Monday, June 25, 2012

Religious Liberty

Our brothers in the Roman Catholic hierarchy have launched a campaign, Fortnight for Freedom, against the birth control mandate being imposed on religiously affiliated institutions that serve the public. Their argument is that, even though those institutions will not have to pay for the inclusion of birth control in the health insurance they provide their employees, they will still be paying for it indirectly, as, one must assume, will all the rest of us through our insurance premiums.

They are, of course, right, as there is no free lunch. Someone has to pay. However, that is the entangled nature of things in our society and economy. We cannot avoid paying for things we don't like, things that may well be contrary to our deeepest religious convictions. Pacifists pay taxes that support the military. Home schoolers pay taxes that support public schools. Texans who oppose the death penalty pay taxes that are used to execute people. There is no way to avoid this entanglement, as my mother learned when she refused to pay the portion of her federal income tax that went to the Pentagon.

The Bishops have also complained that agencies like Catholic Charities have had to stop providing adoption services because they would be required to provide them to gay and lesbian couples, in violation of the Church's teaching. The problem with that objection is simple: the adoption programs were financed with money from state governments. When you want to use government funds, you need to be willing to follow government rules.

I have some simple advice to the Bishops. If you don't like living in a secular republic where governments have to decide how best to provide for "the general Welfare," I know a small theocratic state in Italy where you might prefer to live. Or, if that doesn't suit, perhaps you might want to stop whining and grow up.

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