Archive for the ‘Intolerance’ Category

Oh, Yes, So Very, Very Tolerant

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

The forces of “tolerance” are on the move again, and have found their most recent victim.  The Archdiocese of Washington, faced with an unjust law that would have required them to recognize the validity of same-sex “marriages”, has been forced to withdraw from foster care and adoption services.

The basic facts are very simple.  The District of Columbia government was dead set on recognizing same-sex “marriages”, and had little regard for anything that stood in their way or any of the consequences.   Remember, the City government refused to allow the proposed bill to be voted on as a referrendum, refused to grant a reasonable religious exemption despite repeated requests by the Archdiocese, and imposed such a rigorous schedule for compliance with the law that Catholic Charities had little choice but to close down their program.  This was accompanied by a propaganda campaign that accused the Church of turning her back on the poor, even though, all along, it was the City government that was shoving the Church out the door.

This is not unprecedented.  Catholic Charities in Boston was forced to surrender its adoption services in the face of the Massachusetts same-sex “marriage” law, after the state legislature refused to grant an exemption.  And a few years ago, here in New York, we were lucky that the Court of Appeals struck down a New York City law that would have required all city contractors to recognize same-sex “marriages” — but they rejected the law on technical grounds, not because of the infringement of religious liberty.

Nor will it be the last time that it happens.  Other cities and states are likely to try similar tactics.   The legal community is unlikely to help.  After all, the Administration has nominated a person to serve on an important federal civil rights panel who believes that when “gay rights” and religious liberties collide, the rights of churches should lose.

In his famous letter in 1790 to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, President George Washington pledged that the government of the United States would respect the religious liberty of all, demanding only that they be good citizens.  The letter is worth quoting here:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.  It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

President Washington’s promise is not being honored, in the city that bears his name.  Will it be honored elsewhere?

Hate Mail and What it Means

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The other day, we received an email in the office that is such a perfect example of the state of our culture that I had to share it, and offer a few comments.

Here it is:

Dear Sister –
Aren’t you tired of being a “second class” citizen in your Church?
The American public is getting so tired of the Catholic Church’s
bigotry. You should pay your taxes, mind your business and
keep you noses our of the rest of the Country’s. You have
become one of the main road blocks to health care. Shame
one you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We are beginning to think of you all as a bunch of PARASITES.

Now, you should bear in mind that this email was not sent to me. I’m the public policy coordinator in the Family Life/Respect Life Office, and I’ve been in this business long enough to be pretty thick-skinned. I’m used to this kind of stuff. It’s actually fairly mild, in comparison to some other things that have been sent my way. After all, I once had condoms thrown at me at a public meeting of the Board of Education.

But no, this love letter was sent to a religious sister, a professed member of the Sisters of Life. Their special charism is to protect and defend the sacredness of human life. The fact that this screed was sent to her demonstrates the level of hostility that many people bear, not just to faithful professed religious women, but also to the very concept of defending the unborn.

It is also a testament to the abiding intolerance towards the Catholic Church that runs deep in American society.

I’m not sure which part of the Constitution denies the right of Catholics and the Church Herself to free speech on political affairs, or requires us to refrain from any effort to influence legislation. It must be written in invisible ink in the same penumbras and emanations in which the Supreme Court found the right to kill unborn children. Or maybe it’s like one of those adventure movies where you can use your Tom Mix decoder ring to find the real meaning of the First Amendment.

Seriously, though, this letter reflects a strong drive aimed at the secularization of the public square — the complete exclusion of religious persons and religious-based arguments. Driven by an ideological commitment to such things as abortion and “gay rights”, it seeks to tell persons of faith that they should, as our correspondent says, “mind your business and keep you [sic] noses out of the rest of the Country’s”.

Twenty-five years ago, John Cardinal O’Connor confronted this same attitude when he stepped boldly into the public square to defend the unborn. Here is what he said in response:

Bishops have every right and duty to be involved in public policy, which is a different thing altogether from politics, both because they are bishops and because they are American citizens.

