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Is It So Bad If Marriage Forces D.C.’s Catholic Church to Ditch Social Programs?

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On the one hand, we like the idea of religious institutions being involved in the local community and providing social services that local governments cannot (or simply do not). On the other hand, we don’t like the idea of taxpayer dollars going toward religious groups that actively discriminate against an entire class of people. So the threat from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. that it will be “forced” to abandon its taxpayer-funded adoption and homeless programs if marriage legislation goes through without broader religious exemptions — because the law would force the Church “to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples” — while unfortunate, is also a stinging reminder that currently, D.C. taxpayers have their money going to an organization that discriminates.

Do we want the 68,000 people served by the Church’s Catholic Charities unit to go without? Of course not. But the Church already spends $10 million of its own cash on those programs, and can still do much good with that same commitment. The city’s dollars, meanwhile, can and should go toward an organization that doesn’t value one human life above another.

It seems City Councilmembers agree:

The church’s influence seems limited. In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as “somewhat childish.” Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

“They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure,” said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.

[...] Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the judiciary committee, said the council “will not legislate based on threats.”

“The problem with the individual exemption is anybody could discriminate based on their assertion of religious principle,” Mendelson said. “There were many people back in the 1950s and ’60s, during the civil rights era, that said separation of the races was ordained by God.”

And, of course, local gay activists:

Peter Rosenstein of the Campaign for All D.C. Families accused the church of trying to “blackmail the city.”

“The issue here is they are using public funds, and to allow people to discriminate with public money is unacceptable,” Rosenstein said.

And it only takes a little analysis to decode the Church’s real message: It can only provide social programs when it’s allowed to discriminate. And nobody should support that.

In the meantime, neglected in this entire debate are people and groups of faith who do not discriminate while also offering social services to the community. Surely they wouldn’t mind a few more bucks sent their way?

Catholic Church gives D.C. ultimatum [WaPo]

By:           editor editor
On:           Nov 12, 2009
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 22 Comments
    • Andrew
      Andrew

      We had the same issue here in the UK when the government passed a measure outlawing discrimination in the provision of goods and services. The catholic church claimed it would be forced to close its adoption agencies, as it would be obliged to consider gay couples as adoptive parents if the measure were past. Our Prime Minister at the time was a closet catholic – who delayed his rather public conversion in order not to alienate voters – and our Minister for Equality (get this!) was a member of Opus Dei. Anyhow, Blair’s ministers held his feet to the fire, no exemption was granted, and, two years later, the catholic adoption agencies are still, to my knowledge, doing their work. It’s a bluff. And if it isn’t – so be it.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      Separation of Church and State is very important.

      I fully support the right of PRIVATE RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS to discriminate in whatever manner they feel is proper. I am perfectly OK with the Boy Scouts of America kicking all the homos out. So long as the BSA does not get any public money, or get to use any public facilities for meetings or promotion of its agendas, its fine with me if they want to be ignorant.

      What I do not support is mixing private religious organizations with government, funding religion with so-called faith-based initiatives (another way of saying church welfare) at taxpayer expense and then allowing them to discriminate.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      Opps, submitted that before I was done.

      This being the case, I am just fine with the church’s social programs discriminating against gays. Fine with me. I’ll gladly trade the right to be myself on property that I pay for (public property operated at taxpayer expense) in exchange for your right to be an ignorant backwoods hick in your church, house and car that you pay for and own.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      When you drill down to the meaning of this, it’s that the Church wants to take Pulbic money to discriminate.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Well, the Catholics could be allowed to pretend they aren’t supporting same-sex couples via an accounting trick where some public funds that pay for benefits for employees in general go to employees with same-sex partners, with the Catholic Church making up the difference for the straight employees.

      As long as the total from both sides remains the same, it has zero impact, but would provide the Catholics with a fig leaf that is more believable than the virgin births and miracles they talk about with a straight face.

