives you a glimmer of knowing what you are talking about.” ( Rather like attempting to discuss romantic love with a group of teen-age boys whose experience of “love” consists of jerking each other off behind the barn while telling “dirty Stories”- a lot like the Knee jerk/circle jerk that various members of OS indulge in here)

To recap: This is not a “Debate”. Lawyers who believe it is, risk being hanged ( either first thing or last- to quote Shakespeare) when people get tired of their nonsense. Otherwise, we just continue to weakly applaud the Emperor's Fashion Show of the week, featuring the latest showing of his royal ass. So long as he doesn't walk up and stick it in my face, I guess I find it amusing enough to put up with. Just don't pretend it has anything to do with either “Fairness” or “conscience”. It's pure power politics as usual.
Token

I know that I am repeating myself here, but as your distinction between subjectivity and objectivity makes plain, while your beliefs about the superiority of spirituality may be perfectly fine for the cloistered world of the convent or monestary they are simply not useful as foundations for real world societies that must find ways, however imperfectly, of accommodating peoples of strongly held -- but also conflicting and incompatible -- beliefs.

That is why I find the Catholic bishops non-negotiable demands against birth control -- not only for those who work directly for the Church itself but also the tens of thousands employed by its businesses -- to be so shortsighted. They are destructive of the sort of flexibility we need to live in peace and harmony and devote ourselfs to things that really matter. Look how much energy we are expending on an issue where 99% of American women of all religions are in agreement.

The founding fathers understood the difficulty in trying to create a democratic republic for a country that had so many different competing religious groups and economic interests. And it has only gotten worse the bigger we've gotten. "Among the numerous advantages of a well ordered union," as James Madison said, "is its ability to break and control the violence of faction." The "violence" of faction.

Look at it another way, using your own categories of objectivity and subjectivity. In Western political history there are really only two basic models for setting up a political society, as Walter Lippmann tells us.

There is what he calls the "logic of authority" or the logic of the supremacy of men over men in which the law originates in the King whose relationship to his subjects is like that of a father to his children or a master to his slave.

Then there is what Lippmann called the "logic of liberalism" or the logic of the supremacy of law over men in which the law does not emenate from the will of the King but from the nature of things, and where the relationship of the King to his subjects is determined by impersonal rules binding on all.

This is the centuries long struggle by which we in the West were finally able to subdue the arbitrary and capricious whim of rulers (subjectivity) by means of laws and procedures that were both impartial and universally applied (objectivity).

Between the two, Lippmann says the logic of authority and subjectivity is the more instinctive "in that it rationalizes the primitive and persistent impulse to dominate, to submit, to stand in awe of power and to seek its protection." The more primitive logic of authority will tend to prevail "in periods of perplexity and danger" like ours.

The logic of liberalism on the other hand is not so instictive or habitual "and therefore it is a rather precarious and tentative thing, like the clearing for a garden in the jungle which has to be tended constantly if it is not to be quickly submerged in the primeval forest."

Conflicts like these tell us how well we are tending that fragile garden against the encroachment from the law of the jungle.
Ted, you wrote:

I know that I am repeating myself here, but…

Later you wrote:

That is why I find the Catholic bishops non-negotiable demands against birth control -- not only for those who work directly for the Church itself but also the tens of thousands employed by its businesses -- to be so shortsighted. They are destructive of the sort of flexibility we need to live in peace and harmony and devote ourselfs to things that really matter. Look how much energy we are expending on an issue where 99% of American women of all religions are in agreement.

When you write with such force, logic, and eloquence as that, Ted…please feel free to repeat yourself over and over again.

I try never to lay it on too thick, but your handling of this topic is so compelling, if there were a Pulitzer for blogging (there should be!)…I’d nominate this thread.
Thank you Frank and Desnee I very much appreciate your comments.
Once again, repeating myself-
it is NOT the "Superiority' of the spiritual
It is the "Primacy" of it

You may think this a "Chicken or Egg" argument- and for someone trapped in an "objective" world, it is.

I assure you, it is not. All Law and Logic is based on the acceptance of tautology- without premise, no logic, no law.
That you and i do not have the same premises is what "separation of spiritual (church) from legal (state)” is about.
The function of state as envisioned by the founding fathers was simply to maintain an environment for free (uncoerced) commerce, and the peace necessary to engage in it.

The State is specifically forbidden from interfering in the free exercise of religious beliefs. The only sphere in which they may interfere is those in which the impediment to free commerce or peace OUTWEIGHS the right to practice the belief. eg. Obviously, if my religion requires that I sacrifice virgins captured from another sect, that is going to have an impact on "peace".

But by the same token, if my religion says that "god" will cure me and therefore I have no need of doctors, or medical insurance- the state has no authority to interfere, since the only one harmed is myself- free will

Neither may the state say that I must provide medical insurance or care to those who work for me, since that would also violate my faith in god.

May i forbid those who work for me to have insurance? by principle, yes- what will then happen is that no one will work for me, and i will not prosper- or. as in the case of the Amish, we will all believe together and prosper together.

The problem of allowing the government to undertake projects for “The Public Good” is always that your “public Good” is often my “abomination”. The government's task is NOT public good. It is public peace and free commerce.


Either you have or have not experienced awareness of what is variously called "godhead', "holy spirit", etc. etc.

If you have not, you are no more capable of deciding what is "Right' than is my cat able to decide how to pay the heating bill.

There is no more "thought" to the process of "Don't Tread on Me!" than there is to the rattle of a snake- it is a warning.

It is not important whether you believe this true or not, what is important is that I believe it is true and find it all that is necessary and sufficient to justify my using force to counter your use of force in coercing me to do "the will of the ?government? community? people? " -whatever you decide i "must" do in order to further YOUR plans for my future?. I simply point out that such things are the stuff of "over my (or your) dead body”.

so long as you will not recognize the strength and validity of my feelings, no matter how incomprehensible or illogical you find them, we have no basis of agreement, and you have no basis to assert authority over me. Except Force.
which is always met by Force.
Like I said, we are basically savages.
Don't even pretend that Obamacare will be enFORCED by some mass conversion . It comes down to coercion and force.

What separation of Church and State is about is the recognition that what motivates a person to defend his beliefs with his life is not subject to Logic or law. It is a matter of conscience.

The problem with the “logic of Liberalism” or the “logic of Law over Men” is that, like objectivity, it is a demonstrable fallacy. Far from being a natural state of being, it is a state that must be carefully nurtured. I for one am in favor of it. Which is why you need to recognize and respect the fact that is, and must always be, a carefully tended artificial construct.

Our founding fathers very carefully and wisely measured those things which provoke strife and rebellion, and very carefully limited the powers of the central government to engage in them, so as to prevent the provocation of such a conflagration as would destroy their well thought out and tended field of “The Logic of Libralism”

If you plow under a field of hybrid corn expecting that it will come up in more hybrid corn, you are in for a disappointment. Such is the “Hubris” of lawyers, who have forgotten that a rule of law is not a given, but is rather a hard won and precariously balanced state of being.

You do it no service by using it's current ability to coerce as evidence that it is natural and inevitable. What is natural and inevitable is that as soon as you start proclaiming the “Godhood” of the State, you have doomed it to fail.

It doesn't matter whether you find my beliefs ridiculous or not. If you wish my co-operation, you will respect them- not as you construe them, but as I construe them.

Otherwise, don't tread on me.

We seem to be arguing for the same thing- ie, rule of law
Where we differ would appear to be on what law may fairly be said to rule. I perceive our difference to be that to me, you appear to be saying that if Obama decrees that from this moment the seas will recede and the earth will cool, that because his word is law, so shall it be. That's the conceit of government. It always must contend with the other type of law, that of observed reality. Not that you can't have piss fights over the validity of other peoples spiritual beliefs, that is one of the single most popular reasons for killing people in the history of the world.

it's that you SHOULDN"T- if you wish to keep people co-operating in peace, as a community.
Token

What you claim is the power of absolute personal sovereignty based on standards judged by you alone. I am not sure I see how society is even possible on that basis, and I am even tempted to use words like anarchy and nihilism to describe it.

As you say: "It doesn't matter whether you find my beliefs ridiculous or not. If you wish my co-operation, you will respect them -- not as you construe them, but as I construe them. Otherwise, don't tread on me. "

Fine, but where is the reciprocity? Do you respect anyone else and their beliefs? Based on what you've said we must agree to co-exist simultaneously in the same geographic space without any of the real attachments that define "community."

But in societies like ours all power must be legitimated in some way other than by arbitrary and capricious whim: Political power is legitimated by elections. Economic power by the marketplace, etc... You claim power unilaterally and absolutely.
Beware all of you! In Italy the Vatican has been infringing on our secular freedom since time immemorial culminating with the Concordat between Mussolini and the Pope in 1929 giving the Vatican incredible economic, social and, yes, political sway over the state (example, catholicism is taught in italian school by priests selected by the church but payed by us italian citizens!).
Religion freedom does not imply curtailment or abrogation of secular freedom....
Ted

Individual Absolute Sovereignty is correct
Also Known as Free Will

I don't just "claim it" - I HAVE it. I am constructed with it. It is the basis of my individuality. It is the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness of the Declaration of Independence. It is the bedrock of our nation.

How is it that I can exist in a society with such an attitude?
Because I need no coercion to see that my neighbors are not just my brethren, but my very SELF.

This is my spiritual reality. As I do to my neighbor, I do to my SELF. I haven't just been TAUGHT this, I have experienced it in the very core of my being.

It is called Agape love, it is called “Holy Spirit”, it is called “The oceanic Feeling” It is not just real, it is reality.
It is the reality of the Law as summed up by Thomas Aquinas: “love God (the community of being which is your reality) and do as you will.

In as much as external “Government” threatens to coerce me away from that rule of conscience, by so much does government destroy my sense of community
If you haven't experienced it, you can't understand it-
anymore than a virgin understands sexual love.

What troubles me so much about the current degradation of our civil government, is that our Founding fathers understood that without such an individual feeling of community at the spiritual level, civic government is not possible

We've let the fear of the freedom to “do harm”
destroy the freedom to take communion of spirit with our community and do the good upon which our nation was founded.

Either you feel it, or you don't.
Once you have, you understand that Personal Sovereignty entails complete Noblesse Oblige and devotion to your community, in a way that no mere “Legal System” can.

That is why Church must remain ungoverned by State in terms of conscience.
Without a feeling of reverence for your community, mere “legality” is utter nonsense.
As far as I can tell, forcing Catholic organizations to cover birth control in their employee insurance plans is nothing more than the Obama administration pandering to women's rights groups.

Employee health plans are complex instruments. There are literally thousands of services, devices, drugs, and other items that can be fully covered, partially covered, or not covered at all. I once was covered by an employee health plan that didn't cover injections, except for vaccinations. If injections had been covered, it simply would have meant that something else wouldn't have been covered, or covered at a lower level.

Many of the larger Catholic organizations have workforces that are represented by unions. For them, the health insurance package is something that will be negotiated. If birth control isn't covered in the particular health plan, something else will be. It may be that the employees would rather have a lower drug copay instead of birth control. It may be that the employees would rather have better coverage for psychiatric services instead of birth control. It should be up to the employees, in negotiation with the employer, to decide how they want their health insurance dollars to be allocated.

Unionized or not, the health insurance benefit is part of an entire package of pay and benefits offered to employees. In that context, whether a particular low-cost health service is covered 100 percent really doesn't matter very much. Certainly it is not necessary for the government to mandate that a specific low-cost service be covered.

Forcing Catholic organizations to cover birth control is just another example of how the federal government exercises increasing control over our lives. Those who applaud this decision should consider this: giving the government control over things such as this is like handing the One Ring of Power to Sauron. You may like what Sauron is doing today. But tomorrow, don't be surprised if Sauron does things that you don't like. When you give Sauron the One Ring, it is he, and not you, who will have ultimate control over your life. Sauron may be a Democrat today, but he can just as easily be a Republican tomorrow. And when that happens it will be too late to say to Sauron "wait you can't do that!" Yes, he can do that. You gave him the power.
@mishima666

Very well put
Excellent post. Since the founding of our country there has been a dynamic where organized religion, usually of the Protestant variety but allied sometimes with the Catholic church, has taken "freedom of religion" to mean "freedom to impose our religion on everyone regardless of their personal beliefs." That dynamic has often included an attempt to portray faith as under attack, and this current foofaraw is nothing more than the latest example of it in action, coupled this time around with an election-year attempt to instill fear in the delusional and ignorant GOP base. Even as we speak, the vomitous assortment of wingnuts at CPAC are playing up the "Obama wants to keep you from going to church" theme; in other words, it's business as usual for religious reactionaries and the corporatists who use them. Those who try to equate making it easier for women to have birth control with "giving up freedoms to the government"are talking nonsense, but then, nonsense is all you’ll usually hear from those who think their liberty entails the right to limit the liberty of others.
I think this comes down to the fact that there are factions of our society (political and religious) that want to control sexuality, female sexuality in particular. The political, religious and moral arguments are all a smoke screen.

