Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, the influential pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, last week in front of his church endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
The endorsement came after a Martin Luther King Day Service in which Senator Clinton spoke from the church pulpit to the congregation about the late civil rights leader. The media reports of the speech inside the church and the endorsement just outside the church by the pastor were widespread. However, there was no hue and cry about issues of church and state separation.
It was just a few months ago that the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State called for an Internal Revenue Service investigation of the Diocese of Providence and the revocation of the Diocese’s tax exempt status. Their attack upon the Diocese came after Bishop Tobin’s Without a Doubt column, in which he responded to an invitation to attend a Giuliani fundraiser in Providence, appeared in the for-profit Rhode Island Catholic. Bishop Tobin’s rebuke of Giuliani’s stand on abortion soon became national news.
Many political pundits and liberal religious activists soon joined the chorus, attacking Bishop Tobin for violating the separation of church and state. They suggested that a Catholic bishop had no business talking about political candidates. In doing so, they suggest that Bishop Tobin and any Catholic bishop who exercise their teaching office are violating the separation of church and state. They claim that bishops should never be teaching a Catholic politician about the Catholic Church’s position on the immortality of abortion. It is clear that Catholic bishops who dare to instruct members of their own church about Catholic teaching on moral issues, especially abortion, are not only criticized but castigated for tearing down the wall of separation of church and state.
Last week, as Mrs. Clinton stood before a church and gladly accepted an endorsement of a prominent pastor, there was no outcry by the media elites who routinely criticize Catholic bishops and there were no calls for investigation by so-called church watchdogs who routinely castigate the Catholic Church. Why no outcry? Why no legal attacks on tax-exempt status? Where have the outraged pundits proclaiming the violation of the separation of church and state all gone? Where have the liberal religious leaders shouting out against this attack on the wall of separation hidden themselves? Once again the so-called Church-State watchdogs are sitting silently in their hypocrisy and without a doubt delighting in their double standard for Catholic bishops.