I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Mississippi Catholic Church organizations sue to block providing prescription contraceptives

Various Catholic Church organizations in Mississippi– various diocese, hospitals, and schools– have sued federal officers involved in enforcement of the health care law, saying the requirement that they have involvement in providing contraceptives violates their freedom of religion.

Here’s a copy of the 55 page complaint, filed yesterday in the Southern Division of the Southern District.



113 comments to Mississippi Catholic Church organizations sue to block providing prescription contraceptives

  • NMC,

    Actually, Wikipedia which you cited says he refused to pay the tax and went to jail because of his opposition to the war and slavery. In his essays on civil disobedience, he objected to the fugitive slave act as well, which was the main way in which local and state governments in the North participated in the continuance of slavery. Disobedience against and frustration of the fugitive slave laws were integral to the objections of Thoreau and others in his time.

    John Pittman Hey

  • Cbalducc, I wondered how long it would be before somebody so badly mis-read all these critiques of the Vatican and the Catholic hierarchy that they could not help but hurl some Hannity-inspired tripe like “Catholic-hating secularists.” The over-under was 30 seconds. I took the under, and lost.

    Neither I nor anybody else in this thread has said one negative thing about Catholics or their faith. I have said quite a few negative things about the leadership of the Catholic Church, all of which is true and known. (See also Ben’s clip from the most recent child rape trial, in Philly.) And all along I’ve made my perspective on this crystal clear: the contraception controversy is wholly manufactured and wholly political and has nothing — NOTHING — to do with the religious faith of American Catholics or their Constitutional right to practice their faith. Just because these elderly virgins who call the shots in their organization cynically, falsely say it’s about religious freedom does not make it so, and a quick review of the Church’s history on the issue shows just how areligious their objections really are.

    JPH, my response to your lecture on religious liberty and plurality is the same: no matter what the cardinals and bishops say, THE RCC POSITION IN THIS IS NOT RELIGIOUS, IT’S POLITICAL. It always has been, ever since Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1968 to PRESERVE THE RUSE OF PAPAL INFALLIBILITY. That kind of decision is about earthly power, not salvation. That kind of decision is so craven that the vast majority of American Catholics have ignored it since the day it was published. I’m certain that deep down, JPH, you recognize that.

    Sorry for my redundancy, everybody, but apparently it takes several blows to crack the blind deference that religious leaders who meddle in politics still enjoy as soon as they cry “religious liberty,” as though that’s a magic phrase that shields them from criticism (not to mention taxes).

  • PBBlake,

    You claim the RCC position is political, not religious, but in doing so, you are substituting your political and religious values for theirs.

    Under the RCC position, which goes back 1000 years, the laity does not get to “decide” what the spiritual position of the church is – the hierarchy does.

    So your pointing out that most RC church goers disagree with the RC position is irrelevant. Your “methodology” of concluding that their position is not really spiritual, but rather is political, substitutes your political notions of how they OUGHT to decide these things for their long-term spiritual views of how these things are actually decided within their religious organization.

    You are, in short, substituting principles of democracy into a context that is hierarchical and authoritarian by nature.

    It doesn’t matter whether, as you argue, the RC position “has nothing to do with” the actual beliefs of the rank-and-file.

    No only so, but you are really wrong about the facts as well. There are a substantial number of RC members who DO agree with the stated position of the hierarchy relating to this matter. It may not be a majority, but it’s not miniscule either.

    If you cannot credit the values of the RC system, can you not at least credit the values of Christians like myself, who also have moral scruples against buying insurance that pays for medicine used to kill unborn babies?

    John Pittman Hey

  • pam

    Well, it seems the definition of whiskey isn’t the only thing lost in translation, apparently “thou shalt not kill” has a couple of different interpretations as well. This probably just the abreviated version.

  • JPH,

    First of all, it’s P.B. Pike, not P.B. Blake. You’re thinking of another scandal, far less manufactured than this one.

    Second, the 1000-year old doctrine of lay subordination to the clergy is self-evidently political as you describe it: “hierachical and authoritarian.” And that’s cool with me. If other Americans want to subjugate their own spiritual lives to a remote group of authoritarian men, I say godspeed to them. I could not care less how the relationship between the laity and the hierachy gets hashed out over this or any other issue. BUT DON’T TELL ME THAT THE CHURCH’S INTERNAL POLITICS SHOULD HAVE ANY BEARING ON THE PUBLIC HEALTH DECISIONS OF OUR DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED, SECULAR GOVERNMENT. The Constitution is quite clear that the American government is not and cannot be subject to the power struggles within any religious organization, yet that is exactly what the beleagured, benighted Catholic hierachy would have happen here.

