Archive for the ‘Same-sex marriage’ 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?

Aaron Taylor Sees Need for Gay and Celibate Saints

Early European gay men 2by Doughlas Remy

Today, Gil Bailie has linked approvingly to an article by Aaron Taylor in Spiritual Friendship, “Why the Church and the World Need Celibate Saints.” (8/19/13) Hoping to address gay Catholics reading the article, I responded to it directly. Below is a copy of that response:

First, let me just sum up what I think Aaron Taylor has proposed. He envisions a Catholic response to “the increasing acceptance of homosexual relationships in the West.” In order to show “gay people [not just gay Catholics] that the Church has something to say that is worth listening to,” the Church must encourage celibate gay Christians to “speak openly about their experiences of reconciling sexuality and faith.” What the Church has to offer gay people is the shining example of gays who have, at least momentarily, successfully suppressed their sexual and affectional longings.

I’m sorry. It’ll never work. Fewer and fewer gays, even Catholic ones, are any longer “struggling” with their sexuality. Celibacy isn’t a failed goal. It just isn’t a goal at all. And why should it be?

Well, if you are in the Catholic thought-frame, homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. If all you young gay Catholics believe that, then go ahead and waste the only youth you’ll ever have. Beat yourself up. Twist yourself into a pretzel. Your rewards will be your aura of sanctity and your relief from the guilt that has been crushing you all these years. Tuck yourself into the folds of your big, warm institution and give up thoughts of ever tucking yourself between your sheets to snuggle in your lover’s arms. You will have missed out on one of life’s greatest joys, but at least you be spared all the perils of taking risks, finding the right mate and settling down. Best of all, you’ll have the approval of your church.

Or will you? This is where I’m afraid you may be disappointed, because the Catholic Church will never treat you with the respect you’re longing for (and that is your due). You will always be in the lower echelon of sinners, well below the adulterers. You will be marked as “disordered” because of your very desires, despite every attempt you make to suppress them. But your Church will have the satisfaction of knowing it owns you.

At the rate homosexual relationships are gaining acceptance, the Church is going to have to crank out a huge number of gay saints, and fast.

But will it really do any good? I’m still not sure what the Church thinks it can offer gays that is better than what they are now being offered—a place at the table and a chance to live a full and joyous life.

Moral Encouragement and Housecleaning

by Dean Hansen

Tolstoy

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life”.  — Leo Tolstoy

Over the past year, Gil Bailie has expelled eight or ten bloggers from The Cornerstone Forum because they had the effrontery to try engaging him and each other in … conversation! All were serious and respectful, all had read his book as well as the works of his mentor, René Girard, and most were Catholics.

In the latest iteration of his housecleaning announcement, Mr. Bailie again complains that his illustrious project is being subverted by those who (a) ask vexing questions, (b) express opinions contrary to his own, (c) correct errors of fact, (d) expose logical fallacies, (e) think for themselves, and (f) fail to show strict and unswerving allegiance to the Catholic magisterium. He accuses these responders of “carping,” which he defines in part as continuously finding fault about trivial matters.

I have rarely seen anyone raise trivial concerns at The Cornerstone Forum.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bailie seems convinced he is beseiged by provocateurs determined to take potshots at the Catholic Church. When his critics complain about his dismissal of them, he ridicules them for believing themselves to be “martyrs in the cause of free expression.”

With that in mind, his idea of giving what he calls “moral encouragement” and credal succor to whoever remains apparently consists of:

