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Opinion
What you need to know for 01/18/2017

Of martyrs, freedom, and contraception

Of martyrs, freedom, and contraception

I do enjoy how the Catholic Church is framing the dispute over contraceptive insurance as a matter o

I do enjoy how the Catholic Church is framing the dispute over contraceptive insurance as a matter of religious freedom and making it sound as if the Constitution of the United States is being undermined and the next thing you know we’ll be having a pogrom of Christians comparable to a European or Russian pogrom of Jews.

You have to stop for a minute and ask, what exactly is the freedom they’re talking about? What is the freedom that’s being infringed?

Is it the freedom to worship? The freedom to publish religious tracts? The freedom to own property? The freedom to operate parochial schools? The freedom to proselytize?

You would think it must be all of that and more to listen to them and to listen to their friends at Fox Propaganda.

But no, ladies and gentlemen, as we all know, it is merely the freedom to deny contraceptive coverage to the employees, even the non-Catholic employees, of Catholic institutions like hospitals and universities.

Can you imagine such an uproar over such a petty and even mean-spirited little matter as that?

Look at the letters to this newspaper:

“Remember, folks, if this continues, little by little not only will our religious freedom be taken away, but our rights to vote, choose, whatever our founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence. … You want oppression, go and live in a country that oppresses the human spirit and dignity. Amen!” Another: “When the Obama administration decided to attack the church on some of its core doctrinal beliefs, it came as a shock … an awakening to the threat to our religious freedoms … A frontal attack on the Catholic Church. …The history of the church has over 2,000 years of people martyred for their beliefs.” Right away I had visions of Archbishop (now Cardinal) Timothy Dolan and assorted Irish and Italian grandmothers being thrown to the lions while Barack Obama and his czars stand in the dignitary boxes and cheer.

But that’s all it is — the freedom, if you want to call it that, to deny contraceptive coverage to employees of the church’s affiliated hospitals and universities. Incredible, no?

I’ve noticed this about religious people, not just Catholics: Anytime you try to block them from cramming their beliefs down other people’s throats, they holler religious freedom. It’s always the same, their freedom to impose their beliefs on others.

It’s especially funny in this case, because, as I earlier pointed out, the church’s prohibition on contraception is already the most widely ignored teaching in the history of Christendom. Catholic laypeople themselves don’t give a hoot for it, which is why you don’t see Catholic families with 15 kids anymore. It’s the celibate bishops in their gorgeous hats who have a fit over it.

Freedom my foot!

And as for 2,000 years of Christians being martyred for their beliefs, that puts me in mind of Rick Santorum and Pope Urban II.

Because, let’s face it, for most of the 2,000 years of Christian history, it was not orthodox Christians being martyred, it was dissenters and “heretics,” meaning people with hair-splitting doctrinal differences; alleged witches; Mexican and Peruvian Indians; and of course Jews.

Christians were persecuted in the first couple of centuries, when they were a new and unwelcome little sect, but once the Emperor Constantine adopted the holy faith in the 4th century, boys and girls, the shoe was on the other foot, and for the next thousand years and more, Christians engaged in such fanatical tortures and butchery of wrong-believers as the world has rarely seen.

One little example: The First Crusade, anno domini 1095, when tens of thousands of European peasants, knights and ordinary people, fired up by Pope Urban II, set off to liberate Jerusalem from the infidels, and after massacring German Jews along the way, finally arrived at the walls of the Holy City itself.

There are plenty of records. The crusaders massacred the entire population of that city — an estimated 30,000 people, mostly Muslims — and then prayed in tearful gratitude in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, imaginary site of the entombment of their Lord and Savior.

Such was the carnage, such the piling up of dismembered corpses, that six months later when one Fulcher of Chartres returned, he wrote, “Oh, what a stench there was around the walls, within and without, from the rotting bodies of the Saracens [Muslims], lying where they had been hunted down.” I dredge up that bit of history having recently encountered the remarks of presidential aspirant Rick Santorum, another aggrieved Christian, made last year in South Carolina:

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” he declared. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.” That’s it, ladies and gentlemen, the historical view of a Catholic conservative, conceivably our next president, and may God bless him and keep him.

Me, whenever I hear “religious freedom,” I know to bolt my door.

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