Sex is legal, sex is a PERSONAL decision between consenting adults, it's no one else's business.

So why all the teeth gnashing?

Why the undercurrent of shaming promiscuity, or even implying that women who want birth control are somehow lacking in moral fiber?

It's all about control.

Now that Obama has reached a compromise that "should" make everyone happy, the rhetoric will continue and the snakes will reveal themselves even more.

It's a control issue pure and simple.
Roberto,

Thanks for writing and adding insight into what it means when there isn't a wall between Church and State. The case that always bothered me -- and which I literally did not believe when I first heard it -- was that of Edgardo Mortara.

In 1858, this six year old boy was seized from his Jewish parents by Italian officials on orders from Pope Pius IX after the family's domestic servant gave him an emergency baptism when he was ill. Apparently it was against canon law -- which was the law of the Papal States -- for non-Catholics to raise Catholic children. Mortara was adopted by the Pope, raised as a ward of the Church and eventually became a priest. Talk about family values.
Great discussion Ted:

I take offense at the assertion that birth control is only a "woman's issue" by either a male or woman. Ask a guy supporting children he never wanted from a woman who did the rope-a-dope, or loving father who didn't want to see a beloved daughter destroy her future because she made a mistake, or suffered physically and mentally from an illegal abortion. You really gotta be a block head not to recognize this one.

Understanding how the church set itself up for this is more "reasonable" when one considers it is, and always has been a religion run by a committee with an enforcer on top. "Papal infallibiity" is only a recent development, and meant to protect the hierarchy from scorn as much as give the Pope power.

The real problem, and this is where it gets sticky, could well be that the "institution" itself isn't the only problem but that the mythical roots of the faith have run their course in advancing human consciousness, i.e. the "virgin" birth, "original" sin, heaven and hell. Who really believes this stuff any more? And while it once may have had value, today is perverse.

These were all put into play by the committee at times in history when the roll of religion was entirely different than it is today, and most people were illiterate. That's really the reason the Church is in trouble today. It has become the respite of hypocrisy ergo, that is who it attracts, and that is why its leaders have become perpetrators.

The descent of the institution into decadence did not happen by accident, and it isn't the first, and won't be the last time it happens. A broader understanding of what religion and "faith" are in the human psyche is necessary.
Ben,

It is a little like parents with children, isn't it. There comes a time when you have to let your children go or else the family relationship becomes distorted and the individuals within them stunted. Maybe that has happened to the Church itself, as you suggest.

There was a time when these ideas made sense, but many of us have now outgrown them and so now they do more damage than good, creating divisions where the Church once hoped to build community. And so in trying to hold on too long, the Church is in the position of the "clinging" parent that is such a pathetic figure in literature and real life.

To be fair, the problem for the Catholic Church is that it is also a "universal" church and so limited by the lowest common denominator of the most backward countries in which it tries to teach and civilize.
I once got into an argument about gay marriage with a protestant Chaplin who said that he believed in "Freedom of Religion, but not Freedom FROM religion"

Think about that statement.

To a large segment of the population, "Freedom of Religion" means that they're free to impose religion on everyone, that the general populace openly embraces all religious rules, no one can escape the reach of religion and the government doesn't get in the way of religions oppressing people.

Yes I said oppress, because people believing that a church has the right to deny people from making their own decisions with their sexuality is pure oppression.
It is a solid given, unavoidable, that to form a society of functional liberty we must surrender some liberties to preserve others. By entering into our social contract - Constitution - we agree that we, when it happens, surrender our will to the general, or majority, will. This within the bounds of the contract. There is no total free will in America, never has been and cannot be.

An establishment of religion is a recognized religious organization -- a church. Not a hospital, not a factory, not a hot dog stand. This is established in jurisprudence and common sense.

The issue is insurance, and that for We, the People. Not for any consideration of religion. So the truly trite argument about this being "the federal government" as opposed to a reflection of majority will is misguided.
If a hospital were clearly a church, then the contractual violation would exist.
As it is not, the question is competing freedoms of conscious, the Catholic claim based on a right to overrule the majority freedom of consciousness of employees in any business they're involved with. Are secular businesses afforded Est Clause protections by association with a church? No. Can they be and still have us retain our freedoms? No. At best, the employee can deny coverage as an option and statement of faithful agreement, as the coverage is NOT a gift from the employer, but something paid for by labor -- the employees. It is not mandated by the employer, but by We, the People.

If you find the constitutional question confusing, turn to the 10th Amendment. All powers not granted to the fed are retained by the states OR the people. A majority want the BC coverage and no church has a right to overrule the majority.
Markham,

Don't you just love the slogans right wingers come up with. "No Freedom FROM Religion" I can practically see a thousand heads nodding now at the CPAC conference!

The problem for every religion, I think, is that its inspiring ethics come wrapped in a potentially totalitarian package which must be carefully watched out for.

There has been an awful lot of talk of "freedom," on this thread and elsewhere. But when the meaning of "religious freedom" gets translated into the denial of what should be an individual right, I am reminded of the comment Abraham Lincoln once made about those Gentlemen of the South who were also demanding their freedoms, in which Lincoln said that "the perfect liberty they sigh for is the the liberty of making slaves of other people."
I am not an atheist...

...but I want freedom FROM religion.

I also want freedom OF religion in our society...

...but goddamit, I want freedom FROM religion in it also.
Ted

The discussion of freedom in this context (as far as the government restricting it) is farcical since the people on the side of the Bishops, Hospitals, etc, are in fact advocating for a 3rd party to be able to restrict the freedom of women, and Obama is trying to enable freedom to have more choices.

The people claiming loss of freedom don't know what the word means.
The one thing upon which all can surely agree in this dustup is the President's utter incompetence in managing it. His range-of-the-moment reactions--one step forward, two steps back, and on and on is presidential infantalism at its most evident.
Actually, Gordon, I'd say the President's moves were darn near genius here.

He stood up for women -- and on an issue that 98 percent of Catholics agree with him on. So that's not going to hurt him.

He found a compromise with the Church hierarchy that diffuses any hurt feelings liberal or moderate Catholics might have had for him for taking on the institutional Church -- even one they think is being ridiculous on birth control.

By taking his sweet time working out this face-saving arrangement that seems to make everyone happy, he gave the Republicans plenty of time to make utter fools of themselves and show what extremists they really are with all their Defcon 1 hysterical psycho talk of French revolutions and bloody guillotine blaedes falling on powdered aristocrat heads .

And to top it all off he empowered a right wing theocrat like Rick Santorum by throwing him a red meat issue that was right in Santorum's wheelhouse so that now, apparently, he leads the designated GOP nominee Mitt Romney in national polls.

No, I'd say the President has had himself quite a day.
RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! THE CATHOLICS ARE COMING!!!

Catholics have been the targets of institutionalized bigotry since Independence was declared. Even than, people like John Jay sounded like Ted Frier. Back in the eighteenth century.s Jews were not much in evidence and anti-Catholicism was the uniting theme among Protestants.
Paul Dudley, the chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, endowed the Dudleian lectures at Harvard College for the purpose of exposing the "idolatry … damnable heresies" and "abominable superstitions" of Rome. It sounds to me like Dudley was “paying forward’ for the bigotry of Frier. It sounds to me as if Frier must have attended one of those lectures.
If you attack a Jew, it’s anti-semitic, if you attack a Muslim, you are Islamophobic, but if you attack the Catholic Church, you are put on the alter of Liberalism and worshiped.
I have yet to hear anyone on the left call out outrageous comment such as those belched out of the mouth of Mr. Frier.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“But now that the Catholic bishops have had their tantrum, I’m confident cooler heads will ultimately prevail…”
Frier
Tantrum! The Cardinals and Bishops of the church fight off an unconstitutional attack on the principles of their beliefs, of their First Amendment rights, by a radical socialist President who sees religion as a useful tool in his box of tools, and it’s called a “TANTRUM” by Mr. Frier. What would this dear man say about an Imam who publishes a “Fatwah” to kill an author of a book, a cartoonist, innocent people who said something about the “Prophet” they disagreed? Would Frier come out as strong than? What would Obama say…or Michelle, or Valerie, or the other Domme’s in the West Wing that put their spiked heels on the throat of a President.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“a face-saving compromise will be found that allows women to get the affordable contraceptives they require while sparing the Catholic hierarchy of being complicit in sin.”
Frier
The President NEVER HAD the Constitutional authority to issue a demand that a religious organization must renounce it’s principles or be punished by the “Dear Leader.” So now Barack comes up with a deal to have the insurance companies pay the Bill! Where is his authority for that edict/ What the hell is in Obamacare’s 2,000 plus pages that the Pelosi/Reid/Obama troika shoved down the throats of Americans? What freedoms did our representatives in Congress hand over to this President who shouts "transparency" but hides his own personal records from view?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“At the end of the day, this conflict with the President is the culture-shaping political agenda the Catholic bishops hope to sneak through underneath the protective camouflage of "religious freedom.”
Frier

Excuse me Frier, but don’t you look at timelines of a story? Barack Obama and his HHS wunderfrau who started this infringement on the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Religion. At no time in our history has the President of the United States put the full boot of government on the neck of a religion, on the Constitution he swore to uphold (twice) as Barack Hussein Obama,

Obama will go away faster than the impact of this outrageous action.
What is beyond funny and even somewhere beyond surreal is watching THE AMERICAN RIGHT fight for the Pope!

Poppa! forget the last couple centuries, we love you suddenly NOW only because there is NOW a Black Man (who isn't) in the White House! I mean, we used to say your Irish were Black Irish, and, yes, we often even used the N-Word on Italians (they are pretty swarthy!) but, this guy really has some serious melatonin going on and seeing it hurts my lily white tummy somehow!

The Church is Rome. It has been a "country" ruled by a despot since Peppin and Charlemagne allowed it- and, following Italy's founding in 1870 waited, as you point out, until 1929 to acknowledge the facts.

Further, and I really have no interest in any apologetics on this one, but, Gordo feel free: The current Pope is a Nazi. Jesus would not have become a Nazi, even if "everyone else was doing it"- so, apostolistic succession is what we always knew it to be- a sick joke.

Aloha Kakou
This is my first time to this site. I am amazed at the civility, logic, tolerance, knowledge, and wisdom I found here. Kudos, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you.
No Gordon:

We don't "all agree." That's the kind of simple minded attempt at Obama bashing that one expects from a fixated pedant. The least you could have is the courage to admit you are only speaking for yourself. It's a pathetic way to get attention, but clearly the only way you know.
Joe Zollo,

All of your anger is based on your acceptance of the premise that this controversy involves the Catholic "Church" being forced by a tyrannical government to renounce its faith in violation of Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religious worship.

That seems very simple and straightforward but as I have tried to show it is also very misleading, for these reasons:

The controversy involves the Catholic Church not in its role as a religious institution but as a business owner employing workers who would be working for non-sectarian secular schools and hospitals and universities if they were not working for ones owned and operated by the Church.

Second, the controversy is over an issue of "faith" that the Catholic faithful do not accept, and so how you define "Church" matters. I define it as the tens of millions of practicing Catholics. Conservatives want to define it to the leadership alone.

And finally, by its history the Catholic Church has shown that birth control is a political issue for it and not just a matter of faith since it openly advocates for laws that would deny non-Catholics access to the devices.

And finally, I am a Catholic myself and also a lay reader. If anyone should be angry about my anti-Catholicism, at least as it is directed to the politicized Church hierarchy, it should be my parish priest.
Ted writes: "But when the meaning of "religious freedom" gets translated into the denial of what should be an individual right . . . "

Ted, I am interested to know how an employer not including the benefit of birth control in the employee health plan constitutes a denial of the individual right to birth control. People have rights to all sorts of things. But having a right to a thing does not entail having a right to have the employer pay for the thing.