All citizens should express themselves on the moral dimensions of public policy issues. Those citizens who are generally perceived as “moral leaders,” such as the bishops, have a special obligation to do so. People expect bishops to denounce unjust war and aggression, to plead for the homeless, to denounce drug traffic, racism and so on. Bishops are criticized if they remain silent about such issues.

…Actually, many bishops find that local political leaders want to involve them, the bishops, in various public policy matters, rather than vice versa. Political leaders want bishops involved in community action. It is, again, only when abortion is involved that some political leaders complain about bishops.

In short, no, we will not mind our business — even if people consider us to be “parasites”, even if they put lots of exclamation marks in their emails. We will continue to work in the secular and political arena, so that, in the words of Lumen Gentium 36, “the world may be permeated by the spirit of Christ and it may more effectively fulfill its purpose in justice, charity and peace.”

Bigotry, “Tolerance” and the Same Sex “Marriage” Vote

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

So, my State Senator thinks that I’m a bigot. Some “tolerance”.

Today, in the New York State Senate, the same-sex “marriage” bill finally came to the floor for a debate and vote. The essential argument by the supporters of the bill was that it is a matter of equality, and that the advance of history demands that the bill be passed. But mixed in with that rhetoric is a deep level of intolerance towards those who disagree.

The worst example of it came in the addresses of several Senators, including my own. He rose to the floor and directly compared opposition to same-sex “marriage” to the bigots who enacted the ugly Jim Crow laws requiring racial apartheid in the South. He even said that his parents, who survived the Holocaust, would not understand our position, implying that we are in the same category as Nazis.

This is precisely what we have been warning about all along. With the passage of laws radically redefining marriage, will inevitably come the branding of those who disagree as bigots and haters. We will be harassed and oppressed with the use of anti-discrimination laws, and the open expression of religious beliefs will be designated as hatred and even, perhaps, prosecuted under “hate crimes” laws. Catholic institutions and individuals will be pressured and will be harried out of business unless they conform to this new regime.

In other states where these laws have been debated, like Maine and California, there have been well-documented cases of retaliation against same-sex “marriage” opponents, including economic boycotts, destruction of property, and physical violence. In other states, religious institutions have been forced to close rather than recognize “marriages” that are deeply offensive to their religious beliefs.

These legislators are the same ones we would have to turn to for legal protection of our religious liberties. How sympathetic do you think they will be, having publicly compared us to haters and bigots? How sympathetic will their judicial colleagues be when we seek recourse in the courts?

Fortunately, the Senate defeated the bill today, by a wide margin. That margin reflects the general opposition of the public to the radical re-definition of marriage. This is evidenced by the fact that the issue has come before the voters of 31 other states, and authentic marriage has been upheld each time.

But this struggle will go on, and the effort by same-sex “marriage” advocates to brand us as bigots will continue.

Expect more of the same “tolerance” as the battle moves forward.

Not Just Bigoted, but Insane — That’s Me

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

As a defender of the authentic definition of marriage — one man, one woman — I’m used to being called a “bigot” by advocates of same-sex “marriage”. After all, calling someone a “bigot” is easy. It reduces the debate to the schoolyard level of name-calling, and frees one of the need to actually engage in rational debate about real issues. Given the ease with which the term “bigot” is thrown around these days, it also has virtually no meaning whatsoever. It basically now means “someone whom I disagree with and dislike so much that I won’t even dignify their arguments with a response, so there”.

I’m also used to same-sex “marriage” advocates calling the defenders of authentic marriage “irrational”. Because, don’t you know, no reasonable, rational human being could possibly believe that marriage has the meaning that every human society has ever undertood it to have, and that nobody ever doubted until about twenty years ago. And forget about the fact that several high courts — including the New York State Court of Appeals — has held that there was a rational basis for holding to the real definition of marriage. In the lexicon of the same-sex “marriage” advocates, “irrational” now means “an argument that I disagree with so much that I won’t dignify it with a response, so there”.

Well, now a new phase of the “debate” has been reached, in which defenders of authentic marriage are suspected of being insane. People have suspected that of me for years, but now it is being confirmed.

