Monday, July 25, 2011

Religion is not a mere hobby

Charlotte, who writes the blog Cheeky Pink Girl, has written one of the most brilliant and well-thought-out posts on the topic of gay "marriage's" infringement with religious freedom I've ever read. I'm putting a largish excerpt here, but go and read the whole thing:
So what about that small minority known as the Catholic business owner? I ask every Catholic reading this blog post to take in hand their Sunday bulletin picked up at yesterday's mass and look at the back cover. There you will see, for the most part, advertising from Catholic-owned and operated businesses. [...]

Next, let's say that word gets out on the local level that Catholic Business X did a gay wedding. What would your reaction be? I know mine, and it's automatically imbued with sin. I'm going to mention it to fellow Catholic friends: "Did you hear that Catholic Business X catered a big gay wedding and reception?" And then they tell a friend, who tells someone they see at some business meeting, and they tell another, and then someone tells the priest, and on down the line it goes.

And then for next year's parish festival, Catholic Business X doesn't get a bid opportunity to rent out beer tents from the festival planning committee. Or maybe the owner of Catholic Business X notices that some parishioners at mass just aren't as friendly to him as they used to be.

See where I'm going with this?

I believe that a business is entitled to not have their reputation tarnished by laws demanding that services be provided which violate their religious beliefs. I believe that Catholics, whether corporately or privately, have a reasonable right to maintain reputation as a Catholic in good standing, which ultimately means that they should be able to exercise judgments and actions that are in line with the teachings of the Catholic faith.

With reference to the Catholic inn keepers in Vermont, it is being said that they have a free-standing Catholic chapel on their property, as well as a history of renting out their facilities to various Catholic groups. Knowing this, if they voluntarily agreed to host every gay wedding that walked through the door, what effect might that have on the stream of Catholic-based business that they already have? Likely, it would have a very negative effect simply because word gets around.

Worse, what if they were forced - by law - to accept every gay wedding that was requested? Some might answer, "Well, it wouldn't matter because we'd all understand that they had to do it. I wouldn't discriminate against that business/owner because they're just complying with the law."

Oh really? What if you booked a Catholic seminar at that inn one weekend, and once you and all the other Catholic attendees arrived, discovered that out on the grounds of the inn there was a gay wedding taking place? And what if the gay couple from the wedding were having professional photographs taken inside the little Catholic chapel on the premises? What if there were drag queens as guests at that wedding and some older folks attending the Catholic seminar were very uncomfortable with what they were seeing? For that matter, what if you had a teenager with you at that Catholic seminar, and during a break, your son or daughter caught sight of gay couples kissing each other?

You'd never book another event at that inn, ever. Period. [...]

So I ask this: WHY should these inn owners - or any Catholic-owned business - have to risk ruining their good business and/or Catholic reputation because the gay community insists that whatever they ask for must be provided?
As Charlotte then points out, it is insane to think that one's Catholic identity must legally be confined to one's place of worship on Sunday mornings. Faith is meant to be lived, and if the living of that faith means that some Jewish deli owners don't sell ham or bacon and that some Muslim taxi drivers refuse to drive inebriated passengers and some Catholic business owners refuse to host fake gay "weddings," then our historic national appreciation of religious freedom should allow all of those things to be possible for people of faith.

Why do I say "some" religious believers will refuse to do certain things? Because, let's face it: there will always be plenty of unobservant or functionally irreligious people of various faiths who will take a childlike delight in turning against the actual practitioners. There may well be some Jewish people who argue in favor of selling ham, some Muslim people who argue in favor of giving rides to drunks, some Catholic people who think gay "weddings" are terrific, even some Buddhist people who would have no moral qualms about owning and running a slaughterhouse. But such people rarely speak for their faiths; in fact, they seem to enjoy speaking against them.

The truth is, such people are not usually the ones advertising in church bulletins (or the like, for other faiths) and trying to attract business among their fellow worshipers. So Charlotte's question still stands: why should Catholic business owners lose all of their Catholic business just because homosexuals insist that Catholics must accept and celebrate homosexual behavior to the point of participating in a "wedding" that the Catholics know fully well is a complete lie according to the Church?

I would like to see some answers to Charlotte's question. Do religious business owners have any right at all to act according to the dictates of their faith and consciences in the business sphere--or must everyone be forced to live as though secularism were our only faith, and religion a mere hobby to take part in on weekends, which is how militant atheistic secularism sees it?


Anonymous said...

Although I agree philosophically with a lot of what you and Charlotte hove said on this issue, I think that ultimately in this country businesses should not have the right to discriminate based on race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion. This is a good law that protects the fundamental notion of separation of church and state. And that separation is just as important in protecting mybright to worshipnhow I want, as it is in protecting the rights of consumers to NOT be punished for what they believe. It's a sacred right in my book and a big part of what makes this country great. Sadly, this does mean that as a catholic, I must at times "render unto ceasar". I must pay taxes even if I fundamentally disagree with how some are used. I must often conduct business at places who's philosophies, ideologies, and even business practices I might find wrong. I mean I can try not to, that's within my rights, but I bet Target isn't a business run perfectly by catholic standards. I haven't ever researched every single product that I buy, seeing who they give their money to and how they run their business. Places like walmart, and even the grocery store where I shop, treat their employees really shabbily. I don't shop at walmart, but I live in a tiny town that has one decent grocery store. I have to shop there.

So, I think that yes, as a catholic business owner, whether a pharmacist, doctor, cake decorated, florist, or wedding planner, it's time to start thinking about your faith and your moral qualms with what th laws of this country require. I'm sorry, but that is the price we pay for other fundamental freedoms. We certainly have the right to either continue conducting business according to the law, or get into a line of business that does not compromise our faith. And again, Christ himself said "render unto Ceasar". I understand that to mean that at a point, we are held responsible to just law.
Certainly, anti- discrimination laws are just. And we are free to make money other ways. Mel

Glen said...

I don't know of any court who would buy Charlottes's plea, which is legally indistinguishable from an innkeeper claiming that they would almost certainly suffer loss of business damages from their cracker clients if they served black ones. Remember, you will never be pleading in a Catholic or even a religious court.

The problem you're up against is how to document that you're acting out of religious conviction instead of arbitrary personal discrimination, and to do that I don't see how you can pick and choose which religious convictions of your faith you get to hold and which you get to ignore in order to book more business.

Seems to me the only way any court would take you seriously would be if you were consistent and claimed the right to refuse to serve any who violated any tenet of your faith, then provided a list of everything your faith prohibited, then took active steps to insure no potential customer was in violation of them. But saddling yourself with that sort of due diligence can be a pickle. Did you take reasonable steps to find out if that woman was divorced before you served her? If you refuse service to a homosexual after you've served a divorcee or an abortion doctor you've just arbitrarily discriminated against the homosexual based only on your personal whim, at least in the eyes of any court I'm familiar with.

How do you solve that problem, and how do you protect yourself and your loved ones from others who have to solve that very same problem with respect to having to deal with you?

Hector_St_Clare said...

For the record, Erin, I believe that small business owners should be able to follow their consciences, and that they shouldn't be required to allow what they see as sinful behaviour to take place on their facilities. I think those Vermont B & B owners should be able to deny use of their premises for a gay wedding. I'll go further and suggest that I think they should be allowed to forbid unmarried heterosexual couples, or previously divorced people, from sharing a room, if they so choose. (Many hotels used to do so, I believe). If I wanted to stay at their facility with a woman I wasn't married to, and they said no, I would just say 'okay' and go elsewhere, I certainly wouldn't start whining about it. I hope the B & B owners win their case, and that the court tells the narcissistic whiners to shut up and sit down.