As medical services go, birth control is relatively inexpensive, somewhere around $15 to $50 per month. Any woman whose health plan does not pay for birth control can purchase it herself at any one of a large number of pharmacies. Condoms are also available virtually everywhere, including most grocery stores. I saw one list of low-cost birth control pill providers -- WalMart, Kroger, Target, etc. -- with monthly prices ranging from $4 to $10 per month.

Women have a right to wear eyeglasses, but some employers don't offer a vision benefit. They have a right to dental care, but some employers don't offer a dental benefit. They have a right to infertility services, but some employers don't offer that as a benefit. Does this mean that employers are "denying women the right" to good vision, good teeth, and fertility?

There are all sorts of services, devices, and drugs that employers might not elect to include in their health plans, but no one goes to the barricades over those. If I tell you that my health plan didn't pay for new glasses even after a cataract surgery, will you be outraged over that? If I tell you that my health plan doesn't pay for Synvisc knee injections, will you conclude that my employer "hates disabled people?" If I tell you that I am charged a hefty copay for slow-release morphine, will you conclude that my employer "wants people to suffer?"

Of course not. So why all the controversy over the Catholic church and birth control? It is because the church opposes birth control for moral and theological reasons -- for a worldview that you disagree with. If a Catholic organization didn't provide a birth control benefit merely for financial reasons, no one would be very upset. But because they do it for religious reasons, there is outrage and controversy.

The problem is this: opponents of the church's position will grant that the church's moral teaching can be promulgated within the confines of the church, but not outside of it. They want religion to function within its own little ghetto, but not outside of the ghetto. They interpret "separation of church and state" to mean that religion should be compartmentalized, unable to affect anything outside of its own domain.

As long as the church stays behind the ghetto walls they can do their little prayers and rituals, and wear their funny hats and read from old books, and no one cares. But as soon as the church climbs over the ghetto wall and moves into the larger society, then there is outrage. The only exception to that is when the church acts as an agent of the secular state. Then, and only then, is the secular state comfortable when the church walks around town and talks to people.

The secularists want a tame church, a domesticated church, a church on a leash that obeys its secular masters, and that has a moral vision nicely trimmed and truncated to fit into the secularist agenda. So as long as the church celebrates homosexual marriage, turns a blind eye toward a million human lives extinguished before they had a chance to start, and agrees that sex is more about recreation than procreation, everything is fine. But if the church fails to toe the line, then it's back to the ghetto and the "separation of church and state."

In the secular worldview, "separation of church and state" really means isolating the church from the state, or dominating the church by the state. The state, not the church, defines the moral landscape, and it is the job of the church to fit in.

Joe writes: " . . . but if you attack the Catholic Church, you are put on the alter of Liberalism and worshiped."

And frequently end up on the cover of Open Salon. But I'll say this -- though I disagree with the post, it is well-written and the points are well-argued, unlike many of the other similar posts that have been selected for the cover. So I give the author points for a good piece of writing and press the [rate] button.
Missima666

What a separation of church and state means to me is not to isolate the church into some ghetto where it must mind its own business but the creation of separate spheres called "public" and "private."

The public sphere is the legitimate arena for politics where anyone is free to participate, including churches. This is where we debate the details of our relationship with one another, where our actions impede on other people, and why churches have been in the forefront on many political movements geared toward changing those relationships, such as the ones over slavery and civil rights.

The private sphere is just what it says -- a place where politics should be out of bounds. The Bill of Rights with its great freedoms of speech, religion and conscience create a sphere of personal autonomy into which no state power or proxy acting in the state's name -- like a politically aggressive church -- is allowed to intrude. This is the sphere where our behavior affects us alone and has no public consequences.

The problem for religion and for churches is that they are mostly interested in exerting authority in this private sphere -- in personal behavior that should be no ones business. The problem is not that churches want to participate in politics. It is that they want to politicize the private, to drag what should be private into the public realm and make it a subject for a political agenda.

Keeping these two spheres separate -- the public and the private -- is what separates a traditional society from a liberal one. And America is a liberal society, and always has been. Those who are personally revolted by homosexuality or think recreational sex an abomination or think porn should be outlawed or want to change a hundred other things about the way people live their private lives naturally turn to churches and urge that they put these issues on the nation's political agenda.

But none of us have really experienced what it is like to live in a theocratic state or to experience the horror of a real "nanny state." You talk about "political correctness" now. Just wait for what it is like to live under a regime of politically powerful ayatollahs or even what Israelis are experiencing now with the growing strength of more orthodox Jewish sects where men and women must sit in separate seats on buses, or women scholars cannot even accept their own professional prizes because of religious objections to women on stage or efforts to take away citizenship based on religion

You talk about oppressive government. This is real tyranny when religion becomes politically powerful and erases all distinctions between the public and the private.
America has to be a "liberal" society or it can't survive. The "freedom" it provides allows those who are intolerant to possess considerable power, and to influence the body politic, but if their views are allowed to prevail the "experiment" is over.

That is the fundamental predicament in a multi-cultural society. It is the battle that must be enjoined again, and again, and again, but those who know better. This is the "broader" picture, but it is also by definition a minority view.

I forget who said it (possibly Burke) but the battle must be enjoined in generation after generation. We have a wonderful new medium, the internet, where voices can be heard that are not co-opted by the consensus, but I am fearful even its possibility is doomed to exploitation.

Think about it. This is the direction the dialogue you have begun is headed Ted. What agreement is possible is actually more possible here than in the public forum as a whole. I've been thinking about this for about five years now. I'm now waiting for the curtain to fall.
Ben,

You are right, the free way of life must be regained and relearned again and again because despite what George Bush and conservatives say, democracy is not natural at all. Quite the reverse because it asks people to do something that does not come naturally at all, which is to put their lives and fortunes into the hands of their enemies if those enemies win elections.

And we see how difficult liberalism's ideas are to understand. That is why we are currently having a debate over "religious freedom" in which the exercise of that freedom is the imposition of the tenets of an orthodoxy on an unwilling audience.

And as for understanding the discipline of a democracy, the normal behavior of a party that loses an election is to lick ones wounds and begin preparing for the next election when you can regain power. That didn't happen in 2008. In 2008 the losing party did not regroup to rethink its positions and begin preparing for the next election. In 2008 the losing party began nationwide protests of the results of that election almost immediately as the winning party took office. And that is where the Tea Party came from.
Ted I agree that the President is quite adept at crisis control. I also think that he timed the announcement of this policy at the perfect time. The Komen debacle actually started this conversation and it was pretty clear that pro-choice people woke up!! We realized that the no-choice people were working overtime and in insidious ways. That is a block he needs for a win. So the President found a way to keep those women who didn't want to have to defend their church, as they called in their birth control prescription cover. And he gave the church a way to turn a blind eye to the fact that 98% of female members are finding any and every way they can to choose when and if they will become a mother. And only the terminally tone deaf are still debating a moot point. Go CPAC!!!
"That didn't happen in 2008. In 2008 the losing party did not regroup to rethink its positions and begin preparing for the next election. In 2008 the losing party began nationwide protests of the results of that election almost immediately as the winning party took office. And that is where the Tea Party came from."

Truth told. So, the question is why? And, the answer is- because our BLACK HAWAIIAN FEARLESS LEADER simply looks like, despite having an absolute ZERO amount of descendence, like an African-American.

(oh no, it is about the bail-outs!!!! yeah, sure: bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)
@mishima666

You've said essentially what I would say if I were attempting to be reasonable, and you've said it well. Thank You

On the other hand-----

@Ted

What you are saying about "public" and "private" spheres doesn't take into account the authority to use coercion- raw brute force. That is minimally ceded to the state, so long as the state does not abuse it, while the individual always retains the right of self defense, by violence and force if necessary, against the state ( or church) if necessary.

What your model doesn't correctly reflect, is that the private "sphere" IS the realm of the individual conscience. The Church may teach, persuade or cajole- but it may not FORCE. If, as a member of the Catholic Church, you decide to no longer participate, that is between you and your conscience. They have no power to imprison you. They have no power to tax you, or fine you, or make judgments against you.

How is it you need the "state' to defend you from them? Do you fear they will "excommunicate" you? Do you fear you will "go to hell"? That's between you and your shrink.

Your relationship to your community of faith, be it Catholic Church, or narcissistic single minded self worship (Obamaism) , IS your “private “ zone. You can include a Community of faith or not, as you see fit.

I choose to include my community of faith. For many years I did not. Simple private, individual choice.

I am not inclined to accept your paranoia about your relationship to your (ex?) church as justification for allowing the state to use its powers of force and coercion in MY private sphere of conscience. You got problems with your church? Work it out with your shrink. Sue the bastards. Become a Satanist and damn them to hell. It's YOUR business. It's also YOUR problem. I'm not inclined to allow you to call in air strikes on the Constitution because you had a bad experience in YOUR private sphere.

Don't pretend that because The Catholic Church won't provide contraception for it's workers, that somehow “Women's reproductive Rights” are at stake. As Mishima points out, not having dental coverage doesn't endanger women's “Dental Rights”.

Discuss this as what it is. A power grab by the state into the realm of the conscience- A political sop thrown to the “Women's Rights” lobbies by a president looking to stroke some of his backers during an election year.

Don't pretend that somehow the Church has any power to oppress you or anyone else by “denying their rights” The party oppressing by “Denying Rights” is the State, which has no authority to dictate the actions of a community of faith-- for the matter of that, The State has no authority to dictate that ANY employer provide ANY inducement to work for them. All the State has the Authority to do, is guarantee the worker the right to leave if the terms of employment don't suit him. No slavery.

Who keeps slaves these days? Apparently the State doesn't really care if it has the authority or not, it is asserting the POWER to force me to support what many believe is murder. But hey, that's OK, because, to quote the 'Bamster “We Won”. That's what the constitution is there for, right? To insure that the will of the “majority” prevails? Such “interpretation” is why we, as citizens, have the right, the duty, and the power to resist by ( oops, almost said something intemperate- don't anyone tell the DHS, ok? ) ahem, by “writing seriously nasty and insulting letters to the executive branches in charge” when we've had enough of your charades.
Ok Ted,

I just reread, and noticed something i'd missed before.

"democracy is not natural at all. Quite the reverse because it asks people to do something that does not come naturally at all, which is to put their lives and fortunes into the hands of their enemies if those enemies win elections."

What part of the Constitution of Cloud Coo Coo land did you pull that gem out of?

"Democracy" and the "putting your lives in the hands of the winners of the elections" is precisely what the US Constitution was designed to prevent.

Ever hear of "majority rule- minority rights?" And yes, the Minority Rights do most definitely assure the minority in an election that they are NOT placing their lives and fortunes in the hands of the majority mob. They are most definitely assured the rights and the means to resist the majority, should such majority take such nonsense into their heads.

We are NOT a "democracy". We ARE a "Republic". You can't cut off someones head just because the majority want to. Neither can you force people to go against their conscience Says so right in the US Constitution.

Whew, there's a relief. for a minute there i thought you actually believed you were describing the meaning of the US Constitution.

We'd all feel a lot better if you would take your interpretation of "separation of church and state" back to wherever you got the constitution that says the majority gets to do whatever it likes with the lives and property of the minority. They need you there, and it would probably be a place more to Obama's liking, as well. Please take him with you.
Token,
We are a liberal constitutional democratic republic. We are a democracy, just not a direct democracy. Madison's Federalist 10 will help (if it's possible) you to understand the differences and similarities. Madison saw representative democracy and republic as the same thought. In general, most people will prefer his authority on the subject over yours.

You're simply wrong about the idea that nobody's freedom of conscious can be mitigated, but mostly because you over-extend the concept to cover all forms of activity. You're not following a constitutional template, you're freelancing Tokenism, a product of your own musings.

It's that self-absorbed, self-created confarkulation that leads you to try to defend Tokenism by framing the issue as a majority doing anything to anyone. The fact is Ted is right, though the word "enemies" is not how most would say it. However, it's obviously how you see it, so it makes sense in that way. I think the coo coo is a defect in your vision, not his.

