Catholic Mother Has Disabled Child, Questions Faith, Gets Abused by Believers

Why so mean.Sonia Guizar used to attend mass regularly and teach at a Catholic school. But her Catholic employer’s refusal to cover birth control brought her an ill-timed pregnancy and a child with developmental challenges that stretch her family thin. When she publicly shared her experience and questioned Church teachings in a Washington Post story,  what she got was a heap of abuse from fellow Catholics whose urge to defend religious dogma and authority trumped their kindness and compassion.

Guizar’s story may be a very distant echo of the horrendous slaughter being perpetrated by Jihadis shouting “Allahu akbar!”—but it is an echo nonetheless. One of religion’s most heinous characteristics is that it elevates defense of faith above compassion, inspiring mean and aggressive behavior in the names of gods.

The American Supreme Court is considering a “religious freedom” claim by a Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, that wants to deny contraception coverage to employees in their chain of nursing homes—mostly working poor women who can ill afford either out-of-pocket birth control costs or a surprise pregnancy. They further want to block the same employees from gaining access to free contraception via an “opt out” mechanism, a religious exemption already established under Obamacare.

With the case making news and drawing protests, Guizar shared her own experience of needing birth control that she and her husband couldn’t afford. Fearing she would be fired by her Catholic employer if she tried to get the IUD recommended by her doctor, Guizar and her husband tried to make do with “natural family planning” and ended up pregnant. Their son, born from that pregnancy, has developmental delays and requires therapy multiple times weekly; and the whole ordeal has caused her to question her faith.

Her story is both ordinary and heartbreaking, and most people reading it would ache for her. But in dozens of comments, Catholic defenders of the faith saw fit to instead question either the legitimacy of her devotion, or her strength or integrity:

  • This is such an obvious hit piece–no catholic would ever say “I no longer celebrate mass” every catholic knows that only a priest can celebrate a mass. [not true]
  • You couldn’t afford birth control? Really? That’s ridiculous [not true] . . . . And you call yourself a ‘devout’ Catholic and NOT following their doctrine? Again, you don’t know what either devout and/or Catholic means. —Angie Sharp
  • Then you really were not a Catholic to begin with. Now you just write really dumb stuff! Congratulations you are progressing. I’m sure God will forgive your idiotic apostasy.—Wasachnorth [See No True Scotsman Fallacy]
  • The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, tortured and thrown in different jails. You? Well you were told to not use birth control and your faith crumbled. —Give-me-Liberty
  • The amazing and great thing about America is that you can change your employment! Yes, I know it sounds incredible, but it can be done! If The Church has a tenet that you do not agree with, and it does, then you can adopt a creed more to your liking or get another job. Problem solved. —Steve Fotos
  • Go find another job. You signed an employment agreement. —Robert PS
  • I can’t believe this lady ever was a devout Catholic, she may have though she was, but it is obvious she has little understanding of faith and a great understanding of the secular world. . . . If she were really a devout Catholic she might try to follow the example of Mary in saying yes to God, instead of the example of Eve who said no to God and yes to the Snake! —Yvonne Yadler Bean
  • Natural planning is just as effective as any other birth control method. [not true—1 in 4 annual pregnancy rate vs 1 in 2000.] . . . . If you really are devout catholic, you should known what the church teaches and if you don’t like it work somewhere else. —pattyanna
  • Sonia is missing the boat as a “devout” catholic. She says she would have as many children as God intended but cant afford??????????? If her faith in God is solid, then he will take care of the financial “burden” that comes with having kids. As a fellow Catholic . . . .—Hannah Pharis
  • Perhaps you should read the bible again. JOB would have loved to have been hit with the issue of contraception as opposed to having this faith tried by the loss of his entire family! But you are devout? —Jane1000
  • If you don’t like your faith because your employer doesn’t pay for contraceptives, than you’ve never had one in the first place. Go demagogue somewhere else.—Pete r Gray

There are many morals or themes that could be drawn from Sonia’s story: The enormous human cost of the Vatican’s anti-contraception stance, especially when it leaves families struggling to care for children with developmental issues (think Zika). The fact that a modern IUD or implant (both of which have bonus health benefits) can be life changing for a woman and her family. The crass dishonesty of any person or institution claiming to be a friend to the poor (or “Little Sister of the Poor”) while denying poor families the means to delay or limit childbearing. The fascinating psychology of religion that compels people to lie to themselves and others once they accept a dogma. The fact most American Catholics follow their own conscience and use modern contraception at some point despite Papal edict. The fact that Catholic tradition itself is conflicted about individuals making this decision.

But during a month of jihadist violence—executions in Ivory Coast, a bombing in Brussels and a bombing in Istanbul, all by people who see themselves as defending the one true faith–what strikes me most about Sonia’s story is the mundane cruelty of her detractors, the fact that even on a topic as ordinary as family planning or a setting as minor as a Washington Post comment thread, religious belief has the power to trump humanity’s deepest shared ethic—the Golden Rule—and our most cherished moral emotion: compassion. I have written in the past about “religion’s dirty dozen,” twelve really bad religious ideas that have made the world worse. The idea that religious beliefs themselves matter more than love and kindness, more than our shared humanity, should be at the top of the list.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

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About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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61 Responses to Catholic Mother Has Disabled Child, Questions Faith, Gets Abused by Believers

  1. Violet says:

    I am so sad for this woman and the verbal beating she has taken from her “brothers and sisters in christ.” I have a story somewhat similar in that my child was born with neurological deficits. My catholic counselor told me my son was likely demon possessed because the doctors could not initially find a diagnosis for him. When I was stretched to the breaking point trying to care for him and began suffering from severe postpartum depression, I was told I was also demon possessed. After much personal agony, my faith crumpled and I became an atheist. Catholics shunned me completely (and I now say good riddance).

