Rendering Unto Caesar

 

Glad to see National Review reporting one of the more alarming — but thus far ignored — aspects of President Obama’s HHS mandate. It seems that the Catholic bishop for the military prepared a letter to be read at Masses — and that someone in the chaplains corps said that it could not.

Here’s a post by Kathryn Lopez from National Review to Republicans in Congress: we need to know whether the chaplains corps took this on itself — or had instruction from the White House. In other words, it would be worth a hearing and getting people under oath about who directed whom to do or not do what. What is unclear is whether the Secretary of the Army gets to decide what the Catholic church can say from its pulpits.

Also the concern about “civil disobedience” is ridiculous. This is not a law. This is an executive mandate that provides an avenue for people who do not wish to comply, by forcing them to pay a fine. It is entirely within the rights of groups to call on their members to do so.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SteveMacDonald

    That the administration would take this step in an election year, essentially declaring values war against a portion of the electorate that greatly assisted him in 2008, appears on the surface to not be the brightest of moves. Combined with the non-approval of the Canadian pipeline project it rises to alarming.

    If these are the actions Obama is willing to take while he is fighting for re=election, what lengths will he be willing to go to if he succeeds in getting a second term?

    Neither is even pragmatic. the Catholic Church can not afford the fines and the USA can not function with adequate coverage without the hospitals. Negating Keystone with an Iran conflict looming and oil prices set to skyrocket just looks monumentally dumb.

    I don’t understand what is going on here – unless they believe that the public won’t remember.

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  2. Profile Photo Member
    @

    As a longstanding military member I will just say the chaplain service is a hollow body. There may be doctrine taught within the individual denominations but make no mistake, everybody within is the property of the US military and any open criticism of the executive is summarily squashed and it’s author censured under the ucmj.

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    @

    It sounds like an interesting legal question as well. Maybe Troy and his illustrious podcasting partners could tackle this one in a future Law Talk.

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    @BillMcGurn

    Here’s an update: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/290159/army-asked-letter-not-be-read-pulpit-kathryn-jean-lopez We hear a lot about separation of church and state. Sometimes we forget that main reason for First Amendment was to protect church from the state.

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    @EJHill

    I think SpatialD has the (mostly) correct take. Members of the active military are prohibited from criticizing the CIC and participating in domestic political activity.

    Chaplains may also be in a position where they are ministering to non-Catholics as well and the reading of a pastoral letter directed only to Catholics might not be the best way for them to go about this.

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  6. Profile Photo Member
    @Illiniguy
    Bill McGurn:

    Also the concern about “civil disobedience” is ridiculous. This is not a law. This is an executive mandate that provides an avenue for people who do not wish to comply, by forcing them to pay a fine. It is entirely within the rights of groups to call on their members to do so. · · 2 hours ago

    It’s an executive order issued pursuant to a law passed and signed by the President. I agree that a call for noncompliance isn’t an act of civil disobedience, but refusing to pay the fine certainly would be. That’s a fight I’d love to take to court.

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    @Percival

    Coming soon to a pulpit near you: Government Approved Sermons!

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  8. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Skyler

    I can’t speak for the army, but since the navy only has 2.25 catholic chaplains remaining in the chaplain corps, it hardly seems worth worrying about.

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    @AdamFreedman

    I think that when the army dictates what clergy can say, it’s a violation of free exercise. If the army didn’t have paid chaplains they’d have to accommodate soldiers’ faith by letting them go to outside churches, where the clergy can say anything they like. If the government creates space for clergy, then it has to respect the clergy’s rights.

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    @Illiniguy
    Bill McGurn: I don’t think anyone has suggested civil disobedience in the sense of not paying the fine. If anyone has evidence of that, I would like to see it.

    Nor have I. However, if this order is enforced, it will come to that.

    “I will not pay 100 rupees.” Ben Kingsley, Ghandi

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    @

    Adam,

    It’s not as if the soldiers aren’t allowed to go off post to fulfill their religious needs. Minus certain situations of a “closed campus” like basic training, OTS, or some other course of formal training wherin off base privileges are restricted, members of the military are free to pursue whatever religious activities they desire outside the military. Religious activity while deployed however, is an all-together different animal and perhaps beyond the scope of this discussion. That being said, if one wants to understand the nature of the military chaplain system, one need only understand the “space for clergy” that the military creates could be likened to mere window dressing; “yeah…I suppose we gotta have it, so we’ll recruit men/women of different faiths to shepherd the various flocks so we can appear to be fulfilling the spiritual needs of our members”. It’s all good as long as their message is deliverd on a non-interference basis, but make no mistake, the idea that military chaplains are free to act in similar ways as their civilian counterparts is pure illusion.

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    @BillMcGurn

    I don’t think anyone has suggested civil disobedience in the sense of not paying the fine. If anyone has evidence of that, I would like to see it. There is a big difference between what might be ruled as sensible in a forward deployment in, say, Iraq, and the general principle that a member of the Administration gets to decide what gets said or unsaid in the pulpit. I believe the last time this came before the courts — involving clergy speaking on abortion — the courts were pretty firm that the priests and rabbis and ministers do not give up their First Amendment rights. Also the part about ministering to non-Catholics is absurd. This was a letter to be read out at a Mass attended by Catholics. Finally, though CAtholics are disproportionately impacted by this law it is not directed only at Catholics. If you are an owner of a Taco Bell or an insurance company who objects you are affected too. That’s why it was encouraging to hear Romney promise to end the whole mandate for everyone if he were elected.

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    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    The Church should not have sent the letter to the Chaplain corps and since they did the corps should not have forwarded the letter to the soldiers. The military should and must stay out of the the day to day fray of internal civilian politics as much as possible. Anything that distracts the military from its core purpose of defending the country from outside threats should be discouraged. History is full of examples of disasterous results that can occur when militaries get involved in domestic politics.

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    @JamesGawron

    Bill,

    I just got back from Shabbos and got the Computer on.

    THIS IS A FREE EXERCISE ISSUE. NEITHER THE PRESIDENT, NOR ANYONE ELSE, MAY STOP THE CHAPLAIN FROM THE FREE EXERCISE OF HIS RELIGIOUS FAITH. THIS IS AN EGREGIOUS VIOLATION. IT IS TIME TO FIGHT BACK. FOR 100 YEARS THE MARXIST INSPIRED LEFT HAS HID BEHIND THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE.

    IT IS TIME TO EXPOSE THE EVIL. FREE EXERCISE IS THE WAY. TURN ABOUT IS FAIR PLAY!!

    • #14

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