That being said, I'm curious whether you think that business owners should be able to discriminate against RC lifestyle choices as well. I know more than a few people who think that having more than one or two children is immoral, for environmental reasons. If they owned, say, a photography business, should they be allowed to refuse to take family pictures of a Catholic household with six children?

Charlotte said...

How come people didn't have to "pay the price" before, in this country, for those fundamental freedoms? Why now?

You also don't articulate an accurate or historical understanding of separation of church/state. The U.S. wasn't founded on the notion as you (and 99% of everyone else who doesn't understand it) describe. This country was founded with that separation so that religion and government would not be combined and wield power as one, united entity. Last time I checked, we haven't had yet a president who also claimed to be the supreme leader of a religious organization, so separation of church/state seems to be working just fine, as intended.

It was never intended to be as you're thinking or wishing.

The founding of the United State of America was based upon freedom to practice religion. Do people understand they they are now arguing for just the opposite? They are now arguing for the polar opposite of Americanism. That is VERY scary.

Charlotte said...

No one has a right to refuse service to a homosexual.

Read closely all arguments concerning this topic.

Rather, it is the ACTION of the homosexual being performed and sanctioned live and in person, on the spot of the Catholic's property that is the issue. The homosexual wants to have a gay wedding, which is considered immoral and invalid by Church-believing Catholics.

People should read my blog post, since it's about Catholic REPUTATION, not this whole Vermont inn argument all over again.

But anyway, since we now have to rehash and review this whole thing, let it be known AGAIN, that the Vermont inn owners have vocally explained that they have rented rooms to homosexuals for a long time now and have not had a problem doing so. The problem was with a gay wedding. Homosexual and homosexual wedding are two different subjects. One is a person, one is an action. YES, you can separate the two.

I can ask a stripper over for dinner. But I might not want the stipper to actually strip in my home. I can object to the action performed, but not to the humanity and dignity of the person.

I think I'm gonna try and sue the next store that says "no shoes, no shirt, no service." I mean, that's discrimination against humans. How dare they tell me how to compose and comport myself in their place of business?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Fundamentally, I'm with Charlotte on this one. That is not a new thought for me. If she and I were both on the Supreme Court, we might write slightly different concurring opinions, keeping an eye on all the many different sets of facts that an appellate ruling will be applied to in the future.

For example, I believe that a nurse who is a devout Roman Catholic should be able to refuse participation in an abortion, without losing her job. If it is a hospital, there will be plenty of other nurses who could be called in (since the patient does have the legal right to schedule the procedure). I would expect such a nurse NOT to apply for work at a clinic where abortion is a large part of the workload, just as a vegetarian should not apply for work at a steak house, then object to being directed to serve a platter of beef.

When it comes to a pharmacist who has conscientious objections to filling a prescription for contraceptives, sorry, the customer has a right to get their prescription filled. Find another line of work. Or, find a pharmacy that does not, and advertises up front that it does not, keep contraceptives in stock. Maybe if there are two pharmacists on duty at all times, and at least one is prepared to fill the prescription, accommodations could be made.

Getting back to the RC couple running the B&B: The fact that there is an RC chapel on the grounds is significant. If it is in fact dedicated and consecrated as such, then the First Amendment and over 150 years jurisprudence protects that consecrated ground from being used for any purpose that would desecrate it, in the eyes of the RC church. The courts have NO jurisdiction over what that might be. They follow the law of the highest judicatory of the church, period, in matters of faith and doctrine.

In this regard, Charlotte is correct that the First Amendment protects citizens from any given faith being established as a power in or over the state, AND, protects individual free exercise. "Separation of church and state" does not, and never has, meant that what the state deems acceptable is mandatory for the church, or for the individual private conscience.

Everyone who has offered an opinion here knows that it is lawful for a business to limit its offerings to kosher food, or halal food, or products that conform to any similar religious prescription or proscription, and to advertise it as such. IF the owner of a kosher business refused to sell to a willing buyer because "I don't sell to Arabs," or the owner of a halal business because "I don't sell to infidels," THAT would be a violation of well established equal access to public accommodations law. But, a Roman Catholic could not barge in and insist that a kosher or halal butcher should slaughter their freshly bought pig, and sue for discrimination.

If the couple running the B&B says "We only host weddings that are recognized as such by the RC church" they would be more akin to limiting their fare to halal, kosher, or, in this case, RC canon. Maybe they could in good conscience host a reception for a wedding conducted under the rubric of "the scandal of Protestantism," or maybe they could not. They should be willing, if a gay man and a lesbian woman sought to enter into marriage with each other, to host that wedding reception. It is the product that they are being specific about, not the characteristics of the individuals.

Many states these days do require landlords to rent apartments without inquiring as the marital status or carnal intentions of the prospective tenants. Generally, I think that is OK, because everyone needs a place to live, and the landlord is renting housing, not a place for sex, which is incidental to occupancy. There are, in most such laws, exceptions when the owner resides on the premises, with four units or less. That's appropriate also. That's where personal preference has a place, not matter what the burden on the tenant.

Charlotte said...

People refuse business all the time, for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they say why, other times they don't and come up with excuses.

In the case of the photographer, I say yes, they can decide they don't want to photograph the large family for whatever reason they want. Should they be tacky enough to say their real reasons why? Probably not. But hey, if offending people is their thing, then go for it.

I said before I think the Vermont inn owners should have been smarter and just said they made a mistake and were already booked that day. Might not have made a difference, though, since I believe 100% (despite what the official "story" is) that these inn owners were targeted from the beginning.

Erin, I'm not sure if I'm amused or saddened to see that, again, no one can appreciate or respect religious freedom as guaranteed in this country since the constituion was first conceived. They cannot see past the facts of this Vermont case to the bigger issues that you have written about or that I have written about. They actually appear to prefer and desire a society free of religious freedom and free of freedom of religious expression. I seriously don't get it. Do they think abolition of these freedoms won't affect them? They must - they think gay marriage won't affect us, either. It's astonishing to watch even Catholics here say thay we need to shut up or get out of business.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

This stuff should be solved by everyone relaxing a little. There are plenty of businesses willing to host a same-sex wedding reception. That is where such business should be going. I see Hector and I are using the same phrase for those who want to make everyone accommodate their every whim. Narcissistic whiners is exactly what they are.

But this won't be solved by relaxed common sense. It will be sorted out in the courts. The couple should take some care how they present their case, but it is winnable. An instructive case is


In an opinion by that well-know right wing reactionary, David Souter, the Supreme Court said there is no right to impose your speech on the organizers of a parade, so no, the Massachusetts public accommodations law does NOT give the Irish Gay and Lesbian contingent the right to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. (They should have just called themselves the Sir Roger Casement Battalion).

A B&B is a public accommodation. That is a difference, in terms of judicial reasoning. But as Charlotte says, they are limiting the kind of services they provide, not discriminating as to who may purchase those services.

Charlotte said...

I agree with your pharmacist analogy with one exception. If the pharmacist works for Walgreens or CVS, etc., then yes - filling a prescription for contraceptives should not be denied.

But if it is a privately owned pharmacy (a rarity these days, but they still do exist), then no. If the pharmacy is privately owned by a Catholic, then they can refuse to fill that contraception prescription.

Anonymous said...

You can call me Mel. The separation of church and state applies equally to all three of the ruling government branches, of which the judicial branch is one. Meaning that our laws do indeed have to protect that right. It does not just mean that our governing body cannot also be a religious one. It has a broader application than that. And, no, finally, businesses is this country just don't get to "make up" their own rules. They are very closely restricted
as to how they conduct business to protect the rights of consumers. This is not new information. Lawyers make their living every day because of these restrictions. I know it really bothers you, but bottom line it's not a new idea. It will be up to Catholics to decide how to morally conduct business as best they can. We aren't being persecuted here.