  • Being tirelessly obsessed with and burdened by the approaching fall of Western Civilization (still pending), which will succumb to the forces of secular liberalism, particularly women’s liberation and gay rights.
  • Reminding his readers every day that the world has sunk into apostasy, depravity, decline, fecklessness, calumny, demographic death spirals, nihilism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, Marxism, and of course, “anthropological recklessness” whatever the hell that is.
  • SinkholeRepudiating and distancing himself from everything that could be possibly be construed as human, because being human means having the freedom to make choices that are not sanctioned by the Church. This apparently is what the groaning attempt at sainthood means to him. After all, every chuck hole is a pit, every stumble is a fall, every violation is an abomination.
  • Reminding people that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by scientists and their progressive, liberal, post-modern, agenda-driven secular brethren. In an effort to avoid confronting reality at all costs, he must treat any scientific theory that threatens his world view as a conspiracy.
  • Deploring the banality of evil. The culture of evil. The evil that men do. The evil that men are. The evil that men pretend not to do while doing the evil which other men, equally evil, approve of simply because they’re not as acquainted with it as he is.

Sexual Disorientation

  • Calling homosexuals intrinsically evil, and thus creating enmity between different groups of people based on their sexual orientation. (Is this the aforementioned “anthropological recklessness?”)
  • Assaulting women’s rights and condemning women who resort to abortion. Rejecting alternative forms of birth control that would render abortion largely unnecessary.

anti-abortion-politician-photo-u1

  • Conflating freedom with Marxist ideology and insinuating that liberty only works when it’s constrained by restrictive dogma that is utterly intolerant of individual initiative or personal conscience.
  • Converting the words “secularism” and “liberalism” into expletives, and suggesting that those who embrace these concepts in part or in whole are “tolerance vigilantes” suffering from “moral relativism” in a “multicultural” world under a “libertine regime,” who not only espouse a particular world view that is automatically destructive of and dismissive of anything that falls outside of it, but are somehow forcing him to be tempted against his will to the dark side through a slow and steady subversion of his “principles.”
  • Declaring that hate is a shameful passion to be shunned, but that intolerance, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, sexual panic, denialism and paranoia are somehow acceptable substitutes.
  • Throwing Girardian terminology around while ignoring its principles.
  • Showing scant patience for anyone who questions the rigid and unbending doctrine he’s embraced to protect himself from a world he seemingly despises, and for which the savior he claims to love died.

The cost of vengeanceIn two concurrent posts he managed to scold the White House administration, Western Europeans in general, the Germans specifically, liberalism in general, liberal Jews specifically, Chicago politics, community organizer Saul Alinsky, those unnamed souls who are responsible for the death of marriage, British writers, “the Gentry” (whatever that still is), sexuality—both hetero and homo (a constant)—paganism, ecologists, British conservatives, birth rates (too low), immigration rates (too high), euthanasia, and cremation.  A minimum of 18 targets in two posts. Add a gloating little finale about Van Jones and suddenly it’s high noon in epiphany-ville!

Remember. This is a list of moral encouragements.  Designed to lift the spirits of his followers, I would guess.

In summation, Gil Bailie of late has sadly become to Christian theology what credit default swaps, predatory lending and junk mortgages are to the economy. He does for moral encouragement what Anthony Comstock* did for the public mails.

In the words of Peter Gomes, “Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant. Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert. It is dangerous, especially in America, because it is anti-democratic and is suspicious of ‘the other,’ in whatever form that ‘other’ might appear. To maintain itself, fundamentalism must always define ‘the other’ as deviant.” 

In keeping with his various stated views, Mr. Bailie seems to tacitly embrace the idea that “God” is a person who can only be approached when you cease being a person yourself. He proclaims against his own witness that he knows precious little about human nature, but more than is humanly possible about God’s nature.  Gil claims to be a teacher, but is impatient with “students” and resents being taught by others.  He seems mostly devoid of humor, frightened of change, afraid of the future, and either resentful or overly trusting of the past.

He has made a meager reputation for himself by being obsessed with the sins of others, especially those that Jesus never mentioned: homosexuality, sodomy, oral sex, transvestitism, sex reassignment, amniocentesis, sperm banks, masturbation, stem cell research, cloning, genetic manipulation, teenage pregnancy, and abortion. Any attempt to have a conversation about these subjects is muted into oblivion.

