|The Jewelled Gates of the New Jerusalem.|
I am amazed by the sheer folly of the Obama administration's requirement for religious organizations to provide medical insurance for their employees that includes free contraception. It looks like a deliberate attempt to pick a fight with the Catholic Church in an election year, which all the polls suggest will be tight and hard-fought. How can this make sense? Catholics are 27% of the US population; no small voting bloc. In 2008, 54% of them voted for Obama. Even that was much lower than historical averages; before Reagan, in the days of Al Smith and John F. Kennedy, the Democratic Party could count on the solid backing of Catholics in every election. Yet instead of luring them back, Obama's administration seems to be driving them away, or at least forcing them to choose: it's us or their Catholicism.
It's more remarkable when you consider that the administration, if their objective was to ensure that contraceptives were free, could easily achieve this without forcing the churches to pay for it or provide it—as their “accommodation” or “compromise” really still does. They could, for example, issue separate government vouchers for contraceptives. One is forced to assume that the entire point of this policy was simply to pick a fight with the Catholic Church.
Why? Apparently, they thought they could harm the Catholic Church with this, and felt this was worth doing even if it cost them support—even if it cost them this election, or even many elections to come. The Church's stance on contraception is not popular, even among Catholics. They figured that, by forcing a fight on this ground, they could diminish the popularity of the Catholic Church. Even if it's crazy to think this would raise instead of lower their Catholic vote overall. Or indeed, that such an assault on the First Amendment and freedom of conscience would raise instead of lower their support among the religious generally.
For them, clearly, this was a matter of principle, above all electoral politics. Religion, and especially Catholicism, is bad.
|Thomas Nast's most famous anti-Catholic cartoon.|
That's also, I suspect, the reason for the prominence of the issue of homosexuality over the last few decades. A conservative columnist a few years ago openly pondered how it is possible that such a small portion of the population, only 1-3%, had pushed its concerns to the top of the social agenda. They didn't; they're only being used. The answer, I think, is that those who hate the Catholic Church saw the Church's stand on homosexuality as an issue with which they could accuse the Church of prejudice--as if homosexuals were an ethnic group like blacks or Jews. It also goes a long way to account for the current near-hysteria about child molestation. It was not perceived as all that fundamental in its evil—witness the once-burgeoning NAMBLA--until the moment Catholic priests were accused of it. Then it was unspeakable.
If it can hurt the Catholic Church, it seems, it is worth doing, even if it sacrifices other principles, even if it leads to dangerous consequences for others. Why? Because, for many on the left, the Catholic Church is the very essence of evil.
It makes sense, in a backwards way. When “the pill” was introduced in the early 1960s, a lot of us, especially on the left, believed the millennium had arrived. Because sex had supposedly been untethered from procreation, a whole lot of new pleasure became permissible. All moral objections to unrestrained sex had disappeared. Whoopie!
The Catholic Church, almost alone at first, held out against this. It was this that confirmed me, personally, as a Catholic, because the premise was obviously wrong from the start. It is just that people wanted it so much to be true, that they refused to see the reality. And the Church's refusal to be swayed proved that it alone cared about the truth. But I also feared, at the time, that the Church was being very brave, and would inevitably pay a heavy price.
By a twisted logic typical of human beings, when they do wrong, far from facing up to it, they are far more inclined to see evil in their victims, and then in anyone who breathes a hint that what they did might have been wrong. Hence the Catholic Church is evil, and all religion is evil; if they could only be made to shut up, the rest of us could do what they want. Never mind that they in fact have no power, that the real and only reason that their words seem to hurt so much is our own conscience. And that means that, really, shutting them up would do nothing for us.
We can all see clearly enough now that “the pill” did not really change anything. Even aside from the emerging health dangers of the pill, women still kept getting pregnant without intending to. So we had to decide abortion was okay too—and unrestricted abortion. Another bit we forgot was venereal disease: old venereal diseases getting a new lease on life, old diseases developing immunities, and indeed new opportunistic venereal diseases like AIDS. All entirely predictable. So was the rise in broken marriages, with all the pain and suffering by children and adults they entail—who'd have thunk that sex actually had something to do with emotion? Other, that is, than every sane human being?
|He was right.|
But instead of admitting we were wrong, perversely, we hate the Catholic Church all the more for being right. So the tone of anti-Catholicism ratchets up as all this becomes more and more apparent. Nobody on the left would care much what the Catholic Church said if it were clear that the Church is wrong.
It cannot work, of course. Over time, any attempt to silence the conscience becomes self-destructive. This is what we are seeing now, with the left actually running the clear risk of sacrificing their electability and their future to the cause. It is a mark of their desperation, and a sign that the end, at least in America, is coming soon.
The end, that is, of the anti-religious left.