By MIKE MANNO
Several times in this column, I’ve mentioned my earlier allegiance to the Democratic Party. I attended conventions, held party office, and was elected as a Democrat to public office. I was as partisan as they come and have the newspaper clippings to prove it.
I came of political age while in grade school. My dad one day pointed to a football game on TV (it was all black and white then) and told me that a senator I had never heard of, by the name of Kennedy, was at the game. In response to my question, he told me that the senator was a Catholic and was going to run for president.
That’s when I first fell in love with politics and started following it. I read the local paper and watched the news. That’s when I fell in love with journalism, a career I chose in high school. That led me to a lifelong study of all things political.
The second Catholic president
But now we have our second Catholic president. Unfortunately, one who does not follow the tenets of the Church on the issues of life, marriage, and family — just to mention a few! But now as I sort through his policy agenda, along with that of his party, I have to ask the question: Are the Democrats really trying to scuttle the Church? Or, do they just play that role on television?
Here’s what I know for sure. The Democrats have been trying to adopt legislation called the Equality Act. It passed the Democratic House; every Democrat voting for it and every Republican voting against it. Problem for the Dems was that the Senate was in Republican hands and it did not even consider the legislation, and, of course, there was no way President Trump would have signed it if it had reached his desk.
Democrats still control the House, but the Senate has flipped and is tied 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris sitting in the chair ready to break the tie in favor of the Equality Act, and good ol’ Catholic President Joe Biden has pledged to sign it.
The Equality Act promotes universal access to abortion
Now the title “Equality Act” certainly doesn’t sound like something to fear. Think again. It is designed, whether or not intentionally, to bring the Church to its knees both legally and financially. It would fundamentally and radically alter federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in much the same manner as racial discrimination is now prohibited. It would also reaffirm a commitment to a universal access to abortion.
Here are some of the things it would do:
Doctors, nurses, and hospitals — even faith-based hospitals — would be required to participate in and perform abortions, sex-change operations, and other procedures against their moral or ethical beliefs, or lose their medical licenses. All abortions, without restrictions, would be taxpayer funded. Any insurer or entity that provides health care for pregnancy and childbirth would be required to treat abortion as a “related medical condition.”
It would cause women to share locker rooms, bathrooms, hospitals, homeless and women’s shelters, gyms, prisons, military barracks. and other intimate spaces with men who identify as female.
Private and Catholic schools that have single-sex sports teams would be prohibited from competing against public school sports teams where such “discrimination” will be prohibited.
Private and religious schools who refuse to adopt LGBT policies that includes hiring active homosexuals, transgender individuals, as well as those in same-sex marriages would be prohibited from satisfying state compulsory attendance rules. They, along with churches, would be prohibited from obtaining construction loans from federally chartered banks and other institutions unless it adopts those same LGBT policies.
Schools, churches, and employers would be require to use an individual’s preferred pronoun, including those so gender confused that they use such as xe or fae, or any of the multiple variations of non-gender specific pronouns that are available.
If parents object to their minor child taking puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones that are suggested by a school counselor or social welfare agency, they could lose custody of their children.
The law will impact the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Charities
Foster and adoption agencies that refuse to place children in homosexual or transgender homes or with same-sex couples will violate the law. The Knights of Columbus, Catholic Charities, and other Christian nonprofits will be barred from receiving community block grant funds, unless they specifically agree to the LGBT agenda mentioned above.
And, of course, the kicker: Churches that do not celebrate same-sex weddings and who ordain only male clergy would lose their tax-exempt status. Churches would also become “public accommodations” which would disallow them from refusing to provide services on account of sexual orientation.
Any person or entity — including a church — found violating the provisions of the act — could be forced to pay court costs as well as compensatory damages — in an employment case of up to $300,000 — as well as punitive damages.
The icing on this cake is that the federal law which protects the conscience rights of individuals and businesses (such as Hobby Lobby), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, would specifically be excluded from the Equality Act and could not be used as a defense.
Will the law financially crush the Catholic Church?
Robert Marshall, writing in LifeSiteNews before the election to warn voters of the LGBT agenda woven into the Equality Act, said:
“Attempting to interfere with the exercise of conscience by Christians is exactly the intent of the Equality Act. LGBTQ+ and pro-abortion leftists offer a choice of apostasy or persecution.”
On my radio program (January 14), he warned that the law could easily cause the financial collapse of the U.S. Church as well as many other Christian churches, organizations, and ministries.
If you would like more information on the Equality Act, our friends at the Heritage Foundation have a fuller explanation which you can find at https://www.heritage.org/gender/heritage-explains/the-equality-act.
So, how do you answer the question?
Then what are you going to do about?
Perhaps you might want to tell your answer to your priest and local bishop. As Archbishop José H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement:
“I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live, according to their consciences.”
This is not an exercise in partisanship. It is an exercise to save the Catholic Church and religious liberty in America. Speak up and act fast! Joe Biden has said he wants this bill on his desk during his first one hundred days.
[Deacon Mike Manno is an attorney and assigned to St. Augustin parish in Des Moines. He hosts a program on religious liberty, Faith On Trial, every Thursday on Iowa Catholic Radio, and is a weekly columnist for The Wanderer in which this article first appeared. You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com and listen to him every Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Central Time on Faith On Trial on IowaCatholicRadio.com.]