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Catholic Bishop Calls Birth Control Mandate of the Devil and Believers Must Violently Opposed It

Catholic Bishop Calls Birth Control Mandate of the Devil and Believers Must Violently Opposed It

Bishop Walker Nickless, of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, called contraception and recent legislation concerning birth control for women of the devil, insisting that believers must violently oppose it.  He literally said the mandate to provide women with contraception is of the devil.

In a message, the bishop released on this mandate, he said, “The devil wants to silence the Church’s voice.” As guest on the Family Research Council anti-contraceptive webcast, he also stated in the video below,

“The power of evil is going to try any way that it can to get a hook into our world and the values we hold dear as believing people and the power of evil, the devil, is looking everywhere to find places where the power of evil can make a difference, to tear us apart and look at worldly values and forget about something more important than just values of the world. That’s why we have to stand up and violently oppose this. We cannot let darkness overshadow us. We’ve got to be men and women who proclaim the light and we got to tell the truth, be transparent, and we’ve got to say ‘the government cannot do this to us’.”

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • This is a textbook example of how religion can corrupt a person's moral emotions and reasoning. Instead of serving the wellbeing of humans and other sentient creatures, the moral instincts get co-opted by dogma. The believer then feels protective of religion itself or outraged and disgusted by anything that violates the integrity or purity of the religion. Often, as in this case, it results in a believer having moral priorities that are explicitly anti-moral.

    • It is immoral. Very much so, as well as insane. IMO, to suggest violence over a dogma, puts us right back to the time of the Crusades and the Inquisitions, but not only that the desire to do violence due to one's religious beliefs borders on being sociopathic in this day and age. To believe a cartoon character such as the devil is behind it is just ludicrous. So there really has to be something mentally wrong with this priest, IMO.

    • Frank Hermann

      And to which textbook would you be referring, Ms. Tarico? Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there even is such a textbook example, I would submit that you are cherry picking with your hypothetical textbook examples and doing the same thing that the new atheists like to do—take credit for everything good in the world and blame everything bad on "organized religion." Yeah, some bad things have been done in the name of religion, but let’s not forget all the naughty things that have been done in the name of secularism (e.g., Stalinist Russia), nor let us forget the good things that have been done through the shape of religion (Mother Teresa for one). You suggest that dogma puts blinders on people, but what you don’t understand is that religion by no means has a monopoly on dogma. One could find dogma in Stalinist Russia, in Socialist Germany, in Communist China, and in countless other places both past and present where there was little organized religion. Indeed, some of the most dogmatic people I know of don’t even believe in God. Just take Richard Dawkins, for example. He’s more dogmatic than the pope, for crying out loud! Dogma is a result of conviction, whether such conviction is religious, political, or philosophical. Moreover, I would submit that dogma is inescapable. We are all dogmatic, and existentially there is nothing we can do about it. Even your rejection of dogma is itself a form of dogma, though I’m sure you would prefer not to look at it that way. It is an inescapable part of being alive. Without dogma, you’re dead. And, by the way, don’t confuse dogma with meanness—a common rhetorical ploy of “free thinkers.”

