It is becoming easier to hate personal religious beliefs

(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here.) I ask readers for their reactions to the following: Sexual intercourse is a sacred act, a gift from God to his children as a celebration of marital love, as well as for the procreation of children. Fornication is a selfish abuse of that sacred gift. Adultery is blasphemy to God’s law, a betrayal of one’s spouse, and a very serious sin.

I hold very strongly to those beliefs; nevertheless I do not seek to make them laws, nor do I condemn — within a public sphere — others who disagree. Yet, a growing portion of Americans no longer distinguish between personal and political beliefs. Traditional beliefs are easily scorned, and often placed dishonestly in a political context.

A current example is the debate over whether contraceptive services should be mandated as part of the health insurance policies of religious organizations. The issue is a constitutional one that concerns the First Amendment. Nevertheless, leading representatives of the Democratic Party have framed the debate as one of religious extremists wanting to deny women contraception. That’s absurd, but among activists who can no longer distinguish the political from the personal, it’s a catchy cause.

The debate has also led to scorn of persons who personally oppose contraception. Rick Santorum, GOP presidential candidate, is often mocked for his personal opposition of most contraception use, although he’s long noted that he would not extend his personal beliefs into the public sphere. It’s hard to avoid the irony of Santorum being criticized by liberals and many Democrats for his “religion” while his detractors attempt to impose their beliefs on religious organizations through the new health care law.

Mitt Romney has also been unfairly scorned and ridiculed for personal religious beliefs that he and others have no wish to inflict on others. The LDS doctrine of baptism for the dead was mocked by “comedian” Bill Maher, who “unbaptized” Romney’s descendants. Liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan has featured photos of the LDS garments, worn by members of the LDS faith, on his blog. These are considered sacred by faithful members.

What’s interesting about this is that Maher, Sullivan, and many others who mock conservative personal religious beliefs do so unscathed from their peers, or liberal pols. The sharp move to the left in the past decade by the Democratic Party has made many persons with disgust for and hatred toward conservative people of faith more comfortable with their bigotry.


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37 Responses to It is becoming easier to hate personal religious beliefs

  1. Nicole says:

    Absolutely agree 100% Doug… Very well said. But what can we expect when most liberals think objection to birth control MANDATES is the same thing as BANNING birth control!!

    We’ve lost the distinction between public and private acts.

    I blame Facebook for turning everyone socialist ;-)

    • Obama says:

      It was republicans that made a womens health issue an attack on religion. And yes they dont want to ban birth-control; Just make it impossible to get. Obama was only looking out for womens health, and in doing so, he gets Villafied. Nice one guys.

      • Hijinks55 says:

        How is it impossible to get? Contraception is cheap and available at the corner drug store. Do you think anyone is trying to put that to an end? The question is whether religious believers should have to pay for it. Some of these drugs cause abortion. Liberals used to say, “If you don’t want an abortion don’t have one.” Now they say, “If you don’t want an abortion, you still have to pay for mine.”

        • Michael Trujillo says:

          Contraception is not “available at the corner drug store” for women. Women’s contraception options require a doctor’s office visit and a prescription. Get all your ducks in a row before you start arguing your point.

          • Owain says:

            Michael Trujillo, it would seem you don’t know what you are talking about, as usual.

            Whose ducks are in disarray?

          • Michael Trujillo says:

            Mea culpa, I forgot about spermacides. I probably forgot about them because they aren’t reliable ON THEIR OWN. This is from (you can look it up yourself.)

            “Vaginal spermicides, when used alone, are much less effective in preventing pregnancy than birth control pills, an intrauterine device (IUD), or spermicides used together with another form of birth control, such as cervical caps, condoms, or diaphragms. Studies have shown that when spermicides are used alone, pregnancy usually occurs in 21 of each 100 women during the first year of spermicide use. The number of pregnancies is reduced when spermicides are used with another method, especially the condom. ”

            So …. if a woman wants to take sole control of her birth control, the over the counter products do not work for her much of the time. To be SURE, she needs the other options, which require a visit to the Doctor.

            Ducks are lined up pretty straight.

          • Owain says:

            I also linked this and this.

            Hey look. There’s something you don’t see every day. Your ducks just performed the Thunderbird Bomb Burst maneuver.

          • Michael Trujillo says:

            Hmmm. A sponge is nothing more than a spermicide holding device. So, again, I stick by my assertion that it’s not as reliable.

            I’ve never heard of a female condom. Looked it up. Has a higher failure rate than a male condom. I can honestly say I know nothing about this. I do not know how many people are aware of them. I’ll ask around.

