Throughout the world, the Catholic Church has many missionaries. The Sisters of Charity, in India, who made Mother Teresa famous, for example. The Church also has missionaries in Africa "helping" all those who are infected with the AIDS epidemic that is sweeping the continent. Are these charities really good things? Should they receive federal money? Our president seems to think so, as demonstrated in a quote which betrays an ignorance of the Constitution matched only by an Iranian newborn.
"I appreciate that question because I, in the state of Texas, had heard a lot of discussion about a faith-based initiative eroding the important bridge between church and state." -George W. Bush
He actually thinks that there is a bridge, not a wall, between the church and state! The separation doctrine doesn't imply a "bridge!" Bridge's don't separate things! Any 5-year old who sings "London Bridge is Falling Down" understands this concept, but it seems to escape the spine-shatteringly fragile grasp of our president! However, George W. Bush absolutely refuses to give money to organizations like the Nation of Islam (the all-black separationist Muslim movement in America).
"I don't see how we can allow public dollars to fund programs where spite and hate is the core of the message. Louis Farrakhan preaches hate." -George W. Bush
Bush conveniently forgets that the institutions he does want to give money to (Christian charities, including Southern Baptist and Bible Belt charities) preach overwhelming amounts of hate, aimed at atheists, agnostics and anyone who is an unbeliever. Go down South and listen to a Church sermon someday. You'll hear ministers telling the congregation that atheism is bad, that atheists are tearing apart families and destroying morality in America and that atheists are going to rot in Hell, because they're godless. The charities run by these hate-mongering, degenerate human beings will receive money so that they can promote the Bible's message of hate toward anyone who doesn't accept the idea of a god.
Why is it wrong to give religious organization government money if they're doing a social service? The reason is simple: A religious organization's aim in doing social service is to help and indoctrinate. If you actually think that the Sisters of Charity in India are out only to help the dying, you're severely mistaken. They are out to promote their religion first. A series of media shots of the Sisters of Charity helping the dying in India is a great way to get people to think that the Catholic Church is the way to go. When sisters stop trying for deathbed conversions and making the sign of the cross over a poor Hindu boy's body when he dies, in one, last gesture of disrespect for the deceased's religion, then they will be out purely to help people. Otherwise, their aims are not in tandem with the state's, and no money should be given to them. Giving money to faith-based charities is an endorsement of that charity's religion, since that money is helping that charity spread their religion.
Think I'm wrong? Well, think of it this way: Any faith-based charity will always have part of its purpose being the spreading of their religion. That's why they're called "faith-based"; they are based in faith. Helping others is just another way of spreading one's opinion. Federal programs for helping the poor and sick already exist. If these charities were truly interested in only helping others, they'd support, and attempt to improve the federal-level programs, which have no religious bias. Instead, they use the suffering of others as a publicity vehicle for their religion. Read the missionary section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church sometime. Paragraph 850 states:
"The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit." The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 850
I'm not misquoting in any way. The ultimate purpose of Catholic missions is not to do the right thing and help fellow human beings out in their time of need. It is to spread the Catholic faith. I wonder how many Christians, when asked, "Why should we help other people?" would answer "Because it's the right thing to do," and not, "Because Christ told us to." I would be very interested in those results.
I'm sorry if you're uncomfortable with this idea, but it's absolutely true. Religious charities take advantage of the suffering of others to promote their cause, and this should not, in any way, be eligible for federal funding.
Africa, AIDS and Apologetics
Right now, millions all over the continent of Africa are suffering from the fatal AIDS epidemic sweeping the land. The Catholic Church, helping human beings because Christ told them to, has seen fit to send many missionaries to Africa, and to, allegedly, help the people living there. What is the true purpose for the missions in Africa? To spread the Catholic faith, of course. That has been well-covered in the previous excerpt from the Catechism. What is going on in Africa?
Let's start by reviewing the Catholic Church's catasrophically-unpopular stance on birth control. We all know what it is: Condoms, the pill, and any other forms of "artificial" birth control are morally-wrong, because of the Church's other catastrophically-unpopular opinion, that one regarding sex. All the refutations to the "sex is beautiful" and "sex should be saved for marriage" reasoning is contained in the Sex and Homosexuality page, so I won't go into it, here.
The point is that the Church's missionaries in Africa are trying to "help" the inhabitants, by telling them that AIDS is a sexually-transmitted disease, and that they shouldn't have sex, if they don't want to get it. They never mention condoms, which are a method of preventing the spread of AIDS. It doesn't matter if Africans don't share the Catholic belief that birth control is wrong. The Church says "abstinence or nothing" to the people of Africa, and leaves it at that. In other words, the Church doesn't believe that they have a right to know about methods that will allow them to have sex, but not transmit AIDS. What the Church is doing in Africa is wholly and reprehensibly evil. They are putting their beliefs over the potential lives of the people in Africa. Face it. If two people want to have sex, they'll have sex. The Catholic Church can't force them not to. Instead of giving these people the information necessary to retain their health and their sexual lives, the Church simply sits back and lets a nation die thousands of deaths that could have been prevented with the use of condoms. This is a modern religious crusade against condoms, where the lives of millions are expendable to purport a belief which has no solid, moral grounding. I say again, what the Church is doing in Africa is evil.
