Precinct 333

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Some folks just don't get it!

Separation of Church and State is a myth imposed upon the United States by Supreme Court edict. It certainly is not in the Constitution. Indeed, the only restrictions that exist regarding religion apply to GOVERNMENT action, not CHURCH action. Churches are, in fact, guaranteed the right to speak out on public issues by both the free exercise clause and the free speech clauses of the First Amendment.

While some would argue that restrictions on politicking by churches is part of their trade-off for tax exempt status, the holding in McCullough v. Maryland would seem to imply that churches could never be taxed in any way, shape, or form. After all, "the power to tax is the power to destroy." And it is definitively NOT within the purview of any government entity in the United States to destroy a religion.

And so we come back to the question of the Catholic bishops and anti-life politicians like John Kerry. Several bishops have stated that the presumptive nominee (and other anti-life politicians) will be denied communion within their respective dioceses, while others have attempted to engage the candidate in a less confrontational manner. This last week, the bishops agreed that individual bishops may choose the path that they believe to be the most prudent. But strikingly, they also directed Catholics institutions to avoid issuing invitations or awarding honors to the any officeholder who publicly supports abortion.

Needless to say, the liberals are outraged, frothing and fulminating about separation of church and state. George Marlin points out that to the degree that they do so, they are hypocrites. They have publicly applauded papal and episcopal efforts in support of liberal causes in the past. Whether it has been liberal statements on the economy and war to opposition to the manner in which the death penalty is imposed, they have supported political speech by bishops. And liberals supported Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel back in 1962 when he excommunicated several public officials who were obstructing integration of Catholic schools and using their power to obstruct the exercise of civil right by African Americans. Such support was proper in every case. They should have the integrity to do so now.

Not that this course of action should be undertaken lightly. Denying communion is a serious step, as is the more grave step of formally excommunicating individuals. And there is the potential for backlash, as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick points out. In the short term, Catholics could find themselves treated with suspicion when they run for office, as was the case when another Massachusetts Senator with the initials JFK ran for president in 1960.

But in the end, the Catholic Church should remain faithful to its message and its teachings. And true American patriots should steadfastly support its right to do so.


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