End funding for “All Options”

The rant by the Center Director of All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in the October 31 Indianapolis Star should be all the evidence we need for why the Bloomington City Council and the Monroe County Council need to stop forcing taxpayers to fund this organization.

First of all, adding the word “care” after the word “abortion” does not make it caring. The procedure still results in a dead baby, and intentionally so. There is nothing less caring than killing a helpless innocent.

Second, Shelly Dodson demonstrated no “duplicity” from abortion opponents. In fact, abortion opponents have been up front and direct about our desire to repeal ObamaCare and protect unborn babies from the abortionists that “All Options” happily pays to kill those babies.

Third, the broad brush attack on anti-abortion lawmakers and protesters is both false and uncalled for. Yes, you can point to hypocrites in any issue, but it is simply false to claim that “the same protesters and lawmakers” seek abortions themselves. This is an absurd leap of logic, and the editorial standards of a reputable newspaper should not allow such a broad brush attack to be printed.

Dodson did successfully demonstrate how radical and politically motivated “All Options” actually is, and why this pro-abortion activist organization should not get a single penny of public funds from local government in Bloomington and Monroe County. This is not a harmless organization that merely provides diapers. This is a radical group that pushes a political agenda.

If the Bloomington City Council and Monroe County Council continue to fund this organization (and Planned Parenthood) then the state legislature should step in and prohibit this corporate welfare.

Marvel Comics’ Civil War II was a waste of time

I have often been disappointed in Marvel’s mega-crossover event comics. While Civil War II was not as much of a letdown as Age of Ultron, it was not nearly as good as it could have been. The resolution was cheap and made the entire series a waste of time. The first Civil War a decade earlier changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe for years, while Civil War II was one big pointless circle.

The events of this non-event begin when we find out that there is an Inhuman with the ability to predict the future – usually correctly but sometimes not. Iron Man (Tony Stark) does not think the heroes of Earth should use this power, while Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) thinks it is a good idea. Both are right and both are wrong, and had they met in the middle the entire mess could have been avoided.

First: Iron Man is wrong that the heroes should not predict world-ending cataclysmic events. Iron Man was grumpy and emo over the fact that his best friend died trying to stop evil cosmic despot Thanos from getting a Cosmic Cube – a MacGuffin that contains energy so powerful that it can rewrite reality. Given that Thanos murdered half of the universe when he got a different all-powerful MacGuffin, it is obviously prudent to stop him. Stark blames Danvers for War Machine’s death, because she used the prophet to ambush Thanos.

This is stupid. Had Thanos gotten the Cosmic Cube, he would have done incredible damage in the blink of an eye. He probably would have obliterated planet Earth and the super-heroes who constantly get in his way and foil his plans. So if Danvers had not ambushed Thanos, War Machine would have been killed by Thanos anyway – along with six billion other people. So what is your plan, Stark? Let the future take its course and let the planet be annihilated? Gee, that plan really stinks.

Danvers, on the other hand, wants to use the prophet to not just predict the next time Galactus shows up to eat the planet, but to predict street-level crime. (Sort of like the movie Minority Report.) One problem is that the visions are merely mathematical probabilities. They are usually right, but not always. So the government may well be arresting and imprisoning innocent people, without due process, for crimes they never had any intent of committing and never would have committed. This is exactly what happens, and while Captain Marvel is fine with it, Iron Man is rightly horrified by this tyrannical regime.

The solution is obvious. Use the prophet to predict world-ending events, and only that. Otherwise, you do not act on it. But both Stark and Danvers are so unrealistically and obstinately devoted to their own world views that they cannot compromise even an inch. At no point does any other character in the series bring this up and point out the obvious middle ground solution. This was poor writing, and was merely a plot device to get to a big superhero vs. superhero fight.

Now, on to two big consequences of this story. War Machine is already temporarily dead. When the heroes show up to confront Bruce Banner to make sure he will not turn unto the Hulk, Hawkeye shoots him in the head with an arrow and murders him. This sets the heroes even more against each other, as Stark mourns a colleague and friend who has temporarily died.

Anyone who knows anything about comics knows the problem with Stark’s anger, and I telegraphed it in the previous paragraph. Hulk and War Machine are temporarily dead. In comics, death is a major annoyance, but it is not all that difficult to come back from it. In fact, when War Machine was killed, the heroes had possession of a reality-altering MacGuffin of nearly infinite power right there on the premises.