He once said that the worst crimes are committed by men who feel unforgiven. How then can anyone who feels ostracized or marginalized by the Church as he defines it ever hope to feel forgiven? The best way to treat homosexuality is to stop treating it not as something outside of human experience, but as part of the miraculous energy of God’s creation. The Biblical idea that homosexuals are sinners because their sexuality is somehow depraved, or outside the range of human experience, is absurd.  To scapegoat or repudiate a whole class of people because they seek to express their need for love in stable same-sex relationships or to be married like other people who love each other is simply wrong.

The Bible on which the church claims to base its authority is not inerrant, and never was. It’s not an instruction manual or the equivalent of an automotive handbook on how to live your life or toot your horn. And if you try to live your life by it exclusively, you will crash.

spanish_InquisitionMr. Bailie has stated in a moment of faux transparency, “…I often ask myself, and I am sometimes asked by my friends, why I allow myself to be distracted by the passing lunacies of the present age.” The self-flattery is almost as clumsy as the unintended hathos.

The time has come to reconsider those “passing lunacies.” Mr. Bailie has said that without Christ he can do nothing. Perhaps it’s time to recast those negatives as affirmations: with Christ, he can do something that isn’t harmful, self-serving, or trite. Or, in the words of Lao Tzu, “It’s better to do nothing than to be busy doing nothing.”

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.

The Cornerstone Forum Opposes Obama Administration’s International Efforts on Behalf of GLBTs

Georgian church clergymen and activists unite to protest against a gay pride rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, May 17, 2013. Thousands of anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox priests, occupied a central street in Georgia's capital Friday, with some threatening to lash with nettles any participant in a gay pride parade which was to take place there. Police in Tbilisi guarded several dozen gay activists and bused them out of the city center shortly after they arrived at the gathering.  Three officers and nine GLBT demonstrators were hospitalized. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

Georgian church clergymen and activists unite to protest against a gay pride rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, May 17, 2013. Thousands of anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox priests, occupied a central street in Georgia’s capital Friday, with some threatening to lash with nettles any participant in a gay pride parade which was to take place there. Police in Tbilisi guarded several dozen gay activists and bused them out of the city center shortly after they arrived at the gathering. Three officers and nine GLBT demonstrators were hospitalized. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

What follows is a copy of the blog thread following Gil Bailie’s posting of 5/15/13 opposing the Obama Administration’s international efforts on behalf of GLBTs. A copy of Mr. Bailie’s post follows the comments from Jim Swenson, Dean Hansen, and Timothy Brock.

Jim Swenson:

Gil, you and Robert Reilly appear to be endorsing anti-homosexual laws of the most backward and undemocratic countries in the world: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia. Is this a complete rejection of democracy and modernism?

Since 1979, Iran has executed more than 4000 people charged with homosexual acts.

Saudi Arabia also has very severe punishments for homosexual acts: whipping, fines, imprisonment.

Jamaica imposes a ten-year jail sentence for homosexual acts.

These are just a few examples of “state” violence against homosexuals.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime.

The UN Human Rights Committee has also ruled that such laws violate the right to privacy that is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

And then there is criminal assault, which is rife in the countries I listed, in most of Latin America, and in the most backward parts of the US.

It doesn’t matter that criminal assault is “already” against the law in these countries. This is what you and Reilly don’t “get.” There are basically two ways of reducing the levels of criminal assault. One is to strengthen the police state (the Leviathan), and the other is to change people’s attitudes. Changing people’s attitudes is extremely difficult when they are simultaneously being told (by their churches) that homosexuality is against natural law and that it is “disordered.” Yup, they get the message, and after you’ve delivered it, it does absolutely no good to say, “But be compassionate toward them!” The bullies do NOT understand the language of compassion. They are just looking for a green light to beat people up.

I’m really proud of the Obama Administration for trying to reduce the levels of anti-gay violence in many of these Middle Eastern and African hell-holes. More power to them!

Jim Swenson:

The face of homophobia in France. Wilfred de Bruijn was brutalized by homophobic thugs in Paris in early April 2013.

