Trying to understand the Catholic ban on the Komen Charity

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is an awesome organization.

It has raised nearly $2 billion dollars in less than 2 decades for breast cancer research. It also has a variety of educational programs. This is an organization that has likely saved hundreds of women’s lives and I think will save thousands of lives through its support of research.

It is no surprise then that so many people were astonished when news headlines starting showing up in the last few weeks indicating that the Catholic Church had a problem with Komen that was going public. In fact, more than a problem. Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair essentially banned parishioners from having anything to do with the Komen Foundation. Apparently other bishops had done likewise and it is to be expected that more will join in what is effectively a boycott of the Komen Foundation.

The reasoning?  Apparently there are two parts to the motivation, neither of which makes sense.

First, The Komen Foundation has in very limited circumstances helped women receive health care, having nothing to do with abortion, through Planned Parenthood. Apparently, having anything to do with Planned Parenthood is evil, even if it is helping women get mammograms.

Second, The Komen Foundation, which does not fund human embryonic stem cell research, refused when asked to rule out the possibility that it might someday fund such research.

So, first we have guilt by association and then we have guilt by some potential future action. These are very weak reasons for boycotting Komen.

Because of these faulty lines of reasoning, the Catholic Church will impede Komen fund raising, likely to the tune of millions of dollars in lost funds. I think there is a risk here that the  Church, by undercutting funding for breast cancer research and women’s health, will indirectly end up costing some women their lives.

In the article, Rebecca Johnson (a Wyoming Catholic whose family supports Komen) is quoted as follows:

Many times you throw the baby out with the bathwater when we make decisions

I think that Ms. Johnson is so right.

Regardless of how one feels about abortion or about embryonic stem cell research (which I personally think is not connected in any way to abortions), the Komen Foundation deserves support and boycotting them makes no sense.

This incident exemplifies how the anti-stem cell research folks are far off on an illogical, hurtful path.



1 thought on “Trying to understand the Catholic ban on the Komen Charity”

  1. God’s Lobbyists: The Hidden Realm of Religious Influence

    He argued that when lobbying, bishops claim to represent all 64
    million Catholics, but in reality, they do not.

    A poll conducted by the Catholic for Choice concluded that “Catholic
    voters believe the U.S. Catholic bishops are wrong on healthcare
    reform. Sixty-eight percent disapprove of U.S. bishops saying that all
    Catholics should oppose the entire healthcare reform plan if it
    includes coverage for abortion and 56 percent think the bishops should
    not take a position on healthcare reform legislation in Congress.”

    Unrepresentative power remains the foundation for many opponents of
    the current disclosure exemption for churches.

    “It’s like having a shadow government,” Gaylor said. “Somebody else
    holds the puppet strings.”

    Of course, all of us have preconceived notions about everything, we couldn’t manage life without them; but some people are able to see past important preconceived notions, especially those who have spent many years looking at facts and attempting to make sense out of them. Others can look at facts and never really see anything, because they are intellectually lazy or because they just don’t care to set aside generally accepted opinion and decide for themselves. It’s so much easier to go with the flow!

    Then again, we have Galileo, who first saw the moons that circle Jupiter, which convinced him that the Earth circles the Sun – an opinion hateful to the Catholic Church at that time. He barely escaped burning at the stake, a fate which ended the life of Giordano Bruno in 1600, who postulated an infinite Universe and the multiplicity of worlds. An emissary from the Inquisition visited Galileo in his home. Galileo urged him to look through his telescope and see the moons of Jupiter for himself. The official refused to look through the telescope. Theory or dogma had to take precedence. The facts are irrelevant if they do not confirm the theory or dogma. This attitude prevails to our day, and will always prevail as long as human nature is what it is. We see it today, in the rejection on the part of the astrophysics establishment of the new and fascinating theory of the “electrical universe”.

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