Friday, February 10, 2012

The Catholic contraception nontroversy

According to the media and the right-wing, the so-called culture wars are back due to the federal healthcare guideline that Catholic affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities pay for contraception. Supposedly Catholics (which implies the laity as well as the clergy) are enraged at this attack on their religious freedom. Ironically, the ones other than the bishops and Republican-catholic pundits that make this charge are fundamentalists Protestants that historically have been extremely hostile to Catholicism and Catholics.

Such articles and comments that follow talk about Catholic attitudes rather than listen to commentators who actually are Catholics. How about asking Catholics, we're not hard to find as we make up a large portion of the country. The idea that most Catholics are up in arms about this is ludicrous. I don't know a single Catholic couple not practicing birth control and the biggest issue for most is the hierarchy's obstinance in failing to take real responsibility for the abuse cases.

The people who claimed to be outraged can be put in the following groups:
1) Certain blue-collar ethnic Catholics who will never vote for Obama. I know a number of these types around Boston: they only show up in Church on Christmas and Easter, are bigoted against anyone not of their ethnicity, and pretty much ignore any church teaching. They'll claim this as an excuse not to vote for Obama, but they never were going to. This would be the largest group of the "outraged."
2) Wealthy suburban Catholic Republicans who will never vote for Obama. May be outwardly more observant than type 1, but it's mainly for show. Know a lot of these in SE PA/Northern Delaware. They definitely ignore every social teaching of the Church and ignore the admonition against birth control. Again they'll claim this as an excuse not to vote for Obama, but they never were going to in the first place.
3) Santorum type social conservatives who seem to be more theologically fundamentalist Protestant than Catholic. They may indeed not practice birth control but are a small group.
4) The church hierarchy, which has sold its soul to American Social Conservatives as a mechanism to deflect questioning of their authority because of the abuse issue. Many Catholics see through this protection of their temporal institution over spiritual matters and are appalled. They know their flocks ignore the contraception prohibition and this case may give them a sense of control.
4) Talking heads who have no real influence but whose opinions are taken as the sentiment of Catholics as a whole but a lazy media eager to create a culture war.  It makes could copy, gets lots of hits and comments.  It is definitely a case of sound and fury signifying less than nothing.

So this is a nontroversy. In the end all it will do more to drive the wedge between clergy and flock further than it will hurt Obama.  It also demonstrates that the GOP has 'nuthin and is falling back on what supposedly worked 18 years ago.  It's not even a Hail Mary pass, pardon the pun. It's trying to start a brawl when they see the game slipping away.

One more thing. Stewart and Colbert were off this week (again, must be nice). Once they weigh in the media will back off and this will be then end of the "issue".

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