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Church and State, and "suffer the little children"

There's a huge political fight going on in Massachusetts right now, pitting two great forces against each other. And I find myself taking a side I didn't foresee ever sympathizing with.

Massachusetts is not just a "blue state." It's quite possibly the bluest of the blue states. It gave us Michael Dukakis, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, gay marriage, two openly-gay members of Congress (Barney Frank and Gerry Studds), Susan Estrich, Harvard, the People's Republic of Cambridge, and a host of other bastions of liberalism. It is the ideal of enlightenment, of tolerance, of acceptance, of diversity, and woe unto any who disagree. There is very little tolerance for those found guilty of intolerance.

One aspect of this is Massachusetts' anti-discrimination laws. No agency that does business with the state, especially those that act as agents of the state. They may not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or a host of other factors.

And last week, that policy erupted into a major conflict, as one major charitable organization found itself in conflict with one of those tenets.

Catholic Charities does a host of good works in Massachusetts. One of their major works is in handling adoptions, and last year they placed 41 children with new parents, making them one of the five top agencies in the state. But they follow tradtional Catholic teachings -- and that includes a non-acceptance of homosexuality.

Over the last 20 years, Catholic Charities has placed 720 children with adoptive families, and 13 of those families were gay couples. But recently the Archdiocese of Boston informed the Charities that from now on, they will abide by Church teachings and principles, and will NOT place children with gay couples.

The directors of the charity argued, but to no use. All 42 directors unanimously appealed Archbishop Sean O'Malley's directive, but he was unswayed. Eight of them resigned in protest, but finally the board accepted the Archbishop's ruling.

The state, however, didn't. They are saying that if Catholic Charities wishes to continue in the adoption business, they'll have to consider gay couples.

Governor Romney says he'll file legislation permitting Catholic Charities to abide by Church policies and remain providing adoption services. Until that time, though, Catholic Charities is out of the adoption business.

Now, I have no great fondness for the Catholic Church as a whole, and the Boston archdiocese in particular. I think a great many of their teachigns are wrong, and their own conduct during the pedophile priest scandal was nothing short of reprehensible. In fact, the decades-long coverup by Church officials, involving quiet payoffs to victims and shuffling pedophile priests on to new, unsuspecting parishes where they could -- and did -- prey anew on children worthy of investigation under the RICO statutes. The Church's conduct in that matter left, to me, a huge, indelible stain on their moral credibility.

But in this case, I think the state is going too far in their fight with the church. While I agree in principle with the state's position, the simple fact is that Catholic Charities does NOT hold a monopoly on adoption placement in Massachusetts. There are numerous other agencies and means of adoption available, and I don't believe that Catholic Charities should be forced to violate its own tenets.

I believe very strongly in the separation of church and state. I don't want any church holding sway over government, and I don't want government to control any church. But there are areas where these two will necessarily come into contact, and in those cases the matter must be settled in a reasonable, sensible manner. In this particular case, the harm caused by the church's conflict with existing law is negligible, and the greater good is not being served. Massachusetts should not change its laws, but it should carve out an exception for this case -- and others like it.


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Comments (29)

I couldn't agree more. Well... (Below threshold)

I couldn't agree more. Well stated, as usual.

I don't believe in seperati... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

I don't believe in seperation of church and state, at least how that term is often used today. I believe that government should be completely indifferent to religion, which means I disagree with Romey's decision. That said, as no one in Massachusetts holds on monopoly on adoption services, the problem lies in the law forcing non-discrimination against homosexuals. THAT is what should be changed, not a special exemption for the Catholic Church. If Mass does not want to change, let the state suffer the consequences.

I guess that you don't beli... (Below threshold)
Dr. Tom Hudson:

I guess that you don't believe that the Bible, i.e. the Word of God is also correct pertaining to the ultimate destination of a homosexual? I guess you might simply say that the Lord is also intolerent? After all, sin is just a social illusion that is for a very small select group of folks called Christians.

Dr. Tom, I've repeatedly pr... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Dr. Tom, I've repeatedly pronounced my agnosticism, as well as my support for gay marriage. I give the Bible a great deal of credit, and believe that most of the 10 Commandments and other Biblical strictures make a great deal of sense towards organizing a civil society, but that part I don't give much credence to.

J.