    In fact, you’ve provided the perfect structure for understanding just how untenable the RCC’s position is here, but you’ve inverted it. You say I’m imposing democratic principles on something hierachical and authoritarian by nature. My objection is the RCC is imposing its hierachical and authoritarian principles on a constitutional order that is democratic and republican and, most important, secular. The fact that the RCC is, on your description, a theocracy unto itself does not exactly boost its standing as a participant in our complicated policy making. The Constitution backs me up on that.

    Of course I credit your pristine “moral scruples” against participating in forms of birth control you find repugnant. Do what you want. I really, really don’t care. If indifference can be so deep as to become profound, I’m there when it comes to other people’s religious decisions.

    But on that same note, I think it is quite relevant that the vast majority of American Catholics simply don’t believe what their hierachy tells them about the spiritual implications of using birth control. Without getting into the psychology of religious faith, I think the absence of fear of eternal damnation — a cudgel perfected by the Catholic Church over the centuries — goes directly to the internal politics and crumbling authoritarianism that the hierarchy is struggling against (to say nothing of their exposure as aiders and abettors of pedophiles). It’s an interesting internal dynamic to observe from outside the Church. Keep it away from the public health decisions we are all bound to follow, please.

  • Cbalducc


    I am aware of the Catholic “critiques” you’re referring to. I still think they’re garbage. Why don’t you complain to Bishop Latino?

  • Sorry ’bout the name mixup, Pike!

    The problem is, that I’m not going to be allowed to uphold my moral scruples, nor are millions of other Christians who agree with me, outside of what those in the RC structure may or may not believe.

    It is a very dangerous thing when any of us start dissecting other people’s religious views with an eye toward “recategorizing” them as non-religious and political views. The purpose of doing so is too often to try to escape the natural prejudice that Americans should always indulge AGAINST imposing upon people’s consciences.

    The issue at hand is not symmetrical: I’m not imposing “my views” on my employees if I choose not to fund their contraception choices. But the Government IS imposing “its views” on me if I’m told I must. Why? Because government is force, as somebody once said.

    The actions between individuals and in the business world, assuming no physical force or coercion is used, are fundamentally different from the actions of government, which are always by force and coercion.

    Employees are free to supplement their coverage or seek a job with better coverage. They choose to work for me under the terms and conditions that I offered them. But I have no such liberty when it comes to dealing with the government.

    Apart from the RC dispute, the issue really is, to what extent can the government impose its moral views on a community of faith, which views are repugnant to them?

    I already conceded that our country has a long history of forcing persons of faith to act contrary to their religious views. But how much further down that road do we want to travel?

    John Pittman Hey

  • One problem with JPH’s argument is that it proves too much. What if I’m a Mormon employer who subscribes to the old-school teachings about blacks – can’t I refuse to hire black people? Isn’t my faith being infringed upon by Title VII?

  • NMC

    OK, JPH, I’m going to quote Thoreau’s essay about his experience, “Disobedience.” In the first paragraph he invokes the Mexican War:

    “The ob­jec­tions which have been brought against a stand­ing army, and they are many and weighty, and de­serve to pre­vail, may also at last be brought against a stand­ing gov­ern­ment. The stand­ing army is only an arm of the stand­ing gov­ern­ment. The gov­ern­ment it­self, which is only the mode which the peo­ple have cho­sen to ex­e­cute their will, is equally li­a­ble to be abused and per­verted be­fore the peo­ple can act through it. Witness the pres­ent Mex­i­can war, the work of com­par­a­tively a few in­di­vid­u­als using the stand­ing gov­ern­ment as their tool; for, in the out­set, the peo­ple would not have con­sented to this meas­ure.”

    About a fifth of the way in, he invokes his objection to standing armies again:

    “Visit the Navy Yard, and be­hold a ma­rine, such a man as an Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts, a mere shadow and rem­i­nis­cence of hu­man­ity, a man laid out alive and stand­ing, and al­ready, as one may say, bur­ied un­der arms with fu­neral ac­com­pa­ni­ments, though it may be
    “Not a drum was heard, not a fu­neral note,
    As his corse to the ram­parts we hur­ried;
    Not a sol­dier dis­charged his fare­well shot
    O’er the grave where our hero we bur­ied.” [¶4]
    The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as ma­chines, with their bod­ies. They are the stand­ing army, and the mi­li­tia, jail­ers, con­sta­bles, posse com­i­ta­tus, &c. In most cases there is no free ex­er­cise what­ever of the judge­ment or of the moral sense; but they put them­selves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can per­haps be man­u­fac­tured that will serve the pur­pose as well.”

