Archive for the ‘roman catholic church’ category

Equal Protection Under The Law

March 24, 2016

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Zubik v Burwell, or better said the Catholic Church against women’s right to reproductive health.

The legal argument briefly stated is that Catholic (or any religious) affiliates should not be forced to violate their deeply held religious beliefs if so required by some Federal law. In this case the issue is Obamacare and its requirement to provide cost free birth control methods as part of an employee’s healthcare plan.

The Sisters of the Poor said “we can’t” and Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell said there is a “work around”, use it. Legal counsel, of course, used more complicated arguments but the plaintiffs argue that their religious rights were “hijacked”. Hmmm.

There is no question that the Catholic Church (other religious organizations) have a perfect right to hold whatever beliefs it deems important. And there should be no question that the Catholic dogma has consistently opposed birth control, even though most Catholic women today welcome and use birth control.

The question before the court is whether the Sisters in observing the Church’s ban on contraception can overlook the ACA’s birth control requirements. Please note the law does not require anyone to use birth control.

This conflict need not have been necessary. When the Affordable Care Act was being constructed, a strategic decision was made to retain the array of private health care insurance companies and to attempt to use employers as the major means to underwrite the cost of health care. A single payer, universal healthcare could have taken the Catholic Church out of the equation (although the Church probably would have lobbied against such a universal health plan simply because birth control was available.)

In news reports it is striking how little attention is being given to the rights of employees being denied birth control coverage, many of whom are not even catholic.

The Catholic Church’s position does not reflect the behavior of its parishioners and is socially and medically out of date. Clinging to the Constitution’s provisions on religious freedoms while the Court closing its eyes to equal protection under the law is difficult to explain.

Pundits predict the Court will vote 4-4 and ironically the lower Court ruling (affirming Burwell) will hold. Regrettably other lower Court rulings against Burwell will also be allowed.

What a national mess a 4-4 Supreme Court decision would present.  The law of the land is not the law of the land.

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They Not What They Do

October 19, 2014

The final draft report of the assembly of Roman Catholic Bishops pretty much says it all. If anyone thought that Pope Francis had initiated a melting of a dead ended catholic orthodoxy, take a deep breath and look again. The big freeze is still in place.

The modern world has moved in most matters to a different place than the Roman Catholic Church. Church teachings on family planning, birth control, premarital sex, divorce, remarriage, and open inclusion of homosexuals in everyday life are glaringly out of step.  The real world is moving one direction while the church seems to be trying to swim the other way.  Hmmm.

While the Catholic Church still has many admirable practices such as tending to the sick and poor, its all male hierarchy continues to act in a mean spirited, unkind, and fundamentally uniformed manner. In the US, church leaders do not hesitate to enter the public square and use their tax exempt status to influence legislation favorable to their positions. Hmmm.

Catholic women have pretty much broken the code. Most catholic women practice birth control and family planning and simply say nothing. The local parishes can accept this providing these women do not speak out. Similarly, divorced catholics who wish to remarry understand that a proper donation to the church will produce an annulment and the potential to remarry openly. It is homosexuals who are the bane of these Bishops.

Church teaching have long reduced homosexuals to a class somewhat like the Hindu “untouchables”. This position has worked well since many homosexuals have external mannerism which call attention to their difference with the straight community. Picking upon homosexuals, in a sick way, seems to made church leaders feel more morally correct and consequently more powerful. Hmmm.

As most people with a heart beat today recognize, gays or lesbians, especially those with effeminate or manly characteristics, cannot mask their creativity or ability to contribute to society. And, as even a greater surprise, as more homosexuals “have come out”, most people are shocked to realize how many Americans are homosexual. Most Americans have noticed, but not those who are Roman Catholic clergy.

The final draft report can be seen as a business plan. The church may think it is making a statement on dogma but in fact it is segmenting the church attending market. Conservative Catholic leaders believe that the Sunday collection baskets will do best if lay members still can “sin” in everyday life. With a little “sin”, there is a ready made need for a church who can grant “forgiveness”. Sort of job security.

As part of their business plan, conservative church leaders do not care if homosexuals remain.

It is possible,although not totally clear at this point, that church leaders may instead think Catholic homosexuals will follow Catholic women examples. Live their lives as they wish, contribute to the church, and seek forgiveness often (and of course with a few coins to the local priest).

It is also possible that these older men leaders are simply not as smart or wise as the Sisters Religious.