President Obama

Catholic Bishop on Contraception Mandate: Not Kosher.

Ham sandwich. Image by Marshall Astor via Wylio,

Ham sandwich. Image by Marshall Astor via Wylio,

WASHINGTON — Exhibit A in the fight over President Obama's mandate for religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraception: a ham sandwich.

At a hearing Thursday convened by House Republicans to cast opposition to the mandate as a matter of religious liberty, Roman Catholic Bishop William E. Lori invoked the image of a kosher deli forced to sell ham sandwiches.

"The mandate generates the question whether people who believe — even if they believe in error — that pork is not good for you, should be forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions.

"In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no," said Lori, the bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., and the point man on religious liberty for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

News Analysis: Bishops’ Contraception Objections Fail the Church's Own Moral Reasoning


A woman shows condoms with a picture of Pope Benedict XVI, "I said No!" By BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

The president's plan meant that religious employers — mainly Catholic universities, hospitals and social service agencies — would not be involved in paying for or administering something they deem sinful: contraception. At the same time, all employees would still have access to the same contraception benefit, no matter whom they work for.

Critics of the president's plan, however, didn't see it that way.

"Dangerous and insulting," a group of leading Catholic bishops wrote to their fellow churchmen. "A cheap accounting trick," Robert P. George, Mary Ann Glendon and several other leading culture warriors complained in an open letter that has generated more than 100 signers.

The "compromise," said New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, "asks the parties involved to compromise their reasoning faculties and play a game of 'let's pretend' instead."

Yet that "game," as Douthat put it, is actually a venerable tradition in Catholic moral theology that for centuries has provided a way for Christians to think about acting virtuously in a fallen world.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 14, 2012

Four Ways To Slice Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal (INFOGRAPHIC); Britain Being Overtaken By 'Militant Secularists', Says Baroness Warsi; Clinton: Poverty Helping Fuel Violence In Nigeria; How Much Do We Spend On The Nonworking Poor?; Making Good Citizenship Fun (OPINION); Has the President Lost His Obama Generation?; College Students Crowd CPAC; GOP Revives Pipeline Push In Highway Bill; 5 Lessons From The Rise Of The BRICs; Over 600,000 Messages Against Keystone XL Flood The Senate.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 13, 2012

Obama Budget: National Debt Will Be $1 Trillion Higher In A Decade Than First Forecast; Why Evangelicals Must Defend Muslims; Obama's Election-Year Budget To Target Rich; GE To Hire 5,000 U.S. Veterans, Investing In Plants; Is Class War Unfolding In GOP Primaries?; It's The Wealth Gap, Stupid; From The Pulpit And In The Pew, The Knicks’ Lin Is A Welcome Inspiration; Ethics Issues Tarnish Congressional Image; Senate GOP Push For Keystone Vote On Highway Measure; Obama Administration Slows Environmental Rules As It Weighs Political Cost.

What They're Saying About the Contraception Compromise

Birth control pills. Image via Wiki Commons,

Birth control pills. Image via Wiki Commons,

President Obama on Friday said that all insurers — not all religious institutionswill be required to offer free contraceptive services to women.

Here's what people are saying about it:

President Obama:

"We’ve been mindful that there’s another principle at stake here –- and that’s the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution.  As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right."

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction. We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

Family Research Council:

"Liberals say keep your morals out of the bedroom, yet the President's plan forces everyone to pay the cost for someone else's contraceptive use in the bedroom. That's not freedom, it's a mandate."

Fact Check Fail: That Obama Prayer Meme

Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Obama prays during a Medal of Honor ceremony, 9/15/11. Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The people behind a popular chain e-mail about President Obama and the National Day of Prayer might want to think about the sin of omission.

That's omission, as in omitting facts.

The widely circulated e-mail claims that Obama canceled a National Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House in 2009, but later that year, a National Day of Prayer for Muslims was permitted on Capitol Hill, beside the White House.

Sojourners' Statement on Obama Administration's Contraception Policy Change

The Obama Administration announced earlier today a change to its policy regarding conscience exemptions and contraception coverage for faith based organizations.

Sojourners released the following statement:

We applaud the Obama Administration’s decision to respond to the concerns of many in the faith community around respecting religious liberty. This compromise respects the conscience concerns of those persons and institutions opposed to the use of contraception while still allowing greater access to those services for women who seek it. Expanded access to contraception is important for women’s health and is a key part of our country’s efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce abortions.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 9, 2012

Color The 1 Percent 99 Percent Conflicted; Congress Looks To Ethics Bill To Boost Public Image; Rick Santorum: The 'Church' Candidate; States Negotiate $26 Billion Deal For Homeowners; Religious Right Bashes Green Evangelicals For Supporting EPA Rules; Obama, Explained; Four Ways The U.S. Could End Up At War With Iran Before The Election; Employment Rate For Young Adults Lowest In 60 Years, Study Says; Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline: The Facts Deserve Repeating (OPINION); Study: GOP Votes Drive Public Opinion On Climate Change.

An Alternative To: The Perversion of the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the Sinner Barack H. Obama

Detail of Christ's feet on the crucifix. Photo by Getty Images.

Detail of Christ's feet on the crucifix. Photo by Getty Images.

This past Sunday, Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the blog Red State wrote a post titled “The Perversion of the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the Sinner Barack H. Obama."

First, I hope that Erickson remembers that in the Christian tradition calling someone a “sinner” is a theological statement of fact, not a pejorative. Labeling another Christian as a sinner in a bold and brash headline is, I am sure, very gratifying,  but it hardly sets one up for an argument based in the teachings of Jesus who came not for the healthy but the sick or Paul who labeled himself the “chief of sinners.”

So, let me get this out of the way. I, Timothy M. King, am a sinner too.