Kimberly Margosein said...

"I wanted to stay at their facility with a woman I wasn't married to"

In your dreams, Hector :+)

Charlotte said...

I just went to that inn's website. (Inn? It's a huge complex! And very family friendly - accomodations and activities for kids and even scheduled programs for kids.)

Anyway, on their "weddings" tab they have a statement that they are no longer accomodating weddings or other special events.

See? Loss of business, as I predicted. Because some whiners don't have the grace and dignity to take "no" for an answer and find one of a myriad of other places that would roll out the red carpet for them.

People are becoming barbarians.

Well anyway, good for them. They are protecting their reputations as Catholics, and as Catholic business owners.

Anonymous said...

Oh PS. I'm not saying I like Charlotte, I am just saying this is what living in a " free" country means for better or worse.
I would not trade it for a catholic monarchy, which I sometimes fear the arguments ultimately lead. Do I hate that abortion is okay? Absolutely. But, again, result of a free country. Do I deeply dislike marriage being redefined? Absolutely. Again, free country. My religion cannot dictate our laws. Separation of church and state. That leaves it up to me- as with the Inn owners ultimately- to decide how to conduct myself as a catholic business owner. And I am talking business only here. I am not talking about a churches right to refuse, just a money making businesses right to. Mel

Hector said...

Re: Do I hate that abortion is okay?

Abortion is hardly a comparable issue. The idea that "killing innocent human beings, except maybe in self defence, is, you know, wrong" isn't limited to Catholics, it's one that all reasonable and decent people hold, or ought to.

Siarlys Jenkins,

I'm indebted to you for the "Narcissistic Whiner" phrase. :)

Red Cardigan said...

I've been away from the blog for a bit; want to respond to some of these comments.

Glen seems to equate the deeply held and consistently-taught religious beliefs of a major world religion as to the nature and purpose of marriage with unjust racial prejudice. That, I fear, is what will lead to the rights of Catholics being stripped away in the wake of gay "marriage" decisions.

Mel, I think you're confused about just and unjust discrimination in a business context. A vegetarian restaurant does not have the right to ban meat-eaters from eating in their restaurant. The restaurant does, however, have the right to refuse to cook meat for the meat-eaters or to allow the meat eaters to use hibachi grills in the parking lot to cook their own meat to consume in the restaurant. Public accommodation does not mean, "I must consent to your behavior in all circumstances."

And gay "weddings" are about behavior, not merely accommodation; the Catholic innkeepers should not, as Charlotte says, be forced to celebrate the sin of gay "marriage" and face the resulting loss of business from the Catholic families who would refuse to stay at an inn hosting a gay "wedding."

As far as the separation of church and state: some of us would say that as marriage pre-dates the state, the state does not have jurisdiction to redefine or abolish marriage. I firmly believe we're heading toward the abolition of civil marriage in this nation, and anybody who shrugs and says "Oh, well, that's up to the state," doesn't really understand Catholic social teaching or the likelihood that vulnerable women and their children will suffer the most under such an arrangement.

Anonymous said...

I think what I am trying to say is that businesses in this country are already restricted in many many ways as to how they operate. I don't see, necessarily, this issue as being uniquely a catholic one or even uniquely a religious one. And what I was trying to say is that those restrictions are important and are generally put in place to protect both the business and the consumer and respect a kind of over all fairness in business practice. So, even though I agree that it is completely disengenuious of the Lesbian couple to push themselves on the Catholic B&B, I am in favor of consumers rights and protections in general. And I am
pretty sure the reaction of the owners of the B&B on their
website is a reflection of where their lawyers advised them
that the law would come down on in this case. I am open
to the fact that none of my points are being articulated very
well given the state of my 8 1/2 months pregnancy induced
stupidity. :-). Mel

Anonymous said...

Finally, I am not saying I like it. I am just saying that legally I am not sure how work to out a legal happy medium whereby a business owners personal beliefs could somehow be upheld while practicing fair business practices. I think that is just an impossible road to go down realistically. Some problems have already been raised. But more significant to me as a Catholic, is someone deciding they could refuse me service based on that. Or, based on say, the fact that I am pregnant with my 5th child. I just feel business practices should be required to err on the side of consumer and employees rights and protections. Mel

Peter said...

I take Erin's question: "do religious business owners have any right..." as a legal question and have been trying to research the answer, as opposed to offering a personal opinion (which again, I think is not what Erin is asking for).

Yet I'm finding it difficult to come to the correct legal conclusion under Vermont law.

To the extent it is helpful, the topic seems to be "Religious Conscience Protection Laws," also called "Religious Refusal Laws." I see they exist at various state and federal levels. Many seem to arise in response to health care and gay marriage issues. For example, I've come across a CT bill (can't tell if it was enacted)that covers a "religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution," but not an individual or private business owner. The legislature appears to have debated extending the protection that far, but pulled back:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if the request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of a marriage and such solemnization or celebration is in violation of their religious beliefs and faith."

Iowa also recently tried to enact a similar law but it cratered b/c it was too broadly drafted and would allow a private business to deny services not only to gay married couples but also to cross-religious married couples (e.g. Catholic-Lutheran), if the business owner's personal religious beliefs were violated by a cross-religious marriage.

I don't know why a private business owner in Iowa should be prevented from denying his service to a cross-religious marriage, but that seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back on that law.

So, it seems that laws exist at the State level (varying from state to state) and at the federal level.

I'm not finding a RCPA in VT, but it might be out there or buried in another law or called something else.

I hope this was informative.

Charlotte said...

Thanks, Peter, that was informative.

The cross-religion marriage thing is weird. The Catholic objection to gay marriage is, of course, that a marriage between two members of the same sex is impossible and invalid. A Catholic would never object to a valid marriage between two people of the opposite sex and/or different religions.

Seriously, while many Christian religions (including Catholicism) highly recommend and warn against marrying someone not of the same religion, no one that I know of disallows it. I can't even think of one! (Can anyone else come up with an example? Now I'm just intrigued to know.)

For that to have been any kind of consideration in the law-making process in Iowa must have meant either there was a really loud/vocal minority contingent off their rocker OR there was a liberal contingent (pro-gay marriage) that introduced this concept as a canard to confuse the process.

At any rate, I believe that there are law books filled with religious objection/conscience cases that don't apply to marital siuations, but involve other matters and issues. I belive that THOSE would be used as prescedent-setting cases, since as you're trying to determine, there's nothing else to go on.

When I searched for my biological mother, I discovered that she was a Jehovah's Witness. I have spent alot of time talking with her about her faith, and have discovered that the life of a committed, practicing JW is filled with religious objections that must be explained and fought for. (Actually, I am of the opinion - and I'm not the only one out there who believes this - that the JW's have done more for protection of religious belief in modern times than anyone.) There are hundreds of cases out there from the JW's, and to the best of knowledge, they win almost every time.

For what it's worth, that's another religion where I'm very positive that if the inn owner had been a JW, they wouldn't have allowed the gay wedding either. In their case, I believe the lesbians would have just have left them alone because JW's are kooks and weirdos, right? But Catholics? They're always good for a fit and a lawsuit. At least that's the impression I get lately.

Rebecca in CA now in ID said...

Maybe I'm being redundant--but isn't the whole center of the problem the fact that Vermont officially recognizes same-sex relationships as eligible for marriage? Once that kind of law is passed, it seems like the way is paved now for this kind of persecution. Just as, when abortion/contraception are officially recognized as "medical procedures", it has the potential of pushing all Christians, Jews, and anyone who recognizes moral law, out of the medical field. Maybe there is a certain amount of protection we can claim still, but the official state recognition is going to be key. Going back to the racial analogy, which is obnoxious I know, but I could see someone saying that for religious reasons, they cannot recognize a wedding between a black man and a white woman, as a real marriage. But I could see them being (justly) sued for discrimination, even though their beef is not with the black man but with his action. So I guess what I'm saying is that religious rights, personal rights and those things that our country has always held sacred--those things aren't going to exist in a vacuum, and they are going to be turned upside down and inside out, in a state which officially endorses perversity and self-destruction. I don't mind re-thinking this, if anyone wants to correct my reasoning...