      And as to religion’s “corrupt[ing] a person’s moral motions and reasoning,” I would say you are being arbitrary at best. Without religion, one cannot have a consistent, objective morality because one has no absolute standard (except oneself) to sanction the moral precepts. As C.S. Lewis noted in Book I of Mere Christianity, morality is like law: laws can exist only where there is a lawgiver. I cannot break the law by cheating on my taxes unless there is such a law in the first place, as well as an authority who issued the law. Now, you probably think it is wrong to kill people and to embezzle money and to cheat on your spouse, but who issued those moral laws? You probably “feel” in your heart that these things are wrong, but you cannot prove them wrong by any standard outside yourself. That’s why I say your morality lacks objectivity. Not everybody feels the same way as you. Hitler didn’t. Slave owners in the South didn’t. The ancient Romans obviously didn’t when they were throwing Christians to the lions. And countless sociopaths walking around in society don’t either. By what moral standard can any of us judge them? “Well, it’s just wrong. That’s all there is to it. I know in my heart what is right and wrong, and I don’t need men wearing little red caps telling me what is right and wrong.” Fine—just understand that you’re being subjective, and you therefore have no rational basis for condemning brutal actions that others commit. (Please note: I am not saying that this proves the moral precepts of any religion, only that it objectifies them by placing the standard outside the person.) Now, of course, some aspects of morality may have evolved to ensure preservation of the species. Nature endowed us to act kindly toward one another because if we killed one another we would not be around to debate morality. But are we going to invoke natural selection against a mugger who pulls a knife on us in a dark alley? “It would be wrong of you to kill me because nature selected us to be kind toward one another, and you are not acting according to natural selection.” That's essentially the moral basis of most people who reject religion. Bottom line: Yes, we do have a moral law within us, but that law is binding ONLY because it comes from a lawgiver (God), who has revealed himself by entering history and influencing in a profound way the course of history. Without acknowledging that lawgiver, terms that you use such as “moral” and “anti-moral” have no rational basis.

      • Sheldon

        Actually, I could just as easily say that the "lawgiver" is an extraterrestrial entity.

        In a universe so vast, and one in which we have only just begun to explore the planets in our own solar system, it would be unreasonable for me to presume that we are the only sentient life in existence.

        You, on the other hand, would have me willingly give myself permission to believe something beyond reason.

        • Frank Hermann

          There are a couple of fallacies in that argument, one of which is a red herring. The existence of extraterrestrial life is irrelevant to whether there exists an absolute lawgiver. Even if E.T. exists, he is not a necessary being in the philosophical sense since he is not eternal, so his existence would be contingent on something else. Science has shown for certain that the universe came into being approximately 14 billion years ago. Disbelievers in an absolute lawgiver are forced to account for how something (our universe) came from nothing—not a low energy field, not primeval matter, but sheer metaphysical nothingness. Of course, it can’t be done because something can’t come from nothing no matter how badly some people would like it to. Indeed, this is what made Anthony Flew uneasy a half century ago when the Big Bang was discovered. Atheists from the time of the ancient Greeks were able to sidestep the existence of a creator by appealing to an eternal universe. (David Hume made this argument rather forcefully.) Since the discovery of the Big Bang, however, unbelievers no longer have that convenience. The scientific evidence is clear: the universe had a beginning. That which has a beginning is finite, and that which is finite cannot exist of necessity. Hence, those who deny a creator are forced to account for how something came from nothing. It does no good to invoke an infinite multiverse either, as there is not a shred of empirical evidence to support the hypothesis. Rational discourse must proceed from what is known, not from what is speculated.

          The other fallacy is known as an argument from ignorance (Lt. argumentum ad ignorantiam), which takes the subtle form of assuming that something is true because it hasn’t been proven false. I cannot disprove that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, but that doesn’t mean that it does. I can’t disprove the existence of the tooth fairy either, but my inability to disprove the existence of such a being does not constitute grounds for believing that such a being exists. Perhaps intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe; perhaps it doesn’t. We have not a bit of evidence either way, so we cannot make a cogent argument one way or the other. We DO have evidence, however, that there is a universe and that the universe came into existence at a finite point in time, so we do have grounds for positing a necessary being (an “unmoved mover” to use Aristotle’s nomenclature) from which that universe draws its contingency.

          Last but not least, we are still left with the inescapable fact that in the absence of an absolute lawmaker, all moral imperatives are subjective. Hence, it is gobbledygook to say “You ought…” or “You ought not…” or “Such and such is immoral” unless your interlocutors share your moral assumptions. In such a philosophy, then, there is no right or wrong. There is only survival of the fittest.

          • sheldon

            Perhaps, the lawgiver is an extraterrestrial life-form which makes extraterrestrial life completely relevant. Where did that life-form come from? It was made by an absolute lawgiver. Perhaps, that absolute lawgiver is an extraterrestrial life-form. This can go on and on and, in fact, does not deny the existence of a creator. In your zeal to prove the existence of your god, you accuse me of ignorance and presume to know my mind.

