Contraception and Catholicism are “compatible”

According to the strident New Accommodationists, the definition of “compatibility” is “somebody who believes something and yet does something else that’s inconsistent with that belief.” So, for example, science and faith are compatible because some scientists are religious.  Likewise with Catholicism and pedophilia.

A new report by the Guttmacher Institute, reported by Reuters, shows that 98% of Catholic women use contraceptive methods banned by the Church.  That’s no surprise, of course, and eventually the Church will have to change its view of this—another example of religious “morality” changing to accommodate secular thinking.

But here’s how one author of the report characterizes the finding:

“In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible,” said the report’s lead author Rachel Jones.

LOL!  I wonder what the Pope would say about that?

h/t: Sigmund


  1. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    “I wonder what the Pope would say about that?”

    He’d probably be stumped first by the word ‘real-life’.

  2. Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I think “compatible” in this sense means “the individuals in question have reconciled them in their own minds”, which applies to both Pill-using RC women and evolution-accepting Christians. Whether their position stands up to scrutiny is another matter. I call this social compatibility as distinct from logical or epistemic compatibility.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Presumably reconciled in the same way that priests reconcile abuse of children!

      • Moewicus
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        Sort of like how creationism and evolution are compatible because creationists are the product of evolution?

        • Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          Or rather, because creationism evolves. Before Darwin, you can be sure that all Christians were YECs. YEC evolved into OEC under the influence of Darwin. (So why are there still YECs?)

          • Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            Um, please read some history. Simple YEC was dead, at least in educated circles, by the time Darwin got on the Beagle. And not a few of the men who killed it sported dog-collars.

            In modern times, YEC was revived by an Adventist named George MacCready Price. Yes, it’s a zombie that tries to eat braaaiiinnnnssss….

    • Sajanas
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      It is heartening in a way, that people are no longer following the edicts of churches quite so blindly, at least when it runs counter to their best interests.

      • Tim Martin
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        I kind of disagree.

        People don’t usually say their churches teachings are wrong, even when they’ve decided not to follow them. They just say that it’s “wrong for them” or “God doesn’t really care about that.” …Which is nonsense, because the whole point is that, allegedly, God does care. But instead of facing the contradiction, people usually just get incredibly wishy-washy, which makes it very difficult to make an argument about secular morality vs. religious morality, because you can’t pin people down on anything.

      • Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        I have to agree w Tim. That is, I disagree. In addition to what Tim writes, I think about how people have been “sinning” for centuries. Yet religion persists. Too many people are content to live w the dissonance. Or are unable to perceive it.

        That’s depressing. Come on, people!

        • AT
          Posted April 15, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          why it is depressing? life is neither “good” nor “bad”: it is what it is

          people perceive the same life event or circumstance either depressing or fulfilling depending on their mental habits and the point of reference

          optimism is mental habit to shift the point of reference around until life appears “fulfilling”

          pessimism is the lack of optimism

          • Posted April 15, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

            What? That much of the population tolerates cognitive dissonance (and all the nasty real-life implications attendant to its source – religion) or is too stupid to recognize it could be uplifting if I change my point of reference?

            It’s depressing because I am imagining what humanity might have achieved by now if most of us, present and past, thought clearly about things.

      • Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Exactly. This business of not obeying the church or mosque etc rules but also not leaving is a snare and a delusion, because people use it to defend church or mosque. People give church/mosque credit for the fact that its members ignore its “teachings.” It’s absurd. If the teachings suck, then leave. Not leaving is an endorsement. Actually joining, as Tony Blair did, is endorsement squared.

        In the sense that matters, disobedience and membership are the very opposite of compatible. It’s like being a liberal and a Nazi. If you disagree with the “teachings” of Nazism then you have no business being a Nazi. You can’t have it both ways.

        • GordonWillis
          Posted April 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          No, but people do have it both ways all the same. In my experience, anyone can hold a dozen incompatible beliefs. You can do this quite easily in modern demmocratic society as long as you know what time of day it is. Many people want the security of religion while still wanting to do their own thing. They won’t let go of religion even while they disagree with its teaching. Big Man in Sky Get Very Cross etc. (somewhere deep down in the dimly conscious). Letting go of religion would be unthinkable. It’s emotion, not reason.

