The truth is that if you ask most Carholic women if they see a problem following their faith as a female, they would undoubtedly say no. Most of us do not feel oppressed by our Church. We do not see the beliefs of our religion as a design to keep ladies in the kitchen. We do not live life with an attitude of being less than men.
On the contrary, you will not find another sect of Christianity that honors women more. We have full prayers and practices devoted not to Jesus, but to his mother. We recognize that the first truly spotless soul was Mary's. We hold her in the highest regard, while most denominations may go weeks or months (maybe years?) without mentioning her name.
Oh, but that is just one woman...what about every woman? What about our rights? The truth is, we fully believe in a woman's right to plan out her family. We encourage women to be educated and in control of themselves and their fertility. We simply don't believe that requires any kind of pharmaceutical assistance. We believe that just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be done.
So, where does that leave me, in this post? While I hold true to my faith and stand strong in my beliefs, I still felt torn by the Hobby Lobby case. I understood why they would be against emergency contraception (a huge myth is that they were against all birth control, though that is not the case). Yet, I struggled with the idea of a government that allowed one person's religious beliefs (even beliefs I may agree with) to make decisions for someone else's life.
When I find myself in battles of conscious, I often end up on Facebook. That statement may make you laugh, but I can honestly say that I have been informed, enlightened, and convicted almost every day on social media. (If you don't feel the same, then maybe you aren't following the right people). As it turns out, this week was no exception. I read posts from Catholics, Protestants, Atheists, Buddhists, and many whose faith may not be defined by one simple title. I read comments and memes and jokes and prayers. Some caused me to laugh, some caused me to cry, many caused me to think...and finally now, they have helped me to write this post. I wanted to share a few with you, so you could see some of what I encountered.
This meme was posted on a Catholic group for mothers. It immediately struck me as offensive, even as a woman who does not use artificial birth control. Is it fair to assume that a woman who uses birth control is using it solely (if at all) to prevent pregnancy? Is it fair to assume that a woman who uses birth control is so premiscuous she cannot keep her clothes on? Is it fair to assume that a woman who uses birth control has less morals or dresses in an immodest manner?
When I tried to suggest that this meme was unfair and offensive, my comment was met with responses that it was just a joke and a way for "like-minded" people to have a laugh during a trying situation. I was appalled that members of my faith found such a crud joke to be humorous and worth sharing.
But it got me thinking: Whose job should it be to judge whether or not someone needs birth control? By giving employers a say in what people (not just women, but obviously women in this case) need or don't need in their insurance plan, doesn't it give license for anyone to judge --regardless of their background, education, or profession? Why are we allowing anyone other than doctors to make these judgment calls, and what kind of people are we becoming because we feel entitled to a say in a stranger's medical wants or needs?
This meme was also found on a Catholic Facebook group. I immediately agreed with its message. Yes! Pay for it yourself! Your choice to use it. Your money to buy it. I can then wash my hands of you like Pilot. Sounds fair, right?
But then I read this post, from a friend who stated he would be unfriending anyone who supported Hobby Lobby. I hadn't expected to be his friend at the end of the day. However, he continued to try to express the reasoning behind his anger, and I am grateful he did...
Somehow this series of posts led me to the conclusion that the Supreme Court made the wrong decision. Hobby Lobby doesn't have the right to dictate to its employees that they cannot eat McDonalds for dinner because the company believes they should eat better. Hobby Lobby can't tell its employees to cancel cable and buy more novels because the company believes they should read more. Hobby Lobby will never set aside 10% of its employees' paychecks to give to the starving children you see on tv because the company believes we should do more for third world countries. Why not? It's not the company's money--it's the employee's!
So, through all of this, I've come to the following conclusions:
1) It is time for religious people to stop speaking up about their faith only when it is a political hot topic. If you are speaking up to evangelize for your faith, you're not going to gain fans by suggesting your poor multimillion dollar religious organization is being bullied by a government that was founded on freedom to choose one's religion. If you are speaking up to defend your beliefs, consider whether or not you are doing so in a way that is reflective of your faith and your God's attitude toward His children.
2) If the government wants to avoid the "slippery slope" of business and religion, perhaps it is time to take health insurance out of employers' hands all together and offer a truly universal healthcare system. OR Perhaps it would also work to let employers choose whatever insurance plan they like, but an employee should have the right to opt out if there is a government plan they would prefer to better suit their wants or needs.
3) It is integral for me, as a Catholic, not to mistake my right to believe and practice my faith for the right to use my faith in an oppressive manner over those who disagree with me. Whether this be in my role as a teacher, my voting in our government, or my words and actions in everyday life. My faith is something I should want to offer others as a gift, not use to abuse or demean them as a weapon of hate. This week opened my eyes wide to the slippery slope of our religious beliefs, and how they easily slide us into roles that serve the one we weekly pray for protection against. Let us be an instrument of peace, a vessel of love, and a defender of freedom to choose...and may we pray that our actions and words influence choices of love, as we would want others to do for us.
ETA: Third paragraph under 1st meme.