    There is no excuse for how the church treats women and children. They fight for life before the child is born, but then when something goes wrong they heap condemnation on the woman and the infant. Unfortunately they can’t see the hypocrisy of this and will never acknowledge the harm and ruin they leave in their wake.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Bill West says:

      The best thing that could ever happen to America is the passing of the E.R.A. It’s an absolute must, and we must get out the vote this November.

      Isn’t everyone tired of the way that the Congress, and the worst is the House of Reprehensibles, continues to shut down whenever they don’t get their whiny assed way, continues to weigh bills in favor of the BuyBull’s Old Testament, misleads and misinforms the public to whom they are responsible, throws shit upon the wall (we know who you are Limbaugh, O’Reily and Faux Noise, Louie Gomert, et al, twist the truth for their end means, mostly paced toward America’s acceptance of Xtianity?

      Like

    • Virginia says:

      I can really identify with this poor lady. I was raised Catholic and really had no reason not to believe just about everything I was taught. Until I got married at 22. Less than a year later I had premature twins who didn’t survive. A year after that I had a daughter and 15 months later I had twins again. My husband was a construction worker who didn’t make *that* much money. Our insurance didn’t cover pregnancy because it would be way more than we could afford. He got very nervous and so did I. I decided I was going to get birth control no matter what. My doctor was Catholic and I had heard he went ballistic when someone went to him for birth control, so I went to a different doctor who prescribed it for me. 3 daughters was more than enough for us to take care of. This was over 50 years ago. Since then, more and more, I’m learning to trust my own conscience about things religious. I have been so turned off by the evangelicals that religion of any kind is getting hard for me to swallow.
      Thanks so much for the writing you do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a story, Virginia. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m glad you trusted yourself and did what you needed for yourself as a mother and for your daughters despite the theology and the doctor’s reaction. Your experience is why the Catholic church’s anti-contraception stance has been devastating to the Vatican’s moral authority and to church membership. The whole “let go and let God manage your childbearing” thing was meant to increase membership. It is the competitive breeding part of Christianity’s broader competitive strategy. But it’s so morally bankrupt and transparently sexist that wherever people are empowered and educated it is having the opposite effect.

        Like

  2. Catherine Raphael says:

    Thanks, Valerie. This is terrific. I’ve Facebooked it and shared it with friends. Cathy

    >

    Like

  3. Don says:

    Many (50+) years ago my wife and I visited our parish priest (Roman Catholic) when we learned it would life threatening for her to carry on with her pregnancy. We asked permission to terminate. I explained that we had 3 other children and that they all could be left without a mother. He said he couldn’t, and the church wouldn’t, give permission for the termination. So, I looked him square in the face and said “f___k you father.” He looked at me and asked “What did you say?” I repeated it and stood up and waited for him to make a move. He didn’t move. We then left him and ultimately left the Catholic Church. My wonderful wife passed away last year (2015), after 56 plus years of marriage, at the age of 75!!

    Liked by 7 people

    • koppieop says:

      Don: admirable courage! Why aren’t there many more parents realistic enough to leave the RC church before feeling the irrepressible urge to take such an extreme measure? Fear of hell? I wonder…
      p.d. I like your courtesy to call the priest “father” – for the last time!

      Like

    • madagascanlemur says:

      BLAME THE VICTIM – mais toujours! Every intimate travesty that happens to a woman is her own damned fault. Ask discredited Boston Cardinal Bernard Law. Oh, wait. We can’t because he’s hiding in the Vatican from charges of being an accomplice to kiddie-diddling.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Gunther says:

      Don, you should have also told the priest that may he rot in hell and see what kind of reaction that would have been on the priest’s face.

      Maybe we should seize all the Christian-run hospitals and turn them into community hospitals so people are not denied any kind of service due to the various religious dogma teachings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • madagascanlemur says:

        I absolutely agree. And while we’re at it, we should petition the IRS to pull their tax exempt status so that they pay their fair share for the people they discriminate against and marginalize. BTW, I’m a life long Catholic, but no religion should be allowed to dictate these things, especially one dominated by old thick-headed – maybe celibate men.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lorie Lucky says:

    Shame on those horrible people who felt they needed to express their terrible opinions of that young woman. Those are probably the same people standing at the Donald Trump rallies! Screw them!
    And thank you, Valerie, for bringing this story to us.
    It says in your piece that the Sisters of the Poor run a chain of nursing homes. I would assume that no one “incarcerated’ in those nursing homes would be allowed death with dignity (assisted suicide) because that would be against “God’s will”. Yuck! Terrible people!
    And here we thought only the priests were the wrong-doers – the Little Sisters of the Poor are proof that some Sisters are preying on society as well.
    Oh, please, Goddess of us atheists, make Catholics and Mormons and fundamentalists of all stripes go away!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. no one says:

    I’m curious, were there any commenters who did not just “pounce” on her? Assuming there were any, by only highlighting the negative comments, you seem to be doing the same thing that those commenters did.

    Like

    • Yes, there were many commenters who didn’t pounce on her–most of whom weren’t catholic, and a small percent who were. Not sure I get the parallel, though.

      Like

      • Jamie says:

        The parallel is that you are saying, just as they are, “Let’s point accusing fingers at people on the internet.”

