Whaddaya Do When Your Bishop is a Quack?

Whaddaya Do When Your Bishop is a Quack? November 30, 2020

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, source Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Which is lawful on the Sabbath, to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill?  Jesus Christ.

Whaddaya do when your bishop is a quack? 

Let me use an example from my own life to illustrate what I’m asking.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer.

I spent a lot — and I mean a LOT — of time on the websites for MedPlus, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. I read about the kind of cancer I had, possible treatments and side effects of those treatments. I also talked to a number of doctors and spent a lot of time in prayer as I debated what treatments I would accept and how I would get through them. 

But there is one thing I did not do. 

I did not call my bishop and ask him his opinion as to what treatment I would undergo. I didn’t ask him what surgeries were best. I didn’t consult him on which chemo to take. I didn’t ask him for his medical opinion at all. 

If my bishop had taken it on himself to try to coerce me into one treatment over another, or to forego treatment altogether, I would have been totally abashed, and, after I got over the shock, angry to the core. There is zero chance that I would have taken medical advice from my bishop about my cancer treatment. If he had tried to give it — which, I promise you, he never did — I would have thought he was either totally nuts, or suffering from terminal hubris. 

I’m telling you this to illustrate my opinion of the recent behavior of Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn New York and Agudath Israel of America. These two got together and went to the United States Supreme Court in protest over limitations in the number of people they could have present during worship during a worldwide pandemic. The limitations they are so agitated about do not, in my opinion, rise in any way to the level of a restriction on religious freedom. 

It is a well-documented fact that church services often function as super spreader events of COVID-19. Church services held by rebellious and hubristic religious leaders have killed a lot of people. 

As usual, I have a very public track record on the issue of government interference in First Amendment freedoms. I was a Democratic elected official who opposed a Democratic president when he signed the HHS Mandate that I felt did interfere with religious freedom. I authored and passed legislation opposing this mandate and spoke in public venues against it. Unlike the spineless, party-first/country-last Republican Senate we’ve seen lately, I went right in the face of my political party, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

However, limiting the size of groups during a massive surge in infections in a worldwide pandemic is not an infringement on First Amendment freedoms. It is a public health and safety issue. No church or synagogue should oppose these restrictions. They should support them. Anyone who is the least bit concerned for the value of human life or the common good should support them.

The right wing Republican Supreme Court evidently does not agree with me — or itself — about this. They overturned a ruling that they had made a few months ago supporting the restrictions and found for bishop quack-quack and his quack-quack Jewish colleagues. 

I, for one, am of the opinion that this action on the part of Bishop DiMarzio was an act of pure hubris in which he put his personal sense of entitlement ahead of the welfare of the people he shepherds, as well as the larger community. Churches should be doing everything they can to cooperate with health officials to stem the tide of this pandemic, not going to court to get the privilege of engaging in behaviors that might ramp it up. 

Jesus Christ asked the Pharisees — and I use the term Pharisee advisedly — Which is lawful on the Sabbath, to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill?

I believe Bishop DiMarzio answered by rebuking Christ and saying that it is better to kill. 

To return to my analogy and apply it to this situation directly, I can tell you that when it comes to how I have and will respond to this pandemic, I am going to follow the suggestions of health officials. If Dr Fauci says we should avoid gathering in groups, then I’m going to avoid gathering in groups. 

I say this knowing full well that there is a price involved in following these recommendations. COVID restrictions kept me away from my beloved mother when she was dying. She did not receive last rites because of these restrictions. I grieve over this still. But I know that it is my cross to bear so that other people may live.

The reason I say this is simple. It supersedes my concerns for my own health, which are real enough in themselves, and goes straight to one of my primary life guideposts. 

I won’t kill anyone. 

I won’t help you kill anyone. 

Except for the single reason of self-defense, it is never justified to kill a human being. 

Bishop DiMarzio should know this. 

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