Archive for the ‘Religious Freedom’ Category

Is Same-Sex Marriage Eroding Religious Liberties?

Lesbian weddingby Doughlas Remy

In a continuation of his ongoing “Tolerance Vigilantes” series, Gil Bailie takes us to the National Review Online, where Kathryn Jean Lopez (“Will Religious Liberty Survive Same-Sex Marriage?” 8/23/13) opines about the demise of religious liberty in a recent ruling by Justice Richard C. Bosson of New Mexico’s Supreme Court. Citing New Mexico’s anti-discrimination laws, Justice Bosson denied Elane Photography the right to refuse services to a lesbian couple who were about to have a commitment ceremony.

Justice Bosson wrote the following opinion:

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins [owners of Elane Photography] have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur.

Mr. Bailie quotes Jim Campbell, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund:

The idea that free people can be compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives as the price of citizenship is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom.

Mr. Bailie deleted the following comment from Timothy Brock not long after it was posted:

Timothy Brock:

Thanks for posting this. The NM case is similar to ones in five other states, and I think they give us an opportunity to reflect again on whether the state should ever impose any restrictions on religious liberty.

“Religious liberty” sounds like a wholesome concept that everyone should support, and in fact it goes more or less unquestioned until one person’s expression of it rubs against another’s or impinges on our basic civil rights. Then, there is a variety of possible responses, including (a) “Freedom for me but not for thee” (my religion trumps both your religion and your civil rights), and (b) the kind of compromise that Justice Bosson sees as necessary to “lubricate the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

I think Justice Bosson has it exactly right, and he expressed his position very eloquently.

So the answer to the author’s question—”Will religious liberty survive same-sex marriage” is unquestionably “yes,” but that liberty will not be absolute. It never was, at least not in this country.

Randall Jennings responds:

This article goes through some of the more prominent legal entrails of the decision. I come to the opposite conclusion from that of the author. Most interesting for me is the fact that one legal precedent is conflating the idea of a ‘practice’ with one’s person. I suppose some of these individual ‘practices’ are deemed more worthy of legal protection than others.

“Brubaker5” responds to Ms. Lopez’s article with the much-worn “halal butcher” argument: 

ImageI wonder, would a halal butcher be required to carry pork because customers demanded it? It’s a butcher shop. They sell meat. The only reason they don’t sell pork is their beliefs. Should that Islamic butcher be compelled to serve couples who are openly homosexual? Should Islamic beliefs be dismissed like Christian beliefs?

The only rational response would be to repect the beliefs of atheist, Muslim, Chistian and Jew alike. What actual public good is served by using the force of law to coerce people into selling a product or service which their beliefs would prevent them selling? To do so, as in this case, is quite simply and transparently vindictive.

My response to Brubaker5:

Just think about it. A photographer running a photography studio sells photography, not sculpture. A halal butcher sells beef and chicken and lamb, but not pork.

Neither the photographer nor the butcher is required by law to sell other products. However, neither is allowed to discriminate against any of their customers on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

So the Halal butcher serves anyone who enters his shop, and the photographer serves anyone who enters her studio.

If a customer says to the photographer, “I want sculpture, not photography,” then the photographer refers that customer to an art gallery. She does not do so because she disapproves of the customer’s preferences, but because she is in the business of photography.

But to say, “I only do photography for heterosexuals” is undisguised discrimination, and there is no other way to construe it.

Brubaker5:

That’s an interesting line of reasoning, but it sidesteps the essence of my point:

The halal butcher sells a variety of meat, but doesn’t sell pork—because of his religious beliefs. The photographers sell photographs, but not for homosexuals—because of their religious beliefs.

Despite your attempt to rationalize different treatment, each business is making a business decision regarding which products or services they will provide, and they are doing so based on their religious beliefs.

Bottom line: The first time that I see a Muslim successfully prosecuted or sued for exercising their religious beliefs, I’ll get on board for forcing Christians to violate their beliefs.