    He’s not mentioned slavery once at this point. Several mentions come shortly thereafter, one tied to the war in Mexico:

    “How does it be­come a man to be­have to­ward this Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment to-day? I an­swer that he can­not with­out dis­grace be as­so­ci­a­ted with it. I can­not for an in­stant re­cog­nize that po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­za­tion as my gov­ern­ment which is the slave’s gov­ern­ment also. …
    but a hun­dred thou­sand mer­chants and farm­ers here, who are more in­ter­ested in com­merce and ag­ri­cul­ture than they are in hu­man­ity, and are not pre­pared to do jus­tice to the slave and to Mex­ico, cost what it may. I quar­rel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, co-op­er­ate with, and do the bid­ding of those far away, and with­out whom the lat­ter would be harm­less. …
    There are thou­sands who are in opin­ion op­posed to slav­ery and to the war, who yet in ef­fect do noth­ing to put an end to them; who, es­teem­ing them­selves chil­dren of Wash­ing­ton and Frank­lin, sit down with their hands in their pock­ets, and say that they know not what to do, and do noth­ing; who even post­pone the ques­tion of free­dom to the ques­tion of free-trade, and qui­etly read the prices-cur­rent along with the latest ad­vices from Mex­ico, af­ter din­ner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. …
    See what gross in­con­sis­tency is tol­er­a­ted. I have heard some of my towns­men say, “I should like to have them or­der me out to help put down an in­sur­rec­tion of the slaves, or to march to Mex­ico, — see if I would go;” and yet these very men have each, di­rectly by their al­le­giance, and so in­di­rectly, at least, by their money, fur­nished a sub­sti­tute. The sol­dier is ap­plauded who re­fuses to serve in an un­just war by those who do not re­fuse to sus­tain the un­just gov­ern­ment which makes the war; is ap­plauded by those whose own act and au­thor­ity he dis­re­gards and sets at nought; as if the State were pen­i­tent to that de­gree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that de­gree that it left off sin­ning for a mo­ment. Thus, un­der the name of order and civil gov­ern­ment, we are all made at last to pay hom­age to and sup­port our own mean­ness.”

    Between the first two, he talks about the right of revolution. A little further down comes the first mention of fugitive slaves held in jail, still connected to references to the Mexican War:

    “Un­der a gov­ern­ment which im­pris­ons any un­justly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The prop­er place to-day, the only place which Mas­sa­chu­setts has pro­vided for her freer and less de­spond­ing spirits, is in her pris­ons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have al­ready put them­selves out by their prin­ci­ples. It is there that the fu­gi­tive slave, and the Mex­ican pris­oner on pa­role, and the In­dian come to plead the wrongs of his race, should find them; on that sep­a­rate, but more free and hon­or­able ground, where the State places those who are not with her but against her, — the only house in a slave-state in which a free man can abide with honor.”

    That covers about half the essay; I’ve not time to re-read the rest right now. But I’m going to stand by what I said: It was about the Mexican War and, implicitly, the threat of expansion of slavery as a result.

  • Yah, the Mexican War issue was *about* slavery to many Whigs.

    D.W. Howe calls “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau’s “lecture-turned-essay against slavery and the war upon Mexico.” So there you go, gentlemen, you’re both right.

  • NMC

    I’m not taking your point, Anderson– there’s just not much in there about the fugitive slave act. Slavery, yes, conjoined with the Mexican War (abolitionists opposed the later, as I’ve said, because of the possible expansion of slavery)

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    What about a Muslim employer? Is it time for some Sharia Law? Maybe some heads need to roll over this! How about Wiccans? The Church of the Sacred Bleeding Heart of Jesus Located somewhere in Los Angeles, California? I know a guy that’s a minister with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I’m sure he has an opinion and no matter how crazy or insane that might be, I guess any employees he might have only have the right to STFU about THEIR health care or get another job. Or for that matter, each and every little subsect of every religious organization in America. Can you see where this is going?

  • Oh, did JPH say that Act in particular? Sorry, long thread.

  • NMC and Anderson,

    I see the problem. Thoreau did refuse to pay his poll tax because of the government’s support for the war and because of slavery, but not particularly because of the Fugitive Slave Act. One was passed in 1793 and the later in 1850, after his night in jail.

    But he does go on and on about slavery and the duty of citizens to commit acts of civil disobedience against the state because of imperialistic wars and slavery.

    Generally, I agree with him about both topics!

    John Pittman Hey

  • Anderson,

    I don’t believe that employers should be barred from discrimination based upon race, as ugly as it is.

    That’s because I don’t see where there is a legal entitlement to be hired or to be sold goods, etc. If free people decline to do business with you, it can be for any of a number of reasons, including, sadly, your race.

    All such laws breach the right of people to freely contract with each other. That’s just not the government’s business.

    One of the problems back in Jim Crow days was that the governments of various states actually interfered with private parties contracting, doing business with, etc., each other based upon race. There were laws that required segregated areas, limits on certain races owning property or weapons, marrying, voting, etc. There you had government forcing people to behave based upon race, which is always wrong.

    But allowing people to behave based upon race is what freedom is all about. That means if I want to practice affirmative action in my private work or business, I should be able to. Contrariwise, if I want to discriminate in the same way, that’s my right. Of course, affirmative action and negative discrimination always go hand in hand – they are two sides of the same coin.

