Catholics dictating terms
By PAULA KIRBY - THE WASHINGTON POST
Added: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Question: In response to the new gay marriage law in Washington, Catholic Charities closed its adoption and foster care programs and cut spousal benefits to future employees -- to avoid providing services to homosexual couples.
If a church or other religious organization receives government funding, should it follow all government rules, including those against discrimination based on sexual orientation? Or should government exempt such organizations from requirements that violate particular religious beliefs?
Those of us who live in democracies are extremely fortunate. We get to vote for our leaders on the basis of their policies and if we don't like what they do in office, we can vote them out again at the next election. And we don't have to wait for an election either: we are free to make our voices heard in between too, free to lobby our representatives, free to speak out and rally others to our cause. It's not perfect - what is? - and hanging chads and a variety of dodgy dealings have a tendency to bring the system into disrepute from time to time. But still, our style of democracy is one that countless millions of people around the world would give their eye-teeth for. Many, indeed, have given far more than their eye-teeth in pursuit of it: they have given their liberty, their tortured bodies and even their lives in the hope of one day bringing to their countries the type of political freedom we take for granted in ours. So you might think we would be satisfied with our lot, and gladly embrace the simple fact that, in our democracies, the only thing stopping us from getting the policies we would like to see is that we haven't yet convinced enough of our fellow citizens of the rightness of them.
But no. For the Roman Catholic Church this kind of democracy is not enough. For them, nothing short of theocracy will do. God has spoken (or is it the Pope? So hard to tell the difference!) We must obey! Not for Roman Catholics the free trade of debate in the marketplace of ideas. Not for them the tedium of persuasion, the tiresomeness of having to actually engage with opposing arguments. No, religion demands a special voice! An extra voice! No, not even that: the ONLY voice! In matters on which Roman Catholicism considers itself an authority, its aim is to wield that authority with absolute power. Never mind that public attitudes to gay rights have been transformed in the last few decades. Never mind that the leaders implementing legislation to enshrine those rights in law have been democratically elected. Never mind that every shred of decency and common sense tells us that loving, stable relationships are good and healthy regardless of the sexual orientation involved. No - the church simply decrees that homosexuality is wrong, and expects our democratically elected governments to drop to their knees in blind obedience and submission.
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