Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Church versus State, USA

Trouble is brewing in the US. The Catholic Church (and other groups) thinks the government is attempting some serious infringements of  religious freedom. A big deal, as freedom of religion is protected by their constitution. The video below gives a flavour of what's going on ...  

In case you are still scratching your head trying to figure this out, not surprising. The health insurance mandate is a complicated issue. The Church's issue is that it would require it to provide cover for contraception, abortificants, and sterilizations, all of which are unambiguously against her teaching.

In fairness, I don't think the administration set out to go toe-to-toe with the Church. I suspect it was a case of ideological blindness: when you are completely caught up with your own agenda, you often can't imagine how anyone could possibly disagree with you. Health insurance is a good thing, right?  Who could have foreseen that the administration would bring down wrath of biblical proportions from many quarters? (yes, the pun was intended!)

Mind you, politicians are the ones who are supposed to be good at weighing up the pros and cons of any move before they make it. And they certainly didn't back down when the Church pointed out their blunder ... quite the opposite in fact ... they reacted quite aggressively ... 

We'll see how this 'failure to foresee' plays out at the polls later this year.

This whole issue hasn't been getting much coverage on this side of the pond. Not sure why. Perhaps because it hasn't been getting massive coverage on their side of the pond. Which is weird ... there have been hundreds of protest marches, lawsuits, even a supreme court challenge to this legislation ... you wouldn't think the media would downplay that sort of thing ... of course, it is all very damaging for President Obama and there is an election coming up, but that couldn't have impact on decisions the media make surely ... 

For my own part, I don't think you have to be Catholic, or even a Catholic who 100% faithfully follows Church teaching, to think that the US government telling Catholic Church run organisations that they have to pay for stuff that goes against Church teaching is crossing some sort of a line. And if it religious liberty can be stepped on there, the self-described land of the free, it can happen anywhere ... 

But what do you think? Is the Catholic Church in the US making too much of this? 

Having read, now hit share!


  1. It may not be the issue that many of us would have chosen, but it does perhaps indicate the new context of Church-State relations in the West. The State's "ideological blindness" to which you rightly refer is the context for the Church's mission in the post-Christendom public square. Inevitably this must result in Church-State disagreement and, at times, confrontations.

    The USCCB has shown that it has the spiritual and intellectual resources for this new context. Similarly, the CofE - with the exception of the usual suspects - has shown surprising resilience in its confrontation with the State on the nature of marriage.

    Rather than over-reacting, the USCCB has probably exemplified the future of Church-State relations in the postmodern West.

    It is probably worth noting that a similar confrontation was brewing over Arizona's immigration law, before the Supreme Court's decision. In other words, this is a 'right-wing' culture war issue. It is a case of the Church's vision of human dignity and the culture of life necessarily challenging the quite different vision proposed by the postmodern State.

  2. Thanks BC; I hadn't heard about the Arizona thing - I'll have to look into it.

    Hope you like the cartoons!

  3. Ooops! A serious typo in my final paragraph - it should, of course, read "this is *not* a 'right-wing' culture war issue".

    I know a few people who would regard the sentiments attributed to President Obama in the cartoon to be not far from the truth!

  4. Thanks again, BC! Looking back over your first comment, I must have mentally 'edited' in the missing 'not' :-)