So you pick it up, heal his catastrophic injuries and he is as healthy as ever. While you’re at it, give him superpowers so he does not have to rely on the armor. This is a universe where the Punisher was killed by dismemberment, turned into a Frankenstein monster, and then fully restored. Yes, comics are weird.

The grief over the Hulk’s temporary death is even more nonsensical. The Hulk has a healing factor slightly below that of Wolverine. He can regenerate lost tissue and heal wounds almost instantly. Does anyone really believe that anything short of obliterating the Hulk down to the molecular level will kill him permanently? In comics, even that is not permanent, because you have the Cosmic Cube in your possession.

The end of the story seemed like an intentional insult to the audience. The prophet who has been seeing these probabilities of future events (who has not had a lot of agency in controlling his own life) gains immense cosmic power at the end and takes off to hang out with Eternity – Marvel’s physical manifestation of all reality. Now, the entire nine issue series has been completely meaningless because the prophet is cosmically spirited off somewhere, giving the heroes nothing to fight about. Meanwhile, War Machine is temporarily dead, the Hulk is temporarily dead, Iron Man is gravely injured and in a coma, and the She-Hulk has suffers terrible injuries. Thanks for wasting my time, Marvel.

One more thing: At the end, we see Captain Marvel overseeing the construction of a border wall to Make America Great Again. Oh, wait. No, it’s not a border wall, it is a planetary shield to keep aliens from arriving here without being detected. Make Earth Great Again! Hashtag MEGA. I am sure this was not at all meant to take a shot at President Donald Trump. Not! That was completely unnecessary, did not serve the story, and was there only to ridicule the President. This was a bad, poorly written story before this, but putting two middle fingers in the faces of Trump voters (of which I was not one) was ridiculous.

Final Grade: F

The IDS must remain independent

Nearly twenty years ago, after an act of anti-abortion violence, I read two articles on the subject: One from the New York Times and one from the Indiana Daily Student. The IDS article was written by an avowed feminist who had spent the previous semester as an intern with the Feminist Majority. One of the articles had an even number of quotes from abortion rights advocates and abortion opponents, and was much more balanced. The other article quoted heavily from abortion rights advocates, with scant mention from the anti-abortion side. Guess which one was more balanced: The Indiana Daily Student or the New York Times?

If you guessed the New York Times, you would be wrong. It was the Indiana Daily Student article – written by someone who had just completed an internship with the Feminist Majority – that was far more fair and balanced. I pointed this out in Hoosier Review at the time, and deserves repeating.

This is not something that was a one-time event. This has continued for as long as I have been reading the IDS. The Indiana Daily Student consistently offers superior coverage of local issues than the Bloomington Herald-Times, and they are often the first paper to cover a local story despite the Herald-Times’ superior resources. The IDS has long been considered one of the best student newspapers in the country, for good reason.

This is why I am very concerned about moves by the Indiana University administration that threaten the independence of the IDS. The IDS is not perfect, and has made mistakes. All news organizations do. But one thing that is clear about the IDS is that the staff is actually trying to do a good job. This is largely because students are building a portfolio and want to show they can do good work as journalists. If the IDS becomes less independent, some of their investigative series could be threatened. This is bad news for everyone.

I admit, I am biased. I have been reading the IDS for over twenty years, but I was also an opinion columnist for the student paper from 1996-1998. Because of that, the IDS will always be special to me. If not for the Indiana Daily Student, I would probably not be blogging today. I would not have done nearly as much writing over the last two decades as I have done. It was the IDS that awakened in me a love of writing that has continued for many years.

Yes, the IDS is having financial trouble. This is not surprising. Moves need to be made to keep the student newspaper solvent. This is why, while I am disappointed that the print edition has been cut from five days per week to two days per week during the academic year, I understand why this has to be done. Both the newspaper and the university need to be fiscally responsible. But through that, it is critical that Indiana University’s independent student voice remains independent. Alumni need to make it clear that they do not want the student newspaper’s independence to be compromised.

Trolling telemarketers

I got a call from “Windows tech support” a few months ago, telling me my system was compromised. (It wasn’t.)

So naturally I started trolling him, explaining why I need a W-9 to do business with them.

The criminal was undeterred, and continued his spiel.

(I use the word “criminal” intentionally. He was trying to scam me. I do not get calls from legitimate telemarketers because I am on the no-call list.)

I continued to ask for a W-9 while the criminal kept trying to scam me. Eventually I got bored with the joke and I straight up said, “You know I am trolling you, right? I am intentionally wasting your time.”

