Monday, 7 June 2010

Catholic Bishops No Longer Neutral

I'll quote the whole thing from the Jesuit America Magazine.
May 19, 2010

Dear Member of Congress:

We write to you regarding the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3017, and Senate (S. 1584). Our purpose is to outline the serious concerns we have with these bills in their current form and why we cannot maintain the position of neutrality we held in 2007.

For the sake of clarity, permit us first to state two basic tenets of Catholic Church teaching on this issue. First, persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and second “[u]nder no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”), nos. 2357-58.

Catholic teaching states that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected, by other persons and by law. We recognize that no one should be an object of scorn, hatred, or violence for any reason, including sexual inclination. The Church affords special concern and pastoral attention to those who experience a homosexual inclination and stands committed to avoid “[e]very sign of unjust discrimination in their regard.” CCC, no. 2358.

The Catholic Church makes an important distinction between actions and inclination. While the Church is ardently opposed to all unjust discrimination on the grounds of sexual inclination, whether homosexual or heterosexual, it does teach that all sexual acts outside of a marriage between one man and one woman are morally wrong. The Catholic Church’s teaching cannot, therefore, be equated with “unjust discrimination,” because it is based on fundamental truths about the human person and personal conduct. Homosexual conduct is categorically closed to the transmission of life, and does not reflect or respect the personal complementarity of man and woman. In contrast to sexual conduct within marriage between one man and one woman—which does serve both the good of each married person and the good of society— heterosexual and homosexual conduct outside of marriage has no claim to special protection bythe state.

Just as every other group in our society, the Catholic Church enjoys the same rights to hold to its beliefs, organize itself around them, and argue for them in the public square. This is guaranteed by our Constitution. This includes the right to teach what it holds to be the truth concerning homosexual conduct—and to act as an employer consistent with that truth—without the threat of government sanction.

The USCCB continues to oppose “unjust discrimination” against people with a homosexual inclination, but we cannot support a bill – such as ENDA in its current form – that would legally affirm and specially protect any sexual conduct outside of marriage.

Moreover, because the passage of such a bill could be used to punish as discrimination what the Catholic Church teaches, the USCCB has always sought as comprehensive a religious exemption as is achievable, in order to protect the religious freedom of the Church, and of all others who hold similar views. One partial solution to this problem is to apply Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination, which is already incorporated in the current version of the bill.

But this is insufficient alone, as the Title VII protection does not cover all religious employers, and recent experience teaches that even covered institutions may face government retaliation for relying on such exemptions. Without such additional protection, ENDA would be applied to jeopardize our religious freedom to live our faith and moral tenets in today’s society.

The movement to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex (a.k.a. same-sex “marriage”) has changed the law substantially toward that end, at both the state and federal level, and it has become increasingly clear that laws like ENDA have been instrumental to those changes.

For example, we have seen state Supreme Courts repeatedly rely on state-level ENDAs as a basis for creating a state constitutional right to same-sex “marriage.” We consider it very likely that ENDA, despite referencing DOMA, could be used for similar purposes at the federal level. The highest courts of California, Connecticut, and Iowa have declared that the traditional definition of marriage is “discriminatory” and lacking any “rational basis,” and so violates the constitutions of their respective states. Cases are now being brought in order to create a federal constitutional right to same-sex “marriage”—whether by striking down federal DOMA, or by striking down California’s Proposition 8 in federal court. If ENDA were to pass, we would expect lawyers to invoke it in federal court under the federal constitution, just as they invoked analogous state laws in state constitutional litigation. If this strategy were to succeed, it would represent a legal and moral disaster comparable in many ways to Roe v. Wade. As leaders of the Catholic Church, we have a moral obligation to oppose any law that would clearly contribute to this outcome.

These rulings also reflect a legal strategy that gay rights advocates have repeatedly andpublicly explained in scholarly articles and other media—first, secure the passage of sexual orientation antidiscrimination laws, such as ENDA, and then invoke the principle embedded within those laws as a basis for same-sex “marriage.”

In addition to ENDA’s protection of same-sex conduct, its threat to religious liberty, and its contribution to the cause of same-sex “marriage,” there are other obstacles to its passage. The bill’s treatment of “gender identity,” which was not in the 2007 bill, would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others. The bill also lacks an exemption for a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ), for those cases where it is neither unjust nor inappropriate to consider an applicant’s sexual inclination.

While we regret we cannot support ENDA for the above stated reasons, the Conference would, however, be interested in discussing legislation that would protect persons with a homosexual inclination from unjust discrimination, without protecting homosexual conduct. We therefore invite further discussion with you and your staff on how ENDA might be amended to correct the various flaws discussed in this letter.



Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage

Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Chairman, Committee on Doctrine

I better explain this groundbreaking example of casuistic mendacity. A document that is also an example of shooting one's-self in the foot, with a machine gun.

The Catholic Church is against same-sex marriage. Now whether it should be or not is immaterial, the fact is that it is, on religious grounds. Accept that.

The US Constitution states that everyone should be treated equally. This has been interpreted by the various courts - notably the US Supreme Court - to mean that if any group can show a systematic pattern of unjust discrimination in one area, they have a lower burden of proof in establishing discrimination in other areas.

The Catholic Bishops are thus correct in one respect: should a law be passed recognising that unjust discrimination occurs in employment towards members of one group, then the burden of proof would be considerably lowered when it comes to that same group demanding the right to marry.

