Archive for the ‘Intolerance’ Category

Hatred — No. Defiance — Yes!

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Those were the powerful words spoken by Bishop Gregory John Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, at a conference held last week on the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria by the so-called “Islamic State” (also known as ISIS).  The conference, hosted by the Hudson Institute, was full of grim news about the sufferings of Christians in communities that have their roots in the Apostolic Age — Chaldeans, Armenians, Assyrians, and Syriacs.

Bishop Mansour knows very well what he was speaking about — his flock has its roots in Lebanon, and he has made numerous trips to the region.  Statistics cannot fully tell the story of the misery caused by ISIS, but they can help us understand the scope:

  1. Hundreds of thousands of Christians languish in poorly-supplied refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Kurdish areas of Iraq.  Most will never return to their ancestral homes.
  2. Over 100,000 Christians forced to flee the city of Qaraqosh on a moment’s notice, under threat of death by ISIS if they refused to convert to Islam.
  3. Over 25,000 Christians fled Mosul under the same threat.
  4. Countless Christians have been killed by ISIS fighters, including the 20 Copts who were publicly beheaded in Libya by ISIS because they would not reject their faith.
  5. Over 450,000 Melkite Christians have fled Syria because of its civil war.
  6. Churches and other religious sites have been specifically targeted by ISIS for destruction, thus robbing Christians of their heritage and history.

The evidence is all there before us — we are witnessing genocide in our times.  Christians face extinction in the region that is the birthplace of our faith.

What has been the West’s response?  To our shame, the West is doing virtually nothing to aid the persecuted Christians. Our American government leaders — including our President and Secretary of State — have said and done virtually nothing.

How can this be?  Cardinal Dolan, who also spoke at the conference, gave the very simple answer — they’re silent because we are.  He’s absolutely right.  Aside from strong statements of condemnation by the Holy Father, and letters written by the U.S. Bishops’ Conference to Congress and the President, our Church has not done enough to put this crisis on the political and public radar screen. Catholics and all Christians need to step up and start making noise.

At the conference, the Cardinal outlined our agenda to respond to our brethren in need:

  1. We need a sense of urgency — This is not something that can wait for a change in political administration.  Action is needed now.
  2. We need to give this constant publicity — We can’t be embarrassed to stress this issue over and over again.
  3. We need to identify the problem, “fanatical Islamic Christophobic terrorism” — This is no time for political correctness.  We have to speak the truth.
  4. We need to affirm and support moderate Muslim voices — Without our support, the voices of reason within Islam will continue to be afraid to come forward and oppose the radicals.
  5. We need to do advocacy — We have to press our government for real, effective action.  We also need to contact representatives of the governments where the atrocities are taking place, and demand that they take action.  Laypeople must take the lead here.
  6. We need to engage in interreligious action — Our Jewish friends are eager to help us, because of all people, they know genocide when they see it, and they know that you have to fight back.  We have to enlist an “ecumenism of the martyrs”  among all people of faith, especially our fellow Christians.
  7. We need to act through “the optic of faith” — While the pragmatic responses are crucial, we also have to remember the power of prayer and spiritual solidarity, including prayer for the conversion of heart for the men of ISIS.

There are some steps that people can take right away, like supporting groups like the Catholic Near East Welfare Society, which is providing humanitarian aid to the displaced Christians.  We can also start writing our public officials, from the President and the Secretary of State, as well as our Senators and Congressional representatives.

I’ll give the last words to Bishop Mansour.  He remarked that the main difference between ISIS and us is very simple — “we love, they hate”.  He added that we cannot be passive in the face of evil, but we must stand up and oppose it with all our might.

And he gave us what should be our motto: “Hatred — No.  Defiance — Yes.”

Approaching a Dangerous Threshold

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Many years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States took up a case involving people who did not wish to conform to a law that they considered to be an imposition on their religious beliefs.  The government, backed by strong public opinion sought to enforce the law, and to compel this religious group to comply.

But they persisted in defending their civil rights, particularly their freedom of religion.  It was a time when it was widely understood that freedom of religion was actually a civil right, essential to well-ordered liberty.   People recalled that the freedom of religion was so important that it was explicitly enshrined in the United States Constitution in two separate places — in the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment, and in the ban on religious tests for public office.  It was a time when freedom of religion was under attack around the world, with people of some faiths being openly and brutally persecuted.

But it was also a time when unpopular religions still faced legal obstacles in the United States.  Some faiths were considered to be out of step with American values, out of the mainstream of acceptable opinion, and were widely criticized and even derided in the popular media.

