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January 31, 2012
Obama's Assault on Religious Conscience
The Catholic Church has taken a rather strong stand in opposing the Obama administration's requirement that the church provide contraceptive medicine and treatments as a required component of Obamacare. Apparently the administration is in accord with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in shrugging off concerns about the "conscience thing" that has forced the Catholic Church to denounce this policy from the pulpit during Mass on this past Sunday all over America.
The government is requiring the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and the congregants who are devout Catholics, to fund such contraceptive medicine for all lay employees of Catholic grammar schools, high schools, colleges and universities and for all of the Catholic Church's hospitals and any other church operation that employs lay people across the nation, regardless of their strong opposition on religious grounds.
The Church's stance on this issue is admirable, but not nearly dramatic enough; nor is it something that Obama and his merry band of Liberal-Progressive-Democrats would worry about. Right now they can just give a collective yawn, and assume that Catholics, a traditional Democrat voting block, will continue to vote for anyone with (D) after their name. This response is particularly valid when they know that the IRS and the Department of Justice would jump all over the church if there was a "Don't Vote for Obama" sermon given from the pulpit. No church of any denominations is allowed to make such overt political endorsements under the threat of losing their tax-exempt status.
The Church has a way to seriously threaten the administration and still not lose their tax exempt status. I'm surprised that it hasn't already been voiced somewhere in the media, considering how disruptive it would be to the entire nation.
The Catholic Church maintains the largest private education organization in the country. Currently there are 1,489,000 primary school students within the Catholic school system, and an additional 516,500 secondary school students. That is a total, for those of you without a calculator handy, 2,065,500 kids in Catholic schools.
Suppose, just suppose, those two million plus kids were told that in the near future the school would be closing because the Church refused to remain open and be forced to fund contraceptive services for the lay faculty. It would be a matter of conscience, and who could say that it was anything but adherence to their faith? Even Jeremiah Wright would be hard pressed to say that their actions were not a matter of conscience.
The parents of those two million kids would be up in arms, though. And to be honest, there would be very few parents who, in addition to paying school taxes for someone else's kid to go to public school, dip into their own funds to pay even more to educate their kids in the beliefs and morals attendant to going to a religious school without strongly held views themselves. It wouldn't be likely that those parents who spend a fair amount of money to send their kids to such a school would disagree strongly with the Pope.
So who would they take their anger out on? Probably not the local priests and nuns. Probably not the local bishop. Politicians? Well they are local, they are available, and ultimately they are the proximate cause of the schools shutting down.
You know who else would be up in arms? The local board of education. The most recent statistic for the cost of education for grades kindergarten through high-school indicates that it costs $11,000 per student per year for public schooling. And with over two million kids leaving parochial schools all over the nation, local school districts would have to supplement their budgets by an aggregate cost of $22.7 billion annually. That's just under twenty-three billion dollars. That's billion with a "B." That's how much more the local school boards, state governments and Washington will have to shell out to educate these additional millions of students.
On top of that, the Church could also advise the governments at the local and state levels that effective on some date in the near future, every Catholic hospital will stop accepting patients.
Now in addition to the nearly twenty-three billion that will be needed for the children that will overwhelm the school system, where will the money come to fund hospital expansions, build new school facilities or buy additional school buses to name just a few ancillary, but costly, expenses? Where will the money come from to fund additional unemployment benefits for laid off teachers, nurses, lab technicians, maintenance workers, and so on?
That would an effective way to get the government to understand how seriously Catholics take the "conscience thing", don't you think?
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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