Thursday, December 5, 2013

'Fellowship of Catholic University Students' (FOCUS) Is Out to Lunch on ACA

Would one of the FOCUS women rather be emulating this secular teacher at a Catholic HS, or accepting an unplanned pregnancy because of a rat bastard doing a "roofie-rape"? Inquiring minds want to know!

According to the news in yesterday’s  Denver Post (‘Suit Filed Over Birth Control’ p. 2A), a Catholic college group (FOCUS – or the Fellowship of Catholic University Students)  plans to challenge  the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act health coverage mandate on the basis of its “forcing religious employers to offer sterilization and contraceptive services, and abortion-inducing drugs for employees.”

Mouthpiece Mike Norton of the “Alliance Defending Freedom” (a fulsome name if ever there was one) bloviated yesterday that:

“Faith-based organizations should be free to live and operate according to the faith they teach and espouse.”


“If the government can fine Christian ministries out of existence for keeping their faith there is no limit to what freedom they can take away.”

Of course, this is absolute nonsense. There is no attempt whatsoever to “fine Christian ministries out of existence” – only to have them adhere to the standards of all other employers in the public sphere. If then the Catholic Church operates as an employer in the public sphere – never mind it’s a religious institution – then it’s bound to adhere to public standards pertaining to the Affordable Care Act, which all other public employers at other institutions, corporations are also bound to accept.

Hence, the only thing being “taken away” here is the Church employer’s ability to take away secular employees’ rights to the same standard of health care as all other secular employees’ in the public or private sphere.  The Church, meanwhile, is quite free to morally legislate its own members’ do’s and don’ts to its heart’s content. NO one is taking away that right. 

If the Church sees fit to deny its own members’ as employees access to birth control or the morning after pill, or abortion, then fine. It is well within its purview. But it can’t extrapolate that to secular employees and retain tax-free status as a peculiarly religious institution.  Here's another reason this applies: Unknown to many Catholic purists, many secular hospitals have been taken over by Catholic ones. Their original secular workers who had benefits under those private secular hospitals now see them threatened because of antiquated Church dogmas invoked after the corporate takeover.

According to the Post (ibid.):

“The legal group filed a lawsuit in Denver district court on behalf of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students- a non-profit organization founded in 1998.”

Here's some more of the folderol in their statement(ibid.):

The (ACA) mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.”

Which, again, is total bollocks. There is no such violation because Catholic employers – whether in schools or hospitals or whatever – are quite free to set whatever moral standards they wish for their OWN Church members who are employed in such venues. What they are not free to do is to set those standards for secular employees! Not if they wish to continue to receive  tax-free status from the federal state. As for violating the First and Fifth Amendments, that’s totally preposterous: there is no proscription against freedom of speech – they can spout whatever medieval nonsense that they desire. Nor is there proscription against being a witness against oneself.


One of the ignorant First Amendment arguments usually employed is that: "No one is denying the secular women access to contraception or abortion if they want it, they just don't wish to be forced to pay for drugs that violate their religious beliefs".   The point is the "drugs" aren't doing that because they're not being used by the Catholic women who are free to follow their own mores.  They're being used by secular workers as part of the coverage promised under the ACA  health insurance plan!  And, moreover, those drugs - such as contraceptives - may well be needed for more than birth prevention (though that ought to be important enough - given too many mouths to feed can tilt a family over to food stamps, welfare).   But as Sandra Fluke noted in her testimony in March last year: e.g. 
Contraceptives can be used to treat ovarian cysts. If this is not done, the contraceptives denied, then an ovary may need to be surgically removed- and health care costs explode beyond what they would have been.