I am excited by the effort,... (Below threshold)
D. Doré:

I am excited by the effort, but uncertain in how it will be carried out.

I'm encouraged that there was movement in MA to protect faith based organizations from having to chose between its providing services to the community and it's own belief system.

However, the homosexual agenda isn't simply for equality. Kid yourself not. It's to destroy anything and anyone that might hold a view that their lifestyle is unhealthy physically, mentally or spiritually. Especially in any faith based organizations.

They won't be satisfied until they are succesful in making sure the Bible itself is labled "hate speech".

Watch and see what this decision in MA creates. How long will it be before you see an outcry of how letting the Catholic church "Get away" with this is unfair and wrong?

I guess that you don't b... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I guess that you don't believe that the Bible, i.e. the Word of God is also correct pertaining to the ultimate destination of a homosexual? I guess you might simply say that the Lord is also intolerent?

If you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, literally, then of course you must conclude that god is intolerant. You would also have to conclude that slavery is proper, but we've stopped keeping slaves, now haven't we?

With the elevation of Cardi... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

With the elevation of Cardinal Law to the Roman Curia shouldn't the Catholic church be considered a homosexual organization de facto? Reading well-placed bloggers of the church such as Whispers From the Loggia, one gets the impression that the Vatican is Queerboat Numero Uno! And Mantis, God is intolerant because He's jealous FOR us. And the term "servant" in the Bible is actually "slave". We are ALL slaves of Christ. As far as mankind "lording" himself over others in roles of king and master, that's our own doing. Ex: It was NOAH who cursed Ham (who by the way, was, like his father, white and not black--another canard bites the dust) Don't be a BENNISH ;O)

Man, Jay Tea - sloughing of... (Below threshold)
DocJ:

Man, Jay Tea - sloughing off on the proofreading lately?

"No agency that does business with the state, especially those that act as agents of the state."
??
" I think a great many of their teachigns are wrong..."

To me clearly there are at... (Below threshold)
paul:

To me clearly there are at least four different laws that govern human behavior --
1: the laws of God ironically often referred to even as the unwritten law even though these laws are generally defined in the Bible.
2: Also there is the specific laws of society, with it's fluctuating morality.
3: Next there is the fluctuating personal laws of men,
4:and finally the laws the jungle, meaning the laws of the devil who can falsely justify all he does.

The first law Of God clearly is thou shalt love God, and the second law of God is thou shall also love they neighbor, and ,most people do not respect both of these laws.

(Deu 12:8 KJV) Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

(Exo 15:26 KJV) And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

(Deu 12:25 KJV) Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

(Judg 17:6 KJV) In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

(1 Ki 15:5 KJV) David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

(Psa 19:8 KJV) The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

(Prov 4:25 KJV) Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

(Prov 12:15 KJV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

(Prov 21:2 KJV) Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

(Luke 10:27 KJV) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

(Mark 12:31 KJV) And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

(Rom 13:9 KJV) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

(Gal 5:14 KJV) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

(James 2:8 KJV) If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

I too now have personally known sin, unbelief, doubts, hardships, worries, fear, fear of death in my own life. Of course it started with as well with my own real personal unbelief even that God cares for us personally, that God he could, does answers prayer, and that God even can perform miracles today, any kind of miracles or healings firstly. That was all true about my unbelief in God's abilities too mainly until the time the doctors had told me my 3 month year old daughter was dying of an incurable disease. And all unbelief would be surpassed quickly as one turns back immediately to God, the Bible, especially in such situations, and yes even back to real prayer . Funny how often and quickly one turns back to God when there is no help anywhere else?

and here is the ironic thing I find, most of the people who day say thet believe in freedom of speech, exclude the Christian right to speak and to especialy quote the Bible. Even the gays. The Bible is undeniably antigay , Undeniably against divorce, undeniably against polygamy, and is also against the crooked cops too.

http://groups.msn.com/CanadaToday3/hypocrisyii.msnw

And Mantis, God is intol... (Below threshold)
mantis:

And Mantis, God is intolerant because He's jealous FOR us. And the term "servant" in the Bible is actually "slave". We are ALL slaves of Christ. As far as mankind "lording" himself over others in roles of king and master, that's our own doing. Ex: It was NOAH who cursed Ham (who by the way, was, like his father, white and not black--another canard bites the dust) Don't be a BENNISH ;O)

That's nice that you think we're all slaves of christ, but I was talking about slaves of man. The owning and selling of people is often expressed in the Bible, sometimes with implicit consent of god, and is not really condemned, even by Jesus. Consider Ephesians 6:5-

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;[6] Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;[7] With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:[8] Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Which is all nice and cuddly New Testament of course, slaves and free men are both judged the same by god in the end and that's all that matters, etc. But right there are instructions from god for slaves to be obedient to their masters as if they were Jesus himself. Slavery is also mentioned many times in the Old Testament, especially in the "books of Moses".

