Brilliant Catholic scholar utterly demolishes arguments against ObamaCare rule on contraception

When it comes to the history of Catholicism, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills is no one to trifle with. He has variously been characterized as “one of this country’s leading public intellectuals and American Catholicism’s most formidable lay scholar,” “a Roman Catholic scholar of awesome erudition,” and “one of the most respected writers on religion today.”

These credentials suggest that anything Wills has to say about the current controversy concerning American public policy on the issue of contraception  — especially as it relates to Catholicism — is worthy of our attention.

In that regard, Wills doesn’t disappoint with THIS PIECE in The New York Review of Books:

Pusillanimous Catholics — Mark Shields and even, to a degree, the admirable E. J. Dionne — are saying that Catholics understandably resent an attack on “their” doctrine (even though they do not personally believe in it). Omnidirectional bad-faith arguments have clustered around what is falsely presented as a defense of “faith.” The layers of ignorance are equaled only by the willingness of people “of all faiths” to use them for their own purposes…

The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.

Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil…[W]hat matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics. To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not is bad enough. To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church” if he does not accept it is much, much worse.

There’s a lot more to Wills’ devastating argument. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

UPDATE: This video from the Democratic National Committee succinctly frames the current contraception controversy in a mere 73 seconds:





  1. “The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.”

    Religious dictatorship or government dictatorship. The country was founded on religious freedom.

    People can choose to work where they want to work. They should not be surprised when a Catholic institution wants to uphold Catholic ideals.

    Now I suppose any of us could choose to live in a different country, but since I am a US citizen I prefer to stay here. But why does my government make me choose what will be in the health care plan I buy or what any employer should be forced to offer?

    I don’t always agree with Ann Coulter, but parts of this column nail it. A short excerpt follows, I censored some naughty words, if you jump to the link, don’t be offended.


    This isn’t a Catholic issue or even a religious issue. Conservatives are falling into the Democrats’ trap by denouncing it as such. It’s a freedom issue. (Or, as Democrats call it, “the F-word.”)

    If liberals like it, it’s subsidized; if they don’t, it’s prohibited. And now they can impose their left-wing authoritarianism on the entire country by calling their mandates and prohibitions “insurance.”

    Liberal fundamentalists say: I don’t see why anyone needs to hunt; I don’t know why anyone needs to eat meat; I don’t see why anyone needs to bathe every day; I don’t know why anyone minds looking at urine in a low-flow toilet; I don’t know why anyone needs an incandescent light bulb …

    Screw you, liberals. I don’t know why anyone needs an abortion, free contraception, crap-### “art” with photos of ###### on the Virgin Mary, non-farming farmers or a $1 million pension for Anthony Weiner.

    But I’m forced to subsidize all of that.

    And now we’re all going to be forced to subsidize the entire wish list of the Berkeley City Council, recast as “health insurance.”

    Insurance is not supposed to be for normal expenses in the ordinary course of events, such as multivitamins, house painting or oil changes. Insurance is for unexpected catastrophes: fires, accidents, cancer.

    The basic idea is to spread the risk of unforeseen disasters. Filling up your gas tank, for example, is not an unforeseen disaster (though it’s getting to be under Obama).

    So why is birth control covered by insurance? Birth control pills aren’t that expensive — generics are about $20 a month — nor is the need for them a bolt out of the blue. Why not have health insurance cover manicures, back massages, carrot cake and nannies?

    Liberals huffily ask why it’s so important to the Catholic Church not to pay for insurance plans that cover birth control, but the better question is: Why is it so important to liberals to force them to?

  2. Tea Party

    The Democrat Party used to be a Democratic Party, but it soured and morphed into an American version of Labour

    “The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.” – Establishment ‘Republicans’ said this when they were a minority little big government party 50 years ago.

    Why are liberals hell-bent on this? Because Catholics smarted them out 50 years ago:

    “The Catholic hierarchy, both in Britain and abroad, viewed socialism as a tremendous threat. Socialism, it was believed, would lead to the creation of an omnipotent state apparatus which would intervene in spheres which the Church viewed as its own, for example health care, education and birth control. The Church felt also that it had much to fear from an ideology which aimed to create a form of ‘heaven on earth’. The extent of this underlying conflict was masked in the 1920s because the Catholic hierarchy was afraid that if it condemned Labour it would drive away members of its own Cburch and provoke antiCatholic sentiments. It also saw Labour as a bulwark against communism, a creed which it viewed with abject horror. Privately, however, the hierarchy by late 1920s was ill-at-ease with substantial sections of Labour’s program, and was fearful that Labour was becoming more hard line socialist, particularly Maxtonite ILP. Many Catholic Labour members and supporters shared this fear that there was a conflict between their religion and an allegiance to Labour. Clearly, then, there was considrable potential for a serious conflict of interests, not least once Labour was in office.”

    This is a titanic battle to stop the establishment of Labour by 21st century Whigs. The countries where Labour is established are total economic failures.

  3. John Lavery

    Even more disturbing is the democrats, ok the LIBERALS are getting by with using the word “Contraception”, but the OBAMACARE legislation and madate is to provide contraception including abortion. They are not the same. But Liberals want to fight the fight on their terms and they’ve chosen not to use the A)(*&&^%* word because they know the USA will unite behind the Catholic Churches stand, not that we endorse Cathalocism, but because it is clearly a matter of FREEDOM OF RELIGION being free from GOVERNMENT and particularly LIBERAL interference.

  4. Tea Party: Two things:

    1) Your comment above includes a long verbatim passage from a book by Neil Riddell without providing a link or otherwise giving him credit. That kind of thing is not allowed here.

    2) In a comment thread here last week, you said this:

    “Obama isn’t a Christian. He isn’t a Muslim, either, although he does prefer that way of life. He is an atheist.”

    I’ve asked you twice to provide evidence supporting any of that crap. But you’ve offered nothing.

    You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. You’re entitled to be a sniveling little bigot, but you’re not allowed to say here, without any evidence, that Obama prefers the Muslim way of life or that he is an atheist.

    Put up or shut up.

  5. Let’s just wait and see what happens-

    Supreme Court sets aside three days for arguments on healthcare reform law
    By Sam Baker – 12/19/11 11:40 AM ET

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments on President Obama’s healthcare law over a three-day span in late March.
    The schedule further confirms the universal expectation that the court will issue a ruling on the healthcare law next June, at the height of the 2012 campaign.
    The Supreme Court will begin on March 26 with one hour of arguments on whether it can reach a decision on the reform law before 2014. There is a possibility that a separate federal law will prevent the courts from ruling until the law’s individual mandate has taken effect.
    On March 27, the justices will hear two hours of arguments on the core question of whether the mandate is unconstitutional.
    And on March 28, the court will hear arguments on two issues: how much, if any, of the law’s other provisions can be upheld if the mandate is unconstitutional, and whether the health law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.
    The court will not hear any other cases during that three-day span.

  6. Yeah, Tea Party, “that kind of thing is not allowed here”. Unless you’re Pat. Then you don’t quote verbatim, you just change the order of the source’s statements before failing to give credit like he did here when he clearly got his information from a Daily Kos article. If Pat’s not careful, he may have to ban himself from his own site.

  7. Jaybo: Garnering information from another article without attribution is one thing. It’s done all the time. But lifting a long verbatim passage without attribution is something else.

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