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Why I Skipped Mass Today: A Practicing Catholic Objects to the Bishops' Arguments Over Birth Control


Written by Anonymous for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.
Reproductive health politics are controversial enough, but they are even more so for a family of practicing Catholics. My spouse begged me not to put my name on this, concerned about our son, who is scheduled to receive First Holy Communion in a few months. Certainly, neither of us want him to be hassled, or to have his standing jeopardized because of his parents’ dissent toward an increasingly politicized Church. So please excuse the anonymity of this editorial.
There is a really cool website called Bible Gateway that serves as a Google-style search engine for the Christian Bible. Any visitor can search for key words in 46 languages, and the English options includes 31 different versions representing a wide variety of religious traditions, from the 21st Century King James Version to Young’s Literal Translation. What kind of words can you look up? Anything, really. As a Catholic, my Bible Gateway is set to the New American Standard Bible, the same that is listed on the Vatican’s website. It’s interesting to note that, excluding articles, conjunctions, prepositions and other small words, the most common word in the Bible is Lord (6,726 times) and God is second (4,188 times). I have to admit that I was surprised that Jesus comes up only 990 times, but I am sure it’s a contextual thing. The word love will get you 484 hits, and the results will direct you to excerpts from Genesis to Revelation. Some are passages you might expect to find, such as Jesus’ repeated instruction to “LOVE your neighbor as yourself” and there are some surprises, such as the rather chilling, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who LOVES and practices lying.” (Revelations 22:15). Yikes! The Bible also talks about the poor quite a bit (148 times). And blessed comes up 290 times. You can find bothwords together in four separate passages, in the Books of Ruth, Proverbs, Matthew, and Luke. Forgive comes up a lot, too, 114 times. And compassion is mentioned 105 times. If you are looking to draw connections to today’s political issues, you can find 231 mentions of warto inform foreign policy, the richare mentioned 89 times (and not always in a flattering light, echoing the concerns of the Occupy Wall Street crowd), and environmentalists can find 52 references to gardens! Those embroiled in health care politics can find sick61 times, often connected to Jesus’ ministry to the health of those in most need. But you know what word you can’t find in the Bible? Contraception. There is no birth controleither. Oh, there are plenty of mentions of birth (118 times), not to mention 15 begots. But there is definitely no contraception. Nevertheless, reproductive health politics continue to be the centerpiece issue for the Catholic Church in America. And every four years, the Church trades in its megaphone for a set of Spinal Tap amplifiers cranked up to 11, just in time for the presidential election.The last two elections, U.S. bishops admonished Catholic Democratic contenders for their pro-choice positions, refusing Holy Communion to Joe Biden and John Kerry. But interestingly, no bishop has expressed any public concerns about Holy Communion eligibility for thrice-married Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, nor for Rick Santorum, who has equated people of the same gender who love each other with people who have sex with animals. Continue reading....