Anonymous said...

Also I would like to re-iterate, for those who don't seem to get it, that the owner of a B & B does not have an obligation (or even a right) to closely examine everyone staying at their B & B, about their marital status or sex life. Any more than a priest has an obligation to question every communicant about whether he has been attending Sunday Mass, etc. It is when someone is in a professed, public state of sin, that the priest is obligated to withhold communion. For obvious reasons. Likewise the owner of the B & B may assume all is well, unless there is a public profession that the couple intends to use the facilities for an immoral purpose, or if it is otherwise obvious--for instance, if a seventeen-year-old boy comes in with a twelve-year-old would be right to ask questions in that case. This should all be obvious to anyone with a moderate measure of common sense.

Rebecca in CA now in ID said...

I'm sorry that came out as "anonymous", it was me, Rebecca.

Peter said...

In connection with a family wedding, I was told by a RC priest last year that a RC priest may not perform a marriage ceremony to a person who is not baptized. Is that an accurate statement of RC marriage laws? If so, isn't that an examplle of a particular religion disallowing cross-faith marriage?

Charlotte said...

Peter, someone else would have to answer on that. My recall (which may be very bad/wrong) is that it can be done if the bishop says it's OK. That's called a dispensation.

Charlotte said...

You know, Red (and you know this already), the reason many of these people think we're completely nuts and bigots, etc., is because 3/4ths of all American Catholics don't practice their faith anyway. Plus they don't know what the Church teaches. So WE get branded as the extremists, when in fact, the others aren't even, really (in some sense) Catholic at all. We get judged based upon them. Which always begs the question of: Why do they bother to be Cathlolic or self-identify as Catholic at all?

Especially about the Eucharist. If you don't believe it's really the body and blood of Christ, why not leave? Isn't it that 60-some percent of Catholics don't believe? I mean, really, then find some place that works for you. It's these catholic-in-name-only who don't know/practice the faith that cloud this issue of gay marriage. If Catholics were unified in their understanding of Catholic teaching and everyone on the outside knew it, I don't think people would be all that astonished by situations like the one in Vermont.

Peter said...

I am far from an expert on Islamic law, but a quick internet search leads to some persuasive authority tha Muslim men are discouraged from interfaith marriage and Muslim women are prohibited from interfaith marriage.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Laws that are fundamentally bad can be recognized by their tendency to warp basic foundational principles like life and liberty.

Lincoln pointed out how the slavery question infested issues like the admission of new states and the formation of new territories, and was at the root of schisms of the large protestant sects of his day, as well having an impact on supreme court appointments, and virtually every election.

Today, abortion is at the heart of every supreme court appointment, and of most elections. Here in Texas, murdering a child under 5 is a capital crime -- unless that child has not been born yet. In many places, acts that inadvertantly take the life of the unborn are criminal, but intentionally taking the life of the unborn is not.

This sort of warping of common sense and legal consistency is the hallmark of morally repugnant law.

Same-sex "marriage" is no different. "Husband" and "wife", "father" and "mother" are becoming politically incorrect terms (in California, birth certificates now have spaces for "parent A" and "parent B"). School books, already re-written to teach the new regime, are being adopted in every state that has civil unions. Businesses run by Christians -- not Moslems, mind you -- are targeted for litigation. Traditional morality is equated with bigotry, and religious faith is now seen as a barrier to entry in a variety of professions and occupations.

It's insanity. And sane people will not embrace or enable it.

Hector_St_Clare said...

Re: I can't even think of one! (Can anyone else come up with an example? Now I'm just intrigued to know.)


As I understand it, the Eastern Orthodox Church does not permit its members to marry non-Christians (it permits, but discourages them from marrying Christians from non-Orthodox confessions). The marriage of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, for example, wasn't recognized by his church because his wife was Jewish.

Hector_St_Clare said...


Muslim men are permitted to marry Christian or Jewish women, but not women of any other religion. (I know a Muslim man whose Hindu fiance converted to Christianity to marry him, believe it or not.) Muslim women are prohibited from marrying outside their faith. Obviously, Muslims vary in how seriously they take the prohibition, and unlike Christianity, Islam lacks centralized clerical authorities.

Hector_St_Clare said...

Re: Likewise the owner of the B & B may assume all is well,

Rebecca in ID,

If a straight couple without wedding rings walks into a B & B and asks for a room, don't you think the default presumption is that they're maybe going to be breaking Catholic sexual teachings?

Seriously, while I think Catholics (and members of other religions) have the right not to allow their premises to be used for activities they disapprove of (whether gay sex, drinking alcohol, eating beef, or what have you), if these rules were enforced on straight people as well as gays then I don't think there would be this many frivolous lawsuits.

Red Cardigan said...

Hector, if I can answer your question to Rebecca: not at all! In the first place, the absence of wedding rings does not denote the absence of a valid marriage--I recall a hilarious story of a young bride in Alaska in about 1960 flying into a major city and trying to deposit money in her new joint bank account--only to have to explain that she didn't wear a ring because of an allergy to gold, she didn't have a driver's license because she flew a plane in the part of Alaska where she lived and where cars were essentially useless (and back then, pilots' licenses weren't photo i.d.s though they probably are now), and she didn't have her marriage license because the wedding had only happened three days before and the certificate hadn't been mailed to the couple yet. She eventually convinced the bank that she was the wife of the account holder (these days, though...!).

So, a married couple might not wear rings for one reason or other--but beside that, are you going to grill or interrogate every male/female couple that walks in as to their relationship and intention to engage in what ought to be marital activity? The couple might be brother and sister (and if the sister is married, her last name might be different). The couple might be friends (and the man might be same-sex attracted, so that there's no moral danger whatsoever for him to share a room with his attractive female heterosexual friend). There might be a dozen other perfectly reasonable explanations as to why a male/female couple without wedding rings wishes to share a room, without the assumption that they want the room for illicit activity (unless, of course, the hotel is the sort of place which rents rooms by the hour, which is not the sort of place a Catholic ought to own, anyway).

So: denying people of any gender a room for the night is vastly different than saying, "We do not host same-sex "weddings" because of our deeply held, centuries-old religious beliefs according to which these "weddings" are fake, the pairs not truly married in the eyes of God or man, and the whole charade an affront to decent people who value virtue and morality." And as far as I'm concerned, Catholic innkeepers ought to have the legal right to say that.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Charlotte, this was a good deal of water under the bridge and many comments ago, but I agree that an individual pharmacy might well choose, and advertise, not to stock contraceptives at all. For that matter, they could choose not to stock antibiotics. They are subject to the vagaries of the market - how many customers they will attract, retain, or discourage from coming back - but not to lawsuits.

The only other issue that seems outstanding (we all know where each of us stands on abortion, so no need to throw that into the mix again), is the question of what level and kind of state regulation a business is subject to. There seems to be an assumption being floated that, because the state must be neutral in matters of religion, and because businesses are licensed and regulated by the state, therefore a business must be neutral in matters of religion. That is without any constitutional or legal foundation.

COMMERCE is subject to regulation by the state. Religion is, by definition, not commerce, although if a religious body runs a commercial subsidiary, whether that be a thrift store or a winery, the business is subject to regulation, and tax, as a business.