    Racism is unfair, mean, unchristian, etc., but I just don’t see where it should be illegal when practiced by private parties and businesses.

    In the long run, laws that forced people to stop discriminating in their private and business affairs based upon race, religion, sex, etc., have done more harm than good to relations between the various classifications of people. I have no doubt that such legislation has actually impaired integration and cultural assimilation.

    It is far better when people interact in a noncoerced manner. That makes for a more peaceful and productive society.

    John Pittman Hey

  • Well, JPH, I’d say we’d best just agree to disagree, then, because we have very different visions of America and of folks’ freedoms.

    But I appreciate discussing these issues with you.

  • Researcher

    Georgetown University offers its employees three insurance options that cover contraception and one that does not. Georgetown students are only eligible to join the latter. Doctors at Georgetown University Medical Center prescribe birth control pills but are forbidden to insert IUDs there so they refer their patients elsewhere for that option. This is not morality or theology. It is a token nod to the Church to keep the bishops from undermining the more important educational and medical missions of the institution.

    They have to offer comprehensive health coverage to employees for the same reason they have to pay them well. If you are going to compete to recruit and retain people who are accomplished in their fields you have to meet the market prices. The main reason we have employer based health insurance is tax law makes it cheaper for employers and employees to do so instead of increasing pay and buying health care or insurance with after-tax dollars. Health care is about one-sixth of the US economy, a large share of the federal budget, and a leading cause of inflation, bankruptcy, and general economic uncertainty. Short of war, there is no greater national concern.

  • pam

    JPH said: “It’s perfectly possible to hold innocent human life sacred, and still support the death penalty for “guilty” human life.”

    yes, it’s perfectly possible but doesn’t seem to promote church doctrine or Christian values: “thou shall not kill” doesn’t make an exception when seeking revenge and retribution.


  • Your Lies Have Lies

    Nobody really cares what the Bible says (or believes it for that matter) Pam, unless it fits their particular _____________. (agenda, belief, denomination, prejudice, issue, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, perversion, social status, politics, you name it)

    As Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

  • Phil Woods


    You are a gentleman in argument. And brave.


    You are more or less one too, but I’d be sad if you lost your sarcasm, so more or less is good enough for me. But I wonder what advice Fred Nietzsche would give you concerning your enlightened compassion. If it wasn’t good enough for Schopenhauer, then I don’t think it would be for you. Hopefully, you wouldn’t care, but I sometimes wonder anyway.


    Thanks for the biographical information of HDT, although I don’t think it changes JPH’s example of someone who was willing to be jailed for his belief, whether it was for a slavery act, or a war, or a war to expand slavery. But it’s always best to get it right, so good job.

    Pike, I’m glad your not P.B. Blake because P.B. Pike just sounds cooler.

    This has been an enjoyable thread.

  • Anderson

    More or less? Nicest thing anyone will say about me all week! (Mrs TBA agrees: “sounds about right.”)

    Nietzsche was himself compassionate, but feared it was a weakness. I think N was too afraid of being weak, but in some respects he had a point. Will have to work up a post on the home blog sometime.

  • Phil Woods

    I was reading about Nietzsche’s reaction to Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal:

    “Parsifal is a work of perfidy, of vindictiveness, of a secret attempt to poison the presuppositions of life – a bad work. The preaching of chastity remains an incitement to anti-nature: I despise everyone who does not experience Parsifal as an attempted assassination of basic ethics.”

    But also said: “Moreover, apart from all irrelevant questions (as to what the use of this music can or ought to be) and on purely aesthetic grounds; has Wagner ever done anything better?”

    So I think even FN would have to concede that you can like the way something sounds even if you do not like the content. I guess my point is that FN could have practiced compassion in his everyday life, because of the music it produces, while knowing it helps nothing, and goes against nature.

  • Franklin

    “Neither I nor anybody else in this thread has said one negative thing about Catholics or their faith”, says PB Pike.

    But also says PB Pike:

    1. “pathetic cling to power based on a medieval theology.”

    2. “an indisputably harmful public health policy that’s being demanded by an international ring of pedophiles whose institution enjoys tax exempt status.”

    3.  “A powerful religious organization wants to exert tremendous influence on American public policy, so that organization’s reason for doing so is centrally relevant. …..Their moralizing is a bunch of obnoxious — and, if you know anything about the hierarchy’s history on the issue, transparent — lying.”

    4. “Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1968 to PRESERVE THE RUSE OF PAPAL INFALLIBILITY”

    5. ” If other Americans want to subjugate their own spiritual lives to a remote group of authoritarian men, I say godspeed to them.”

    6. “the absence of fear of eternal damnation — a cudgel perfected by the Catholic Church over the centuries”

    Accordingly, I submit PB Pike is an anti-Catholic bigot. His views should not be tolerated in a civil society. He has breached the bounds of civil discourse. 

