Thursday, July 21, 2011

The assualt against religious freedom

Sorry for the late blogging--it's been a slightly unusual day around here.

The American government has declared war on female fertility, and the bishops of the Catholic Church don't like that at all:

.- The U.S. bishops “strongly oppose” a proposal to mandate coverage of surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved birth control in private health insurance plans nationwide. The mandate would undermine the good of women and children and the consciences of heath care providers, one leading bishop said.

“Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. [...]

The committee recommended “the full range” of federally approved contraceptives and sterilization procedures.

Cardinal DiNardo noted that the Institute of Medicine committee said it would have good reason to recommend mandatory coverage for surgical abortions, if such a mandate were not prevented by law.

“I can only conclude that there is an ideology at work in these recommendations that goes beyond any objective assessment of the health needs of women and children,” he said in a July 19 statement.

Considering that many private health insurance companies already fund such evils as contraception and IVF, why should Catholics be concerned about this? Because abortion coverage may be included:

Americans United for Life also opposed the proposal, saying it would fund the abortion-inducing drug Ella.

Anna Franzonello, staff counsel for Americans United for Life, on July 20 said that her organization had warned about the possibility of funding abortion and abortion-causing drugs through the health care legislation’s mandate before its passage. [...]

Americans United for Life called on the Department of Health and Human Services to “respect the conscience rights of Americans” and honor Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) promise that the mandate would be used to prevent diseases.

As we've seen in the discussion about Catholic innkeepers being sued for not hosting a fake lesbian "wedding" today (and I would really like to thank Charlotte for doing such a great job of showing what a threat to religious freedom that really is), society is moving toward requiring Catholics to participate in grave evil, making a mockery of the idea of religious freedom. Soon that will take the form of coercing Catholics to participate in abortion in ways that should be obnoxious to a truly free people, but I think the illusion that we are any such thing in this nation is rapidly decaying. A mandate like this one may be primarily about enforced funding of abortion, but it's a short step from that to requiring Catholic doctors, hospitals, health care workers, etc. to give out the pills or hold the scalpels or turn on the suction machines or otherwise participate in the murder of unborn humans against their consciences and religious freedom--or lose their jobs for refusing. I have already heard some people say, with a shrug, "Why should anyone who doesn't believe in abortion be allowed to work in health care, anyway?"

The answer, that killing people isn't health care, that Catholics have made their disapproval of killing unborn humans well known, and so on will be brushed aside just as easily as the Catholic innkeepers' disapproval of fake lesbian "weddings" has been. The idea that Catholic women have the right to go to obstetricians who do not kill at least as many babies as the deliver will also be sneered at. In our culture, standing on principle is only allowed when the principles coincide with what our secular nation has deemed acceptable.

Like I said before: religious freedom is the one thing that stands in the way of changing our government from one that is of, by, and for the people into one that is of the wealthy, by the powerful, and for the connected. The assault against religious freedom in the public square has only just begun.


eulogos said...

It doesn't have to be abortion to be against the consciences of Catholics and impossible for a Catholic institution to fund; it is enough for it to be contraception. This law would require a Catholic hospital to pay for contraceptives for its employees through its insurance policy, which it cannot do. The Catholic hospital I worked for did not cover contraception, abortion, or sterilization under its insurance, and did not carry contraceptives in its pharmacy. It forbade its employees even to hand their own birth control pills to patients.
I hope they have not capitulated on any of this, because that would be the thin edge of the wedge, or the camel's nose under the tent flap. Both the wedge and the camel move quickly once the initial seemingly tolerable intrusion is made.

Susan Peterson

Kimberly Margosein said...

This is not an assault on religious freedom. While I grant it may seem to be to the Glenn Becks, Michelle Bachmans, and Charlottes of the world, it is not. Religious freedom does not mean the state incorporates your particular religious dogma into law. If your faith requires you to abstain from abortions and contraception, tell your faithful that. They can do so or not as they choose. THAT is religious freedom.

Anonymous said...

Kimberly knows nothing about the history or purpose of marriage.