This comes up over and over in the fatuous "Christmas Wars," which exist more in the eye of media anxious to drum up another story than in the minds and hearts of people trying to celebrate their favorite holiday(s). Can a business post an explicitly religious theme in its windows? Absolutely. Do people who are offended have to shop there? No, they can go elsewhere. Do large chains trying to cater to the maximum clientele tend to water things down? Yes, its good business to do so. Is that wrong? No, its their option.

The owners of a B&B are under no state-imposed obligation to be religiously neutral. They can put crucifixes in every room if they want. They can paint a mural of the Temptation of St. Anthony all around their dining room. That may or may not be a sound business decision, but it is no business of the state.

The only plausibly valid argument is that the state may impose nondiscrimination laws. We've beaten to death that "nondiscrimination" is about equal access to the services the business offers, NOT demanding that it offer whatever a given customer wants.

So, they cannot turn away customers because "you are not of the right faith," or we only serve 'mericans, or we don't like your color, or your turban, and in many states, they can't turn a customer away because "you're gay, and we don't want your kind here."

So the question -- which we have all covered pretty thoroughly, is whether refusing to host a same-sex wedding is per se discrimination against people who are gay. I would say no, and I've already said why, as have many others.

Finally, I agree with Erin that declining to host a celebration of a same-sex marriage is not similar to discrimination on the basis of race. Everyone since 1965 who feels they are "discriminated against" wants to cast themselves as "the new black," but they are not. They each have their own case to make.

Rebecca in ID said...

Red, though, I'm interested in what you think about the way the changing of the law pretty much might challenge that right. So for example, the B and B would not be required to celebrate a shacking up ceremony on their premises, because they do weddings, not shacking up ceremonies. But once the state formally recognizes a "wedding" of a same sex couple...isn't there a fundamental change there, and don't you see it as difficult to maintain the position of religious freedom amid that? It seems like a losing battle as long as those kinds of laws are being changed.

I'm with you on your reply to Hector. Huge difference between a public declaration/celebration and what people may choose to do privately. Which is why it is not necessarily inconsistent to oppose a law against sodomy while also opposing a state redefinition of marriage to include same-sex relationships. St. Thomas Aquinas talks about how it is imprudent to try to make laws which cannot reasonably be enforced--it lessens the force of law to do so--and likewise it is imprudent to try to make lists of rules which would require prying in order to enforce. That is worlds different than openly, publicly celebrating wrong actions.

Red Cardigan said...

Rebecca, I'll go further than you: the whole reason gay rights agitators have forced the change of the law in various states is because they wish to silence, punish, and marginalize anyone who holds to the religious (Catholic, Christian, Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, and other) belief that gay sex acts are immoral, that putting the stamp of a fake "marriage" license on them does not make them moral, and that there is no comparison whatsoever between a heterosexual marriage and homosexual pairings.

And this is what is wrong.

Consider that a relatively short (100 years or so) time ago, sex before marriage--fornication--was seen by society at large as a character weakness, a clear deviation from virtue, and a problem to be resolved by the marriage of the guilty parties (the phrase, "You should make an honest woman of her" didn't come from nowhere). Now, the idea that fornication is immoral is widely laughed at, and society thinks it is more insulting to a young man or woman--especially a woman--to think he or she is *not* behaving like a promiscuous slut than to hint that he or she might actually be chaste and virtuous. "Virgin" has become an intolerable insult, to be flung only at those young men or women the mob dislikes; and the poor young person called a virgin is expected to yell "Am not! You take that back!" as if to be assumed to be pure is the most insulting thing anyone can assume about you.

The fiction of gay "marriage" can only be maintained in a world in which chastity and virtue are completely denigrated. Same-sex couples do not "save themselves for marriage" and would find it horrifically insulting to be told that they ought to do so. They do not marry to "make honest men/women of each other," as sodomy is still immoral whether one is "married" or not (and, indeed, whether one is heterosexual or not). So to destroy the last, tiny vestiges of the ideal of chastity and virtue, gay rights advocates must first change the laws to demand "marriage," and then silence, marginalize, exclude, and punish anyone who values traditional morality, chastity, purity, or the idea that sex is about more than producing temporary physical pleasure through friction.

If we don't stand up for the very different Catholic take on marriage, sex, morality, virtue, chastity, and gender complementarity which has transcendent meaning as applied to the relationship between Christ and His Church, we'd better get used to the idea that any focus on these things will be labeled as "hate speech," and the Church herself as a "hate group" for insisting that all sex outside of *real* marriage is still gravely sinful and puts its practitioners in the serious danger of the eternal death of Hell. I'm not quite ready to shut up and give in to the sodomites on this one, probably because I see where we're headed, and how absolutely destructive it will be for our children, and our children's children, to grow up in a society which has moved from merely laughing at virtue to openly and persistently attacking it in its defiled and irredeemably corrupt institutions.

Anonymous said...

Good discussion, all. As a pharmacist, though, I take umbrage to the idea that even privately owned independent pharmacies have the 'right' to deny sale of contraceptives. I will bring up two points. 1.) Herein a business is a business, and not entitled to act as an individual as what the Constitution was originally designed. It's getting scarier and scarier that corporations and groups of people seem to have access or rights 'above' or 'equal' to individuals. For the record, pharmacies receive much funding from federal and state programs i.e. their Medicaid-, and Medicare-eligible patients pay for their drugs in tax-payer funded programs. The pharmacist is licensed to perform a public function in the public arena in society. Physicians, teachers, hair dressers do not provide the drugs and information unless they are also licensed pharmacists. There are not private pharmacists providing select prescriptions for patients.
2.) Now, say, if one could overlook the fact that pharmacists are duly obligated by society to perform their duty in providing drugs, and were working, say, in a different capacity, such as solely providing advice, or checking drug interactions, NOT performing their duty, the argument could be let up a bit. Nevertheless, unless a patient has adequate opportunity or access to getting their prescription filled within a reasonable time by alternative pharmacies that provide the prescription product, then the patient DESERVES or has the right to get their prescription filled whether the owner has a decided position on the matter or not.

Those were my main two points, but on the other hand, if I as a pharmacist know that my patient has been given a prescription for a drug or dose that will kill them or seriously hurt them or is likely to do damage, then I can use my pharmacist's judgment and refuse to fill.

Will I knowingly fill a script for a drug that cause fetal death or birth defects in a woman who is obviously or reportedly pregnant? I don't think so. I will call the physician and tell that I'm not filling it and why.


Glen said...

Red, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

When you say "If we don't stand up", do you mean you standing up yourself, or someone else standing up in place of you for what you want to see done? And how are you going to be doing this standing up, on a blog or in stories, or out there confronting people doing things you don't like in a legally governed world? Are you going to stand up by lobbying your representatives? I see on the side there you have already sworn against voting for Republicans, so threatening not to vote for them if they don't do what you want wouldn't seem to carry much weight, at least with Republicans.

The reason I ask these things is, if you're going to stand up yourself and try to take on gay marriage or fornication or whatever yourself, how do you plan to defend yourself against counter attack? It's all well and good to say you're doing it out of religious principles rather than just out of some arbitrary personal spite, but if someone counter attacks you legally claiming you are simply arbitrarily harassing them, you're going to have to be able to prove some consistent pattern of standing up against all behavior your religion specifically prohibits as immoral. Otherwise you won't have a legal leg to stand on, and you could lose everything that can't be shielded in bankruptcy.

So what's your plan for standing up? Of course if it's just blogging about it so that you and others can gripe, no worries. You're just talking, and we all know speech is protected. Beyond that, though, how does someone, maybe someone else if you don't do it yourself, stand up the way you're calling for while protecting themselves from crossing onto the wrong side of the law in doing so? That's assuming they care what side of the law they're on, which we'd assume they would. Hope that wasn't too many questions, but it just seems a lot easier to talk about what you're talking about than to really do anything, unless of course you've already decided to accept whatever the real world costs and consequences of doing something might be, like being legally convicted of malicious harassment and having to declare bankruptcy to shed a judgement.