            If we were created by an extraterrestrial entity, then god has nothing to do with anything related to our existence other than that he may have created the universe and an extraterrestrial lawgiver. I do not argue against the existence of a creator/creative force. I argue against religion.

            • Frank Hermann

              You did not read my post carefully. I have not accused you of being ignorant. Rather, I have identified an argument from ignorance fallacy in your reasoning. There is a difference. An argumentum ad ignorantiam does not mean that a person is ignorant, only that he is shifting the burden of proof in an argument to a proposition that is unproven and proceeding as though it were true.

              I want to discourse with logic, not with drama, so accusing me of being zealous and of casting aspersions at you serves only to distract from the substance of the debate. It is a straw man.

              Perhaps there is something I overlooked in your last post, but as far as I can see, it does not address the argument I made about the inconsistency of a moral standard that does not acknowledge an absolute lawgiver. Let us assume for the sake of argument that E.T. does exist and that he sowed the seeds of life on earth. He would then, in a very real sense, be our creator, and we would owe him our respect just as we owe respect to our parents, without whom we wouldn’t be here. And just as our parents have the right to impose rules and regulations (laws) on us, so too would E.T. have the right to impose laws on all of humanity. However, those laws would not be absolute but would be contingent since E.T. in turn had a creator to whom he is accountable (and to whom we too would be accountable). As I argued before, this causality chain must eventually cease with an absolute being and creator of all who has necessary existence in himself. I take it that you acknowledge such a being because of your remark about objecting to religion not to God. In short, then, yes perhaps it is the case that our moral codes derive from an extraterrestrial life form. But here’s the catch: unless that life form is a being with necessary existence within himself, his own moral authority is contingent on another whose existence is necessary and unmoved.

              Think of it this way: We all have rights. I have the right to take off work on Saturdays. When I was a teenager, I had the right to stay out until midnight. I also have the right to vote. Most importantly, I have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But from where do these rights derive? I submit that they all derive from the same source ultimately, though in the causal chain they are instantiated at different levels. My right to take off on the weekends comes from my employer. It is not an absolute right but a contingent one, as my boss might change his mind and tell me I have to start working on Saturday. My right to stay out at night when I was younger was also a contingent right. My parents were not obligated to let me do so; they could have made other rules. However, what of my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Ah, these rights are different. They are not contingent but unalienable, as Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, for such rights are “endowed by [our] Creator.” Note: we have these rights because and only because they derive from the authority of an absolute lawgiver. My boss can tell me to work on the weekend, but he cannot tell me to jump off a cliff. Parents can tell their children to clean their rooms, but they cannot make them rob banks. There is a hierarchy of moral rights and laws just as there is a hierarchy of civil rights and laws. We have local laws, state laws, and federal laws. My city can impose regulations on me but only if they do not clash with a state law. The state can impose regulations on me but only if they do not clash with federal laws. And the federal government can impose laws on me but only if they don’t conflict with the unalienable laws that my creator has given to protect me.

              This is the basis of *all* moral standards. They all derive from a single source, though they may be instantiated at different levels in the chain of causality, even with a hypothetical alien. I live by logic, and as Socrates said, I go wherever the truth leads me. If logic leads me to believe that I was created by an extraterrestrial intelligence, then I will pledge my obedience to his/her/its laws as long as those laws don’t conflict with the laws bestowed on me and on all humanity by the ultimate source of all being.

              To recap: All laws must derive from a lawgiver, whether remote or proximate; and there can be no objective moral laws without the acknowledgement of a supreme lawgiver.

          • sheldon

            I was under the impression we were discussing the value of religion. A belief in a creator/creative force is one thing… an interventionist god is an altogether different thing. Since you clearly believe in an interventionist god, I find it strange that you believe that your interventionist god did not create an extraterrestrial life-form which may, in fact, be the creator and lawgiver of human-kind. This is no less plausible than your assertion, sans evidence, in an interventionist god who, not only created us but has purposefully influenced the course and direction of human-kind through religion.