The group in that case was the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the law required their children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  They took the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, in hopes that the highest court of our land would defend their right to live in keeping with their faith, and would grant them an exemption from the law.  The Supreme Court agreed with them, and reversed an earlier decision that gave their religious interests little respect.  In doing so, the Supreme Court, in the words of Justice Jackson, said something very significant about the nature of our government, and the importance of respecting dissent:

[F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.  If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.  (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943)

We are now at a point in American history where this foundational principle is under direct attack, and it is not clear whether it will survive.  The long-standing conflict between the Christian faith and the forces of sexual liberation and radical egalitarianism is approaching a threshold that will be very dangerous to cross.

The battle right now is being conducted over religious freedom restoration statutes (“RFRA’s”) that have been enacted in twenty states (and which are the law by judicial decision in eleven others).  Those laws reflect the values expressed by the Supreme Court in the Jehovah’s Witness case.  RFRA laws recognize the civil rights of religious people to an exemption from certain general laws.  They would only get an exemption if they can prove that the law imposes a substantial burden on their religious beliefs.  However, they would still have to obey the law if the government has a compelling interest in enforcing it and there are no reasonable alternatives.  A RFRA law essentially creates a balancing test that courts would have to apply to a fact-based situation.  It does not grant a  blanket or automatic exemption to religious people.

The real dispute is, of course, whether Christians can be compelled to recognize same-sex “marriages” and to provide direct services to ceremonies that purport to create such unions.  A reasonable argument can be held about this question.  But that’s not what’s happening, and that’s precisely why we are in such a dangerous moment.

There has been an amazing amount of hysterical, ill-informed opposition to these RFRA laws that fail to take into account their true, limited nature.  But what really concerns me is the dismissive attitude that’s being displayed about religious freedom and the freedom to dissent.  People are speaking as if the category of “civil rights” didn’t even include freedom of religion, and that it must always be suppressed in favor of the supposed right to same-sex “marriage”.  One of our major political parties, most of the mainstream media, many of our courts, and a number of large corporations have already crossed the line into official intolerance towards religious liberty.   Public opinion polls show a shrinking number of people (albeit still a majority) who respect the right to dissent based on religion.  Gone are the days when dissent was considered a legitimate form of patriotism.

Basic respect for the right to dissent from official orthodoxy is under threat, and may not survive much longer.  When, as I expect, the Supreme Court invents the imaginary “right” to a same-sex “marriage”, this conflict will grow even more intense, and the danger to dissent based on religious beliefs will be even more acute.

On the other side of this threshold is real persecution, like that shown to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the old days.  People are already being forced to recognize same-sex “marriages”, or face crippling fines and loss of businesses.  Institutions that resist will be punished by loss of public funding, access to public programs, and tax exemptions.  Individuals who dissent will be shunned and excluded from certain professions, and even from public office.

The right to dissent is essential to American liberty.  The Supreme Court saw that in the Jehovah’s Witness case.  Will our nation continue to see that now?

The Enemies of Religious Freedom Declare Themselves

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

There have been many results from the Supreme Court’s religious freedom ruling in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood case.  One is that we can more readily identify many people who either lack fundamental reading comprehension skills or are subject to such ideological blindness that they egregiously mis-characterize what the case actually held.

Perhaps most important, though, is that we can now see very clearly who the enemies of religious freedom are — and we can see that they are heavily represented in the Democratic Party delegations in Congress.

This can be seen very plainly from new bills introduced in both the House and the Senate (S.2578 and H.R.5051), reportedly in consultation with the Administration.  These bills purport to be a way of overturning the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood decision, and forcing for-profit businesses to comply with the HHS mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.

But they go much, much further than that.  In fact, they directly and seriously endanger the religious freedom of every church and religious non-profit, and any other organization that is operated by faith-based persons who don’t want to cooperate with evil.  This is a proposal of “startling breadth” (to quote Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood), and astonishing audacity.

As with every bit of legislation the devil (literally) is in the details.  So let’s break down the actual language of the bill, and explain what it means.  Here is what the House version of the bill says (in italics), with my analysis to follow:

(a) In General — An employer that establishes or maintains a group health plan for its employees (and any covered dependents of such employees) shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service with respect to such employees (or dependents) where the coverage of such item or service is required under any provision of Federal law or the regulations promulgated thereunder.

