Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading and hearing about the contraception controversy due to the new HHS mandates that require religious organizations that serve/hire members not of their own faith to include contraception in their health insurance. The mandate does exclude churches directly, but schools, hospitals, or any other organization that provides health insurance and hires people from outside the faith are not excluded. Obviously, there has been heated debate on both sides of the issue. I come down firmly on the side of this mandate being unconstitutional. I am not so much looking to address the reasons for its unconstitutionality as I am looking to refute the arguments of people who support the mandate. These arguments boil down to three areas: separation of church and state, Catholic Church governance, and non-sequiturs. Let me say that the last two have a lot of overlapping points, but I am splitting them up for reasons of length. I will address each area in a separate post. In this first post, I want to address the non-sequiturs.
The first non-sequitur is that a majority of Catholics (98% according to a Guttmacher survey [news release dated April 13, 2011]) use birth control. Whether or not this is true, it is totally irrelevant to the discussion at hand (hence a non-sequitur!) If the Catholic Church was an institution where the popular will decided what was or was not believed, then such a statistic would be relevant, but since the Catholic Church is not a populist/democratic institution, this is a pointless statistic thrown in to muddy the waters. I will address this point at greater length as a part of the Catholic Church governance issue.
The second non-sequitur is actually a group of non-sequiturs with a common theme, statements which are so breathtakingly irrelevant that one cannot help but suspect that these people make these same points whenever something comes up related to the Catholic Church. The first is about how the child abuse scandal makes them mad. The second is a point about Catholic school children protesting outside of abortion clinics. Both are so blatantly unrelated to this issue that one must wonder why they were even brought up. The only reasons that can be thought of is that the people making the points either have no other relevant points and so are relying on emotional reactions or the people bringing them up have an intense anti-Catholic bias and hatred that means that they cannot be talked with reasonably about this issue. Ok, there is one other possibility: the person making the points is deceitful and dishonest and is relying on these issues to discredit the issue using guilt by association. In any case, they can be easily dismissed from the current discussion.
In the next section, I’ll address church governance.