            The question is, did Hijink55 know about them when he made his statement? Like I said, I’ll need to look into this because I’ve never heard of them. And, I’ll tell you what, Owain/Brent, if I walk to Walgreens and do not find female condoms sitting on a shelf the same way that male condoms are, I’ll have to stand by my assertion that they’re NOT so readily available. We can continue this conversation on Doug’s FB page.

          • Owain says:

            Fair enough. All I know is that I pulled up Walgreens web site, and they had multiple female contraceptive products. I didn’t even list them all, but pulled the first three I saw. I figured that used in combination, that should provide more than adequate protection. Certainly less wear and tear and emotional turmoil than an abortion, as I think you would agree, especially a late term abortion.

          • Owain says:

            By the way, it’s a glaring admission that your argument has failed if you have to fall back on whether Hijink55 was aware of the multiple female contraceptive products that are available.

            Don’t project you own admitted lack of knowledge of the subject onto others.

          • Michael Trujillo says:

            Owain, I went to Walgreens. There were all kinds of MALE condoms, there were some sponges, some spermicide creams, and all kinds of lube. There were NO, as in zero, FEMALE condoms. I was going to ask about them, but all the store personnel were busy.
            So, my point remains for two reasons: 1. contraception for women is not READILY, as in easily, available.
            2. If you look up sponges, spermicide, and female condomes, you will see that none of them have the reliability of pills or diaphragms. Soooooo, a woman’s best bet is to use what is available only through a Doctor.

            Also, why are you bringing up abortion? We are talking about contraception. Don’t get the two things confused.

            Go to Doug’s FB page, I have a name to drop in relation to this conversation.

          • Owain says:

            Well, one uses contraception to avoid pregnancy. If one wanted to badly enough, an abortion might elected to terminate the pregnancy, which is far more trouble buying a contraceptive, even if you have to special order it in the case of a female condom. Depending on one’s circumstances, 18 years or more raising a child may not be in ones plans, which is more of a commitment than using contraception. All that is up to the individual.

        • Steve Hansmann/East Central Minnesota says:

          I’m a registered nurse presently working hospice care for the VA. These “personal beliefs” have no place in providing health care, particularly not when it comes to “abortifacient” legal birth-control. What next? Demanding female genital mutilation because it’s a long-held cultural belief? Can Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to fund transfusions? What if I don’t want any of my tax money going to the Pentagon to fund little trophy wars that kill hundreds of thousands of true innocents, most of them women and children?
          I worked in a maximum security prison and took care of a serial killer of children. I have six children of my own. Should I have been able to refuse to provide care to this monstrous horror? No, of course not. That’s not what providing health care is about. I provided this……thing, with competent, professional, and appropriate care.
          If you can’t prescribe a legal birth control medication, you should have your license pulled. You’re not paying for, nor encouraging the use of these medications. Don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. Otherwise, shut the hell up and keep your religious superstitions to yourself. Pathetic.

          • Owain says:

            You argument seems to be self contradictory. You would object to female genital mutilation by government decree, I presume, because it would violate your personal beliefs, yet you are fine with governmental violation of someone elses personal beliefs with respect to contraception, sterilization, and abortifants merely because you do not share that belief.

            Do I have that right?

          • Owain says:

            “If you can’t prescribe a legal birth control medication, you should have your license pulled.”

            That is your personal opinion, to which you are entitled, but it has no basis in legal fact. For example, in the decision in this case the court ruled that a law that mandated exactly what you suggest was invalid,and struck the law down on constitutional grounds.

            I think this case provides a good preview of how the judges will rule on the HHS contraception mandate when it is challenged in court.

    • Ben says:

      I truthfully am not as on top of this issue as I usually am when I post…so this first question is not meant in jest.

      How is the current administration mandating birth control? I know they aren’t going around making everyone use condoms, or even purchase them. Isn’t that what a birth control “mandate” would mean?

  2. Myth Buster says:

    1 Cor 15:29 covers “Baptism for the Dead” Paul was speaking to the town of Corinth near Eleusis, the site of the Eleusinian Mystery religion which started this Pagan practice of Baptism for the Dead in the Sea; the Mormon Temple Baptismal Fount is a replica of the Brazen Sea; Holy Water comes from replicas of the Laver, from Solomon’s Temple.
    Paul used the word “They” not “We”, meaning Born Again Christians have no need of Baptism in the Sea either Dead or Alive; Jesus promised everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected and face Judgment. Once a person dies, Baptism for the Dead is a moot point.
    As for Rick Santorum’s beliefs, he is a Knight of Malta aka Knight of St John of Jerusalem aka Knight Hospitaller, a Jesuit Order under the Jesuit General Adolfo Nicholas, residing at the Vatican.
    As to Bill Maher, he is a secular atheist pretending to be of Jewish origin.
    I Suggest finding a new mentor, like perhaps the Authorized Bible (KJV) and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

  3. willbike says:

    “Yet, a growing portion of Americans no longer distinguish between personal and political beliefs.”