You don't understand the Constitution or the motivation for the Est Clause, or the philosophy behind both. That you attempt to lecture on the subject is a bit hilarious. It doesn't take long (aside from reading your Unibomber missives) to see you are off in your own world.
Stick with Tokenism, as what you truly know about the Constitution is very limited, if it exists at all.
And PJ appears, cock in hand, ready to join the circle jerk
Somebody give PJ a reach over
You guys have fun, I'm going to bed.
Don't forget your health care provided rubbers.
And Token makes his standard exit.
[sfx -slide whistle, coo-coo clock, bells]
I humble think that an employer has the right to dictate how his work-place operates. If you work in an environment that disregard your beliefs and conviction -- then, look for another that matches your emotions and convictions. And If you're a patient that doesn't believe in Catholic DOGMA -- look for another hospital for treatment. On this issue I think Obama administration erred. Catholicism and in did many Christian groups tacitly acknowledge that a difference exist between DOGMA -- which is God's law -- and behavior pattern of many, many, many church goers. This Isn't about democracy -- and to them, the Bishops and church leaders -- It's about being in good relationship with their creator. Members have a choice to either embrace this good relationship or look outside the frame work of the church to satisfy their needs and desire. And this had and would still be the on-going tenet of the Christian faith -- the right to work on that broadway that leads to destruction or that tiny narrow path that guarantees salvation. Whether this claim Is a right one or not; they only should be left to decide this issue. This is not about a right wing pundit -- on all issues I fall in-line with president -- except for this very one.
Ted writes: "The problem is not that churches want to participate in politics. It is that they want to politicize the private, to drag what should be private into the public realm and make it a subject for a political agenda."

But how does this apply to the main issue under discussion? Catholic organizations that provide employee health benefits are not governmental bodies, nor do they have the power to take away the rights of their employees.

The employee of a Catholic organization has a right to obtain birth control. The Catholic organization has no ability to change that. Whether or not the Catholic employer provides birth control as a health benefit does not change the employee's right to birth control. If the employer provides birth control as a health benefit, the employee has the right to obtain birth control. If the employer does not provide birth control as a health benefit, the employee STILL has the right to obtain birth control. With respect to the employee's right, NOTHING changes. No rights are granted; none are taken away.

If the employer does not provide birth control through the health plan, that might make it more expensive or more difficult for the employee to get birth control. But even then, it is likely that some other service will be cheaper or easier to obtain, since by not covering birth control more funds are available to cover something else. If the employee has to pay for birth control completely out of pocket, the cost of that can be as little as $4 per month, depending on the availability of low-cost birth control.

I find the great amount of negativity directed toward the church on this issue to be very ironic. Catholic organizations provide stable jobs with decent salaries and benefits. In many of those organizations employees are represented by unions. Catholic organizations often provide free services to the poor, including medical care. Catholic social service organizations help children to be adopted, assist battered women, feed and clothe the poor, provide job training to unskilled and disabled persons, and provide education all the way from kindergarten to grad school.

When poor Mexican workers in migrant labor camps need medical care, it's the local Catholic social service organization that shows up with a mobile health clinic, and the local Catholic hospital that takes the referrals from the clinic. The CATHOLIC organizations -- NOT Atheists of America, NOT Secularists R Us, NOT Abortion Incorporated -- the Catholic organizations are the ones that meet the need.

In the current economic environment there are millions of people who would cut off their right arms for the chance to earn a decent salary and benefits while working for an organization doing good in the world -- and often be represented by a union while doing it. But because the health plan doesn't cover this one thing, this is interpreted as Catholic organizations oppressing women, denying them their rights, and attempting to subvert their private lives. It makes no sense to me.
I want to thank everyone who came by here -- even Token and Missima666 with whom I've got obvious disagreements. I think we had a really good discussion that started to get at the root of some very complicated issues about freedom, democracy and faith that tend to get over-simplified and exploited for political gain far too often today.

Paul questioned my use of the word "enemies" when I said that democracy is not a natural form of politics -- fascism is natural, tribalism is natural -- but democracy is not because it requires we do something that humans do not do instinctively, which is to willingly allow themselves to be governed by people they consider to be enemies.

That is why America has always been an "experiment" and continues to be. Many wise people told the Founding Fathers that what they were attempting was impossible, that you could never give the people power because their greed and their prejudices and their animosities against others would rip the republic apart. And when you read the writings of the Founders you see there were times in their despair they agreed.

The question of how to promote both a strong community while at the same time respecting individual autonomy? The question of promoting freedom of individual conscience and religious worship without empowering the instinct we all have within us to dominate our fellow human beings and to force conformity to our ways of thinking? Those are among the most difficult questions in political science. The Founding Fathers struggled with that question themselves as they looked for a formula that would preserve and respect as much as possible the "sovereignty" of the individual states while still empowering a new national government able to protect the rights of citizens who were now "American" as well as "Virginian" or "South Carolinian."

So, I am not surprised at all that in this short thread we have been talking past one another here, and tripping over one another, with competing and often equally legitimate definitions of "freedom" or "sovereignty."

For some the issue is the right of the Catholic Church to worship unrestricted by the bullying hand of a secular government. For others it is the freedom of individuals not to be dictated to by the bullying hand of a Catholic Church that demands absolute freedom from the rules and laws of the secular state in those domains the Church claims absolute sovereignty to have its institutional values prevail.

And just a quick side comment: Mishima666, I get your reason for wanting to make the argument about who has to pay for whose birth control, but I also think it's a bit of a cop-out because it avoids the more important issue of how do we reconcile the idea of religious freedom in a multi-cultural society like ours in ways that don't make the free citizens of a democracy the effective inhabitants of a theocracy within other important sectors of their lives, such as where they work and live. Not everyone has the ability to pick up and move or change jobs if they do not like the conditions being imposed on them. And there are important freedoms and rights here that have to be reconciled at the level of ethics and political philosophy that is much deeper than simple dollars and cents. It is an easy way to resolve the dispute, but it avoids the harder and more important question of accommodating competing rights -- the kind of question, for example, that the Founding Fathers placed in trying to reconcile state's rights with national rights.

So, once again, thanks to all the participants here. We were never going to resolve these issues, which have confounded people much smarter than us for a very long time. But I think we at least tore up the soil a bit to expose the important issues underneath.
Ted

back again.
Thank you for hosting an, on the whole, reasonable discussion about what will be a HUGE issue in the next national elections. I realize that you may not see me as the most “Reasonable” participant, but that is my point. Some things are not open to “reasonable” discussion. Mishima does a very fine job of pointing out the reasons that The Administration's interpretation of its authority to take this action is unconstitutional. It would prove an interesting basis of discussion.

The problem is, as demonstrated on your post, that the “debates' are not open to Reason. They are about things that people “Know in their gut' to be Right or Wrong.
The “losers” of the “vote” in such contests are not inclined to lie down and say “Ok, Rape Us” ( Which is precisely how these things are viewed. ) The injunction against the state legislating decisions of conscience is there precisely to prevent these sorts of confrontations.

I would enjoy a discussion with you about the meaning of being a “Sovereign Citizen”, you sound as if you might understand it. Consider which is the more productive or stronger marriage- One that is arranged and forced upon two enemies? Or one in which the participants of their own free will love and help each other as one? E pluribus, Unum is a reflection of THAT kind of union, not the forced togetherness of a coerced slave camp.

Unfortunately, (or hell, fortunately if you don't mind such pests making fools of themselves). Such discussions attract people like Tom and Frank and PJ, who think “Social Intercourse” means rape, and since they are most often denied actual intercourse, because no one will “debate” them any more, content themselves with standing around jerking each other off and proclaiming what great intellects they are.

I look forward to your further posting. The point I make is that PJ, Frank, and Tom don't care about fair or just, they only care about Crowing about being “Right!” Any game with them is not worth the candle. When they show up at my door to enforce any of their nonsense, I'll simply shoot them- no muss, no fuss, no debate over whether doing so makes me a bad person.

You, on the other hand, show potential to be actually fun to exchange ideas with. Post again soon.

Rated, after all
"When poor Mexican workers in migrant labor camps need medical care, it's the local Catholic social service organization that shows up with a mobile health clinic, and the local Catholic hospital that takes the referrals from the clinic. The CATHOLIC organizations -- NOT Atheists of America, NOT Secularists R Us, NOT Abortion Incorporated -- the Catholic organizations are the ones that meet the need." Mishima666

Those funds are provided by tax payers, the reason the government urges even illegal immigrants to fill out the Census is because NGOs like the Catholic church derive funds to create a social safety net specifically for as the government states "illegal aliens." So the church has a monetary incentive to operate those clinics, which you seem to think comes from church coffers rather than the pockets of private citizens whether they support or not illegal immigration.
As a deist, that is one who rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct, I am bothered by the influence that religions continue to exert in our nation.

What I find most bothersome is their status as tax exempt organizations. To me, that means that they enjoy many benefits - police and fire protection; road building/maintenance; employees educated in public institutions; military defense, etc. - that the rest of us at least subsidize, if not completely pay for.

To be able to avoid financially contributing to many of the things that the rest of us have to pay for, and yet exert national political influence over things that effect us all strikes me as too little of one thing - i.e. paying taxes - and too much of the other - i.e. influencing the politics of our nation.

Then there's that "moral high ground" thing". Seems to me that the Catholic church might want to get its own pedophile infested house in order before it casts aspersions on on the Obama administration.
Sorry for this small diversion, Ted, but I felt compelled:

Token wrote:


I look forward to your further posting. The point I make is that PJ, Frank, and Tom don't care about fair or just, they only care about Crowing about being “Right!” Any game with them is not worth the candle.

I wonder why the words “pot”, “kettle”, “black”, and “projection” all popped into my mind the moment I read this comment?
you got me frank

Anymore when you show up to "debate" me, I put on my best shit shoveling clothes and sling it right back at you. What you've been given ample opportunity to do and never done, is actually consider the reasoning and FEELING behind the positions I take. You simply dismiss anything contrary to your notions as ridiculous, and then insist on the explication of minor points to the exclusion of all pleas to get you to focus on the main problem.

Yep, I feel perfectly free to throw shit at you- If you want to have a reasonable discussion, you've got to start by being reasonable. You and PJ and Tom don't. You start out with the determination to have an argument, not a discussion. Sometimes that's fun. Other times it's just a pain in the ass

The difference in our "style" is that I have always argued for "being left alone"/ "Leaving each other alone" and you and the OS Circle Jerk always argue how it's your right to force me to do things i don't feel like doing. So the answer is simple. Go ahead Frank, make my day, Force me.
Token, forgive me but I went back through the comments and if you view your initial post as embarking on a friendly discussion, then I am confused. Words that jumped off the page are terrifying, hang or hanging, and violent. In fact I noticed that before you only Larry, who shares your point of view used that kind of language. And from where I sit it felt as if you were condoning some sort of violence to be visited upon lawyers. I may be wrong but that's how it came off.
No, I don’t want to try to “force you”, Token. Frankly, I don’t really feel comfortable talking with someone who uses as many violent references as you feel compelled to use. I do not want “to make your day.” But I sure as hell do not intend to allow you to cow me just because you are proud you want to shoot people with whom you disagree.

You have on several occasions mischaracterized the issue being discussed here. I’ve asked you here and in other places to discuss it…but instead of discussions, what you respond with are insults and slurs. You want to pretend I am the one going off topic, not you.

Why don’t you stop it? If you truly want to “leave alone” and “be left alone”…why don’t you stop it?

If you are going to enter a discussion, however, and you make a mischaracterization, it is not inappropriate to call it to your attention. That is what I haves done…and I have done it respectfully and reasonably courteously. You are the one who has problems in that regard—with all the veiled and not so veiled threats.

