I have a hard time believing many non-wingers care about the Catholic church contraceptive thing. I’m not saying there’s none, but most people support access to birth control, and the “I support birth control but I oppose the church having to provide access to it in their health care programs” position is too complicated for mass consumption. It sure doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. I’m not demeaning liberal Catholics who hold this position, just saying that I doubt there are many people in their boat and even fewer who are single issue voters on this one.
I think Steve M. is right about why the issue is getting so much attention.
It’s a firestorm, I think, because the American political elite teems with high-profile right-wing Catholics — among them converts such as Newt Gingrich, Robert Bork, Sam Brownback, Laura Ingraham, Lawrence Kudlow, and Ramesh Ponnuru. There’s been a concerted effort in recent years to win influential wingers over to the Catholic Church (Father John McCloskey, a prime mover in this effort, was described in a 2002 Slate article as “The Catholic Church’s K Street lobbyist”); the effort seems to be the political equivalent of Scientology’s focus on converting famous entertainers.
When you combine all these wingnut Catholic converts with birth Catholics who are prominent right-wingers (William Bennett, Scalia/Thomas/Roberts), you get a Catholic-winger noise machine that can convey the sense within the Beltway that Catholics believe a certain thing when, in fact, only prominent right-wing Catholic pols and pundits believe it in great numbers.
The priest profiled in that Slate article above is a member of Opus Dei, a cult that operates within the Catholic Church, and he converted Larry Kudlow, Sam Brownback, and Newt.
In particular, Opus Dei (in marked contrast to the Catholic church in general) preaches the gospel of success, as does Mormonism, as does Scientology.
Is it inevitable that our society will be taken over by “gospel of success” cults? I think the answer is probably “yes”.