Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More on the Connecticut church grab

Here's a thought: Suppose the aim of the Connecticut bill isn't actually to take control of the Church, but to force it into property rights battles that it will lose over the hospitals and health care facilities.

The Church has already drawn a line in the sand over abortion. As things stand, the bishops have said that not only will they close hospitals rather than allow abortions, but they will also refuse to sell the facilities to anyone else. Suppose the state intends to place the Church in a position where their hospitals aren't theirs to sell or not sell. There hasn't been any clear precedent yet in cases where the hierarchy of a church and an individual parish are at odds, as far as who gets the parish property. A lay-controlled church would be easier to manipulate, and if the property is under the state's control, the religious tenets become irrelevant as far as the state is concerned.

But the possibilities go farther than just abortion. Currently, the reason the threat of closing hospitals carries weight is that Catholic hospitals and charities tend to serve low-income areas that wouldn't support for-profit hospitals. If those hospitals close, the government will be forced (oh, so reluctantly) to cover the shortfall. This plan would have the twin benefits of (a) encouraging poor districts to vote in favor of socialized health care and (b) putting facilities already positioned in those areas under the control of the government. Convenient, no?

What do you think? Is the state looking this far ahead? Or is it just run-of-the-mill government asininity?

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