As far as Ham and drunken Noah, you're right about him not being black, or rather his race or skin color not mentioned in the bible, certainly not as a result of the curse. It should also be noted that Ham wasn't cursed at all, but his son Canaan, weirdly. That interpretation is over 1500 years old, however, and has been used to justify slavery and discrimination all along up to and including Senator Byrd quoting the scripture in his filibuster of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

I'm not being Bennish, whatever that is. Stop pretending things aren't in the scripture when they clearly are.

Gee, I didn't know that I h... (Below threshold)

Gee, I didn't know that I had reached First Wizbang Church.

Anyway, what irks me is the fact that Catholic Charities had a board of directors that was opposed to adhering to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Somehow, the fact that Catholic Charities is Catholic escaped their attention.

Has the Catholic adoption a... (Below threshold)
Omni:

Has the Catholic adoption agency stopped giving kids to ALL people their church would consider sinners, such as divorcees, or just stopped giving kids to gays? Sticking to their religious principles is ok; falsely claiming to be using those principles when their intention is to screw just one particular group is not.

Omni

I don't believe that Cat... (Below threshold)

I don't believe that Catholic Charities should be forced to violate its own tenets.

I don't really think, as a rule, that any organization or individual has a right to avoid "violating its own tenets." Especially not when that means opting out of laws they don't like.

Obviously, they have the right to make the choice they have made, which is to stop functioning as an adoption broker. And also they have the right to lobby for change in the law, which they are doing (and they have plenty of political muscle, still).

When did freedom of conscience turn into "special rights" for anyone and anything that passes itself off as religious?

If the the women choosing t... (Below threshold)
just me:

If the the women choosing to place their babies for adoption are choosing Catholic Charities-then I think they should be able to choose who they place children with by any standard they choose.

I am not really seeing a conflict here-if you are gay and want to adopt a baby, go somplace other than CAtholic Charities, if you want to place your baby for adoption, and you want gay couples to be considered, then by all means choose someplace other than CAtholic Charities.

Somehow, the fact that C... (Below threshold)

Somehow, the fact that Catholic Charities is Catholic escaped their attention.

CC has for a long time been receiving money from the state and from numerous public and private sources that do not have a sectarian mission. And this money comes with the understanding on all sides that it will be used to promote the general social welfare, not a particular flavor of theology.

CC can have whatever guiding philosophy and mission it wants to have, but it can't speak out of all sides of its mouth--playing a secular organization when that is convenient and then playing a religious one later.

Religious conviction is pro... (Below threshold)

Religious conviction is protected by the constitution of the United States. This is simple stuff. This is every bit as basic as the right to free speech and assembly.

What this means is that in order to be forced to follow laws in violation of your religion, the State has a heavy burden of proof to show that the rule is absolutely necessary and that the law is the least intrusive way of carrying out that necessary thing.

If the church could prove that providing adoption services was a religious conviction... that their God requires it (and they maybe could, since the church opposes abortion and adoption could be seen as a religious requirement related to that) then the State would have to prove that stopping them providing adoption services was necessary because there was no less intrusive way of taking care of the problem. Since there are other agencies offering adoption services, I don't think the State could prove that.

If it's not a religious conviction, just a nice thing they do but not required of them by God... then they can close up shop, no harm done except to the people who would have been served.

There should be no exemptio... (Below threshold)
Lowell Skelton:

There should be no exemptions to the law, that is, SPECIAL PRIVILEGES, for any religious group or organization. If religious groups are granted the special privilege to discriminate, I should be allowed to discriminate against anyone I choose as well. I shouldn't have to sell or rent a house to them, hire them, provide them with humanitarian services, health care, or medication. Religion does not deserve ANY special privileges, immunities, or accommodation.