        Like

    • “doing the same thing?” I don’t think so. None of us have problems with decent acting (religious) people from anywhere in the world. There are also some great verses in the Bible like “love your enemies” but these aren’t really the problem.

      Like

  6. allanmerry says:

    Late to this chain, so I’ll add mainly on debate immediately above. I believe that “no one” and “Jamie) are in fact missing this particular Point. (Setting aside others in Valerie’s original post.) Am I to fault Valerie for omitting that not all Respondents were equally abusive to the Woman? Some Catholics maybe even supportive? This Point is that doctrinaire folks, especially the Many who are either unaware of or in denial of any possible shortcomings in their chosen Faith, are more likely to be abusive of “Deviants” from the Faith, along with others generally. I think that’s probably “true.” Do we Others, including we “non-believers” of myriad kinds, do the same thing? Naturally. (Chosen term.) Why & how do we all improve upon that on it? I think it depends heavily upon self examination; aka self knowledge. And then, “real time” self awareness. And I think we all- ALL- need to work on that, consciously and expressly. (Me for sure. Think before speaking; or writing. :-) OK, more maybe “off point.” “Religion.” I wonder, do I have one? What is defines one? Is it more than simply the Basic values and practices necessary for our peaceful and equitable human survival in our global diversity? Honesty, kindness, sympathy and empathy, tolerance, mutual care, etc., etc. All which I share? (And many of which I do find somewhere in the main “Religions,” as we think of them. However obscure, contradicted, confused, lost and overwhelmed they may be there, by other content)? Maybe My Religion is one of a few kind of selected “folders” of belief about one or a “group” of issues. In that case, one of Mine is “Separation of Church and State.” Summed up as “Beyond the prevailing set of shared, compromised and accepted “standards” of conduct in Our Diverse (in this case- National) Community; believe what you choose, but none of your Religious beliefs beyond the foregoing may be enacted into Law or Rule.” Any real Debate on that?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. metalnun says:

    One comment said, “If her faith in God is solid, then he will take care of the financial ‘burden’ that comes with having kids.” If only that were true! But, clearly it is not. Of course, they will then respond, “It’s due to her lack of faith!” how convenient. blame the victim.

    Liked by 2 people

    • madagascanlemur says:

      BLAME THE VICTIM – mais toujours! Every intimate travesty that happens to a woman is her own damned fault. Ask discredited Boston Cardinal Bernard Law. Oh, wait. We can’t because he’s hiding in the Vatican from charges of being an accomplice to kiddie-diddling.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gunther says:

      Or they will say that she did not pray to the Lord enough; however, as George Carlin pointed out what good is prayer if it is interfering with God’s divine will?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Martha Carey says:

    After my father died and in her later years, my mother was a 20 yr. long resident of the Little Sister’s of the Poor. With frequent weekly visits and outings over these many years, I got to know ‘the inside workings and mindset’ of this religious order very well.

    Due to space constraints here, the following are my first-hand summarized experiences: Back in the 1980’s, 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, the economic conditions for the LSOTP houses was solvent, if not flourishing. With the radical economic downturn in the past dozen or more years, most of the houses are barely surviving or are underwater, or have closed.

    So, the ‘mental health’ barometer and homes of LSOTP can only remain open when being assured of locally given begging contributions and larger pledged sponsored gifts. These have dried up as have economic resources and other generosity gifts. More houses are closing and there are a paltry few vocations to staff them, contrary to what else you might hear from the self- righteous wishful thinkers within the fundamentalist’s RC ranks.

    With this said, I observed and experienced a direct correlation between the financial health or lack of health in the houses, and the now desperate STRIDENT CONDEMNING TONE and socially uncharitable attitude toward their own delusional, self-righteous and hostile position regarding women’s reproductive rights. As religious women, these are the least capable of questioning, learning, understanding and supporting non-religious women, employees or staff with pregnancy concerns. As a religious order, from my experience, these women are terrified, completely cut off and in denial of anything sexual, with themselves or anyone else, and these natural processes.

    All of these oppressed, suppressed, depressed natural human energies are then overly compensated into controlling the EXTERIOR facets and details of the homes: fanatical obsession with order, organization, cleanliness, rules, regulations, routines, an arch-conservative, archaically medieval ‘group-speak’ that permeated the environment. Everything operated around the non-personal collective and no public recognition given to the individual, the creative lone-thinker, those who were not in lock-step, these, being no less a creational gift of God.

    This very fixed, frightened and radically righteous (and uncharitable) attitude has forced its way into the national public debate on reproductive rights. Maybe there is a collective unconscious perception that, as a 250 yr. old religious order, the LSOTP is dying and there are none to replace them. Maybe this is their last public opportunity-grab to attract new attention, and new members. All religious fundamentalism cloaks itself in these primal fears, while hiding behind their self-sanctioned tokens like the Vatican, the Bible, the Gospels, or natural family planning.

    Regarding my mother’s care and overall well-being at the LSOTP, as said above, when the economic times were good, all the residents benefitted and felt the perks and living in these places was good. But that is long-gone. You will always be able to eat off the floors in these homes, but keep your free-thinking thoughts to yourself regarding conversations on ANY birth-control, necessary emergency abortions, committed homosexual unions, anything that smacks of self-determination. In fact, don’t discuss anything too personal, relational or real at all. The word “choice” is the most disturbing for them, which is the etymological root-meaning of the word, “heresy.” Hmmm.