Kiimberly knows nothing of the history or purpose of the U.S. constitution.

Kimberly knows nothing of the history of law, it's purpose, or it's foundation in Judeo-Christian values, stretching back for centuries.

Thus, Kimberly does not understand what it is to be an American.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot one more thing:

Kimberly doesn't care. She thinks an entire heritage of American thought, principle, and tradition should be plowed under because a couple of lesbians want recognition of their "right" to have mutual orgasms with one another.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I have to take a hard line on this one, although with an escape clause for reasons of conscience. The regulation is entirely appropriate, because commercial institutions, such as insurance companies, should not be making decisions for their customers as to whether they should or should not make use of contraceptives.

There is no question that as a strictly economic matter, its cheaper to have less children, so no unfair burden there.

If anything, it is unfair for the rest of us to subsidize the decisions of some adults to have large families, via open-ended tax credits and public aid to tuition. But I don't go for that argument -- I'm willing to accept that the price of freedom in a society with a safety net is that I will be subsidizing such large families. We can all live with that.

Now, I would favor a clause that any person who is morally opposed to contraception, abortion, etc. is entitled to opt out -- both on coverage and on whatever amount of the standard premium would have contributed to the pool of money necessary to pay for such procedures and medications.

But no church, particularly not a bully pulpit like the Roman church, is entitled to reshape the laws so as to deprive free citizens of the right to make their own choices, or to deny them the option of making insurance payments to spread the risk of those choices.

Kimberly Margosein said...

1. The history and purpose of marriage was until recently a property arrangement, in which the property-a woman-was transferred from her father to her new "owner" her husband.

2. Judeo-Christian values? Are you wearing a cotton-polyester blend? Did you pick up anything on the Sabbath, such as picking up the newspaper off the porch? Well, under Judeo-Christian values you are to be stoned to death.
The purpose of the Constitution was for a system of free people to govern themselves. Having seen the results of religious strife in Europe and in their own history, they created a secular republic. No religion was to have primacy over another, and religious dogma was not to be incorporated into Federal law. With the 14th amendment, this protection was extended to the states.
I have been married for 38 years to my wife, and we were married in a Catholic ceremony in a Catholic church. Frankly, I am starting to wonder if this vehement hatred of gays and fixation on their orgasms has something to do with projection.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Underlying the "property" aspect of marriage, not to mention diplomatic alliances, there was something known as "love." Because marriages were contracted based on family and dynastic alliances, love tended to be found in illicit affairs, although if the spouses were lucky, they might find love within their marriage. Otherwise, after begetting a few heirs, they found love elsewhere.

It is not clear that a love match will result in a stable marriage, but it is not a bad idea to try for both.

Anonymous said...

I posted this at the earlier discussion, but as comment 87 realize it probably won't get read.


How deep is the duty of RC innkeepers to investigate the lifestyles of all potential wedding parties? Is it enough that people are heterosexuals to maintain the purity of conscience of the faithful? What about renting out space for a wedding reception of a hetero-couple who have been living together for years or have children out of wedlock or make their living by running a criminal enterprise that steals, murders, maims, promotes prostitution, drug use and general mayhem?

The innkeepers in question have no problem renting bedrooms to gay couples, where one would think the most unthinkable sins are occurring. So why a wedding reception - note, not the wedding ceremony itself? Red quotes the innkeepers as saying that a same-sex marriage "goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in."

So that's what Catholics believe in. Heterosexual marriage. That's the whole of it. Who knew?


Anonymous said...

"How deep is the duty of RC innkeepers to investigate the lifestyles of all potential wedding parties? Is it enough that people are heterosexuals to maintain the purity of conscience of the faithful?"

Indeed. Do the innkeepers ask the potential clients if either has been divorced?


Anonymous said...

All of this angst begs a logical problem inherent in the RC point of view. If there is no such thing as gay marriage, how can there be a gay wedding reception? Is it not just a gathering of deluded persons partying together under a misapprehension? How does that differ from other parties, including any number of heterosexual marriages that won't last (given our current divorce rate, that's quite a few?)

