Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Seperation of Church and Hate [Guest post by soulrebelj]

About two weeks ago or so, the Catholic Diocese of Washington, D.C. threatened to cease providing services to the poor in the city if the city went forward with a bill allowing same sex marriages. When I read this, I was instantly appalled.

How could the Catholic Church make a decision like this? When did politics take the place of compassion in the Church? I know this decision could not have been on the grounds of morality after all those years of the Church turning a blind eye and a deaf eye to the myriad of horrendous cases of sexual abuse by its priests.

But I will not go on a rant. I will instead turn the floor over to my friend and fellow blogger soulrebelj who blogs at Black Everyday. He approaches the issue much better than I ever could and in fewer words without all the emotion. When you finish, show him a little soul with your comments and do go over and check out his blog.

The Catholic Church has given Washington D.C. an ultimatum. The letter, sent by the Archdiocese, is a threat to stop helping the 1/3rd of Washington D.C.'s homeless currently receiving social services if they pass same-sex marriage legislation. Morally questionable or not, this move is good for us all.

The line separating church and state is long overdue for redrawing. The Vatican, which operates as its own independent nation, should not be writing US policy--at least not without Americans referring to the Pope as Supreme Leader or Ayatollah. In this Democracy, citizen elected leaders are meant to create the policy.

That's where the line separating church and state gets blurred.

Shouldn't the Catholic Church be allowed to spend their money wherever they please? Correct, however using money to influence government policy is called lobbying, and lobbyists have [albeit weak] rules very different from the tax benefits and freedoms granted to religious institutions. Between the Catholic Church and 1/2 the policymakers claiming to be on the “religious right,” separation of Church and State is practically obsolete. To say religion has no influence over US policy is a joke. As these institutions continue to flex their economic muscle, we need to even up the playing field. If you want to play the bribery—I’m sorry--lobbyist game, you need to play by the lobbyist rules. Religious institutions need to be under the same category as other non-profit organizations.

There is no separation of Non-Profit and State. In fact, the opposite is true--we expect them to advocate for policy change beneficial to their cause (Republican National Committee, The Young Turks, etc). Churches, on the other hand, are operating the same way under the illusion of neutrality—an illusion which grants them unprecedented access to policymakers. Nobody would blink twice to hear Politician X meeting with or even quoting Minister X. If, however, Minister X was instead just Mr. X, leader of Non-Profit X (ie, Acorn), the rest of the political alphabet would be up in arms. They would demand every email, text message, or note passed among the two, and scrutinize any policy which appeared beneficial to Non-Profit X. They would demand the revocation of Non-Profit X's status, and attack the credibility of Non-Profit X (assuming Non-Profit X supported their rivals).

Both the Catholic Church and the politicians vying for their votes should consider this policy change. Threatening to “re-allocate funds” if disagreeable bills are passed is too blatant to be ignored. What we allow the Catholic Church to do today, we must allow the Muslim Church to do tomorrow. If Muslims had the same fiscal standing as the Vatican, would we be as willing to accept them using the same level of influence? If the GOP's response to Obama using Bush initiated policy is any indication, the answer is a resounding no.

Then again this is a church matter, and maybe non-Catholics shouldn't be involved with church decisions. It's not like...never mind.


ProfGeo said...

The Catholic Church (largely writ) is feeling its oats these days. They've also recently sicced a bishop on Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island for his stance on abortion. Picking on a Kennedy is erratic but understandable in terms of their official position. However, using the poor as a ping-pong ball in an unrelated issue is over the top. Using minority poor is making it real personal...

Denisha said...

This goes against any & everything Christian since the poor and needy is the heart of the faith. Also, if Muslims or any non-Christian religion was to do or say something similar it would get real ugly. Sometimes Christians can be modern day bullies in adult form.

Lyn Marie said...

Once again organized religion shows its true colors. Their concern is one of power not compassion. I don't remember Jesus asking the political leanings of the lepers and prostitutes he helped. Perhaps the Catholic Church needs a refresher course on the life of Jesus or maybe they should drop the guise of religion and become the true political machine that they are.

Anonymous said...

Many religious people are hate filled hippocrits not just catholics.

R- said...

While I see what you are saying, and I see what the author is saying, I can't say that I disagree with what the archbishop did (and I know that I will be critized for saying that). Nor do I think it is something he did easily.

Max Reddick said...


Yeah, I recognized that most of the poor covered by the Catholic Charities in DC are minority poor. And it does make one raise an eye.


And that was what I was giving at. Feeding the poor and providing comfort I believe are the Church's main duties. However, they have decided to delve into politics and ignore those duties altogether.


Yes, organized religion seems to be working against itself. At this time, organized religion seems to have too many other irons in the fire, and as I remarked to Denisha, poorly performing its true missions.


And I wasn't picking on just the Catholics. Again, organized religion needs to step back and redefine its goals and purposes. It's just that this time the Catholic church stands out.


A choice should not have had to be made. Feeding the poor and providing comfort is at the very top of the Church's mission. I understand that same sex marriage might violate church law, but why use those most in need of compassion as pawns?

I do not argue against Church law, though I feel that law may be wrong and encourages discrimination. I just don't agree with the means by which the Church attempts to enforce that law.

R- said...

I guess my reasoning is that the city still has the funds. If the Catholic church is not using them, then the city can contract with other agencies that can provide the services.

Yes it is at the core of the church to provide for the poor and the needy, but it is not the only tenant of faith at the core of the church. If the church feels that it cannot use the city's money because of the strings attached, then they have the right to refuse it.

It is also a core tenent of government to take care of its citizens. So, maybe the city should be doing more and not leaving that work to the church.

I guess we just have a different view as to the motive behind the archbishop's decision. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am not Catholic)

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