    They also became very restrictive and surveillance-obsessed with welcoming healthy, clean 4 legged creatures and pets into the main home (THEIR convent), and less so in the individual apartments, where my mother lived for 16 of her 20 years there. I began experiencing this attitude as outrageous, punitive and ANTI-LIFE. Hmmm.

    In closing, I still see the faces and presences of those Little Sisters who were truly open, caring, listening and respectful of the unique differences of each of their residents, like my mother. My mother’s response was to detach and disassociate herself from the pervasive ridiculousness, which promoted self-isolation more than community. For the sisters who were real and not self-righteous, they made all the difference in our mother’s everyday well-being and, as a family, we are most grateful for them.

    Like

  9. Nelson Petrie says:

    The issue here is that Catholics are terribly afraid of their Church.They are afraid they’ll go to hell if they don’t follow what the Church has taught them(or more precisely, brainwashed them) into believing. Catholics need to have the courage to take a strong stand against such irresponsible teachings. Does the Church actually help the poor? Look at Latin America, the Philippines and other Catholic nations. People in these nations are still knee-deep in grinding poverty. Do they have the courage NOT to listen to their priests and the courage to limit their families as according to their income? Instead, there is extreme poverty, ill-health due to lack of proper nutrition, illiteracy, ignorance and above all the fear of the Church which threatens them constantly of the consequences of being sent to hell by God. If people are to survive in this religion-infested world, get out of the Church. Enjoy the freedom and listen to what your heart and mind have to say. The Church is not going to save you or help you in any way when you are in need. The Church is nothing more than a big business corporation with the Pope as the President!.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gunther says:

      Yeah, where was the Catholic Church when those four Catholic nuns were raped and killed in El Salvador or when Archbishop Romero was killed in El Salvador or hundreds of priests murdered in Mexico by drug cartels? You have Christians evangelists trying to whitewashed the Bible of any words that smacks of compassion, progressive, socialism, care for the sick and poor people, etc. John Oliver of the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver had a segment about mega-churches and how easy it was to create one following IRS guidelines.

      Like

  10. Kathleen says:

    I was appalled at the comment claiming that NFP is nearly as effective as birth control. First off, she’s telling that to a pregnant woman who was USING NFP and second, if it is so effective, than it’s not very “open to life” then right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • madagascanlemur says:

      Do you know the proper terms for heterosexually intimate couples who rely on NFP?

      1) Lucky and/or
      2) Parents

      My points: NFP isn’t reliable AT ALL. “Celibate” priests and nuns should have no right to make RELIGIOUS decisions regarding women’s reproductive health care. They will NEVER face these critical circumstances themselves.

      Like

      • Lorie Lucky says:

        This is to Julie: I am shocked by your point of view. Since when do you believe that all women having sex are doing it for pleasure, not procreation? And who has time for contraception, much less NPF or whatever you call it when (1) they are 15 and they stop by a friend’s home after school and one of the boys slips a date rape drug in their glass of Coca-Cola? or (2) they are sexually assaulted, either by through domestic violence or by a rapist, or by being forced into being a sex worker or are sex trafficked? Think this doesn’t exist in the U.S.? Go to the NY Times website and using NYT search engine, put in “sex trafficking”. The date rape drugs are so ubiquitous in the United States that they have arrived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where the ice truckers drive to drop off supplies in the winter. Most women are now advised to have someone watch their drinks (including water and soda pop) whenever they need to leave the table or bar they are sitting at, to have a dance or use the restroom or whatever, to make sure they are never drugged.
        Telling someone to use your idea of enlightened “rhythm method” is really very, very unethical. The idea of places like Planned Parenthood is that every child should be planned for and every child should, ideally, be a wanted child. Too often the children who are the super unwanted children are the people who end up behind bars in our huge incarceration system because of abusive parents (not that unplanned pregnancies can’t definitely have happy endings…but many certainly do not). No woman should plan a pregnancy without spacing of less than 20-24 months between pregnancies because of the wear and tear on her body, including the loss of calcium. Not to mention the wear and tear on the psyche of the new exhausted working parents, having two children under 3 at the same time (unless, of course, they are wealthy people with nannies.)
        The United States is not a happy place these days for many people. In case you hadn’t noticed, over 700,000 people have lost their jobs since 1995. Many people lost their homes permanently during the Great Recession. Economic inequality is at an all-time high, and for the first time the middle class is less than 50% of the total population. While things may look good in certain towns and cities, things are really NOT good. People are struggling in many places, in spite of two job households and sometimes one spouse is working 2 jobs. Talk about your head in the sand like an ostrich, please travel….see the United States, particularly the slums of the Rust Belt – Detroit, Flint, Indianapolis (which just lost Carrier company to Mexico), New York, Washington DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and small towns in between. You know not whereof you speak. Not at all. As I said above, it is very uncaring and unethical to speak without knowing your sisters’ problems, so to speak, without walking a mile in all of your sisters’ shoes and knowing what hard and grueling lives some of them are leading in this supposed land of plenty. How about the women living under the freeways in our cities after escaping from a violent partner or losing the last job that paid the rent? Should they consider bringing a child into their world?
        You are poorly educated, uncaring, and not aware what the world outside your very small one is like.
        And what about our migrant laborers, both legal and illegal, the people who pick the foods that reach our tables? Latino women have been raped in the fields so much, have had so much forced sex that they call some fields the “green motels”. Again this is an over-simplification, and is not meant to portray every farm like this, but there are corporate farms and orchards of Big Ag that are exactly like this. Get your head out of the sand.