In which case, what's the problem? So some deluded people want to pay you a bunch of money to use your facility and eat food you prepare.

Get over your self important selves.


Deirdre Mundy said...

Thinking about the innkeepers---

Maybe the questionwe should be asking from a secular/political point of view is:

Is it all right to use one's own business as a way to make a political statement?

For instance, when Madison Wisconsin businesses proudly stated that they wouldn't serve Scott Walker or his supporters, no one felt the need to sue.

Shouldn't the innkeepers right not to host gay weddings be protected as political speech? After all, they're voicing an opinion on a contentious political issue.

Do you think a businessman should have the right to conduct a business in line with his politics? Should an establishment run by die-hard liberals have to let the Republican party have a fundraiser there?

Why can't the couple do what people normally do in situations like this and organize a boycott and attempt to exert pressure that way? Why should the government get involved?

(Note-- I wonder if "political speech' might be the best way for this couple to defend themselves, rather than using religion. Not because I think their defense is wrong, but because political speech is VERY protected.)

Anonymous said...

A gay couple seeking a site for their wedding reception is not engaging in political speech. This is not an issue of religious or political freedom but of public accommodation. The facility is bound by the terms of it's license to abide by Vermont laws regarding non-discriminatory access to accommodation.

If the innkeepers do not want to serve people who do not adhere to RC church rules, maybe they should reclassify their facility as a RC retreat house and drop the public accommodation part.

Until politicians gain protected class status can't expect service from any business that does not want to support their political agenda during divisive political battles. I have a hard time imagining Republicans wanting to support a business run by die-hard liberals by holding their rallies there, but if it were my die-hard liberal business I'd be more than happy to lighten Republican wallets. ;^)

If the gay couple just publicized the inn's actions and let the gay community and its supporters boycott, it seems likely that the inn would pick up business from right wing culture warriors, so all would be well. Pretty soon none of us will have to share public OR private spaces. We can just lob insults and rotten fruit at each other over gated community walls.


Red Cardigan said...

Elizabeth, the problem for us Roman Catholics who accept our Church's teachings is that no "wedding" between two men or two women can ever be acknowledged, celebrated, etc. because such a "wedding" is ontologically a lie. To force a Roman Catholic innkeeper to host a party celebrating such a lie is just like forcing him to host a party for nudists (in their natural state), a party celebrating fornication, or a party at which a Black Mass is to be the chief entertainment: it is noxious to his beliefs, and thus deeply offensive to force him to carry on as if any of these parties was just like any other special event he might be hosting at his inn.

Civil society has decided that there's simply no difference between two women performing sex acts on each other, two men performing sex acts on each other, and what has historically and traditionally been called marriage. Civil society can enter into any such illogical and irrational views it likes, but it cannot force those whose beliefs find the equation of sexual perversion with marriage to be horrific and obnoxious to celebrate perversion as though it is marriage.

I think that Catholics will, in fact, be marginalized and excluded from larger society for our refusal to participate in this evil illusion. A Catholic couple may, indeed, have to turn to Catholic retreat houses instead of ordinary secular venues at which to celebrate their entrance into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony since this sacrament still actually means something to us, instead of standing for meaningless and evil temporary sex parings and tax breaks which is all it means to most of the secular world. That civil marriage has degenerated into evil idiocy is not our problem, and I would rather see every Catholic in the wedding industry cut off all secular customers than celebrate this nonsensical evil masquerading as "marriage."

But, then, I think Catholic doctors, Catholic lawyers, Catholic business owners, etc. may have to build a new Catholic ghetto and quit accommodating evil before long, as well. And the problem is that secular society doesn't even want to allow that--it doesn't even want to allow me, a Roman Catholic woman, the right to see a pro-life Catholic doctor or to shop at a pro-life Catholic pharmacy, etc. Secular society wants those moral options to be illegal--because this really is an attack, not only on religious freedom, but on religion itself.

The Sicilian said...

