Get Religion Out Of Health-Care, Education

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It’s a bit of a snoot-full when the Catholic church says it is too moral to allow assisted-dying in its medical institutions. Its morals are too exulted to shame itself with such an immoral practice.

Explain that to the thousands of men who were sexually abused while involved with the church. This is an organization that turned its head when sexual predators were on the lose in its worldwide organization.

Meanwhile one wonders sometimes if Canada is a secular state. In our national anthem for example Canadians sing “God keep our land …” Doesn’t sound secular does it?


Photo above: Does religion have a place in health-care and education?


Now Catholic health institutions want to be exempted from upcoming national assisted-dying legislation. That is flying in the face of the law. No organization or person is above the law. To make exemptions is to denigrate the rule of law, the foundation of our civilization.

Perhaps it is time Canadians think seriously about getting religious organizations out of health and education.

Some religious groups appear to believe they are above the law. They are not.


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18 thoughts on “Get Religion Out Of Health-Care, Education

  1. An effective way to deal with this would be to remove public money from schools, universities, hospitals and any other institution that doesn’t follow all Canadian laws. There is no reason for us to subsidize organizations that continue practices that are contrary to the law.

    I also think it’s time that churches and their staff paid property and other taxes. This would include removing any special income-tax deductions for a clergy person’s residence or the income of someone who has taken a vow of poverty.

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    1. The Voter,

      Recognize that euthanasia is not just a “religious” or “supernatural” issue. It is in the domain of “natural law,” meaning that an atheist can likewise be against euthanasia on the grounds that it violates natural law — the same with slavery and other moral issues.

      Remove funding for Catholic schools? Shouldn’t parents have a say in their children’s education? Are not “religious” people also taxpayers? Indeed, I know quite a few families who have opted to home-school their children, so who is subsidizing whom? And are you suggesting that there would be a cost savings if everyone was under the Public School system?

      I can tell you what will happen if you were to charge some new taxes on churches/clergy. They would sell their downtown churches, which are enormously expensive to heat, light and maintain, as well as close all their charity organizations. It is already difficult enough with the decline in church goers and vocations.

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      1. Sheridan,
        Maybe it’s time to move on from those temporal attachments to expensive buildings. What you’re saying seems to be that they need tax write-offs to pay for their emptying buildings. If I can no longer afford to maintain a building, I can’t rely on tax breaks to help me keep it open. Maybe they should look at the examples of others who have either converted their too-large quarters for other community uses.
        I’m sure you know there’s a limit to the amount of your income you can deduct for charitable donations on your income tax report. Did you know that if you take a vow of poverty and donate your total earned income to the church – out of which they support you – you can deduct the entire amount of your income and pay no tax? See line 256 on the IT form. What happened to “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”? Did you know that, if you were a member of the clergy, you’d get a deduction for your residence? See line 231.
        “Religious” people may be taxpayers but that has no relevance as to whether or not they should provide religious training to their children at home and/or in church versus in the school system. Yes, a public system for all would save money in reduced administration, fewer buses and economies of scale. Smaller communities might benefit more than large ones but all should see some reductions in costs.

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  2. Ken,

    First, that is not what the Catholic Church has said. Go directly to the statement by the CCCB (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) President on the Supreme Court judgment and physician-assisted suicide: “The Bishops of our country invite Canadians, especially Catholics, to do all they can to bring comfort and support for all those who are dying and for their loved ones, so that no one, because of loneliness, vulnerability, loss of autonomy, or fear of pain and suffering, feels they have no choice but to commit suicide. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops will continue to promote palliative and home care, and to encourage all the faithful to work for the betterment of the elderly, the disabled, the ill, and those who are socially isolated.”

    Second, the priests who sexually abused children committed a crime (and mortal sin) to which they need to answer for — no less than secular sexual predators (of both sexes). There is no exception; it is morally wrong. I agree that the Church officials are guilty in their mishandling of this scandal. They are now having to answer for that in court. Indeed, such lawsuits are bankrupting some Catholic parishes and religious congregations. In short, this topic has no bearing on whether euthanasia is a moral right or wrong; no less than a doctor who shoots his promiscuous spouse has any influence on whether smoking is bad for your health.

    Third, you cannot artificially separate moral questions from reality, they are the fabric of civilization. Either something is ethical or it is not. Either “assisted dying” is murder, or it is not. Either slavery is ethical or it is not. Either abortion is ethical or it is not. Etc., etc. These are moral questions that inform our man-made laws. If the legal system (political domain) completely overrides the moral system, then we become vulnerable to becoming a society ruled absolutely by the state. The state is not a moral institution and history has proven how flawed its judgment and rule can become.

