The media continues to show just how tone deaf it is to religion in the recent coverage surrounding the HHS mandate concerning religious organizations and health insurance. This piece from NPR’s Morning Edition today is representative: “Catholics Split Over Obama Contraceptive Order.”
One of the things we began hearing right away was that the position of the bishops is undermined because Catholics already use contraception. According to the NPR piece, “98 percent of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lifetimes.” And the latest poll to be trotted out has to do not with behavior but with attitudes: “A new survey by Public Policy Polling shows that a narrow majority of Catholic voters think women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have access to contraceptive coverage through their health plans.” Even assuming the validity of the results of these kinds of polls, such arguments fundamentally misunderstand the nature of religious doctrine, particularly as expressed in the Roman Catholic Church. Allow me, as an evangelical who shares the sentiments of so many others like Chuck Colson, Timothy George, Richard Land, and Rick Warren about the solidarity that we must show in this matter, to make a couple of observations in this regard.
First, the fact that many Catholics have at one point not lived up to the teachings of the church regarding contraception is no evidence that the teaching is wrong, irrelevant, or appropriately ignored. It just is evidence that Catholics, like the rest of us, aren’t perfect and go astray…”all we like sheep.”
And second, as to the attitudes of the laity, this is again irrelevant in the context of church teaching. The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy, and the opinion of the majority does not determine the truth value of church teaching. So what if Callie Otto, a student at CUA, thinks the bishops are “wrong” and that they should “back down” so that the president “doesn’t have so much pressure”? (You actually have to listen to hear the inflection as she utters these words. Reading them on your screen just won’t do. You have to hear the self-righteous, patronizing tone of her voice. She sounds like a typical sophomore know-it-all.)
As long as news outlets continue to assume that this is merely a political issue and treat it as such, the real scale of the Obama administration’s overreach will continue to elude them.