Friday, April 15, 2011

When headlines lie

The headline reads:

Most Catholics use birth control: study

The article from Reuters reads:

Some 98% of sexually active Catholic women in the United States have used contraceptive methods banned by the church, research published on Wednesday showed.

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research organization, shows that only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.


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

Note the bait-and-switch in verb tenses.

98% of Catholics HAVE used "birth control" (i.e. contraception).

But if you read Guttmacher's blurb on their web site it says:

Some 68% of Catholic women use a highly effective method,

So that leaves 32 per cent who don't. Which is not to say they are not contracepting, but...

And note, this is NOT 68% of MARRIED and Church-going women. This is 68% of ALL Catholic women, regardless of their church attendance or marital status.

And then you read the charts:

Two per cent are using NFP but 11% are using nothing-- which is perfectly acceptable. So that's 13 per cent of Catholics who are not contracepting. That's 1 in 8 (or so). A much greater per centage than the 1 in 50 implied in the headlines.

And note again-- this is among ALL Catholic women.

What I notice is that they didn't show results for married Catholic who attend Church once a week.

Of course if you're not married and having sex, you're probably not relying on NFP... So the actual numbers of married Catholic women using NFP is greater than 2 per cent. And it's probably higher among women who are married and attend Church weekly. So the actual number of married women who attend Church weekly who do not contracept is greater than 1 in 8.

Which corresponds more to my personal experience, than the 1 in 50 implied in the headlines.

I think Guttmacher's use of church attendance as a measure of personal faith is tone deaf as regards "strong religious conviction". Church attendance is only one factor among many.

What they should have done is asked more probing questions about the women's personal faith, such as:

Do you believe Jesus is divine?

Do you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God?

Do you believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus?

Do you believe that the pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals?

Do you believe that contraception is a sin?

I strongly doubt Guttmacher would ever ask that, as I am certain that their stats on the number of Catholic women who contracept would disprove their propaganda that many people with a strong personal religious faith use contraception.

See, the leftist idea of a strong personal faith is different from an orthodox one. For the leftist, any personal conviction rooted in God is a "strong personal faith" whether it's actually based on divine revelation or not.

In the Catholic sense, a strong personal faith is based on a belief in divine revelation and the relevance of the supernatural in one's lives.

To be sure, there are lots of Catholics who contracept, even those who believe contraception is a sin.

But it's not 98% of them. It may not even be half of them.

But those stats would be very inconvenient for Guttmacher.

What this also discloses, unfortunately, is that the bishops and priests have not been doing a very good job about preaching about the sin of contraception. I suspect most of them don't even believe it themselves.