Friday, February 10, 2006

The church-state line

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Keep the above in mind as this goes on.

By Don Collins
Friday, February 10, 2006


Writing in the online magazine American Chronicle ("Above the law," Jan. 27), Barbara Anderson points out the strong influence the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has had on immigration policy.

It has caused Catholic pulpits nationwide to urge open borders for legal and illegal aliens alike, she notes. "The Catholic Campaign for Human Development uses money from generous Catholics to train illegals to lobby and agitate for 'rights' for illegals," says Anderson.

This is far from new business for this powerful Vatican-directed agency. Despite the new pope's encyclical disclaimer about trying to influence public policy, Rome and these bishops have been hard at work trying to shape U.S. public policy for decades. And, to a large degree, they have succeeded. Let me illustrate.

Those who occupy chairs in the citadels of religiosity are naturally covetous of the "true faith" they embrace -- not because it represents the truth but because it represents temporal power of the most useful kind. That, for example, the world's richest institution, the combined resources and property of the Catholic Church, exposes the obvious basis for its biases on contraception, abortion and male-only priests as a means of flock control -- particularly over women but also in a much broader sense over the American body politic.

The one question that was not raised at the Alito hearings was whether he felt that the activities of his church were legal under current statutes.

The column goes on to describe the supposedly huge political machine of the USCCB that has infiltrated all levels of government in an effort to end abortion. Only in the last paragraph does the author get back to the immigration question.

Samuel Alito has been confirmed and installed, and this behind-the-scenes plan should get much of the credit. And if the bishops have their way, real immigration reform as proposed in House Resolution 4437 will not occur. The most recent example of its efforts can be found in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on migration ( The pastoral plan can be read in its original text at

Read the complete article Catholic bishops cross church-state line from Pittsburgh Live.

First of all, I should just state that I never realized the Catholic Church had so insidiously infiltrated the federal, state and local governments in such a thorough way! Second, I am not as liberal-minded when it comes to immigration as the bishops of the USCCB.

My purpose though is not to debate these policy points, but rather to reflect on the underlying theme of the column, namely that the line between church and state is a bright one. Scrolling up and looking at the First Amendment and specifically the bolded part directly referring to religion, the framers' intent is really quite clear. Congress is prohibited from establishing a 'Church of the United States' and Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of one's religion.

Life and public policy making would be a lot easier for one and all if it were that simple.

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