Saturday, August 27, 2011

Also in the News: Government Funding of Faith-Based Groups, Polarization of American Catholics

And in specifically religious news in the past week, here's what drew my attention:

Waymon Hudson at Huffington Post writes about the recent decision of an Illinois judge rejecting the claim of Illinois Catholic Charities that it should have the right to avail itself of tax dollars while practicing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation forbidden by state law.  Waymon notes that the underlying problem is the growing trend in the U.S., which began during Bush era, to farm out our social services to faith-based groups, which then, in many cases, assert their "right" to discriminate on the basis of their consciences while receiving federal or state taxpayer support.

Joe Sudbay makes the same point at Americablog Gay, as he points out (citing Jeremy Hooper of Good As You), that the viciously anti-gay political pressure group Iowa Family Policy is funded, in part, by faith-based funding from the federal government!  Our taxpayer dollars are going, in other words, to the support of religiously based groups that operate as overt political-action groups, often with the intent of attacking targeted minorities in the name of God.

And far from dismantling the programs established by President Bush which obliterate the line between church and state, Mr. Obama has continued these programs, and has permitted them to continue to demand special rights to ignore laws prohibiting non-discrimination.

Finally, an eminently sensible editorial this week in the British Catholic journal The Tablet, noting the balkanization of American Catholics, particularly due to culture-war issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  The editorial uses as its focal point the Elizabeth Johnson case, and the recent attack of the executive director of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Doctrine, Fr. Thomas Weinandy, on theologians as a "curse and affliction" in the church.

The Tablet finds such over-heated rhetoric and the polarization of American Catholics around culture-war issues not very conducive to the communitarian life that is the ideal of Catholicism.  And it wonders if the Vatican might intervene and try to bring some healing to the situation.  

One lives in hope . . . .

(Hat tip to Jim McCrea for sending The Tablet's editorial.)

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