      You can call it a “non-discrimination benefits adjustment” or some other dull, boring term that only an accountant would care about. It’s kind of like an oil boycott. The Iranians get mad at us or vice versa and refuse to sell us oil. So, Europe buys more from Iran and we buy what the Europeans would have bought from their other sources. Nothing really happens beyond some book keeping, but appearances are maintained.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Attmay
      Attmay

      Why were they getting public money in the first place?

      Nov 12, 2009 at 2:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Grey
      Grey

      I agree with Keith. Social programs that the Church (any church) runs with government funding cannot discriminate. But do what you want with private funds, so long as (a) no public funding is involved, and (b) other secular options exist.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stevious
      Stevious

      Take away their tax exempt status and start collecting some tax revenue on the church, they want to act like a PAC, tax them like one.

      Nov 12, 2009 at 5:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Disgusted American
      Disgusted American

      Im sure this is ALL OVER the Right wing wackos websites and religious crazy chanels will be talking about/I mean Yelling about…saying “see look we’re the victim”….blah blah

      Nov 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan brickman
      alan brickman

      Churchs have always used the poor to disguise their agendas…find out now and not later…

      Nov 12, 2009 at 7:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • InExile
      InExile

      No public dollars should go to religious organization period. They then have access to those funds to fund Prop 8′s and Question 1′s and so on. If churches get involved in politics, they should be taxed period.

      Let the Catholic church pull out of DC social services, DC can then used those dollars to run their own social services which would create jobs.

      Nov 13, 2009 at 7:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Actually Catholic adoptions did stop in states where SS marriage became legal. While I understand the church’s position to a certain extent, it is very very unfortunate that outdated dogma overrides what is best for the child.

      Nov 13, 2009 at 9:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • timmmeeeyyy
      timmmeeeyyy

      I’m sure there are other public service groups who don’t discriminate that can use the $8.2 million that the Archdiocese currently receives from DC to carry out their “charity work.”

      Nov 13, 2009 at 11:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • strumpetwindsock
      strumpetwindsock

      @ #2 Keith Kimmel

      I agree with you, in principle. Private churches do have the right to discriminate on matters of dogma so long as it only involves their members who have the freedom to stay or go as they please.

      There are a lot of grey areas though, and not just involving public money – questions of whether people are of sound mind, cases which involve joint property or child custody, and labour laws.

      Plus, in social service matters, churches project can involve government or publicly-donated dollars which don’t go directly to the church.

      So it can be complicated sometimes… or not.

      The board of a Catholic-run hospital in our province got in hot water a few years ago when they decided to open confidential patient records to find out who was getting tubal ligations.

      Virtually all health facilities here in Canada operate at the pleasure of the government, so the health region simply took the hospital away from the church – simple.

      If they can’t deliver services and respect the law at the same time they shouldn’t be given that responsibility.

      Nov 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      When same-sex marriage equality becomes a reality for the whole of the United Snakes, the Catholic Church will not pack up and leave town. It’s a bluff that hurts the needy and the homeless, nobody else. This Church is so, so creepy. They need to disappear into oblivion. It’s decisions, such as these, that will help them reach oblivion even faster. They will become more and more impotent, the further they distance themselves from Christ and play politics with the world. It’s their own fault. Good riddance! False teachings and idolatry is folly.

      Nov 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • romeo
      romeo

      Glad to see the City Council is not being snookered. If Catholic Charities does not want to provide the services, other non-profits can get the money and expand.

      And I thought there were supposed to be laws about tax exempt status and fucking around in politics?

      Nov 13, 2009 at 1:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Aaron
      Aaron

      If the church won’t extend benefits to homosexual married couples then they shouldn’t extend benefits to straight couples who’ve remarried after a divorce that didn’t involve a death or sexual unfaithfulness. Hypocrites…

      Nov 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SoylentDIva
      SoylentDIva

      Nobody is “forcing” them to do anything. Their intense hatred of LGBT people is causing them to *choose* to stop providing services in D.C. should the bill pass, just as they *chose* to stop
      providing adoption services in MA when marriage equality became a reality.

