Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What About Separation of Church and State?

Carole Joffe has a great post up at RHRealityCheck about the assertion of Catholic and evangelical groups that they have a justified role in delivery of social services. Her piece gets to the heart of the issue I've been ranting about for days: that these groups wish to continue the imposition of their ideological values while maintaining tax exempt status and receiving federal funding. Their argument is that they do so much for the nation that they can't possibly be ordered to comply with patients' rights. Joffe writes:

Most fundamentally, however, the Church’s recent political activism on both gay marriage and abortion raises disturbing issues about the current state of play regarding church/state separation in the United States. The U.S. is neither a “Christian nation” as fundamentalists like Pat Robertson have long-declared it to be, nor one where its citizenry should be ruled by Catholic teachings, as the Bishops appear intent on achieving. But evangelical Protestants have long been tied to the Republican party. With Democrats in power, the Catholic Church is inevitably more influential at this moment, given its historical support of many of the issues favored by Democrats (with abortion being a glaring exception). As if the coming deliberations in the weeks and months ahead over health care reform were not complicated enough, these negotiations also challenge the Democratic Party to reaffirm a strong commitment to church/state separation.

It's a great little reminder of how the Catholic Church is working to assert the myth that theirs is the moral position; that they do more charity work and more for the poor than anyone else. There's no ground for this when you're talking social services, particularly hospital care. Allowing them the moral argument gives them more credibility than they deserve and only enforces their continued encroachment on patients' rights.

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