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Bishop likens contraceptive mandate to requiring kosher delis to sell pork

February 16, 2012

Testifying in Washington before the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport—who chairs the US bishops’ new committee on religious freedom—offered lawmakers an extended analogy about a hypothetical piece of legislation that required all delis to sell pork.

Bishop Lori’s analogy does not entirely cover the current debate over the HHS mandate for contraceptive coverage in health-care plans. Although Orthodox Jewish deli owners would not eat pork, and would not wish to sell pork, they would not consider it inherently immoral if others sold and ate pork.

Nevertheless, as he spoke about the fictitious legislation in his hypothetical example Bishop Lori said that the people rose up in protest:

The government recognized that it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich; that it is beyond absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state; that it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down.


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  • Posted by: impossible - Feb. 18, 2012 10:24 AM ET USA

    Gee, why didn't he use the analogy of passing a law prohibiting violence against infidels by the Muslims? He and other bishops need to read and heed Jeff Mirus article: Religious Liberty and Conscience Rights: A Caution The bishops are obviously 44 years late on contraception and in a weakened position also for being late on properly disciplining and marginalizing dissenters. I just read that there are at least 180 dissenting Catholic groups in the U.S. We're reaping the whirlwind.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Feb. 16, 2012 8:28 PM ET USA

    We have forceful arguments. We always have. We have the Law of our land on our side. We always have. We have the support of the finest members of our society. We always have. All of this does not serve the interests of those who seek untrammeled power. We're up against it, folks.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 16, 2012 4:13 PM ET USA

    Absurdity is all you have when you don't use your power and responsibility to teach the truth "in season and out of season." Weak tea, Bishop Lori. We have Governor Huckabee proclaiming that "we are all Catholics now." Get preachin'.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Feb. 16, 2012 3:29 PM ET USA

    That's good rhetorical build-up: "absurd . . . beyond absurd . . . downright surreal". Capture people's attention by a few good bon mots like that (I think they're called "sound bites") and you're on your way to winning the argument. Good on Bishop Lori!