Now let's look at the mendacity.
While we regret we cannot support ENDA for the above stated reasons, the Conference would, however, be interested in discussing legislation that would protect persons with a homosexual inclination from unjust discrimination, without protecting homosexual conduct.
ENDA says nothing about sexual conduct. It only protects on the grounds of "sexual orientation" - inclination in other words. The Exact Wording of the bill is
(9) SEXUAL ORIENTATION- The term ‘sexual orientation’ means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.
They don't make the argument that the wording protects heterosexual fornication, bigamy, divorce, or other heterosexual conduct they find immoral just because someone can't be fired for being straight any more. Because they'd be laughed at. They hope you won't notice the inconsistency amidst the mass of verbiage, the excuses and bafflegab.

Now let's move on to the complaints about an insufficient religious exemption. How, exactly, it's insufficient, they don't say. This is what the Bill says though:
This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 pursuant to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a); 2000e-2(e)(2)).
So Church, or any other Christian entity already already exempt from employing, say, Satanists, worshippers of Ba'al, or the Servants of Cthulhu, will have exactly the same exemptions when it comes to employing Gays. Or Straights for that matter.

Let's see - Devil-Worship Good, Gay Bad. Um.

But let's move along from the bafflegab, baloney, excuses and bulldust and examine the "shooting ones-self in the foot" aspect.

You see, this letter will be used for two purposes in court now. First, as evidence that unjust discrimination employment happens against Gays. The Catholic Bishops admit that, openly. So regardless of whether there's a specific law against it, on constitutional grounds, gays are a "suspect class" because they can prove they're victims of unjust discrimination.

Second, it will be used in the fight for same-sex marriage. GLBT groups can now show that by not granting same-sex marriage, it causes unjust persecution in other areas. Had same-sex marriage been legal, the Catholic Bishops would not have had an excuse to support employment discrimination too.

Worst of all though, there's one section that shows that the Catholic Bishops have lost their way. For the first time, they are openly and overtly supporting discrimination agaisnt a group, not for anything they've done, but just because of what they are. No, not Gays, there they at least employed two pages of closely-written weasel-words to pretend they weren't. No, it's this section here:
In addition to ENDA’s protection of same-sex conduct, its threat to religious liberty, and its contribution to the cause of same-sex “marriage,” there are other obstacles to its passage. The bill’s treatment of “gender identity,” which was not in the 2007 bill, would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others.
They admit it. It's not about the "Religious Liberty" to persecute. It's not about conduct they consider immoral. It's not even about same-sex marriage. There is no Religious basis here.

They are against legal rights for trans and intersexed people on the grounds of "privacy" and "freedom of association". That's all. Exactly the same grounds that were used to justify segregation, separate facilities for "Whites" and "Coloreds", or in Suid Afrika, "Blanks" and "Nie Blanks".
In 1955 he (Bishop Russel) issued a pastoral denouncing segregation as “morally wrong and sinful.”(1)
In 2010... it appears the Catholic Bishops would instead argue that desegregation "would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others."

They have, however, avoided one fate.
Ouellet had a sign hanging above his desk that read: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” (1)
They're no longer neutral. One must ask why?

The only difference between the bill of 2009, which they object to, and the bill of 2007, which they were neutral about, is the inclusion of Intersexed and Transsexual people. Or, as His Holiness has described them, threats to the Human Ecology. Vermin, to put it bluntly.
(The Church) must also protect man from self-destruction. What is needed is something like a human ecology, correctly understood.

If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics. What is involved here is faith in the Creator and a readiness to listen to the “language” of creation. To disregard this would be the self-destruction of man himself, and hence the destruction of God’s own work.


To carry our reflection further, we must remember that the problem of the environment is complex; one might compare it to a multifaceted prism. Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America.

(1) Quotes from The Hottest Places in Hell: The Catholic Church and Civil Rights in Selma, Alabama, 1937-1965 PhD Thesis by G.N.Hite


Anonymous said...

Frankly, who gives a damn what the Catholic Church teaches. They aren't opposed to hiring people who are on birth control or having premarital sex. They simply do not ask those questions. That would pretty much empty out the pews of everyone from age 18 to 50. Think of all the donations they would lose. Can't do
So they only choose to speak out against legislation that would protect GLBT people from discrimination in employment. Frankly, they are very selective in which "sins" they choose to oppose.
Considering that upwards of 60% of their clergy are Gay and the Church history with Pedophiles, I suggest they shut the hell up and clean up their own house. They really have zero credibility when speaking on moral behavior....
Nikki H
Recovering Catholic

Cameron said...

The pope uses biological determinism to put forth his argument against transgender, intersex etc. which falls flat because of the huge diversity in nature, never mind human beings! (we are a part of nature too, people, get over it). What is actually driving all this rhetoric is what is commonly called the "Gender Binary" - the socio-cultural idea that we only come female/male and the conflation of sexual identification with gender traits. However, this goes even deeper - In the dominant Western culture which is currently ascendant, that which is female is not defined as the opposite or equal of male, but rather as NOT MALE - less than, subjected and "othered". And this power over position is what fuels the discrimnation of anyone who bends the gender binary. One of the unfortunate parts of this is that MtFs face so much more abuse than FtMs. And intersex individuals are torn apart on the altar of "we must make it fit!" the gender binary! Know I am preaching to the choir here - but the Catholic church is using science as a smoke screen for something that goes much deeper.

Julie Moriarty said...

So some religious organization wants to get involved in US civil rights issues? Maybe we should revoke their tax exempt status as they seem compelled to continue to involve themselves in politics.

What the RCC refuses to address is the fact not everyone thinks like they do. Not everyone thinks it's okay to molest children as long as the RCC reputation isn't damaged. Not everyone wants to hear unsolicited advice (or anything else) from an organization that has a history of running roughshod over anyone or anything that doesn't follow their doctrine.

I will accept their right to voice their opinion on political matters once they lose their tax-exempt status. Until then, they can take their opinions, jot them down and place them at the bottom of a bird cage because that's all the use they have here.