          New grist to the New accommodationist mill. They think they can try on the claim that the fact that people live with incompatibles is proof of compatibility. Frankly, Ophelia, I find the dishonesty both scarcely credible and unforgivable. But so is the stupidity.

        • Felicia Marianadjá
          Posted April 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

          But Ophelia, aren’t you then saying people should not be hypocrites? Of course you are absolutely correct, but won’t people embrace inconsistent and incompatible actions in order to actually live one way, while they project a false image? I wonder how much adherence to standard religious fantasy is based on fear of the unknown, and how much is just craven behaviour to fit in with the crowd or majority.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        And yet they keep going to church, keep putting money in the collection plate, and keep sending their kids to Catholic schools where they will be taught the same church edicts.

        • Tacroy
          Posted April 15, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          Don’t worry – when it comes to things that matter, they’re atheists.

          After all, when it’s actually important, people rely on purely secular means to get things done. You don’t pray that God will let your mother know you’re safe after a car accident, you call her yourself.

          • Marella
            Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            And obviously they don’t waste time telling god that they don’t want any more children either, they just take the pill.

  3. Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink


    I often find myself wondering just why atheism is so, so violently opposed. Quite a lot of those who’d identify themselves as religious don’t actually live their lives as though they’re particularly committed to their professed beliefs.

    A lot do.

    But a lot don’t.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      I think atheism is opposed because it’s seen as saying, “(Catholicism) is just a bunch of silliness. Grow up, people!” instead of “Well, a mature religion like (Catholicism) could certainly benefit from a modernizing process. What say we begin to look at some of the dogmas which are less-compatible with the way people actually live?”

      This is perhaps why the C. Church is “reaching out” to some atheists, but not all. They desperately wish for us to take them seriously, and we don’t (at least not in the sense they’d like.) So they won’t let the rest of us play at ecumenical backscratching.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Indeed, this is the one case where Pascal’s Wager actually applies.

      Ostensibly, these people already believe that the whole story is true — that what they do in this life will determine how they spend the rest of eternity.

      Eternity is such a very long time; it behoves one who is convinced of the Christian (or other) doctrine to do whatever is necessary to ensure a good afterlife. Torquemada was absolutely right: better a few weeks of terrestrial torture than the neverending torment Jesus will dish out.

      That 98% of Catholic women would rather go to Hell than get pregnant tells you that either they don’t believe the Pope when he tells them that that’s the penalty for contraception; that they don’t believe in Hell at all; or that they think pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood is worse than Hell.

      I know we get annoyed by proselytizers who tell us that we really believe, in our heart of hearts. Yet every time I turn around, I see such powerful evidence that those who ostensibly believe really don’t.

      I think that’s probably such a huge part of why seminaries churn out atheists in such large numbers. People go to them in a sincere attempt to do the right thing, only to discover that it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Only the stupid and mendacious make it through with their “faith” intact.

      As to why atheism is hated so? Because the rank-and-file are suffering from the cognitive dissonance of living normal, healthy lives that they think will result in a one-way trip to Hell. That creates a great deal of cognitive dissonance. In a society without public nonbelief, it’s relatively easy to suppress the dissonance. But our mere existence rubs their noses in the lies they live…and that really hurts. So they strike back, as any wounded animal would.



      • Tim Harris
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        ‘I know we get annoyed by proselytizers who tell us that we really believe, in our heart of hearts. Yet every time I turn around, I see such powerful evidence that those who ostensibly believe really don’t.’

        I think you put your finger on something very important there, something that has a lot to do with why religion is so persistent. I suspect that the religiously minded do not ‘believe’ in the usual sense of the word (‘even though there is no evidence for x,y,z, I am convinced they are true and I subscribe to this, that and the other dogmas’), but rather allow themselves, or their minds, to exist in some sort of ambiguous, formless space, so to speak, where the question of the truth of things (in the usual sense of the word) is never brought up. I think we need some new words to describe this mental and emotional attitude – ‘belief’ is misleading.

        • Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

          That’s only partially true. Religion comes in many psychological forms, and I think the more fundamentalist varieties believe in their dogmas in the same straightforward sense as they believe that the sky is blue (35 years ago, I would have described my faith in that way). It’s the more mainline sects that go in for the vague mouthing-the-words without making truth-claims kind of religion.