        Like

      • madagascanlemur says:

        This is to Lorie Lucky: I agree with you more than 100% in your reply to JulieC which is time stamped at approximately 10:00 p.m. March 25. I have been both a clinical social worker and a rape counselor since 1985. From 1980 to 1995 I participated in operating a domestic violence shelter for women and children. Some of the shelter staff would spend evenings distributing sandwiches, doughnuts, and coffee to the local prostitutes, who were all victims of sex-based violence. We need to guarantee access to contraception for every woman who wants it, and especially on an emergency basis to women and girls who are deprived of the right to consent. JulieC does seem to have her head in the sand [though I would have written it more earthy]. Perhaps she should watch the documentary film “The Hunting Ground” and listen very carefully to the end theme, “Til It Happens To You.”

        Like

      • Lorie Lucky says:

        Thank you, Madagascanlemur! I didn’t know what words were appropriate on this response page so I answered very carefully – and I am a huge supporter of Valerie Tarico, who lives in my city and actually in my neighborhood! Julie could only be described as some kind of religious troll, who is somehow finding these blogs by keywords or something.
        Thank you for your work with poor and disadvantaged women. It is people like you who make the world a better place, for sure. All the Catholic Church does is educate men who sometimes go on to vocations that include pedophilia, turn women into Little Sisters of the Poor, and the most conservative priests have appeared at anti-choice marches and rallies. This is very anti-Christian (although I am not religious). If your church, as someone else put it, lives in the 15th century (and I include Islamic believers here; fundamental Christians, fundamental Jewish people, and the radical right of any religions organization) you are being led down a very strange path.
        Whatever the Catholic church does in terms of feeding, clothing, and housing the poor, in instructing in Catholic schools and colleges, it then turns sour by its actions at the highest levels.
        Consider the 2009 Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) passed by the U.S. Bishops Conference. The ERDs are in place to regulate what goes on in your local Catholic-based hospital, and there is one two blocks from my house – Swedish/Providence Health Care. These hospitals no longer follow state law. They are not supposed to perform abortions, any form of sterilizations, etc. etc. I suggest you find http://www.catholicwatch.org or http://www.mergerwatch.org on a national level.

        Like

  11. koppieop says:

    …extreme poverty, ill-health due to lack of proper nutrition, illiteracy, ignorance and above all the fear of the Church which threatens them constantly of the consequences of being sent to hell by God.
    This nicely described vicious circle prevents those people to get out of the Church. Much of the misery starts, and remains, between them because of the teachings when thy were kids. Instead of brainwashing, I like to call that episode brainforming. I was fortunate enough to get out of the tunnel of organized religion when I was 17 (67 years ago),and I will never understand why it turns out to be so difficult to distinguish between fairy tails and facts.

    Like

  12. lori says:

    Absolutely concur. Beautifully written.

    Like

  13. Paul Douglas says:

    Thanks Valerie! Once again, succinct, humble and right on.

    Like

  14. JulieC says:

    Yo, I noticed my comment on Sonia’s WP article didn’t get quoted here because it wasn’t mean (just skeptical). So I’m hoping that means I can comment again? Just 2 things:

    1. NFP’s 1 in 4 failure rate, as mentioned above, is often cited by sources that lump various natural methods into a single statistic. In this case, 4 natural methods (Standard Days Method, TwoDay Method, Ovulation Method, and Sympto-Thermal method) were all lumped together. Notice that the Sympto-Thermal failure rate listed is only 0.4%. This is the method I teach & advocate that women learn. (From what I’ve seen, Standard Days and TwoDay method are suspiciously similar to Rhythm. Stay away from that business.)

    2. I’d like to reciprocate sharing your blog by sharing my own: http://www.sacrilegeyousay.com. As a psychologist, you may find it… interesting. ;)

    Like

    • Hey, Julie –
      The medical textbook, Contraceptive Technology (which is now in its 20th edition and is considered the gold standard), says that the symptom-thermal method has 80-87% effectiveness in real world use and 98% with perfect use–a measure that is interesting but close to irrelevant since what most people care about is not the lab but the real world.

      I don’t know how to put this kindly, but I suspect that if you weren’t invested in NFP for theological reasons, your research and assessment of contraceptive efficacies would be different.

      This also applies to the dancing squirrel analogy at your website, the one with the cartoon about what Catholic theologians call natural law. Setting aside the story line, the most effective contraceptive available for women has a 1 in 2000 annual failure rate, not a 1 in 100 annual failure rate. Contrast that to (at best) 13 in 100 with periodic abstinence based methods. Since each woman has an abortion mill in her body–most embryos either fail to implant or self-abort before reaching maturity (for good reasons)–the sympto-thermal method would mean that 60 squirrels would reach the surface and die for every one if a woman has an implant.

      Theology is not rational. I wish you simply felt free to say, “I have this a-priori faith based commitment to a set of propositions derived from textual and ecclesiastical authority” because witnessing you (and others) try to justify this on rational or empirical grounds is a little painful. :(

      Liked by 2 people

      • JulieC says:

        That’s ok, I’m used to people describing my interactions with them as “painful.” Even my husband said that when he first met me. But then I brainwashed him. :)

        Natural law isn’t strictly a theological concept, although we generally hear it within theological circles. I actually don’t consider it to be theological. It’s like… I have a houseplant, but instead of watering it with H2O, I feed it gasoline. The plant will not survive. This is natural law.