So how does someone do what you're calling for?

Red Cardigan said...

Glen, I've addressed this sort of thing before, and it's beyond the scope of a comment box, but the kind of "standing up" I see myself willing to engage in has to do with being willing to help create a sort of parallel society in which I am not required by law to acknowledge or directly participate in evil.

Rod Dreher used to refer to this as the "Benedict Option," by which he meant forming intentional communities to stand apart from (and in many cases, in opposition to) the many evils of modern American secularism--not merely to oppose evil, but to teach and strengthen others in the practice of virtue and goodness as Christianity is mandated to do. I've spoken of the idea here both to praise its strengths and criticize some weaknesses; but in general I think this is where Catholics may end up, fifty or a hundred years from now.

That is: we won't go to "doctors," but to Catholic doctors who won't, for example, kill our babies or inject us with embryonic stem cells as a "cure" for disease. We won't go to pharmacies but to Catholic pharmacies. We won't own wedding planning businesses but, instead, Holy Matrimony planning businesses in which we will only sell our goods or services to Catholic customers and host only Catholic weddings. We will only support Catholic education and will demand that Catholic education disengage entirely from the state rather than be forced to indoctrinate our children in the evils of gay "marriage" and contraception. I could go on, but like I said, this is a limited format.

Obviously being willing to do such a thing and actually implementing it will be a long, slow process for Catholics in America, and will probably not get well underway until the religious persecution I see as the inevitable result of forcing gay "marriage" on the nation has made a lot more of my fellow Catholics aware of the lengths we'll have to go to in order to preserve an authentically Catholic identity in the midst of a militantly atheistic and secularist nation bent on spreading its errors around the world. Will I even live long enough to see that point? Who knows? But like I said to someone elsewhere, I will at least know that if the secular nation in the future tries to create the fiction that no Catholics really cared much about gay "marriage" and the loss of religious freedom when all of that was happening, the words of those of us writing against this slide into national degeneracy will serve as a contradiction to the predominant narrative.

Now, for myself, personally, as I've also said before, I would also consider leaving America for a saner, more pro-Catholic country--the problem is that this militant atheistic secularism is America's chief import, and there may not be a sane corner of the globe left to migrate to even if that became a realistic option for my family.

Rebecca in ID said...

I'd like to make the point, too, that blogging, writing, speaking is not doing nothing--it falls under instructing the ignorant, if it is done well, and can be powerful. And in fact I would go so far as to say that if there were not a number of intelligent people writing and speaking on these topics, the battle would quickly be lost. Those of us who do not have the time or talent for that, or for more directly political activity--we're educating our children and teaching them to live principled lives. And more and more, ordinary people will find themselves in situations where they can choose to compromise with the Culture of Death, or not. My husband sends SMS messages for various companies for a living. Seems pretty safe, right, but one contract they had with Columbia University involved sending SMS msessages for medical alerts. It turned out that part of what they wanted to do was to send messages to women and girls (especially college-age girls) to remind them to take their pill. My husband wrote a letter explaining that their company could not include these messages in their service, and the reply was three lawyers on the other end, threatening to sue and destroy the company. When they found out how small and insolvent the company was, they let it go because it was not worth their time--but if it had been worth their time, they may well have won. I know more and more people in various fields who have had to face various situations like this. It's becoming less and less theoretical.

Glen said...

You said,

"That is: we won't go to "doctors," but to Catholic doctors who won't, for example, kill our babies or inject us with embryonic stem cells as a "cure" for disease. We won't go to pharmacies but to Catholic pharmacies. We won't own wedding planning businesses but, instead, Holy Matrimony planning businesses in which we will only sell our goods or services to Catholic customers and host only Catholic weddings. We will only support Catholic education and will demand that Catholic education disengage entirely from the state rather than be forced to indoctrinate our children in the evils of gay "marriage" and contraception. I could go on, but like I said, this is a limited format.

Obviously being willing to do such a thing and actually implementing it will be a long, slow process for Catholics in America,"

I don't see how what you wrote above would be a long slow process, seems like you and anyone else who wanted to could do it tomorrow. Of course it would limit your options, but that's what you say you want to do anyway. You might have to give up some things you're enjoying now, but how important could they really be compared to what you really want?

I don't see the problem. Why don't you and whoever else feels like doing what you say you want to do there just do it? Problem solved.

Red Cardigan said...

The "slow process" part, Glen, involves letting those Catholic businesses know we're going to support them and helping them get started (an idea which also ties in to distributism, which I'm still learning about).

For instance, you say, "So: go to a Catholic doctor! Go to a Catholic pharmacy!" etc. I do go to a Catholic doctor (though if I want to go to a pro-life, NFP only doctor there aren't many available where I live; alas, the one I used to go to had to quit practicing due to serious health issues of her own, from what I understand). I would love to support a Catholic pharmacy, but there isn't one. Heck, I'd love to shop at a Catholic version of WalTarMartGet etc. so I could buy toothpaste and soap without having to walk by the stupid condom aisle, or stand in the check-out line next to magazines decorated by scantily clad women posed beside headlines full of salacious details about how I can please my man (feminism in action, those magazines, don't you know). The Catholic store would be closed on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and have a really nice religious goods department, too! Ah, dreams. :)

But, like I said, such a company would have to know that enough of us would shop there--and they'd also have to be aware that they'd probably be sued on a near daily basis for the imaginary hurt feelings of openly gay customers and/or would-be employees, in addition to being sued for *not* selling condoms or Cosmo. So, again, a slow process to get to the point where a Catholic alternative community could exist in peace is indicated.

Hector_St_Clare said...

Re: Seems pretty safe, right, but one contract they had with Columbia University involved sending SMS msessages for medical alerts. It turned out that part of what they wanted to do was to send messages to women and girls (especially college-age girls) to remind them to take their pill.

I think that your husband's company should have the right not to send those messages, if they don't feel they can do so in good conscience. By the same token, they should make their opinions known in advance, and Columbia University should feel free to contract with a different company.

Re: That is worlds different than openly, publicly celebrating wrong actions.

By the same token, though, if the state treated gay sex as something 'wrong, but tolerated', isn't that infringing on the religious freedom of those people who don't believe that homosexuality is immoral?

I don't personally believe that a gay relationship is quite the same thing as a marriage, and I don't want my church performing gay marriages, but I also don't want the state to send the message that it thinks gay relationships, or gay sex, is immoral and wrong. Because I don't believe they are.

I don't really see there's a painless solution here: whatever the consensus our society comes to about the morality (or lack thereof) of homosexuality, someone's religious or moral views are going to be offended. There's simply no way around that.

Rebecca in ID said...

I agree with your last paragraph--which is why I think it just doesn't work for people to try to work out how we can tiptoe in just the right way so as not to offend anyone. It won't happen, it is not possible, and true freedom, which is defined a little differently than "not stepping on anyone's toes" cannot happen in a society which refuses to recognize or outright contradicts the moral law.

Charlotte said...

So why don't all the homosexuals go off and start their own intentional communities, run the way they want?

You seemed so eager for us to do it. They could just as easily do the same. Or would that sound too much like the whole AIDS/island idea from the 80's?

Rebecca in ID said...

"By the same token, though, if the state treated gay sex as something 'wrong, but tolerated', isn't that infringing on the religious freedom of those people who don't believe that homosexuality is immoral?"

