Don’t force me to pay for your religious practice

Members of the Catholic Church have expressed outrage that the new health laws require them to provide contraception to women. This was weeks ago, but Catholics continue to double down on this position. They say the state has no right demanding that they violate their own religious beliefs.

This argument makes perfect sense. The government has no right telling private individuals how they should conduct their affairs. So long as they aren’t taking public money, serving the general public, or hiring non-Catholic employees, there should be no controversy at all.

But according to an article in Mother Jones:

Under Obama, Catholic religious charities alone have received more than $650 million, according to a spokeswoman from the US Department of Health and Human Services, where much of the funding comes from. The USCCB, which has been such a vocal critic of the Obama administration, has seen its share of federal grants from HHS jump from $71.8 million in the last three years of the Bush administration to $81.2 million during the first three years of Obama. In fiscal 2011 alone, the group received a record $31.4 million from the administration it believes is virulently anti-Catholic, according to HHS data.

Under the first amendment, the government must not establish a religion. Funding of faith-based charities avoids violating the first amendment by demanding that those charities do not use their services to promote their faith or discriminate against those of other faiths.

Requiring them to use public funds to offer public services without discriminating against non-Catholics is not an attack on religion. Permitting charities receiving public funds to discriminate against non-Catholics would be using my taxes to promote religious views I find reprehensible. I am amazed that conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Party members aren’t outraged at this use of taxpayer money. Surely conservatives believe we should trim the federal budget and protect religious liberty at the same time.

If Catholic Charities want to exclude contraception from their health plans and refuse to recognize the rights of same-sex marriages, they should immediately refuse all public funding, including federal, state, and local funds. If they refuse, the federal government should simply withhold the funds (courts have supported such actions in the past). Or, they can continue to receive taxpayer money and offer their services without discrimination.