        When we manipulate or coerce certain natural processes into something they aren’t, unfortunate things happen. This has nothing to do with theology (even though plenty of theological implications could result from studying these concepts).

        What it really comes down to is this: we want to define the primary purpose of sex as being for pleasure. We assign fertility as its secondary purpose. We then get frustrated when natural law says, “sorry, it doesn’t work that way.” Which is why we get really frustrated by anything that offers us less than a 1 in 2000 “failure” rate.

        We could swap medical research statistics all day. I could call into question the legitimacy of yours, you’d do the same with mine. We’d run in circles and get nowhere. But underneath it all lies a deeper issue: redefining sex. Our culture has become terrified of children as the natural result of sex. We’re generally unwilling to engage in less sex, stop spending money on frivolities instead of kids, or learn effective natural methods.

        Admittedly, many of my online NFP students don’t always grasp everything they should. I can see where that 80-87% effectiveness rate might come into play in some circles. Sometimes I’m sent charts to review that are, at best, 30% filled in and I’m like WTF.
        Maybe some students need more one-on-one time. Maybe they need Ritalin. I don’t know. That’s not the point.

        The point is, until we accept that sex is what it is, nothing more, nothing less, we’ll always be frustrated. Even with the 1 in 2000 options. God’s got nothing to do with it. Just like I’d be frustrated if I put bicycle tires on my car and got really aggravated when the axles broke.

        I’ll stop the ridiculous analogies now. Thanks for letting me post on here!

        Like

  15. Kathleen says:

    Julie C –
    I would disagree with the statement that “our culture has become terrified of children as a natural result of sex.” There has NEVER been a time when people have not wanted to control their fertility – especially given the incredible dangers to women that multiple childbirths brought each time. Society has changed – we no longer need an incredibly large family to work the farm or to ensure that the family doesn’t die out, since we no longer have the high child mortality rate. And – What frivolities do you suppose I should give up to be able to afford more than 2 (possibly 3) children – their college funds? Food? Housing? Retirement? Education for our children – good preschools, a good neighborhood with good schools, funds for field trips and such? Time spend WITH our children, focusing on them instead of stressing about money. And what is so frivolous about things we WANT to give children – like a safer neighborhood, travel experiences, educational experiences: music classes, etc. I would argue that our perception of parenthood has changed – we WANT to be better parents, to spend quality time with our kids, giving them our attention. Having more children means we lose time with them – older children miss out because our attention must be diverted to younger children. It means we must make sacrifices to a degree that might not be healthy for relationships with our spouses, our families, our children, our friends, and even ourselves. None of that has anything to do with being terrified of having children. Somehow, couples still want children, even with highly effective birth control available.

    Liked by 2 people

    • JulieC says:

      Whoa! Frivolities everywhere!! College! Housing! Food! ALL SO unnecessary!

      Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. We could pick away at all the things people waste money on (Netflix, cell phone plans, houses far larger than we need, cable TV, new automobiles every 5 years, Starbucks every morning, eating out several times a week). Or we could examine our desire to redefine sex, which was my primary point. :D

      Like

      • Kathleen says:

        We have always attempted to, as you put it, “redefine sex.” I take that to mean redefining it so that women especially, and couples in general, have to decide between periodic abstinence, something that can be harmful to many (although not all) couples – I’m talking emotionally and psychologically here, since as even the Catholics admit, sex is more than just for procreation: it is for fun, for relaxation, for connecting. – and a birth control method that is simpler and far more effective that doesn’t require couples to sacrifice their sex lives. I have no idea why, exactly, it is NOT selfish to bring too many children into the world when you can’t ensure that you can feed them, much less let them watch Netflix or have their own rooms but it IS selfish to ensure that the children you DO have are fed, housed and given opportunities they both need and want (and parents can handle mentally – not everyone can actually handle a large family). In your statement above you very clearly argued that people are NOT having children for frivolous reasons (and perhaps some of them are, although I would argue that quality of life is far more important to most people than to the Catholic church and its die hard members, who care more about quantity) and that people are therefore ‘terrified’ of procreative sex. In fact you ignored my comments about WHY people are choosing quality over quantity and dismissed concerns about even the basics.

        Like

      • JulieC says:

        Kathleen, I realize I erred when intending to speak for all couples as being “terrified” of children. No one can speak for all couples, whether it’s judging their well-placed or misplaced intentions. But it is interesting you are concerned with quality, not quantity, of children / childcare, but less concerned with quality of marital sex (more concerned with quantity).

        I invite you to delve more deeply into TOB, not just Google it. I’ve personally known ex-Catholics who listen to some of Christopher West’s talks and say, “Holy sh*t. Because of this, I actually went attended Mass for the first time in years.” Not saying that will happen for everyone, but it’s a pretty good indication that TOB’s got something most Christians / Catholics haven’t heard before.

        Like

    • madagascanlemur says:

      At least YOU have an appropriate grasp of parenting relationships – with the joys and tribulations – in the 21st century. On the issues of family planning and reproductive rights, the RC church (to which I belong) is stuck in the Dark Ages, had a Pope (Paul VI) in 1968 with his head stuffed too far up his own ass, and/or believes in its own repertoire of Iron Age myths. [Pick whatever you want]

      Like

      • JulieC says:

        Wait, here’s a question I should have asked earlier:
        Theology of the Body… I know, it’s got the word THEOLOGY in it, but is anyone here familiar with it?

