Dictatorship of Celibacy

Allan Carlson has a nice piece showing how the atheist Margaret Sanger co-opted turn of the century anti-Catholicism. Her eugenics past I knew, but much of the specific history is new to me. Two things stuck out at me. The first is for my "not so good ol' days" file. It seems Charlie Curran and the Sacred Order of Dissenters may not be entirely to blame for Catholic non-compliance on matters of openness to life. One Fr. Ryan tangled with Sanger in 1915, and wrote an article trying to explain Church teaching on the matter, which Sanger was already caricaturing:
Ryan’s article declared that there “is no possibility of a legitimate difference of opinion among Catholics” regarding contraception, while acknowledging that many of the laity were “considerably tainted” by the practice.
To hear some people talk, no American Catholic ever sinned before Vatican II: so that's interesting.

The rest is kind Saul Alinsky pre-figured. Sanger started out what we now call a radical feminist, touting the goods of unwed motherhood and proclaiming woman's liberation from "gods and masters." That didn't fly, however, so she toned down the atheism and found a target: the Church, which was already feared because of Irish immigration.

Unsurprisingly, the seminal incident that gave momentum to her cause never happened. Or at least never happened the way it was reported. A debate she was supposed to be in was shut down and word spread that the Archbishop of New York had shut her down. He hadn't, but nothing could call that false story back, and she capitalized on it:
She sharpened the argument that she would employ for the next two decades:
There is no objection to the Catholic Church inculcating its doctrines to its own people, but when it attempts to make these ideas legislative acts and enforce its opinions and code of morals upon the Protestant members of this country, then I do consider its attempt an interference with the principles of this democracy, and I have a right to protest.
Elsewhere, she crowed about the incident: “The clumsy and illegal tactics of our opponents made the whole country aware of what we were doing. . . . Thus our first national conference was crowned with triumph.”