            Further, your argument is specious, at best. Simply because C S Lewis states that morality is like law, which must come from an absolute lawgiver, then it must be so(?). Nonsense. You come to the discussion with a personal bias… a presumption that Lewis is correct and an unswerving view that your belief in an interventionist god is also correct. Your entire argument is based on presumption. What would you invoke against a mugger… religion(?)… please don't kill me 'cause Jesus says you'll go to hell if you do. Good luck with that.

            If I may, I will quote Professor Sagan, albeit, heavily paraphrased with my own thoughts on the matter.

            "A nile crocodile will carry her eggs in her mouth for miles to ensure they are deposited in a safe location. She could eat the eggs, but she doesn't. This in no way indicates ethical or moral behaviour in the crocodile and yet, it is certainly the right thing to do to and a good thing to do to ensure the safety of her offspring. I strongly suspect crocodiles do not have access to the holy books of your religion.

            The biological imperative of every species, including humans, is survival. The means to achieving that imperative is reproduction. It would appear then, that protecting a child is, perhaps, an evolutionary result of that imperative and so, the argument for religion as a basis for morality is not compelling."

            Recently, Mriana, of God Discussion, penned an article concerning dolphins and whales. Read her article, follow the links, stop reading philosophy texts for a while and investigate. In a continuing effort to understand these two remarkable life-forms, science has uncovered some interesting revelations concerning dolphins and whales caring for their young and aged in ways that many would consider morally and ethically right. I strongly suspect dolphins and whales do not have access to the holy books of your religion.

            You state that it is clearly evident that an interventionist god not only exists, but has influenced the course of human history. Again, nonsense. Listen, it is not my intent to disprove the existence of a creator/creative force… that simply cannot be done. You, however, upon making the claim, must surely need to prove the existence of an interventionist god that has purposefully influenced the history and direction of human-kind through religion.

            BTW: since you like quoting ancient philosophers, here's one often attributed to Plato's Socrates:
            "ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα – I know one thing, that I know nothing"

            … from this, comes the beginning of wisdom.

            BTBTW: while I appreciate your interest in philosophy, is it possible to have a discussion without you attempting to educate the rest of us in philosophy 101? Talking to someone as if she is below your educational standard is neither appealing nor justified.

            • sheldon

              It would appear we were both writing our last responses at virtually the same time. My last comment was in response to your initial response to Ms. Tarico. However, I will let my comment stand as is. You will undoubtedly ask about the final sentence in my comment, so I will put it to you here, in this comment.

              The start is obviously condescending… in fact, your entire tone with Ms. Tarico was just that. Now, it may be unknown to you, however, condescension is the clear hallmark of an individual who believes he possesses superior intellect to the mind of the one to whom he is speaking.

              You are only trying to do what many religionists before you have tried… convince everyone that your interventionist god exists and thus, your religion is valid. Philosophical argument is not evidence, no matter how much you would like it to be. It is, at best, completely restricted to human perception and the perception of the human making the argument. Since perception is influenced by intention, and we know your intention is to prove the existence of an interventionist god thereby validating your belief in the value of religion, your argument is purely subjective.

              It is clear to me that this could go on forever. Since I have neither the inclination nor the patience to continue, then, with no ill-will, I take my leave of you and this discussion without further comment.

              • Frank Hermann

                I apologize for being condescending, but please look in the mirror. I was responding to Ms. Tarico’s smug commentary on Bishop Nickless’s moral theology (which I thought was condescending and totally uncalled for), and then you jumped in with your own nonsense about extraterrestrials. You disparaged my opinions with pejorative talk about my “interventionist god” so I don’t think it is fair at all for you to call me condescending. Again, I apologize for being condescending, but it takes two to tango. I admit that I’m zealous and opinionated, but I hope you can see that you and the rest of the people here are every bit as opinionated as I am. We ALL have an interest in defending our views. That was one of the points I was trying to make in my first post: Believers, unbelievers, right, left—we are all dogmatic. And that’s OK. Nobody can be entirely objective all of the time, but I honestly think I’m as open-minded as a person can be. I’ve been a pagan, a deist, a Protestant, and a Catholic; a Republican, a Democrat, and a Socialist; pro-war and anti-war, pro-death penalty and anti-death penalty, etc. all in the interest of searching for the truth. However, because my love for philosophy has led me to a personal God, you brand me as a close-minded zealot, one who is interested only in defending his position. Very unfair.

