Shut Up, They Argued
Americans United for Separation of Church and State sees itself as a bastion of the Constitution. Unfortunately, it is a friend of neither free speech nor freedom of religion.
The Internal Revenue Service should investigate the Catholic Diocese of Peoria for illegal electioneering after Bishop Daniel R. Jenky compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin as part of an election-year appeal, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Americans United today filed a formal complaint with the IRS over Jenky’s intervention in the presidential campaign. Federal law prohibits churches and other tax-exempt nonprofits from endorsing or opposing candidates, said AU, and the bishop’s April 14 sermon amounts to an order to vote against Obama.
As soon as you hear a weasel expression such as “amounts to,” you know what’s being sought is actually the suppression of speech that someone doesn’t like. Here’s what Bishop Jenky actually said:
As Christians we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but as Christians we must also stand up for what we believe and always be ready to fight for the Faith. The days in which we live now require heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction.
In our own families, in our parishes, where we live and where we work – like that very first apostolic generation – we must be bold witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.
Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.
In the late 19th century, Bismarck waged his “Kulturkampf,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.
Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.
In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.
Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.
This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries—only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the instrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.
No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.
You can argue about whether the comparison with Hitler and Stalin was appropriate, but it was clearly made in the process of drawing historical parallels with the demands of the current administration. It is also clearly in the context of a position that the Catholic bishops have taken on a public policy issue that goes to the heart of the church’s moral theology. The references to Barack Obama, in addition to being accurate, are certainly meant as a criticism of his administration as a whole (Health and Human Services wrote the rule, the White House staff backed them up, and Obama made unquestionable his support).
That being the case, what AU is saying with this complaint is that clergy forfeit their right to criticize elected officials if they happen to be running for re-election. Even if an official is acting that is or appears to be threatening to religious liberty—which the bishop obviously believes—if he happens to have his name on a ballot he becomes immune from criticism by clergy.
That position is completely inimical to the First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion, and is taken in the service of a left-wing political agenda that will brook no opposition that it can find a way to crush.
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