It started with a profile in the Style section of the Washington Post of a man named Brian Brown, who is the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, the leading advocacy group that defends authentic marriage. Mr. Brown was given a reasonably fair treatment by the WaPo, including this back-handed compliment: “The reason Brian Brown is so effective is that he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.” The headline of the piece follows the same theme: “Opposing Gay Unions with Sanity & a Smile”.

Well, then all hell broke loose from the forces of “tolerance”. The WaPo was deluged with outraged letters from same-sex “marriage” advocates, who were enraged that the paper could possibly portray such a “bigot” in a positive light. Finally, the “ombudsman” of the paper (the man with the thankless job of reviewing the fairness and professionalism of the journal’s stories) published a response. The details are not worth talking about, but here’s the most important line:

Finally, the headline: “Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile.” To many readers, The Post was saying Brown’s views are sane. The headline, written by editors, not Hesse, should have been neutral.

So, one of the leading newspapers of the mainstream media thinks that it should be neutral about whether or not defenders of authentic marriage are insane. Read that again — they’re not sure that we’re sane to insist that “marriage” means a man and a woman, joined in a union that is dedicated not just to their well-being but to the procreation and education of children. They think it’s entirely possible that all of us — Pope Benedict and every Catholic bishop, President Obama, the great majority of public officials in our country, the vast majority of other religious communities, solid majorities of citizens, and every human being until twenty years ago — are bonkers, loony-tunes, loopy, crazy, wacko. An entire nation and world of insane people.

What a state of affairs that we can no longer have a rational discussion of this issue, but must instead deal with slurs on our sanity and integrity. This bodes ill for what will happen if same-sex “marriage” advocates get what they want. We will be attacked by discrimination cases, our licenses to practice our professions and operate institutions like schools and charity agencies will be endangered, and we will all be stigmatized as “bigots”.

When the entire world goes insane, sanity will be re-defined as insanity. I guess the final step will be for them to go to court and have us all involuntarily committed.

The Ugly Face of the Future

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I’m not much for watching beauty pageants. My wife is beautiful, talented and congenial enough for me.

But I can’t help but be interested in what happened at the Miss USA pageant the other day. You may have seen the report in the media. Miss California was apparently a finalist in the competition, and the time came for her to answer a question from the judges. Usually, I think this consists of soft-ball questions and bland answers about world peace and helping others. This time, though, Miss California was asked a pointed question about her opinion on same-sex “marriage”.

The young lady gave what appeared to be a perfectly ordinary answer. After affirming how grateful she was for the liberty we enjoy in the United States to have a diversity of opinion, she went on to say that in her view, based on the way she was raised, marriage was between a man and a woman. She even offered a “no offense” apology in advance for anyone who disagreed with her. You would think that would be the end of the matter, and we’d move on to the baton-twirling competition, or some such thing.

Well, not in the New World. Apparently this is now a controversial opinion, and poor Miss California has been publicly derided and pilloried for giving voice to a view that everyone would have accepted implicitly as recently as ten years ago. In fact, according to some commentators, it led to her losing the pageant.

You might think this was a trivial moment, and not worth much attention. But it is actually very important, because it reveals the face of the future, and it’s not as pretty as Miss California.

One of the tactics of the same-sex “marriage” movement is to stigmatize everyone who disagrees with them, to brand them as bigots, and to silence their voices by intimidation. This is not an exaggeration. After the passage of Prop 8 in California, the names and home addresses of donors to that campaign to preserve the definition of marriage were posted on the Internet, boycotts were arranged of businesses owned by donors or that employed donors, and some donors reported receiving threats and intimidating communications. Think about that for a second — you give some money to a cause you believe in, and next thing you know your personal information is posted online and you’re a target. Tolerance? Diversity? Hah.

The goal of that movement is not to tolerate or to “celebrate diversity”, but to make same-sex “marriage” opponents sit down and shut up.

All for committing what has now become a “thought crime”, namely to favor the authentic definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Make no mistake about it. A “soft persecution” is coming. Institutions and individuals that support real marriage will be denied access to government programs, licenses and contracts, and professional’s ability to practice their avocations will be limited or denied, based on their opinions on same-sex “marriage”. We will be social outcasts, pariahs because of our religious beliefs.