Perhaps, Lowell, you should... (Below threshold)

Perhaps, Lowell, you should start a movement going to get rid of the freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.

Because that clause in the Constitution is what gives religion a special status in the United states.

How's that? The First Amen... (Below threshold)
Lowell Skelton:

How's that? The First Amendment neither exalts nor prohibits it. Religion is granted NO special exemption by the Constitution. Please specify where special rights are allegedly granted.

Religion is protected by th... (Below threshold)

Religion is protected by the Constitution.

What this means, Lowell, is that in order to limit religious expression or practice, the government has a heavy burden of proof to the necessity of that limitation.

How can any rights exist if they only exist until a law is passed against them? It's exactly the same with free speech. Speech is not free if it is only free until someone passes a law.

Freedom of religion is a Constitutional right in this country. People can't be forced to recant, or to only follow *approved* religions.

Which is what you're saying, that no special exemption is given... if laws are passed... tough. If the laws don't approve of your religious convictions or practice. Tough. Too bad so sad.

So there is no primacy given to religion, or I would think to speech either? Or assembly or...?

All it takes is passing a law? Majority opinion disapproving?

Freedom is when they disapprove but you get to do it anyway because it *is* protected... such as speech... such as religion.

What do you think liberty means?

"in order to limit religiou... (Below threshold)
Lowell Skelton:

"in order to limit religious expression or practice, the government has a heavy burden of proof to the necessity of that limitation."

I can think of nothing more necessary than prohibiting religious groups from engaging in actions that would result in prosecution for the rest of us. This inequity certainly meets the burden of proof.

"Freedom of religion is a Constitutional right in this country. People can't be forced to recant, or to only follow *approved* religions."

But giving special privilege to religion is, in effect, specifying it as that *approved* by the state. Just try going against the current of America's religious mainstream.

Equal protection under the law should apply to all. If I am prohibited from discriminating, then religious groups should be subject to the same standard. If they are allowed to discriminate, then so should I. They are NOT entitled to some elevated position of privilege simply due to the fact of being religious. They are no better than I, and have neither earned nor deserve better. The playing field must be level.

Here's a question: when was... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Here's a question: when was this "you must place children with gay couples" law put into place?
Very few laws are enacted for the hell of it, so I am guessing somebody out there wasn't facilitating gay adoption. Was it somone (else) other than church funded agencies?
Or was this targeted legislation?

Equal protection u... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Equal protection under the law should apply to all.

But it doesn't nor can it. Back the 70's this nation conscripted only young men into the military. That's both age and sexual discrimination and the draft has been challenged under both equal the protection amendment (14) and the abolishment of slavery amendment (13), yet forced induction of only young men into the military has been upheld by the supreme court. The First amendment text is as follows:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The First amendment not only prevents the government from respecting an establishment of religion, but also prevents it from prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Under this amendment churches are exempt from federal, state and local taxes. As employers, they must withhold and pay their half of the FICA tax for non-ordained staff. Ordained staff can elect to opt out of the social security system altogether if they want. If they stay in the system they are considered self-employed for social security purposes even though they are paid full time by a church. Ordained staff's entire housing expense if tax exempt. The 1st amendment part about not prohibiting the free exercise thereof is well established in U.S. law and is viewed as superceding equal protection.

As I understand it, the law... (Below threshold)

As I understand it, the law isn't recent. The Catholic Charities used to place children with homosexuals. The church decided to force the Charities to follow Catholic doctrine.

Even so... since Catholic Charities aren't the only ones placing children, other options are certainly available to homosexuals who want to adopt. So Lowell's claim that this results in inequity in the community doesn't hold. It results in inequity in the church, and as much as possible the church gets to follow it's own rules.

And quite frankly. The church is entitled. Just like it does not have to ordain women and married persons, it doesn't have to approve of something it feels is immoral.

We do let some Native American religions use drugs in ceremonies don't we? Those drugs are illegal in any other circumstance.

Failing to grant special priviledge to religions is saying that religions *must* be approved or they aren't allowed. They are banned from following religious practice if it offends the community? Where is religious freedom in that? If only approved teachings are... well... approved, then only approved religions can be practiced.

