The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: Separation of Church State, $$$ Version

Posted on: August 7, 2014

Good Thursday, Widdershins.  I hope that your week has gone well thus far.  We have heard a great deal regarding the vast impositions being placed on both religious institutions and People of Faith by the nefarious actions of the federal government.  I could have sworn that I have heard/read everything possible, but I was wrong.  In fact, stone cold wrong.

Today, I read an article posted on Real Clear Politics in their religion section.  The post was written by one Robert Sirico, and I had not heard of him before.  Clearly, Mr. Sirico is a devout Catholic, and the article entitled “Hobby Lobby’s Liberty and Ours” reflects his most sincere beliefs,  The article also awakened me to some facts that had heretofore passed me right by, such as the fact that federal money is going into the coffers of religious institutions. I cannot seem to find any clear-cut figures that would quantify the amount of funding and the various recipients, so if anyone knows that answer, please feel free to share.  Mr. Sirico actually wrote the article to decry the amount of time, effort, and dollars that religious institutions were spending on legal fees to “defend” their long-held positions against “secular” interference from government agencies, various.  He also comments that the current administration is the most secular in the nation’s history.  (Funny.  Doesn’t seem that long ago that the Prez was decried as a Moslem/Liberation theocratic.  Now he is suddenly hyper-secular.  Who knew?)

The brouhaha du jour involves the Catholic Church’s semi-apoplectic reaction to the latest round of stipulations regarding the payment of employees of federal contractor.  Again, who knew that the Catholic Church is considered a federal contractor?  Certainly not me.  Seems that The RC church gets federal dollars for  social services, so they fall under the mantel of a contractor.  From the article:

On July 21, President Obama issued an executive order that prohibits federal government contractors from “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination and forbids “gender identity” discrimination in the employment of federal employees. In a scathing response, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decried the executive order as “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.” The bishops’ response, authored by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, asserted that “in the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination.” The bishops predicted that “faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent” to the deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality undergirding the order. “As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

While being a practicing Catholic is long ago and far away for me, I have family members and friends who would qualify nicely for this category.  I assure you that none of them will be remotely upset if women are paid as well as men, and if the minimum wage ticks upward.  They just won’t, your Eminences.  Cross my heart and hope to die. But, there’s more

:This means that Washington will now police the hiring and staffing policies of any church or charitable organization that holds federal contracts. The irony here is that the Catholic Church unequivocally opposes discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, without compromising its teachings on marriage or family. Who holds the moral high ground on this question, the federal government or the Church?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the Roman Catholic Church has been anything but a bastion of equity., at least with regard to gender issues.  (The Church was stellar on civil rights racial issues.)  Even Pope Francis, who so generously welcomed gays back into the church and is a veritable model for social justice has admitted that he cannot elevate the status of women to equity without rattling the age-old Church doctrine of the patriarchy.  Ergo, the Church may oppose discrimination, but lives it on a daily basis.  Sad to say, but the Church would have to look up to view the high moral ground in this particular instance. So here is the dilemma, as I see it:  the Church is the pinnacle of efficiency when it comes to social services.  They run Catholic Charities beautifully, and not a dime goes to “administrative costs”.  They fund raise well, and can stretch a dollar until the eagle begs for mercy.  They put their money where their mouth is.  BUT – and a big but is indicated – if they are taking federal dollars collected from people of all faiths, can they insist on using that money only by their own patriarchical standards? This is not church money, so the grounds by which they can claim an exception are shaky at best.  They are contractors, plain and simple, and the rules should apply to all equally. Mr. Sirico eventually says something with which I can agree wholeheartedly:

 This was, in a way, inevitable. I’ve been sounding the alarm for more than two decades about the risks of church-based groups — Catholic Charities comes immediately to mind — becoming overly dependent on government contracts. What we should do is to “reprivatize” private charities. That’s the only way these religious groups will be truly accountable and truly private.