Think I’m exaggerating? Then listen to what Frank Rich wrote the other day in an op-ed in the Times, the arbiter of acceptable opinion among our ruling elite: “It is justice, not a storm, that is gathering. Only those who have spread the poisons of bigotry and fear have any reason to be afraid.”

He’s talking about us. And that’s not the voice of reasoned discourse or civil disagreement. That’s the voice of thuggery.

Miss California has already seen the face of the future. More of us will, and soon.

The Divorce of Reason

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

It appears that our cultural mandarins have decided that the debate over same-sex “marriage” is now over. There’s no point to discussing this important social policy issue any more. There’s no role for reason any more. We must all now conform, and be re-educated.

Or at least so we’ve been told by a twice-married movie actor who has a domestic violence conviction to his name, but who thinks we should be ashamed for opposing the radical re-definition of marriage to include persons of the same sex.

Never mind the findings of respected social scientists like David Blankenhorn and others who have studied the place of marriage in society. These scholars have found that every society in history understood marriage as being between a man and a woman (at least until the Massachusetts Supreme Court held otherwise in 2003); that the natural physical sexual complementarity of man and woman is clearly designed for marriage, as is the universal human desire for unity, intimacy and parenthood; that marriage has been the most successful social structure for uniting mothers and fathers and children in a stable, multi-generational unit; that the great majority of adults (at least 85%) will marry at some point in their lives; and that it fulfills a child’s innate need for the love and guidance of both mother and father.

This is even without consulting the wisdom of every religious faith in the history of the world, all of which viewed marriage as between man and woman. Listen to what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said: “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life” (Gaudium et Spes 47). Until the last few years, you couldn’t have found anyone who would have disagreed with that. Now, apparently, such sentiments should be a source of shame to us.

For those who think that the debate over same-sex “marriage” doesn’t affect them, the tone of this public discourse should be a wake-up call. Not only are we denounced by movie actors, but we are routinely attacked and insulted in the press and by activists for defending marriage. If the laws are changed, and same-sex “marriage” is legalized, how do you think these people will talk about — and treat — those institutions and people who hold out for the traditional definition? Do you expect tolerance from the people who boycotted business that employed contributors to the effort to retain the traditional definition of marriage in California? Or respect from the people who forced Catholic Charities in Boston out of adoptions, because they refused to place children with same-sex couples?

So, what once was acknowledged as axiomatic by every person in society is now supposed to be a mark of shame, and identifies us as bigots. Now that the debate is apparently over, I guess it’s open season for calumny and invective. So much for tolerance. So much for reason.

Sit Down and Shut Up

Monday, December 1st, 2008

As we sit here, preparing for Christmas, it is the calm before the next storm. Soon, our religious liberties will be under attack in a way not seen since the early days of the Republic. And I’m not talking about the annual battle over crèches or menorahs.

With the upcoming changes in control of the New York State Senate, and the incoming Administration and new Congress in Washington, several pieces of legislation pose significant and alarming threats to our freedom of conscience. In Albany, we’re talking about the “Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act” (“RHAPP”) and the same-sex “marriage” bill. In Washington, we’re looking at the “Freedom of Choice Act” (“FOCA”) and various other regulations that affect religious freedom. Here in New York City we’ve got the new abortion clinic access bill.

FOCA or RHAPP are both extreme bills that would establish abortion as a “fundamental right”, and make it impossible to pass common-sense regulations of abortion, like parental notification laws. But they would also undermine or eliminate the conscience protections in law that protect religious liberties, under the guise of eliminating “discrimination” against the newly-recognized “fundamental right”. Church-owned hospitals, social service agencies, and schools could be required to promote, perform, or refer for abortions. Our schools could be required to help pregnant girls to get an abortion, or risk being sued for “discrimination”. And the licenses of doctors, nurses, and other professionals could be at risk if they don’t promote, perform or refer for abortions.

