During the Tudor Dynasty in England, and particularly the reign of King Henry VIII, the Catholic Church attempted to exert its considerable power to influence and ultimately control the English monarch. Throughout history, the Vatican has continued asserting its power over its members with great efficacy, and in the United States the scene is no different in the 21st Century. However, Catholic leaders are not content issuing Dark Age edicts to their congregations; they are attempting to control the health-care industry, the White House, gays, and every woman in America. The Catholic’s current point of contention is access to abortion services and recently, elimination of birth control in keeping with the church’s ban on contraceptive use by its adherents. It is unclear exactly who gave the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) authority to dictate their anti-woman edicts on Americans, but it is time for them to lose their tax-exempt, non-profit status immediately and be evicted from the halls of Congress once and for all.
A recent news report detailed a split between the Obama Administration and Catholic groups over a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to end funding for the USCCB to provide assistance to victims of human trafficking (slavery). The Bishops administered services to victims since George W. Bush’s administration as part of his drive to give federal money to faith-based groups, but their tenure was ended when HHS awarded grants to three other agencies that referred women slaves to agencies that provided contraceptives and abortion services. The USCCB refused to refer rape victims for contraceptives or abortion because it goes against church teaching. In January, 2009, the ACLU filed suit in Federal court to require HHS to ensure that federal money was not used to impose the Catholic Church’s restriction on reproductive health services. To demonstrate the USCCB’s indignation at not being allowed to force Catholic restrictions using taxpayer dollars, they are threatening legal action and accused the White House of anti-Catholic bias.
The truth of the matter is that the White House should be biased against all religion; especially Catholics and evangelical Christians. The USCCB has already imposed their will on government policy for too long and during the health-care reform debate, they exerted heavy pressure on Representatives Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) to write the Stupak anti-abortion amendment that redundantly forbids the use of federal funds for abortion services.
The Catholic assault on women’s rights to decide their own reproductive health is not limited to the Stupak amendment. Republicans in the House have spent much of the 112th Congress assailing women’s choice with legislation that includes defunding Planned Parenthood, prohibiting women from using their own funds to buy health insurance that covers abortion, and passed legislation allowing hospitals and medical professionals to refuse to perform emergency abortions for women who have life-threatening pregnancy complications. All of the anti-choice legislation has as its basis the Christian bible, and they are patently unconstitutional. The most recent assault on women’s choice is the Catholic-inspired opposition to contraception.
According to Representative Lois Capps, (D-CA), a member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, the USCCB “is a very effective lobby, unfortunately, and now they have an ally in the Republican majority because both groups find this a means by which to fight women’s health issues in general .The bishops carry a lot of clout.” The policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America said the bishops and National Right to Life are the two biggest opponents of women’s right to choose, and that they “are extremely heavy-handed on this issue.” Although the USCCB is not technically a lobbying organization, as a tax-exempt non-profit they are allowed by the IRS to speak out on issues but they cannot “attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of their activities” according to the IRS’s rules as a 501(c)(3) organization. Their interference and collusion with Stupak during the health-care reform debate qualifies them to lose the tax-exempt status; the people should remove any Congressional member who votes to impose religion on Americans.
The bishops are also pushing their agenda in Congress and urged parishes around the country to submit official comments supporting their anti-choice agenda. In a classic cheap-shot move by religious fundamentalists, the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, Bishop William Lori, said the government’s refusal to follow church edicts is an assault on religious liberty. Lori told the House Judiciary Subcommittee, “I am here today to call your attention to grave threats to religious liberty that have emerged since June — grim validations of the bishops’ recognition of the need for urgent and concerted action in this area. I focus on these because most of them arise under federal law and so may well be the subject of corrective action by Congress.” Lori seriously needs to read the 1st Amendment that clearly says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Of course, the Catholic Church’s history is replete with myriad examples of their antagonistic interference in government so no-one expects them to submit to the laws of the United States anytime soon.
Catholic groups have been instrumental in imposing their edicts on Americans for some time now, and in recent years they have increased their illegal political action using lies and misinformation to pursue their anti-gay and anti-choice agenda. They, along with the Mormons, poured millions of dollars into California’s discriminatory Proposition 8, and are the driving force behind the personhood amendments in over half the states. All the while, they retain their tax-exempt status regardless they preach from the pulpit and lobby Congress to pass their church dogmata disguised as family-values legislation.
There are two remedies to keep the Catholic Church out of Americans’ lives and government. First, they have given ample cause to revoke their tax-exempt status, and although it will invoke the wrath of Republicans and fundamentalists alike, according to the IRS rules for 501(c)(3) organizations, they have and continue to break their agreement to butt out of politics. Second, they should lose all federal funds for their charities and faith-based work that are also unconstitutional as well as being illegal. For some extra retribution, all men wearing those goofy collars should be banned from entering the halls of Congress and especially the White House.
The Catholic Church has spent hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer and their congregations’ dollars to deprive women and gays of their equal rights protections. They have been at the forefront of conservatives’ anti-choice agenda as well as the drive to ban same-sex marriage. However, it is their consistent record of assailing women’s right to choose their reproductive health that is most egregious. America needs a champion, a King Henry VIII, to put Catholics in their place and remove their bigoted interference from the lives of every American. In lieu of Henry VIII rising from the dead and declaring the Catholic Church null and void and imprisoning their priests and bishops, it is up to Congress to follow their Constitutional mandate to stop imposing religious edicts on women, gays, and the government once and for all. While they are at it, they must revoke the tax-exempt status from every church in America; especially the Catholic Church.