Bishop Lori Took the Pig Right Out of Eric Cantor’s Mouth

Along with the ridiculous visuals, one of the most amazing parts of today’s hearing in which a bunch of men explained why birth control was a threat to their First Amendment rights was the statement of Bishop William Lori.

In it, he drew an analogy between birth control and pig flesh.

For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let’s call it, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.”
Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

The Orthodox Jewish community—whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides—expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork—not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths—because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty. They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle.

They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.

Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, “But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat.”

Other supporters add, “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.” Still others say, “Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”

But Bishop Lori wasn’t the first person to make that porcine analogy. Eric Cantor made it on February 9.

President Obama’s HHS regulation violates religious freedom.  It is like forcing a kosher deli to sell pork chops.  #NotKosher

I find it pretty unclean to have a the words of the Jewish politician being voiced by the purported Catholic holy man, like mixing milk and meat.

I mean if Bishop Lori’s parables are just regurgitated Republican talking points–if Bishop Lori’s feigned interfaith concern is just a script borrowed by the his party hosts–then what does that say for Lori’s claim to espouse Catholic dogma more generally?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

32 replies
  1. bourbaki says:

    So here’s a question that has been bothering me since this whole idiotic thing started. To wit: Do Bishops pay income tax?

  2. Peregwyn says:

    Priests are self-employed and pay federal and state income tax. Based on that, I would assume that Bishops (and higher) do as well, but I am not certain.

  3. orionATL says:

    if you want to know what an accomplished church politician lori is,

    what an experienced bishoprick and archbishoprick henchman lori has been,

    and what an accomplished political liar lori is,

    read thru this:

    specifically, this section:

    “… Views
    Lori is seen as a conservative cleric who has carried out controversial church mandates in the past. Some critics, however, say he does not question the church hierarchy and, at times, has acted harshly in order to please his superiors. While an auxiliary bishop in Washington D.C., he led an investigation at the behest of Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey into a liberal parish in Georgetown. Investigators taped their questioning of priests, staff and volunteers and asked them all to pledge their honesty. Critics said the tactics were a heavy-handed attempt to bully the parish away from its liberal ways. One called it “an inquisition.” The investigation revealed that two Protestant ministers had been allowed to deliver and receive communion. Two of the parish priests had to apologize publicly. “He was an arch-conservative,” said Bill Wellington, a member of another parish in Washington. “He cracked down on liberal parishes when Hickey wanted him to.”[7]
    Lori has been credited with establishing a new attitude and local policy toward sex abuse after being appointed Bishop of Bridgeport which had been reeling from abuse cases under then Bishop Edward Egan.[8] In 2002, Lori was one of seven members of the ad hoc, bishops’ committee tasked with writing a new policy (known as the Dallas Policy) on how to deal with abusive priests.[9] Once approved by the USCCB, Lori was one of four bishops picked to travel to the Vatican and work out compromises that would make the proposed Dallas policy (now known as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People), which established a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual abuse, more palatable to the Pope. Lori emerged as the de facto spokesman. The group also included Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill., Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco. Lori also enacted many of the provisions in the charter before all the bishops accepted them as a whole: he was one of the first bishops to establish a local review board and acted swiftly against priests who have been accused of abuse under his watch.[7][10] One of the priests, the Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, committed suicide soon after he was suspended.[11]
    In 2004 Bishop Lori blessed and dedicated “Villa Maria Guadalupe” on the grounds of the former Villa Maria Retreat Center in Stamford, CT.[12] The property was purchased by the Knights of Columbus, who invited the Sisters of Life, a religious community dedicated to protecting and advancing a sense of the sacredness of all human life, to offer retreats for families and married couples, for women facing problem pregnancies, for pro-life leaders, and for Knights and their families.
    In 2007, he announced a doctrinal investigation on American theologian Peter C. Phan, who has written about Asian perspectives on interreligious dialogue.[13]
    Bishop Lori has opposed legislation by Rep. Michael P. Lawlor and Sen. Andrew McDonald that would remove control of the diocese from the bishop and place it into the hands of laymen. The legislation had been written with the help of liberal Catholics, including Connecticut attorney Thomas Gallagher, a contributor to the group Voice of the Faithful.[14] Similar Separation of church and state legislation was adopted in France in the early 20th century, which is called the 1905law.
    A Catholic News Service online news story article by Nancy Frazier O’Brien, posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2011, stated that: “Recent “grave threats to religious liberty” serve as “grim validations” of the U.S. bishops’ decision last June to create a special committee to address those issues, Bishop William C. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., told a House subcommittee Oct. 26. Bishop Lori, appointed in late September to chair the bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence require government to acknowledge and protect religious liberty as fundamental, no matter the moral and political trends of the moment.” But in recent days, he said, “the bishops of the United States have watched with increasing alarm as this great national legacy of religious liberty, so profoundly in harmony with our own teachings, has been subject to ever more frequent assault and ever more rapid erosion.” In written testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Bishop Lori called for “corrective action by Congress” to address six areas of particular concern: 1.) Regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in August that would mandate coverage of contraception and sterilization in most private health insurance plans; 2.) A new requirement by HHS that would require the bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to agree to provide the “full range” of reproductive services, including abortion and contraception, to human trafficking victims and unaccompanied refugee minors; 3.) The U.S. Agency for International Development’s requirement that Catholic Relief Services and other contractors include condom distribution in their HIV prevention activities and provide contraception in a range of international relief and development programs; 4.) The Department of Justice’s actions to mischaracterize the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which states that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, as an act of bigotry and to actively attack its constitutionality; 5.) The Justice Department’s efforts to undermine the “ministerial exception” that exempts religious institutions from some civil laws when it comes to hiring and firing; 6.) State actions on same-sex marriage that have resulted in Catholic Charities agencies in Illinois being “driven out of the adoption and foster care business” and some county clerks in New York state facing legal action for refusing to participate in same-sex unions.