The face of homophobia in France. Wilfred de Bruijn was brutalized by homophobic thugs in Paris in early April 2013.

Gil, even in NYC, one of the most progressive of U.S. cities, gay men continue to be assaulted for merely holding hands in public or just for “looking gay.” There were three incidents just last week, when six men were brutalized. So you can imagine what life must be like for gays in Latin American and Middle-Eastern countries.

What measures or policies do you think we could adopt to help stop the bullying and brutalization of homosexuals in these places? If the Church doesn’t lead on this issue, then it is up to the secular State. And then you wonder why the State is now more trusted than the Church and the Church is rapidly losing credibility? The Church is proposing precisely nothing to alleviate these problems but is instead contributing to them with its pseudo-scientific language of “disordered behavior.” The scientific establishment—including all the major health organizations—are attempting to bring us to our senses about this and to prevent more violence. They will eventually prevail, and the Church will once again have disgraced itself.

This is about violence prevention, and it is a very pragmatic issue. Is there some way you can get “on board” with that? Please tell us what you would propose.

Gil Bailie:

To call something “intrinsically disordered” is to speak the truth. One has only to imagine the act of sodomy or the act of abortion. I hardly expect everyone to agree about that these things are intrinsically disordered, but I agree with the Church about that. I also agree with the Church that people suffering from same-sex attraction deserve understanding and must never be the object of mistreatment. But when their plight is used to turn unnatural acts into human rights to which other rights must sacrificed—which is happening all across the Western cultural landscape – there is a problem. The plight of homosexuals in many places is being used to turn unnatural acts into privileged rights, as we have done with abortion, etc. Human rights, the inherent dignity of each and every human being, and the protection of each person from persecution by the powerful is the bedrock principle. Let’s stick with that. No special categories for homosexuals or the lame or the hearing impaired or those who want to marry their siblings.

Dean Hansen:

You’re not calling some nameless something intrinsically disordered, you’re calling a whole class of people intrinsically disordered. In short, the “something” you’re speaking your obnoxious “truth” to is nothing other than your fellow human beings, who dream, bleed, breathe, love, hurt, and feel just as you do, and expect quite legitimately to be accorded the same privileges and dignity you demand for yourself. A God who dies for humanity as an act of love and self-sacrifice dies for all humanity—not just for an imagined perfection in some hoped-for future but for a flawed, real, and imperfect present. But I’m going to follow your example this time and spare you that dignity, because you are not entitled to it. Your endless proclamations about evil in others is no longer just wearisome and endlessly repetitious. You’ve reduced yourself to a petty little crank who trolls for the Catholic hierarchy. You possess a kind of rabid and willful cluelessness that makes Rush Limbaugh look good. He at least is working from an intellectual deficit as wide as his bigotry and as thick as his waist. My apologies to the overweight. You have no such excuse. Your absolute refusal to confront your own bigotry is a disgrace, not a badge of piety or honor. But then, you’re merely imitating what you’ve been told, which is precisely what you hope to generate in others: blind, unswerving, unquestioning obedience to authority. Nothing you ever say or do can eclipse the poisonous attitudes that keep you in complicit awe with the church’s ongoing failings.

“Agreeing with the church” will not suffice when the church is wrong. To deny that fact is to ignore the historical reality that follows when men who assume perfect knowledge of God set themselves apart from those they are pledged to serve as equals—who could otherwise be an aide in that understanding—and insist through their own failings on instituting laws and restrictions that compromise or distort grace into forms of slavery both real and psychological.