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      1. What are those black and white binary issues?
        Is it:
        – no meat on Friday ( or if you do eat meat you must then do an act of penance)
        – divorce, cremation, rubber things on private parts
        – not to just list one religious sect and their black and whites , what about the black and white separations between various Christian Sects, Muslim Sects, Jewish Sects, etc.
        – might as well throw in those black and whites for those that think the Universe is 6500 years old (or so)
        – and let’s not forget the Scientologists,

        Yep, everything can be measured in black & whites.

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      2. As an example – the use of the word murder seems simple BUT :
        murder can mean:
        -killing
        -homicide
        -assassination
        -execution
        -unlawful killing of a person especially with MALICE and forethought.

        A follower of Buddhism might have a different explanation of murder than the governor of Texas.

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    1. For many people contemplating ending their lives through assisted suicide, it isn’t the “fear of pain and suffering” that they are responding to. It’s actual pain and suffering of a level and persistence that most of us cannot comprehend. When your doctor asks you to describe your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, do you ever answer “43”?

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  3. Wow
    My Dad said, ” There are two things that you do not discuss when there’s a weapon in the room – religion & politics ”

    Since there is no weapon, I’ll jump in with an atheist’s point of view.

    The Catholic organization referred to in the above editorial is the one that has a Pope in Rome; most people do not even realize that that isn’t the only Catholic organization. Who’s text is the one true one ? Which interpretation of which text is the real interpretation ?

    I would not fund, from taxpayer general revenue funds, any organization that has their core values or mission statement based on an interpretation of a religious text. I would also like to see any reference to a god (just which god is that?) removed from all public bodies and songs and oaths.

    One can be moral, ethical, kind, loving and giving without any reference to a god and a specified way to believe.

    Have a religious belief but don’t ask me to help pay for it. If the followers of a specific faith can’t fund their own organization without my help, then I guess that is their problem, not mine.

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    1. Chaz,

      Are you confusing the term “Catholic” organization with “Christian” organization?

      The Roman Catholic Church (or Catholic Church for short) is known as the Latin Church which is aligned with (in communion with) many Eastern Catholic Churches, whose members follow the faith and doctrines of the Pope in Rome. Outside of Catholicism you can find many different Christian denominations, most of which broke with Roman Catholicism during the Protestant Reformation, and do not share all the same doctrines.

      Further, there is also the Eastern Orthodox Church which broke from Rome in a schism around 1050 AD. To make a long story short, all these Christian groups believe in the Ten Commandments — No. 6 being “Thou shalt not kill” (i.e. kill innocent life).

      A central issue of euthanasia is about getting doctors who are meant to “do no harm” to administer a deadly injection. Even an atheist can appreciate that such a system will corrupt the medical profession. If people want to kill themselves, then that is terrible, but please do not involve the medical profession in their death. This corruption of the profession first began with abortion — pregnancy is not a disease. Today, our taxes fund abortions at various hospitals in Canada, whether you agree or disagree (i.e. no choice).

      “One can be moral, ethical, kind, loving and giving without any reference to a god and a specified way to believe.” This is what was preached by Communism for 70 years in Russia. Likewise, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, had the state outlaw religion. Both of those atheistic societies ended in failure.

      The Catholic churches/clergy are not asking for your tax dollars. They are just asking for tax breaks or concessions, no less than other big corporations in this country. Catholic schools and hospitals receive tax money from government general revenue and it is no longer distinguished where these taxes came from. At one time, in Ontario (I am not knowledgeable about the other provinces), Catholics were double-taxed, and then years later it changed so that they were able to direct their taxes, and then finally, under Premier Bill Davis, able to get money from general revenue.

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      1. Sheridan:

        Actually I was referring to other than Roman Catholic Churches.

        For example a buddy of mine proposed to a girl. He said she was Catholic because she told him she was Catholic. I pulled my glasses down my nose and explained that she was Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Catholic. He found out that that was the case and went through a process to convert himself to be a member of her church. I was the best man at their wedding in a church that had the word Catholic in the churches name, but it was not Roman (Latin) Catholic. They certainly call themselves Catholic.

        There are other religious churches that consider themselves Catholic: Oriental Orthodox Church, Church of the East and the Old Catholic Church.

        skoal,
        Chaz

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        1. Chaz,

          Thanks for that answer. This is an interesting topic.

          The term “catholic” means universal, and therefore everyone desires the title “Universal Church.” It gets confusing if everyone is calling themselves “Catholic.” For example, there is the “Greek Byzantine Catholic Church,” but that church is in communion with Rome. So, if the Greek Orthodox Church are calling themselves “Catholic” (they are not in communion with Rome), then that is problematic. Although, I guess that I should not be surprised since some Anglicans (not in communion with Rome) call themselves “Catholic.” And the Chinese Government has been trying to get their state-controlled Christian Church recognized as “Catholic,” but the Vatican will never endorsed it.