He said “I know.”

Yeah, sure you knew. Idiot.

NFL players have no legal “right” to “take a knee”

There is no “free speech” issue in the arguments about whether NFL players have the “right” to kneel during the national anthem. Employers have the right to set workplace rules if they so choose.

Right off the bat, before people start screeching hysterically that I am a “liar:” Yes I understand that the NFL has not (yet) forbidden kneeling during the anthem. If they do (and they should) the players must abide by workplace rules and have no “free speech” argument to do otherwise.

I actually saw one meme on Facebook where someone argued it was “illegal” for the NFL to force players to stand during the anthem because of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. This does not just apply to NFL players, but to everyone. Nobody can be forced to stand, so the meme goes. It is against the law!

This is laughable. According to this “logic,” parents are acting in violation of the law when they tell their children to stand during the anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. The SCOTUS decision applies to units of government, including public schools. It does not apply to private corporations or individuals.

Some people actually attempt to argue that NFL players are not on the clock when they are in uniform, on the field, before the game starts. Of course they are on the clock. NFL players also have mandatory practice and mandatory times when they have to talk to the news media. It is counterfactual and foolish to pretend that they are only “on the clock” during the actual game.

Every job has different duties, and often in different parts of the workplace. I bagged groceries in high school for the local supermarket. The “argument” that NFL players are on the clock only during the actual game is like saying I was “on the clock” when bagging groceries but not “on the clock” and when I was bringing in carts from the parking lot or doing a price check when something did not scan properly.

NFL players have no legal right to refuse to obey workplace rules. Yes, of course they can protest. But they do not have the legal right to protest during the game and not in uniform in the stadium. Do it on a street corner, schedule a speech or a rally, post on social media, buy an ad on TV, whatever. The issue is not free speech. The issue is following workplace rules.

Some have compared calls for the NFL to make players stand to “slavery” – that it means NFL teams “own” their players. That is not only absurd, it is incredibly racist.

To diminish the very real suffering of slaves by equating chattel slavery to the seven-figure contracts in the NFL is shamefully racist and hate-filled. It shows an extreme ignorance of history and absolutely no empathy for the victims of chattel slavery. It is shocking to see someone making that “argument” as if it is actually respectable. All of those who make that “argument” need to apologize for this racism.

There are respectable arguments for why it would be good policy for the NFL to allow players to “take a knee” during the national anthem. Certainly, issues of criminal justice do deserve a full and complete discussion. That position is undercut when people make absurd arguments or attempt to defame people who disagree.

Random thoughts of the day

♣ – A government with the authority to mandate that health insurance plans cover birth control also has the authority to prohibit birth control coverage. Is this really what we want?

♣ – President Trump’s behavior surrounding calling grieving families has been abominable. There’s a time to fight and a time to be above the fray. This is the time for the latter, and not everything needs to be about Trump’s huge ego. The proper response: “I am saddened that some are turning this into a political fight. I will continue to console grieving families.” Then you move on rather than making this into a urinating contest.

♣ – Declaring a “state of emergency” for Richard Spencer’s recent speech in Florida was an absurd overreaction. Extra security is reasonable. A state of emergency is pathetic wimp snowflake hysterical crybaby nonsense. Governor Scott needs to grow a spine.

♣ – Despite the authoritarian fantasies of certain columnists, a state university is not legally allowed to prohibit freedom of association.

♣ – It is impossible for someone in custody to “consent” to sex with police officers. The behavior of the New York City Police Department has been reprehensible, especially attacking the character of the rape victim. And yes, it was a rape. Will rape statistics in this Democrat-ruled city fall now, because rape victims are afraid of the police?

♣ – Regarding the actual call: Was President Trump insensitive on the phone? We do not know what he did or did not say. Unless there is a tape, we will never truly know. Even if the President said what was reported, the worst you can say is he was failing in the right direction. Sometimes people make mistakes when trying to be compassionate or comfort people. We have all done it. I do not judge him for that.

♣ – It is a terrible policy for Facebook to allow anyone to send a message to anyone else. If we can restrict who can view our profile to our “friends” list, we certainly should be able to restrict who can privately communicate with us to our “friends” list. While you can block specific people, you have to block each individual person you do not want to get messages from. You cannot choose to only accept direct messages from your “friends.” That would also protect someone from being harassed if a post goes viral in a bad way.

Reformation Day!

Today is marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to that famous church door. So began the Protestant Reformation. Thank God for the work done by Luther and the Reformers.

