They and their churches inject themselves into political debates while enjoying tax-exempt status. They get public support in questionable circumstances. After a student Christian magazine insisted on its right to funds from the University of Virginia, the Supreme Court decided in 1995 that if a nonreligious publication got financial help from a public school, so must a religious publication, even if it’s proselytizing.
And churches have been allowed to adopt broad, questionable interpretations of a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws that allow them to hire and fire clergy as they wish. [...]
Baking a cake, arranging roses, running an inn: These aren’t religious acts, certainly not if the establishments aren’t religious enclaves and are doing business with (and even dependent on) the general public.
Their owners are routinely interacting with customers who behave in ways they deem sinful. They don’t get to single out one group of supposed sinners. If they’re allowed to, who’s to say they’ll stop at that group?
I respect people of faith. I salute the extraordinary works of compassion and social justice that many of them and many of their churches do. I acknowledge that we in the news media, because we tend to emphasize conflict and wrongdoing and hypocrisy, sometimes focus more on the shortcomings of religious institutions than on their positive contributions.
And I support the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts.
Big of him, isn’t it?
No, of course not. What it is is bigoted.
Bigoted, in the sense that Bruni wants to put religious people, religious speech, and religious acts into a kind of closet. Bigoted, in the sense that Bruni thinks religious people, religious speech, and religious acts should not be allowed in public--not if they’re not prepared to bow down and worship the idol of same-sex “marriage."
Bigoted, in that Bruni insists that cake bakers, innkeepers, and florists aren’t being asked to violate their religiously-informed consciences when they refuse to take part in what is to many of them nothing more than a wicked parody of marriage, about which they have strong religious views.
And they--we--have the right to have these views. We have the right to express them in public and to refuse to accommodate, recognize, acknowledge or serve same-sex “marriage" in any way on the grounds that to do so violates our freedom of religion as guaranteed to us in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Bruni, as Mark Shea points out, does not recognize that right. Rather, he proposes--as many liberals have done--a diminished and inferior shadow of that right, the so-called “freedom of (or freedom to) worship.” This concept would permit--grudgingly, as if by special privilege--those of us who think that marriage is only between a man and a woman to keep saying so in our churches and homes. But it would forbid us to act according to that belief, to teach or speak it openly, or to order our lives as if that belief is in any way important to us--when, in fact, it really is.
For those of us who are Catholics, this idea that Catholics (or Christians in general) should have to keep our mouths shut and our heads down as the price of being just barely tolerated is an old, old tune. It has been sung in many countries and with many different verses, whether we’re talking about the penal laws of England or Ireland or the long history of anti-Catholicsim in America or other, older examples such as the persecutions of ancient Rome. It’s unvarying note is one of hatred for the followers of Christ, a hatred that causes exclusion, discrimination, division, restrictions on freedom, punishment for “wrongthink,” and even violence and death.
To Bruni, it is so important to silence those of us who don’t believe in gay “marriage” and will not ever equate it to real marriage that it doesn’t really matter if religion gets tossed out the window altogether. But he’s willing, for now, to let us believers continue to pray at home and in churches, so long as we don’t bring our faith with us when we go beyond those spheres.
So we should keep feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, instructing the ignorant, and otherwise doing works of mercy (at least, the ones Bruni approves of). But we are supposed to wear a muzzle while doing so, and never betray by word or action that we don’t think that two men are a “married couple,” because Bruni thinks the State ought to force us to pretend to accept its authority to redefine marriage in such a way that the very word and concept no longer makes the slightest bit of sense. And that, brothers and sisters, is what Bruni thinks the State should mean by “religious liberty.”
Only someone who is deeply bigoted against religious believers could possibly approve of so weak a notion of religious liberty. Only someone who wants religious believers closeted, silenced, and eventually destroyed could agitate for such a thing. And only the New York Times could ever publish such a screed with such blatant and fawning approval.