Obama 2, Bishops 0

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Obama Administration

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops struck out again last week when a “federal judge ruled against the bishops in a fight over whether the group could impose its views on contraception and abortion through its control of taxpayer dollars.”

According to the Mother Jones article linked above, the Bush Administration contracted with the bishops to provide services to victims of human trafficking.

The bishops had been administering virtually all the federal money allocated for such services, about $3 million a year, doling it out to subcontractors who served victims all over the country. The USCCB had prohibited the contractors from using the federal funds to pay for staff time to counsel victims on contraception or abortion, or to refer them for such services.

In 2009 the ACLU sued HHS, arguing that such restrictions on the use of taxpayers’ money violates separation of church and state. The suit was still working its way through the courts last fall when the Obama Administration chose not to renew the contract, mostly because the Bishops refused to provide some of the services the victims actually needed.

The decision set off a firestorm in Congress, where House Republicans accused the administration of bid-rigging and violating the bishops’ religious freedom during a marathon oversight hearing in December.

Right, because the Constitution gives churches the right to use taxpayers’ money to further their own sectarian interests … oh, wait …

Anyway, the federal judge said,

To insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others….This case is about the limits of the government’s ability to delegate to a religious institution the right to use taxpayer money to impose its beliefs on others (who may or may not share them).

Yes. Thank you. And excuse me for the snark, but contracting with the Bishops to provide services for victims of human trafficking seems a bit like contracting with the Daughters of the Confederacy to run racial sensitivity programs.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 27, 2012 @6:10 am

    Great snark, maha!

    Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you’re free to take free government money freely, and then do whatever you want, or don’t want, with it.

    On the other hand, I can understand some peoples confusion over things God-y and things Government-y, with all of the “Faith Based Initiative” b*llshit the government’s gotten involved with over the years.
    Step 1 – Check out all of the “Faith Based Initiatives” for compliance.
    Step 2. And then start to wean them off the government teat slowly.
    Government should limit any involvement with religions to a bare minimum. And if there’s NO involvement, at least to me, that’s even better Tolerance, is really all that should be expected.

    Either that, or I want some “No Faith At All Based Initiatives” money so I can go and “preach” about agnosticism and atheism. Or at least do the same things that the “Faith Based Initiative” people do.
    And someone explain to me why a church can get government funding, but now a secular humanist who wants to do the same thing.

    Oh, and another pet peeve – why are religious organizations tax-exempt?

  2. Rick Massimo  •  Mar 27, 2012 @11:05 am

    To insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others.

    That’s pretty close to exactly what my 10th-grade American Government teacher told us in 1980. It’s pretty fking sad that what used to be high-school-level knowledge now needs to come from the pen of a judge.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Mar 27, 2012 @11:11 am

    Rick,
    ‘N iffen that them there judge doesn’t ‘gree with ‘em, then he/she muss be one o’ them Liberal “Activist Judges” they keep hearin’ ’bout!!!



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