Margaret Sanger, atheist, the champion of Protestant Morality! That was rich in another way as well:
In vain did Catholic advocates note that as of 1921 not a single Protestant denomination or group had endorsed birth control; all remained formally opposed to the practice. In vain did they point out that existing laws against contraceptives were the uniform product of nineteenth-century Evangelical Protestant political influence.
I had a little taste of something similar recently while trying to debate a friend who was ranting against DADT and turned it into an anti-Catholic diatribe. It was utterly futile to point out the Church has no stance on DADT, nor did the Church have any influence whatever on the code of military conduct. Never mind, he was mad, and it had to be the Pope's fault somehow.
Instead, Sanger set the new terms of debate. As she wrote in her autobiography, “Ever since the outburst of religious intolerance at Town Hall, it [has] been apparent that in the United States the Catholic hierarchy and officialdom were going to be the principal enemies of birth control.” The Town Hall incident, she went on to explain in the Birth Control Review, “has shown up the sinister control of the Roman Catholic Church, which attempts—and to a great extent succeeds—to control all questions of public and private morality in these United States.”
She continued, “All who resent this sinister Church Control of life and conduct . . . must now choose between Church Control and Birth Control.” Neutrality was not a choice. “You must make a declaration of independence, of self-reliance, or submit to the dictatorship of the Roman Catholic hierarchy . . . a dictatorship of celibates.”
We all recall how much the Church was in favor here in 1918! 
Protestant ministers at the time spoke out against her, but she just ignored them and heaped abuse on the Church.
Another of Sanger’s brilliant strategies was simply to ignore Protestant writers, preachers, and churches that continued to denounce birth control. By demonizing the Catholic Church alone (although she also lashed out at Missouri Synod Lutherans) and by claiming to defend the Protestant conscience from Roman oppression, she left the impression that Protestants were on her side, in the apparent hope that this would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Internal debates about birth control touched off in various Protestant churches, with the Episcopalians being the first to cave....though not right away. Look at this! 
The church most vulnerable to doctrinal change proved to be the Episcopal Church. But that was not clear in 1908 when the Lambeth conference—an international gathering of Anglican bishops, normally held every ten years—adopted a statement labeling “self-restraint within marriage” a “man’s right,” and calling for the prohibition of all “neo-Malthusian appliances,” the prosecution of those who enabled “preventive methods,” a tighter regulation of midwives, and a national recognition of “the dignity of motherhood.” In 1920, the next (war-delayed) Lambeth conference delivered “an emphatic warning against the use of unnatural means for the avoidance of conception.” The bishops specifically condemned that teaching which “encouraged married people in the deliberate cultivation of sexual union as an end in itself.”
As early as 1916, the Moody Bible Institute’s Christian Workers Magazine began editorializing against birth control. Commenting on a sermon by A. C. Dixon, it denounced the Malthusian argument that the Great War had been caused by overpopulation, saying, “that theory is from the devil.” It also favorably described a speaker “of the Federated Catholic Societies” who traced the birth control issue back to the “detestable act” of Onan and who blamed “socialist leaders, aided by the anarchists and other neo-Malthusian ‘uplifters,’” for bringing on “the national agitation of this wickedness in the name of social betterment.” The journal positively quoted the unnamed Catholic: “If men would only read and believe the Bible, and obey God who revealed it they would find that they might in a holy and proper way multiply and replenish the earth.”
The Fundamentalists, too were all anti-birth control,  including Billy Sunday, who explicitly made common cause with Catholics (I knew nothing of the Fundamentalists ever having an interest in this question):
Billy Sunday, the greatest evangelist of the era, was a fierce foe of birth control. Perhaps influenced by his own precarious childhood, Sunday idealized the home and the place of the mother within: “It remains with womanhood today to lift our social life to a higher plane.” He scorned those “married women who shrink from maternity,” and referred to the “birth control faddists” as “the devil’s mouthpiece.” Women who used pessaries wore “the Mark of Cain.”
While anti-Catholicism grew among liberal Protestants, the fundamentalists tended to be remarkably praiseworthy of the Church of Rome. In denouncing divorce, Billy Sunday declared, “I am a Catholic” on this question. Moody Bible Institute publications regularly praised Catholic sexual ethics. And in 1929, John Roach Straton stood alongside Fr. William J. Duane, the president of Fordham University, at a rally protesting a proposed New York law to legalize the giving of birth control information to married couples. Straton congratulated the Catholic Church for its opposition to both divorce and “race suicide.”
Not until the 1930s and the eugenics movement did Sanger adopt eugenics and court eugenicists. Interestingly, many eugenicists resisted birth control because they thought the educated would use it and leave the unfit to breed like rabbits (which is exactly what is happening if by educated you mean atheist or new age and by unfit you mean religious). Sanger courted them, and they courted Christians, until among liberal Christians, birth control was just part of the Social Gospel. 
There follow a bunch of ministers who think like this:
Rev. MacArthur noted that a generation of church leaders, “open-minded idealists,” have dared “to dream of a new social order, a world made up of Christ-like men and women.” He continued: “This structure of the temple of God among men must be built of the best human material.” Brashly, he declared:
Now, eugenics offers a way, consistent with Christian principles, of freeing the race in a few generations of a large proportion of the feeble-minded, the criminal, the licentious, by seeing to it by means of surgery or segregation, that persons carrying these anti-social traits shall leave behind no tainted offspring.
Both poverty and ignorance were the consequence of “low-grade human beings.” Eugenics aimed at producing “a super race” marked by intelligence, health, and good will.
And  this: 
In his popular sermon, “The Refiner’s Fire,” the Rev. Phillips Endecott Osgood of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis cast Jesus as the ultimate eugenicist, the “Refiner” of men: “He was superlatively concerned to better the qualities of human living” and he saw children as “the near edge of the future, the beginning of the ultimate.” Marriage and childbearing should be reserved “for those who are wholesome and normal.” The unfortunate victim of a hereditary malady should deny himself parenthood and so “become a redemptive helper of the next generation.”
This meant that the Church would also “have to take its stand on the question of birth control.” He added: “In our cooperation with the Refiner’s work, we must accept heredity as our major factor.”
Another sermon published in Eugenics, this one by Edwin Bishop, pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Lansing, Michigan, also wove together the themes of evolution, birth control, eugenics, and the Kingdom of God. Bishop insisted that men and women were summoned to assist God in the task of transformation: “Shall we humans not realize what God is trying to do for us and how He suggests that we participate with Him in conscious evolution?” He believed that Jesus had a program “for self-fulfillment for the individual and for the race,” which could only be accomplished with “more knowledge and practice of simple eugenic laws.”
And so forth...proving once again that Science & Religion must learn from one another, but not mix as such. More frightening than a preacher ignorant of science is one on the cutting edge of it!