I came from a conservative family and was fairly conservative (except for being pro-choice, or pro-abortion, whichever your preferred term is). Many years ago, I generally shifted to the left on gay issues, supporting non-discrimination in jobs, the repeal of DADT, civil unions and gay adoptions. Since the push for equating gay civil unions with marriage and the number of states recognizing gay marriage has increased, events have nudged me, sad to say, to the point where I am coming to regret my support for gay familial issues.


I had thought that gay people could get the privileges they wanted AND such things as freedom of speech and religion would still be protected for those on the other side. But given what I've read and what I've seen, I have to side with Erin about the persecution of those with religious values, particularly Christians. This has become apparent mostly in matters of service issues such as gay adoption and marriage services, but which, I have little doubt, will spread to other areas. No matter my disagreements with the Church, I will defend the rights of her members to practice their faith, openly and without obstruction. (In non-gay issues, for example, I support OB/Gyns who do not prescribe birth control or perform abortions due to their religious convictions. Want birth control or an abortion? There are plenty of other providers from which to choose.

The revocation of freedom of religion and speech (as in the First Amendment) is happening, more and more. I see the hatred for Christianity in so-called "higher education" where I work. When a professor tells you pointedly, "I hate Christians," with venom in her voice, do you really think she teaches and influences without bias? How much of the misnomer "diversity" is experienced in her classroom? Or in others by professors of similar bents, who are the norm? The thought police are alive and well on campus where diversity = one point of view, all others being hate speech.

For those of you willing to read about the Church's stance on attending a ceremony of questionable validity (or more generally, recognizing such a ceremony, which I think would include a ceremony taking place on one's property), read this:

If you read thoroughly the page linked to, did you happen to notice that the rules pertain to heterosexual marriage just as much as they would gay marriage?! WHO KNEW?!

The innkeepers did not have to delve into any private affairs to determine that the event would be invalid, according to their faith. Any union other than one man and one woman is, outwardly, clearly, not valid according to the Church.

In fairness and consistency, I would hope and expect that if they happened to learn that a man and woman who wished to marry at their inn were doing so invalidly (let's say they knew for a fact the couple marrying had one of the issues referenced in the link), they would turn them away as well. My priest, who comes from a tight family, did not attend the wedding of his Catholic cousin who married in a civil ceremony. That's surprising, given "this vehement hatred of gays and fixation on their orgasms", according to Kimberly. (Hey, Kimberly, you wouldn't be an educator, would you?)

Even here on the Left Coast (i.e., not Vermont), I see plenty of establishments with signs saying, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." I take that at face value to mean that anyone=my neighbor, my doctor, a kid with a bunch of tattoos, my postal delivery guy, me, gay people and everyone else. If any of us were denied service, Elizabeth, who would be the most likely not to get over their self-important selves and make it a cause célèbre? As for me, I'd probably kvetch to some friends to blow off some steam, take my money elsewhere, and be done with it.

Peter said...

"Civil society has decided that there's simply no difference between two women performing sex acts on each other, two men performing sex acts on each other, and what has historically and traditionally been called marriage."

Nah, what you meant to say was "Civil society has decided that, as far as the government is concerened, there's no MEANINGFUL difference between (A) two women who are romantically in love with each other, and who have determined to bind themselves to each other in a legal union, and to care for each other and form a family, for the mutual support and benefit of each other and (B) what has historically and traditionally been called marriage."

Red Cardigan said...

Peter, and that is exactly the problem.

To say that there is no meaningful difference, AT ALL, between two lesbians entering a sexual partnership of planned and intentional sterility without either reproductive or gender compatibility and calling that a family, and the union of one man and one woman in a partnership which includes the potentially fruitful act of physical union called sexual intercourse and which for the vast majority of physically healthy people in the natural and expected course of time will result in the couple's own biological children whom they are pledged to raise together, is quite simply to say something insane.

Even if a marriage between a man and a woman remains infertile, they are able to participate in that act of consummation without which marriages may still be annulled in some 30+ states. Gay pairs by definition cannot and do not experience the act of sexual intercourse together, and thus are not "married" in any meaningful sense.