You mentioned “protection of each person from persecution” as though it were a separate category instituted to nurse your own illusions. Apparently, your Christianity has morphed into the equivalent of an Indian caste system of untouchables based on the illusion of innate spiritual purity. You declare in mocking tones that you want “no special categories for homosexuals or the lame or the hearing impaired or those who want to marry their siblings.” Your slippery slope metaphors aren’t hyperbolic enough. How about some bestiality, coprophilia, necrophilia, or autoerotic asphyxiation to get the ball rolling? Or should I say the gag ball? They’re all just around the corner if we allow the definition of marriage to be inclusive. You may want to check with Balaam about how to proceed in the slippery slope wars. I’m sure the word “ass” is too laden with allusions of sodomy. You seem more than casually captive to extreme sexual fear and lame prognosis. A captive is someone who has no freedom to choose alternatives to avoid something. Your “freedom” is not compromised by captivity but by refusal to open the door you insist on closing behind you. Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming the very things you would deny:

“…The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

How do you propose to claim release from the heart of blindness when you refuse to see?  Like a typical Tennessee lawyer (which was your intended profession at one time) you parse things into oblivion or bury them beneath a blizzard of overly large words for the sake of “clarity,” and you end up missing everything Christ said and embracing everything he didn’t say. You call the resulting consequence oppression. It brings to mind Will Rogers’ adage, “I never doubted the ancestry of Tennessee folks until they tried to establish it by law.” But the law you honor is more oppressive than the justice bestowed by laws you fear. Your version of vigilantism is an inverse form of tolerance—tolerance for leaders who have lost their moral sense and vacated their moral authority in the name of doctrine, tradition and unquestioning obedience.

I think that will have to be our working definition of intrinsically evil: Something which is contained wholly within the church on which it acts. Maybe instead of gay reversion therapy, you could try “pray the predator away and save the prey camp.”

Jim Swenson:

The idea that either homosexuality or homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” is a purely religious notion that is flatly contradicted by consensus medical opinion. Sodomy (narrowly defined) may be unhealthy and dangerous, but it is practiced by minorities of both heterosexuals and homosexuals. It is no more “intrinsically disordered” than skate-boarding, poor dental hygiene, or over-indulgence in fast foods. No one should be imprisoned or executed for any of these behaviors. If all risky and unhealthy behaviors—let alone the sexual ones—were punishable by imprisonment, then few people would be left outside the prisons.

Execution and imprisonment are at one end of the spectrum of mistreatment that homosexuals are subjected to. In the middle range are school bullying and violent assaults. Then we get to kids thrown out of their homes and onto the streets, and finally there’s the more insidious steady drip of stigmatization, discrimination, and hate speech originating almost entirely in “Christian” churches.

This is the spectrum of mistreatment, and I’m very glad we can agree that homosexuals should never be mistreated. Let’s work to eliminate all these forms of mistreatment. We can do that by truly supporting “human rights, the inherent dignity of each and every human being, and the protection of each person from persecution by the powerful.” (your words)

I believe that is exactly what the Obama Administration is trying to do with regard to the widespread persecution of homosexuals in some of the most regressive and repressive countries of the world, and I applaud him for that.

You may fault Obama for not respecting the “rights” of embryos, but it is wrong to hold gays and lesbians hostage in that fight. It is wrong to fault him for trying to stem the tide of violence against gays and lesbians.

Timothy Brock:

My eye just caught Johan Lindahl’s comment on another post nearby. He wrote: “The truth of the scapegoat was right in front of him, but he did not recognize it.”

ScapegoatI want to borrow those very words for this comment. What could be more obvious than the scapegoating of homosexuals in our culture? But it’s only obvious to its victims and to those who care about them.

If LGBTs were not victims of scapegoating, then we would be having a national conversation about behaviors and not identities, and we would know how to avoid generalizations and stereotypes of the same sort that were once applied to Jews.

If you don’t approve of sodomy, then talk about sodomy, not about homosexuality, because sodomy is practiced by both straights and gays.

If you don’t approve of unsafe sex, then talk about unsafe sex, not homosexuality, because unsafe sex is practiced by both straights and gays.

If you don’t approve of promiscuity, then talk about promiscuity, not homosexuality, because many or most homosexuals are no more promiscuous than their heterosexual counterparts.

