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US Catholic Church now playing political hardball, critics say

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In its efforts to influence health care reform and oppose same-sex marriage, the Catholic Church is wading more deeply into politics than it has in recent memory, observers say.

The church’s role in politics came into sharp relief this week when the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Washington, D.C., diocese threatened to cease its charitable activities if the D.C. city council went ahead with a plan to allow same-sex marriages.

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The church’s social services arm provides support to 68,000 people in the District of Columbia, among them the homeless and those in need of health care. It has received $8.2 million in funding from the D.C. government in the past three years, according to the city council.

Peter Rosenstein of the Campaign for All D.C. Families described the church’s move as an attempt to “blackmail the city.

“The issue here is they are using public funds, and to allow people to discriminate with public money is unacceptable,” Rosenstein told the Post.

But church officials argue that D.C. city council’s decision to reject an amendment that would have allowed people to refuse services to same-sex couples on religious grounds amounts to ignoring freedom of religion.

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In this case, the church’s pressure appears to be having a limited effect. The Associated Press reports that “most council members are refusing” to heed the church’s pleas.

“Allowing individual exemptions opens the door for anyone to discriminate based on assertions of religious principle,” Councilman Phil Mendelson told the AP. “Let’s not forget that during the civil rights era, many claimed separation of the races was ordained by God.”

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Even other religious leaders have questioned the D.C. diocese’s move.

“Yesterday, the leadership of the Catholic Church made clear that they are choosing a cynical political ploy over their call to serve the neediest among the community,” said Rev. Dennis Wiley of the Covenant Baptist Church, as quoted by the Perez Hilton blog.

But the church may have had more success in influencing the shape of health care reform. In early October, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to Congress warning politicians that it would not support health care reform if that reform allowed taxpayers’ money to fund abortions.

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A month later, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill that included the Stupak amendment, which bans health insurance plans that offer abortion services from participating in a public exchange. Critics of the amendment say it could actually reduce access to abortions, if health insurers decide to reduce abortion coverage so that they can participate in the public health plan.

The church’s involvement in the health care debate “represents an uncharacteristic foray into outright lobbying,” writes lobbying affairs reporter Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner. “Similarly, the church has been consistent in voicing its opposition to gay marriage, but this week’s direct confrontation with D.C.’s city council over the issue is out of the ordinary.”

The church’s involvement in health reform has now become personal for Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), nephew of President John F. Kennedy, who is embroiled in a political battle with Thomas Tobin, the bishop of Providence, Rhode Island.

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After Kennedy criticized the church’s stance on health care reform, Tobin stated that Kennedy, a member of America’s most prominent Catholic political family, should be refused communion.

As the Associated Press notes, Kennedy is one of numerous politicians and government officials who have become targets of the Catholic Church. Joseph Naumann, archbishop of Kansas City, has said that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should be refused communion for supporting abortion rights. Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, made a similar statement with respect to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is divorced.

But the Examiner’s Carney argues that, from the church’s point of view, the church may have no choice but to fight these battles as America shifts towards more liberal attitudes on issues like gay marriage.

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The battles in which the church finds itself embroiled today are not simply about the underlying moral issues — abortion and gay marriage — but about more aggressive policies that might restrict the ability of the church and of individual Catholics to act according to Catholic teachings.

Because the health care bill in Congress would create new subsidies for private health insurance, it would have subsidized abortions if not for the Stupak amendment preventing subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion. … In other words, it would force opponents of legal abortion to act against their conscience simply by paying taxes.

Yet not all the church’s battles can be described as wars of necessity. Last month, Timothy Dolan, the new archbishop of New York, wrote a scathing criticism of The New York Times for what he perceived as the newspaper’s “anti-Catholicism.” Among other things, Dolan argued that the Catholic Church makes it into the news consistently over child sex abuse scandals, while similar problems plaguing other religious communities are ignored.

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Clark Hoyt, the Times‘ public editor, rejected that criticism.

“Could the newspaper sometimes choose a better word in a story or pay more attention to transgressions in other parts of society? Yes. Has it been guilty of anti-Catholicism? I don’t buy it.”

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Angry Minnesota farmer bashes ‘insulting’ Trump comments that ‘we’re great patriots’ during his trade war

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President Donald Trump has insulted at least one Minnesota farmer by his claim that farmers are "great patriots" who want him to continue his trade fight against China.

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MSNBC pundit nails Trump for only attacking Black voices on Fox News

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Democratic strategist Joel Payne called out President Donald Trump Sunday for his attacks on Fox News when he was leaving New Jersey.

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https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1163167660764532736

Trump briefly addressed Williams, before he told members of the press that he found it appalling Fox News hired a friend of Hillary Clinton's, whose name he couldn't even remember.

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Missouri official choose Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ for swearing-in ceremony instead of ‘The Bible’

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A Missouri county official is being both celebrated and attacked after a decision to forgo The Bible for her swearing-in ceremony and opted for a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

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This was the scene last week at the STLCO government center. Democrats took back control of the council and @DunawayKelli was sworn in on a copy of “Oh the Places you’ll go” with her children❤️ so proud to be part of #TeamKelli pic.twitter.com/iJ1dxfZ1Zg

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