The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington Won’t Help People Unless Gays Are Discriminated Against

So let me get this straight.

Catholic Charities, a part of the Catholic Church, helps over 68,000 people in Washington D.C., including the homeless. It’s not just volunteer work — they get paid for this.

From 2006 through 2008, [council member David A.] Catania said, Catholic Charities received about $8.2 million in city contracts, as well as several hundred thousand dollars’ worth this year through his committee.

But if a new bill gets passed by the city council next month which would make it illegal for groups receiving city money to discriminate against gay people, they will be “unable to continue the social service programs“?

How bigoted do you have to be to refuse to help people because you’re more concerned about restricting rights from other people?

At least some of the city council members are speaking out:

The church’s influence seems limited. In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as “somewhat childish.” Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

“They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure,” said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.

End the relationship. Good riddance. Hopefully, other groups will step in to fill in the hole.

Listen to how Susan Gibbs, the spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, defends the Church’s actions:

She said religious groups that receive city funds would be required to give same-sex couples medical benefits, open adoptions to same-sex couples and rent a church hall to a support group for lesbian couples.

Which makes sense. I think it was Jesus who said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven… unless you treat the gays with any dignity.”

(Thanks to Steve for the link)

  • Maria

    pretty sickening, but nothing that church does surprises me anymore unfortunately

  • Valdyr

    She said religious groups that receive city funds would be required to give same-sex couples medical benefits, open adoptions to same-sex couples and rent a church hall to a support group for lesbian couples.

    And…? I was waiting for something that would at least let me roll my eyes and go, “Well, I guess I can understand being upset, if you’re Catholic”, like some kind of provision forcing Catholic priests to perform gay marriages. How exactly can they be pissed at the possibility of extending their health benefits to their gay employees–who are working for them–I mean, is there really some branch of corporate philosophy that believes not giving your workers health insurance is more productive in the long run?

    Not wanting to rent the church for a meeting of a lesbian support group? Come on, guys. First of all, it’s rent, not give. You get money. Second, they’re in a support group, so maybe they feel bad about being lesbians. And they’re already inside the church! You can’t see the evangelism opportunities there? Man, this is why Catholicism is receding while fundie Protestants keep winning ground–they lack the killer instinct…

    As for requiring Catholic adoption programs to open up to gay applicants… this is the one for which the reaction pisses me off the most. The adoption rates in this country, especially for kids older than infants, are pretty depressingly low. They should be scrambling for ANY qualified applicants to get these kids cared for. To deny a stable, loving (which anyone would have to be, presumably, to be considered) gay couple the chance to adopt a kid in need is not just anti-gay, but anti-child and anti-family.

  • keddaw

    Their bigotry probably makes them think gay couples are more likely to be child abusers.

    And they can’t handle the competition.

  • muggle

    This one really is ridiculous. It’s like stores who don’t want to give service but act like you have no option but to shop there. Don’t want to take my money with a smile, fine, I’ll go down the street and spend it there.

    How about we go back to government agencies running government aid? There’s a wild and crazy thought. Get out of the whole faith-based nonsense all together.

  • H

    Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

    End the relationship. Mostly because of that old “separation of church and state” thing that they keep forgetting about.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingfreeftw gettingfree

    Maybe if we take away the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status the government could take the huge amount of money the church would then pay in taxes and fund these things themselves and without discrimination.

  • Michael

    The “Katholickass church” The ENEMY of MANKIND!

  • Michael

    I’m all for the ‘PRIMAL FEAR’ Method of dealing with the disgusting ‘Princes’ (PRICKS) of the katholickass church. Make the streets run with their blood…. They care only about themselves!

  • teammarty

    You expect less from the Church of Hitler??

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Or a church run by a boy Nazi?

  • Miko

    I’m not sure where you’re getting the conclusion in the title. The article says that “church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city,” which is perfectly proper (as they shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer funds anyway), but which doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to stop helping people. It’s one possible interpretation, but by no means the only one.

    The quotation you give is taken out of context in a way which changes it’s meaning. The article said that “[the church] will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District,” not that “it will be unable to continue the social service programs.”

    Could be that they stop all charitable work as a result of losing taxpayer funds, but I doubt it.

    How about we go back to government agencies running government aid? There’s a wild and crazy thought. Get out of the whole faith-based nonsense all together.

    This is a false dilemma. There are private charities as well that could use the money, and suggesting that the only options are to let churches spend it and to let bureaucrats spend it plays into the hands of both of those groups. The second-best reason not to have government agencies running aid programs is that they’re spectacularly bad at it. While an overhead expense of 30% would be considered obscene if a private charity had it, the government runs an overhead expense of around 70% on all of its need-based aid programs. The problem is one of incentive structure. Whereas the people who work for private charities are usually there because they care about the people they are helping and because they have dedicated their lives to figuring out how to help them, the people in the government run programs are usually political appointees who got the job based on a bribe perfectly legal campaign donation and whose main interest is often extracting as much money for themselves as they can, both in the form of bloated salaries and in scheduling retreats in five-star Hawaiian hotels to “talk about poverty.”

