Can Churches Make Laws?

Can Churches Make Laws? July 22, 2019

Silly Question! Churches can’t make laws. If they were able to do that, we would have a theocracy, right? Can’t happen in a secular democratic republic like the United States. But what if they could make de facto laws? Laws that weren’t laws but had the same effect?

What if the Catholic Church controlled access to healthcare? What if they owned all or even most of the hospitals in the country, and decided that those facilities would not offer certain reproductive services, like abortions, IUD’s, tubal ligations and hysterectomies or even contraceptive prescriptions for women, and vasectomies for men? Wouldn’t that have the same effect as the government passing a law prohibiting those services?

I doubt if most people know that the Catholic Church owns a lot of hospitals, and is buying more every day. The immense wealth of the Church and its supporting organizations has enabled them to take over a substantial part of our healthcare system. There are 46 regions in the nation that have no hospitals that are not controlled by the Church, and that number is growing steadily. Up until recently those facilities provided the aforementioned services, usually in a facility that was segregated from the rest of the hospital complex. But that is changing. The Church is starting to dig their heels in on this. Read on and be worried.

A recent article in Church & State magazine, a publication from Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) describes an alarming situation that is developing.

“Last June, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops approved new directives for Catholic hospitals, declaring that in any affiliation, a Catholic facility must ensure that its administrators and employees will not “manage, carry out, assist in carrying out, make its facilities available for, make referrals for, or benefit from the revenue generated by immoral procedures.”

An example of what is happening as a result is the state of Iowa, where 40% of the hospitals and acute care facilities are owned and operated by the Catholic Church or supporting organizations. A local Catholic bishop has decreed that their facilities will stop providing the aforementioned services. Any woman seeking such services will have to travel outside of an area encompassing most of northeastern Iowa.

Church representatives held meetings with healthcare providers, where they provided written directives defining the “immoral” procedures that were banned. The materials were marked “For meeting purposes only. Please return after adjournment.” They clearly did not want the public to know what was going on. The plan seems to be to implement this wherever possible in the nation, as quietly as possible, so that when it is finally discovered, it is a fait accompli.

This should be ringing alarm bells all over the country. No religious organization should be allowed to impose their faith-based beliefs on the rest of the population…in healthcare or anything else. The principles of secular government and equal protection, were carefully and deliberately established in the Constitution to prevent precisely such an outcome. Free exercise does not mean freedom to oppress others.

This has been a quiet process, this takeover of our healthcare system. Until recently, there had not been much in the media about it. Finally, it has been getting some much-needed attention.

If you would like to read more about this, here is a link to the referenced article.

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