People stand liberty and freedom and tolerance on their heads. Tolerance becomes a demand that anything offensive be banned. Free speech? It's worth nothing. Freedom of religion? It's worth nothing, if someone doesn't like what the religion teaches.

You're only *free* if you comply with what Lowell thinks is right. Or should I say... you're only free if you comply with what is RIGHT. No one has the freedom to be wrong.

Regulations governing adopt... (Below threshold)

Regulations governing adoption don't actually interfere with anyone's practice of religon. Running an adoption agency is not a sacrament.

Under Synova's theory, it seems it would be religious discrimination to refuse to hire a Christian Scientist pharmacist who won't give people their drugs because he doesn't believe in medical treatment.

I don't know how you got th... (Below threshold)

I don't know how you got that.

And running an adoption agency *could* be considered a requirement (not a sacrament) of a person's religious faith. It depends if a person believes that God requires them to do it and not *even* that it is a recognized practice of a particular religion.

Now, I'm NOT saying that Catholic Charities adoption services count because that depends on what Catholic Charities believes about it. Is it just another charity that can be replaced with some other charitable work? Probably it is.

Quite possibly, for some Christians who believe that their God requires them to oppose abortion, working on adoption could *also* be considered a requirement of their religion. If so, then the State could still refuse, but they'd have to show that the legitimate interest of the State couldn't be met some other way.

A similar (at least a little bit) case could be homeschooling for religious conviction. There are no laws making homeschooling entirely illegal anymore because the ones that existed were ruled unconstitutional when applied to parents with a sincere religious conviction that the Bible required them to homeschool. It didn't matter one bit that there was not an organized denomination that taught that. The courts determined that the State's legitimate interest in ensuring an educated population could be met in less coersive ways.

Ya'll need to read more tha... (Below threshold)
Ric:

Ya'll need to read more than revisionist textbooks. Go find the original, supportive, and peripheral texts.

- Whether ya'll like it or not, this country was founded by Christians. The documents they wrote testify to it.

- The Constitution does not "grant" you your rights. The Constitution is a set of restrictions placed on the state. These rights are stated to be *inalienable*. Some higher power (outside of the Constitution) granted them and no mere man has the authority to take them away (those that do are called tyrants).

- Originally, the Bill of Rights did not apply at the state level, only the federal level. Many states desired the influence of the church in the government. Effectively, state sponsored religion existed for some time in our country's history.

- If you read documentation outside of the revisionists and the Bible, you will see that the founders built from a framework of four jurisdictions:

1) Self government (removing religion from it, some call this personal responsibility today)
2) Family government (this one hardly exists anymore)
3) Church government (this one largely abdicated and let the state step in)
4) state government (this one is trampling your rights, and very few seem to care, as long as they have money in their wallet and they have, or what they perceive to have, is security)

There is no reporting structure here, only jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction is responsible to the Creator (Jesus Christ). An example of jurisdiction - the family can not issue capital punishment and the state can not spank. The church can not tax, but the state can. There is authority for various activities within each jurisdiction.

"Some higher power (outside... (Below threshold)
Lowell Skelton:

"Some higher power (outside of the Constitution) granted them"

And what might that be? What higher power than man? Hint: None.

"Each jurisdiction is responsible to the Creator (Jesus Christ). "

Church - of course. Individual/family - as they choose. Government - NEVER. This is not a theocracy (yet), and any move in that direction is bordering on treason.

I hope for the sake of the children that priests are denied the opportunity to adopt as well. I'd hate to see their concept of child-rearing.

Lowell,It amazes m... (Below threshold)
paula:

Lowell,

It amazes me the fire you have ignited within yourself to personally pursue a conquest of attempting to disregard God, religon (mainly Christianity), and express this inner resentment toward the above. Why is that? I searched your name on the internet and saw that this is not your first post opposing Christianity. You are not a virgin to discrimination of those believing in the Christian faith. For someone who wants his rights and beliefs respected you show very little respect towards others.

Religous organizations were some of the very first to assist society with poverty, homelessness, unemployment, physically ill, and so on. Their public duties volunteerly as reflected on others who are non-religous are much more. If a Catholic organization does not want to assist gay couples in adopting that is their belief, their right. They are not employing anyone. They are trying to find children a home in which they believe is safe and nurturing to the child based on their ideologies, just as social services has stipulations so do they.

Paula




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