    The bishop called those concerns “only the most recent instances in a broader trend of erosion of religious liberty in the United States.” “The ultimate root causes of these threats are profound, and lie beyond the scope of this hearing or even this august body to fix,” he said. “But we can — and must — also treat the symptoms immediately, lest the disease spread so quickly that the patient is overcome before the ultimate cure can be formulated and delivered.” Bishop Lori urged members of the House of Representatives to pass three bills that would “go a long way toward guaranteeing religious liberty and freedom of conscience for religious employers, health insurers and health care providers.” They are the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 361) and the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179). He also called for a congressional hearing or other investigation into “the illegal conditions that HHS and USAID are placing on religious providers of human services.” He said new statutes might be necessary “to create new conscience protections, but more likely to create private rights of action for those whose rights under the existing protections have been violated.” “Unfortunately, the authority to enforce the applicable conscience protections now lies principally with the federal agencies that may be violating the protections,” Bishop Lori said. He urged House members to “resist legislative efforts to repeal” the Defense of Marriage Act, including the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116). “The religious freedom threats to marriage at the state level may fall beyond the scope of authority of Congress to control — except to the extent that state adoption and foster care services are federally funded,” he said. Other witnesses at the hearing on “The State of Religious Liberty in the United States” were the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Colby M. May, director and senior counsel of the Washington office of the American Center for Law and Justice.[15]…”

    just keep in mind that the persistent assault by the american right-wing, which now clearly includes the hierarchy of the american catholic church,

    on the rights of individual american citizens is always cleverly couched in terms of a violation of the u.s. constitution or a violation of some simple moral imperative –

    one that most ordinary citizens would not dispute, or lack the political background to dispute, should they want to.

    in right-wing rhetoric and theology

    up is down;

    black is white;

    (church) lies are truth;


    the constitution is unconstitutional.

  4. BeccaM says:

    Oh I get it.

    It’s not that they want to force everybody, even non-Catholics (and non-Christians and non-religious folks), to follow the edicts of their religions, many of which also call for fair taxes, healthcare for all regardless of ability afford it, decent wages, education, safe working conditions, an end to capital punishment, lower defense spending and ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as attacks on civilian targets all over the globe.

    They just want to get to pick CERTAIN specific positions from their religions, and ignore all the rest. “Ala carte religion,” if you will.

  5. orionATL says:

    bishop lori is bishop in bridgeport, conn.

    lori is chairman of the board of trustees of the catholic university of america in washington, d.c.

    lori is also chairman of the board of trustees of sacred heart university, in fairfield, conn. (former ceo of general electric, john welch, is a big contributor to shu.)

    it occurs to me to ask:

    would the administration of any catholic university refuse to provide birth control to young women who were its students?


    notre dame?

