Skip to content

I was angry at you before [Kathleen Sebelius], but now I’m really pissed off!

February 27, 2012
by

First, the basics:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  -First Amendment, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution

I’ve spoken to some of you on an individual level about this issue but the more I read and meditate on what is happening the more I am sickened by all of this.  I’m not sure how much you’ve been paying attention to the news about the HHS mandate but here is a brief primer:

In late January the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary put forth a new mandate requiring that every employer must cover things like contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs.  There is a VERY limited exclusion which is if you are a religious institution that is morally opposed, employ only people of the same religion and only serve people of the same religion.  So if you’re a Catholic church that does nothing and interacts with no one outside your walls, then you’re fine, but if you’re a Catholic church and you have a school or have a sports team or a soup kitchen, or anything else like that, you’re not exempt.  Same goes for Catholic hospitals, universities, Catholic charities, etc.  Then there was the ‘compromise’ that came a few weeks later that said that these types of institutions that are morally opposed to this coverage but not exempt wouldn’t have to pay for the insurance, but the insurance company would have to cover it.  When the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) took a look at this new provision they discovered that it is a nothing more than an accounting gimmic that would do nothing to stop the insurance companies from passing the costs indirectly onto these institutions.

I remind you:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  -First Amendment, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution

Now, for a moment, try and disregard everything I’ve just said.  Forget who this bill goes after and what practices it tries to impose.  And ask yourself:  Should the owner of a Jewish deli be forced to sell but not required to consume bacon?  That the amish should have to buy but never use zippers?  Both of these would be ludicrous!  But is this not what the federal government is telling the Catholic church right now?  What comes next?  That failure to vaccinate your children can result in fines or incarceration?  Buying food from non-government sanctioned entities becomes illegal?  These things are crazy.  If someone told you the government was heading in this direction you’d instantly peg them as a conspiracy theorist.  I know I would.  But shoot man, they’re on their way!

I’ll end my soapbox moment with this:  We may not all believe that the provisions the HHS mandate would force upon all employers are bad things, we may in fact, applaud them.  But at what cost?  Our freedoms are being slowly chipped away and unless we stand up and voice our opinions to our elected officials and, well, get pissed off and loud, we’re going to lose them.  I am all for separation of church and state . . . but with this new mandate, I’m not so sure our federal government is.

And don’t forget:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  -First Amendment, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution

And if you didn’t catch it, the title is definitely a Robin Hood Men in Tights reference.

 

And if you still want to read more, below is an excerpt from a letter from Cardinal Francis George (Chicago) outlining what would happen to Catholic institutions (of which Catholic hospitals make up 12% of the hospitals in the US!!) if this mandate is not overturned:

Cardinal George adds:

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the Church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the Church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down …

Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.

The strangest accusation in this manipulated public discussion has the bishops not respecting the separation between church and state. The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church.

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 10:04 pm

    Well put! I full-heartedly agree with you. I am very unsure about our future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: