A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Only Your Imperialism Is Evil; Mine Is Compassionate

Father Robert Barron is spot on. He writes,

In my years as an observer of and commentator upon things religious, I've become rather accustomed to radical positions. There is just something about religion that can bring out the irrational in both its advocates and opponents.

Yes, sir, irrationality abounds and Father Barron has exposed some of it here.

UPDATE: Henry Neufeld has weighed in on this issue in his consistently calm and well-reasoned fashion.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Allan R. Bevere said...


I allow anonymous comments on this blog as long as they do not engage in critique. Criticism means we must identify ourselves since those we criticize cannot be anonymous. That is a matter of integrity. Usually I just delete such posts, but you have given much thought to your words, so I have left them posted until tomorrow morning. If you identify who you are, I will keep them up; if not I will delete them.

Just to let you know.

PopLid said...

The introductory paragraph to the post contains the words and phrases "religious", "radical positions" and "the irrational", yet it seems that the discussion "radicalizes" and "religifies" situations that are neither. If a hospital is run by the Catholic church, would you object to them placing urns of holy water at each entrance, a posting a nun at each door to see to it that you used it to properly cross yourself on entry? And should we refuse to include coverage for murder (a morally repugnant activity) if the life insurance premium is paid for by the Church?
The Church is also an employer and property owner and insurer of many sorts. Why should the civil laws governing anything have special considerations for the Church when it is acting as an agent in a non-religious capacity? Would we want a new sign for our highways that reads “ Speed Limit 120, Christians 55”?

Allan R. Bevere said...

Hi Frank...

I think some issues here are being confused. Your examples are not something that if not done violates the conscience and the inviolable views of the church. The problem here is that for Catholics, the issue of contraception, etc. is a non-negotiable, which goes all the way back to the second century AD. In American history we have always given lawful exemptions to religious groups on essential matters of conscience, just as we have allowed for religious reasons for conscientious objectors in reference to military service. What is being mandated here is an essential violation of religious conscience. You and I as Protestants may not be opposed to most forms of birth control, but if we support what is currently happening to the Catholic church, we may down the road find that we are the ones on the short end of the government's mandate.

The sad thing here is that the Catholic Church has strongly supported the President's attempts at health care reform. They now feel betrayed, and rightly so.

Moreover, the Catholic Church will not give in on this. They will choose not to provide health care and pay the government's fines instead of complying with the law, which means that many people will be without health insurance because their Catholic employers will not cover birth control. Is that really a price that is worth paying because of the need to comply with the very narrow political agenda from (in this case) the left?

PopLid said...

I totally disagree. Our government is protecting our citizenry by forcing all employers who provide health insurance to provide the same health insurance. I applaud that. No one is forcing anyone to practice birth control, have an abortion, eat kosher or be immunized. Any faith or sect my require or prohibit any of those of it's members. But your employer cannot refuse you insurance that pays or assists recognized medically sound practices or procedures performed by licensed practitioners. What part of that don't we understand?

Allan R. Bevere said...

Well, Frank, you and I are not on the same page on this one. And regardless of what you or I think, the Catholic Church is not going to comply, so there will be people without health insurance because of the requirement to provide birth control, etc. So then why not exclude contraception from the requirement so that employees at Catholic affiliated institutions get health insurance provided for them?

The Catholic Church will not give in on this because they are being told that they must provide something they see as intrinsically in opposition to their moral theology. What part of that don't we understand?

Then there is the question of the whole constitutionality of this limited conscience mandate. That is quite another can of worms.

PopLid said...

Let's look at this from another angle. Most universities and hospitals pay Internet Service Providers to allow employees to have access to the Internet. It is a valuable resource for communication and research. I would venture to say that it has extended patient lives and even saved some by allowing nurses to check for the latest drug interactions, communicate test results and aid in diagnosis when time is critical. But that same internet can provide free, instant access to photos and video recordings of acts which are completely and totally outside the moral and ethical teachings of the church. Should the church be “forced” to allow these images to be accessible to its employees? I don't hear the (our) church preaching about that on a national or local level. Sounds like the general society does not have the same sense of moral reprehensibility that I do, and if I'm an employer, I have to bow to the societal standards while personally maintaining my own.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Frank, the church is not forced to allow those images. There is software to take care of that. Any church-affiliated organization can block it out if they so choose.

So if your parallel is going to work, the Catholic Church should be allowed to opt out of providing contraception coverage for their employees.

As for me, I do not have to bow to societal standards that go against non-negotiable Christian convictions. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar.

PopLid said...

I'm really trying to see your point, but I can't. I understand that "As for me, I do not have to bow to societal standards that go against...." But you, as an employer, must allow your employees the same choice, based on their personal convictions, not on yours. Consider the case where a Catholic hospital only had non-catholic nurses and staff. It would place an unnecessary, costly hardship on a hospital kitchen worker to be forced to pay for birth control because she was employed by a "Catholic" institution. She's washing dishes, not alter cloths. She's not a Catholic. Why should the Bishop of her city set qualifications on her employment that are based on his convictions?
Help me out here.

Allan R. Bevere said...

The difference here is we are not talking about my personal convictions as a pastor, but rather the official position and teaching of the church. There may be places where I might not agree with official Methodist teaching, but as a pastor I must uphold the position of the church in its practice.

What the HHS stipulation does is force the Catholic Church to violate one of its cardinal moral teaching. That is where the problem is it seems to me.

PopLid said...

I was not talking of the personal convictions of a pastor, but of an employer. Employment, that is hiring workers, is a secular activity subject to State, local, and Federal Laws and Regulations. Those Laws and regulations trump the employers moral code, unless you (as an employer) are specifically exempted. I admit that the mandate of forcing an employer to provide birth control access and devices, etc. is a bit of a stretch. I will also admit that I, as an employer, would resent being forced to obtain the health insurance that provided it. But the government is being lobbied by many groups, and must consider the ramifications of many social, political, and economic factors when formulating and applying the laws and regulations. In this case, it has determined that access to birth control information, procedures, and devices at little or no cost to employees is a net positive, so employers must get on with it. So, all employers, including churches, must comply.
I was raised Catholic, and was a practicing Catholic until the age of 30. My experience tells me that the vast majority of Catholics have and continue to use birth control techniques in spite of the pleadings of the Church Hierarchy. I have a hunch that a not insignificant part of the ranker being expressed by the bishops has a lot to do with their continued loss of control over their flocks. And most of that loss has much less to do with the governmental policies than it does with their insistence on using fourth century rules to shepherd twenty first century flocks.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Employment is not just a secular activity for religious employers. As a church, Akron First can insist that their employees be Christian. That is because we are not a secular employer.

That most Catholics use birth control is not the point; it is the position of the church we are talking about here. The UM Church officially supports abstinence from booze, but I dare say more than a few Methodists drink. We also oppose gambling, but lots of Methodists buy lottery tickets.

I have actually done a fair amount of reading on the theology behind contraception. Even though I take issue with many (not all) of Catholic arguments on this, I can assure you that it is about much more than using 4th century rules to shepherd 21st century flocks.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Oops! Published before I want to.

But even if some think Catholic views of contraception are "outdated" it is not the job of the state to decide that.