Go Gay, The Homeless Will Pay

I guess it’s a matter of priorities.  It seems that the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC has officially announced, well, threatened, that if the DC City Council approves gay marriage, they would “no longer to be able” to do any charitable work under city contract.  So there.  My first thought is that this same question came up in Thomas Jefferson’s time, and he roundly denounced as a violation of religious freedom government aid to churches in charity work, since such financial involvements would inevitably compromise both institutions, and this latest threat is one more reason why Thomas Jefferson is Thomas Jefferson, and Sarah Palin is, well, Sarah Palin.  Of course, the 68,000 people the archdiocese currently serves, as well as the homeless who depend on the fully 1/3 of DC shelter beds the church currently provides, were not consulted in the matter.  It seems that when these cassocked little teabaggers have a political battle to fight that might produce money and Fox News approval, there’s just no more room at the inn.  Go find yourself a manger, maybe in Maryland.

Oops.  Forget Maryland.  On November 16-19 in Baltimore, the US Council of Bishops is meeting to decide for other people (as they always do, despite their somewhat striking inexperience in their favorite area, matters of intimacy and reproduction…) whether or not indefinitely sustaining vegetative patients should be mandatory at all Catholic hospitals.  Pay the bill, we’ll inject the swill….  Don’t like it?  See you in Hell.

Here, that means almost every good hospital, from the one where I was born to the one where my mother died in 2008.  We were lucky.  A very compassionate and realistic older doctor told my brother and I that we made the right decision when we finally opted, after much anguish, for “comfort only,” meaning that the machines that now kept her alive only on a screen would be shut off except for her morphine drip, after she had endured months of aggressive care, most of which only made her worse.   The Catholic intimidation was palpable for me, though, as I passed crucifixes and Blessed Virgins in the Four Seasons swank of the hospital where I knew my mother would die.  Deep down, I feared that what the US Council is now contemplating was already in force.  Seemingly confirming my fears, a priest appeared at her door one day when I was visiting, and introduced himself.  Joan said, sarcastically, “You’re here to administer my last rites?  I’m not ready for that yet.”  Startled, he said somewhat apologetically, “Your profile says you’re Catholic, so I thought I’d stop in.”  Warming to the ballsy insouciance that imminent death brings, the old Holy Names girl said, “I just wrote that to keep the other religious crazies out.”  Father whatshisname beat a hasty retreat.  I was relieved, and I felt that her display helped to convey to me her wishes.

Three days after she died, we were at her condo, and my brother checked the mail, which contained fresh bills from the hospital, addressed to “The estate of….”  We speculated, jokingly, whether the EKG was hooked up directly to accounting.  Onward, Christian Collectors. and all that.

Basically, I’m getting tired of this.  I always was suspicious of the motives of other seemingly more fervent religions, but growing up my own seemed fairly benign, and certainly not the bible-thumping political player it’s turning out to be.  But now we find it’s just as bad, and maybe worse because of its immense wealth and power.  Like the Mormons and the Evangelicals before them, the Catholics have decided that the potential new recruits are among the most zealous and eager to oppress, and have jumped on the bandwagon to nab them and their collection plate moolah, even inviting antigay Anglicans to join the greedy and bigoted fold, and loudly denying communion to politicians who support others’ rights not to follow Catholic Doctrine.  It seems that the Catholics have embraced the methods of that other great Italian work of art, the Mafia.

Who the Hell do they think they are?  Catholics were once a persecuted minority in this country, having to establish their own schools to shelter their many children from the heretical Protestant bibles then used in public schools.  Mormons had to light out to the territories, twice, to escape violent persecution as well.  Now, they and their imitators are like the last players standing in a particularly lengthy and brutal game of Monopoly, where he who has the gold makes the rules, and they’re ready to party; around the world governments and public policy dance to their tune.

They’re not religions anymore, and should no longer be treated as such by either tax codes or any presumption of virtue.  When I was Sales Manager at a theatrical lighting supply house twenty years ago, our customer base was schools, arts organizations, and churches.  (The ickiest churches put on the best shows, you know..) and among them all, the churches were the only ones who ever asked for a discount, and virtually all of them did.  I would say, privately fuming as a former Oregon Ballet administrator who would never have dreamed of asking for such a freebie, despite our much more penurious state, that “All of our customers have their financial difficulties, and all are good causes; we don’t discriminate among them.”

Today I’d say, “Churches pay extra.  Maybe God will send you that fog machine.”


  1. skeptic says:

    Now, they and their imitators are like the last players standing in a particularly lengthy and brutal game of Monopoly, where he who has the gold makes the rules,

    They are become, completely, the money-changers.

  2. two_cents says:

    “Basically, I’m getting tired of this.”

