Ta-Nehisi Coates used to occasionally do posts titled “Talk To Me Like I’m Stupid” when he wanted to know about some subject. I am going to borrow his line to put some questions to you readers on the issue of Catholics and their opposition to contraception, which has been in the news lately.

I am not a religious person, and never have been. Most of what I know about religion is just the commonplace knowledge one can’t help picking up in our society. But I don’t know much detail, or history, of religious teachings. So, I don’t actually understand why so many Catholics, especially their leaders, are against contraception. I consulted my favorite source, Wikipedia, on the topic, and it reported that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is where it’s all codified.

Unfortunately, having read that article, it’s still not clear to me who originally wrote this Catechism and when. Apparently, it rests on the authority of the Pope–which surprised me, because I was expecting that something from the Bible itself would be the ultimate grounds for this. I was surprised, in fact, by how little the actual Bible got cited in all this.

Now, on to the second issue I don’t understand. If I recall correctly, this whole thing started because religious institutions don’t want to have to pay for contraceptives for their employees. Now, what I’ve never seen actually explained is: might it be the case  that some of  these employees are not followers of the same religion as their employer? If  so, then the question becomes: Is there a “nor tolerate those who do” clause anywhere in the Catholic teachings?

That’s important, because if it turns out there is, it could lead to some serious problems. But quite honestly, I realize that the answers to these questions are probably quite obvious, and that I am displaying an embarrassing ignorance of the subject.