    At no point in history has the mormon church or any other religious group distinguished between personal and political beliefs.

    “The issue is a constitutional one that concerns the First Amendment. Nevertheless, leading representatives of the Democratic Party have framed the debate as one of religious extremists wanting to deny women contraception.”

    So you think that RELIGIOUS groups are fighting this to protect the first amendment and it has nothing to do with RELIGION? I think you are being very dishonest.

    • Doug64 says:

      Of course it has to do with religion, or it wouldn’t be a Free Exercise issue. But the religious question is whether employers should be forced to become complicit in employees’ choices that those employers consider sinful. It has nothing to do with whether the employees will be forbidden to make those choices.

      And of course, churches differentiate between personal and political beliefs, every time they face the question of whether something they consider sinful should be illegal.

  4. Erick says:

    The issue is much simpler – why should we continue in a system where your employer, religious or not, can dictate the kind of care you recieve? That is the real issue. It’s hard distinguish who is paying for what, when employers finance healthcare through the employees wages. Is it the employee’s or the employers? The employers either do the actual purchasing, or they end up designing the plan, but the whole thing is financed from funds allocated to wages. What if employers began dictating what things their employees could spend their cash money on? Would the issue be different?

    It would be nice to try and frame this issue as a matter of democrats vs religion, but I see stakeholders under this tent a bit differently. I see, religious employers, their employees, health insurance providers, medical providers, government, and I suppose the every day tax payer. It of course won’t happen, but if we wanted to sort through this then we would get into a system where employers pay wages, and employees do the purchasing. As it currently stands, however, you can’t advance a pseudo socialist solution to healthcare, and then argue that religious employers get the final say on matters of their employees healthcare.

  5. Steve Stones says:

    The polls I have recently seen show that the majority of Americans are on the side of the President on this issue, even Catholic priests. The GOP needs to stop using women as a political pawn in a political game of chess. Ain’t it interesting that the hearing on Capital Hill last week on this issue produced not a single woman witness to testify? That tells you just how biased and anti-women rights these Republicans are. We are not living in the dark ages anymore, and indeed the majority of women in this country do take or did take birth control of some type in their lifetime. It is a matter of biology, not politics or religion. The Republicans need to stop being so anti-women’s rights, racist, bigoted, anti-progress, anti-forward thinking, etc. We are living in the 21st century, not 1950s America.

  6. Bob Becker says:

    Isn’t it odd that Doug managed not to include Mr. Santorum’s recent attack on President Obama’s beliefs as false religion as an example of what he was talking about:

    As for whether the dispute involves, as Doug denies, religious extremists attempting to impose their beliefs on those who do not hold them, I offer this, an account of a recent Congressional Committee hearing on the birth control matter at which the committee chair, Rep. Issa, refused to permit Democrats to call women to testify, and who limited testimony nearly entirely to religious leaders speaking against the rule:

    Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wanted to hold hearings on the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, but the panel of witnesses was made up almost exclusively of religious leaders. When Democrats suggested that they have women testify as well, Issa refused:

    Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness….”

    Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule.

    The panel didn’t even include a single legal scholar.

    Full text of the post, from Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog, can be found here:

  7. Bob Becker says:

    The sharp move to the left in the past decade by the Democratic Party

    Oh, my. This “sharp move to the left” is evident only from the perspective of a GOP galloping wildly to the wingnut right over the same decade. Viewed from a non-tinfoil hat perspective, the Democratic Party [as measured by its national office holders in Congress and the White House] has drifted slowly right, and become visibly more centrist/right tilting than the party of Harry Truman and FDR and George McGovern and Gene McCarthy used to be. It is noted, even on the right, that the Democratic party’s official stand on many issues today consists in fact of what used to be the GOP’s stand on the same issues a decade or two ago: national health care based on mandated personal insurance, for example, or cap-and-trade as the “free market” solution to pollution for another.

