It gets fire protection from the local government. Police services also, exactly the way it enjoys operating under the umbrella of United States defenses. And all the roads its executives, employees, and members travel upon: government paid for, you betcha.
But obey federal, state, and local criminal and civil laws while enjoying all the benes the federal, state, and local governments provide? Even to the far stretch of the moral continuum the institution ran, to hinder investigations into allegations that some of its local managers and area supervisors had indulged themselves in the depravities of child kidnapping, molestation, and sexual abuse.
Yesterday -- November 12 -- the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington announced that it wasn't going to continue its charity programs -- you know, the ones that fall under George W. Bush's "Faith-based Initiative" programs that also get federal subsidies -- if the Washington, D.C. city council followed through on its legislated plan to allow same-sex marriages in the city and to prohibit discrimination that bars the hiring of gays and lesbians, based only on their sexual orientation.
The archdiocese claims that abiding the non-discriminatory employment edicts is something it just cannot do; a not-doing that will negatively impact the 68,000 poorest of the poor in the city who obtain some level of assistance, much of it channeled through the Church.
Understand, the proposed legislation does not require the Church to perform same-sex marriages, or even recognize them. All the legislation intends is that, when it comes to hiring someone, no employer, including the Church (or any religious entity), can refuse to hire an otherwise qualified applicant just because he or she is gay.
A few very Biblical lessons come to mind.
Jesus never spoke one word, that anyone knows of, condemning gays and lesbians. Not a single word. But he did offer some suggestions in other realms. A few Jesus-lesson Biblical issues just spring right out at you.
Take for example the Parable of the Good Samaritan. That was all about bigotry, and not being bigoted. Like, which traveler on the road was the beaten and robbed sojourner's real brother, and how it turned out to be the one from Samaria, the country out of which no good thing ever came.
Then there was the brief lecture that concerned itself with the giving of alms. An anecdote about one of my heroes, boxing champ Muhammed Ali, a Muslim, illustrates how it's supposed to be done. He and a few friends visited a restaurant. The waitress, not being much into sports, didn't recognize "the Greatest." Upon leaving, Ali surreptitiously left a rather healthy tip; a couple hundred bucks, maybe it was a thousand. No matter, the sum is irrelevant here.
And he left it while also leaving no indication from where it came, or from whom. A colleague asked him why he didn't tell the lady, or anyone else, who he was. "That's not why you leave a gift" was Ali's reply.
Much along the same lines, this "leave it from the gladness of your heart, and don't let your right hand know what the left is doing" is the sort of spirit that Jesus spoke of. The way the Church is handling the matter, their alms are to the securing of some political advantage, or to the fulfillment of some modicum of their corporate agenda.
And of course the little talk Jesus had with his disciples that spoke of how, when you've fed and clothed and cared for and visited those in jail, the least of these, you were feeding and clothing and caring for and visiting him. And when you weren't, you weren't attending to him either.
The last one that hits me across the head as with a 2X4 is the rendering one. You know: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Well, aren't federal, state, and local laws and ordinances 'Caesar's'? And how does a "If we're going to be forced to obey the laws, we just won't any longer provide charity to the city's poor" attitude reconcile with any part of what Jesus and the New Testament were about?
Eventually the objective observer and the most ardent parishioner will both be forced to ask, "Just who the hell are these people?" And, "Why are they here?"