23 October, 2012

A War on Religion? | Public Discourse

A War on Religion? | Public Discourse

6 comments:

  1. There is no war on religion. There is just a changing sense of values in society that promotes tolerance and inclusiveness. Many religious faiths accept this but some don't. The ones that don't are free to hod and practice their beliefs in their houses of worship but society is not accepting of those practices in public institutions or commercial transactions.

    So when Catholic Charities in Illinous refused to accept placing of children in same sex homes, the state and Catholic Charities were left with the same choice, compromise one's principles or stand by ones principles. Both did and now Catholic Charities no longer handles adoptions.
    ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/10/22/even-with-catholic-charities-out-of-the-picture-illinois-foster-children-are-doing-just-fine/ ).

    Is it a war or have society's values changed?

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    Replies
    1. Rationalist: It's a 'chicken & egg' thing. Yes you are correct. Society changed. Values and mores have changed a lot over our lifetime. But as a result of these changed values et al, the Church now finds itself being attacked and fend off attempts to force it to change her teachings and practices. Surely you can't fail but see the irony of changes that were implemented to increase freedom and choice being used now to enforce conformity from the Church to values it cannot accept. Among these are what constitutes a marriage, its pro-life and moral teachings... issues that have become flashpoints of conflict with the State. Ms. Broten's recent foray into Church doctrine is just the latest in an increasing trend of violations of secularist's vaunted 'separation' of Church and State. The example of the Illinois's Catholic Charities is another good example. Where for generations they were permitted to serve a client base that agreed with Catholic teachings, now they are excluded. Remember, they were not the only agency or charity that dealt with adoptions. ICC was one among many that all strove to serve various communities that exist within the greater community... all of them receiving government funding in concert with extant secular public services. In the name of toleration and inclusiveness, the Church is denied both when it comes to serving the Illinois Catholic community in the same manner that other agencies are permitted to do without sanction. Because it has become popular to promote positions that contradict Church teaching, Catholics are barred their equal rights in the public square.

      So, I think indeed there is a war being waged against religion. It's a guerrilla war in which one side is beginning to pile up an impressive series of victories designed to force the Catholic Church to acquiesce to whatever teaching people don't like at any given time.

      Fr. Tim

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  2. I don't see the Church being forced to change its teachings. Yes, I'm on the outside, but what I see is society's views on certain issues having changed (gay marriage being one) and society wanting to make that value normative in its dealings with the public. The gay adoption situation is a perfect example. for better or worse depending upon your point of view society is becoming more accepting of gay adoption and not wanting to discriminate against gay parents. Yes, for generations, adoption agencies were permitted to discriminate but now the rules have changed. Rules have changed many times in the past. There was a time when non believing parents couldn't adopt, mixed race couples couldn't adopt and single parents couldn't adopt. Now that has changed (I'm not implying Catholic Charities followed these practices). Society has changed and it asks, indeed demands that the institutions that acts in its stead and receives public money follows its rules.

    As someone who looked into adoption seriously and proceeded through the steps two things that did impress me were the seriousness and commitment expressed by the other couples (straight or gay)or singles that were part of the process and the fact, reiterated over and over to us is that the child is the main concern of the agency and all decisions were made for that child's sake. Now if the state has decided that qualified gay families make loving, caring environments for children to be raised, children have a right not to be denied that family.

    The church has its right to its teaching on gay marriage and I would defend that. It does not have to change, but society has a right to change and a right to demand compliance from those who act in its stead. And it's the state, because it answers to society, that has ultimate responsibility to orphans and children due to extreme conditions have been taken from their family. The rights of these children come first.

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  3. As an analogy not too long ago we had in society a prohibition against children being adopted by mixed race parents and white children being raised by non white parents. This prejudice was not only wide spread in society but actually taught by many religious denominations (not by Catholic adoption agencies as far as I know however). When society changed (for the better I hope we can all agree) denominations that taught that races should remain separated had to either comply or get out of the adoption process. Was that a war on religion? No, because many denominations at that time were seeking to break down the racial barriers and allow adoptions across racial lines.

    The same is true now. Some denominations opposed gay adoption and some approve of it. The courts and the state through its representatives has determined that the best interests of child are served by expanding the pool of loving, caring families. Most people in the public have no problems with gay adoptions, many (most?) denominations have no problem with it, and now many jurisdictions have no problem with it. It's not a war on religion, it's a difference of opinion between some denominations on how to view gay adoptions.

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    Replies
    1. Rationalist: I respectfully disagree because I don't see how your analogy is applicable. Mixed race marriages did not touch on the essence of marriage as an institution as it was still a heterosexual union open to the possibility of procreation. Gay marriage is a complete redefinition of the institution which strips away both of these elements. Mixed marriage was an issue that dealt with the equality of all peoples, no matter their color or race. It did not try to redefine the institution as SSMs attempts to do.

      Further, I have to admit that there is a legitimate role for the State in some of the Church's operations. For example, a religion would not be allowed to commit a human sacrifice on the grounds that it is a religious service no matter what its teaching. But, there is a quantitative difference between that and saying that Catholic schools cannot teach that abortion is a sin. It is not the same thing as permitting people to sue Churches that won't officiate at SSM's or rent out their facilities for such a ceremony as is now happening in an HRC hearing in B.C.

      This 'wall' that divides Church and State seems to have become pretty permeable, at least when it comes to the State breaching it.

      Fr. Tim

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    2. I obvious agree with you on mixed race marriages but my point was that many religious denominations didn't (quoting Scripture and tradition to back up their claims). To many religious people, sincere but misguided, mixed race marriages were against God's will.

      At extreme measures there is a role for the state in religious areas. You mention the obvious human sacrifice but also arguably for denominations that restrict health care such as the Jehovah's Witnesses who forbid blood transfusion. While it may be okay for an adult JW to deny him or herself a blood transfusion, it is becoming unacceptable to impose that belief on a minor.

      That said in other areas religious bodies are given great latitude. They are free to ignore, if they wish, all human right guidelines when it comes to hiring and firing and ownership in their organizations. No Church has ever been forced to perform a SSM. Some church's leadership have imposed that measure upon themselves, to the displeasure of some clergy, but the state has not done that. And when a church operates a commercial venture, then that venture is governed by the the same laws that all commercial ventures have to follow. They cannot claim a religious exemption.

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