Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Spin Goes On

Upon getting home from work today I sat down to read the paper and scan through the news and talk shows I frequent. In 20 minutes all the spin tactic I described below were on full display. One of these was demonstrated by 'expert' guests, moderators and even news persons stating with certainty that polls show that over half of Catholics agree with the HHS policy. The the polls they are referring to are then shown with appropriate acknowledgement of the polling organization and the question asked.

Right then you can see the proof of the 'bait and switch' in action. I have seen polls from several organizations offered on the media in the last day to demonstrate "Catholic" approval. In every case, that I have seen, the question asked was, "Do you agree with the policy of including contraceptives in the list of items to be covered in the insurance requirements of HHS?" 

The Bishops, via Archbishop Dolan, did not ask the President or HHS to change their opinions about contraception, they asked that Religious Institutions not be forced to pay for coverage of actions that the Church considers immoral. Until the polls refer to that question they do not seem relevant to the issue raised by Democratic,Independent and Republican critics of the HHS policy defining what organizations are religious.

Despite the fact that CBS labels the clip as "The Contraception Issue" here is Archbishop Dolan talking the "Religious Freedom Issue" with Charley Rose and  Erica Hill. I am providing a link rather than an embedded video because CBS has retracted their permission to embed this video.

Now if a polling organization actually asks citizens, including Catholics, about whether  "religious organizations should be forced by the government to fund actions considered immoral by their faith"  then we would have a poll about this issue. Suppose such a poll shows that a over half of Catholics are OK with the government forcing the Church to pay for contraception coverage would I then agree the government should do it?  I would not agree and here is why.

In light if the founders intention, in the first article of the Bill of Rights, it make no sense that  the government can force religious organizations violate their ethics based upon the findings of statistical polls. Imagine that a poll discovers that over half of Lutherans would rather go fishing on Sunday morning than attend services.  The government then could issue a regulation requiring all religiously based social,  health and insurance services with religious ties including Lutheran Social Services, Lutheran hospitals and and Lutheran Fraternal Insurance Coops, pay for their employees fishing trips if they occur on Sunday morning. Trivial, yes, but if the the courts approve the governments right to  do it in the insurance case the precedent will have been establish and the government could do it even in this trivial case. Not a good way to resolve a Religious Freedom Case, in my opinion.

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