The decision to substitute "romantic love and legal union" for "physical act of potentially (though not necessarily) fruitful consummation known as sexual intercourse" as the core reality of marriage has been made by people with no philosophical or ontological understanding of what marriage, historically and traditionally, IS. But the re-definers don't care; in fact, they honestly don't believe that marriage exists at all, and thus it can mean anything, nothing, or a strange combination of nihilism and personal self-satisfaction.

Which leads to the next question: why should there be tax breaks because some people find personal satisfaction in romantic and sexual pairings? Answer: there shouldn't be. Expect that to be the next big deconstruction, as society decides it's just prejudiced and unnecessary to support *all* "married" couples just because *some* of them will produce their own biological children.

Peter said...

I disagree.

I think that for you to hold "sexual intercourse . . . as the core reality of marriage" is insane.

Red Cardigan said...

Peter, historically what has been the subject matter of the marriage contract between a man and a woman?

Are they contracting merely to live together like roommates? Are they contracting merely to share property? Are they contracting merely to gain inheritance rights or tax breaks?

No. "Marital rights" is a term that refers to the husband's right to have intercourse with his wife, and the wife's right to have intercourse with her husband. Granted, each party to the contract is not entitled to claim this right in the presence of legitimate refusal on the part of the other party, but a long time of denying a husband or wife his or her marital rights was grounds for a separation of the married couple even before the liberalization of divorce.

And this right was seen to be mutual (involving both parties), exclusive (involving no third parties), and specific to the marriage itself. It was the reason liberal divorce was initially seen as the attack on marriage it actually is (e.g., that when two people have truly and validly become one flesh, it is not really possible to separate them permanently from each other). And it was taken for granted that this right was not only for the benefit of the couple but ordered toward the likelihood of the creation of their children (though, of course, fertility in marriage is always a gift of God).

Two men or two women do not have marriage rights over each other, because they cannot engage in sexual intercourse, and cannot even theoretically produce offspring who are the biological children of the couple together. Various acts of sodomy and other sex acts which same-sex couples can commit on each other are not intercourse, and do not involve the two becoming one flesh, or creating children who are their own flesh and blood as a couple. Marriage has, historically and traditionally, had nothing particular to say about unions which did not involve the act of sexual intercourse and the theoretical possibility of children as the natural and expected result of that act, let alone to pairings ordered around sexual perversions.

I'm sorry you weren't aware of that. What, exactly, did you think marriage was about, if it was not centered around the giving and receiving of the marriage right to sexual intercourse by the couple to each other? I'm afraid in this day and age when most people are not virtuous and do not marry in a state of chastity, people like yourself who have no idea marriage was ever about the giving and receiving of this right are all too common.

Peter said...

I think there are many ways to measure a marriage, including: by sorrows shares, by joys shared, by love and concern, by raising a family, by the physical expression of desire, by providing an example to the wider community, by caring for another above and beyond all others . . . I could go on. But to measure a marriage by the number of orgasms your partner give you is, yes, insane.

Red Cardigan said...

Peter, who is talking about measuring marriages by orgasms (leaving aside the fact that various perverse sex acts can also cause orgasm and are still not sexual intercourse, which is something only heterosexual couples can engage in)?

I'm talking about the law. And the law made it pretty clear, up until a handful of years ago, that marriages were different from all other types of relationships by virtue of the mutual right and responsibilities centered around the mutual exchange of the right to sexual intercourse and the duties correspondent to the natural and expected result of the exchange of that right in the overwhelming number of cases (that is, offspring).

That list of things you give, "...sorrows shares, by joys shared, by love and concern, by raising a family, by the physical expression of desire, by providing an example to the wider community, by caring for another above and beyond all others..." are true about many types of human relationships which are not marriage. Sisters can share sorrow and joy; a prostitute and john can exchange the physical expression of desire; a politician and his constituents can provide an example to the wider community; a grandmother and her devoted grandchild can care for each other beyond all others (especially if they are the only surviving members of a biological family), and so forth. But none of these give the mutual, exclusive right to sexual intercourse to each other, and thus none are a marriage.