My response to Brubaker5: 

While it is true that both the halal butcher and the NM photographer are motivated by religious belief, their intentions are not equivalent. The butcher has a niche market for customers who want meat slaughtered in a particular way, and pork is not on the menu. His intention, much like that of a vegan restaurateur, is to serve a specialized clientele. He obviously has no intention of excluding anyone, and if a Christian omnivore enters his shop to buy meat, he will serve them. This is no more discriminatory than opening a coffee stand without putting beer on the menu.

The NM photographer, however, is clearly offering her services to everyone EXCEPT homosexual couples. Whereas the butcher will sell his meat to anyone, the photographer is excluding certain customers because of their sexual orientation. Such discriminatory treatment frays the social fabric and sooner or later creates an underclass of people who can only find goods and services within their own communities, which are known as “ghettos.”

Regarding your comment about Muslims: Why do you think that they are not constrained by U.S. law? Stoning adulteresses is just fine under Sharia law, and it is practiced in Saudi Arabia, but we don’t find it happening in the U.S. Neither do we find female genital mutilation among Muslims in this country except where it is practiced secretly and outside the law.

So my response to your comment about Muslims is a challenge:

If the Muslims can bend to the laws of our country, why can’t Christians?

From intrinsically disordered to intrinsically odious

by Doughlas Remy

After more than a week of testy exchanges with friends and other respondents on The Cornerstone Forum’s Facebook page, Gil Bailie expresses his exasperation in an untitled post on 6/28/13. I believe his post clarifies his position very ably, and I will respond to it in detail. First, however, a little background:

Mr. Bailie believes we are in the midst of a cultural crisis. So do I. The one that he sees and the one that I see are same, but our perspectives on it are very different.

Though hardly a utopian, I see our cultural stresses in a mostly positive light, for I believe they are signs of a creative unfolding of the better parts of our human nature. I am hopeful, but not always optimistic, that this unfolding will continue, because time is running out and the worsening condition of our planet is creating environmental stresses that could warp or reverse these positive tendencies.

Mr. Bailie’s view, on the other hand, is apocalyptic: the worst impulses of our fallen natures are in the ascendency, and only those who are faithful to the teachings of the Church will resist being swept away by the currents of cultural change.

The “crisis” results from the opposing movements of two great tectonic plates: modernism and religion. Modernism is associated with the European Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and, more recently, the scientific and communications revolutions. It is fundamentally consequentialist and pragmatic, secular and naturalistic, progressive, democratic, and egalitarian. Religion (including the political religions of Communism and Nazism) is associated with resistance to all of the above. It is supernaturalist, conservative/regressive, authoritarian, and anti-scientific when contradicted by science. It tends to distrust and even abhor the expansion of knowledge and the free exchange of information and ideas.

The Cornerstone Forum’s Facebook page is a microcosm of the cultural clashes that I have just described. This accounts for my longstanding interest in it. One can’t do a longitudinal study of a cultural petrie dish without somehow staying in the lab and collecting data.

So, I found Mr. Bailie’s post very enlightening and will respond to it here as best I can. He begins:

A few critics seem to think that opinions expressed on this Facebook page are so alien to common decency as to be intrinsically odious.

Notes from the UndergroundThe term “intrinsically odious” cannot fail to remind us of the Catechism’s description of homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered.” Is this just a coincidence, or is it a reverberation? Several of Mr. Bailie’s critics and one of his supporters have already commented on the mimetic doubling effects that have become apparent, both in Mr. Bailie’s responses and my own project of “mirroring” TCF on this site. I believe there is considerable truth in these observations, and I am willing to own that truth for my part. Resentment has indeed driven many of my responses to Mr. Bailie’s incessant disparagement of homosexuals over the years. Why do I continue reading his homophobic comments? It’s not because I enjoy being demeaned. Rather, it is because Mr. Bailie’s treatment of me and other LGBTs makes me angry, and I believe I can both own that anger and put it to good use in the service of others. (I realize this holds the promise of a fruitful discussion about the merits of righteous anger from a Girardian perspective: How can one be certain that one’s anger is righteous, and what if it is not?)