Discrimination against entire classes of people on the basis of what some of their members do is just wrong and bigoted. When that discrimination is selective—condemning in a disfavored class what is tolerated in a favored one—you have scapegoating in its starkest and ugliest form. What is happening in countries like Iran, Pakistan, Uganda, and Saudi Arabia is simply unconscionable by any moral measure. If we have any influence over these regimes, we must use it to help those who are oppressed by them.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t scapegoating one of the major themes of René Girard’s work? Maybe it’s time to revisit those chapters, as well as his entire book on the subject.

Gil Bailie’s post (5/15/13), to which the preceding comments are addressed:

Remember multiculturalism? I figured it was a swindle, but many swooned over every exotic culture, even though none of the exotic cultures believed in multiculturalism for a minute.

But that was way, way back in, say, 2005 or thereabouts. Now that the multiculturalists have their hands on the levers of power, they are determined to … get this … impose Western multiculturalism on those benighted cultures that Western multiculturalism found so quaint and charming and worthy of great deference just a few years ago.

SO . . .

I ask my friends who support gay “rights” to resist the urge to dismiss Robert Reilly’s argument and to read his article to the end. This is about a lot more than sexual orientation. Reilly is making a very important and very cogent philosophical argument about the political folly and international arrogance of scorning natural moral law in favor of “rights” assigned to behavior or lifestyle— “rights” that in effect undermine the very concept of human rights—leaving the weak—regardless of their sexual preferences—more, not less, vulnerable. The article concludes with moral reasoning of the first order.

Gil Bailie: Same-Sex Marriage is NOT a Civil Rights Issue.

Bernice King, My Father Did not...

[Note: The following article was posted on The Cornerstone Forum site on 3/13/13 and then removed two days later following responses from Tim Brock and Jim Swenson, below.]

Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum writes:

The attempt on the part of those insisting on the redefinition of marriage to wrap their cause in the mantle of civil rights—claiming to represent “the civil rights issue of our time”—is ludicrous on many levels. (Today the civil rights of those wanting to express their sexuality in novel ways is [sic] perfectly protected already.) The real analogy is with the Supreme Court’s invention of the “right” to abortion—which really IS the civil rights issue of our time. Regardless of how many get swept up into the hazy logic of the sexual revolutionaries, over time people will begin to clear their heads—as has happened with the abortion question. Thirty years ago, and even ten years ago, pro-abortion advocates really believed that they were achieving what the Supreme Court claimed to be doing in Roe v. Wade: that is, settling the issue and ending the controversy. Regardless of how much damage is done in the meantime, the reality of marriage—just as the reality of racial justice and the reality of human life in the womb—will prevail. To steal from Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner,” someday the morning will break, the smoke and haze of obfuscation will clear, and we or those who come after us will see that Western civilization is still there. Or we won’t, and it won’t be. For that is what is at stake in all three of these debates: racial justice, the life of the unborn child, and the cultural uniqueness and indispensability [of] marriage as it has been understood until the day before yesterday. (Again: go read Snyder’s book “Bloodlands,” and see what happens when the fundamental structures of cultural life are compromised or—in our case—cavalierly dismantled. “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”)

Same-sex marriage is NOT a civil rights issue.

Tim Brock responds:

Gil, what you say about the civil rights of LGBTs being already protected is far from the truth. Forty-one states still do not allow gays to marry the person of their choice. In the nine states that do allow same-sex marriage, the couples are denied 1134 federal benefits that opposite-sex couples enjoy. Twenty-nine states allow discrimination based on sexual orientation. This means bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, housing, conjugal visits, immigration, and access to medical services. Adoption by same-sex couples is banned in many states. This information is available all over the Internet.

I agree that the reality of marriage will prevail, and I think we’ve heard more than enough doom-saying. In those jurisdictions where same-sex marriage has been legalized, straight marriages have not been adversely affected. Western civilization is still there, and anarchy is not loosed upon the world.