Yeah, if you think "religious freedom" means being able to do *anything* you want. Would you say the same thing about people who want to have open consensual sexual relations with animals? Or people who want to have four or five wives, consensually, of course? And demand that they be given access to the B and B's facilities for these things? I'm not sure where you personally, Hector, draw the line, but I'm pretty sure you draw the line *somewhere*. I'm pretty sure that you think people should be able to pursue happiness in their fashion--but that there are certain lines which just ought not be crossed, ought not at least be recognized as honorable or sanctioned by the state, regardless of how deeply held those convictions might be for those who want such actions sanctioned. Right? And my guess is, you think that somehow, that basic information, that basic instinct and those first principles, concerning those lines which ought not be crossed--you think that is knowledge is somehow accessible to everyone, don't you? If it's not, if it's just your private opinion, then what grounds are there for any kind of limiting of the definition of marriage, or limiting of any kind of behavior whatsoever?

Hector_St_Clare said...

Re: It won't happen, it is not possible, and true freedom, which is defined a little differently than "not stepping on anyone's toes" cannot happen in a society which refuses to recognize or outright contradicts the moral law.

All that is quite true. FTR, I'm not a philosophical liberal, and I think that plenty of behaviours (sexual, economic, and others) ought to be suppressed or at least discouraged. I just don't agree with you that contraception and homosexuality are among them.

And I don't see a good reason that the government should support the teaching of your church that homosexuality is a sin, over the teaching of my church that it isn't.

All that being said, I think you have the right, if you wish, to believe that contraception and homosexuality are wrong, and you also have the right not to have your business participate in supporting those activities. As long as the college women can go elsewhere to get the pill, and the lesbian couples can go elsewhere to get married, then I don't see why Catholic business owners need to violate their own moral sensibilities.

Rebecca in ID said...

okay, so good, there is a point of agreement: you seem to be saying that there is an objective moral law, which ought to be able to be recognized by all reasonable people, and the state should have something to say about that as well. I agree with that. Your church's "belief" vs. my Church's "belief" don't really have to do with that, if we're talking about something knowable by reason, so whether homosexuality and contraception are wrong, should be able to be hashed out, and we ought to be able to some agreement on that. Maybe that would take a few years, but anyway.

The thing I would challenge apart from that point, though, is that there can be such a thing as a state *sanctioning* certain behavior *while* guaranteeing religious freedom to oppose or refuse to participate in such behavior. As I've been saying, I think once the law recognizes something as legitimate, equal to other things, good and honorable, etc., it *is* going to result in a tension which has to give. Religious freedom is freedom to do what you want according to your religion *within the confines* of decent behavior, and once the state *sanctions and blesses* sexual perversity, it *will* become impossible to maintain a position of "religious freedom", because anything opposing the state's official view, will be considered *not decent*, not within the confines of decent behavior. You already see the racial analogies being made. It isn't decent to refuse service to a person because of the color of his skin, right? And people *cannot* make the distinction between that, and the refusal to participate in or celebrate immoral actions. It is seen as indecent not to let them have their reception there, and if you can't be decent, why, get out of the B & B business.

Hector_St_Clare said...

Re: The thing I would challenge apart from that point, though, is that there can be such a thing as a state *sanctioning* certain behavior *while* guaranteeing religious freedom to oppose or refuse to participate in such behavior

If that's true, then I'm afraid you're out of luck. Since I don't believe that homosexuality is wrong, I am naturally not going the want the state to say that it's wrong. And if that means that your sentiments get offended, then I can't help that.

Of course, I don't really believe that is true, and I think there is room enough in this world for both gay people and for conservative Catholics to live by their own lights. I don't agree with Quaker pacifists about the morality of war, but I think we should have a place in this world for Quaker pacifists. I don't agree with Buddhist vegetarians, but there needs to be a place in this world for Buddhist vegetarians. Same goes for you and Erin.

Seriously, Quakers aren't required to participate in wars, and they wouldn't be even if we still had a draft; similarly, why don't you think there can be same protections for you?

Rebecca in ID said...

The state not saying it's wrong is different from the state sanctioning and blessing it as marriage. Like I said, you can oppose laws against sodomy (for practical reasons)and still be against state's re-definition of marriage.

I believe the Quakers get away with what they get away with, because they are so minor and so invisible. Nobody feels threatened by them. I don't know how long that will last--already there are ridiculous things happening like Amish families being lined up against a wall by gunpoint in the middle of the night for the suspected crime of shipping raw milk over state lines--without much public outcry. It's a relatively minor matter, but folks are conditioned to think that it really is okay for the state to tell people they can't sell or even share raw milk, or maybe even give it to their own children. We're shrugging off these minor freedoms being taken away, but don't tell me the founding fathers aren't turning in their graves over such things. Already, in my lovely state of CA, K-12 is now *required* to include "gay" history in its textbooks, and to present it in a positive light--if you think that isn't going to result in a tension that's got to give, well, enjoy those good feelings while you can.

Hector_St_Clare said...

Re: It's a relatively minor matter, but folks are conditioned to think that it really is okay for the state to tell people they can't sell or even share raw milk, or maybe even give it to their own children

People get sick and die from raw milk routinely, which is why it's an excellent idea to prohibit it. I don't drink milk or eat much milk products, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't drink raw milk, nor would I allow my future children to drink it.

I can't shed too many tears over those medically irresponsible Amish farmers (and I'm not a big follower of the cult of the founding fathers, so that line of argument is a nonstarter).

Rebecca in ID said...

Well, the bare facts are that pasteurized milk has proved to be far more dangerous than raw milk, despite what the CDC in bed with big dairy farmers *want* us to believe, but I'll let you do the research if you are interested. What about raw veggies, Hector? Shouldn't we be required by law to cook all our veggies; people die from raw veggie contamination all the time. The government should take care of us and ban lettuce, because we can't make that judgment for ourselves. I can't believe I'm in an argument about this on this thread--but I guess you're illustrating what I'm talking about; you have no problem with the government babysitting us through the smallest details, and as long as we're used to that, the government can tell us what we must teach our children, and so on, because someone has to keep us safe from ourselves. Our gradual acceptance of Big Government is a factor here but I want to re-state that my basic point is that when something is blessed and sanctioned by the state, there is no question that religious liberty in that arena will be compromised or even destroyed completely.

The "cult" of the founding fathers--what do you mean??? I happen to think that when we are considering how to run our country, we should have some care about the Constitution. In what way is that a "cult"? If citizens, who are supposed in some measure to be self-ruling, are ignorant about their own country's constitution, and their own rights, how is this not all going to end up being the rule of the few strong and powerful?

Rebecca in ID said...

My whole point is that the Amish/Quakers etc. aren't necessarily free to do as they wish, even if it is important to them and something they have been doing for hundreds of years, especially if it threatens anyone powerful, and we may see their freedom disappearing.

I thought I was illustrating something which would be obvious and had no intention of dwelling on it...I'll just shut up now...

Glen said...

Rebecca, if you want to conduct business with the public, you have to treat all the public the same, regardless how you feel about them. You can't pick and choose, at least not in the U.S.

If you say "no shirt, no shoes, no service", you can't hold some people to that standard and not others.

If you offer weddings or wedding receptions, you can't serve gays and Lutherans but not Catholics, no matter what your reasons for wanting to do so. Before gay weddings were legally recognized to be the same as any other wedding, responding "in your dreams" to someone wanting you to host a gay wedding reception was perfectly legal. After gay weddings became legal, refusing to host gay wedding receptions while hosting other wedding receptions became as illegal as refusing to host Catholic wedding receptions while hosting other wedding receptions. How either party might feel about either is completely irrelevant under the law. Now, no one can FORCE you to hold wedding receptions if that might mean you might encounter having to hold a gay wedding reception, and that's what the Vermont innkeepers decided to do. Moral for them and legal for everybody.

