I’m getting increasingly fed up with the Catholic church following the lead of the religious right in claiming that a) they’re oppressed, and b) they speak for all Christianity. No you’re not, and no you don’t.
I’ll get to the first part later, but let’s start with this notion that the Catholic church speaks for all Christians. I am not a Catholic, yet still, I’m a Christian. Magic! No, not really. Lots of us are Christians and not Catholic, and that’s okay. And lots of us are Americans and not Christians, and even that is okay. Of course, the Catholic church often doesn’t even speak for Catholics, certainly not American Catholics (and I suspect the church leadership’s soft spot for enabling pedophiles isn’t much appreciated by most of the non-American Catholics either).
What has the Catholic church in such an uproar of late is America’s slow but steady march towards civil rights and liberty for all. You see, the Catholic church, like the evangelical far right, believes that common decency is a zero sum game. They actually believe that recognizing the civil rights of all Americans somehow takes something away from the Catholic church – no, strike that, they claim that America’s civil rights laws somehow oppress the religious liberty of Christians, not Catholics, but Christians.
This, in spite of the fact that the Catholic church is exempt from new civil rights laws covering gays, for example, so the church is free to practice as much bigotry and discrimination as it wishes to in the name of Christ. But that’s not enough. The Catholic church thinks that it’s not entirely free unless you’re not entirely free. It’s not enough for them to demand their own followers practice bigotry, they, like the Mormon leadership, or the evangelical far right, aren’t content unless they’re forcing everyone, even those of other faiths or no faith, to live under their rules.
So now the Catholic church is throwing a hissy fit over gay marriages (even though, again, they’re exempt) and state laws governing contraceptives. You see, the Catholic church is happy to feed at the government teat by accepting over $2.8 billion a year from the government at all levels. Yes, you read that right. Sixty-seven percent of Catholic Charities’ $4.27 billion in annual revenue comes from the government.
Understandably, the Catholic church would prefer that American taxpayers fund them to the tune of over two billion dollars a year and not attach any strings, such as not permitting Catholic Charities to discriminate in their charity work against those very Americans who are paying 67% of Catholic Charities’ bills. Heck, I’d love two billion a year with no strings attached, who wouldn’t? That’s why Catholic Charities stopped helping the most vulnerable segment of the poor and disadvantaged in Washington, DC and in Illinois – in both states they’re no longer providing foster care and adoption services to needy children – because Catholic Charities couldn’t stand the fact that local laws required them to use state tax dollars in a non-discriminatory manner. So rather than treat all Americans fairly, equally and with common decency – rather than help children in need – Catholic Charities decided to just pull the plug and let them rot.
Oh, and a quick aside: It’s interesting that Catholic Charities is trying to claim that it’s still the Catholic Church, so civil rights laws shouldn’t apply to it. Really? The American taxpayer is funding the Catholic Church’s proselytizing to the tune of $2.8 billion a year? Really? I’m a bit confused about that one. I didn’t think our government funded any faith. If the Catholic Church is getting nearly $3bn a year to practice its faith, then I hope reform Judaism and the nice Protestants are each getting $3bn as well. Are they? I doubt it. So how is it that the Catholic church is now claiming that its charity work is somehow its faith, when we’d never fund such proselytizing in the first place?
What’s really going on is that the Catholic Church deems its anti-gay animus more important than the needs of children. (Then again, the Catholic Church doesn’t exactly have a stellar record of late when it comes to giving a lick about the needs of children.)
And now the Catholic Church is becoming increasingly hysterical, screaming about how America is quickly becoming unfriendly territory for Christians (which certainly begs the question of when America will finally have a Christian president, or elect a Christian to Congress). Ironic aside: Remember when John F. Kennedy was running for President in 1960 and the Catholic Church fervently promised the nation that it wasn’t try to impose its view by political fiat on all Americans?
Maybe, just maybe, this debate isn’t about religion at all. After all, it doesn’t quite make sense, all this talk about America – which is run and ruled by Christians for the most part, and has been for over two hundred years, and whose government regularly nods towards Christianity far more than most modern democracies – becoming “anti-Christian.” So what’s really going on?
Maybe, just maybe, the Catholic Church is more worried about the $2.8 billion it gets every year from the American government (at all levels) than it is about some nonsensical notion of religious freedom when the Catholic church is exempt from every civil rights law it’s complaining about. Maybe, just maybe, this is all about money, and not about religious freedom at all.
PS I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again: What are bigots like this doing on the board of the supposedly progressive Coalition on Human Needs? You have to wonder if CHN would have racist or anti-Semitic organizations on its board. No, you don’t wonder – we all know they wouldn’t. But somehow when the prejudice is against gays and lesbians, some of our top “liberal” organizations find it in their hearts to look the other way.