  6. Peterr says:

    what does that say for Lori’s claim to espouse Catholic dogma more generally?

    It says that Lori and his fellow bishops are trying to get the government to do by force what they cannot get their own people to do by persuasion — discourage/eliminate contraception.

    When a preacher has to try to get the government to enforce his preaching, because his hearers reject what he has to say, that’s a sad state of affairs.

  7. marc sobel says:

    Not that it is worth much to respond to a defender of perverts but the correct analogy is a Kosher Deli which doesn’t allow its employees regardless of religion, to buy pork or more exactly, forces them to pay extra for it.

  8. emptywheel says:

    @marc sobel: Which is one of the reasons I’m pretty confident Lori got this from Cantor: because both got the analogy wrong on precisely that count.

    And, btw, Foster Friess, Santorum’s sugar daddy, also is using the analogy now.

  9. Mary McCurnin says:

    This whole thing scares the crap out of me. But then, Obama scares the crap out of me. I must be easy.

  10. patrick dowling says:

    What is Lori’s point? Is it just that he does not want Catholics to be forced to violate their conscience?
    If he, and Catholics were granted this, how heavy would the burden be on society?
    Would Catholics who wish to use the chemicals in question no longer be able to access them?
    Would non-Catholic customers/clients at Catholic facilities who wish to use the chemicals no longer be able to access them?
    If so, can our country afford to address these peoples’ needs without forcing Catholics to violate their conscience?
    I envisage American jails crammed with Thomas More’s whose only crime is that they will not and cannot violate their conscience.
    Any American worthy of the name would gladly go to jail rather than violate his or her conscience.
    You see, it is an American problem, not a Catholic problem, because Americans, Catholic or otherwise, will not and cannot be browbeaten and bullied into violating their conscience.

  11. emptywheel says:

    @patrick dowling: No. THe compromise doesn’t force Catholics (or rather, Catholic bishops–polls show that the vast majority of Catholics use birth control) to violate their conscience. Since the compromise is FREE, it surely is affordable.

    What the Bishop wants is for Catholic employers to be able to force their employees to treat some medical care as stigmatized, because they wouldn’t be able to get medical prescriptions through their health care.

  12. Andre says:

    Well, first off, to call Lori a “Catholic holy man” would be a stretch, even “purported”. He wasn’t made a bishop because he was holy. As for how they see the whole thing, I think a better view might be seen in the NYC Catholic parish that brought suit against the Gay Pride parade going by their church. They thought their parishioners should have to deal with seeing that. The thing is, the Catholic Church truly believes that this world would be better off if all Gay people just died, if they don’t want to become heterosexual, keeping them from going by the church is just the first step. It’s the same mentality that sees sexual abuse as the price the Church has to pay for maintaining that fine institution, celibacy. And the idea is to eradicate any use of contraceptives. And killing an abortion doctor is necessary if we are to protect the unborn! How erroneous this is is contained in the early history of the Catholic Church, if anybody wants to look at that area. The Catholic Church we see today is just the last iteration of a two thousand year history.

  13. scribe says:

    Looks like Lori is trying out for Benedict’s old job: heading the Inquisition (since renamed in a PR move).

    I’ll start listening to the churchmen talk about morality and sex when they (a) stop sodomizing the altar boys and (b) force those among them who do, as a condition of Pennance, to turn themselves in to the authorities.

    That, and the whole pork in a Jewish deli thing is not new. I have an old cookbook published by the church ladies (and full of their favorite recipes) of the parish where I grew up wherein one recipe is for “Jewish Meat Loaf”. Ingredients, beyond ground beef, onions and peppers, include ground pork and shredded cheese.

    And, no, I am not kidding.

    But, more to the point, it is wholly unsurprising the churchmen, the wealthy and the Republicans are all on the same side. They don’t like being told it’s not their world, let alone being shown a world without them in charge is not only possible, but a hell of a lot nicer.

