Do polls determine the truth?

The paragraph below is pure fiction, designed to illustrate a point.

In a shocking new poll, 75% of Catholics have admitted to using prostitutes at some point in their lives.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a hastily-called press conference, welcomed the news, stating emphatically that her department would move quickly to amend the HHS mandate to include coverage for prostitution services. “We have always known that variety is the spice of life, and this new research simply confirms it” announced Sebelius. Accompanying Secretary Sebelius, Representative Nancy Pelosi said “I join all my fellow devout Catholics in approving of this addition to the healthcare plan. Recognition of the need for this benefit is long overdue.”

OK, now that I have your blood pumping, sit down. It’s all a bad joke. Let me be clear – I made this fake poll up to illustrate just how ridiculous this type of thinking is.

But, it’s a joke with a purpose.

The Obama administration’s HHS Mandate will attempt to force Catholic institutions to violate their consciences by compelling them to pay for contraception and sterilization as part of their health plans. One of the justifications the government has cited for the mandate is a study by the Guttmacher Institute, which found that “most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”

One of the most serious fallacies in modern day thinking is that truth is decided by polls or the moral behavior of people.

Here’s a news flash – TRUTH IS NOT DECIDED BY POLLS.

I know this goes against our society’s way of thinking, but I think some are getting lost in the weeds of this argument. I was part of a conversation last night, in which a college student relayed a situation in the classroom in which the professor made this very argument – how can Catholics be upset by the mandate when 70% of them are using contraception or disagree with the teachings of the Church?”

The short answer is that truth of a particular teaching of the faith is not dictated by the percentage of Catholics who adhere to the teaching or believe in it.

If most Catholic women have practiced contraception at some point in their lives, this simply demonstrates that they do not understand the teaching or have chosen to ignore it. It says nothing about the validity of the teaching.

I should also remind you of Disraeli’s quote:

There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics

Statistics can be made to say whatever one wants them to say, so we must use discretion when evaluating these types of claims. It would be much more useful to evaluate the contraceptive behavior of Catholics who actually seriously practice the faith. I am sure the number practicing contraception would be much lower, but it still would not matter one iota when it comes down to determining the truth.

As I discussed in a previous post on truth, we Catholics believe that the Church speaks with the voice of Christ.

Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me (Luke 10:16)

Christ founded the Catholic Church. He promised that He would be with it for all time. He gave his authority to His apostles, and their successors.

The teachings of the Catholic Church on contraception and sexual morality are the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are not just words of some “old celibate men in Rome” who don’t understand what is going on in the real world. Yes, the media would have us believe that notion, but it is simply not the case. To go against those teachings is to go against Christ.

If you think about it, not much has changed in 2,000 years. That venerable patron of relativism, Pontius Pilate, is most known for saying: “What is truth?”

The world stills asks this question, but answers it as follows:

The truth is that contraception allows us to have sex whenever we please and with whomever we please. It allows us to avoid having those pesky little children until we are ready. We are our own Gods. (Seems like Adam and Eve thought the same thing. Look where that got us.)

The truth is those clumps of cells aren’t really babies. And so, in the name of freedom and a perverted sense of truth, a whole generation of human beings have been lost to the evil of abortion.

The truth is marriage is irrelevant. It’s just a piece of paper, not a real sign of commitment. There’s no need to wait to have sex until you are married – that’s just a medieval concept. Go ahead and live together. Would you buy a car without test driving it?

(Speaking out of the other side of its mouth) The truth is marriage is so important it should not be denied to anyone. Homosexuals should be allowed to marry. It’s an equally admirable lifestyle. There’s no harm in it. All those Bible admonitions against it are just the product of unenlightened homophobes.

The truth is if there is a God, he does not care what you do or believe, especially in your bedroom. Just be a good person. You know, don’t kill anyone. Other than that, pretty much everything is OK. There’s no such thing as sin, or absolute right or wrong. That’s so mid-1300s, man.

The truth is nobody should have to suffer. All these old people who have Alzheimers and Parkinsons – they are not productive citizens. Their lives have no value. And, besides that, their nursing home bills are killing us. Why don’t we just give them death with dignity, and make it easier on all of us?

I could go on and on with the lies the world tells us.

If we are getting our formation from the media, or music, or modern culture, our goose is already cooked.

We must form our consciences based on what Christ teaches us. He left us the Catholic Church to preserve and continue to teach His truths.

Suffering the slings and arrows of persecution

Teaching those truths comes at a high price, but has a high reward:

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13)

Christ has some advice for those who try to confuse His faithful:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)



  1. Mary Chapman says:

    Love this. You’re so good at the tongue-in-cheek twists, Sean! It makes the truth about the world so obvious when you state it so plainly.

  2. Your words ring true Sean.

    The fundamental problem in this country is we have left the concept of laws based on the Constitution and are rapidly moving towards the basis of right and wrong being determined by popular vote. An uninformed majority can do grievous harm in that situation, which I think is inevitable in the world. It already is costing millions of unborn children their lives each year, and the road ahead is going to be difficult. The teaching of John Paul the Great spoke of the need to redeem the culture – move from a culture of death to a culture of life. He was and is right – that is our only hope for the future of society. But God has not left us to go through this dark hour alone….we have the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the saints, our guardian angels, the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist. With God for us who can stand against us. I think we will win no matter the outcome of the battle.