Thursday, December 3, 2009

THEOCRACY WATCH: The Catholic Church and Social Issues

For all of its existence, the Catholic Church has stood in the way of scientific progress and social tolerance.
2009 saw Catholic clergy step into two of the major social issues of our day: marriage equality and reproductive rights. NPR’s All Things Considered reported today on this disturbing trend today.

It’s been reported that on the eve of the House’s historic healthcare vote, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) brought two representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to Nancy Pelosi’s office. They let her know they wouldn’t support any healthcare bill without an amendment restricting reproductive rights.
The next day, the “Stupak Amendment” was passed 240 – 194. 64 Democrats joined 176 Republicans in eliminating abortion coverage from all plans in the proposed “Insurance Exchange” and the proposed Public Health Insurance Option. The George Washington School of Medicine and Public Health recently released a study stating that the amendment will eventually go reach beyond the Exchange.

the treatment exclusions required under the Stupak/Pitts Amendment will have an industry-wide effect, eliminating coverage of medically indicated abortions over time for all women, not only those whose coverage is derived through a health insurance exchange.

The progressive blog Firedog Lake has launched the campaign One Voice for Choice to fight the Stupak Amendment and its ugly twin sibling in the senate, sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson (R – NE).

The Catholic Church has been progressively getting more involved in Congress and in state legislatures. Last month, Rep Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) was asked not to receive communion due to his pro choice stance by Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin.
The congressman’s uncle, President John F Kennedy set the precedent nearly 50 years ago when he made it clear that he was accountable to his citizens, not the Vatican.

It seems as if this precedent is being thrown to the wolves. 2009 saw the Catholic Church take a far more aggressive stance in actively lobbying against progressive legislation.
As has been argued previously in the Fugue State, tax exempt religious groups are restricted from lobbying congress or politicizing the pulpit.
If the Vatican demands it be allowed to spread hate and intolerance in the public sector, it should pay taxes.

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