Christians and AARP

Christians and AARP

Wouldn’t ya think that joining an organization focused on supporting Senior citizens would be sort of a “no brainer”? Well, that’s what I thought. Shouldn’t the benefit outweigh the costs? How many of you stop to consider the moral costs? As a Catholic, the moral and spiritual costs affiliated with joining AARP were too high for me!
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Catholic Seniors Should Reconsider AARP Membership

As a Catholic Senior Citizen myself, I had recently been considering joining the Senior Citizen advocacy special interest group, AARP. It must be okay, right? My grandfather was a member. However, I had been hearing some troubling rumors that caused me concern, especially related to my conservative Catholic beliefs.

Wouldn’t ya think that joining an organization focused on supporting Senior citizens would be sort of a “no brainer”? Well, that’s what I thought. Shouldn’t the benefit outweigh the costs? How many of you stop to consider the moral costs? As a Catholic, the moral and spiritual costs affiliated with joining AARP were too high for me!

In doing my due diligence, I found an article by Robert W. Bleakney, Ph.D. that confirms my worst concerns. It appears, at least according to Bleakney that although the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers numerous benefits to its members, many of their positions are contra-indicated for those of us in the Catholic faith. According to Bleakney, these conflicting areas include positions with regard to abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and same-sex marriage.

Below are a few examples of the issues that concerned Catholics should consider when searching for so-called Senior Citizen benefits:

AARP and Planned Parenthood:
The AARP’s Web site includes an article on Planned Parenthood that commends perhaps the largest abortion corporation in the world for providing “abortion services,” “family planning services,” “reproductive health care,” and “reproductive health services” (http://healthtools.aarp.org/galecontent/planned-parenthood).  Koinonia News views Planned Parenthood as a corporate “baby killing machine” that from its inception has had a eugenics agenda to dispose of undesirable infants, primarily from children of color.

Mercy-killing or Euthanasia
As a bishop and person who has spent a good deal of time in Chaplaincy, a similar question arises with regard to mercy-killing or euthanasia, which for the AARP can be a form of “palliative care.”  In The AARP Policy Book, the organization thus claims, “States should legally recognize physicians’ duty to provide palliative care sufficient to relieve patients’ pain, limited only by patients’ informed wishes and the limits of medical science” (7-101).

So strongly is the AARP committed to a right of assisted suicide for patients experiencing pain that it rejects a right of conscience should a healthcare professional understand a vocation of healing the sick to exclude one of killing the sick.  

In Idaho, AARP was vocal in its opposition to Senate Bill No. 1353 (https://votesmart.org/billtext/29171.pdf) that would (as summarized by Life News) “make it so pro-life health care workers don’t have to fear for their jobs if they decide they don’t want to dispense drugs that could be used to cause abortions or kill patients at the end of their life.”  The bill didn’t outlaw either abortions or any other action resulting in an end to a patient’s life but rather required that employers must provide reasonable accommodation to any employees who provided advance written notification of any conscientious objections to such that they might have.  For the AARP’s Idaho lobbyist David Irwin, this evidently was too much, as he complained, “The deathbed is the wrong place to learn someone else’s conscience.” (http://www.lifenews.com/state4908.html)  

Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act
AARP has also endorsed Obamacare, aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aarp-endorses-affordable-health-care-for-america-act-69288467.html), notwithstanding objections to this bill from pro-life advocates.   Attorneys for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) have prepared an affidavit arguing in detail that “abortion coverage is authorized” by this bill through “four specific programs” (http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/DvSBA/Release101210.htm).  

In addition, the NRLC has warned that, as a result of Obamacare, patients could feel pressured or persuaded to revoking life-saving medical treatment or food and water, since (in the words of LifeNews), “Section 1233 of the bill would pay physicians to give Medicare patients end-of-life counseling every five years or sooner if the patient has a terminal diagnosis.”  (http://www.lifenews.com/bio2926.html, http://www.lifenews.com/bio2992.html).  

AARP and Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Consistent with its endorsement of Planned Parenthood’s “abortion services,” The AARP Policy Book (page 7-105) endorses stem cell research without making any exceptions for research on a human embryo or fetus:
“Policymakers should provide…adequate support for basic science, stem cell, and genetic research, both to advance research into preventing and treating serious diseases and conditions affecting people of all ages and to ensure that the US remains at the forefront of biomedical research and development.

Advocates on both sides of the debate concerning such research have understood the AARP’s endorsement as intended to include experimentation on human embryos.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office thus listed the AARP among other organizations that supported embryonic stem cell research (http://www.speaker.gov/legislation?id=0006), and Life Decisions International has advocated a boycott of AARP, saying that it supports embryonic stem cell research.”

Same-Sex Marriage
For the Catholic Church, marriage between a man and a woman is understood to be utterly unique in the order of creation, and thus incapable of the equation with any other form of relationship.  At the same time, the universal dignity of all people as made in the divine image provides a foundation in Catholic teaching for treating all people with respect for their sacred worth.

The AARP does not regard marriage as uniquely between a man and a woman but instead joins lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered activists in advocacy for their causes, including when it comes to marriage.  The AARP thus sponsored the formation of a gay rights group for seniors called Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE)

For both Catholic individuals and groups, the imperative of all conservative Catholic Bishops should be seen as just as applicable to AARP as it would be to Planned Parenthood, whose “abortion services” the AARP commends:  “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions”

Given the opposition of the AARP to orthodox Catholic social teachings concerning human life and marriage, Catholic individuals and groups should not extend even the smallest amount of material cooperation to the AARP, lest they become an accessory to the AARP’s actions or suggest support for them.  KN

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MICHAEL CALLAHAN

Michael Callahan is the Presiding Archbishop of the Catholic Church in America as well as the International Catholic Confederation. Bishop Callahan is also the founder of Koinonia News and has been a conservative blogger for several years.

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