If you want to discuss things, fine. Let’s do so. I appreciated your comment to Ted earlier…but I resented the barbs you directed to me…and I responded. And if you make a comment in public that is a mischaracterization, I should be able to comment on it without all the threat nonsense!
Desnee

The reference to “Hanging all the Lawyers” is from Shakespeare

All:
God save your majesty!
Cade:
I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat
and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery,
that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.
Dick:
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
Cade:
Nay, that I mean to do.
Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78
Dick the butcher, a character no one remembers, utters one of the few memorable lines from the entire three-part Henry the Sixth cycle. Dick's Utopian idea to kill all England's lawyers is his addition to the promises of the traitorous Jack Cade, who envisions a quasi-communistic social revolution, with himself installed as autocrat. Cade alleges that all lawyers do is shuffle parchments back and forth in a systematic attempt to ruin the common people. His demagoguery is simply a calculated appeal to simple folks' longing to be left alone. Yet one may recognize Cade's moral failings and still sympathize with Dick.
In 1987, three Supreme Court Justices convened for a mock trial, in which representatives of the poetaster Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550–1604), challenged Shakespeare's authorship of the plays. The president of American University in Washington, D.C., which sponsored the event, "drew some nervous laughter from the legal contingent in the crowd," the New York Times reported, "when he yielded to the temptation to quote the world's most-quoted English author (whoever he was) by saying, 'The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. . . .'" Unsurprisingly, the justices ruled in favor of the Bard of Avon.
http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/lets-kill-all-lawyers


“Hanging the lawyers” ( as I first heard it ) is the way people in my neck of the woods refer to dealing with shysters who work a swindle and then attempt to use the force of law to collect on it.

No actual Lawyers in my neck of the woods are stupid enough to actually attempt this on any regular basis, they know we know where they live, and aren't real averse to doing them violence, should it be warranted.

What Frank etc. are in the position of doing is :

picture those of us who live and think locally, living our lives, taking care of our people, minding our own business.

Along comes a Sheriff of the realm, and tells us that, contrary to our thoughts, we do not own ourselves in fee simple as we thought, our 17 times great grandparents signed a document stating that under such and such circumstances and in such and such a time “The Government” would be legally entitled to take over our lives and property and force us to do as we are told to do by those who inherited the right to tell us from the agreement of our 17 greats grandfather.

This is really interesting, cause we have a copy of that “treaty” and we don't see anything like what the Sheriff tells us it says. He unfolds his copy and amid all the crossings out, addenda and lawyers wranglings done to it after the fact, points out an obscure little subsection 5 subparagrph g footnote 132 that the current government claims gives it the authority.

We naturally point to our copy, which says no such thing.

The sheriff ignores our concerns and simply proceeds to attempt to order our departure, under his understanding of the afforcited subsections and paragraphs. Insisting on the absolute correctness of the learned judges who decide all these things.

We, of course, see no such thing. He assures us that if we don't follow his orders, he will come back with more troops.

One of our options at this point, is of course, just to hang him for a fool.but we attempt to humor Him. We question his interpretation, we question his authority. All he does in reply is go back and cite the affocited paragraphs and interpretation. And tell us it's settled.

We simply point out to him that if he thinks its settled, he hasn't got nearly enough troops.

Simple reality folks- these are the things civil wars are fought over.
Being an arguing fiend who is never wrong just doesn't cut it for solving these sorts of problems.
Take my point of view under serious consideration no matter what “Legal Right” you believe to be on your side, or test that force.
I didn't sign the document,you are blatantly falsifying the clear meaning, and so no contract exists

You need to treat with me as a potentially dangerous enemy- or ally.
Stop trying to buffalo me with legal bullshit. We will discuss it in terms of here and now, and how it effects us here and now. You will respect my feelings on the matter. Or we will fight.
That's reality.

(as far as Frank actually attempting to “Force Me', if he should show up on my doorstep I would have to seriously consider shooting him and having him tested for rabies cause that would be some serious sort of crazy, but i'd probably wind up taking him down to the local bar and buying him a drink just for being so absurd. )
mish,
Good works are a nice thing, but that isn't a consideration. A secular business operating under a charter granted by The People can be expected to perform, as any franchisee must, according to conditions set by The People. This is our marketplace. The law says BC must be offered. To exempt the Church from that law is the same thing as making a law respecting an establishment of religion. "Respecting" as "in deference to." Replacing secular law with religious law violates the secular employee's freedom of conscious and is in direct contradiction to the main purpose of the est clause -- that we draw laws from reason alone. The idea behind this, in that post Reformation era, was that citizens can find a majority agreement in law, but not religion. It's a matter of civil order and peace, or "civil religion." Thus the wall of separation.
While the Founders were not market laissez faire, they were religious laissez faire. The churches are granted special status and are freed from coercion as they reasonably operate within their sphere, and the people protected from religious coercion in theirs.

Token,
Citizens have dual sovereignty as far as our interactions with other citizens. We are the sovereigns of state and federal governments. That we are "masters of all we survey" is personal sovereignty, and that is protected by the social contract, but is not in all cases autonomous. I know you don't like having your factual errors pointed out, but if you actually studied before you wrote instead of reverse-engineering Tokenism into a flawed concept of what the Constitution represents, you could avoid the manifold errors (I didn't address all of them in this thread and there are many).
I can't speak for all, but I think the only people who will engage in a discussion of Tokenism are those who haven't yet engaged in a discussion of Tokenism.
However, all I am suggesting is, like libertarians, you should discuss your ideas based on their merits, not as constitutional, as those ideas, like libertarianism, have nothing to do with the Constitution, which is based on liberal philosophy, an entirely different concept.
Token…that last post of yours was a joy to read—and I want to acknowledge you for it.

I pledge to honor your desire to be left alone from this point on…and I promise (very sincerely) never to show up on your porch. I am not that dumb or that brave. Although I must say the idea of sitting down at some bar somewhere sharing a beer with someone like you is something I would almost certainly enjoy.

I don’t know where your “neck of the woods” is, but if you are ever up in New Jersey or New York City, lemme know. I’ll buy the first round…and all the others until one of us keels over. Plenty of good bars around these parts!
PJ

I know you are an obnoxious jack off who doesn't like having it pointed out that your idea of "Social Intercourse " is either circle jerking with your playbuddies or "Gangrape' on those rare occasions when you can find anyone who will engage you and attempt to point out other ways of thinking or respect for their "diversity".

As to further interaction of "Discussion" or respect for your opinions, hey, Come force me to do what you say I must do. (of course, YOU won't- you believe you have government thugs to do your bidding) Otherwise Fuck off and die.
Frank

If you seriously mean that, I accept- more unsolvable differences of mankind are worked out over a pitcher of beer in a bar, than are ever solved "before the Bar".

the first thing is, get the damn lawyers out of it.
Yes, Token
Everyone else here is crazy and evil. Only you see the Truth.

You're a poor imitation of a bad pseudo-intellectual.

Your Tokenism rants are always about abstract creations of unreal and unrealized absurd events and consequences, with you fighting off the malicious liberty-robbing ants of your delirium tremens with your trusty shotgun and faithful sidekick Harvey.

Adding to this no-talent revue, you can't even insult well.

I am very much reminded of a childhood friend. Sal saw himself as a great thinker and, like you, his most-used reference material was between his ears. After moving away, he returned in time for our Senior year in HS, transferring in mid-semester.

As with any such person, his cobbled-together musings on life and history were equal to anyone's and superior to most. I suggested he join our Contemporary World Affairs class, where we did a good deal of political debating. This was 76, the Jimmy-v-Ford year.

I knew it would only be a matter of time before Sal lectured on some topic, and was proud that I had managed to set up this "long con" of passive-aggressive intent.

Sure enough, in course of some discussion, he stood to explain the cause of WW2. It was probably only 2-3 minutes, but seemed longer, heightening the joyous impact of the inevitable result. It began with Neanderthals and worked forward to the Teutonic people and their unique racial qualities as it wound its way towards 1939. It was like Michener, had he been a brain-addled crack addict.
Anyway, after Poland was invaded, due to unique aspects of Polandism, compensated for the east-to-west rotation of the Earth and tidal forces, etc, he finished his analysis.

Mrs. Ferguson, a fine Republican lady and excellent teacher, had stood at the podium the entire time, chin resting on one hand, intently focused on Sal.

After a pregnant pause, she drily replied with the type of cadence meant to add force to her words:

"You have no idea of what you're talking about."

Ibid, Token.

Thanks for reminding me. It's been years since I thought about it.
@ Ted Frei

All of your anger is based on your acceptance of the premise that this controversy involves the Catholic "Church" being forced by a tyrannical government to renounce its faith in violation of Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religious worship.

That seems very simple and straightforward but as I have tried to show it is also very misleading, for these reasons:

“:The controversy involves the Catholic Church not in its role as a religious institution but as a business owner employing workers who would be working for non-sectarian secular schools and hospitals and universities if they were not working for ones owned and operated by the Church.”

I don't believe the premise that these workers would be working for non sectarian organizations is comparable to the “principles” of the Church that Obama is mandated the Bishops ignore. Would it be a violation of my rights if I worked in am Orthodox Jewish or Islamic Institution and was fired because I had a bacon and egg sandwich for lunch?

Case in point, Mitt Romney is getting blasted by Orthodox Jews for a 2003 veto he cast as governor of Massachusetts to reject $600,000 in additional funds for poor Jewish nursing-home residents to get kosher meals.
Brooklyn state Assemblyman Dov Hikind “Everybody understands what kosher is. You have huge communities of Jews who eat only kosher and you have a huge community of senior citizens,
of older people,” Hikind said. “People are going to want to know why.” Everybody understands
what kosher is. You have huge communities of Jews who eat only kosher and you have a huge community of senior citizens, of older people,” Hikind said. “People are going to want to know why.”
The Massachusetts Legislature approved an amendment to restore the $600,000 to finance the kosher meals allowing a “most vulnerable segment of our population’’ to “enjoy a special dignity,” according to the Jewish Community Council.”

http://privateinvesigations.blogspot.com/2012/01/romney-rapped-for-kosher-cut.html

==============================================================

“Second, the controversy is over an issue of "faith" that the Catholic faithful do not accept, and so how you define "Church" matters. I define it as the tens of millions of practicing Catholics. Conservatives want to define it to the leadership alone.”

Mr. Frier, the Catholic Church preaches what it feels to be the truth. The Church fully understands that Catholics around the world differ but the “principles of the Church” do not. The Church cannot offer a buffet of principles, pick one from column A and one from Column B. And that's why you have numerous Protestant churches. There are Catholics who do not follow the Ten Commandments or the rules of the Church that give guidance to our lives. I would agree that a majority of American Catholics practice birth control and do follow the teaching of Pope Paul V1 in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae issued in 1968. The Church was torn back than too. .But the Church would not last 2,000 years if it had to change guidance to believers based on societal changes.
I don't believe Obama and his advisors can comprehend that Catholics, fallen Catholics, those that regularly practice contraception, also love their Church and, while there are always those who feel they can pick and choose, most Catholics are circling the wagons around their Bishop and Priests.

I also think there is something sinister and a violation of “first amendment” rights by this Administration in prohibiting Chaplain’s from reading their “Bishops Letter” at services.
What is this...Nazi Germany? .

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“Second, the controversy is over an issue of "faith" that the Catholic faithful do not accept, and so how you define "Church" matters. I define it as the tens of millions of practicing Catholics. Conservatives want to define it to the leadership alone.”

If you want a religion based on what the “people accept” you might find yourself worshiping a golden calf! I am a Roman Catholic...not an American Catholic, or as the democrat party would describe me an Italian-American Catholic. What you feel American Catholics practice and believe, is probably totally different than what Catholics in Africa, South America, Mexico, the Philippians
believe.
Do you suggest the Roman Catholic Church can only survive by offering the world a
menu of principles based on cultural “taste?” I don't think so.

-

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“And finally, by its history the Catholic Church has shown that birth control is a political issue for it and not just a matter of faith since it openly advocates for laws that would deny non-Catholics access to the devices. And finally, I am a Catholic myself and also a lay reader. If anyone should be angry about my anti-Catholicism, at least as it is directed to the politicized Church hierarchy, it should be my parish priest.”

1. I can agree with you with respect to any suggestion by the Church to deny “non-Catholics” access to birth control devices. That has nothing to do with my belief in the Roman Church.
2. I would talk to your Parish Priest and question him as a “priests” following the guidance
the Bishop has given him with respect to his flock. He may even agree with you, off the
record, of course.
I don't agree with everything that is said to me at church or in the Rectory. Some of the questions asked of children preparing for communion or couples preparing for marriage vows.
Loathe as I am to get into this because most of what I have to say has already been said better than I could, however.