The key word here is “employer”.  Nowhere in the bill does it define that word, so it is an outright lie to claim that the bill is limited to overturning the Supreme Court’s decision, which was limited to family-owned corporations.  This bill would instead reach every single employer in the United States that has an employee health plan — individual business owners, churches, schools.  Nobody would be exempted.

It would also cover any health care “item or service” required to be covered by federal law or regulation — which is so broad as to potentially include any number of evils our federal government might choose, such as abortion, contraception, IVF, sex-change operations, and euthanasia drugs.

The significance of this becomes even more clear when we look at another section of the bill:

(b) Application — Subsection (a) shall apply notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, including [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act].

This would give employers essentially no defense to any law passed by Congress or imposed by executive fiat that would substantially burden their faith by requiring them to cooperate with evil.  In other words, people of faith would be reduced to second-class citizen status.  This echoes infamous prior court decisions, as if the bill’s sponsors thought that religious employers “had no rights which the [government] was bound to respect” (to quote the Dred Scott decision], or as if they were not “recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense” (to quote Roe v. Wade).

It gets even worse — here’s where the real evil lies:

(c) Regulations — The regulations [relating to the current HHS mandate] shall apply with respect to this section.  The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury may modify such regulations consistent with the purpose and findings of this Act.

In other words, the government shall have carte blanche to change the HHS mandate at a whim, or to impose any other mandate they wish.  So there is no limit to what can be done by a future administration with even more commitment to the Cult of Moloch (i.e., the Planned Parenthood, pro-death agenda) than the current regime.  Nothing would stop them from removing the current HHS mandate exemption for churches and “accommodation” for religious non-profits, and enact regulations that would require coverage for abortion, euthanasia, you name it — and there would be no defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

If there were any further question about the fragility of religious freedom in America today, this bill removes any doubt.  The sponsors of this wicked bill have openly declared themselves to be enemies of religious freedom.

Here is a list of the House sponsors — 142 as of the date this is posted, all of them Democrats.  Here are the Senate sponsors — 42 of them, all Democrats, including the original sponsor of RFRA, our own Senator Charles Schumer. If your representative is on the list, contact them right away.

Nelson Mandela once said “I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom.”  Ask your representative why they don’t agree, and remember well the answer, when they come asking for your vote.

Hatred at Harvard

Friday, May 9th, 2014

News has broken over the last few days that a student group will be holding a Satanic “Black Mass” on campus at Harvard University.   This is so outrageous that it even manages to surpass my already low opinion of what passes for “tolerance” and “diversity” at my alma mater, which is supposedly the flagship of higher education in America.  There has been an uproar among Catholic alumni, and deservedly so.  The Archdiocese of Boston has denounced the event in a strongly-worded statement.

Here is the letter I just sent to the President of Harvard, Dr. Drew Faust:

Dear President Faust:

I am an alumnus of Harvard Law School (Class of 1984), writing to ask you to do whatever you can to stop the offensive and “Black Mass” that is scheduled to take place in Memorial Hall on May 12.

This event is deeply insulting to Catholics — it is a deliberate mockery of the Catholic liturgy, and it purports to desecrate the Holy Eucharist, which is the most sacred sacrament of our faith. This event is designed to be hurtful to Catholics. The so-called “Black Mass” displays deep contempt of Catholics, and this event is being deliberately staged and publicized in order to bring maximum public attention to its hateful message.

This cannot be justified by any appeal to “openness” or “diversity”, or by any notion of deference to the free speech of students. It is incomprehensible to me that the university would allow a student group to publicly mock the religious rites of any other faith or the deeply-held beliefs of any other group. Permitting this event to take place will create a hostile environment at Harvard for Catholics, and will send a clear signal that Catholics can be the targets of hatred and ridicule on campus, with impunity. Is that really the kind of atmosphere that you want at Harvard?

Please do whatever you can to prevent this travesty, and make a clear and strong public statement that there is no place for such hatred at Harvard.

Perhaps other Catholics, particularly Harvard alumni and alumnae, could contact the President and express their opinion about this outrageous act of hatred?  Or, perhaps you could join with the Catholic students in prayer, as they hold a Holy Hour on May 12 at 8 p.m., the same time as this sacrilegious event?

Resistance to the Dictatorship of Relativism

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Pope Benedict famously warned about the impending dangers of a “dictatorship of relativism” — a state where truth is denied, morality is defined by subjective desires, authentic tolerance is extinguished, and political power is used to force compliance with the whims of the day.

Well, we certainly have enough relativism in our culture, and the slide to dictatorship seems to be accelerating.

Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen more and more Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts, er, I mean federal judges, overruling the democratic decisions of legislatures and the people, and redefining marriage.  We’ve seen elected officials foreswearing their oaths of office to uphold the laws, and refusing to defend the authentic definition of marriage.  We’ve seen hysterical and mendacious accounts of proposed religious liberty legislation, even to the point where defenders of the free exercise of religion are compared to Jim Crow racists.  Intolerance from the forces of “tolerance” is becoming the language of the day.

We need to be clear about what is at the heart of this situation, and what our response must be.  There are several fundamental truths that are being denied by our current culture:

  • Being male and female is an inherent aspect of the human person, they are not arbitrary and irrational concepts.
  • Marriage is ordained by God and by nature to unite a man and woman in a life-long bond that benefits them as persons, and that is the proper context for sexual relations and the procreation and raising of children.
  • A homosexual inclination is contrary to the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality as created by God and enshrined in human nature.
  • Homosexual conduct is always contrary to the will of God and the nature of the human person.
  • Persons with a  homosexual inclination must be treated with full human dignity and cannot be treated with unjust discrimination;  however, their unions cannot be recognized as equivalent to marriage, and their sexual activity cannot be approved.
  • Every human person has the right and obligation to follow their conscience, even when it disagrees with human laws.
  • The budding “dictatorship of relativism” is becoming more and more intolerant of these truths, and will gradually subject those who hold them to criticism, ostracism, and legal penalties.

    In the face of this, we must be ready to resist.

    The starting place for resistance is to recall several key points, most eloquently explained in Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, and Vaclav Havel’s The Power of the Powerless:

  • Resistance is a duty of all citizens when faced by injustice.  It is not an “extra-credit” activity.
  • It must be always be grounded in the truth.  It makes no compromise with lies, and always seeks to expose them.
  • It must always be pursued with love and respect.  It is not an excuse for violence and lawlessness.
  • The goal is conversion of heart on the part of those who support injustice, not overbearing their will with power.  It’s message always is “come, join us”, and never “we will force you to agree”.
  • The most important tactic is our willingness to testify to the truth by our words and our actions, and our refusal to cooperate with injustice and lies.
  • Underlying this duty of resistance is an important understanding of the freedom of conscience, and my duty of obedience to the truth rather than to mere human laws.  The government may attempt to coerce my external cooperation with injustice by imposing penalties, fines, and so on.  But no government, and no law, can force me to accept a lie as the truth.

    We cannot have any illusions.  Many, if not most of our family and friends will conform, and will consider us to be strange.  We may be estranged from loved ones.  It will be painful.

    Yes, we will be persecuted — indeed, it has already begun.  It will be a soft persecution, nothing like the hardship  suffered by our brethren in countries like Syria.  Nonetheless,  we will feel the steel fist under the velvet glove.

    Resist.  The power of truth and love cannot be extinguished.

    The Times and Fantasy Legal Theories

    Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

    The Times has put forth yet another magisterial editorial denouncing the Church for our failure to get up to date with the Brave New World of contraception.  They seem particularly outraged that people who have a moral objection to contraception — and to being forced to pay for it and promote it — would dare to take their case to court.  This is odd, since the Times usually seems to like it when people bring the courts into constitutional and moral disputes.

    Of course, you can’t really expect much sense from the Times’ editorial board, so the item itself isn’t really worth responding to in any detail.  But one point in the article caught my attention, and I wrote a letter to the editor about it.

    The point that struck me was their comment about a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  The court was ruling on a legal challenge to the HHS contraception and abortifacient mandate. The case was brought by Hobby Lobby, a for-profit business run by Christians who object to being forced to promote practices and products against their moral beliefs.  They cited the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.   This case is similar to 60 other cases brought against the mandate.

    In their editorial, the Times quoted a law professor who is a consistent adversary of the Church in the public square:

    Marci Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo School of Law and an expert on the Restoration Act, rightly called the 10th Circuit’s interpretation of the law “a fantasy” that badly undermines rules forbidding corporations from discriminating on the basis of religion.

    The professor’s comment is more interesting for what she omitted, than for what she said.  Hence my letter to the editor, which follows:

    In your July 1 editorial, “The Contraception Battle”, you commented on the recent decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which recognized a private business’ free exercise rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, in a challenge to the HHS contraception mandate.  You quoted Prof. Marci Hamilton to say that this decision was based on a “fantasy” legal theory.  Perhaps by “fantasy”, Prof. Hamilton actually meant “a legal theory that has already been accepted in 22 separate lawsuits by federal district and appeals courts around the nation”.  That fact — which is not a fantasy at all — might have been useful for you to mention to your readers, so that they could understand the full picture of what is actually happening in court, when people seek to defend their constitutional rights against government overreaching.  We understand that you disagree with those rulings, but you should at least acknowledge that your opinion has already been rejected by most of the federal courts that have considered these cases.