          The RCC is a bit of an odd case, in that it is a hard-line dogmatic organization that nonetheless has social space within it for the vague kind of adherence (along plenty of the other kind as well).

  4. Tim Harris
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    compatible/ incompatible – I’m getting confused: shouldn’t your first ‘incompatible’ (re science and religion) read ‘compatible’ (except in the mind of people who actually think about things), and the second (re contraception and Catholicism) then can stand as ‘compatible’ in the ordinary Catholic mind (though not in the Pope’s). Incidentally and a bit off-topic, there’s a very disturbing video posted on Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Dish’ in which a decent (and strongly Christian) couple describe the torture that Nebraska’s anti-abortion laws imposed upon them and the baby these laws forced the wife to carry until there was a premature birth, the baby dying fifteen minutes later. I think as many people should see that video as possible.

  5. Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Science and faith are compatible in the same sense that almond cookies and hydrogen cyanide are compatible.



    • daveau
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink


    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      So faith is safe – even flavoursome – in very small doses? I don’t think so.

  6. Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    When I was a young Catholic in the UK in the 60s and 70s almost everyone seemed to use contraception, and didn’t worry about what the Pope said.

    It was always said that condom sales in Italy were highest around the Vatican.

    • SaintStephen
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      If I may once again hang my dear Mother’s Catholic laundry on the clothesline, in an attempt to enlighten the discussion, the Pope is regarded as simply a man, with no more or greater access to the true Father in heaven than any other priest, or for that matter, any other praying Catholic. The Pope is largely a figurehead, like the POTUS (at least for her), with all the accompanying human flaws and foibles. Many Catholics openly laugh when the Pontiff — and his ultra-conservative proclamations — are brought up in casual conversation.

      In a nutshell, no pun intended, the Catholics consider themselves to be one large, diverse family unit. The Pope is the archetypal patriarch of this dysfunctional (and deluded) family, and everybody knows how goofy old Pa or Grandpa can be when they get rolling. Just because “Dad” believes something crazy, doesn’t imply that other Catholics must fall into lockstep. And they certainly don’t.

      Yes,even though it is true that one logically can’t have it both ways, this doesn’t prevent Catholics from essentially believing whatever they like, and then blithely reconciling these beliefs with contradictory beliefs from Rome and even from their own Catholic brethen (and sistren?).

      • SaintStephen
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        On the other hand, of course, Mum would be near the front of the line if the Pope were ever to visit a nearby city, to receive his blessings in the hopes that Godd would be smiling down on her…

      • steve oberski
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Life was much different in our very catholic (polish on my father’s side, irish on my mother’s side, the 2 most virulent strains of catholicism combined to make an even more regressive and strident sub-species) household.

        While a small family by catholic standards, as a child I recall my uncle referring to us as the “rhythm brothers” much to the irritation of my mother. It wasn’t until some time later that I “got” the joke.

        The pope was essentially a diety and having an aunt who was a nun, and of the same order that controlled the catholic primary and secondary schools (this is in Ontario, Canada where catholic schools receive government support) that I attended made for a very insular upbringing.

        • Tim
          Posted April 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          A pertinent quote from H. L. Mencken:

          It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

          • Diane G.
            Posted April 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

            Wonderful. Thanks, I hadn’t heard that!

            • Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

              Agreed. You know that the Rhythm Method is called “Vatican Roulette”.

              One reason I never became a famous television interviewer was that one of my first interviews was with a Catholic doctor announcing the Billings method, which, if I remember correctly, involves excamining the consistency of the vaginal mucous. Not only could I not get him to give any idea on television (in 1971) what was involved, he claimed that one of its virtues was that it prevented promiscuity, and I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. (I think he meant that you had to be in a stable relationship to use the method, and in his fantasy all other methods had been banned.)

              The interview was canned.

  7. steve oberski
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    And what would the pope say about this ?

    Who’s having abortions (religion)?

    Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical”.


    • Sigmund
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      I suspect an anti-abortion group is not exactly the best place to get accurate statistics on this question.
      The no religious affiliation numbers seem highly inflated compared to their numbers in the overall US population while that of Born-again/Evangelical are much lower.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      Yeah, but how many women are in each group? What is the rate within each group?

      Looking at the Pew numbers, Protestants are 51%, Catholic 24%, Jewish 1.7%, none 16%, and evangelical 26%.

