Using Religion Against Contraception: Part 1


Two speakers at the "Contraception Is Not the Answer" conference used religion as their main argument against contraception. They used religion as a weapon to attempt to manipulate people into following their narrow beliefs. But it is important to remember that they do not represent the majority of conservatives, nor of Christians. This reality check is for the right and the left.

Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, President of HLI, gave a lecture called "The Infertile Soul: Contraception's Influence on Faith and Society. Euteneuer uses his position as a Catholic priest to advocate for withholding communion from women who use birth control. He tells medical professionals that their "souls are at risk" for prescribing contraception. The Reverend also told the audience that humans' relationship with God is based on fertility [note: all audio links open in new windows]. It seems unfair to me that infertile couples would be cut off from the divine, but I guess they're not able or allowed to complete the "act of marital love." That's too bad because Euteneuer also labels people without children as selfish. Yeah, I suppose it is selfish to want to wait for the right time and bring a child into a stable environment where s/he will be given all the love, attention, and resources that s/he deserves.

Euteneuer's main point is that not only does contraception lead to abortion (based on the fact that being able to control conception leads to increased promiscuity and unchastity), but that it is abortion. He emphasizes the teensy tiny eeny weeny chance that a fertilized egg might not implant due to contraception – a point which is completely unproven. Euteneuer uses religious symbolism to compare sexuality education with the apple from the tree of knowledge, implying that education is an invitation and having sex will get you kicked off the island… I mean …out of the Garden of Eden. Sounds sort of like in the old days when the Catholic priests were the only ones who could read the Bible and held all of the knowledge and control.

Rev. Euteneuer ended with three steps for action. His advice for the pro-life movment is to deny Planned Parenthood funding for birth control, abortion, and sex ed. This is despite the education and resources that organization makes available to help low-income couples, minority populations and at-risk youth to access healthcare. He also wants conservatives to misinform legislators that contraception damages women's bodies, despite lack of evidence. Secondly, he challenges the Catholic Church to reach out to Protestants and encourage them to return to the roots of their traditions – which include opposing birth control. No matter that the majority of Catholics are not opposed to contraception. Finally, he asked the audience to renounce unchastity as a lifestyle. I suppose he would be happy if women were required to wear burqas and not go out in public without an escort.

While these extreme views against contraception are not the norm, they are still disturbing. Religious leaders have great influence over their members. With great power, comes great responsibility. Hopefully, most religious leaders will realize that the responsibility for health and education is more important than conservative ideology and not use reckless rhetoric. And hopefully liberals will realize that the group opposed to contraception represents a minority of Catholics and that "Christian" does not equal religious right.

Stay tuned as our series about the emerging war on contraception continues, for more on the diversity of Christians, the second anti-contraception speaker who used religion as his main argument against contraception, and a personal look at his Protestant focus.

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  • corysold

    Tyler, again you you state that the pill might stop a fertilized egg from implanting. This is again, simply wrong. A fertilized egg never implants, in any preganancy. After 24 hours, the fertilized egg begins to divide, and you now have a developing embryo. This is what implants. The pill affects the lining of the uterus and does not allow this to occur. If you destroy a developin embryo, be any definition, this is an abortion. Studies have shown that this will happen to the average pill user once per year. Your arguments are tough to digest when you have such simple mistakes.

    We, as people, do not get to decide what is right and wrong. If we all rose tomorrow and thought that murder was suddenly acceptable would that make it ok? No. The truths of right and wrong have been the same truths for thousands of years and they will stay the same for thousands more. Regardless of what we think, those will not change.

  • mernlar

    corysold–Please provide links to the studies you mention, or include full citation. JAMA style will be fine.

    Thanks!

  • corysold

    This isn’t a study, this is called Biology and is simply how the body works.

  • tyler-lepard

    Corysold: Your interpretation of biology is interesting, but not factual. As my other response shows, we use scientific evidence to back up our statements that contraception is not abortion – not just personal interpretations of science and religion. But you probably don't care to actually consider any logical evidence-based reasoning.

     

    As for deciding right and wrong, I would argue that society does often make decisions about right and wrong – they're called laws. And whether you like it or not, a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body is legal.

     

    I don't ask you to agree with me, just don't try to impose your beliefs on me. It's wonderful that in this country we have such diverse opinions, beliefs, and cultures and don't try to make every person behave and think exactly the same.

     

    Personally, I think sex is a positive thing – not shameful. In fact, it just so happens that my natural form of contraception is lesbianism – I don't have to worry about the risk of getting pregnant when I have sex. But I think that other women should be allowed to make their own decisions, protect themselves and choose if, when, and how often to have children (the easiest way to do this is by using contraception).

     

    You may have chosen to wait until marriage to have sex – good for you. That is your choice. I chose not to wait – not that it matters because I'm not allowed to marry anyway. I expect that your next step will be to tell me that I'm deviant or unnatural – how about we skip that pleasantry and just agree to disagree?

     

    ~Tyler

     

    Tyler J. LePard

    Associate Editor, RH Reality Check

    tyler@rhrealitycheck.org

     

  • ian

    Again, most medical professionals would disagree with you about your definitions.

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/fact-v-fiction/contraceptives-including-emergency-contraception-are-abortifacients

  • corysold

    Simply because the scientific community decided to pick an arbitrary point to “start” pregnancy does not make it the truth. There are many cases of scientific fact that later turned out to be false. This is not a case of my opinion, this is a case that at conception, the fertilized egg will begin to divide and continue to do so well beyond birth. This is a continuous process and is well established by the time implantation takes place. We simply cannot pretend that none of that takes place.

    Further, your accusation that I would resort to name calling and insults is a bit misguided. You are free to do with your body what you please. I will never try to impart my beliefs on you in that regard. The greatest gift we have is that we are all free to make our own choices, continue to live your life as you please. However, where I take exception to that is when the life of another human is involved. While your choices are your choices, when the choice made had a potential impact on another human life, that is when I will stand up state my opinion.

    I respect and appreciate what you try to do for your opinion. While I disagree with some of the studies you chose to use, I appreciate the effort that must have gone into finding them. I only hope you can offer me the same courtesy. Unless I am mistaken, I do not beleive that in any of my posts have a said that women or men do not have a right to do what they please. My issue come when the rights they have chosen affect others.

    Your arument about laws is odd to me. Laws do not determine what is right or wrong. Laws help our society to live together. As a lesbian, if tomorrow society decided that there should be a law against lesbianism, would you suddenly decide that how you are living your life is wrong? No, I bet you would not. So simply because we have laws for some things does not make those things right.