    Yes, that’s correct — what the professor called a “fantasy” is a legal principle that has been found persuasive by at least 22 federal courts so far.  It actually is not that odd a concept — people don’t surrender their constitutional rights because they choose to carry on a business.

    You might have expected the Times to give their readers the full context of the story.  Well, actually, I don’t expect it, since I never expect fairness from the Times.

    What’s most interesting to me is the ideological blinders that the Times wears on this particular subject.  The Times itself is a for-profit corporation, and they ardently defend their own First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press.  Isn’t it strange that in the fantasy legal world of the Times, other organizations aren’t permitted to enjoy their own First Amendment rights — especially when they disagree with the Times?

    More Bad Omens for Religious Liberty

    Monday, June 6th, 2011

    The legislative battle over the re-definition of marriage is nearing a climax, as the end to the regular legislative session in Albany on June 20 approaches.

    As this latest deadline draws near, the offensive against religious opponents to the bill has ramped up.  In recent weeks, State Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx — a Protestant clergyman who has been heroic on this issue, as well as in the defense of human life — has been the object of ugly, disgusting attacks that are so vile that I will not reproduce them here.

    Everyone can understand that emotions run high in debates of this kind.  But it is very, very disturbing for religious leaders to be the target of these virulent and depraved kinds of abuse.  We have constantly been urging and instructing our advocates to shun any kind of negativity in their opposition to the “Marriage Equality Act”.  I wonder if any of the proponents have been doing the same.

    What’s most disturbing to me is that this nasty, vindictive attitude on the part of advocates for same-sex “marriage” bodes very ill for our religious liberties if the “Marriage Equality Act” is passed.  These threats are very real, as we have discussed before on this blog, and as is outlined in a new article in Catholic New York.

    If this is the kind of nasty intolerance we are seeing now, before the bill is even passed, what does the future hold?

    How Same-Sex “Marriage” Threatens Religious Liberty

    Thursday, April 28th, 2011

    In this blog, I have often noted that the re-definition of marriage would threaten the religious liberty of those persons and institutions that uphold the authentic definition of marriage as one man and one woman.

    Same-sex “marriage” advocates scoff at this, and claim that their bill contains an exemption for clergy who do not wish to solemnize same-sex “marriages”, and that this should allay any fear that the re-definition of marriage will infringe upon religious freedom.

    The reality is that this “exception” is meaningless — the First Amendment would never permit the state to force clergy to engage in religious rites that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    The real threat to religious liberty from re-defining marriage is that these bills fail to include an exemption that would permit individuals and organizations to decline to recognize same-sex “marriages” in other contexts, beyond religious ceremonies.   Without a genuine religious liberty exception in the law, same-sex “spouses” will be able to bring complaints against religious institutions, businesses, and individuals under various state and local anti-discrimination and human rights laws — none of which were ever envisioned as applying to same-sex “marriage”.

    If marriage is re-defined, religious organizations will inevitably face threats to their liberties in these areas:

  • Public grants and contracts — State law requires that no organization that receives funds under a state contract or grant may discriminate on the basis of marital status — which would include a same-sex couple, if marriage is re-defined.  As a result, many Catholic institutions — all our hospitals and social service agencies, and maybe even include Catholic schools that receive state textbook or technology aid — could lose state contracts, and may be forced to close their doors as a result of their refusal to recognize same-sex “marriages”.  This has already happened to adoption and foster care agencies in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, and is being considered in Illinois and Virginia.
  • Employment — There is a very narrow exemption in current state anti-discrimination laws that permits religious organizations to hire those of the same faith or those who will promote their religious mission.  There is a similar narrow exemption under federal law, called the “ministerial exemption”, but the extent of this is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court.  These exemptions do not apply to a large number of positions at religious organizations, such as administrative staff.  As a result, churches and religious organizations would be required to hire people in same-sex “marriages” — and provide them with the same benefits they provide to spouses.
  • Professional Licenses — There are approximately 49 professions that require state licenses (e.g., lawyers, doctors, and nurses).  The state may seek to revoke the license of anyone who “discriminates” against a same-sex “marriage” couple. Students in professional training programs have already been threatened with the denial of licenses for failing to recognize same-sex “marriages”.
  • Business Permits — There are approximately 434 types of businesses that require state licenses or permits.  State licenses are also required for health clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, educational institutions, and social services agencies.  These businesses may see their licenses at risk if they “discriminate” against same-sex “marriage” couples.
  • Education — Health and family life education, which are required by the state, will be adjusted to include the recognition of same-sex “marriage”.  Parents of public school children have only limited rights to opt their children out of these classes.  In other countries, efforts have been made to require religious schools to teach messages about homosexuality that are contrary to their religious mission.
  • Tax Exempt Status — Religious and other non-profit organizations are typically granted tax exempt status, freeing them from the burden of income, property and sales taxes.  The United States Supreme Court has already held that such a tax ruling may be revoked if the organization’s religious beliefs and practices violate “public policy”.  This has already happened to a Methodist organization that declined to recognize same-sex “marriages”.
  • Exclusion from Public Facilities — Religious and other organizations that decline to recognize same-sex “marriages” may be denied access to public facilities for events, such as parklands, campgrounds, public message boards to announce events, etc. This has already happened to the Boy Scouts.
  • Proponents of same-sex “marriage” often accuse us of fear-mongering, and of over-stating these threats to liberty.  But prominent legal scholars — both supporters and opponents of same-sex “marriage” — have recognized the inevitable conflict between same-sex “marriage” laws and the religious liberties of organizations and individuals.

    One of the fundamental principles of religious liberty is that people should not be excluded from ordinary participation in civic life, or from receiving benefits or privileges from the government, merely because of their beliefs. Without a robust provision recognizing the right to decline to recognize same-sex “marriage” based on one’s religious beliefs, re-defining marriage will begin a long, costly and difficult legal struggle in courts and “human rights commissions”, with a steady and irreversible decline in religious liberty.

    For information about what you can do to prevent this, please check out the Family Life/Respect Life Office website.

    A Glimpse Into the Future

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    As the push for same-sex “marriage” builds in New York, recent news events have allowed us to see into the future, to get an idea of what the world will be like if the definition of marriage is changed.

    First, a little background.  In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by virtually unanimous majorities, and the bill was signed into law by President Clinton.  It defines marriage, for the purposes of federal law, as the union of one man and one woman, and it provides that states will not be required to recognize any other kind of “marriage”, just because other states have changed their definition.

    DOMA has been challenged several times in the courts.  Three separate federal courts have upheld it as a proper and reasonable exercise of Congressional authority.  One court has found that it is unconstitutional and lacks a rational foundation.  (That decision, by the way, contains the single most absurd statement ever made by a federal judge — that the difference between same-sex couples and different-sex couples was a “distinction without meaning.”  Some things are so silly that only a federal judge could believe them).  Several state supreme courts — including New York’s — have also upheld the same definition of marriage as is contained in DOMA, holding that the definition has a “rational basis” and is not discriminatory.

    That wasn’t good enough for the President, who announced earlier this year that the Justice Department would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA.  This,  even though the Justice Department has long held that they have a duty to defend statutes with which they disagree, if there is a reasonable argument to support it.  Apparently, the decisions of multiple federal and state courts are not reasonable enough for this ideologically blinded Administration.

    Faced with this dereliction of duty, the leadership of the House of Representatives engaged the services of Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General and a very accomplished Supreme Court advocate, to represent the people of the United States in defending DOMA.

    What happened next provides us a clear glimpse into where we are going on this issue.  “Gay rights” groups, seeking to force all opposition to same-sex “marriage” out of the mainstream, began a campaign of intimidation aimed at forcing Mr. Clement’s law firm to withdraw from the case out of fear of negative press, restriction of access to top law schools for recruiting, and loss of clients. Instead of fulfilling their professional responsibilities to their client, the firm buckled — and didn’t even have the guts to admit why they were doing it.  In response, Mr. Clement resigned from the firm and will carry on his defense of DOMA with a new firm.

    Interestingly, Mr. Clement’s old firm has given pro bono representation to suspected terrorists incarcerated in Guantanamo, but can’t get up the nerve to defend a duly-enacted statute defending the definition of marriage that has always been understood by our society, and that has been repeatedly upheld against constitutional challenge.

    This is a glimpse into the future.  We will be seeing more and more of this kind of “soft persecution” of those who oppose same-sex “marriage” — we will be marginalized, stigmatized, and frozen out of public life and even professional work.  It will be a test of moral courage to see how people respond.