When mores change
Muslim fundamentalists who stone to death a raped woman are generally condemned in the US, despite our much-vaunted “freedom of religion,” and a religion that attempted such things in the US would run afoul of secular law to (I believe) general acclaim. We endorse freedom of religion, but we mostly consider still that religion is a private matter, and if your religion calls for you to punch me in the nose, then we have a problem, religious freedom or not: I also have the right to be secure from harassment.
We are seeing more and more instances in which people who hold certain religious beliefs seek employment in fields that present conflicts to those beliefs. It’s not clear why a person would seek a field that conflicts with their religion, but apparently they do. So we get things like this story, about a religious group up in arms that it is being forced by secular law to practice tolerance and simulate love and acceptance, things totally at odds with the teachings of their God (who, weirdly, never even mentioned homosexuality, but did prattle on about how important it is to love and accept one’s fellows, to avoid casting stones until one is oneself free of sin, and other such teachings).
The story, by Laurie Goodstein in the NY Times, begins:
Catholic Charities in Illinois has served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children. But now most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois are closing down rather than comply with a new requirement that says they can no longer receive state money if they turn away same-sex couples as potential foster care and adoptive parents.
For the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, the outcome is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are now the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals.
“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services.
The Illinois experience indicates that the bishops face formidable opponents who also claim to have justice and the Constitution on their side. They include not only gay rights advocates, but also many religious believers and churches that support gay equality (some Catholic legislators among them). They frame the issue as a matter of civil rights, saying that Catholic Charities was using taxpayer money to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Tim Kee, a teacher in Marion, Ill., who was turned away by Catholic Charities three years ago when he and his longtime partner, Rick Wade, tried to adopt a child, said: “We’re both Catholic, we love our church, but Catholic Charities closed the door to us. To add insult to injury, my tax dollars went to provide discrimination against me.” . . .