By defining marriage so vaguely, you have, in fact, rendered it meaningless. Which is, after all, what your side wants.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Sicilian, we need to distinguish between the loud voices in the public square, and the legal standards that define what the ultimate outcome of their demands will be.

There is no question that there are narcissistic whiners, with a ready ear from the media (including Fox News, if only for shock value), who insist that they have a constitutional right to the love, approval, approbation, and collaboration, of each and every one of their fellow citizens. However, they cannot prevail in the courts with that line of drivel.

Not long after the Goodrich decision in Massachusetts, some narcissistic loud mouth was quoted saying he was going to ask the Baptist Church to host his wedding (to another man), then "sue the #### out of them" when they refused.

He obviously had not read the majority opinion. The judges were quite explicit that they had jurisdiction only over civil marriage, not over matters of faith and doctrine internal to a church. If marriages are licensed by GOVERNMENT, then that government action may be subject to an "equal protection of the laws" argument. But churches do not, and never have had to provide "equal protection" to anyone.

The argument that a B&B is a public accommodation has some validity. Doing business in any jurisdiction has always been a privilege, to be licensed, taxed, or granted on payment of various fees. There is a VERY old tradition, albeit often honored in the breach, that innkeepers must serve all who travel on the road -- at one time that could be a matter of life and death.

But, I think this Roman Catholic couple can still prevail, if they remain clear that they are limiting what services they offer, to anyone, not discriminating as to which people they will serve.

Now if anyone in Madison has, as Deirdre says, been mouthing that they would refuse to sell a pizza or a suit of clothes to Scott Walker, much as I despise the petty little spoiled brat and snake oil salesman he has always been, they are indulging in a silly temper tantrum. At least 40% of the population anywhere, and up to 60% are going to differ politically with the owner of any given business. Political interrogation is no basis for refusing service in a public accommodation.

As to the question of hosting a political benefit, that is usually something a business owner does as a personal commitment, at some cost to the general revenue of the business, so no, it is not a public accommodation, and they do not owe the same service to anyone who comes along.

Peter said...

Red, you are, Read your words.

You use a lot of words, a lot of hyperbole, and a lot of frustrated exclamations. But if you stand back and re-read your comments and pull out the essence of what you are saying, (often by DIRECT quote, as above), your core argument is that marriage equals heterosexual coitus. Almost every one of your comments comes back to sex acts that you either approve of, or disapprove of. But when I see a young couple applying for a mortgage, and signing their child up for first communion, and adding a guest room to accommodate an elderly grandparent I think that holding that marriage equals coitus is insulting to intelligent people.

Anonymous said...

What's being said is that for a true marital union to be present, the ability to truly unite through the potential of the procreative act must also be present. It's really a very simple argument. There just isn't "union" present without at the very least the potency for procreation. This is based in part on the nature of the act itself which is a donation of each individual of something unique, egg and sperm. It's meant to reflect that gift each person gives. In it's simplest form sperm and sperm cannot unite, it's totally impossible, nor can egg and egg. I mean, there is nothing present in the homosexual sex act that even reflects that possibility.
It doesn't mean that procreative sex is the totality of what the marriage union is, but, the argument is that at the very least the possibility must be present for true "unity" of persons to take place. Mel

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Marriage is a very complex relationship, by any light. If it was ONLY about a sexual act, then prostitution would suffice. But the distinction between marriage, and such human relations as brotherly love, good neighborliness, friendly room-mates, business partnership, etc., is a complex set of emotions which are in part hormonal, and related to sexuality.

Marriage of a man and a woman has a biological and spiritual primacy. It is obvious that sexuality did not arise because of, or to deliver, homoerotic stimulation. It exists BECAUSE our species comes in two variants, male and female. All the rest is a statistical deviation from the norm, a side-show, nerves which have somehow strayed from their original function. Whether is is a sin, I have no opinion -- due to no choice or merit of my own, I've simply never found men to be tempting.