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    Just a few problems with that Franklin. Everything he said was true or his opinion and you cannot defame someone or an organization (RCC) that already has a terrible reputation (witch trials,crusades, inquisition, exploitation by missionaries, antisemitism, child rape, cover-ups, etc.).

  • Pam,

    It is very well known that the sixth commandment is a prohibition against unlawful killing of the innocent. The Scriptures must be read as a whole, and all through them it is made very clear that innocent human life is to be protected, while those guilty of murder are to be punished by death.

    Genesis 9:6 establishes the paradigm: whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, because man is made in God’s image.

    That establishes a sanction against taking an innocent life, and that the murderer’s life ought to be taken.

    It seems a bit naive to take those Old Testament verses and pretend there is some sort of conflict between them. The Mosaic law, of which the 6th commandment is a part, makes it very clear that guilty murderers ought to be put to death.

    When you get into the New Testament, some will argue that there is to be mercy shown even to the murderer, but even then there is no claim that executing a murderer is itself murder and therefore forbidden by justice.

    John Pittman Hey

  • I think Pike shows a prejudice against the RCC, but I don’t believe in casting folks out of society for being prejudiced.

    Everything Pike writes could be true, but that wouldn’t really carry his point, in my opinion. True, he shows us that he has no sympathy for the moral and ethical teachings of the RCC.

    But do our religious liberties really fall to the ground as soon as somebody takes offense at them, and slanders them as insincere?

    That seems dangerous to me.

    John Pittman Hey

  • John

    Okay, liberals, JPH has rolled a grenade into the room with his comment, “I don’t believe that employers should be barred from discrimination based upon race[.]” I’m stunned a left-leaner has not jumped on it yet to save us all from such a blunt comment.

  • Hootie Dasher

    Despite my earlier devolution comment, I agree with Phil Woods that the thread has indeed been enjoyable in large part to the JPH’s comment and NMC’s quote by and comments about HDT. I think we have seen a core issue dividing our country and one that needs continued vetting, i.e., the proper role of the feds in our decisions. A good debate would be just what constitutes a person’s faith and whether the government has a role to protect the free exercise of it. There are movements afoot toward Sharia law which don’t seem to upset as many people as one would suspect. But it has become vogue to belittle all things Christendom. Which one(s) gets protection/support/ridicule, etc.

  • Sam

    there are 165 dioceses and only 13 sued including the two from Mississippi. Someone needs to ask Bishop latino who he talked to before filing suit> Doesnt Ed Brunini represent the Diocese?


  • Sam

    Also type in Ed Brunini and haley barbour on google and see what happens.

  • Tilter

    I profoundly disagree with JPH’s apparent position that government has no business using its force to remediate discrimination in the work place or in public accommodations. But I’m not worried about him. I suspect that no force on earth could make him do business with an employer or shopkeeper who discriminated or treated anyone shabbily simply because of the color or his or her skin. As I understand his view, such behavior is uncharitable, immoral, and unchristian; so that while he would give them the right to be that way, they would not have the right to expect him to give them his money — nor would he.
    So, no grenade; just an interesting viewpoint. And a truly interesting thread thanks to JPH, Anderson, Pike, NMC, and all the rest. Thanks.

  • Also type in Ed Brunini and haley barbour on google and see what happens.

    The Cialis stuff?

    … Phil, “going against nature” was a no-brainer to Nietzsche; see his mockery of the Stoics in BG&E # 9 for wanting to live “according to nature”:

    indifference itself as a power – how *could* you live according to this indifference? To live – isn’t that precisely the desire to be other than this nature? Doesn’t life mean weighing, preferring, being unjust, having limits, wanting to be different? And even if the real meaning of your imperative “to live according to nature” is “to live according to life” – how could you do *otherwise*?

  • For the second time:

    Every single critique I’ve made in this thread is pointed quite narrowly at the hierachy of the RCC — a group that JPH accurately describes as “authoritarian.” The only possible exception is my indifference to whether other people — i.e., the Catholic laity — want to “subjugate” their spiritual lives to those authoritarians. In this case, indifference does not amount to the nastiness of bigotry. And anyway, my indifference just as squarely applies to non-Catholic believers in any faith who choose to hand over their moral compasses to other navigators, wherever that description applies.

    I’ve also not said a single thing about the moral and ethical “teachings” of the RCC, as JPH contends. First, I’ve made it extremely clear that the RCC position on oral contraceptives is in no wise ethical or moral. It’s political. And, not that I should have to defend myself against this victimology on parade — one wonders if Hootie Dasher really believes that “Christendom” is under attack, and then one despairs — I happen to agree with the RCC’s bona fide moral “teachings” on capital punishment and (I think) on abortion. Its worldwide ministering to the sick and the poor is beyond reproach — though its practice of telling people in places shattered by the AIDS epidemic that condoms are sinful is inhumane. The RCC’s statements against war, including those this country has recently chosen to undertake, seem to me the only responses that can conceivably square with the teachings of Jesus Christ. But, for the umpteenth time, the RCC’s position on the Pill is nothing more than an ad hoc rationalization for upholding papal infallibility — an inherently political doctrine — and this over-orchestrated controversy is no less concocted or contemptible. You’re more likely to find a good faith moral argument in 15 random minutes on Sportscenter.

