Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The 77 percent

You've probably already seen this today:

A new Gallup Poll has found that contraception is “morally acceptable” to 89 percent of Americans, including a top heavy 82 percent majority of American Catholics, despite the Church hierarchy’s opposition to the pill.

The poll was released a day after Catholic dioceses and institutions sued the Obama administration to block a requirement that employers cover contraception in health care plans offered to women employees.

Catholic bishops have rejected an administration compromise under which the cost of birth control coverage would be borne by health insurers, and not Catholic hospitals and universities.

“The issue involved here is the broad separation of church and state, not necessarily the morality of using birth control,” Gallup reported. “Still, current data show that the substantial majority of Catholics interviewed say birth control is morally acceptable.”

So, 82% of American Catholics are dissenters on the matter of birth control. Which might sound worse than it is, if you overlook the other important statistic here...which is that 77% of American Catholics don't even bother to drag their buttocks out of bed each Sunday to go to Mass, and thus are already most of the time (objectively) in a state of grave sin. You know, the kind that can send you to Hell under the right conditions.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty darned tired of the media including the 77% in their groups of "Catholics" when they ask questions about hot-button issues, such as whether "Catholics" approve of birth control or abortion or gay "marriage," and so on.

Sure, the 77% are Catholics by right of their baptisms. But think of them with a gym membership analogy for a moment: everyone who signs up and pays his dues at a gym can say that he is a gym member, but if the media were to ask all of the members important questions like how satisfied they are with the services offered or how important they think it is to exercise and eat right, the answers might be a bit misleading. For instance, if the media were to trumpet a news article that blared "82 percent of all gym members think that exercise is not necessary for good health," I think most of us would want to know that 77% of those gym members surveyed not only didn't show up at the gym weekly, but generally showed up to exercise only one to four times a year--and for some, it's even less than that.

In other words, we wouldn't take the opinions of people who didn't take their gym memberships seriously as being even remotely interesting or significant when it came to matters related to exercise and good health. So why do we take the opinions of people who frankly don't give a damn about their Catholic faith seriously or as having any significance at all when it comes to matters related to faith or worship?

Obviously, we shouldn't. The 77 percent have nothing whatsoever of value to offer in terms of commentary on serious moral issues. But because our credulous and duplicitous media doesn't see things that way, we're going to keep getting news articles with provocative titles all of which boil down to: Lax and indifferent Catholics who don't bother to take the faith seriously also don't bother to take Church teaching seriously (gasp). It's hardly surprising that the 77% don't care what the Church teaches, since they demonstrate that every Sunday morning.

Clearly, the people we should be worried about are the ones who do show up at Mass on Sunday and yet fail to grasp the reality that contraception use is gravely morally evil and that they're endangering their mortal souls if they use it. But given that 18% of Catholics are faithful on this issue and that only 23% of us bother to show up on Sundays at all, I have a feeling that the exact number of dissenters who don't just give up and drop out altogether remains small.


thomas tucker said...

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Those polls are for people who identify as catholic. At my own parish, among childbearing aged women, I'd be willing to bet that a full 85-90% use some sort of artificial contraception at some time or other. The fact is, most people think that it's okay to have as many children as you want, and that one's whole purpose in life is not just to raise as many children as your poor womb will hold. To dismiss those statistics as some fluke is to keep your head buried in the sand. Yes many catholic identified people don't step foot in church but once a year, but many of occupying a seat every week believe strongly that birth control is okay. If that makes me a bad catholic, I'm in good company.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Fair enough Erin, and (NO sarcasm intended) highly principled. Any organization ought to stand for something definite, much less a church.

But in that case, the pundits (including overawed liberals) and the hierarchy can stop talking about the ominous significance of the vast and presumably offended "Catholic vote." Because those of you who remain sincerely faithful to the teachings and authority of the Vatican are one of the smaller faiths in the USA.

Better fewer but better, as Lenin said. I can respect that. You're not trying to have it both ways, but some in public life are. That I do not respect.

Tony said...

I'm getting really fed up with this kind of "statistic". It's a red herring. It doesn't matter in the context of the discussion.

If 100% of lay Catholics thought birth control was fine and dandy, it would not affect one whit the right of the bishops (who with the Holy Father clarify what the faith is), to follow their conscience and not lead their flock into what they consider objective grave sin.

This is about their right to follow their religion. Not the person putting on the rubber or popping the pill.

And even if their was one last guy who wanted to follow Church teaching it's up to the Church to define what that is, not the Obama administration.

Dawn Farias said...

"The fact is, most people think that it's okay to have as many children as you want, and that one's whole purpose in life is not just to raise as many children as your poor womb will hold."

