Archdiocese of DC Makes Strange Threat

by Jesse Galef

The poor Vatican

The Catholic Church tries to foster a reputation for their good works with the poor (unless of course the poor want to use condoms, the naughty boys). Given their desired public image, I was rather surprised to read that they’re threatening to stop providing care unless they’re allowed to discriminate against homosexuals:

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.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Yeah, that just screams “charity” and “compassion” to me.

When I worked at the Secular Coalition for America, we did a lot of lobbying on the Faith-Based Initiatives. It was our position that, at the least, any organization receiving federal money should abide by the reasonable secular federal anti-discrimination laws.

And Catholic Charities – the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the Church – IS receiving federal dollars. Millions of federal dollars. Do they expect that money to come completely without any conditions?  It is not a fundamental right to receive $8.2 million in federal contracts.

Council member David Catania has the right idea, saying “If they find living under our laws so oppressive that they can no longer take city resources, the city will have to find an alternative partner to step in to fill the shoes.”

I think my friend Rob Boston at Americans United for Separation of Church and State put it best on the AU blog:

Let me get this straight: The church is saying, “Unless you bow to our demands, we’ll stop taking your money”?

Church leaders really need to come up with some better threats.

Decisions, decisions…

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About Jesse Galef

Jesse is a career atheist, and is currently Communications Director for the Secular Student Alliance. Before that, he worked for the Secular Coalition for America and the American Humanist Association. He also blogs about science, philosophy, and rationality at Measure of Doubt with his sister Julia.
(The views expressed are not representing the Secular Student Alliance or any other organization.)