Sharpton: Obama needs to dictate to the Catholic Church to maintain separation of church and state, or something

posted at 11:10 am on February 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Someone has a very confused idea about the separation of church and state, and surprisingly, it’s the Reverend in this Morning Joe panel today. Working off of Peggy Noonan’s Wall Street Journal column from Saturday, Al Sharpton argues that Barack Obama had to dictate to the Catholic Church to violate its religious tenets in order to … preserve the separation of church and state?

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Rev. Al Sharpton: No, I think you have to have the reverse argument, and that is if I want to seek employment and have employment in a church but that I disagree with the dogma and theology of the church, do I have the right to be protected by law? And I think that what the Obama administration is saying that you do not have to follow the tenets of a church organization to be an employee of a church.

Scarborough: Do you think this is a good decision?

Sharpton: If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we’re going to have a separation of church and state. Whether I would personally agree with the decision or not, the question is do I have a right to make that law?

This is an absurd perversion of the concept of separation of church and state.  When Thomas Jefferson wrote that (it’s not found in American law), he meant that the church should not dictate to the State on law — and that the state should not dictate to the church on doctrine. Jefferson wanted to avoid establishing a state religion run by Parliament that had the power to manipulate the spiritual for the sake of the secular. That is exactly what Obama proposes to do in this case: dictate to the Catholic Church and its organizations that its doctrine on contraception, abortion, and sterilization are incorrect and force them to fund those practices that violate their most deeply held beliefs on the sanctity of life, all to satisfy Obama’s political needs.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski aren’t buying Sharpton’s spin:

Mika Brzezinski: Obviously they’re getting money from the government. Having said that, the Catholic religion believes certain things; they believe it to be fact. And so you’re asking them not to be Catholic if you impose these regulations on them.

Scarborough: You have a lot of Catholics who are pro-choice who were offended by this decision…The very idea that a centralized government, a centralized state can reach out and tell the church…Kathleen Parker put it this way “You have to forfeit your most fundamental beliefs or face prohibitive penalties or close hospitals, schools, charities, etc…” I must say it’s a staggering, staggering decision by HHS…[to Mika] You’re a Catholic. What are your thoughts?

Brzezinski: I think it’s wrong; I agree with you. And I think it was an overstep.

The Catholic Church’s hospitals get money from the government, but only for caring for the otherwise indigent.  If that’s the basis of the intervention, then Catholic hospitals will likely close their doors.  The bishops will not allow for abortions and sterilizations that violate the very mission on which those hospitals are based — the protection and promotion of sacred human life.  That will only make matters worse for the poor, and also for the government that would have to fill the very large gap left by the closing of hundreds of hospitals and clinics.

If one disagrees with the Catholic Church’s doctrine on the sanctity of human life, then they don’t need to work for their institutions, as Scarborough says later in the segment.  Otherwise, they can buy their own abortions, contraception, and sterilization.  Catholics who see these as deep sins should not be forced to underwrite them through their own church (it’s bad enough that we’re doing so through the government), and especially not based on an elitist diktat from a government that is supposed to stay out of church business.


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A hospital funded by foreign religious sources opens up in Dearborn. On of the rules of the hospital is that no women may work as surgeons, citing religious grounds. Does the government have the authority to step in? Does a female employee directly affected by this law have the right to sue?

NorthernCross on February 7, 2012 at 5:33 AM

KOOLAID2′s head just exploded

Roy Rogers on February 7, 2012 at 7:29 AM

All Hoopla regarding separation of “Church and State” is absolutely incredulous. Anyone that can show US where the term that mandates separation of church and state in the Constitution, is making it up or just reading into it. It does not exist-because it was commonly known that is what we were fighting the Revolutionary War.

What we need to understand is that the Constitution is the rule book on how we will govern the actions of the population that want to become citizens of the U.S. of A.

It is so ironic to examine the level of criticism comes from those who think the answer to everything can be solved by the Government.

In reality the Constitution is like Hoyle is to gambling “three of a kind beats two pairs”.

Today the primary rule is the Constitution outlines how to govern the their actions with other countries, and specifically run those charged to uphold it. While, the States have the requirement to protect the citizens of those within its boarders, they delegate the appropriate actions to protect (not control) them.

Today, the Democrats are exceeding their authority by exceeding the right to protect anyone that speaks out for upholding the Constitution.

As noted the other day, if the President does not like how you or I are conducting our personal matters, then we are going to pressure you to comply. The last I read in my High School Civics classes that is characteristically a dictatorship. or police state. Once compliance is attained then you will be requested to work for the common good of others – that is socialism.

As a U.S. citizen I have the right to work for my own good and to take care and protect my family in any manner I feel is necessary.
A politicians obligation is to protect US from others who wish we do their bidding or die.

I choose to “Live Free”.

MSGTAS on February 7, 2012 at 9:34 AM

does it occur to anyone that maybe the destruction and closing of religion-run hospitals is the point and endgame to obama’s diktat? less private/religion owned hospitals, the more government ones will have to be constructed and run to take their place, meaning more power for the central government. the catholic hospitals (and schools) are pesky outliers who don’t conform to the leftist ideology and they can’t be completely controlled by the feds either. instead of forcing them to close directly, why not invite them to self-destruct? I don’t think obama or his cohorts will shed a tear for the closing of any religious hospitals.

babygiraffe on February 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

With this Sharpton exceeds all of his previous intellectually vacuous remarks …. Is “stupider” a word ?

Michael73501 on February 7, 2012 at 11:31 AM

There is nothing reverent or sharp about Al. Without question one of the most offensive, ignorant, race-baiting dullards of all time.

Keep up the good work AL! (face palm)

legendtwo on February 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Just more proof that Marxists and their supporters have as their number one enemy, God and His people.

Without conscience there can be no sane or stable society -anything goes – every body gets to be an Alinsky or an Ayers.

On the other hand the left ought to understand the cost to them if people lose their consciences – then they need not bother following any rules the state makes up.

I mean, if they can defy God, why worry about defying a little thing like the state?

Don L on February 7, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Wold Obamit dictate as a Muslim or a Christian???

tomyj1 on February 8, 2012 at 5:02 PM

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