  14. DonS says:

    Yeah it’s a pretty upside down world when the Congress of the US get’s lectured by Catholic bishops — and invited to do so. Used to be Catholic politicians had to promise they wouldn’t take orders from the Vatican. That was over the top perhaps, but, as noted in the above comment, being lectured on morals by an institution that is sinking in immoral behavior doesn’t pass the laugh test — if up were indeed up. And on the question of contraception, of course, Catholic women have long ago figured out to blow off the hierarchy. Now if the media could only stop taking these very serious men in weird uniforms so seriously.

  15. orionATL says:

    without question, the most serious issue for this nation is the damage its right-wing ideology and leadership are doing to our 300 yr-old political culture.

    my personal view is that much of this ideology is based on the dregs of old-world religions, specifically old-world catholicism and old-world judaism, as re-interpreted by our right-wing leadersrs in a fantasy tailored to exploit contemporary religious fervor.

    on the peripheral issue (for this ew column) of the practice of judaism in europe in the 15 and 1600′,

    archaeology magazine has an exceptionally interesting article on research done in europe that suggests that much jewish “tradition” and “ultra-tradition” of today in america and israel was NOT a part of jewish culture in europe in those earlier times (that includes dietary restrictions, pork specifically).

    the article is here:

    unfortunately i cannot get beyond this abstract and am not inclined to type from my own copy.

    i think the general rule of scepticism here should be that reverence for “tradition”, especially religious tradition, may be reverence for a fantasy of the past – a fantasy that is politically very useful in our times, but a fantasy nonetheless.

    just to circle the bases, i have not addressed in this brief comment, america’s penchant for politically damaging home-grown religious fantasy of the teevee preacher, mega-church, store-front, jerry falwell, jimmy swaggert, elmer gantry sort.

    it was the reverend jerry falwell of lynchburg, virginia who invented the anti-abortion movement in america in the mid-70’s.

  16. EricTDuckman says:

    In the encyclical “ON THE ORIGIN OF CIVIL POWER ‘DIUTURNUM’“, promulgated on June 29, 1881, Pope Leo XIII stated that “…many men of more recent times, walking in the footsteps of those who in a former age assumed to themselves the name of philosophers, say that all power comes from the people; so that those who exercise it in the State do so not as their own, but as delegated to them by the people, and that, by this rule, it can be revoked by the will of the very people by whom it was delegated. But from these, Catholics dissent, who affirm that the right to rule is from God, as from a natural and necessary principle”.

    Therefore, it can be argued that the Catholic church is fundamentally opposed to one of the most important foundational principles of The United States Of America, as stated in our Declaration Of Independence; that “…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”, and that the unelected rulers of the Catholic church believe they have a God given duty to veto actions of the government chosen by “We the people of The United States”.

  17. orionATL says:


    boy would i love the opportunity to cite this individually to congressman issa and to bishop lori and ask them:

    “please comment on the question of whether our govt is derived from the people or from god (as interpreted by the church, of course)? “

  18. JTMinIA says:

    My new theory on all this is that 11-D chess is back.

    Obama’s people are worried about Romney in the general, but not about a whacko like Santorum. So they made the contraception rule to stir up the Catholic hierarchy which, in turn, would be a boost for Santorum. So far it is working perfectly.

    Now, what were we talking about?

  19. Palli says:

    The Lori men of the world refuse to believe us when we say:

    [We] know that, if [this mandate is rescinded], we will be the ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate [our] most deeply held beliefs, especially {our] unpopular belief [that everyone has a right to their belief].

    now who is the most catholic

  20. tinao says:

    Jeebs, those men better realize they’ve made total fools of themselves by betraying original christian and democratic principles. The double whammy!

  21. tinao says:

    Christ never ever forced his teachings on anyone. People came to accept them of their own free will. Do you think the religious institutions that want to tell free citizens what choices they can or can’t have would even exist without federal funds? And like it or not guys, we live in a democratic republic…not a theocracy! But feel free to twist it all up to have your own way, just don’t blame us when it comes apart for you.

  22. tinao says:

    Furthermore, I happen to believe that a human being is when the spirit decides to inhabit the material form and stay. So human life does not start at conception or even during growth in the womb, Spirit may come and go during, but it is a consensual relationship between mother and child. Again, sorry but it’s not your choice. So please, quit using this issue to divide people. My beliefs are every bit as valid as yours!

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