Contraceptives are also key in limiting severe health problems - such as miscarriage or stroke - which could ensue if a woman becomes pregnant. Moreover, once one commences use of  contraceptives then they need to be taken regularly or they don't work - an educational point that had to be reinforced on dimwit Repukes during their 2012 'war against women'.
Meanwhile, we also behold this drivel from John Zimmer – FOCUS VP -  that:
“FOCUS sincere religious beliefs forbid it from providing insurance coverage that includes birth control for its employees, it says: ‘ As Catholics we do not impose our faith on anyone but propose to others the life-changing power of God’s love.”
But as I noted in my recent book (‘Beyond Atheism, Beyond God), humans with their limited neural capacity aren’t in any remote position to define or know “God” since the noun (G-o-d) isn’t the same as the entity. Since the entity is supposedly “infinite” then no finite brain can comprehend it. The best it can do is forge approximate god-concepts which are relative, limited and subjective.  Hence the term “God’s love” is totally meaningless other than on a subjective level. It’s vacuous verbiage because if one can’t comprehend “God” one surely can’t comprehend any “love” derived therefrom.  And by extension one is proposing to others nothing more than one’s own ideations as internally subjective lingo.  As Philosopher Joseph Campbell put it (The Power of Myth, p. 56):
“ 'God’ is an ambiguous word in our language because it appears to refer to something that is known..”
All of which reinforces the point that when people use the word G-o-d they’re not talking or writing about an actual entity but a limited construct or ideation configured as a noun, which we call a God concept. People BELIEVE they are referencing the real entity by use of the noun but they are deluding themselves. It would be analogous to me going to a restaurant – seeing a ‘steak’ picture on the menu – then tearing the image out, consuming it and asserting I’d eaten a ‘steak’.  Any such pretense would ordinarily earn one a fast trip to the loony bin.
As for the claim of “not imposing their faith on anyone”, I am afraid FOCUS’ collegians need to take a semantics or logic course, preferably both.  If indeed, they’re all about preventing SECULAR employees – say atheists like me – from accessing artificial  birth control- then they are indeed imposing their faith.  Besides - what if the tables were turned? How would Catholic purists and dogmatists react if a Hindu-run corporation took over a Catholic Hospital? Would such a happenstance be called a "forced conversion" or  "violation of religious liberty"? OR - would it be considered a business transaction only? Also, if the newly merged entity produced subsidiary corporations - what religious principles would rightly apply? Catholic blowhards and tools like FOCUS need to think such questions through before they get all sanctimonious on us.

Now, if instead they confined their natural law moralism to Catholic employees only, there’d be no objection. “Imposing one’s faith” means taking away rights of secular citizens– based on invoking one’s own imagined religious principles.  In other words, extrapolating their “principles” beyond their proper moral domain to take away the rights of citizens who aren’t part of that domain other than in an employee capacity.
While we’re at it, let’s take a closer look at these principles which they profess to hold so dear. Biologist Elizabeth A. Daugherty  has asked ('The Lessons of Zoology'. in Contraception and Holiness, p. 110):

"Why do we call secondary the ends of the sexual act which have been accorded in fullness to us, and why do we call primary the end which we share with the lower animals?"

She's referring to the fact that the core of Pius XI's  original encyclical Casti Connubii was that the "sin" of artificial contraception inhered in making primary a sexual aspect that in reality is only "secondary". According to that pontiff:

"Since therefore the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature."

Which is irredeemable codswallop. As Daugherty notes in her chapter (op. cit.)  what the pontiff and his ilk really sought to do is reduce humans to the state of lower animals, at the behest of their "natural" reproductive cycles. In this sense, unlike the lower animals, humans have the intellectual capacity and sense of novelty to introduce a vast variety of pleasure-play into their sex relations. They aren't yoked to  primitive instincts to simply mount and hump at specific times. As Daugherty notes (pp. 96- 97):

"After ovulation, all mammalian females are under the influence of progesterone from the corpus luteum. This is a period of rapidly declining estrogenic activity which ends the sexual receptivity of the lower mammalian female, whether or not fertilization occurs.

But (in humans) marital relations continue during this progesterone -dominated period before the abrupt onset of menstruation. It is the period of lowest estrogenic activity and the progesterone-dominated period after ovulation which are known as the 'safe period' for marital relations."

This then, is what the Catholics'  “rhythm method” (of  Ogino-Kaus)  seeks to do: establish the "safe period" for a particular woman and then ordain that this is the time to safely have sexual relations if one wishes to not have any kids. The trouble is, it requires meticulous temperature taking at various times during a cycle to establish where that safe period begins and ends, and often this will be for no more than 10 days or so in a given month. Presumably, the couple is quite happy to do without sex the other two thirds of the time!

