Monday, March 9, 2009

It's Time for the Separation of Church and Connecticut

Oh, sure, we can talk all we want to about the "separation of Church and State." Some groups of people talk of nothing else; of course, since what they really mean by "separation of Church and State" is "separation of all religious values and all the people who hold those values from the public square" they have to be opposed more often than not.

But I think it's time for a radical new idea. I think it's time for the separation of Church and specific, individual states. I think it's time for the Church to write a "Dear State" letter to a handful of truly obnoxious states which keep trying to encroach on the rights of the Church. Particularly, I think this letter ought to go out to Connecticut:

A bill regarding control of the Catholic Church has exploded as one of the hottest issues of the session at the state Capitol - prompting charges and countercharges about religious freedom.

The measure, which was raised as a committee bill by the Democratic co-chairs of the influential judiciary committee, would allow the finances of local parishes to be run by lay councils and would essentially remove power from Catholic pastors, who would serve in an advisory role. Opponents say the bill is clearly unconstitutional and would violate the First Amendment regarding the right to freedom of religion. [...]

The issue has spread far beyond Hartford and has reached the national Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, whose outspoken president, Bill Donohue, said he agrees with Bridgeport Bishop William Lori's characterization of the bill.

"Bishop Lori is correct to say that the bill 'is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage,' '' Donohue said. "Indeed, it is payback: this brutal act of revenge by Lawlor and McDonald, two champions of gay marriage, is designed to muzzle the voice of the Catholic Church.'' [...]

On the other side, a constitutional law expert, who served as deputy solicitor general of the United States and has taught the subject at Columbia University and Georgetown, said the bill is deeply flawed. Attorney Philip A. Lacovara, a Catholic in the Archdiocese of Bridgeport, wrote a letter to members of the judiciary committee that said, "In more than forty years as a constitutional law teacher and practitioner, I cannot recall a single piece of proposed legislation at any level of government that more patently runs afoul of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment than does this bill.''

Lacovara, who was counsel to the Watergate special prosecutor, has argued 18 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I find it utterly astonishing that Bill 1098 could be taken seriously enough to warrant a hearing before your Committee,'' Lacovara wrote. "I would find it difficult to use it as a "hypothetical" in one of my constitutional law classes, because even first year law students would have so little difficulty seeing why the bill goes well beyond the powers that the Constitution allows the States to exercise in dealing with organized churches. ... One of the key doctrines embodied in this protection of religious liberty is that the State has no legitimate power to intrude into the internal affairs of a hierarchical church. That is, the guarantee of religious liberty applies not only to the private beliefs of individuals, it also protects the autonomy of organized churches as such. That principle has been established for two centuries.''

Applause to Attorney Lacovara, who clearly understands what's going on here.

Connecticut, of course, has already tried subtle anti-Catholicism, such as forcing Catholic hospitals to administer Plan B to anyone who says she's a rape victim without first administering an ovulation test. But with this latest legislative travesty they've dropped the subtlety and have engaged in open anti-Catholicism of the sort that Henry VIII might applaud.

So I think we need to start rallying for the right of the Church to separate from the State: Connecticut, first, and then perhaps Massachusetts which is almost as bad. The "Separation of Church and (a specific) State Plan" would work as follows: in the event that any State made egregious interference with the Church part of State law, the Church would immediately cease all activities within the State except for worship: all hospitals, schools, charities etc. would be placed on "sabbatical" and would remain closed until the State thought better of trying to usurp the authority of the Church. Thousands of people would thus seek unemployment benefits, state hospitals would have to absorb the patients being cared for in Catholic hospitals, public school districts would have to take on all the extra students being taught in Catholic schools, state agencies would have to take care of all the people currently being cared for by Church charities and religious orders, etc.

To be honest, I doubt the Plan would ever have to be enacted. But if such a Plan existed, I think the sort of legislative nonsense dreamed up by Lawlor and McDonald would never even be drafted in the first place. Congress people, after all, are cowards who fear the loss of an election more than any other calamity, and nothing could be a surer way to utter electoral annihilation than being known as the Congressman or Congresswoman who triggered the "Separation of Church and Connecticut (for example) Plan."


Amy said...

I think it's a good idea, but I don't think people would get it.

Folks who think up laws like Bill 1098 don't think the Church serves any purpose and think that government is the right source for health care, education, charity, etc.

I believe we have a duty to assist our communities where we can; pulling out would only give the state motivation to point at us and say, "See, they don't really believe in charity. WE'LL take care of you!"

I would much rather prefer a Plan that tells the State in no uncertain terms to take their unjust laws and stuff them and sets an example of civilized disobedience in the face of extreme prejudice.

KC said...

I think the plan would work well because you'd be hitting where it counts. Of course, it would never be enacted.

Rebecca said...

I love the idea!

Dave said...

Unfortunately, I think the State would then forcibly take over the hospitals and other agencies, citing "a compelling need" for healthcare, etc. It wouldn't be the most cost-effective thing to do, but it would be an irresistible opportunity to stick it to the Church.

Child of God said...

We should be more pro-active than just sending letters to these anti-Christ morons.

We should close them down now. and sell the real estate and hard assets to offshore investors.

IT is prudent considering the trend is towards expropriation by the state anyways.

Sell off the assets to purely profit motivated investors with specification that no hospital be used as a hospital, no school be used as a school... and move the money to third-world pro-Chrost missions.