                I have great respect for the late Carl Sagan and I enjoyed his books, but I don’t think he gave sufficient thought to the issue of evolutionary psychology. I appreciate his mother crocodile example and think it is valid as far as he takes it, but I don’t think he takes it far enough. The crocodile in this example has only one instinct—protect the eggs. She does not do it for moral reasons. As Sagan points out, she does it because millions of years of evolution programmed her to do it, for if she did not have that instinct, her species obviously wouldn’t have made it that far. With humans, however, it seems to me very different. We have multiple instincts that conflict and tell us to do opposite things. For example, just a few days ago there was a tragedy in Cleveland when that troubled young man opened fire on his classmates. The coach, as I understand it, distracted the gunman at risk to his own life in order to save the school children. At work in that coach was not just a single impulse but at least *three*: (1) the impulse to save the children, (2) the impulse to save himself, and (3) an impulse that mediated between the other two impulses and said, “Ignore Impulse 1 and choose Impulse 2, for following Impulse 2 is the wrong thing to do, and following Impulse 1 is the right thing to do. I think everyone agrees that Impulse 2 is genetically programmed into all living things. That’s a central tenant of natural selection. I’ve read evolutionary biologists (e.g., E, O. Wilson) who have also argued that Impulse 2 could have emerged through natural selection since it confers survival benefits to the collective. What I don’t think natural selection can explain is the presence of Impulse 3. This impulse doesn’t just say, “Do it.” Rather, it says, “Ignore your second instinct and follow your first instinct, for that and only that is the right thing to do.” Evolution is usually more efficient than that—to weave a tangled web of conflicting instincts with one instinct actually overriding (in some people at least) another instinct and making a moral claim. It is this third impulse that I and likeminded theists believe is a manifestation of the moral law, something that is imparted to us by someone who actually cares how we act. I’m certainly not claiming that this is *proof* of a personal God, but I’ve reflected deeply on this issue for several decades, and I’ve been unable to convince myself of another explanation.

                For anyone who may be listening and who cares and has the leisure to look up the reference, let me just close with an example of why I believe it is imperative for us to accept moral absolutes. Just last week (2/23) an article was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. I won’t cite the title of the article or mention what it is about. All I will say is that a major, well-respected academic journal has published an article advocating something that 99.9% of humans would find revolting. And the journal editors are defending the article as a consistent, well-reasoned argument. My point is that without moral absolutes that don’t shift from one generation to the next, in a few decades these Sophists may quite well have won many converts so that only 80% of the population finds it repulsive. And then in another few decades only 60%, then 50%, and so on. Each generation tends to view itself as more enlightened than the ones before. (I call it chronological snobbery.) In a hundred years from now, I can almost hear the chronological snobs looking back in contempt at those unenlightened moralist of the 20th- and early 21st centuries who objected to such things.

                I’m not naïve enough to think that we will ever agree about our moral standards. I do hope, however, that I can convince a few people, even in some small way, to recognize the need for immutable moral standards.

                Peace and my apologies to anyone whom I have offended.

  • How many states already require that contraceptives be in health insurance plans, 28?

    I find it interesting how the religious right is now crying "separation of church and state" now that they don't get their own way when they have been saying it is a myth.

    This contraceptive thing has become illogical. I second with what Valerie wrote.


  • D_Wizar

    I think the bishop needs to try the decaf.

  • ptee

    Aren’t celibate priests and nuns a form of birth control?

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