Monday, February 13, 2012

the bishops get theirs

I've been reading all over the blogosphere about Catholic bishops being upset at a mandate in Obamacare that would force almost all employers, including Catholic hospitals and schools to provide contraception as part of their health insurance. I would be more sympathetic, but, ... weren't these the same bishops that gave cover to Obamacare as long as they were getting their special exception? Aren't these the same bishops that have always supported the welfare state?

I seem to recall discussions of the welfare state as an extension of Christian charity. As though the bishops had mixed up "love thy neighbor" with "render unto Cesar" and ended up with "Render under Cesar so that Cesar can love thy neighbor for you."

Catholics (not all Catholics, but probably the majority) have supported expansion of government services under the theory that since Christians have a responsibility to help those in need, they should support a government that helps those "in need".

There are two serious problems with this theory. First, God didn't command us to help the poor just because God wanted the poor to be helped. If that were the purpose then God is perfectly capable of giving the poor whatever help they need. God commands us to help the poor because he wants us to have the spiritual exercise of voluntarily giving up something that is ours in order to help others. Sacrifice is good for the soul.

This side of the giving is completely lost when taxes are taken from us at gunpoint to give to the poor, and since the poor are getting far more help from the government than they need, people who want to exercise their souls have fewer opportunities to do so.

The second problem is that when the government is doing the charity for you then the government decides what charity work needs to be done with your money --not you and not your church. Not only does this mean that your "charity" money goes disproportionately to the politically connected (because that's where all government spending goes) but in addition, politically powerful special interests will piggyback on this spending to push their interests.

That last thing is what the bishops have suddenly come up against, but I don't see any sign that this was a learning experience for them. All they seem to want is their special exception over religious objections. If people have pragmatic, philosophical, or financial objections, well, screw them. They can just knuckle under and do what Mr. government charity tells them to do. It really strikes me as a sort of un-Christian, I've-got-mine-so-I-don't-care-about-your-problems approach to the issue.

It would be nice to see some indication that Catholics have learned a lesson about the dangers of the Leviathon government, but I'm not seeing it in any of the reading I've been doing. I expect that the bishops will eventually win this one and that they will then go back to supporting the very policies that led to the problem to begin with.

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