Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on March 6, 2002

There's another case in the news about the federal government breaching that famed wall of separation between church and state. I caught this on the Associated Press wire.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The nuns from the School Sisters of St. Francis may have taken a vow of poverty, but that doesn't mean they don't want their full Social Security benefits.

The 21 nuns have been fighting the government to restore their full benefits since 1995, when they were cut from $900 a month to less than $700. Their attorneys asked a federal judge last week to spur their case into federal court.

The Social Security Administration decided seven years ago that because nuns take a vow of poverty, the Roman Catholic church and community should make up the difference.

The nuns, who range in age from 75 to 95, live in a Bellvue nursing home. Their benefits don't cover their living expenses; loans and donations make up the deficit, their attorneys said.

Well, the good news is that the federal government is trying to increase the amount of time that Social Security is solvent.

Unfortunately this is clearly a violation of the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court is currently deciding the issue with regard to school voucher in Cleveland. The argument those in opposition to the program made to the court was because the parents overwhelmingly used the vouchers to send their kids to religious schools, that it had the effect of the state sponsoring religion.

This is the same sort of situation in reverse. The Social Security Administration is attempting to promote Catholicism by making sure that nuns stick to their vow of poverty. It urges the community and the Roman Catholic Church to make up the difference. That's definitely encouraging religious action in the form of fund-raising and charitable giving!

Where's Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way and the ACLU when you need them?

*UPDATE* Here's a link to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story.


The @sdutOpinion Editorial pages used to be fairly mainstream conservative. When I applied for a letters editor opening there in the mid-00s, I was asked if there's an editorial I wouldn't write. I replied: a pro-abortion one. 1/

Supreme Court: “The Second Amendment is not a second class right. States can’t use subjective criteria when issuing carry permits.”
California: “But what if we added in illegal viewpoint discrimination, and violated the First Amendment at the same time?”

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