    So, for the threatened: What I abhor and hold in complete contempt is the political posturing and opportunism of a Catholic hierarchy that enjoys tremendous political immunity yet masks itself as a meek, embattled sect of persecutees. The fact that some of them are pedophiles or protectors of pedophiles only marks their obvious corruption as eccentric, and unusually injurious to their victims. (Organizational corruption usually just concerns money or influence, not raping children.) It’s disappointing, telling and, sadly, predictable that my vocal resistance to the harmful moralizing of this angry group of anti-modernists gets me slurred as a “bigot” and “prejudiced.” (JPH, doesn’t that latter term, which you used against me, mean I’ve judged before the fact? I think I’ve shown my opinion about the RCC hierarchy is grounded on stuff that has already happened.)

    But, these kinds of backlashes are why the good lord gave us the ability to thicken our skin, right? Or maybe it’s an evolutionary trick. Wherever it came from, I highly recommend it.

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    VatiLeaks Exposes Internal Memos of the Catholic Church

    A massive information dump nicknamed ‘VatiLeaks’ has the Catholic Church sweating. Barbie Latza Nadeau talks to Gianluigi Nuzzi, the journalist exposing Pope Benedict XVI’s internal memos.


  • Franklin

    Neat trick that. I am not a prejudiced anti-Catholic bigot. It’s just that I hold in contempt its hierarchy , its theology, its teachings (at least those I judge not “moral or ethical”), and its weak-minded adherents. 

  • Pike,

    Actually I was trying to defend you up to a point. I too have grave disagreements with the RCC. Some of your points are valid criticisms.

    Where I disagree with you most is your insistence on re-categorizing the RC position on birth control as non-religious, but merely political.

    That is a dangerous game to play, in my judgment, because we see it used over and over again to recast the debate on many other disputed topics.

    Because we are supposed to believe in freedom of religion, there is an advantage to insisting that the detestible religious views of our opponents are really only political views, and thus moved out of the arena of religious liberty.

    I saw this happen in Greenwood several years ago, when the Black Muslims wanted to get a zoning variance to have a study center. Understand, Greenwood zoning ordinances impose the strictest requirement against churches over against all other sorts of businesses. Therefore, almost every single church was either grandfathered in, or received a variance. I could find no instance where a variance had been denied in the past 10 years or so.

    Immediately, the local newspaper editor and one Republican city council member announced their opposition to the Black Muslim request because they found out what they actually teach and believe, and are a “hate group.”

    That was a admitted attempt to justify discrimination against the group based upon its religious teachings. By re-categorizing their beliefs as “hate speech”, the general public was led to conclude that discrimination against them was, in fact, quite proper and justified, and was exempt from normal considerations such as the First Amendment.

    When it came to a vote at the city council, in the public comment portion, the tea party spokesman railed against them as a hate group. She famously stated that she “hates hate.” Nobody laughed.

    A prominent and respected and loved Jewish merchant made a very confused and mushy statement that tilted ever so slightly in the direction of denying the variance. Later, Farrahan’s national paper used that to justify it’s claim that the church had once again beaten back an attack by the “dirty Jews” [sic] of Greenwood.

    In the end, I was the only white person in the entire city who publicly spoke out in favor of equal treatment. I was able to find maybe 4 or 5 other while officials who tried, behind the scenes, to calm the waters and proceed prudently to grant the request.

    After I gave my impassioned speech in favor of equal treatment for a religion that I strongly disapproved of, both Republican white council members voted to deny the variance. The 5 black members voted in favor of granting it.

    I lost several friends over the incident. One conservative pastor denounced me for doing the “devil’s work” and instructed his flock not to discuss the matter with me anymore.

    But here is the part that you will find most interesting, Pike. One of my best friends criticized me for standing up for a false religion and helping it gain a meeting house to spread its false teachings. That friend then conceded to me that, had the religion been the local Catholic congregation, and had Catholic friends come asking for support for their petition for a variance to build a church, my dear friend would have refused to support them or stand with them because the Catholic church, in my friend’s opinion, is evil.

    That is the consequence that I fear from your methodology, Pike.

    I wish that you could take the position that you vehemently disagree with the RC teaching on contraception, and you disagree with their method of deciding church theology, etc., etc., but that at least for the sake of argument, you concede that their position is their religious belief, and go on from there.

    For myself, I would be hard-pressed to question the sincerity of another faith’s position in any matter. Just because that position has political implications, or is self-serving, or is oppressive, or is deeply offensive to me, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a sincerely held religious tenet.