I believe marriage is good for people, and I want my gay son to marry the person he loves. I want him to have loving companionship and the stability that marriage provides. And I want him to be able to talk about his “marriage,” not his “relationship.”

Jim Swenson responds:

Bernice King made the quoted statement in 2004. Since that time, she has joined her mother and her sister in supporting LGBT rights. She gave a very gay-inclusive speech not long ago.

[end of thread]

Dean Hansen writes:

Martin Luther King took his first bullet from rival black leader and congressman Adam Clayton Powell, who threatened to expose Bayard Rustin as a homosexual in a blackmail threat to derail the civil rights movement. Powell was prepared to lie and say that Rustin and King were having a sexual affair.   Rustin was King’s right-hand man, and the one who would later be responsible for organizing the March on Washington in 1963. Without him, it most likely wouldn’t have happened, and much of the civil rights legislation that followed would have been delayed. Before Stonewall, one “exposed” homosexuality; one didn’t deal with it or acknowledge it, and one certainly didn’t accept it publicly. King was worried that the movement would be derailed by such a controversy, and when Rustin volunteered to resign from the organization early on, King let him go temporarily. Rustin was devastated by King’s decision, because he fully expected him to call Powell’s bluff.

Post hoc generalizations and assessments about King’s stand on political and moral issues that were not yet even active in the public imagination are unfair to his memory and accomplishments, especially when they come from his own offspring, who are equally divided on the issue. King never said anything about homosexuality pro or con, public or private. It might be fitting to remind ourselves that he bears that in common with the founder of his faith.
The March on Washington demanded that the government put an end to officially sanctioned forms of racism. It doesn’t seem that difficult to imagine that Martin Luther King, whose movement for civil justice based on non-violence was largely implemented and sustained by the organizational skills of a homosexual black man, would be any less passionate about ending officially sanctioned forms of sexual bigotry that seek to keep one group of citizens at arm’s length over issues of marital equality.

Asking 3% of the population to live in perpetual sexual limbo in order to be pleasing to an imaginary conception of God is not that much different from asking Blacks in Mississippi to drink from a separate water fountain, when they are both drinking the exact same water. If “living water” is more divisive than its liquid version, who would want it, much less endure it?

 

Gil Bailie finds a third moral calamity contributing to civilizational degeneration

Gil Bailie writes:

We have been told that allowing mothers to hire medical professionals to end the life of the child in their womb is the quintessence of social progress, comparable only to regarding homosexual coupling as the moral and legal equivalent of the conjugal embrace. So now we are to have women serving in combat, and, again, we imagine that we are making progress. All this is so conspicuously a sign of civilizational degeneration that one can hardly believe people capable of seeing it otherwise.

Dean Hansen responds:

Interesting choice of moral calamities:  Abortion, homosexuality, and women combat soldiers. I think the egregious meter will skew differently depending on whom you ask, and not because one respondent is more morally despicable or irresponsible than the next. The thing that personally enrages me the most is woman combat soldiers.  Abortion and homosexuality mostly don’t bother me at all. Why? The first deals with forced equivalency; of pretending that women are the same as men, and that they should be equal participants on the basis of political correctness in the disaster that their male counterparts cause. The second deals with fairness; of no longer pretending that homosexuals are just mixed-up heterosexuals who can be fixed by a generous infusion of Christianity and prayer (never mind that the founder of this particular religion spent every waking moment of his ministry hanging out with guys) and the last deals with the honest realization that women are free moral agents capable of choosing their own destiny biologically. I’m less troubled about women ending a life in gestation in their womb than about their ending a fully-realized life on the battlefield. One is almost always a surgical procedure involving non-conscious cells; the other is murder.

So let’s see if it really makes more sense to be more morally inflamed by abortion than by soldiering.

