Robin Marty keeps dangling shiny things in my face at RH Reality Check, and this time, she actually goaded me into clicking over to an article at the National Catholic Register so I could get the full names and quotes. According to Bishop William E. Lori of Connecticut, religious liberty doesn’t exist unless Catholic institutions get federal funding to do whatever the heck they want on anyone their net happens to cover.
“There is no religious liberty if we are not free to express our faith in the public square and if we are not free to act on that faith through works of education, health care and charity,” Lori said in his first address to the bishops as chairman of the newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Education = Indoctrinating impressionable children with the fear of Damnation.
Health care = Denying birth control access to human trafficking victims.
Charity = Shutting down social services rather than provide contraception coverage to employees in your health care plan.
Let’s hear the Bishop’s idea of “religious liberty” in his own words, shall we?
“Among the challenges we see is a pattern in culture and law to treat religion merely as a private matter between an individual and his or her God,” Lori added. “Instead of promoting toleration of differing religious views, some laws, some court decisions, some administrative regulations treat religion not as a contributor to our nation’s common morality but rather as a divisive and disruptive force better kept out of public life.”
A high-ranking member of the Catholic hierarchy, the institution responsible for what is probably the biggest cover-up of child rape in recent history, thinks the Church should be entitled to contribute to our nation’s common morality by using secular Federal funds to follow non-secular Catholic rules in dealing with often vulnerable, non-self-selected people of all religious persuasions who frequently don’t have anywhere else to go. He would have us believe that anything less would be intolerant.
Lori, in his talk to the bishops, said the recent denial of funding to the highly successful MRS program to combat human trafficking — turning those federal funds over to two other programs with no comparable track record in that field — “violates the Establishment Clause” in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it changed the rules of participation in the federal program to invoke a new restriction based on religious belief.
You fucking liar, now you’ve gone and pissed me off.
If you expect to receive public money to perform public services on people who didn’t ask to be in the position to receive those services—such as human trafficking victims, for example—then you can expect to follow public rules, which will be decided by people who may or may not have any investment in the “toleration” of your institution’s contributions to the nation’s common morality. If anything “violates the Establishment Clause,” it’s giving federal funding to explicitly religious organizations in the first place. The new restriction on receiving those funds is not based on religious belief, it is based on providing the services which the government—which is supposed to represent people of all faiths and none at all—has decided are necessary. For example, sometimes human trafficking victims need birth control. Sometimes they need abortions. Anything less, and they have no realistic path to getting their lives under control. If you want to force women and girls who have just escaped sexual slavery to birth their rapists’ babies, you will not receive funding from the U.S. government. You are not being persecuted for your religious belief. You are not meeting the standards of public service for a non-sectarian population, and the government is wisely reserving its funds for those who do.
If you think that violates your religious freedom, then you don’t actually want to live in a secular country with religious liberty for all. You want to live in a theocracy, where your religion owns the public square.