Joe Zollo said:

"I don't believe the premise that these workers would be working for non sectarian organizations is comparable to the “principles” of the Church that Obama is mandated the Bishops ignore. Would it be a violation of my rights if I worked in am Orthodox Jewish or Islamic Institution and was fired because I had a bacon and egg sandwich for lunch?

Case in point, Mitt Romney is getting blasted by Orthodox Jews for a 2003 veto he cast as governor of Massachusetts to reject $600,000 in additional funds for poor Jewish nursing-home residents to get kosher meals.
Brooklyn state Assemblyman Dov Hikind “Everybody understands what kosher is. You have huge communities of Jews who eat only kosher and you have a huge community of senior citizens,
of older people,” Hikind said. “People are going to want to know why.” Everybody understands
what kosher is. You have huge communities of Jews who eat only kosher and you have a huge community of senior citizens, of older people,” Hikind said. “People are going to want to know why.” "

There is a clear and understandable difference here. Moslem and Orthodox Hebrew Institutions go to enormous lengths to keep their places of business free from non-halal or non-kosher foodstuffs. To desecrate them means an enormous effort both physical and financial to restore them. An employee who violates this term of service is purposefully hurting his employer - and should be fired.

On the other hand, bringing in kosher or Halal food to an aged Jew or Moslem violates nothing and hurts no one. There is no damage done, except of course to your argument.
"It was like Michener, had he been a brain-addled crack addict. "- HAWAII might actually be a decent read if the reader was smoking rock!

LOf*(&%^gL

In mentioning diversity it is instructive to note that the hard core Silicon Valley investor/technology researchers have long ago concluded and now demand total diversity on teams as that makes them the best and strongest they can be ...

Imua (Onward) --- also instructive how the wahine are avoiding this thread, again, why are men talking at all about a women's issue? AT ALL?
Paul writes: "The law says BC must be offered. To exempt the Church from that law is the same thing as making a law respecting an establishment of religion. "Respecting" as "in deference to." Replacing secular law with religious law violates the secular employee's freedom of conscience and is in direct contradiction to the main purpose of the est clause -- that we draw laws from reason alone."

In this case I fail to see how an employee's freedom of conscience is violated, nor do I see how any rights would be taken from employees who had to pay for their own birth control. Birth control is already widely, and frequently cheaply, available, often subsidized by the government. It is available for a low as $4 a month, and Planned Parenthood can hook you up for around $15 a month. And unless you're in the middle of the wilderness, condoms are available within a couple hundred yards of wherever you happen to be.

Were religious organizations granted an exemption from the birth control requirement, no government funds or facilities would be used to support religion, nor would the government be inconvenienced. No person would be prevented from obtaining or using birth control, nor would any person be forced to change his or her opinion on the issue of birth control. No rights would be violated, and no religion would be established.

[One does not] "find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. . . . we find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence. . . . We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses. We make room for as wide a variety of beliefs and creeds as the spiritual needs of man deem necessary. We sponsor an attitude on the part of government that shows no partiality to any one group and that lets each flourish according to the zeal of its adherents and the appeal of its dogma." -- Justice Douglas, Zorach v. Clauson.

Granting religious groups an exemption from a law so that the groups can better adhere to the dictates of conscience does not constitute the establishment of religion -- in the same way that the Court found in Zorach that excusing public school students from class in order to attend religious instruction did not constitute the establishment of religion.
Paul writes: "The law says BC must be offered. To exempt the Church from that law is the same thing as making a law respecting an establishment of religion. "Respecting" as "in deference to." Replacing secular law with religious law violates the secular employee's freedom of conscience and is in direct contradiction to the main purpose of the est clause -- that we draw laws from reason alone."

In this case I fail to see how an employee's freedom of conscience is violated, nor do I see how any rights would be taken from employees who had to pay for their own birth control. Birth control is already widely, and frequently cheaply, available, often subsidized by the government. It is available for a low as $4 a month, and Planned Parenthood can hook you up for around $15 a month. And unless you're in the middle of the wilderness, condoms are available within a couple hundred yards of wherever you happen to be.

Were religious organizations granted an exemption from the birth control requirement, no government funds or facilities would be used to support religion, nor would the government be inconvenienced. No person would be prevented from obtaining or using birth control, nor would any person be forced to change his or her opinion on the issue of birth control. No rights would be violated, and no religion would be established.

[One does not] "find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. . . . we find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence. . . . We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses. We make room for as wide a variety of beliefs and creeds as the spiritual needs of man deem necessary. We sponsor an attitude on the part of government that shows no partiality to any one group and that lets each flourish according to the zeal of its adherents and the appeal of its dogma." -- Justice Douglas, Zorach v. Clauson.

Granting religious groups an exemption from a law so that the groups can better adhere to the dictates of conscience does not constitute the establishment of religion -- in the same way that the Court found in Zorach that excusing public school students from class in order to attend religious instruction did not constitute the establishment of religion.
Mish,
You are looking in the wrong place to wrongly define the issue. As it is anyway, the law was not written for any reason concerning religion, so can show no antipathy towards religion. It does not disallow or in any way interfere with religious worship.

The antipathy is the claim of the Church, but in reality it does not exist. It is a secular law written for secular reasons by secular people, through their government. It applies to secular employees in secular employment for substantially secular businesses.

You say it doesn’t inconvenience government, but that’s not true. We, the people are the government, and we want BC to be provided with all policies in all secular employment. It’s not the people’s responsibility to conform to a religious law for the sake of not offending a religious organization, just because they can find other ways to obtain BC. The onus is on the church to show why the Est Clause is being violated. It is not being violated. The issue is what I say, that the Church wants to enforce a religious law, using government to accomplish that.

Disregarding precedence and looking at it in the raw, so to speak, you’re saying a small minority –the Church hierarchy (as the congregants disagree, in large numbers, with the doctrine) -- can effectively delete a civil law because they claim it interferes with their freedom of conscience. By substituting their authority for The People’s, the larger and far more significant and sovereign rulers’ freedom of conscience has to be violated. In the balance of specious minority claim and authoritative majority will, it’s easy to see who should prevail.

As to precedence, Zorach involves allowing certain students to skip school for religious instruction or worship. Their (parent’s) individual right was upheld. They were not released to attend a secular function and that they were released from a secular school to attend a religious function doesn’t establish religious authority over secular functions. This was about the student/parent's freedom, not the Church (which was Catholic, coincidentally). The citation does mention hostility towards religion, and while that fits what you say it is, and what the church says it is, it simply has nothing to do with that in the BC case. The law doesn’t address religion in any way and its function has no implications towards religion that the church didn't create from whole cloth.

A far more relevant citation would be this cut-n-paste:

In Larkin v. Grendel's Den, the Court held that the Establishment Clause is violated by a delegation of governmental decisionmaking to churches. At issue was a state statute permitting any church or school to block issuance of a liquor license to any establishment located within 500 feet of the church or school. While the statute had a permissible secular purpose of protecting churches and schools from the disruptions often associated with liquor establishments, the Court indicated that these purposes could be accomplished by other means, e.g. an outright ban on liquor outlets within a prescribed distance, or the vesting of discretionary authority in a governmental decisionmaker required to consider the views of affected parties.

*Note that they say if there is to be such a law, the authority belongs to the people, through appropriate legislation. As it is, there is a law in the BC case, not subject to church interference*

""However, the conferral of a veto authority on churches had a primary effect of advancing religion both because the delegation was standardless (thereby permitting a church to exercise the power to promote parochial interests), and because ''the mere appearance of a joint exercise of legislative authority by Church and State provides a significant symbolic benefit to religion in the minds of some.'' Moreover, the Court determined, because the veto ''enmeshes churches in the processes of government,'' it represented an entanglement offensive to the ''core rationale underlying the Establishment Clause''--''[to prevent] 'a fusion of governmental and religious functions.''' -- end cite.

That aside, I return to the initial point. A secular law written without regard to, or antipathy towards, religion, applying to secular employers in secular businesses as one of many requirements secular businesses must meet to operate within The People’s market. The hospital is no more supplying the coverage as a gift than they are by paying for any of the other costs associated with an employee, such as matching SS and Medicare taxes. It’s all part of compensation for services rendered, and the cost is paid for due to the profit—or merely cost-recovering non-profit – of services rendered.

A church has wide latitude in how they treat church employees, but hospital employees are not church employees, and We, the People get to write the laws, not churches.
Well-said, Paul. I respect Mishima666 a lot, but he seems to be arguing from a rather wearisome patriarchal, reactionary viewpoint which I usually associate with fundamentalists who can't be bothered to think outside their particular dogma. For fuck's sake, the church (or The Church in this case) has absolutely no say over whether US citizens are allowed to have access to birth control, and anyone arguing otherwise should just go ahead and cast their lot with the likes of Rick Santorum.
What, at the end of the day, is this discussion about? It is about whether institutions owned/ financed by the Catholic church are obligated to obey the same laws as similar institutions which AREN'T financed by the Catholic church. Am I wrong? Hopefully someone will correct me if I am, and I'm sure someone will correct me even if I'm not.
Token thanks for the clarification the original was a quote from Shakespeare, but then lawyers in your neck of the woods know that if they veer off the path of least resistance to your ideas, there is a tree with their name on it. Then in another post you stated that as long as someone agrees with you that you would be friendly otherwise you will fight. I think it would be safe to say that is something you don't have to tell anyone they come to understand that quite early in the conversation.
HOW a party or movement thinks is more important than WHAT it thinks.

Fundamentalism is not a religion. It is a mindset. A liberal society can accommodate the demands of radical freedom expressed by Token just so long as a liberalism remains in control, but a society in which Tokenism prevails would descend into either anarchy or tyranny.

The Founding Fathers were not anti-religious. But the wall of separation they built between church and state recognized that the absolutism so necessary in giving church followers the comforting sense of certainty the faithful require was death to democratic republics where secular authorities had to accommodate and reconcile many such faith claims. As Madison said of the mediating political qualities necessary in a Congressman: When you "extend the sphere you enlarge the views."

The issue in the present controversy is the claim of an absolutist institution, the Catholic Church, that a republic's guarantee of freedom of religion gives to that church absolute sovereignty over all those areas of society where its interest intersect -- not only over the Church proper where actual religious worship takes place but everywhere where its business and economic interests reach, such as its schools, hospitals, universities and pizza parlors and taco joints if it had any.

The reason this issue matters is that we are talking about the governing mentality of our republic -- HOW our republic will think as it tries to solve the problems that face us not only WHAT it will think. It matters a great deal whether that mentality is a liberal one or authoritarian, fundamentalist, or absolutist.

When they are working to attain power and before they do attain it, "the fascist and communist parties invoke all the guarantees of the bill of rights, all the perogatives of popular parties of elections, of repreentation in the assembly, of tenure in the civil service. But when they attain power, they destroy the liberal democratic institutions on which they climbed to power."

That was written by the great American journalist Walter Lippmann in his 1955 classic, Essays in the Public Philosophy. It was a book he started with Hitler's rise in Germany. His aim was to better understand the inner causes by which liberal democracies were nearly destroyed in the 20th century century -- and often with the assistance of their own citizens.

Democracy, Lippmann concluded, is for those who are for it -- for those willing to do more than simply claim its freedoms but to protect those freedoms for others by by recognizing the danger which non-negotiable and absolutist faith claims by anyone pose to the fabric that supports the democratic way of life.

And the "borderline between sedition and reform," he says -- the border between legitimate politics from illegitimate politics -- is the acceptance of the "sovereign principle" that in a democracy "we live in a rational order in which by sincere inquiry and rational debate we can distinguish the true and the false, the right and the wrong."

Indeed, using a religious metaphor, Lippmann says that "rational procedure is the ark of the covenant of the public philosophy" and of democratic republics. There are no election laws or constitutional guarantees which are unchangeable. But what is unchangeable if a democracy is to survive "is the commitment to rational determination."

The Counter-revolutionists, says Lippmann, will in the end try to "suppress freedom in order to propagate the official doctrine, reject the procedure by which in the free society official policy is determined."

And among these counter-revolutionaries I would include the present right wing, politically aggressive Catholic Church hierarchy that is now demanding the entire society give it the same deference in the political sphere which the Church faithful are supposed to grant it in the religious one by accepting and accommodating the Church's non-negotiable and absolutist faith demands on birth control wherever the writ of the Catholic Church extends, whether in the sphere of religious worship or where it has business interests.