        Like

  16. koppieop says:

    ….Society has changed – we no longer need an incredibly large family to work the farm or to ensure that the family doesn’t die out, since we no longer have the high child mortality rate…. –
    Well said! What a shame that there are a lot of practising RC families [who attend mass at least once a week and confess frequently) refuse to accept these changes. Many of them who would, for example, be delighted to see church rituales performed like they were two thousand years ago, consider that families having few children show a lack of love, and that the Lord should do something about it.
    Since about a month ago, four families I know are fervently praying that one of their members, a boy (19) give up his intimate friendship with a boyfriend. Will his relatives finally learn to accept that change? I wonder. In fact, I think they’ll have to, or else not see him again. Sad but true.-
    .

    Like

  17. madagascanlemur says:

    Yes, and it is intended to be both a theological statement and a catechism on human sexuality within the boundaries of one-man-one-woman CHRISTIAN marriage. Pope John Paul II was very conservative and changed nothing from the encyclical De Humane Vitae by Paul VI. You can find it using your search engine and on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (usccb.org).

    Like

    • JulieC says:

      JP2 also said (and I’m paraphrasing) that it’s an act of virtue for a man to try to coincide his orgasm with his wife’s. So he may not have changed any dogmatic teachings, but he sure said some non-prudish things. :)

      Like

      • Kathleen says:

        Well, that was generous of him. Considering he never had to deal with a pregnancy, with all its attendant physical changes and dangers, or childbirth with all ITS dangers and unpleasantries and pain. Nor did he have to then RAISE the children he encouraged others to have.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. JulieC says:

    Some last thoughts:
    1. Valerie, thanks for mentioning that one of my comments was posted at 10:00 pm last night! I don’t usually hover around comment threads at 10 on Friday nights, but when I do, it’s for a self-imposed Good Friday penance.

    2. Lorie, assuming that I would hold different beliefs after living in certain cities is fanciful at best. For the record, I’ve lived in 3 different states, including one of the poorest counties in all of New York state. I suppose holding on to my ideologies despite this only makes me appear even more unethical. (Sorry!)

    3. Also, a religious troll? I found this blog because Valerie shared her blog on the WP comment thread I’d already commented on. There were no sneaky keyword searches involved. Promise.

    And uneducated?
    Do you know what a normal cervical mucus pattern looks like?
    How LH, FSH, estrogen & progesterone levels interact throughout a woman’s cycle? What effect do they have on her waking temperature?
    What’s a luteal phase, and how can a woman know what her typical one is?
    What does a progesterone deficiency look like on an NFP chart?

    (If you can answer all those without Googling anything, I tip my hat to you!)

    Modern NFP is not Rhythm. It provides detailed, daily insight into the precise workings of a woman’s body. It is fascinating and anything but uneducated.

    4. But wait, there’s more! And it’s good news (I hope). Surprisingly, I am aware that there is unemployment, rape, homelessness, and much unpleasantness in the world. Contraceptives & abortion are, essentially, bandages to manage these issues. I like bandages – they’re good for scraped knees and the paper cuts I can never seem to avoid. But some problems need more than bandages (like, say, cancer). Putting a bandage on a skin cancer sore won’t cure the underlying disease.

    And that’s where Theology of the Body comes in. TOB aims to cure the disease, not just bandage it. Sure, it’ll take time to filter through our culture. It won’t happen overnight. But women – and men – deserve better than bandages. That’s what motivates me to spread NFP and the ideology behind it.
    Happy Easter!

    Like

    • Hi Julie –
      In contrast to many of the believers who commented on Sonia’s story you have remained gracious and good spirited, even when under attack. That is impressive, and if your attempt is to show that not all true believers are assholes or ignorant, your spirit is a good reminder of that.

      That said, from where I sit as a former devout Christian, your comments make you look good and Christianity look bad, and I don’t mean to suggest you are doing that on purpose.

      As I read your comments, what I find myself thinking is this: Wow, this person is good spirited, resilient, and smart–and yet still way deep inside a reality distortion field. All of those appealing qualities have been diverted into rabbit-hole reasoning in the service of authoritarian structures and theological goo like natural law (which the church applies only as a one-way ratchet serving the self-propagation of Catholic empire, and doesn’t apply when it doesn’t serve this purpose). And, wow. The defense of church teachings is such a high order bit that this person–who probably values her integrity–is even willing to deceive herself about knowable, empirical facts. (No, we don’t each have our own statistics that are equally valid; the scientific method includes mechanisms for creating a hierarchy of data quality). And wow. This person, who probably cares a good deal about not doing harm, is promoting ideas that have caused and are causing immeasurable harm in our world, in particular the idea that we should not apply humanity’s strongest intellectual and technological capabilities to solving one of our most morally compelling challenges–the challenge of ill-conceived, ill-timed, and excessive fertility–which contributes to developmental and health issues in childhood, maternal and child suffering and death, poverty, mental illness, marital conflict and dissolution, mass extinction, climate change, war, and the risk of collapse. To outsiders it seems obvious that the Catholic Church is deeply, deeply culpable in each of these, which is why someone like Lori reacts to you from a position of moral indignation.

      So when a seemingly warm smart person like you engages from an apologist vantage in an audience of mostly former Christians what you may inadvertently do is create a living example of how religion can corrupt the thinking and moral priorities of even genuinely decent people. It is a reminder to many of us why we left, and it reminds us of other kind, decent people who are still on the inside. That is what I find painful.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Gunther says:

    Lorie Lucky. I agreed regarding the economic status of what is happening in the USA and I might add that about 1 in 5 American kids go to bed every night because their families are struggling to put food on the table plus hearing the same garbage from the wealthy people and business people why we can’t have affordable/free education, free medical care, and increase in the minimum wage, and that they are being taxed to death in the USA (when they are not).

