Memo to the Catholic Church: NICE PRIORITIES, ASSHOLES.
I will admit, my knowledge of Jesus is limited. So it's entirely possible that somewhere in the New Testament, everyone's favorite Messiah advised rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar, unless Caesar renders some of what he has back unto you, in which case you can try to hold Caesar over a barrel and threaten him until you get your way.
Of course, it's much more likely that such strongarm tactics don't come from religious teachings, but rather from the power-mad participants of a religion with its own sovereign nation. Which is why it was disappointing, if not surprising, to hear that the Catholic Church threatened to stop providing services to the poor and needy in Washington D.C. if the District of Columbia passed a law prohibiting them from discriminating against homosexuals.
The above statement may raise certain questions in the head of you, the reader. Some of them I can answer, some of them I can't. For example, you may be wondering how Catholics reconcile their religious duty to help the needy with their willingness to hold the needy hostage to achieve their political goals? Easy. The same way they rationalize all the other inconsistencies found in their holy book, their modern interpretation of that book, and their everyday behavior. They just don't give a fuck. Shame, you see, is for the little people.
You may also be wondering how the hell the Catholic Church got in a position where it could even consider dictating terms to the government. And that, I'm afraid, is a more complicated story. You see, Catholic Charities gets millions of dollars every year to, among other things, manage D.C.'s homeless shelters. Which creates a fun little power dynamic. As a government contractor, Catholic Charities would be expected to abide by government rules. But being Catholics, they also have centuries of institutionalized bigotry that makes it difficult to abide by those laws. Meanwhile, the government, in another misguided attempt to cut corners, has placed its homeless population at the mercy of those self-same bigots.
This is why it's such an awful idea to privatize, outsource, or contract out essential government services, by the way. It gives the contractor an undue amount of power. For example, say you've decided that, instead of feeding soldiers yourself, you want to pay some private company to feed them. Well, when that private company goes and say, massacres a bunch of civilians, then bribes foreign officials millions of dollars to keep quiet about it, your hands are tied. Because you can't feed the soldiers yourself anymore, but if you crack down on the immoral bastards you've hypothetically hired, all of a sudden the troops are going hungry and you look bad.
The government should not be giving any church, Catholic or otherwise, millions of dollars to do shit the government should be doing itself. I don't care if it's cheaper, I don't care if they're contributing millions of their own dollars to the effort. Eventually, the church interests will conflict with the government interests and you will be fucked. Because you either end up capitulating, or you have to rebuild your atrophied services from scratch when the Church takes its ball and goes Rome over some shit that barely even counts as a grievance, much less a legitimate one. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city. 'If the city requires this, we can't do it,' Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. 'The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem.'" - The Washington Post.
Um, that's not what the city is saying. The city is saying that if you want to provide the CITY'S social services, then you can't discriminate in the secular part of your business, like hiring or benefits. I'm sure Catholic Charities has been operating for years under Washington D.C.'s gender discrimination laws, yet they haven't been forced to abandon their "faith tradition" against gender discrimination in the priesthood. This is the same thing, but since gays are even ickier than girls are, they got their mitres in a twist over it and tried to get their way by extortion. "Nice homeless people you've got there. It'd be a shame if some of 'em had to freeze to death, know what I'm sayin'?"
The good news is, D.C. is calling their bluff. The better news would be if the Catholic Church isn't bluffing. That's the real win-win. D.C. takes its social services back and creates some new jobs. The Catholic Church takes the P.R. hit for acting like assholes. And who knows, once they're done using the poor as their political pawns, the church can actually go back to helping them. On their own dime.