Cue the applause.   Way to go, Mr. Sirico.  If it’s their money, they will simply fall under the laws of their individual states, as we do not allow slavery, human sacrifice, or marriage to multiple women who happen to be in the seventh grade, and churches are not immune to state and federal laws.  Just ask Jim Baker and Warren Jeffers.  However, he did not ask the one question that I think is paramount:  Doesn’t the act of giving federal funds to various churches violate the separation of church and state?  Think about it.

This is an open thread.  (If you look carefully, my significant other is the last snare drummer on the right, many moons ago.  Yes, we have very strange hobbies.)

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11 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: Separation of Church State, $$$ Version"

No no no! Stop trying to destroy white male heterosexual Catholics! They are the most abused peoples on the planet!

I’ll have to read Mr. Sirico’s article but right off the top of my head, if the church finds the rules and regs sooo offensive, don’t apply or bid for federal contracts for services. Done, right?

@1::

@2: In a word, yes.

Great post Chat and it is a good reminder of the camel’s nose and what happens inside the tent once the camel decides to party.

This was inevitable once Dubya ordained the “faith based initiatives” basically unseparating church and state. Of course, the churches were all for this because it was a guaranteed, easy revenue stream. Once they became ensconced as a pillar of the governmental infrastructure and someone said, you need to play by some rules — where’s Snidley Whiplash and the railroad tracks because they are now victims.

Of course it could be worse, here in KY the state — STATE — has just decided to give a complete tax rebate — REBATE — to the Noah’s Ark project. Not bonds for infrastructure improvements or regular development bonds, but a tax REBATE — dollar for dollar on the poor misguided folks who will spend $40 to come and see a big wooden smelly petting zoo on a hillside.

You know I would give a tax rebate if anyone could tell me why Great White Sharks were preferable to say, hogs, during the Great Flood. Or why jellyfish were better than say lice?

@5: Or unicorns?

Excellent comment Prolix.

We went to the beautiful Greek Theater in the hills of Los Angeles tonite to see Toto & Michael McDonald, who were absolutely superb. We went with my bro in law and were trading goofy celeb stories, of which I usually have the best, but bro in law had a better one. He went to see the Stones a few years ago with a female friend who had won VIP tickets. They both went to the VIP restrooms before the show and bro in law saw a bunch of what he thought were typical celeb security guys standing around the mens room. Somehow bro in law slipped into the bathroom even though they were telling other men they had to wait. Anyway bro in law took a leak in the urinal while two “security guards” gave him the eagle eye, and bro could hear another guy taking a leak in one of the stalls. Bro finished went outside and waited for his female friend outside the womens restroom, while watching to see what celeb would come out of the mens room he had just vacated. To his utter shock, it was BILL CLINTON!!! Bro said he smiled at him and bro said Hi to him and he came over and gave him a high five and said “Enjoy the show” and trailed off with his four guards. I told bro, “my god, those weren’t typical lowlife celebrity guards, those were secret service! I can’t believe they let you stay in there!” He said he just slipped in at the right moment so they let him stay, and now he gets to tell everyone he got to take a pi#$ with President Clinton. Not everyone gets that special honor!

Fredster, I’m going to spend a week with my mama, and my siblings, adopted sibling, step siblings, army of nieces and nephews, and a few old friends, so if you don’t hear from me for the next week, don’t worry, it just means my moms house doesn’t have wifi and I’m being run ragged. I’m going to try to walk my guitar on the plane (as opposed to checking it), It will fit in the overhead bin, so it should work out.

annie said: now he gets to tell everyone he got to take a pi#$ with President Clinton.

That is sooo funny!

Okay, won’t worry and hope you have a good trip. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the guitar’s safety in the overhead bin! 😉
We’ll miss ya while you’re gone.

Just wait until enough women get together and start a religion (a la Scientology) that puts women in -exactly- same relationship to men that men are now to women in the Catholic Church: only women get to make the laws, only women get to administer the laws, only women get to dispose of men’s lives and men’s bodies (for the good of men, natch) and oh, only women who are unsullied by the most common contact most adult women have with men, marriage, get to do all this.

Then see how long this exquisite legal sensitivity towards religion lasts.

Well said, PDX Pat!

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