Thus, the moralizers of the Vatican are actually demanding that married couples act UNNATURALLY, since as Daugherty observes (ibid.):

"Humans are free from physiologically determined sexual desires so we possess a more or less permanent sexuality from adolescence to old age."

Indeed! But the Church and its robed minions (and now evidently younger acolytes in colleges)  seek to dictate that despite being sexual or having sexual desires from adolescence until old age, her members are only free to discharge those desires under certain limited times and limited conditions. For example, teens who have such exploding desires on account of their hormones are warned they cannot even masturbate to relieve themselves because those organs are only allowed to morally function in the state of marriage. Then....once married, the couple is informed they may gratify their mutual sexual desires only if they are open to conception....that is, unless they use the rhythm method.  Anyone not see a pattern here?
But once more, my gripe is not so much the Vatican roping  in its own flock’s gonads, but seeking to rope in the gonads of secular employees working at their schools, hospitals etc. (And please don’t anyone tell me “They can get another job!” – NO, not in this low aggregate demand, high unemployment environment. That’s like telling a guy who’s been denied food stamps (and on his last legs)  to go jump off a roof, then he won’t need them!) Besides, would Catholics tell Catholic employees to just "get another job" if their hospital was taken over by Hindu owners? I doubt it!
Julian Pleasants has observed (op. cit., p. 88) the Vatican has always been hostage to:

"Aristotelian modes of thought which tend to fix behaviors within very limited and fixed definitions and categories."

Thus, the Church once believed it "natural" that some men be enslaved because they were “unable to manage their own affairs”  (ibid.)So why be surprised when the same Church seeks to ordain all her members abide by a sexuality more fitting of lower primates?   However, be that as it may, we MUST express surprise (and outrage ) when the Church and its enablers like FOCUS seek to impose that same sexuality on secularists. That is simply unacceptable.

The abiding question for me is: Why would 21st century college students, embedded in a bunch like FOCUS,  be yoked  to Aristotelian modes of thought they seek to impose on their more enlightened peers or secularists? Maybe they are jealous they themselves never broke free of their mental chains to see just how limited they are by the Vatican’s nonsense. And while we’re at it, let me remind them that the birth control proscription has never been stated ex Cathedra so it’s not infallible. It is proposed under the Magisterium or Teaching Office. As one honest padre once confided to me: "You are free to use your own conscience in this regard, since the teaching isn't binding."

As for abortion, the FOCUS groupies ought to bear in mind that John Connery, S.J,  a leading Catholic historian,  showed that up to 1869 the Church’s Canon Law had historically held abortion to be murder only subsequent to the end of the first trimester.[1]  The interesting thing is that for the bulk of Church history the practice of abortion was allowed, at least up to the first three months of pregnancy. More interesting is that the doctrine of papal infallibility was pronounced in 1870. Could it be that the latter doctrine was introduced to back up the Church’s change in its moral position on abortion? If so, one wonders who really controls the Church, the Holy Spirit-  as is so often claimed-  or zealous prelates in positions of high power who fear relinquishing vise-like grips on their congregations[2]?

Oh, one also wonders if they still teach critical thinking at Catholic universities, as Loyola did in the 1960s - even encouraging atheists such as Jean -Paul Sarte to lecture us on existentialism! To see FOCUS' antics is to wonder if critical thinking went the way of the Dodo - at least in the universities that harbor FOCUS outlets!

[1] Sagan and Druyan: PARADE, (April 22, 1990), 6.

[2] And  (most recently), nuns, mainly belonging to The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which was issued a reprimand by the Vatican for straying outside the purview of Church teachings – especially after they defended the inclusion of contraceptive services in Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Vatican has also censured Sr. Margaret Farley (of Yale Divinity School) after publication of her book, ‘Just Love’. Farley evidently stepped on Vatican toes when she justified artificial contraception as well as masturbation within marriage as an aid to preserving fidelity.

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