    John Pittman Hey

  • P.B. Pike

    JPH, thanks for your response. I apprecite your further explaining your objection to my argument. I’d concede that the RCC’s position on the Pill is religious if the historical evidence weren’t overwhelmingly to the contrary. Still, I take your point and add that the caution must work both ways: the enormous deference that religious leaders enjoy in this country places on them the responsibility not to disguise their political stances as religious ones. We’ve seen religious leaders of every stripe act irresponsibly in that regard so many times that I now assume that they’re lying, until they prove otherwise. (In that respect, I suppose, I do pre-judge, but it’s a hard-learned prejudice of skeptism, not an invidious one.) Again, that goes for all denominations, all faiths. When you consider the fantastic psychological sway that religious organizations and movements hold over their followers, and when you consider that those followers vote and have every right to try to affect public policy that will bind my actions and choices by the penalty and prestige of the law, I must insist on holding the leaders of those organizations and movements to very strict scrutiny, every time. Occasionally a religious actor who enters the political theater passes that scrutiny. Usually they don’t.

    And in that regard I must say that my assumption would not have been borne out by your noble performance as a voice of unity in Greenwood. I’d like to think I’d have been on your side if I’d been a member of the community there and then. (Likewise, your friend who admitted he thought the RCC is evil would find no quarter for that opinion with me.) You’re to be applauded for that, and I’m sorry you sacrificed friendships for it.

    Franklin, I haven’t said a word about Catholic theology. It’s hardly bigotry to examine whether somebody’s positions are in fact political rather than simply take their word that they’re acting on moral or religious beliefs held in good faith. You’re just asking to be lied to and manipulated if you don’t. Holding the RCC hierarchy in contempt for its serial crimes no more makes me a bigot than criticizing the president makes somebody a traitor. You’ve mischaracterized my argument and overreacted rather too eagerly. I figured somebody would though.

  • Franklin

    People far brighter than me can shed light on the concept:

    “Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population.” Albert Einstein

    “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society… then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” Karl R. Popper

  • P.B. Pike

    Oh please. Answer me on the merits. Save the name-dropping p.c. sanctimony for your book club.

  • Franklin

    Frankly I  have seen little of merit to respond to. But I’ll give it a brief whirl, since you ask. 

    Odd to be accused of mischaracterizing words that are direct quotes. I am content to let others judge for themselves, but note the deafening silence in your defense. However, amidst your frothing rants you did in fact label Catholicism a “medieval theology” which–aside from being factually and historically inaccurate–is not only a “word” about theology , but an intended pejorative one (and admittedly among your milder slurs). You are certainly entitled to your opinions—as are racists, skinheads, anti-Semites, KKKers, and others among the intolerant and benighted —but your Ill-disguised prejudice does not qualify as reasonable or fair-minded debate.

  • P.B. Pike

    Ah, but I said the hierarchy’s theology was medieval. I’ll grant it’s a slender distinction, but it’s not the same as saying that Catholic theology is medieval. I’ll concede that I did indeed intend a perjorative there — so therefore I’m a bigot? Anyway, I’ll take that one back, as a peace offering.

    Still, you’ve yet to address the merits, man, the merits: what’s logically or factually wrong about my argument against the Catholic hierarchy’s much-ado about the ACA and contraception? JPH did it without lighting his hair on fire, so give it a stab. Quoting my own stuff back at me and hollering “bigot” (and comparing me to the KKK) isn’t argument.

    The silence ain’t so deafening, or silent, by the way: YLHL, JPH and Ben have come to at least partial defense, and a couple of others have seen fit to thank us for an interesting debate. Please come join us!

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    I think medieval theology is spot-on.

    JPH I do commend you for taking a stand with the Muslims that wanted to get a zoning variance, but does that apply to all religious groups? Would you do the same for Wiccans? The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    If one group can say what it will and will not cover on healthcare, then anyone can. In fact, I think you’re making a compelling argument for single-payer. I couldn’t agree more then!

  • Actually, to the extent that the church’s theology is medieval, it’s suspect as being too new ….

    On contraception, however, the theology is simply contrived. Conception is biologically possible for only a few days a month, but the church has never said that intercourse has to be confined to those few days, or that it’s wrong to skip those days with the purpose of not conceiving.

    I maintain there is no sound basis in Scripture or theology for reconciling those facts with a ban on contraception. It’s an absurd dogma, rejected by the study group Paul VI assigned the question (after thinking the group was packed to yield the desired answer), that has caused countless Catholics to realize their hierarchy cares more about its own power than about serving the Word.

    Shame on the dogma’s promoters, and shame on those bishops using it for their political ends. As Jesus said, truly, they already have their reward.

  • Cbalducc

    Pike, et. al:

    Despite its problems, the Catholic Church is still growing throughout the world. The Scripture and Tradition it is based on was around long before the current zeitgeist and will continue onwards. I don’t know what faith, if any, you claim. As I stated before, take your complaints to Bishop Latino and the offices of the Diocese of Jackson. Write letters to the Clarion-Ledger. If lawyers are good at anything, they are good at pounding the table.