    Me, too. Thanks for a great article, with well-expressed and justifiable anger. It’s time the Church and the State got out of bed with each other, because that’s truly an obscene relationship!

  3. two_cents says:

    ” I always was suspicious of the motives of other seemingly more fervent religions, but growing up my own seemed fairly benign,…”

    If you didn’t catch it, check out this article today at the Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-11-10/was-a-wwii-classic-too-gay/full/)on some not too distant meddling by the Catholics on what can be published that I hadn’t been aware of:

    “…The National Organization for Decent Literature (NODL), a Catholic group formed in Chicago, first targeted magazines and then paperbacks. NODL objected to “the lascivious type of literature which threatens the moral, social and National life of our country.” In 1947, NODL recommended that church members visit retailers every two weeks armed with a list of “harmful” titles. If they found books on the list, they informed the manager. The result? Widespread intimidation and boycott of booksellers. From Here to Eternity was blacklisted by the NODL in 1954. The religious group stated publicly its belief that certain books on its list—including works by William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, my father, and other prominent authors—were too advanced for youthful readers and should be kept out of their hands.

    In 1956, the prosecuting attorney in Port Huron, Michigan, ordered booksellers and distributors to stop displaying and selling all books on the NODL blacklist, citing erotic passages. The ban on NODL books was lifted after the paperback publisher of From Here to Eternity joined with other publishers to obtain a federal district court injunction against the prosecution….”

  4. Well, the Catholic Church is the classic Big Tent, isn’t it? I mean, for every Opus Dei, or Knights of Columbus we’ve had a Catholic Workers, or an Archbishop Romero and the Theology of Liberation. Neither was an illusion, and both were certainly genuine expressions of Catholicism. Although I’m a Protestant by birth, and the Arch-secular Humanist of all time by inclination, I’ve been contributing for years to a Catholic organization which has been trying to rescue El Salvador from the brutal damage inflicted on it by the Reaganite interventions of the past.

    The Popes of recent days have been more concerned with preserving the glories of the faith than seriously contemplating the Church’s duty in the world — John Paul II because he was subjected in his youth to the tender mercies of a rival organization that had no redeeming features whatsoever — and the current Holy Father, Benedict, because he seems to be by nature something of a tight-ass. The world which his own God created is too messy for him, it seems, and he appears to view his Papacy as a sort of Holy Prussian Bueaucracy — Ordnung muss sein, and all that.

    Still, John XXIII didn’t pass from the scene all that long ago, and I don’t think that anyone can doubt that he represented something equally genuine in the higher reaches of the Catholic hierarchy, and in the Church in general — people who yield to the impulse to be shepherds rather than godfathers or accounting clerks, and are willing to concern themselves more with elevating people’s lives here on Earth than riding herd over the abstraction of their immortal souls.

    Seen in this light, Ora pro nobis becomes quite a different plea, one which applies in our time as much to religious organizations as it does to secular ones. Being human institutions, after all, they have more in common than anyone has ever been willing to admit.

    • dirigo says:

      I think Benedict might be the Kaiser in a miter, but, unlike the Kaiser, probably worse at shooting ducks flapping past a blind than Dick Cheney.

    • cocktailhag says:

      When I was a kid, the young priests were hippies, practically. It never felt like a conservative church, nor a judgmental one. That seems to have come later.

  5. dirigo says:

    Well I’m a Prot, and a rather lapsed, spotted one at that.

    But, growing up in Boston, you kind of imbibe a lot of Catholic ambience. Plus, I have quite a few lifelong Catholic friends from those days.

    I’m not a member of the club though, and do have a hard time listening to this church lecturing on sex, given the revelations over the last several years.

    Looks like they’re taking the gloves off in this country.

    • cocktailhag says:

      …And why not go Republican, especially when they’re always talking Tort Reform? Every religion seems to want to become the next Halliburton, and Christian teachings are pretty much left in the dust to achieve that noble goal. The good news is, if they make good on this threat, there’ll be nothing left to take away for next time, and they’ll look like even bigger asses then. Uh, Father, your usefulness to society would be what, exactly?

      • dirigo says:

        What I have respected about this church, more than anything, is the intellectual tradition in support of meaningful, long- term social justice.

        At least that’s how I understood some of what I absorbed in Boston, and in some reading that I’ve done.

        Considering this news from D.C., are they throwing this over the side?

        Are they trying to torpedo the health bill over abortion?


      • skeptic says:

        Y’know, ‘Hag, I’ve suggested that very thing (going Republican) a number of times in the past to friends of mine… saying that if we HAVE to have a Republican president, then we should at least have some say in the matter.

        Right now, there appears to be a rather huge void, pracically a black hole, in the GOP’s membership. Maybe we should recruit and try to take it over?! ;~)