February 13, 2012

Rahe: Catholic Church Reaping What it Helped Sow

Marc Comtois

With the ongoing controversy between the Obama Administration and religious institutions--particularly the Catholic Church--as to whether the health care plans offered by the institutions should cover items they deem inconsistent with their religious tenets (ie; contraception, etc.), Paul Rahe writes that the support given to various progressive causes by the institution of the Catholic Church, in particular, has come back to bite them. He provides some history:

In the 1930s, the majority of the bishops, priests, and nuns sold their souls to the devil, and they did so with the best of intentions. In their concern for the suffering of those out of work and destitute, they wholeheartedly embraced the New Deal. They gloried in the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made Frances Perkins – a devout Anglo-Catholic laywoman who belonged to the Episcopalian Church but retreated on occasion to a Catholic convent – Secretary of Labor and the first member of her sex to be awarded a cabinet post. And they welcomed Social Security – which was her handiwork. They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think.

In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism – the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people’s money and redistribute it.

At every turn in American politics since that time, you will find the hierarchy assisting the Democratic Party and promoting the growth of the administrative entitlements state. At no point have its members evidenced any concern for sustaining limited government and protecting the rights of individuals. It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs.

I would submit that the bishops, nuns, and priests now screaming bloody murder have gotten what they asked for. The weapon that Barack Obama has directed at the Church was fashioned to a considerable degree by Catholic churchmen. They welcomed Obamacare. They encouraged Senators and Congressmen who professed to be Catholics to vote for it. {Emphasis added.}

He also offers anecdotal evidence:
I was reared a Catholic, wandered out of the Church, and stumbled back in more than thirteen years ago. I have been a regular attendee at mass since that time. I travel a great deal and frequently find myself in a diocese not my own. In these years, I have heard sermons articulating the case against abortion thrice – once in Louisiana at a mass said by the retired Archbishop there; once at the cathedral in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and two weeks ago in our parish in Hillsdale, Michigan. The truth is that the priests in the United States are far more likely to push the “social justice” agenda of the Church from the pulpit than to instruct the faithful in the evils of abortion.

And there is more. I have not once in those years heard the argument against contraception articulated from the pulpit, and I have not once heard the argument for chastity articulated. In the face of the sexual revolution, the bishops priests, and nuns of the American Church have by and large fallen silent. In effect, they have abandoned the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church in order to articulate a defense of the administrative entitlements state and its progressive expansion.

Rahe goes into much greater depth than these snippets indicate and it's worth a read (whether you tend to agree or disagree).

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In 1960 the GOP was bitching about the President taking orders from the Vatican.

Now they are bitching about the President..NOT taking orders from the Vatican.

My how conservatives have failed.

Posted by: Sammy in Arizona at February 13, 2012 2:10 PM

Sammy the Troll - What were Democrats busy complaining about in 1960? Blacks attending public schools and being served at lunch counters. You've run out of material so you're going back over half a century to troll us now?

I reiterate, if you aren't getting paid by the Democratic Party to post this pathetic drivel on a professional basis, then you are a sad case.

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2012 2:31 PM

Must be an election year! Here come the wedge issues. Funny, no one brought this up during the Bush administration:

"Most of Obama's 'Controversial' Birth Control Rule Was Law During Bush Years"

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn't provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don't offer prescription coverage or don't offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC's interpretation of the law, you can't offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

"It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles," a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. "All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It's a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…"

Posted by: Russ at February 13, 2012 3:19 PM

Also from the Mother Jones article Russ cited -

Although Title VII allows religious institutions to discriminate on religious grounds, it doesn't allow them to discriminate on the basis of sex—the kind of discrimination at issue in the EEOC ruling.

Whether or not Catholic insitutions conceded based on EEOC Title VII or not the article seems to indicate that there are still some religious institutions that didn't acquiesce.

This is further supported by a link in the MJ piece to an Our Sunday Visitor article, which explains how many Catholic Institutions were naive and unprepared to deal with the theological inconsistency:

While Our Sunday Visitor found, in an unscientific sampling of Catholic college faculty and staff health plans, that some colleges have developed pro-life Catholic solutions, a leading advocate of faith-based health insurance said many colleges are offering benefits that undermine the Church's teaching because they adopt standard "off the shelf" insurance packages that automatically include abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization.

"I would say that most colleges are covering abortion and artificial contraception because they have not been
able to find a way to economically provide insurance to their people without them," said Mike O'Dea, founder of Christus Medicus Foundation.

But it can be done, as attested by some bright spots in employee health care among the 245 degree-granting
American Catholic colleges listed by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

This actually points to one of the conundrums mentioned by Rahe: the Church supports universal health care, but not necessarily what a secular definition of it would be. Thus, there was a tension that different components of the American Church have dealt with it on their own.

However, now the game has changed with truly "national" health care. The difference between the EEOC's Title VII and the Obama regs are that the latter wouldn't have allowed institutions to "discriminate" on religious grounds at all. Remember, the new rules said birth control and abortion will be covered. There was no wiggle room, no religious exception. This is what has galvanized the Church as a national institution.

Posted by: Marc at February 13, 2012 4:00 PM

All you need to know..."Charity", "Fair Share"," Warren Buffet's secretary", "Hope and Change"....all code words for redistribution of wealth. You see folks it's all about money and control of your liberty (and your "choices")...thus your life.

Posted by: ANTHONY at February 13, 2012 11:07 PM

Sammy, it was the democrats who were terrified of Kennedy's Catholicism, or is this another example of a leftist hoping that people are uninformed on the fact that it was the democrat party that was the party of slavery, the democrats who wrote the Jim Crow laws, and the democrats who were the party of the KKK.

It was the republicans who ended slavery, ended Jim Crow laws and fought the KKK. We're also the party that fought for and ensured women had the right to vote, and the voting rights act as a whole. So spare us.

The first amendment states that government SHALL NOT dictate or interfere with the beliefs or practices of religion, neither of the actual churches or the members of the church. For you to support the government the ability to do so, means you're an ignorant sheeple, who can't be bothered to be aware of the fact that you're opening door for government to dictate what everyone, religious or not, believe, think and do.

Posted by: Jenny at February 14, 2012 5:10 PM
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