It is not possible to reject this faith in the efficacy of reason over absolutist faith, says Lippmann, "and at the same time believe that communities of men enjoying freedom could govern themselves successfully." It it not possible, in other words, to give the Catholic Church the power it seeks to shape a political agenda based on the dogmas of its faith and to still have a democratic republic, not really.

For, like all fundamentalists or absolutists who seek political power, the path to the destruction of the freedom of others begins with the demand for absolute freedom for themselves.
@ Ted
I believe that has been the main point from the opposing point of view. That is as long as we all agree that they are right there will be peace in the valley. But clearly the rights they have reserved for themselves, they have abrogated for anyone not in agreement. Oddly enough we aren't even a Catholic nation so it isn't as if they enjoy majority support for their church tenets. There are 2x more Protestants and frankly there are nearly the same amount of people who don't have any faith as there are Catholics. The thing about this country is which ever church has been granted the biggest microphone exercises the most power in messaging, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a popular message, it just means it is the strongest we've heard. One makes a fatal error in mistaking that to mean the same thing.
Desnee

You've got the roles a little reversed there. The Lawyers are the one's who have their hanging tree all polished up and doing a “box Office” business . Last I checked the ones in my “neck of the woods” were running this scheme sponsored by the “Mother's Against Drunk Driving” whereby the local cops sit outside the bars and as soon as they see someone leave the bar and get into his car to drive home, they pull him over and often as not issue him a citation, often as not on the basis of their “observation” (they still let them do that here. --) They plead it down to "reckless operation" because they have no “Scientific proof”- but by then they've cost the “offender” a minimum of $5000 dollars Lawyer fees ( The Lawyers always get their cut) plus a hefty fine (The judges and civic leaders love that) and put them through enough hell that no one around here drives to a bar ( no one with any sense). You may applaud that notion. But, see, the local police have people that they think “deserve” to be punished, so they very often pull people over just because they feel like it and issue them “citations”. There are rumors to the effect that this happens more often outside bars that fail to see the benefits in “Supporting their local police”

They don't do that to me. First of all because I'm “friends” with most of the “Law Enforcement Professionals” through Church etc. Second, they know that if they do me an injustice, I am relentless about punishing them. By any means available. They know that I know people at a higher level of government (State and local) who could give them trouble. They Know that I am connected to media which could give them trouble. They suspect that, since I helped install the computerized data base at the courthouse, if I really wanted to give them trouble, I'd simply hack in and destroy it. They tend to leave me alone. The flip of that is that any number of them would love to catch me doing something they could nail me for. The ultimate Mutual Assured Destruction position is that I am assured enough in my notion that this is just some sort of “video game” that they know that ultimately there are things I will go to war and kill them over ( as Patton observed, war is not “Dying” for your cause, it's killing) rather than let them get away with.
Mostly, that's too much trouble, so we just adjourn to the local bar and discuss it.
The local cops know which cars not to stop
Frank would be welcome-
I hesitate to invite nanatehay cause that crazy fuck might just show up
PJ often as not shows up uninvited anyway
Tom and Ted probably don't understand the invitation

Checks and balances.
All I ask is to be left alone.
The trouble comes when people try to force me to do things THEY think I need to do.
Like provide birth control for my employees ( I guess these days that would be my cats- already done, spayed and neutered )
Let's turn this around a bit.
A large group of San Franciscans think circumcision is an “abomination”
They would forbid it to all San Franciscans ( NOT JUST JEWS AND ARABS)
So, no problem, right? Not directed at any religious group.
Just plain common sense we can all agree on. Right?

And Again, mishima, well stated
Ted

The thing you don't reckon into your equations is that each individual HAS absolute freedom to be just as destructive as their inventive little minds and social constrictions allow.

As I stated in my previous comment to Desnee. I find a lot of things objectionable about my county/local government
I also am in possession of knowledge and skill that would allow me to destroy it as it now operates. ( i helped install it's computer system, I know not only where the "back doors" are, I know the flaws in the backup system that my then employers downplayed when they sold the county the system. I'm pretty sure I could have them back to paper records (that no longer are adequate to the volume and pace of modern life) in an afternoon. For quite a few afternoons to come. ( It's the equivalent of large blanks in paper courthouse records that are explained by "Oh, that's when the courthouse burned" )

The people who might hassle me at a county level kind of suspect this to be true. That isn't why they don't hassle me. they don't hassle me because we both think that life is better in our neck of the woods with the computer system functioning. And we kind of like each other, most of the time.

THAT is why I curb my absolute freedom (God Given) and allow the restraints of society to hold me in. Not threat of "enforcement" It is wise to temper such discussions of imposed "Law" with recognition of that truth. (I'm sure nana agrees with me only he plays for "union thug")
Ted

More to the point, if i truly wanted to destroy my local government, i wouldn't hack in and shutdown the database.
I would hack in and corrupt it.

i would change records of property ownership, so that different databases reflected different truths. i would "disappear" some records of a controversial nature, (Crimes by VIP's?) and leave evidence that it was my "enemies" who clumsily tried to cover up. I would change the language of statutes in subtle ways, making sure that the "tripliccate record keeping" disagreed in minor but important ways.

In short, I would destroy the trust people have in their government, not just in the ability to dispense justice, but in their WILL to dispense justice, (and not just line some peoples pockets.)

Sound Familiar?
Token,
You invited me to comment once. I did, showing beyond doubt the Founders were not libertarian, despite your highly uneducated claim. You deleted it. To my above ridicule of your infirmities, add coward. I don't comment on your blog.
You're not participating in this thread based on the issue, but based on Tokenism, a catch-all concept of your invention and delusions that you can apply to any such discussion, and always do. Ya ain't foolin' nobody -- you don't have the chops to argue the issue based on the way it's decided. The extent that you have participated by actually discussing the issue at hand is to attaboy mish. You're a Tokenism troll.

Crackpottery aside,
nanate,
What's interesting about mish's quotation, aside from being unrelated to a secular law that has nothing to do with religion, is what's hidden in the ..... omissions.

A more full quotation reveals this, what I think relevant to the issue bracketed:

When the state [343 U.S. 306, 314] encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. Government may not finance religious groups nor undertake religious instruction nor blend secular and sectarian education [[ nor use secular institutions to force one or some religion on any person. ]] But we find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence. [[ The government must be neutral when it comes to competition between sects. It may not thrust any sect on any person. It may not make a religious observance compulsory. It may not coerce anyone to attend church, to observe a religious holiday, or to take religious instruction.]] end

Or, along those lines, to follow a religious law as an obvious extension of the thought.

Arguing it from the Bishop's perspective is to present it bassackwards. Instead of applying a simple rule that can cover all such situations, the mish/bish exemption opens a can of worms releasing Edict of Worms worms. Biz owner is Catholic....can deny BS...Church owns stock in grocery store....can deny BC...Catholic pizza parlor owner sees BC pills in employee's purse. Fires her, as otherwise the government is forcing him to subsidize an intolerable act.

What bish/mish advocate, because this would become a principle of law, is the effective deletion of the Establishment Clause by way of biz ownership of public accommodations. Some religions see black people as not having the seed of Abraham. Restaurant refuses to serve blacks due to religious objection. And so on...
@PJ

F.O.A.D.

Beyond that, your nattering about your interpretations of constitutional law are precisely what's beside the point here. Bullshit is Bullshit, whether from your sacred cow or my badly trained rodeo bull. When the rubbers meet the road, this is pure power politics- your blithering about what is and isn't constitutional is right up there with how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

What is extremely clever here is the attempt to make this about "The Catholic Church" so that Obama can sneak in the whole question of whether the Government has ANY authority to mandate "Health" provisions for ANY employer.

Come force me, PJ, otherwise F.O.A.D.
Token,
http://www.mentalhelp.net/
@PJ

Cute - the presumption must be that you know about it because you need it. ( I know you are but what am I?-- doing a little "Pee Wee Herman" channeling there )

Feeling your force yet, PJ- or were you just going to ask me "pretty please"?

Force me, PJ. ( Oh PJ, take me you big strong Brute!!!!) otherwise F.O.A.D
Or go back to your circle jerk
@PJ

Cute - the presumption must be that you know about it because you need it. ( I know you are but what am I?-- doing a little "Pee Wee Herman" channeling there )

Feeling your force yet, PJ- or were you just going to ask me "pretty please"?

Force me, PJ. ( Oh PJ, take me you big strong Brute!!!!) otherwise F.O.A.D
Or go back to your circle jerk
Paul writes: "We, the people are the government, and we want BC to be provided with all policies in all secular employment."

So the Obama administration is now "we the people."

Let's leave the Catholic/religious aspect of this aside for a while. What is the justification for the federal government mandating that ANY employer must cover ANY low-cost, widely-available, elective service? And not just cover it, but cover it without even a copay?

Why birth control pills? Why not blood pressure medicine? Insulin and glucose-lowering drugs? Epi-pens for asthmatics? Antibiotics? There are countless services and medicines that are far more necessary to health than birth control -- things that can make the difference between life and death -- and yet those aren't free.

According to the Obama administration, providing free birth control is necessary to ensure "women's health." But this is "women's health" narrowly defined. Women need to control blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. If they don't that can lead to strokes, death, disability, amputations, heart attacks, and countless other serious medical conditions. But this apparently is not considered "women's health," and there is no free coverage of these life-saving/life-extending medications.

Meanwhile, we the people, through our unions, can negotiate health plan coverage with employers. Non-unionized employees can express preferences to their employers concerning what services are most important to them, and intervention by the feds is not necessary.

Ted writes: "It it not possible, in other words, to give the Catholic Church the power it seeks to shape a political agenda based on the dogmas of its faith and to still have a democratic republic, not really."

But the Obama administration is doing the very thing you said couldn't or shouldn't be done -- compromising on the issue in order to accommodate religious organizations: "Now, according to senior White House officials, if a religious employer has a religious objection to providing birth control coverage, insurance companies will be required to offer the insurance featuring free birth control directly to the employees."
mish,
Obama is the only one elected by all of We, the People voting. That's our system of government. The reason I stress that is because too often people forget that the government is the people, and treat it as some overbearing separate entity. It can be that, but only because too many forget their responsibility in the scheme and look to have others decide for them. Those people fall on both sides, either expecting too much or condemning all or most. However, we can't operate on the assumption it isn't our government, and that we do live in a country where the majority rules.

You ask:
"What is the justification for the federal government mandating that ANY employer must cover ANY low-cost, widely-available, elective service? And not just cover it, but cover it without even a copay?"

Why does a McDonald's franchisee have to stay with the menu, stay within a price range, use the same logos, themes and approved buildings?

We, the people own the American franchise. The concept of a corporation having to be chartered is because they operate at our pleasure. In Founding America, that control was far more involved, with corps having to be chartered by state legislation. They were limited to one task, couldn't own stock in other corps, couldn't participate in politics, were often told what level of profit they could charge, officers were held criminally liable for corporate acts and, most importantly, they could be disbanded if it was shown they were acting against the public interest.

Given that, having them supply insurance, and in that supply BC with no co-payment is a rather small demand, but a demand we have every right to make.

America was not founded on libertarianism, not that that's what you're intending to say, but because their version of "liberty" seems to be what you're thinking of as liberty. That "government is bad, laissez faire is good" attitude that has led to having our government stolen out from under us was a product of 1840-ish thinking, and isn't a foundational principle. There is no difference between economic and civil liberty -- both subject to mitigation -- to those who truly know what the concept of American liberty means. You can't surrender one and have the other, as they are intertwined. Capitalism led to liberalism and vice-versa, and so the relationship is either symbiotic or, as we fail, parasitic.

We have surrendered true economic liberty -- as owners of the franchise -- and now our government tends to perform for those to whom we surrendered. If that remains as our system, the others liberties will surely wither, just as our economic independence withers.
@token
I'll be honest couldn't follow what you were asking me. You said A large group of San Franciscans think circumcision is an “abomination”
They would forbid it to all San Franciscans ( NOT JUST JEWS AND ARABS)
So, no problem, right? Not directed at any religious group.
Just plain common sense we can all agree on. Right? abolished it.

My thought if I'm following the question correctly is that since Jews and Arabs do it in practice of their faith NO we cannot abolish it for them. Anymore than if someone decided lighted candles in a building represents a fire hazard. I don't believe we could then go to Catholic churches who use candles in the practice of their faith and say not anymore you don't.