Abstinence-only ed

When you tell teenagers and young adults not to have sex or to wait for marriage before they have intercourse, you’re actually just advocating for abortion. News Flash: They are not going to listen to you. It will not be because they don’t respect you or your authority; it will not be because they don’t love you or are purposely disobedient and rebellious, although they may be those things too. It will not be because Satan won and Christ lost. Or that civilization is closer to collapse now than when the Apostle Paul believed it was. No, it will be because nature speaks more powerfully and more ardently than a mountain of rules and restraints ever could. Biology has the upper hand, and will not relinquish it until long after everyone’s children have left home.  So, instead of preparing themselves for the inevitable, teens engage in magical thinking at the behest of their parents. They wear chastity rings, or avoid alcohol and drugs, or attend Bible study, or they are chaperoned on dates. None of that matters. It just makes the pot boil that much hotter. They earnestly believe they can resist temptation, which is a big part of the problem, because up until now it’s been an abstraction with no teeth. What they quickly discover when temptation strikes is that they were thoroughly unprepared and overwhelmed. They are also very angry about being told there is something “wrong” with something that feels so much better than they could have imagined, and so you end up with conflict, turmoil and distrust.

The problem with self-control is that the “self” is participating just as eagerly in the loss of that control as in its maintenance, because control represents an ideal that simply can’t be attained. Since your abstinence-only approach has precluded any useful instruction about birth control, your daughter is ill-equipped to react sensibly when she hears the siren call of biological reality, and there is no back-up plan. It’s all or nothing, as far as she knows. The desire not to get caught is then all that matters to her.

Think about it:  You’ve given her no realistic or sane reasons for denying what you fear. You want her to avoid sex and remain abstinent until she’s married. So you can’t teach her to prepare herself for sex because that might imply tacit acceptance of her having it. Any preparation is proof of intention. Instead, you teach her that sex is sinful or dirty or morally wrong, which she discovers to be completely untrue the moment she falls in love and experiences an overwhelming desire that utterly eclipses all restraint. Like it or not, your little snowflake is going to go out on the limb because that’s where the forbidden fruit is. Nature planned it that way.  And it’s not nice to fool mother nature.

Sexual morality has changed. It had to. It was smothering us to death in the abysmal mediocrity of Eisenhower America. As a result of these long overdue changes, the stigma of unwed motherhood has declined. Men no longer feel the absolute responsibility to sacrifice themselves to an unwanted life in exchange for sexual relations if their sexual partners opt for biological blackmail instead of contraception or abortion. Shotgun marriages are no longer the default mechanism by which shame is administered in relationships. Now the only question is whether the parents, who are aware of these changes but nonetheless resistant where their own progeny is concerned, will double down and force an unwanted pregnancy on their unprepared children as a means of avoiding a consequence they were heavily responsible for. These days, it’s becoming less likely that the kids will go along. The shotgun may still go off, but it is aimed at no one in particular and in no way guarantees that the person compromised by a bad decision will go for the double jeopardy of a marriage to satisfy mom and dad. In this sense and this sense only, an abortion is wrong, because it was simply unnecessary and opened the gates to increased suffering all around when personal choice was overruled by parental authority. Anticipatory counsel is wiser, saner and more loving than blind indifference to dumb inevitabilities.

Unfortunately, the number of abortion providers is dwindling. The number went from 2,680 providers in 1985 to 1,787 in 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available. The generation of obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) who had watched women bleed to death from botched abortions and had responded to those tragedies by staffing clinics when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade is reaching retirement.

There are now an estimated 1.5 million abortions each year in the United States, making it the most common surgical procedure. Yet there are fewer and fewer abortion providers available, putting those who are forced to wait at increased risk. One-quarter of women needing abortions must travel more than fifty miles for the procedure; six percent must travel to another state.

The obstacles placed in the path of women seeking abortion by pro-life activists will ultimately be no more effective than parental displeasure over discovering that one’s children are sexual beings with lives of their own, destined to free themselves from the burden of other people’s displeasure by taking legislative, social and physical control of their own destiny and learning through less painful methods that proscriptive rules and roadblocks have little effect in determining personal choice.

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.