The opening salvoes in the fight to make Church law trump civil law

rant.pngRecently, a friend of mine rebutted my earlier thoughts about the RCC and (at least the Cincinnati Archdiocese) decision to not fund healthcare for employees of associated businesses because they would have to provide access to, among other things, the normal birth control pill.  She did so on Google+, and her response is well worth reading. She is reasonable and has thought this through with a great deal of compassion and empathy. And I think that’s where her misreading of the situation comes from.

I responded at length there, but as I wrote, I came to a realization of something chilling, and I wanted to share those parts here.

When the RCC as an organization (and I’m especially looking at the Knights of Columbus here) will loudly remember the anti-abortion aspects of “pro-life” and conveniently forget the pacifism and rejection of the death penalty that are also pro-life, then the precedent for hypocrisy is already set.  When anyone calling themselves pro-life only cares about abortion, they’re already picking and choosing.

Next anti-war protest, put this on your sign.

Therefore, to extend the argument that they shouldn’t fund healthcare because it provides access to services objectionable to the RCC, the RCC should call on all its members to stop paying taxes because it supports war and capital punishment.

I’m aware that there’s actually a precedent set by the Supreme Court this year that church law trumps civil law (I believe it was Lutheran hiring vs. the Americans with Disabilities Act);  that in itself is extremely troubling for the same reasons that this claim is troubling.  It is, in essence:

“Our churches don’t want to play by the rules of your society, so we will do what we want… while still getting the full protections of your society.”

I very seriously predict that the above precedent – followed so closely to this move by the RCC – is the opening salvoes in an attempt to wrest temporal power away from civil governments.  Not as some kind of conspiracy, but just social forces moving in particular directions.

Consider:  We have a society where one particular religion’s holiday is a recognized Federal holiday, favored over all other faiths.  (Any other faiths have a federal holiday?  Anyone?)  At the same time there are cries that this specially favored holiday is being “attacked” and persecuted… and those whines are somehow being taken seriously.

Sure, objecting to birth control and family planning isn’t outside the norms for a chunk of the population.  In fact, it’s divisive enough that it will mobilize support from the true believers – and reasonable folks will be… well, reasonable.

But this precedent – unlike the Lutheran case – is about enforcing religious laws on those who are not members of the faith.  Once this precedent is clearly enshrined – well, that’s bad.  At best, you’ve suddenly got religious divisiveness.

Westboro Baptist Church members
Oh, I’m sure this will end well.

Temporal power and spiritual power should never be allowed to be held in the same hands.  History tells us that always ends badly.

Featured Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash

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