Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm tired of religious people serving the poor

Regarding all of the HHS mandates hub-bub, Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones had this to say:
I'm just a big ol' secular lefty, so I guess it's natural that I'd disagree [with the Catholic Church]. And I do. I guess I'm tired of religious groups operating secular enterprises (hospitals, schools), hiring people of multiple faiths, serving the general public, taking taxpayer dollars — and then claiming that deeply held religious beliefs should exempt them from public policy.
So Kevin Drum is upset - in fact he says he's tired of it - that Catholics have opened hospitals and schools to serve all people regardless of religion and that they have been willing to work with people of all faiths. (He also mentions "taking taxpayer dollars", but he's wrong: the HHS mandates apply to all organizations whether they accept federal money or not. For more, see my NOTE at the end.)

...I guess I'm looking for the bad part there. Isn't it an incredibly good thing that Catholics have been voluntarily serving our communities, and that they will join with people of all faiths?

Dorothy Day meets Mother Teresa;
Kevin Drum is tired of people like them
How many times have I heard non-Christians complain that Christians don't practice what they preach, or that they're too close-minded, or need to recognize that non-Christians can be good too, etc? The Catholic Church for centuries has been voluntarily setting up privately operated hospitals, schools, and charitable organizations that will serve anyone, has been voluntarily willing to hire and work with non-Catholics who wish to join in the Catholic organization's mission and who voluntarily choose to work for them, and has been serving anyone in the community who wants to benefit from their services.

And Kevin Drum is tired of it!

When I was growing up, even though we were not Catholic (we were Protestant), and even though they had to pay private school tuition on top of the taxes they pay for public schools, my parents determined that it was better for me (and eventually my younger brother) to go to the local private Catholic schools rather than to what they saw as deteriorating public schools. I went to Catholic schools 1st through 12th grade, received a great education, and was very involved in lots of school activities - without the fact that I wasn't Catholic ever being a problem at all.

My family was not "tired" of the Catholic Church giving us a private alternative, we were grateful. And instead of complaining that the Catholics schools that my parents voluntarily sent me to were Catholic, we understood and were respectful of the fact that the schools were Catholic. Instead of expecting that the Catholic schools - to which my parents were, with full knowledge, voluntarily sending me and my younger brother - to change their beliefs, we were grateful that they were willing to accept and accommodate non-Catholics, which they did graciously and thoughtfully. Of course, I always had religion class, prayed before meals, and went to school Masses, but we knew that going in, the school was aware and respectful of the fact that there were non-Catholic students, and I was never forced to believe or do anything that that went against my family's religion ever.

Where I went for grades
1st through 8th
We all - people of all faiths or no faith at all - should be incredibly grateful to the Catholic Church for all the ways that she serves our country, and has for years! Catholic leaders should be receiving awards, not ultimatums.

The federal government, particularly a presidential administration run by Democrats who claim to care so much about the poor and who supposedly hold tolerance so highly, should be doing everything it can to accommodate all of these Catholic institutions that are voluntarily serving our communities (and often times in ways that are much more effective and efficient than government programs, i.e. why my parents sent me to private Catholic schools instead of public schools)! I'm not saying that the government needs to be sending dump trucks full of taxpayer money to them, but they should in the very least not be making policies that force these institutions to violate their religion - the same religion that has inspired them to do so much for our country, far more than any other religious or secular group.

Really, the irrationality displayed here is so astounding and the bigotry so obvious - what could make people be so blind? Kevin Drum gave his own explanation: "I'm just a big ol' secular lefty".

It would be too easy to to take this as an opportunity to attack secular liberalism. No doubt, Christians have been blinded sometimes too. I just hope that the trumpeters of tolerance and pluralism soon realize that they are being wildly inconsistent and correct the situation - that's all we ask.

If you believe in religious tolerance and freedom:

Please sign the official online White House petition asking for the HHS mandate policy to be changed.

Please contact the President directly as well.

Please contact your representative in the House of Representatives.

Please contact your Senators.

Lastly, here's a page on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website with a lot of information regarding the whole situation.

*NOTE: Kevin Drum also mentioned "taking taxpayer dollars", but he's wrong: the mandates apply to your organization whether or not you accept any federal money, so the "taking taxpayer dollars" is a red herring. But for cases in which some of these organizations do accept federal money, and I am no expert in these matters, at least one commentator has said that that would include Catholic hospitals accepting patients who are on Medicare. So a Catholic hospital will help a poor person whose medical care is paid for by the government. That's a good thing, and hardly counts as "funding" in any normal sense of the term. But honestly, I do not know the ins and outs of these types of things, so if anyone does know more, please explain in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I made a similar point about gratitude in my latest post http://bedlamorparnassus.blogspot.com/2012/02/komen-catholics-and-care.html#comment-form. The prevailing attitude in our culture of entitlement has moved from boorish, narcissistic, and rude to abusive. It is as if I see you are hungry, and rather than just invite you to my house for a food meal, I set up a restaurant in your area so you and all your starving friends may have something to eat. I also set up cooking classes so you can feed yourself. Your response is to go around telling everyone how horrible I am for asking you not to defecate on the floor. Then again, how did the Israelites respond to Moses in the desert? How did the people respond to Jesus in John 6?

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