I'm impressed by Wizbang's good sense. He's not a fan of the Catholic Church, and in fact he thinks we're wrong on most of the issues. But he still has a high regard for the First Amendment, which is increasingly being interpreted to mean "everyone but Catholics." [Emphases below mine.]
Critics are denouncing the Church (as is their wont), saying that the Church must be bluffing, that the Church is overreacting, that the Church is being hypocritical because it hasn't made the same threats in other places where gay marriage has passed, and it's all a big to-do about nothing, because the law explicitly says the Church doesn't have to perform gay marriages if it doesn't want to.
They're right on that last point. They're wrong on every single other one.
First up, the Church doesn't bluff. There may be a surface resemblance between the Church's move and the typical move of politicians facing budget cuts -- make the cuts in the most visible, most popular, most needed areas first -- but that's where it ends. The Church does NOT use the poor as hostages for imposing its social agenda.
Next, the Church is not overreacting. While the gay marriage aspect is the most attention-grabbing aspect, it is the other elements that are most offensive to Catholic doctrine -- and most directly threatening to the Church. The Church does NOT sanction or assist in gay marriage, does NOT offer "same-sex benefits" to employees, and does NOT recognize same-sex relationships as equal to opposite-sex ones. Under the proposed law, they would have to yield on each of those points...
The Church has its beliefs. It has its tenets and its principles. It has decided which are the most important ones, and has rediscovered its spine. It has drawn the line in the sand -- society can go to Hell if it wishes, but the Church will not aid and abet in the process.
On this, they will not bend. If that means that they will no longer help in the adoption process in Massachusetts, so be it. If that means they have to completely shut down their charitable works in the District of Columbia, so be it.
And as they've said in the past, if hospitals end up required to perform abortions on demand, they will shut down every single Catholic hospital in the country.
Now that is a bluff we dare not call -- Catholic hospitals represent 12.7% of all hospitals in the United States and 15% of all hospital beds. And the Church clarifies that threat -- they simply won't sell them off, but shut them down and, if necessary, tear them down. They will be morally obliged to make certain those hospitals are never used to perform abortions.
Look, people: the Church has said for years that it will not do certain things. The government says, "You may not provide services unless you do those things," and then feigns surprise when the Church says, "Very well, we accept your conditions and will cease to provide services."
It says something about both Church and state that the Church continues to meet the needs, without gain for itself, of people who despise it. Simply because it loves them. And that the state takes our love so much for granted as to try to force us to obey them with the threat of preventing us.