      If a child decides to take his toys and go home rather than share with others do we blame the others or the selfish whiny brat?

      Nov 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1EqualityUSA
      1EqualityUSA

      Aaron, right the Hell on. #17 post

      Nov 15, 2009 at 1:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark patterson
      mark patterson

      AWAKE PEOPLE,AWAKE,THIS “CATHOLIC CHURCH”,so worried,so concerned gays might be JUST LIKE HETEROSEXUALS if they are allowed to marry,this church is the,THE GREATEST MASS MURDERER OF ALL TIME.HISTORY PROVES THEY MURDERED,HORRIBLY NEARLY 200 MILLION,DOES THAT SUPRIZE YOU,READ IT,ITS FACT PEOPLE,EH,YET THEY WORRY ABOUT “QUEERS GETTIN IT ON,MARRYING,JUST LIKE REAL PEOPLE”,is there a “vicar of christ”,pope,a “infallable”,meaning HE IS LIKE JESUS HIMSELF,WITHOUT ERROR OR SIN,ARE THERE NUNS,PRIESTS NOT EVER HAVING SEX,IS THERE PURGATORY,they would have killed every PROTESTANT,JEW,MUSLIM,”NON BELIEVER” IN THE WORLD,HITLER IS FAMOUS FOR SAYING HE WAS ON EARTH TO DO “WHAT THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE” FAILED TO DO,KILL ALL JEWS!!,they murdered hugenots,entire villages of thousands and thousands of men,women,children,NOW THEY TELL US ABOUT MORALS,THE FILTHY SWINE.THEY WOULD,AND TRIED TO KILL MARTIN LUTHER FOR TELLING THE TRUTH,YOU NEED NO PRIEST,POPE,VATICAN TO GO TO HEAVEN,THEY BURNED JOHN HUSS,OTHERS ALIVE FOR SIMPLY HAVING OR READING A BIBLE,OH PEOPLE WAKE UP,WAKE UP,CALL THEM DOWN FOR THEIR EVIL MURDERING WAYS,HELL,THEY MADE HITLER LOOK LIKE A AMATEUR,CALL IT {INQUISITION),PERSECUTION,WHATEVER,YOU CAN’T PRAY TO MARY AND CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN,THIS IS SUPREME BLASPHEMY,AND I BELIEVE MARY HERSELF WOULD AGREE,HER SON CAME TO REDEEM,NOT HER!!MURDERING GARBAGE,CHILD MOLESTERS FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS,AND THEY DARE,DARE TALK MORALS,SHOW ME ONE SENTENCE,ONE PARAGRAPH IN THE BIBLE,CONDEMING,OR ANYTHING ABOUT ABORTION,JUST ONE SENTENCE,and don’t quote “thou shalt not kill” or your AGAINST DEATH PENALTY,ALL WAR,AND ALL KILLING WHATEVER,the bible in genesis says life “begins with breath in the nostrils”,IS THAT A FETUS,I THINK NOT

      Nov 15, 2009 at 2:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Vo Dong Cung
      Vo Dong Cung

      When they signed a contract, they did not ask any requisition to pray God in the contract, and the contract was a pure social bussiness. If they break the contract, they have to pay for all the unforeseen damages.

      Nov 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark

      If the $8.2 million figure Timmmeeeyyy quotes is accurate, has anyone tallied how much money the catholics have raised to fight gay marriage? My guess is it’s getting somewhat close to that figure. How much better utlised that money would be going to clothe, shelter and feed the homeless than denying us our rights. I think their mystical figure in the sky would be much happier with them using the money for that than what they currently are – as well as the millions they’ve shelled out to the victims of priest abuse. Bloody hypocrites!

      Nov 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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