  8. Bob Becker says:

    Doug’s descent into careful selective quotation continues. He notes that Mr. Santorum, noted for “his personal opposition of most contraception use,” as said that “he would not extend his personal beliefs into the public sphere.” What Doug somehow left out of his reporting GOP leader Santorum’s generous promise not to barge into your bedroom to tell you and your wife you can not use birth control because his religion tells him it’s wrong, is this: [Santorum] Says he wouldn’t try to take away the pill or condoms. But he believes states should be free to ban them if they want. He argues that the Supreme Court erred when it ruled in 1965 that married Americans have a right to privacy that includes the use of contraceptives. [Source:

    So, [allegedly] small government Rick thinks it should be well within the state’s power to tell all of the citizens in it that the use of birth control in their marriages [or out] is illegal, and punishable by law. Wouldn’t bother him in the least.

    Now how did Doug manage to leave that out of his Santorum example? Tis’ a puzzler….

  9. Bob Becker says:

    And now, prominent Christian Right Conservative David Barton has announced that President Obama is “a Christian Atheist.” [No, I am not making that up. ] [Source: ]

    As Doug tsk tsks about liberals unconscionably mixing religion and politics, he has managed, it seems, to forget that the merging of religion and politics in the last few decades began on “the Christian Right,” as the GOP pandered to the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons et al. in the pursuit of votes. Doug now points with stern disapproval to what he sees as liberals mixing politics and faith, but he seems to have forgotten entirely the rise of the Christian Right and the GOPs fond embrace of it decades ago. Nothing has led to the intermixing of religious beliefs and political pursuits which Doug [and I] dislike more than the GOP’s pandering to the Religious Right.

    Romney [Doug's candidate] is now reaping the results of all that pandering. But to somehow suggest that the melding of American electoral politics and faith can be primarily laid at the door of liberals is just too much. It involves a re-writing of modern American political and cultural history that would have to be filed under “Fiction” by any honest librarian.

  10. Doug Gibson says:

    Now, Bob, there are issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, where if you enter the fray politically you take the responsibility of taking the hits as they come. I have no problem with that. If Rick Santorum wants states to deny contraception then he should be criticized politically. If he wants to leave it to states, then he can be attacked for that. You have done a great job of finding an outlier calling Obama and atheist. He should and likely will be harshly criticized. Where is the criticism of Maher’s ugly taunts of baptism for the dead, a personal belief. Where is the criticism of what some activists have done to Santorum’s name, thereby attacking his wife and children, etc., along with him. The consequences of attacking personal beliefs of religious people is diminishing.

    • Bob Becker says:

      David Barton an outlier? Newt’s embraced him. So has Santorum. So has GOPAC. I wish he was an outlier.

      As for comparing Santorum’s comments to Bill Mahar’s: apples to oranges. Santorum is the [currently by poll] leading contender for the Presidency of the United States. Mahar is a TV comic. Hardly comparable examples, I’d say.

      As for this: Where is the criticism of what some activists have done to Santorum’s name, thereby attacking his wife and children, etc., along with him. — I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re referring to. I read pretty widely on the left and Democratic center, and it doesn’t ring a bell with me. Though I hope you know from previous conversations on this blog, and elsewhere, that I’m opposed to attacking any candidate [left, right or center] through his family. [Bush Campaign attacking McCain in SC and Ga by claiming his adopted black child was in fact his natural child was appalling.]

      One final note in re: derision aimed at religious beliefs, this from my particular atheist’s POV: the practice does not by any means go uncriticized. The so-called “New Atheists” [or as they like to call themselves, "Gnu Atheists"] like to attack faith by derision [Bill Mahar] or by deliberate acts of blasphemy [from the faith POV]. Think P.Z. Meyers sneaking a consecrated host out of Catholic mass and desecrating it crying “it’s just a cookie!” [P.Z. is very good countering attempts to have creationism passed off as science in public schools, but he's something of a crank beyond that.] There is on atheist websites a continuing [seemingly endless] brawl over that kind of thing. Not my cup of tea, the New Atheist approach. I generally oppose being deliberately offensive just to be deliberately offensive, both on tactical grounds and because it’s bad manners. Live and let live I much prefer. Merely want to note that there is much criticism within atheist groups of the tactics you found offensive and seem to think go uncriticized on the left.

      Just so long as you, I, we, all of us understand that Mahar and P.Z. have the right to be offensive. Comes with living in a free country. It’s messy sometimes, I agree, but it’s an inevitable accompaniment of freedom. [Madison, Federalist No. 10 is good on why trying to eliminate it is a bad idea.]