An additional reason for my returning again and again to track Mr. Bailie’s shabby treatment of homosexuals is that I am witnessing the fascinating spectacle of a mimetic reversal in progress. In recent years, those who were once so virulent in their denunciations of all things gay have begun to worry that the tables are being turned on them and that they will become as marginalized for their bigotry as LGBTs have been for their sexual orientation. We have heard this from Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of NOM, and from virtually every other media opponent of same-sex marriage. In fact, it has become one of the major talking-points of the opposition. Just last week we heard it in Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion on the DOMA case, where, unaware of the irony of his remarks, he made the very same complaints that we have heard from homosexuals for years, i.e., we are being condemned, demeaned, and humiliated; we do not wish to be adjudged “hostes humani generis” (enemies of the human race). This is the language of the victim and of the powerless, and I do not believe Justice Scalia was shamming for the sake of effect. There was emotion in his words, and that emotion was fear mixed with anger and resentment.

I sensed that same trepidation in Mr. Bailie’s opening sentence for the post in question: “A few critics seem to think that opinions expressed on this Facebook page are so alien to common decency as to be intrinsically odious.”

US-JUSTICE-GAY-MARRIAGEThe DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, added to the state legislative victories of recent months and years and the same-sex marriage legalizations happening in Europe and Latin America, have rattled the political right. There can be no mistaking that. Cultural crises are always about paradigm shifts and usually entail redistributions of power. But the long arc of equality and justice in our consitutional democracies should ensure that no one has anything to fear when these changes occur.

There’s much more in Mr. Bailie’s post to chew on, and I will continue doing so tomorrow.

12/7/12: Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty

Gil Bailie writes:

Today, one has to love slow moving things. But when the blessedly slow moving Catholic Church moves this fast and begins with this level of moral seriousness, one familiar with its history will immediately realize that She (the Church) is preparing for a long and painful period of persecution, even as such a thing seems preposterous to many inside and outside the Church. The graver the prospects of the coming assault by the state, the more promptly the Church turns to prayer in preparation.

“The pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice—it’s meant to be simple,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “It’s not meant to be another program but rather part of a movement for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, which engages the New Evangelization and can be incorporated into the Year of Faith. Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society,” he said.

Ernest Karam responds:

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco

I just finished reading the USCCB’s FAQ about the defense of marriage, to which their article (above) is linked. In the subsection on religious liberty, they list five possible threats posed by same-sex marriage, followed by a section entitled, “Have any of these threats come to pass?”

Their first example of a threat that has come to pass (that of “compelled association”) is the obligatory provision of married student housing for same-sex married couples at a Catholic college in Massachusetts. Since we are not told which college this is, we cannot investigate the claim without a great deal of searching. But same-sex marriage is legal in MA, and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was illegal even before the 2004 law legalizing SSM.

The problem for the Church seems to be that whatever exemptions exist apply only to churches, but not to other institutions that they may own and operate. This is probably because these institutions both serve and employ non-Catholics, and so it seems perfectly reasonable that they should not be exempt. If private institutions were allowed to discriminate against whomever they pleased, then whole classes of people could be relegated to second-class status by virtue of being disadvantaged in seeking housing, employment, and insurance.

The USCCB’s second example of a “threat that has come to pass” concerns the state’s requirement that institutions extend benefits to same-sex married couples just as they do to others. The argument here is the same as before: Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation precedes SSM legalization. The institution involved in this case, Catholic Charities of Oregon (CCO), was apparently not exempt from the law as churches are. Anyway, I don’t know why they’re citing CCO, as Oregon has not yet legalized SSM.

Punishment for speech: Again, the Bishops make a vague claim without identifying the parties involved. Apparently someone in Montana suffered some tax penalties. I have no idea what that was about.

Two threats that have not come to pass are (1) exclusion from accreditation and licensure, and (2) exclusion from government funding. There is a real possibility that Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH could lose accreditation if it persists in teaching medical and social sciences students that homosexuality is a disorder in spite of scientific evidence that it is not. The University would of course also lose its accreditation if it taught medical students Phlogiston theory instead of modern science. As for government funding, an institution that fails to meet the requirements for government funding can hardly expect to receive it. In principle, the government represents all the people, not just one religious group.