    The best reason not to have the government run these programs is to have a bit of compassion for the people in the programs themselves. If run by private groups, chances are that they people will be respected and treated with dignity, compassion, and love. If run by public groups, they’ll get to spend the rest of their lives waiting in lines in programs’ equivalents of the DMV and submitting to random inspections that trample their civil liberties as part of an ill-defined effort to fight “fraud.”

    A good transitional policy would be to let people decide for themselves what charities to fund. If you’re that worried that all people are selfish and would refuse to contribute (in which case, how’d we end up with this program in a democracy anyway?), we could at least have a quota system, whereby each person is assessed a certain amount that they must give to charity, up to which level they can get a full tax credit for their contributions. Then everyone has the option of funding the charities they think are best and the government only has to act in the cases of individuals who are refusing to give. Consider that in addition to its 70% overhead in its aid programs, the government also wastes about 65 cents on every dollar in the collection of income tax, so the amount of money actually reaching those in need would skyrocket under such a policy.

    is there really some branch of corporate philosophy that believes not giving your workers health insurance is more productive in the long run?

    No, but a church isn’t a corporation. This kind of thing doesn’t happen at corporations, as the corporation is structured in a way that requires it either makes a profit or goes out of business. What results does this system of incentives give? Well, consider the latest data from HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. This kind of discrimination only happens when you involve hierarchical power structures with perverse incentives, such as churches and governments.

    One key difference is that the private corporations want the gay employees if they happen to be best for the job. The church doesn’t want them, but is required to hire them under existing laws. Since they’re legally prevented from not hiring or firing an employee that they don’t want, they resort to the best option remaining to them: making the job as unpleasant as possible for that employee in hopes of driving the employee to quit.

  • Sackbut

    I can understand the church, or any business, resenting the government intrusion into internal policy as a condition of continuing contracts. Internal policies are not directly related to the work being done.

    However, I think the city is right to impose these requirements, and I think termination of the contracts is an appropriate response. I wish it could be more: charitable organizations that discriminate should lose tax-exempt status, as should religious organizations that endorse politicians.

  • Miko

    Maybe if we take away the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status the government could take the huge amount of money the church would then pay in taxes and fund these things themselves and without discrimination.

    Now, I’m all in favor of eliminating tax-exempt status for churches (and also in favor of eliminating taxation altogether), but a quick look at the numbers involved will quickly show you that this is nowhere near being a realistic solution.

    Also, it’s not clear to me how setting up a special punitive tax against the Catholic church because you don’t like some of their policies counts as being “without discrimination,” even given that there are legitimate reasons not to like their policies.

  • Chas

    At least in this case the church was clear that it can’t meet the requirement for working for the government and the government officials quoted don’t seem likely to change the bill in order to accommodate it.

    I worry about all the other faith-based initiatives that the distinctions are more subtle or the requirements are just ignored.

  • http://skeptigirl.wordpress.com Kimbo Jones

    “How bigoted do you have to be to refuse to help people because you’re more concerned about restricting rights from other people?”

    It’s not that they are refusing to help people. Actually it’s more hilarious than that. They are so obtuse that rather than change their gay bashing to receive the money they need, they are blaming the city for them not being able to help people.

    So the question is: How stupid and out of touch with reality do you have to be…

  • mkb

    This demonstrates the whole fallacy of the faith-based initiative –
    that it encourages the entangling of government and religion. The way
    the world should work — religious charities do their thing with
    however much money they want to commit to it and government provides
    government services either directly or through secular nonprofits that
    have agreed to act as agents of the government. Then if the
    government imposes restrictions on its agents that a faith-based
    entity would find compromising — who cares. The church would
    continue to spend its money as it believed appropriate and the
    government and its agents would continue to operate as the government
    saw fit.
    The problem that has arisen is that Catholic Charities
    commingled government and church funds so if it stops contracting to
    provide social services to the city, the city will reassign the funds
    it gave to Catholic Charities to other service providers but the $10
    million Catholic Charities has been combining with the government
    money may fall through the cracks and that $10 million is being used
    to blackmail the city.
    The solution is for government functions to be carried out by the government or secular contractors and religious alms to be kept separate (interestingly, originally, and possibly still, some religious charities decided not to take faith-based money because they foresaw this very problem).

  • Valdyr

    Did anyone else lol at the random “streets running with blood” and “Church of Hitler” comments? I can’t tell if it’s trolls or just people who are really frothingly pissed off.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

    Good for him. We need more honest and upright citizens like David A Catinia in authority in Councils who refuse to kowtow to religious bully-boy tactics. The funding can go to a group who isn’t so discriminatory and the church will be able to do less and so lose support and respect in the community. A win all round.

    She said religious groups that receive city funds would be required to give same-sex couples medical benefits, open adoptions to same-sex couples and rent a church hall to a support group for lesbian couples.

    OMFSM, if the church is forced to not discriminate in order to receive city funds then it will be forced not to discriminate. They will actually have to change the way they act. Clearly this will not do.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingfreeftw gettingfree

    special punitive tax

    What’s “special punitive tax” about removing a tax-exempt status?

