The acrimonious debate that surrounded this legislation on the floor of the House,
coupled with shortsighted acceptance of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, set the stage for
the further erosion of a woman's access to abortion for whatever the reason—rape,
incest, poverty, illness—even beyond the limits of the current Hyde Amendment.
Catholic bishops have every right to speak their mind and preach the church's
teaching. But they are engaging in outright political lobbying. Helping to write legislation
that turns Catholic doctrine into law. Violating the separation of church and state—and
Jesus’ own teachings on the subject. The bishops, in accepting vast federal funding
for Catholic hospitals and charities, "never question their own ability to lawfully manage
funds from separate sources to ensure that tax dollars don't finance religious
practices. Yet they reject the idea that others could do the same. This is the very
definition of hypocrisy."
Hypocrisy compounded by what the bishops are doing in Washington, D.C., when it
comes to the issue of same-sex marriage, their other primary fixation. There, the local
archdiocese has threatened to shut down its extensive social service programs for the
needy if the city legalizes same-sex marriage.
So much for the stated mission of protecting the vulnerable. Now, the vulnerable are to
be used as dice in a political gamble.
The pending bill appropriately exempts religious institutions from having to marry
same-sex couples, promote same-sex marriage or rent church property to them for
receptions or other affairs. But this bill rightly requires that employers providing
spousal benefits to employees extend those same benefits to same-sex partners who
marry. This law, which deals with the civic institution of
marriage and not religious doctrine, would cover
Catholic Charities, an organization that receives public
funds and that does extraordinary work feeding and
housing the poor in Washington and elsewhere in the
www.ambiente.us DECEMBER | DICIEMBRE 2009
OpEd | Separation of Church and State
by Carlos T. Mock, M.D.
The Bible states that hostile questioners tried to trap Jesus into taking an explicit and
dangerous stand on whether Jews should or should not pay taxes to the Roman
occupation. They anticipated that Jesus would oppose the tax, for Luke’s Gospels
explains their purpose was “to hand him over to the power and authority of the
governor.” The governor was Pilate, and he was the man responsible for the collecting
of Rome's taxes in Judea. At first the questioners flattered Jesus by praising his
integrity, impartiality and devotion to truth. Then they asked him whether or not it was
right for Jews to pay the taxes demanded by Caesar. Jesus first called them hypocrites,
and then asked one of them to produce a Roman coin that would be suitable for paying
Caesar’s tax. One of them showed him a Roman coin, and he asked them whose
name and inscription were on it. They answered, “Caesar’s,” and he responded “Give
to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” His interrogators were
flummoxed by this authoritative answer and left disappointed.
Jesus can be interpreted to be saying that his religious teachings were separate from
earthly political activity. This reading finds support in John 18:36, where Jesus
responds to Pontius Pilate about the nature of his kingdom, “My kingdom is not of this
world. If my kingdom were of this
world, my servants would have been
fighting, that I might not be delivered over
to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the
world.” This reflects a traditional division in
Critics of the archdiocese’s position rightly point out that other Catholic leaders have
found a way to accommodate same-sex partnerships without compromising their
As has been noted by some members of the City Council, Georgetown University, a
Catholic university, has written eligibility for its staff and faculty benefits program
broadly, so that employees can extend benefits to other eligible adults with whom they
may or may not be romantically involved. Lawmakers point to a similar arrangement in
San Francisco, where church officials reached an agreement with the city in the late
1990s under which church-related employers allowed employees to designate a
member of the household as a “spousal equivalent.” These agreements preserved
the beliefs of the church and the legal rights of the employees, without compelling the
church to explicitly recognize gay marriages or domestic partnerships.
Another case in point is Maine. The Catholic Church Spent $550,000 to Repeal Gay
Marriage Law in Maine—where the Catholic Church actually organized a second
collection to raise money to prevent gay people from having civil rights, the situation
shifts again. Using a tax-exempt church to raise money to defeat the civil rights of fellow
citizens is shocking if one believes in a separation of politics and religion, and if one
believes that the Church of Jesus should stand in solidarity with the marginalized,
rather than seeking to marginalize and demonize them still further.
It is time to acknowledge that the Catholic Church hierarchy can no longer pretend that
it isn’t the active enemy of women, gay people and our families. That this church
hierarchy—especially in its more conservative wing—is disproportionately gay itself
and waging war against their fellow gays through the cowardly veil of the closet.
It is time to demand that gay priests who are actively fighting against the
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Wine Parties &
Christian thought by which state and church have separate spheres of influence.
Our forefathers were keen to protect religious freedom as stated in the First Bill of Rights:
“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
However, The United States has recently gone from a State in which the balance of
separation of Church and State has tipped to a State where religious groups are trying to
impose their views on the government. A recent example is the rift between
Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island with Thomas J. Tobin, the Roman
Catholic bishop of Providence. His eminence proceeded to ask the congressman to
refrain from taking communion for his views on reproductive choice.
Now, our President has been hijacked by the U. S. Conference of Bishops who are
meddling in the reproductive rights of women in the fight over a universal health-care bill.
dignity of gay people own their enmeshment in injustice, stigmatization and cruelty. It is
time to reveal them in this respect as the enemies of the Gospels, not the champions.
It is time to tell the Church that we are Gay, Catholic and fed up with The Church's
efforts to quash the same-sex marriage movement. It is time to join forces with Phil
Attey who has come up with a controversial strategy: outing gay priests who speak out
against homosexuality: http://churchouting.com.
And it is time to force the Bishops in the Catholic Church to protect the innocent from
pedophile priests. When the Roman Catholic archdiocese in Seattle, WA, declared
bankruptcy this week, it began a new phase in the church's effort to put the sexual
abuse scandal behind it. Other dioceses—finding themselves with not enough
financial assets to settle the legal claims of the victims—will follow suit.
It is time to get the federal government involved in opening the church to greater
scrutiny of its finances, facilities, and programs around the country—they need to
enforce the important separation of church-state issues.
It is time for The Catholic Church to do an honest evaluation of itself as well as the
abuse of authority of centuries-old canon law.
CLICK HERE for more Carlos T. Mock
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