    Like

    • Lorie Lucky says:

      Thank you for your comments, Gunther. I saw your comment about making Christian hospitals “community hospitals”, too.

      Christian, and particularly Catholic, hospitals, are a new looming threat in the U.S. – particularly to anyone who is a woman, senior, or LGBTQ. The 2009 Bishops’ Conference wrote the ERDs (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care). Catholic-affiliated hospitals, of which there are more and more with industry consolidation, will not perform legal procedures such as: any sterilization procedure, regardless of need; no abortions; anything related to women’s limits on their reproductive parts of sexuality; but also, no IVF fertilizations, because that’s no “God’s way”; no transition treatments & procedures for transsexual individuals; and ignoring any adult’s legal directive to allow them “death with dignity” or “assisted suicide”, which is legal in my state. God’s (read Catholics’) way includes “suffering” or some such crap, and therefore if you are in great pain before death you must proceed forward with the self determination of assisted suicide.
      For more information you can see http://www.catholicwatch.org or http://www.mergerwatch.org, websites which are trying to assist both patients and employees who are caught up in these miasmas. Hospitals in our state that run as non-profits are also exempt from our non-discrimination employment laws, which means you can be booted out without legal recourse if your termination is in relation to the violation of your (usual) civil rights. For more on this you can locate some information at https://aclu-wa.org/ .
      Thank you again for contributing your thoughts.

      Like

      • Gunther says:

        Lorie Lucky
        I have read about the Catholic church in the State of Washington on Catholic Watch and Alternet about how they are gobbling up all the hospitals in that state. They have forgotten all about the teachings of Christ and like the right wing evangelists have concentrated only on making money while imposing their beliefs on everyone. In addition, they don’t care about giving men access to medical care as well and thank you for the information about non-profit hospitals being exempt from non-discrimination laws. We should turn the non-profit hospitals into community hospitals if they are going to act that way when it comes to dealing with people. Of course, from what I hear these days, some non-profit hospitals have become for-profit hospitals even though their organization is still legally listed as being non-profit. That is what I have heard.

        Like

      • Lorie Lucky says:

        So very true, Gunther. These non-profits DO make money, and because they have no shareholders they are beholden to, they jack up the CEO’s salary, suggest giving 1 percent raises to their hard-working nurses, and use the extra money to plan for more expansions and more clinics (just not in poor areas of the city or county). I’m lookin’ at you, Swedish-Providence Health Services in Washington State, along with Franciscan Care. Poor patients are more likely to be on the lesser-paying Medicaid programs; fewer have health insurance; and more who do have high deductibles and may be slow to pay. So “medical deserts” have been created, just like “food deserts” in economically struggling areas.
        Aaaah, yes, religious medicine – always so good for you, particularly if you are a man with money. But…..not so good for anyone else, and including a loving man who wants his wife to have the lifesaving tubal ligation she needs in order to avoid having any more ectopic pregnancies which threaten her life and leave her psychologically and physically depleted. Just as one example.

        Liked by 1 person

      • madagascanlemur says:

        Lorie – you’ve obviously spent a good deal of intellectual and emotional energy thinking about the negative impact of Christian [read Catholic]-dominated “health care” on dependent and socially-marginalized people, most of whom the “mission statements” of said health care systems boast are the focus of their attention. I live on the other side of the Cascades from you. In the 11+ years that I’ve lived in the state, I’ve never seen anything less charitable than the largest Catholic health care corporation in the state. I won’t name it, but surely anyone interested can find it from the information here. Personally, I’m not sure it’s still a nonprofit corporation. It’s like a black hole greedily swallowing smaller providers that never come out the other end. It’s stopped providing Medicaid services in many cases, especially in nursing homes. I’m shocked that I was allowed a hysterectomy in one of the two hospitals in my city in 2006. But that was before the bishops published the ERD (having decided to punish you and me for being women), and I did have uterine cancer and a fierce little non-Christian surgeon with a gut full of chutzpah. So, I readily agree with you that all this is bullshit. The question is – what do we do about it? Afterthought: “the Catholic way of death includes suffering.” It doesn’t have to. We’re allowed sufficient pain relief medicine to ease the terminal phase of an illness – if the doctor isn’t too much of a chicken shit to order it. That idea comes from a New Testament letter attributed to Saul/Paul of Tarsus advising believers to accept their sufferings and “fill in what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.” As I said, the letter is attributed and may have nothing to do with the early days of Christianity at all.

        Like

      • Lorie Lucky says:

        I feel like I need to know you, Gunther! I grew up in eastern Washington, graduated from WSU, and then migrated west to find something for a woman to work at (1967). I am a reproductive rights activist among other things. Seeing someone in print with your opinions from eastern Washington, someone who knows what is happening, is marvelous! Thank you for being out there among the conservatives….If you wish to be an email friend we can perhaps set this up through Valerie somehow. I wish you all the best with your magnificent intellect, wherever you are over there on the east side.

        Like

  20. Lara/Trace says:

    This blog is one of the BEST I have ever read. Thank you!

    Like

  21. Gunther says:

    Lori Lucky, I live in California in an area infested with conservatives. Let’s see if we can contact each other. I only learn about what is happening by reading it on the website Alternet; and I do get regular updates from Catholic Watch.

    Like

  22. Pingback: Trump’s Abortion Comment | Heather's Homilies

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