    Still I will add the clarification that I am in favor of removing the tax-exempt status of all churches.

    a quick look at the numbers involved will quickly show you that this is nowhere near being a realistic solution

    Lay out the numbers. How will I learn from this general statement?

  • Epistaxis

    She said religious groups that receive city funds would be required to give same-sex couples medical benefits

    How many same-sex couples do they employ, anyway? Doesn’t the Fed protect them if they just fire all the gays?

  • http://jessicasideways.com Jessica Sideways

    I just do not understand why it is that the Catholic church would refuse money because of the threat that they might actually have to interact with gay people in a manner other than their preachy, pious, holier-than-thou bullshit…

  • Carol

    Another classic example of Christian “love” and “tolerance.”

  • http://godlessliberalhomo.blogspot.com libhomo

    I see this as good news. Keeping Catholic priests away from service for children will prevent molestation in DC.

  • The Other Tom

    Catholic Charities can take tax dollars because it’s incorporated as a secular charity, separate from the church. This would be laudable if it operated as one, but clearly the church forces it to behave like an arm of the church.

    Can anybody think of who we should complain to to try to get their secular tax status revoked, so they can no longer receive our tax dollars to use to discriminate?

  • Lymis

    You’ve got a fundamental error in your original post when you say

    But if a new bill gets passed by the city council next month which would make it illegal for groups receiving city money to discriminate against gay people,

    THAT law has already been on the books since 1992, when the District made it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

    The new law only allows gay people to get married locally. Even this isn’t a particular change, since in April the Council passed a law that went into effect in July that recognizes same sex marriages and civil unions performed in other jurisdictions.

    This new law makes absolutely no new changes to the non-discrimination laws that are already in place (which the Church was apparently able to live with up til now.) Gay people have been able to adopt since at least 1995 (when second parent adoption by a gay partner was allowed).

    All the applicable discriminations are already illegal under current law. The only legal effect of the new law is make it easier for gay people to get married (thus making them eligible to be protected from the applicable discriminations.)

    But since July, anyone who wanted to could make the relatively short jaunt to Massachusetts and be married in DC already.

    This thing by the Church is actually worse than it looks. They are positioning it as a prudent reaction to some new situation, but it isn’t. No new protection is being added, just some more gay people falling under existing protections. That appears to be what is intolerable to them.

  • Lymis

    A correction. The new law DOES make a change to the non-discrimination laws. It explicitly makes it legal for churches TO discriminate in providing services relating to weddings, marriage counseling, and the promotion of marriage.

    In effect, the only practical legal consequence is the the Church has MORE protection to discriminate, or at least more clarified protection. (Many experts agree those protections, for churches, were already implied if not explicit.)

  • Tommaso

    I live in D.C. and ust sent an e-mail to my neighborhood list (Columbia Heights) asking that my Councilmember denounce the threats like some of his colleagues have:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/columbia_heights/message/31116 (with links)

    Dear Councilmember Graham,

    The recent threats launched by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington against the Council are despicable and deserve a harsh response. Please denounce their bigotry and childishness as some of your colleagues have. The city cannot operate based on threats, especially if based on bigotry, intolerance, and hate.

    For those that haven’t heard about the most recent shenanigans committed by groups connected to the Catholic church (Stupak amendment anyone?), read the article here. Excerpt:

    The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

    If the Church insists on bashing gay people they need to get consistent and start demanding for D.C. restaurants to stop serving shrimp. After all, they are referred to as abominations in the same book as the gay-bashing verses.

    Sincerely,

    Tommaso Nicholas Boggia
    Columbia Heights resident

  • Kelly

    If the Church insists on bashing gay people they need to get consistent and start demanding for D.C. restaurants to stop serving shrimp. After all, they are referred to as abominations in the same book as the gay-bashing verses.

    Nah, the church will never give up its right to pick and choose. It’s expecting too much from an organization that does whatever it can to cover up the sexual abuse of children by its members. I like the letter, though.

    How about a slogan for the Catholic church? Pro AIDS and anti gays.

  • http://overscope.cynistar.net/ Bob

    Paging Dale McGowan and the Foundation Beyond Belief – get ready to marshal your forces and bid on several million dollars’ worth of social service contracts in DC. If the Catholics won’t do it, could the secularists, skeptics, and humanists take their place? This is a perfect opportunity for the atheskeptihumanist community to step up, do good, and reap major PR benefits.

  • Pingback: What Else Can The Catholic Church Do Wrong? « Coreys Views

  • Deb

    Wow, so much hate here. Can’t you disagree without hating and name-calling? Everyone has a right to believe what they want. They can’t be expected to support what they don’t believe it. It’s not a question of ‘is gay marriage or abortion right or wrong’. It’s a question of no longer providing a service if it means compromising your belief. They don’t use hateful words to explain their belief. If you hate them so much, why are you making them look so much better than you are?

  • Doubting Thomas

    It’s things like this that make me glad I left the Catholic religion, and wish for the total demise of the Catholic church.

    Look, people, it’s never been about helping others, it’s all about forcing your views upon everyone else.


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