Thursday, July 5, 2012

An Attack on Religious Freedom?

. . . or a demand for Roman Catholic Exceptionalism?

Recently over at her excellent blog Enlightened Catholicism, Colleen Kochivar-Baker highlighted the following by "AileenUSA." Aileen is a regular commenter at the National Catholic Reporter, and this particular comment is in response to the NCR' June 21 article on Archbishop Charles J. Chaput's contention that the "religious liberty" of the Roman Catholic Church is under attack in the U.S.

This [Roman Catholic Church] Tea Party tempest is so disingenuous. Chaput makes a mockery of those who really have experienced religious persecution around the world — those who have had their homes, churches, synagogues and mosques bombed; those who have been imprisoned or executed along with their families. No one is bothering Catholics in the U.S. or their individual private practice of their religion. But Catholics are NOT allowed to establish their religious beliefs as some sort of gold standard for everyone else. Chaput's prelate 'id' is showing big time.

1) The Catholic Church receives billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for its various businesses (hospitals, universities, charities) without which they could not afford to keep their doors open, but the Church doesn't want to play by the same rules that apply to everyone else at the government trough. Playing by the same rules is not persecution. It's fair. You take Caesar's money, you play by Caesar's rules. The RCC yearly haul of government funds has been greater under Obama than under Bush!

2) It's astonishing that Archbishop 'free market' Chaput wants to quibble over how contracts are awarded. Really? Exactly why should the RCC get special treatment to do as it pleases in making up its own rules for contract awards? You want the contract, then you comply with the rules of the entity awarding the contract. If you want to make up your own special rules, then cough up your own cash. Chaput's definition of RC freedom is actually RC exceptionalism.

3) The First Amendment guarantees an individual's freedom to practice their own religion in their own lives (if they believe contraception or sterilization are wrong, then don't use that insurance benefit in your own life — that's your freedom). But it prohibits any establishment of a particular religion that impinges on another individual's freedom of religion (RC freedom doesn't extend to financial coercion of employee compensation or insurance restriction of someone else's religious freedom of choice whether or not to use contraception or sterilization). One person's freedom of religion stops where another person's freedom of religion begins. The RCC has used its government subsidized businesses to establish its own brand of religion and capital-T truth in the lives of anyone it employs or with whom it does business — its massive regional footprint of hospitals being 'exhibit A'. Those who live within those massive regional healthcare systems (little Vatican colonies) are being forced to live in a healthcare theocracy under the control of a Catholic bishop. If anything, the RCC has been given way too much latitude in this venue, and should have its theocratic endeavors and monopolies curtailed.

It was Chaput himself who dismissed JFK's speech on separation of church and state. He believes that the RCC should be controlling government officials and government itself. His pleas of religious freedom and this entire Fortnight/insurrection nonsense is partisan and theocratic to its core. It's as bizarre as Santorum recently complaining that Egyptians had elected a Muslim version of himself.

Also see: "Most of Obama's 'Controversial' Birth Control Rule Was Law During Bush Years."

Recommended Off-site Links:
Fact Sheet: Catholics and New Battle Lines over Religious Liberty — Public Religion Research Institute (June 13, 2012).
Who's Funding the Catholic Bishops' Religious Freedom Campaign? — Jim Townsend (National Catholic Reporter, June 20, 2012).
Doug Mataconis on the Bishops, Religious Freedom, and Living in a Civil Society — Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, December 30, 2011).
"Render Unto Caesar, Bitches!" — Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, November 24, 2009).

See also the previous PCV posts:
A Fortnight of Freedom
Catholics Reject Bishops’ Attempts to Redefine Religious Freedom
Yesterday's "Religious Freedom" Rallies
Quote of the Day — June 4, 2012
Did the Catholic Organizations Have to Sue Over the Health Care Mandate?


  1. Good to see she's delving into the depths of Catholicism.


    Blogs I follow

    A Piece Of My Mind
    Blue Eyed Ennis
    Gay Mystics
    John McNeill Spiritual Transformation
    Sebastian's Focus: Religious Trends and Analyses
    Sehnsucht Geweiht
    The Progressive Catholic Voice
    There Will Be Bread
    Thinking it Through

    1. Thanks for the interest Ray, but like Michael says below, I am not the author of the above comment. Wish I had been though.

      I am complimented though that you chose to comment on the messenger. I choose to think this means the message itself was unassailable.

  2. Ray, it seems you're incapable of actually addressing any of the points raised by the author of this post -- who happens to be "AileenUSA," by the way, and not Colleen Kochivar-Baker. Would it be too much to ask you to focus on commenting on the actual contents of the posts here at PCV?



  3. Religious liberty is not a ‘foundational right for some people:
    Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced today that children of parents involved in a lesbian relationship will be denied further education in the local Catholic school system. Chaput defended this "painful situation" by stating "The church cannot change these teachings because in the faith of Catholics, they are the teachings of Jesus Christ." - Archdiocese of Denver, March 08, 2010

  4. As an Australian, I can only remember that Archbishop Chaput was the inquisitor sent to Australia to "Ă«xamine" the Diocese of Toowoomba on behalf of the "bovver" boys in the Vatican. And he did it real good!

    The bishop was sacked (William Morris), on the basis of the report by Chaput . . . which, according to him, was to be kept secret, and the his originals destroyed. As we Aussies would say, what a gutless wonder is Chaput . . . he has no credibility, and when I read the letter above from trebert, he obviously has no compassion!