      But OK. let’s talk about Mahar’s remarks. [Had to pull up the YouTube of his unbaptism schtick. I don't much care for his comedy and don't watch him.] He’s not merely an atheist [as am I]. He’s on a campaign against religion [as I am not]. And as you well know, one of the most effective tools in attacking anything [institution, individual, etc.] is ridicule. Hardly surprising that a TV comic turned to ridicule in attacking Baptism for the Dead as part of his campaign against faith in general and, in Romney’s campaign year, Mormon faith in particular. As you note, sometimes you just have to take the knocks. That goes for LDS too. And Catholics. And atheists. And Moslems. And Jews. And you name it.

      Doug, you have a right in the US to have your choice of faith [and attendant beliefs] respected, and a rightas well to have the practice of your faith respected. But there is no right to have the beliefs of your faith respected, or to put it the other way round, you [none of us] have a right not to be offended.

      Nor should any religious belief command respect simply because it’s a religious belief. Some Christian Fundamentalist [and Moslem] beliefs about women deserve, I think, all the derision that can be heaped upon them. Nor should all religious practices be beyond the reach of law, nor are they. If you believe exclusively in faith healing and refuse medical care on religious grounds, that is your right as an adult. But if you refuse medical care to your child, and it dies as a result, you will go to jail. Regardless of how fervently you believe the Lord wants you to avoid doctors, no matter how fervently you believe it sinful to trust to man not faith to heal, if you allow your child to die by treating him only with prayer and holy oil, you’ll spend a lot of time in prison. And rightly so.

      So, there is no clear, bright and shining line separating faith and law. It’s a judgment call, and always has been. I’ll agree with you absolutely that the close ones ought to fall on the side of freedom of religion. But there is no absolute line on which all agree. Never has been. As with most general claims, the devil is in the details.

      In re: birth control, we can disagree about where this particular question in re: mandated insurance falls. I’m impressed by the fact that company plans that do not include birth control tend to have much higher costs [up to 15% more] than company plans that do, and the costs of providing national health care are a major public concern, and should be. I’m unhappy that a major employer in a town can decide for all of its employees that birth control will not be included out of religious reasons, even for those employees who do not share the faith, or share the faith but not the belief.

  11. Decider says:

    Mr. Gibson no doubt is lurking not far off, dismayed at the steaming pile of offal into which Becker has systematically rendered his arguements.

  12. Decider says:

    “attacking personal beliefs of (other) religeous people” is an important part of most ALL Christian worship and religeous services, Doug, — it’s been going on long before the Crusades. What “consequences”b, besides the attainment of greater authority and prestige within the Church, would you reward those who ‘scold and mock the heretics’?

  13. Bob Becker says:

    One more example, from of course the Right, Mr. Santorum, who in a speech to students at Ave Maria University in Florida, explained that in running for the Presidency, he is campaigning against Satan himself. [Link: ]

    No more, please, about how liberals are encouraging religious hate and isn’t it just awful of them. Santorum claiming those who oppose or who think differently than he does are Satan’s allies seems a pretty clear invitation to religious based hate to me.

    • Doug Gibson says:

      If you look at the first comment to your link, Bob, you’ll get a clue at the “santorum” hate speech against his name that is surprisingly not criticized by many of your political allies.

      I think Santorum deserves criticism for anything he says, but I read that and I cannot see where he outlines a political course for his beliefs. Is he going to make a presidential decree that Satan is behind changes in academia?

      To follow your argument, one has to concede that the administration’s coercion of religious organizations, using govt. power, in the health care law, is still worse than anything you can muster about Rick Santorum.

  14. not religious says:

    If I work for a religious organization, say a hospital run by the Catholic church, for example, and they help pay for my health insurance, and I need a prescription for birth control pills because of my endometriosis, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, should they be able to deny it because of their moral objection to contraception? How is it infringing on their religious freedom for me to try to get my prescription filled? Nobody is saying that they have to use contraception, just that it’s none of their business what I do with my health insurance. They don’t have a Constitutional right to force their beliefs on anyone, not even their employees.

  15. poles says:

    You have a point. I have started to see the christian right the same way I see Mullah Omar and the Taliban. As a lukewarm Catholic I can say I never felt this way before but to my ear the strindency, hatred and negativity in the name of Christianity has driven me away, far away from ever see the organized Christian right as a positive force in the world. I think it has less to do with the left than your piece suggests, more to do with the kind of stuff I am hearing. Like Rev. Graham interview today, just too cute, politic while also hateful.

  16. Bob Becker says:

    And now from Mr. Romney: “SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s administration has “fought against religion” and sought to substitute a “secular” agenda for one grounded in faith.”


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