          The tradition and the historical continuity (with St. Peter), as well as the size of Roman Catholicism, have made it in the western media to be synonymous with the term “Catholic.” So, for example, when President Putin meets with the Patriarch of Moscow, CBC (Reuters, BBC, CNN, et al.) refer to the Russian Church as: “Russian Orthodox Church.”

          In short, no one in Canada is going to read a story about Catholics in either Toronto, Paris, or Madrid, and think: Gee, I wonder if they are referring to the Greek Orthodox Church?

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      2. Sheridan,
        I was raised in what was decidedly not a Roman Catholic or other capital ‘C’ Catholic church. Before receiving Communion, we recited the Apostles Creed which ends as follows: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” The small ‘c’ catholic church referred to is the universal church and members of my church saw themselves as part of that church but would not have gone in the door of a Roman Catholic church.
        As far as different branches of Christianity not sharing the same doctrines, I could take you into different Roman Catholic churches today and you’d have a hard time believing they were the same denomination. For example, in my day, some parishes had folk masses while others were of the “smells-and-bells” persuasion.
        I attended a Catholic high school, which was tax-supported until Grade 10, where I paid fees to attend the higher grades. There were tax-supported schools that we could have gone to but we or our parents made the choice, as do thousands of private school and home school families, not to go there. As a Protestant, I wasn’t required to participate in religion classes but did have to sit at the back of the room occupying myself with schoolwork unless I chose to participate.
        My church didn’t depend on the public school system to teach religion to its young. We learned it in the home and at Sunday School classes. The Jewish children I knew went to Hebrew School to learn their faith. There’s no reason why every child couldn’t be educated in a single system with each religious organization providing add-ons for their members – just look at what we pay for duplicated administrations and transportation systems to maintain the separation. If you choose to put your child in a non-public school, you can pay for it just as you do for other supplemental activities.
        The same applies to other church-operated institutions including hospitals.

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        1. The Voter,

          The Nicene Creed adds the word: “Apostolic” Church. This has been a strong motivation for Protestants who convert to Roman Catholicism. Two prominent American converts are Scott Hahn (formerly a Presbyterian) and Peter Kreeft (formerly a Calvinist), who both based their conversion on Roman Catholicism’s direct link to the early Church.

          The Roman Catholic doctrine is clearly stated in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” namely a book on the teachings of the Church. The liturgy deals with the celebration of the sacraments and actions that celebrate the life of the Church, e.g. a Catholic wedding would follow a liturgical rite for this ceremony. The confusion comes from either: disobedience of the doctrines or disobedience of the liturgical rubrics (eventually the Pope and bishops restore order); cultural influence (e.g. Mass in the vernacular); or modern influences (e.g. modern church architecture).

          Lastly, John Tory (now Mayor of Toronto) did propose a school voucher program to allow for more faith based schools in Ontario, but Premier Dalton McGuinty shot him down saying that it would cost the province too much money. I believe the opposite, namely that more school competition would make the Public School system: smaller; more efficient; accountable and more affordable.

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      3. You refer to the Commandment found in Jewish and Christian religious books “Thou shalt not kill” but then follow it with a bracketed qualifier “(i.e. kill innocent life)”. There is no qualifier in the Bible – it’s quite a simple prohibition i.e. no killing. Various religious groups through the centuries have been at the vanguard of authorized killing whether it was in acts of aggression and war sanctioned by church and/or state or in the use of the death penalty.
        The Church doesn’t get to pick and choose what types of killing it will allow its members to participate in and it certainly has no business dictating to others what options they will have. This is a real concern in smaller communities where there may only be one medical facility or even only one doctor.

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        1. The Catholic Church is very clear about how it defines killing an innocent life. If you want to be a Catholic in good standing then you have to follow this teaching.

          As to the question of euthanasia, Catholics have every right to participate in the public debate. But again, respect for life is not simply a religious topic but a natural and moral one, and so that is where there is common ground. Indeed, not all the doctors are religious, who do not want to participate in euthanasia.

          The answer lies in better palliative care (home care, etc), which is currently woefully underfunded and misunderstood.

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  4. I am active with Dying With Dignity. My response is that some individuals may want assisted suicide. Others may not want this. It’s all about choice. The women’s movement brought to all the issue of choice.
    So if the law allows choice, then it seems fair to allow those who want assisted suicide that choice. And if a particular hospital is against this law, then they should be denied monetary support from government(s). Probably the administration should be penalized in some form for “breaking the law.”
    If someone is religious and is against assisted suicide, then that is their choice. It’s all rather simple. Up to the individual to make that choice, as long as it meets the law as it currently stands.

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  5. Sheridan.
    I am never quite sure whether your tongue is in your cheek or not. If those expensive enormous buildings had to be closed then that would be a bad thing?
    As an atheist I subscribe to no doctrine of “natural law”, perhaps a doctrine of logic would be more descriptive.
    skoal,
    Chaz

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