  • Franklin

    Hold steady Pike… Don’t go all wobbly on me now…. I can feel you teetering and you’re so close… Just admit it. You will feel better.

    It’s not just their theology or their teachings or their hierarchy or their simple minded followers–those are just the parts that make the whole– it’s Catholicism itself and all it stands for. Sure some of their moral “teachings” happen to coincide with your own innate sense of , well whatever, but that is just coincidence. Even a blind pig stumbles upon an acorn. Yeah, yeah, high school football, Boy Scouts, and swim teams all have their fair share of child abusers—but for Catholics, it’s just hard-wired into the institution itself. And all that incessant blather about God and good works and charity and all is just a cover for, for , for just more ole child-abusing, power-grabbing, wealth-accumulating and such…world domination that’s what it is–and you should not have to put up with it.

    So come on, confess —you hate Catholicism and are proud of it.

  • Hear, hear Anderson. Eloquently said.

  • Anderson

    Yeah, yeah, high school football, Boy Scouts, and swim teams all have their fair share of child abusers—but for Catholics, it’s just hard-wired into the institution itself.

    Isn’t it? First, the Scouts, etc. are not anywhere near the RCC as (supposedly) moral institutions; indeed, for Catholics, there is no higher claim than that of the Church itself.

    Second, the amazing record of conspiracy to protect child molesters, and even to provide them further opportunities, speaks for itself. Name any other organization of comparable public standing with such a depraved record. The only group I can think of with a stronger devotion to protecting and perpetuating man-boy sex is NAMBLA.

    I can no more understand what some of these bishops were thinking, as they hushed up abuse reports and transferred molesters from parish to parish, than I can grasp how Rudolf Hoess made it through the working day at Auschwitz. They seem simply to have forgotten that their flock were human beings.

    If you can explain it, Franklin, go for it: I’m all ears, man.

    Milton on false bishops:

    “Blind mouths: that scarce themselves know how to hold
    A sheep hook, or have learned aught else, the least
    That to the faithful herdsman’s art belongs!

    * * *

    “The hungry sheep look up and are not fed,
    But, swollen with the wind and the rank mist they draw,
    Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread;
    Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
    Daily devours apace and nothing said.”

    Ruskin, on “blind mouths”:

    “These two mono-syllables express the precisely accurate contraries of right character in the two great offices of the Church–those of Bishop and Pastor. A Bishop means a person who sees. A Pastor means one who feeds. The most unbishoply character a man can have is, therefore, to be blind. The most unpastorly is, instead of feeding, to want to be fed–to be a mouth.”


  • Franklin


    I’d be happy to help you in any way I can. I am not sure what target you are punching at–many at the same time is my impression–or what you wish me to defend. But I guess I can state the obvious for you.

    If you really need me to tell you–then : Pedophiles are indefensible, as are those who protect and perpetuate them. The revulsion and betrayal felt by all of priests, of all people, engaging in such conduct certainly magnifies the horror. They should be jailed, punished to the full extent of the law–and then God will deal with them.

    Your concept that pedophiles are somehow more permissible in Boy Scouts or some other organization I do not understand.

    One hardly needs Milton or Ruskin to tell you that priests and Bishops are people too–subject to the same failings as the rest of us. I think many people in the church truly thought and believed these priests had sinned, repented and would sin no more–not understanding the apparent incurable nature of the affliction. Others simply acted wrongly and attempted to cover up and protect themselves or the church. It is a scandal, and a sad and pathetic one.

    But you know all this— I do not need to explain it to you. You have other axes to grind.

    You, at least, disagree with many of the Catholic church’s social and moral teachings. That’s fine, of course. Most do. It is a minority religion, and otherwise I suppose, you would be Catholic .

    If you wish, for example, to more fully understand the Church’s teaching on contraception, many fine books, treatises and articles are widely available. Many thoughtful people of good faith –and non-pedophiles–wrote them. The issues of marriage, family and sex have been reflected upon for centuries by many many people of sincere good will and devotion.

    I do not know what motivates you to say things like the Catholic Church has a “strong devotion to protecting and perpetuating man-boy sex”. You seem too intelligent to actually believe that. I suppose it may be a reaction to the horror of child abuse, and the failing of people in the church heirarchy to more aggressively react, while others affirmatively covered up. Perhaps you are also influenced by your apparent opposition to the church’s views on social issues.

    I have said enough on prejudice and intolerance, and now have said too much in any event.

  • Clevermule

    Is this a great country or what? We have a Supreme Court with 6 Roman Catholics? Does their upbringing affect their decisions?

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    The only group I can think of with a stronger devotion to protecting and perpetuating man-boy sex is NAMBLA.

    I’m glad I was not eating when I read that. Good one Anderson!

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