@PJ
Loved your last post.
@Mishima666
Could see the point you were making and it is a strong point, however the Congress did pass a healthcare bill and from what I gather it is being tweaked. My hope is that they do make those other life saving test available for all, as well as prostate screening if it isn't freely available now.
Ted and Paul --

Let's say that a few years from now we have a Republican president. So a Republican is now the head of the franchise or the corporation or the republic, however you want to characterize it. And he figures that if a Democratic president can pander to his base by mandating free birth control, a Republican president also can pander to his own base by tweaking employer health plans.

And so our Republican president comes up with a new idea: all employer health plans will now have to offer free firearms safety training, and that this training will include the use of actual weapons and live ammunition for all those over a certain age. The president explains that accidental firearms deaths are a national health problem, and that such training will make the country safer, and will also support the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The president also decides that all employer health plans will have to provide one free box of handgun ammunition every month to all adults covered by the plan, to encourage people to learn "safe shooting." He calls this the "Firearms Safety and Affordable Ammunition Act."

The next day a post appears on the cover of Open Salon denouncing this plan. The post explains that this is merely a thinly-disguised attempt at pandering to the Republican base, and is also a way of increasing public support for private gun ownership. The post concludes that the government has no business mandating firearms safety training as part of a health insurance package, whether or not it reduces the number of firearms deaths.

Comments are open on that post. How do you respond?
Mish, no one under the HHS mandate we're talking about is forcing women to use birth control. Would your hypothetical Republican president force people to take firearms training, or would it simply become available to them if they chose to avail themselves of it? If the latter, I'd be all for it, because firearms safety is definitely a public health issue. Does that mean I'd advocate mandatory weapons training for all Americas? Of course not, nor is the Obama administration mandating that all women use birth control. So, what is your point?
Mish

I might not like the actions of a Republican president but I would have to agree, if I am a good democrat, that he or she had the political legitimacy to act since he or she had been duly elected. As I have written before, in a Republic all power to coerce other human beings must be duly-constituted in some way so that it is legitimate and not arbitrary. In politics that is done through elections. In economics it is done through the market and the "laws" of competition and supply and demand.

The underlying theme throughout this thread has been the extent to which a private entity -- the Catholic Church and other religious institutions -- have attempted to use First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom in order to assume unwarranted political authority to dictate which health care services millions of Americans will receive -- who are not employees of the Church per se but merely employees of that Church's many business interests -- the kinds of businesses that when run by ordinary Americans are regulated by a democratically-elected government and subject to its laws.

The issue here all along is not religious liberty but political sovereignty and what type of government we are going to have at the end of the day, a democratic one or a theocratic one with an ever more powerful Church dictating the terms of our existence in ever growing spheres of our lives. I am willing to grant he Church virtual supremacy within its own religious orbit -- short of giving its priests a sort of diplomatic immunity from prosecution if they abuse alter boys. But outside the church proper it is subject to the same laws as everyone else. And as for the idea that the Church cannot help pay for BC because of its deeply held religious beliefs, we know how elastic those beliefs can sometimes be when they allow into the Church a theocratic ringer like Newt Gingrich who abandoned two wives and has a fondness for infidelity to help them wage their culture war against Obama and the Democrats.
Ted

Ok, now you clearly show that you've followed PJ off into whatever fantasy world he lives in.

So, let's follow this up. Not conceding for a second that the president or the executive branch has any such authority to "Follow His Mandate of the People" and order a religious organization ( hell, a private for profit organization OF ANY SORT) to provide services that he deems "Necessary to women's health", lets put our "republican" executive in charge of, say, California. The people of California just decreed "No Gay Marriage". Vox Populi, Vox dei - ( the voice of the people is the voice of God - for those of you who have forgotten your Latin) We're a corporation of “Democracy, Right?

For the matter of that, hell, let's just put the whole Abortion issue up for a nationwide ballot.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei, right?

You MUST support that if somehow you believe that the will of the majority supersedes individual conscience on such matters, correct?

My personal problem in all this is that I believe that an individual DOES have the right to choose what her own conscience dictates in regard to Abortion. It is quite frankly none of the states business. ( even though I consider it the taking of a Human Life)

I also believe that gays ( or polygamists for that matter ) have every right to formulate who they love and how they love and how their families are formulated without favor or censure from the state.

AS A MATTER OF PERSONAL CONSCIENCE ( for those of you who aren't far enough along to have one of those, personal conscience and Free Will are the primary parts of “religion” that the Founding Fathers specified as “walled off” from the power of the state ( actually, the establishment clause simply states that the government may not establish or detract from religious beliefs, like abortion being murder. ) - Even if I personally find Homosexual sex distasteful ( That's ok, I also find the notion of sex with anyone not my wife distasteful- personal conscience/ preference)

But then, I object to State Murder by the death penalty- I can't stop it from being carried out by the state, but neither can the state force me to provide death capsule kits for those in my church who feel the need to execute themselves for their sins against the state, and save the state the time and money of ferreting them out. ( There again I do think some people need to be killed for the good of society, but only those I chose to kill- They don't let me choose, so I don't approve of any such exercise by THE STATE)

I digress-

You guys aren't even on a slippery slope of reason, because you've abandoned reason altogether in a sheer sheepish orgy of bleating “Four Legs Good, two legs bad” at the beck and call of your Chicago Party gang of Obamaists.

As I said- this isn't constitutional debate, it's a bullshit slinging contest.

With friends like you on my side in the fight for individual conscience in such matters as Abortion, Gay Rights, the Death Penalty, the Right to Conscientious Objection to being made to kill your fellow beings on a battlefield in the military( Hadn't thought through the implications of the interests of “the State” overruling individual conscience on that one, had you? ) etc, etc, etc

I sure don't need the “Republicans” to oppose me- you guys are quite capable of screwing yourselves yourselfs. So, as far as this “Debate”, (particularly with PJ) F.O.A.D
Want my co-operation? Come force me like the rapists of conscience you show yourselves to be.

De Rated

PS Yes Desnee, you did catch the sarcasm- a group in Ultra Liberal Gay old San Francisco just DID try to get an anti-circumcision statute up for a referendum. No offense meant to Jews or Arabs, of course : http://foreskinman.com/
Check out the second issue- not anti-Semitic at all, you understand.

Not that I credit him with any but Knee Jerk “pro-Semitism” a judge struck it down as too idiotically unconstitutional to even be seriously considered.
mish,
First, Congress would have to pass the Firearms Education and Job Creation Act (somehow they always manage to get job creation into everything). You seem to think the BC thing is something the pres pulled out of his hindquarters, but it's part of the law that, evidently, allows some provision for tweaking. If it doesn't, Republicans would have an easy claim. However, that claim would be to let the original provision stand, and they object to that also, now that they've had an election year epiphany.

The ACA provision to accommodate religious organizations involved in actual religious activities, as in not-hospitals in this case, follows insurance law provisions already, for some time, adopted by 28 states, without, for some reason, an objection from the few leaders in the Church now opposing this election year issue of their sudden epiphany.

After Congress passed the gun education amendment to the ACA, and if it allowed the executive some latitude in how it's implemented, the president could combine it with the BC law and allow some to choose shooting blanks instead of bullets, negating the need for condoms.

I know this is supposed to be one of those neener-neener, what if Reeeepubbbblicannnns did it? arguments, which isn't as honest an argument as you usually present, but it's not one that will fly well. If Congress passed the law and the pres, per his job, implemented it, I would simply shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes, chuckle a bit and treat it like it made as much sense as anything the whackjob Party has done since they became rabidly ideological and incapable of governing.

Token,
In the give and take of debate, you're a force.....if we give an "a" and take an "o".
I forgot something. The Church did object to some state laws and was properly shot down in court. Amend the above accordingly.
@PJ

If it's just a "debate", then i guess I'll sit this one out-
Oh wait, there was something you were going to REQUIRE me to do. That's not a debate, that's a simple question
HOW are you going to require me?

Oh, that's right FORCE
Force me PJ, you brute, you !!!
I can't wait!!!!!
(I can see you are a Manly Man and belong to the "Get in the truck, Bitch", school of foreplay)
You're an Ace, PJ ( give or take a ce and a couple of s's )
F.O.A.D.( neener, neener)
@Not2late4

You sum up beautifully why this is such a masterful bit of political theater by the 'Bamster.

I don't believe in the religion of "The Catholic Church" either. They are as anti-free will and individual conscience as The Bamster is.

BUT- Can they tell me that I must not support abortion? Sure, but I won't listen. Can they throw me in Jail for not believing as they do ? No. Can they take away my property if I don't believe as they do ? No. Can They actually PREVENT ANYONE from obtaining Birth control. NO.
Are they saying they WILL prevent anyone? NO.

All they are saying is that they won't provide anyone with something that they believe is injurious and counter to their beliefs.

The perfect analogy is the one Mishima made. I believe that my health and safety depends on access to a firearm. Should I be able to force YOU (or my employer) to provide me with one? NO !! (for the sake of the argument, The president doesn't even possess the authority to require that the NRA provide me with one-)

This isn't about the right of a woman to obtain birth control, and it isn't about what a bunch of hypocritical old child molesters the Catholic Church hierarchy is.
You don't like them? DON"T ATTEND CHURCH THERE!

This is all about the outrageous overreach of authority being performed by the Bamster in trying to sneak through his usurpation of power by picking on a target that even the protestants dislike.

Pure Chicago power politics- terrifyingly well done in cold calculation
Not2late4

I am with you. I was quite appalled by the undignified and ill-tempered tone of the letter from our own Cardinal O'Malley here in Boston, which is why I wrote on another post that for students of "mass" hysteria I highly recommended the sulfurous letters these bishops wrote and had read at mass the past two weekends whose rhetoric reeked of the scorched remains of Christian martyrs who'd been roasted at the stake.

After the unctuous "Dear brothers and sisters of Christ" greeting the rest of the letter sounded as if it had been written by Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin of Mark Levin. It was really disgusting and further proof that when it comes to politics the Catholic hierarchy has a real tin ear, demanding as much deference from our democracy as they think they are entitled to from their own flocks who are laughing at them behind their backs and wondering who these hypocrites are to be lecturing anyone about morality.
I continue to be impressed by how similar are the dynamics and pathologies of politics in this country and in Israel, where the right wing (both religious and secular) is wrecking havoc in both countries. This is from Roger Cohen's column in today's New York Times reviewing Peter Beinart's new book on Israel. This echoes in the debate we are having today on the Catholic Church's involvement in politics:

"The greatest danger by far to Israel is that it will squander the opportunities of power or overreach militarily (Iran) through excess of victimhood, rather than that any imaginable coalition of its enemies will deliver a crippling blow.

"Yet, as Beinart chronicles, major American Jewish organizations, their agendas often swayed by a few wealthy donors (like the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson), have in general made uncritical defense of Israel — rather than constructive criticism — the cornerstone of their policies and viewed deviation from the ever-refreshed victimhood narrative as unacceptable dissent.

He quotes Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League: “Israeli democracy should decide; American Jews should support.” (Sounds like the Catholic bishops to their followers and to everyone else, doesn't it?)

"Such prescriptions worked for an embattled little Israel and a generation of Holocaust survivors; they fall short today. “In their support for a halt to settlement growth and their comfort with public criticism of Israeli policy,” Beinart writes, “the mass of American Jews are to the left of the organizations that speak in their name, organizations that almost always oppose U.S. pressure on Israeli leaders and blame the Palestinians almost exclusively for the lack of Middle East peace.”
Ted

You catholics need to take your problems up with the pope.
We protestants ditched that sort of nonsense a long time ago.

We are each and every one communicant with our God, and we don't need any elders in skirts to tell us what to believe.
If you want that sort of relationship with your church, become a protestant- or leave the church altogether.

I don't much care for the catholic church myself, though I like most catholics- If you want o have some sort of Freudian freak out over the powers YOUR church claims, take them back indoors, they have no place in the public usurpation of the individual rights and liberties of the free people of the United States being perpetrated by Obama- You are just a convenient target because you guys have such self hatred (apparently) You don't like your church ? Leave- "God" (your spirit as a part of the holy spirit) goes with YOU.

Your church has no power to dictate to your spirit, neither does the government.