Maybe you're just not that familiar with anti-Catholic discrimination and persecution, not the kind Red wants to claim, but real persecution. Rebecca being lynched and burned alongside a black by the KKK just because she's Catholic. The only thing stopping that is the same legal arguments you're griping about.

If you want to take things as far as Red wants to take them, then you have to be willing to go the distance she is willing to go and to pay the price she is willing to pay, namely live in self-created all Catholic ghettos. If you want to go farther and make all people obey your moral teachings, you really do need to go farther, out of the U.S., where you can reshape some other country so that Catholic teachings and the laws of the land are one and the same. For those that committed, this isn't as impossible as it may seem.

What you can't do, though, no matter how much you fume about it, is live under the protection of U.S. laws preventing others from discriminating against you because you are Catholic while discriminating against others yourself. Split all the blog hairs you want, it isn't going to happen.

Red's Catholic ghetto idea may be the best solution for you, if you can figure out how to do it without discriminating against others, because it lets you keep U.S. constitutional and other legal protections in place among yourselves. Once you move to the Nation of Catholica, it will be all Catholica, all the time. All the time. Of course, the bishops can, I understand, grant dispensations to some and not to others as they think best, depending, but hopefully you'll be okay with that.

Rebecca in ID said...

So Glen, I'm with you on thinking that once marriage is redefined by law, it becomes very difficult to maintain the "religious freedom" exemption. What I was saying was, before gay "marriage" was recognized, the B & B folks were fine as long as they said they hosted *wedding* receptions rather than *shacking up* receptions. So I have two questions for you, Glen, and I really want to know what you think; they are not rhetorical questions.

First: Are there *any* behaviors you think it would be okay to protest against. Like for instance, would it be okay for the B and B to refuse to host a reception of a man marrying two or three women? And what role would the law have to do with that--in other words, would it be okay if it were illegal but not okay if it became legal to marry more than one wife. I'm interested in your thoughts on that.

Second question, having to do with your analogy to the KKK burning folks. So I am against people using dangerous drugs, and I support warning people about those drugs, educating youth, and encouraging and helping people on drugs to get off of them. Do you think, because of that, that I secretly would like to burn drug users in religious ceremonies, and that when society disapproves of using dangerous drugs, we are on the verge of violent persecution of drug users? If not, can you explain to me why you think the fact that I think people destroy themselves and society through homosexual behavior, makes me like unto the KKK. I need to have that explained to me. Thanks!

Glen said...


Sure. Second question first. You said "If not, can you explain to me why you think the fact that I think people destroy themselves and society through homosexual behavior, makes me like unto the KKK." I didn't say anything of the sort and frankly I don't care what you think about homosexual behavior one way or another. I didn't give an analogy, I gave a historical reference about REAL Catholic discrimination and persecution, about what really could have happened to you personally if you'd been at the wrong place at the wrong time historically and what legally prevents it from happening today. Why, for example, you can't be refused service for being Catholic or be thrown out of a restaurant for acting "Catholicky" ie for saying grace and making the sign of the Cross before eating. You can process that information however you like, take it as I gave it to you, or rearrange it in your mind to suit whatever you want.

First question: it's "okay" to protest against ANY behavior. There are, however, legal consequences to violating laws of the land, at least if you're caught. If you aren't prepared to suffer the consequences, you might not want to violate the laws. Some do. The Vermont innkeepers decided they didn't want to. Or change the laws. Does that help?

Rebecca in ID said...

Yes, Glen, it helps. Thanks for clarifying what you meant by the KKK stuff and my apologies for not catching your drift (I had some children crawling on me and should have probably just waited and re-read.) Yeah, I'm glad there isn't open violent persecution of Christians or of people who are trying to live according to natural law, yet, in this country. I'm very thankful for that. I'm so glad to live in a free country, and I hope it stays that way. I hope, with all my heart, that California's law about teaching "gay" history will not eventually translate to private schools being required to do the same, or children being taken from their parents, as is now happening in Germany.

On the first question, sure, I think I'm in agreement with you, and I'm for changing the laws. My position is this: once there is a really bad law made which normalizes bad behavior, it is pretty much impossible to maintain or establish conscience clauses and the like. I would think a case like this could in theory set a precedent for a conscience clause, since you can see that serving someone who lives a lifestyle you may disapprove of is vastly different from actively helping that person to celebrate that lifestyle per se. Because of this I do not think the Vermont couple was in outright violation of the law, but again, once something is officially declared decent and good, it *will* become considered indecent to disapprove or protest in any way.

Rebecca in ID said...

I'm wondering something now...those of you who think the B & B was really violating law: If there was a center which hosted conferences of various sorts, would that center have the right to refuse to host conferences which didn't accord with the views of the people who own it? Like, if they were Democrats, and the conferences tended to be about saving the rainforests and AIDS in Africa, would they be required by law to host a conference with Rush Limbaugh as the main speaker?

Hector said...

Re: I'm wondering something now...those of you who think the B & B was really violating law

I don't think the B & B was violating the law, as I think I made clear. They should have the right to opt out of behaviour they disapprove of. I don't agree that their views that homosexuality is a sin, though, and I don't see why I should be obligated to, or why homosexual couples should be subject to official state disapproval.

Re: My position is this: once there is a really bad law made which normalizes bad behavior, it is pretty much impossible to maintain or establish conscience clauses and the like.

You haven't established, though, that gay sex is 'bad behavior'. It's no more intrinsically immoral that straight sex. I respect that your church thinks otherwise, but that's not a reason for me, or anyone else who isn't RC, to agree with you.

Rebecca in ID said...

Hector, I wasn't trying to establish that gay sex is bad behavior...and my question about the conference center was addressed to Glen and others who think the Vermont couple broke the law.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

The state has no position to say that an act is moral or immoral. A state does have position, in matters not constitutionally reserved to private individual decision, to say that an act is not acceptable in civil society. Voters and legislators may well be motivated by their respective moral codes in deciding when "there oughta be a law against it."

So, the fact that the state refrains, or is restrained, from criminalizing a given act, even the fact that the state formally recognizes and licenses a given human relationship, has no impact at all on whether some churches teach that it is sinful. It is legal to drink alcohol. Muslims and some Protestant sects remain free to teach that to do so is a sin. Nobody accuses them of anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-other-Protestant, or anti-atheist bigotry.

I'm sure I said this before, but just because an act is legal does not mean it is mandatory. Just because the state approves, does not mean every person has to approve, or facilitate. Animal sacrifices to the orishas by the Santeria is constitutionally protected. It does not mean that I have to sell them animals to be used in the sacrifice, nor that I have to permit them to conduct services involving human sacrifice on my premises.

Government imprimatur of approval does not automatically mean that all businesses, or even all public accommodations, must offer or host what is approved.

c matt said...

I thnk you meant "conduct animal sacrifices." I'm pretty sure human sacrifice is banned, even for religious reasons, at least for sacrifice of post-partum humans.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

c matt, please point out where I referred to human sacrifice. All I can find is "Animal sacrifices to the orishas by the Santeria is constitutionally protected."

I have often pointed out that, just because some pagan revival wants to indulge in human sacrifice, the First Amendment does NOT protect their right to do so as the free exercise of religion. There is a viewpoint-neutral, generally applicable, law against homicide. (The law does not recognize the pre-partum condition as a person.)

IF Hialeah Florida banned ALL killing of animals for ANY reason, then that generally applicable law would apply to the Santeria. It was the fact that the ordinance exempted every conceivable reason for killing animals EXCEPT religious ritual that betrayed the real purpose, denying free exercise to a given sect.

(The arguments in the city council were laughable... especially the statement that "the Bible does not allow" animal sacrifice in worship.)