Also on the federal level, the current Administration has put forward proposed regulations that would grant greater protection to doctors, nurses, and health care institutions that have conscientious objections to abortion and other morally-objectionable procedures. As simple as that sounds, there has been talk that the new Administration may rescind those regulations as soon as it takes office.

Legalizing “same sex marriage” in Albany would also inevitably endanger religious liberty. Proclaiming Church teaching about homosexual behavior will be called “bigotry” or even prosecuted as “hate speech”. Religious organizations will be coerced into recognizing the equivalence of marriage and same-sex relationships, and we will be forced to withdraw from important activities, such as education and social service. We’ve seen this threat in some areas, with broadly drafted “human rights” bills, and it’s already happened in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The new clinic access bill before the City Council has been deliberately drafted to be so vague as to chill the free speech rights of sidewalk counselors outside abortion clinics. It is even possible that people who merely want to pray outside of the clinics will be the subject of harassing arrests and lawsuits, merely because they want to give witness to their faith and their belief in the dignity of human life.

On top of all of this we have the anti-religious ugliness in the reaction to the passage of Prop 8, the California law that preserved the traditional meaning of marriage. We’re still waiting for the wave of condemnation of this bigotry from the media and the political classes.

The common theme here is a hostility to the religious belief, and an apparent desire to expel religious believers from public debate and from certain professions or businesses. In essence, we would be forced to do things against our conscience, and be forced to stop teaching what we believe.

To be authentic disciples of Christ, we must bring our religious beliefs into the public square and robustly debate them with those of differing views. We will not be silent, or be intimidated into silence.

We will not sit down and shut up.

More Intolerance from the Forces of “Tolerance”

Friday, November 14th, 2008

We keep on hearing, over and over again, in the media and the propaganda, that gay “marriage” proponents are asking for “tolerance” for their relationships.

Whatever merit there may be in that request, you have to wonder whether any of them has a passing familiarity with the Golden Rule. You know, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

A case in point is the ugly reaction of gay “marriage” supporters following the victory of Proposition 8 in California — the amendment to the California Constitution to preserve the traditional meaning of marriage against efforts to redefine it.

Hey, we can understand being upset with the election results. We certainly know how that feels. But no sooner were the results in on Prop 8 than nasty protests began, directed against the Mormon Church and various Evangelical Protestant Churches. Hateful things have been said about African-Americans who supported Prop 8. Religious services have been disrupted, peaceful Christian demonstrators have been assaulted. And some lunatic even sent an unidentified white powder to a Mormon Church, no doubt hoping that they would be terrorized by the possibility of anthrax infection.

This quote, attributed to a same-sex “marriage” supporter by a San Francisco paper, sums it up perfectly what has been unleashed: “They voted for hate, and that’s what we are going to give them”.

We can be certain that eventually they will turn to the favorite piñata of the angry cultural revisionists — the Catholic Church. There is just something about the Church of Christ that some people can’t abide, especially when we preach the truth.

This intolerance of dissent isn’t limited to same-sex “marriage” proponents. Here in New York City, we’re facing a new bill before the City Council that is aimed at chilling the free speech rights of sidewalk counselors outside abortion clinics. Intolerant of the possibility that anyone could disagree with their “choice”, the abortion industry and its tame legislators are seeking to frighten pro-lifers — most of whom only want to pray — into going away and shutting up. Free speech for me, but not for thee — and, given the realities of the City Council, there’s little that can be done to stop it.

The saddest thing about this is that the Church isn’t intolerant of homosexual persons or of women who seek abortions. We embrace them. The apostolate Courage offers hope to those who reject the “gay” way of life and want to live chastely, even with their same-sex attraction — just like the rest of us sinners. And there are many, many ways in which we reach out to women contemplating abortion or suffering from its aftermath, as well as the new moms and their babies. Just check out the Sisters of Life if you want to know all about it.

If there’s anything that we should have learned in the two millennia of our Church history, it’s that authentic Christian discipleship always involves some level of martyrdom — being a witness for God’s truth, and suffering for it, even to the point of persecution.

We need to be ready for it. It may be coming, sooner than we think.