      So without doing the rigorous math, it looks like Catholics and “nones” have abortions at higher than average rate, Protestants, evangelicals and Jews at lower than average rate.

      Conclusion: Catholics don’t bother to listen to their church, but Protestants do to some extent?

      • Sigmund
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        The statistics were produced by an evangelical organization.
        Even if they are an accurate result of a particular questionnaire filled in by women having abortions it is worth wondering whether the women in question may be tempted to deny being a member of a clearly anti-abortion denomination – a sort of temporary atheism that goes away the next day.

        • Dean Buchanan
          Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          There are no religious believers in abortion clinics?

          • Dean Buchanan
            Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

            That should read:
            atheists in foxholes?
            There are no religious believers in abortion clinics?

    • steve oberski
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      The stats quoted on that site came from the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

      • Sigmund
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        “In 1987 and 1995, AGI collected information nationally on the socioeconomic characteristics of approximately 10,000 women obtaining abortions. The results of the 1995 survey show that the women who are most likely to obtain an abortion have an annual inco me of less than $15,000, are enrolled in Medicaid, are aged 18-24, are nonwhite or Hispanic, are separated or never-married, live with a partner outside marriage and have no religious affiliation”
        I would be interested to see how this data was collected.

    • rfw
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Look at the source of those figures, then ask yourself “how did an anti-abortion group acquire those figures?”

      I find it inconceivable that (a) anyone performing abortions is going to bother asking their patients what their religious affiliation is and (b) even if they did, how would an anti-abortion outfit acquire the figures?

      I’m willing to place a small bet that those figures aren’t just erroneous for technical reasons; they’re simply fictions made up to support specific beliefs.

      • steve oberski
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        My intention was to show additional evidence that the religious are prepared to jettison their beliefs in the name of expediency.

        I should have referenced the Guttmacher Institute statistics directly but I found it ironic that an anti abortion site was quoting them.

        I can’t comment on the accuracy of the statistics, but they do indicate that the religious are quite prepared abandon their own beliefs while at the same time insisting that others respect and adhere to them.

  8. Mike K
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    It’s highly unlikely that the Catholic Church will ever change it’s official stance on contraception. From their point of view, it’s actually based on a much deeper principle of the sanctity of human life. The primary and necessary purpose of sex is procreative, so removing that possibility from the sex act is seen as a perversion of the sanctity of life itself. Once you decide to have sex, it should all be in God’s hands.

    I could never square this with a few other facts:

    The church says that the rhythm method is still somehow OK (aka only having sex when you know the woman can’t conceive).

    Using “the moment of conception” and concepts of “potential human being” are arbitrary lines with little biological relevance.

    Much of what we know about the biology and psychology of sex.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Erm…you’re actually missing the big picture.

      There are few forces in human psychology more powerful than sex. Hunger and thirst, maybe.

      Control a person’s sexual desires and you control the person.

      That’s the real source of the Church’s obsession with sex — the celibacy of the priests, the prohibitions on various sexual acts, the tight control on who you can and can’t have sex with, birth control, abortion.

      It’s all about power. The dogma is just window dressing.



      • Tacroy
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        That’s the real source of the Church’s obsession with sex — the celibacy of the priests…

        I agree with you on the rest of it, but the celibacy of priests is a much more recent development implemented basically to keep the Church from having to split up its holdings among the heirs of clergy.

        After all, if priests officially can’t have sex, they officially can’t have children – even if they unofficially do both.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if priestly celibacy goes away at some point in the near future, because it’s not that integral to the Church and it’s kinda screwing them over in the modern era – being in the Church is no longer the sort of high position young people aspire to regardless of the requirements, so I think they’ll probably end up lifting it just to get some new blood.

        That, or they’ll strangle themselves to death with almost no new priests entering the clergy.

        It’s basically win-win, really.

    • Marella
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Old joke, what do you call people who use the rhythm method?


      The point about the only method of contraception allowed by the catholic church is that it doesn’t work, so everything is still in god’s hands.

    • Felicia Marianadjá
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      I also do not think the RCatholic church will ever change it’s stance on contraception, nor do I believe 98% of Catholic women are using contraception.

      Most disenfranchised people are never polled in their lives. We ascribe numbers & activities to them, but they don’t and/or can’t participate.