Karen - I think the first part of your statement objectifies children and the second part is a wrong assumption about people choosing not to use artificial birth control.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the public discourse from fellow Catholics as well as those whose integrity encourages welcome to different points of view.

It may be my OCD, but I prefer to think it is quite interesting to see how use of the terminology 'artificial contraception', 'pro-abortion', 'viability', 'aborifacient', 'birth control' and 'artificial contraceptives' all mean the same thing to some people. Perhaps, comparably to the seeming degree of difference among those that consider themselves Catholics, yet do not participate in Mass regularly.


Anonymous said...

Dawn, I dont happen to use artificial birth control. So im not making any assumtions. I have instead chosen to have only two children. This was planned and very intentional. I will not have any more children, though I am physically capable and also financially able to take on many more. I know that some just get pregnant whenever they will with no planning whatsoever, and I know some who have lots of kids spaced reasonably apart. All of these can and are achieved without anything artificial.

I'm not sure how I objectified children. I think it was just poorly written on my part. What I meant was that most people think that women/couples should be in charge of the number of children they have. Not just how many they CAN have...


JMB said...

This is purely anecdotal, but the majority of my friends (and some family members) who consider themselves practicing Catholics do not use any form of birth control. Either the husband or the wife has been sterilized. That seems to be my demographic - 45, white, middle to upper mid class, suburban, college educated.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Tony, that was a classic red herring.

Nobody with any governmental authority whatsoever has interfered in any manner with the right or ability of the Holy Father or any bishop to "clarify what the faith is" or "to follow their conscience and not lead their flock into what they consider objective grave sin."

It is only when institutions under the authority of said bishops choose to hire wage laborers that the details of that employment come under generally applicable laws governing employers.

They can teach anything they want, and those who choose to adhere to their faith are free to follow their own conscience, in the conduct of their own lives. What you ask for is religious dictatorship under color of freedom of religion.

The bishops do NOT get to dictate to employees of their institutions. They can always go back to staffing their hospitals and colleges with people professing religious vocations... if they can find enough of them.

Tony said...

your last statement shows that you completely misunderstand the issue.

The issue is not people use of birth control. As far as I'm concerned, it is between them and God. The issues is who is being forced to cooperate with this particular sin.

Most people eat and very much enjoy bacon and ham. Forcing Catholic employers (or anyone else who objects to artificial birth control on moral grounds) to provide it for their employees is akin to forcing a Jewish deli to stock ham and bacon for those customers who might want it.

Tony said...

You're not sure where you objectified children? You did it again in the same comment you asked the question.

Let me point it out:

" I have instead chosen to have only two children. This was planned and very intentional. I will not have any more children, though I am physically capable and also financially able to take on many more."

This reduces children to a commodity that you choose when and where to acquire, rather than individual immortal souls created by the will of God with cooperation of a husband and wife.

Rebecca in ID said...

Siarlys that's like saying the owner of a health food store is "dictating" to his employees and customers how to eat, because he doesn't sell Snickers bars. We need to force these health food stores to ensure our freedom to eat what we want by making them sell junk food. Also, we need to force convenience stores to sell cod liver oil and sprouted grain bread so we don't feel that they are limiting our freedoms.

Anonymous said...

Comparing an employer to a commercial establishment like a store or restaurant is a specious argument. What if one is a nurse in a town where the only possible employer is a Catholic hospital? One can go to another store or restaurant, but one cannot necessarily work for another employer. - BlairBurton

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Tony and Rebecca, you are both wildly off base.

Nobody is asking Roman Catholic churches to have little booths where dissident Catholics can pick up birth control pills after mass. Institutions sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church are incidentally involved in contraception ONLY to the extent that (A) they are employers of employees, and (B) employers generally are required to provide medical insurance to employees.

The analogy of the Jewish Deli, if you made a pretense to accuracy, would run more like this:

If all employers were required to provide employees with lunch money, and a Jewish Deli owner wanted to require employees NOT to spend the money at a restaurant selling ham sandwiches.

Ditto if the owner of a health food store required employees to refuse to spend any of their hard earned pay check on Snickers.

Medical benefits are part of employee compensation, for better or worse. Catholic employers don't get to dictate what it covers.

I see two valid ways to void the entire debate:

1) NO employer provides medical insurance, EVERYONE buys it individually, or through some other collective association,

2) Catholic institutions staff all their positions with people who have made a religious vocation, and are not employees at all.

Rebecca in ID said...

Anonymous, I just spoke to a good friend of mine who has been on the pill for many years. I asked her whether it is difficult or expensive to obtain birth control. She is poor and receives help from the state because of some disabilities. She said no, it's very easy and very cheap. The analogy does apply though not on every level; you can walk in and buy a Snickers bar at any corner market and it would be absolutely ridiculous to force the one health food store to provide Snickers bars.