Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I'm having a lot of trouble with this Hobby Lobby thing. Maybe someone can help me out:

- Using contraception is a sin. Okay. I can accept that as a sincerely held belief, even if I don't agree with it.

- Paying for someone else's contraception is a sin. This one's harder, since you're not actually fornicating, but I suppose encouraging someone else to sin is sinful itself - it's like giving a drunk vodka. So I can understand not wanting to, say, buy condoms for a horny hobo. But then...

- Paying for an insurance plan that might pay for someone else's contraception is a sin. Um... sorry? You're buying insurance. That's not a sin. That's actually a good Christian act. And, like it or not, there are legitimate reasons that an insurance plan would cover contraception, beyond a legal mandate. For example, some birth control pills help prevent women's ovaries from exploding. True story! And you have to pay a lot for those pills because the pharmaceutical companies know when they've got you over a barrel.

Seriously, who's checked the theology on Hobby Lobby's Supreme Court case? Has any Catholic provided an explanation for how buying insurance is sinful? Because I'm pretty sure Obamacare is not going to send Steve Green to Hell.

* * *

I was raised Roman Catholic. Catholic school and church every Sunday until my parents got divorced and I moved away from our church and went to public school. (Actually I think my sister and I complained enough that we dropped Mass before the divorce. Memories are hazy.) I took Communion but was never confirmed.

Through grade school I was pretty much a casual-to-lapsed Catholic: not going to church except very occasionally, but broadly in line with the Ten Commandments. Then in college I started going to our campus church. They served pizza afterward and it felt good to stop being a heathen. Eventually though I stopped going. It started with a Mass by a priest who talked about "this Catholic thing", which I thought was intolerably disrespectful to faith; and who confessed during the initial wave of the big child sex scandals that he'd felt so scared he'd had to hide his collar when he went out in public. I'm lapsed, but I'm pretty sure my faith preaches courage under adversity. And more to the point, the church had clearly fucked up big time. So how dare any priest hide from that and continue being a priest?

I stopped going to Mass for a few months, but eventually went back, and the first Mass featured a lengthy condemnation of abortion - and it was an election year, so there was an unspoken hint that good Catholics should be voting a certain way. That was the end for me. I think abortion is horrible, but I'm not going to dare tell anyone with reason to seriously consider it what they should do, and I'm certainly not in favor of throwing them in jail. And I was going to church to practice my faith, not to hear a priest condemn people.

Since then it's all been downhill.

* * *

My son is eight months old. I haven't had him baptized yet. I'm scared to.

I still consider myself Catholic, but I'm very far from the Church and I'm scared to subject my son to a religion I don't recognize anymore, preached by priests who might very well be whack jobs or even sex offenders. On the other hand, Catholic teachings were a huge part of my youth and influenced the person I am today - I like to think in a good way. I don't want to rob my son of that experience, but I don't want to expose him to some demented monster on the pulpit either.

And I hear about a diocese lawyer saying that a priest who molested children was not a priest when he molested children, because he was molesting children. And I hear about an Archbishop lying and saying that he didn't know sexual abuse was a crime, at the same time he was sending out emails discussing how long the statute of limitations on child abuse are. I hear about eight hundred dead children in Ireland.

And I am scared of my church.

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