      Most conservative groups, Jews, Mormons, Pentecostals, RCatholics practice competitive breeding, and that is easy to forget if living in an urban area in America. Most of the world isn’t a bit like my little slice of Chicago.

  9. Erp
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Strictly speaking it is 68% of sexually active Catholic women in the United States who don’t want to get pregnant (about 14% do want to get pregnant [or are pregnant] according to the survey) have used an effective contraceptive in the last 3 months (another 15% had their partners using condoms). 11% used no method in the last 3 months though sexually active (the difference was those who used not very effective methods).

    Note the vast majority of Catholics live outside the US (though a fair number of those also ignore the rules on contraception).

  10. Sigmund
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    “I wonder what the Pope would say about that?”
    He’d say exactly the same thing we say about the compatibility of science and religion.
    I tend to think of the science/religion compatibility due to religious scientists as a tactic primarily of misdirection.
    It’s like a tobacco company saying smoking and living to 100 are compatible because of old Grandpa Joe, all the while hoping you won’t bring up the lines of tombstones testifying to the opposite.

  11. daveau
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “In real-life America, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible,”

    I guess. If you don’t mind being intellectually dishonest.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Quite – and not just being it but being a model of it.

  12. Helen Wise
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    “somebody who believes something and yet does something else that’s inconsistent with that belief.”

    “New accommodationists” may describe this as compatibility. Elsewhere, it is described as having no integrity.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Those are compatible with my humor. Thanks!

    • steve oberski
      Posted April 16, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      2 thumbs up !

  14. Grania Spingies
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, no. Not so much.

    I used to belong to the liberal brigade of Catholicism, and “contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible” is a nice story that some of the more left-leaning incumbents – both clergy & laity – might tell themselves from time to time.

    Nevertheless, it is not accepted or endorsed by Holy Mother Church, nor will it ever be. And Holy Mother Church is quite correct. Contraception & religious beliefs are compatible in the same way that science and religious beliefs are compatible: i.e. it’s a cognitive trick that you play on yourself, and it only works if you really, really want it to.

  15. PoxyHowzes
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The RCC holds that “The Church” (majuscules intended) is “The Whole Body of Believers.” (again) And yet the supposedly chaste and abstaining priests and bishops will tell you that “The Church” teaches that contraception is bad.

    So if 98% of the whole body of believers thinks that birth control is ok, how can fewer than 10% of the whole body of believers “teach” orherwise?

  16. Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that Catholics who use contraception at first feel very sinful and confess and are absolved. (Are they told not to do it again? I imagine that depends very much on the priest.) As time goes on it feels less and less sinful and they confess less and less. Then they stop thinking about it. I guess that’s “compatible”.

  17. Deepak Shetty
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    That’s no surprise, of course, and eventually the Church will have to change its view of this—another example of religious “morality” changing to accommodate secular thinking.

    That’s not what will happen- Actually the church was in the forefront of the battle to make contraception available to everyone. It’s just that a few poor Catholics misunderstood what the bible says.

  18. ProChoiceLiberal
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    The Catholic religion is quite hypocritical. Most Catholic women I know use birth control and some support abortion rights and gay rights. I think when the catholic church finally allows WOMEN to be pope/cardinal, etc., maybe then they’ll lighten up on all the strict religious rules that no one really follows anyway.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted April 16, 2011 at 4:35 am | Permalink

      That may be true of American Catholic women, but it is not for millions of Catholic women living in other continents such as Africa & South American – but by no means confined to non-Western nations e.g. Ireland, where women may not get an abortion even in cases of rape.

      Access to effective contraception is at the mercy of the laws of the community in which they live.

      In almost all cases such laws prohibiting safe and effective family planning have their roots firmly planted in Catholic doctrine.

      Anyway, I’ll get to my point now: the Vatican is not going to reform its stance on women & reproduction. The Vatican just doesn’t work like that; it doesn’t have to keep up with modernity and it certainly doesn’t have to pay attention to what numerically few Westerners regard to be normal responsible practices. If it was going to it would have done so a long time ago.

  19. John
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    I think some people need to realize that people who dissent from Church teachings *do* have consciences and are doing what they think is right; there is a lot of judgement going on in this thread. I don’t think that the Church teaches that someone whose conscience isn’t fully formed is an “atheist.” I hear a lot of angry bitterness on this thread and it’s very sad.

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