Mother Teresa, Saint of Catholicism, Sinner Against Humanity
"What?!" you say? How can I possibly attack Mother Teresa, founder of the Sisters of Charity and the helper of millions in India? The image that Mother Teresa is a paragon to holiness is so widespread that any public criticism of her is immediately reviled. Christopher Hitchens wrote a book called The Missionary Position, a detailed account of Mother Teresa's beliefs and actions in India, but one doesn't even need a book of accounts to show that Mother Teresa's actions in India were purely motivated by a desire to spread the Catholic Church's influence. The Church's mission statement makes it very clear that spreading the Bible is the first objective of missions, not to help human beings.
There is more evidence to support the conclusion that Mother Teresa was nothing more than a woman who had found a way to sainthood, publicity and the spreading of the Catholic belief structure through the suffering of others. For example, she accepted over one million dollars from Charles Keating, the Lincoln Savings and Loans conman. He gave her this money in return for her plea of leniency to the Judge sentencing him after he was found guilty of swindling many out of their money. Even though this money was shown to her, to be stolen, she still took it. What did she do with this money? Did she, perhaps, give it back to those who had been taken in by Keating's scam? No, she actually rejected the idea after it was given to her. Instead she stowed it away, for her private charity organization.
Mother Teresa was also a very strict fundamentalist, adamantly opposed to change of any kind in the Catholic Church. Publicly, she interceded to stop the lift on Ireland's nationwide ban on divorce, the only country left with such a ban at the time. Yet, in an interview with Ladies Home Journal, she stated that she hoped that her friend, Princess Diana, would get a divorce, because she'd be "much happier that way." So, God doesn't approve of divorce when a woman in Ireland, who is being beaten by her husband, an alcoholic, wants one, but, when Princess Diana wants a divorce, she can have it, because she'll be happier. Of course, afterwards, she issued a statement with the usual spiel about how marriage is God's work and can't be broken.
What exactly did her charities do in India? The answer: not much. If someone wasn't dying, the Sisters of Charity didn't help them. Many who were seeking medical treatment for their conditions were turned away. The Sisters of Charity merely made those who were dying comfortable, they did nothing to alleviate the conditions of the non-fatally sick. This seems surprising. With all the money that Mother Teresa received, she could have put up some more modern medical facilities, possibly even have built a brand new hospital. The medical facilities in her care centers were ridiculously primitive and out-of-date. She did nothing but tend to the dying. Even then, she would only grant a Catholic death. A sister would always make the sign of the cross over a dead body, whether the person was Catholic or not. This is like one, final insult to that person's religion, upbringing, culture and heritage.
Where did all the money go? Mother Teresa certainly didn't have payrolls to maintain. A woman who worked for the Order's office in New York City, in charge of depositing money into the bank, said that there must have been at least fifty million dollars in that account alone. Where did this money go? It's quite simple: she opened nunneries and convents in over one-hundred and twenty countries. Rather than use the money to improve her care facilities, she used it to glorify her order, by building more nunneries, her religion and herself. These do not seem like the actions of the definition of holiness, to me.
This would, however, make sense. Mother Teresa publicly stated that she thought that human suffering was "beautiful" and that the world was being helped by the nobility of the display. This is a reprehensible thought, but it is not un-Catholic. The Catechism shows us:
Union with the passion of Christ. By the grace of this sacrament the sick person receives the strength and the gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ's Passion: in a certain way he is consecrated to bear fruit by configuration to the Savior's redemptive Passion. Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus. -Cathechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1521
To me, it takes a very sick mind to find "beauty" in suffering. Suffering can be noble, in the case of one lover's suffering for another, or the suffering to guard the lives of many, but it is hardly beautiful. Suffering is bad. I can understand Mother Teresa making herself suffer through means of living in the poor section of Calcutta, because of the Catholic Church's belief that suffering can redeem or emulate Christ, but willfully letting it happen to other people is unmistakably evil, as is her comment on the "beauty" of suffering.
Mr. Hitchen's book, The Missionary Position, details all of what I have said above. He has accounts from workers and volunteers who verify what is being said. This is the side of Mother Teresa that no one ever saw, or wanted to see. Don't take my word for it, though. Susan Shields was a member of the Missionaries of Charity, and she wrote an article that confirms everything said here. You can read it here. I highly encourage you to read it. It is a very eye-opening and enlightening piece.
The "aid" being given to those in India and Africa is not in the spirit of "good will," it is in the spirit of religious fanaticism. Would these charities exist if Jesus hadn't explicitly told his followers to help others? When I was Catholic, questions such as these led me to severely question my motives in whatever I did. Was I doing it because it was the right thing to do, or was I doing it because I didn't want to go to Hell? When I was in the fifth-grade, one day, in religion class, we learned that Jesus had said that anyone who speaks badly to his brother or sister risked the fires of Hell. Being a God-fearing, indoctrinated boy, I was scared shitless. I immediately went and apologized to my sister, because we would fight very often. I apologized not because I was sorry, but because I didn't want to burn. I can't speak for other Catholics, but that's how I saw my moral judgments. I would not be surprised if a sizable amount of Christians were motivated to do good works through fear, rather than compassion.