Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Catholic Charities and "Direct Inculcation"

With respect to the recent Catholic Charities case, Kathleen asks (below) "why church lawyers so readily admitted that Catholic Charities was not involved in the 'direct inculcation of religious values' and, thus, failed the first of the four necessary criteria for exemption as a religious employer under the state's Women's Contraception Equity Act." As she notes just a few lines later, though, "insisting that Catholic social services agencies are involved in the direct inculcation of religious values may send off red flags for government funding vis-a-vis the Establishment Clause."

A reporter asked me recently if I agreed with "those" (who are they?) who think that "Catholic Charities is trying to have it both ways" (i.e., to receive large amounts of government funds, but also insist on a religion-based exemption to the WCEA). I'm not sure. But this case did start me thinking, again, about the potential downsides of policy experiments like "Charitable Choice" and even school vouchers. Now, I am quite confident that these kinds of experiments are "constitutional," if the Religion Clause is properly understood. And, I agree with Kathleen that "through the Church's social mission, those who assist those in need proclaim the Gospel message as much as do preachers from the pulpit" and that "serving those in need IS the Christian message in deed." Still, I wonder if the Catholic Charities case is a kind of wake-up call, reminding us that, if the Church wants to be the Church, at a time when the state would prefer that the Church not be so much the Church, then the Church might not be able to rely on government funds for its social mission. Any thoughts?



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