In the past few days much fuss had been made about some statistic that claims that “98% of Catholic women HAVE used contraception.” The administration, and mainstream media, take this skewed statistic as evidence that Catholics don’t really believe the Church teaching that contraception is wrong, and therefore, Catholic consciences won’t be violated. It takes a special, twisted sort of logic to reach that conclusion, but I guess if you really, really, really want something to be true badly enough, you can just decide to believe it, regardless of reality.
I even heard a panel on MSNBC say that even “devout” Catholics contracept and then say that there aren’t really any lay Catholics that try to live by all the Church’s teachings. To hear that panel speak, and pat each other on the back, you’d think that the entirety of the Catholic laity is waiting, sharpening our pitchforks, ready to rebel against our Church and turn it into a dysfunctional democracy, and that the President and Ms. Sebelius are just trying to help us along.
Now I realize that I live in a place that is a little bit different from many parts of America, but since moving here it’s not abnormal for me to have conversations with friends about the evils on contraception (in fact it’s very likely to come up during the girls’ play date this morning because the HHS mandate has made it such a popular topic!). In fact, I’ve even heard a few debates about the morality of NFP, since arriving here six month ago, along with various conversations pondering the definition of “serious reasons to avoid” and the meaning of being “generous” when deciding whether one has a reason.
My personal experience, combined with my earlier blog poll in which 36% of readers say they use NFP and 43% said they use neither NFP nor Contraception, gives away the lie that the White House would have us believe, that there aren’t Catholics out there that follow this particular teaching. Anyone can create a skewed poll and say it represents America (and JoAnna has a great post on just how dishonest the 98% statistic is in the debate).
And the dishonesty of asking if a woman “ever has” used contraception is also quite apparent in the 98% statistic. If asked if I have taken the Pill in the last six months even, I would have to say yes. That idiot doctor who thought I was making up the whole “retained debris” thing, said that the only cure for my problem was taking the pill (my NFP doctor pointed out that it was at such a low dose that it never would have done anything… so he was basically using it as a placebo…).
As a result of the possibility of the pill preventing implantation, our family never questioned what our we would do at that point. We would abstain until I was off the medication. We couldn’t bear the idea of a life being formed and destroyed, which is very much a possibility, with the way the pill works. But if I was asked if I’d been on the pill in the last year, I’d have to say yes (until my new OB realized I needed surgery and that the Pill was doing far more harm then good).
The 98% statistic also takes into account all the Catholics who used contraception in the distant (or not so distant) past, either because they didn’t believe it was wrong, or didn’t know it was wrong. Some likely even knew it was wrong, did it anyways and repented when they realized that the Church teaching was correct. It doesn’t take into account converts who stopped using it when they converted. And it doesn’t take into account 15 year old girls who are given it for cramps or acne, or whatever other reason, or girls and women who are given it for a variety of medical reasons (although I’d strongly suggest trying to find a NaPro doctor if you are on it for medical reasons, because, as with my case, the pill can mask problems, but doesn’t fix them, and with NaPro technology, problems can be uncovered and treated instead of just masked). The statistic also doesn’t differentiate between “Catholics” who never set foot in a Church and are about as “Catholic” in reality as I am “Irish” (well my great grandfather came over from Ireland and he was Irish...), and Catholics that actually adhere to the Church’s teachings.
But perhaps the greatest point is that all of these points don’t really matter. They aren’t the incredibly important underlying issue that needs to be addressed here. The underlying issue is religious freedom. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is wrong. Therefore Catholics shouldn’t be required to provide contraceptive coverage for anyone.
You see, saying that most Catholics don’t follow this teaching, misses the point. Can we tell the federal government that pretty much everyone has told a lie, so perjury is okay? The fact that people fall short of ideals, doesn’t mean that the ideal to do what is right should be tossed away. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the faithful should be stripped of their religious liberty and their right to strive for those ideals.
I can’t help but feel more than a bit disturbed that the government and various media pundits best logic in this case seems to be: “It’s okay because everyone’s doing it!” Didn’t their mother’s ever teach them about that sort of thinking and where it could lead?
Perhaps it’s for the best that the government decided to begin their religious persecutions with the largest “denomination” in the United States. I have a feeling that they’re going to be surprised by the reaction of religious faithful across the spectrum, who are going to recognize this attack on religious freedom for what it is. You don’t have to be Catholic to realize that this is wrong. People of other faiths should take note, because while this violation of rights is beginning with Catholics, I promise you that it won’t end with us. What do you think that government is going to force us to actively accept next?
I have a few ideas…
They’d like to tell us that we can practice our faith privately… but only privately… They’d like to twist the Constitution so that we can only be faithful behind closed doors, or within the four walls of our Church. While this infantile approach to faith may work for Mr. Obama and Ms. Sebelius, those who realize that faith is something that extends beyond Sunday mornings, must stand up now and speak out and let our power grabbing President know that this is unacceptable. We must stop this violation of basic rights now, while we still can. This violation of rights may start with Catholics, but I promise you, it will not end with us.