1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of penitence.

2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to penitence in one’s heart; for such penitence is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.

4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward penitence) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.

6. The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases, the guilt remains untouched.

7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making humbly submissive to the priest, His representative.

8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead.

9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case.

10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory.

11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep.

12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition.

13. Death puts an end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them.

14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair.

16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance.

17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.

18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace.

19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves.

20. Therefore the pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean “all” in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself.

21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the pope’s indulgences;

22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life.

23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few.

24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty.

25. The same power as the pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish.

26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them).

27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.

28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful).

30. No one is sure if the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness.

31. One who bona fide buys indulgence is a rare as a bona fide penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed.

32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.

34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental “satisfactions” decreed merely by man.

35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.

36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.

37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.

38. Yet the pope’s remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, for as already said, they proclaim the divine remission.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.

40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men’s consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties.

41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.

42. Christians should be taught that the pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy.

43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences.

44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties.

45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the pope’s pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God.

46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences.

47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.

48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.

49. Christians should be taught that the pope’s indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.

50. Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.

51. Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.

52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters if indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.

53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.

55. The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.

57. That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.

59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.

60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.

61. For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.

62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are the nets today which they use to fish for men of wealth.

67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favors, are seen to be, in fact, a favorite means for money-getting.

68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence;

70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.

71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences.

72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and licence of the pardon-merchant’s words.

73. In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.

74. It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.

75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.

76. We assert the contrary, and say that the pope’s pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.

77. When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.

78. We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28].

79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity;

82. They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter’s church, a very minor purpose.

83. Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed?

84. Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love’s sake, and just because of its need of redemption.

85. Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves–why are they, today, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative?

86. Again: since the pope’s income today is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?

87. Again: What does the pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect penitence, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation?

88. Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.

89. What the pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he not suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever?

90. These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy.

91. If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist.

92. Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “Peace, peace,” where in there is no peace.

93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “The cross, the cross,” where there is no cross.

94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells;

95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.


More on President Trump’s defense of religious freedom

The birth control mandate is very simple: Either you support forcing people to pay for something against their convictions, or you do not. If you believe that it is necessary to mandate birth control coverage from a policy standpoint, then say it. But this nonsense about how someone is “forcing his religion” on his employees by not covering birth control is dishonest.

This is actually the classic case of a bully who cries foul when someone stands up to him. Furthermore, it is utterly absurd (and bigoted, and ignorant, and closed-minded, and intellectually feeble) to argue that I “hate women” simply because I have a different opinion on that policy than you do. Grow up.

So, as expected, my letter to the editor praising President Trump’s executive action on the birth control mandate (which was itself created by executive action) got a number of comments. One comment was deleted, but deserves to be addressed anyway:

And yet you want our taxes to fund private, religious schools. Perhaps you should take your own advice.

This is a damnable lie. I have been 100% perfectly consistent for two decades in my opposition to vouchers for private schools. I am on record in the Herald-Times as opposing vouchers. I have expressed my opposition to vouchers hundreds of times online, including at least dozens of times in Herald-Times Online story comments. No one who knows anything about my position has any doubt about where I stand. This is a pure smear, designed to assassinate my character by fabricating “hypocrisy” where none exists. This is shameful and deserved to be deleted.

Let’s be real here: If it is an employer-provided health care plan that covers birth control, then the employer is the one providing it. There is no way to spin this. And yes, while insurance pools risk it is possible to pool risk while not forcing people to cover something that violates his/her religious beliefs. Birth control is not a risk, by the way, it is a lifestyle choice.

The claims that this is somehow nefarious are silly. Not covering birth control is not gender discrimination. No one is “forbidding” anyone from using birth control. No one is telling women not to do with their bodies by erasing the Obama birth control mandate. Obama forced his will and his political agenda on people against their religious beliefs. Trump reversed that.

The “insurance policy belongs to the employee, not the employer” meme is silly. Different employers offer coverage for different things in health care plans, and at different prices. That was the case before ObamaCare, and that is the case now. Let’s not pretend that every insurance policy should cover every single thing an employee wants, from birth control to plastic surgery. An insurance policy is not the same as a paycheck or even a medical savings account.

Finally: No, you are not pro-choice if you support forcing religious employers to cover birth control. You can claim it all you want, but you are not pro-choice. You are pro-coercion. It is just that simple.