November 3, 2009
Error and Redundancy
Congressional United Church Pastor Eugene Dyszlewski took to the Projo letters section, on Sunday, to attack Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin for his criticism of supposedly Roman Catholic Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who had attacked the Catholic Bishops for continuing to oppose abortion funding within healthcare legislation. Writes Dyszlewski:
The congressman poses a legitimate question about how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social-justice issue of our time. It remains to be seen what specific language in what bill raises the abortion concern. Federal law already includes a ban on abortion financing; demanding redundant legislative language in the bill under the threat of opposition seems oddly unnecessary.
It would be preferable if religious leaders were less prone to logical error and the promotion of misinformation. For illustration of the first count, imagine a "comprehensive healthcare bill" that would cover all those millions of uninsured Americans (or non-Americans, as the case may be), but that had a provision for the execution of Protestant ministers. Would it be inexplicable opposition to "the biggest social-justice issue of our time" to require the removal of that provision as a prerequisite for supporting the bill? The reverend is merely trading in deceptive political rhetoric.
On the second count, Dyszlewski is astonishingly strident about the redundancy of the language for which pro-lifers are calling. At best, it appears that the only real question is the mechanism by which federal dollars would flow to abortion providers. If Dyszlewski is referring to the Hyde Amendment, he's simply wrong. That annual appropriations rider applies only to the Health and Human Services appropriation, from which healthcare legislation would have distinct revenue. The upshot is that unique legislation does, in fact, require a targeted ban.
If Rev. Dyslewski believes that financing the killing of unborn children is a small price to pay for a bill that will ensure the erosion of our healthcare system, then it would be more honest of him to come out and say as much. In the meantime, I'd caution him against making common cause with the likes of Stephan Brigidi, of Bristol, who used the same space a couple of days previous to express his zealotry for banning religious leaders and their beliefs from the public square. "For far too long," writes Brigidi, "this interference has gone unchallenged, such as the reciting of rosaries and prayers under the State House rotunda to oppose certain legislation."
There's a reason the "right" to abortion rises up in tandem with an urge to restrict rights of religion and free speech, and religious folk would do well to contemplate it.