- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Faith And Family Leftists Speak Out

Last week, I talked here about how the Pew Center’s political typology quiz placed me on the “Faith And Family Left.” That was startling, because I don’t consider myself a leftist at all, but I could see that my Christian commitments make me a difficult fit on the contemporary American right. Here’s how Pew defines the Faith And Family Left [1]:

The Faith and Family Left combine strong support for activist government with conservative attitudes on many social issues. They are highly diverse – this is the only typology group that is “majority-minority.” The Faith and Family Left favor increased government aid for the poor even if it adds to the deficit and believe that government should do more to solve national problems. They oppose same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana. Religion and family are at the center of their lives.

They have more blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants than any of Pew’s groups. And they’re pretty solidly Democratic in their voting, despite their social and religious conservatism. I don’t think I’m nearly as far to the left as your average F&F leftist, certainly not in my voting, but in general, I’m closer to them than to any other group.

In the wake of Hobby Lobby, a group of Faith & Family Left leaders are appealing to the president for religious exemptions in his forthcoming executive order banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in federal contracting. From The Atlantic‘s report: [2]

The Hobby Lobby decision has been welcomed by religious-right groups who accuse Obama of waging a war on religion. But Tuesday’s letter is different: It comes from a group of faith leaders who are generally friendly to the administration, many of whom have closely advised the White House on issues like immigration reform. The letter was organized by Michael Wear [3], who worked in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach for the president’s 2012 campaign. Signers include two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

“This is not an antagonistic letter by any means,” Wear told me. But in the wake of Hobby Lobby, he said, “the administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues.”

More:

“It would be nice if we had just a little bit more leverage,” said Schneck, a onetime cochair of Catholics for Obama. “I am a very strong supporter of LGBT rights, and I am really excited about the prospect of extending provisions against discrimination in federal contracts. But I am also aware that this is an issue that provokes real differences among some of the most important religious organization on the front lines of providing care for the poorest and most vulnerable.” Those groups, he said, need to be allowed to work with the government while following the dictates of their faith.

The letter to Obama, which you can read in the Atlantic article, makes a case based on tolerance and religious diversity. The question here is if the administration cares so much about gay rights that it’s willing to push to the side religious organizations that serve the poor. As the authors of the letter say:

Our concern about an executive order without a religious exemption is about more than the direct financial impact on religious organizations. While the nation has undergone incredible social and legal change over the last decade, we still live in a nation with different beliefs about sexuality. We must find a way to respect diversity of opinion on this issue in a way that respects the dignity of all parties to the best of our ability. There is no perfect solution that will make all parties completely happy.

We will see very soon whether the president has any regard for religious Democrats, or whether he’s in the pocket of his gay-rights supporters.

I wonder how Jonathan Rauch, who has been one of the wiser and more generous people on the gay rights side, would advise Obama to respond. Six days ago, he wrote about the hard battle lines between secularists and religionists. [4]Excerpt:

Finally, a new generation brought changed attitudes. Ed Whelan, the president of the culturally conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and a Catholic, told me, “Those of us growing up in the 1960s and 1970s grew up with an assimilationist ethic: there was assumed to be little or no tension in being a Catholic in the broader American culture. Today, those of us who are parents see conflict all over the place. And we strive to be Catholics throughout our lives. As the culture has become less hospitable to religious beliefs, there is a greater need to be more vigilant. We’ve got to figure out where to draw the lines.”

So a lot of line-drawing is going on. Even dog-walkers are drawing lines.

I must sadly acknowledge that there is an absolutist streak among some secular civil-rights advocates. They think, justifiably, that discrimination is wrong and should not be tolerated, but they are too quick to overlook the unique role religion plays in American life and the unique protections it enjoys under the First Amendment. As a matter of both political wisdom and constitutional doctrine, the faithful have every right to seek reasonable accommodations for religious conscience.

The problem is that what the social secessionists are asking for does not seem all that reasonable, especially to young Americans. When Christian businesses boycott gay weddings and pride celebrations, and when they lobby and sue for the right to do so, they may think they are sending the message “Just leave us alone.” But the message that mainstream Americans, especially young Americans, receive is very different. They hear: “What we, the faithful, really want is to discriminate. Against gays. Maybe against you or people you hold dear. Heck, against your dog.”

I wonder whether religious advocates of these opt-outs have thought through the implications. Associating Christianity with a desire—no, a determination—to discriminate puts the faithful in open conflict with the value that young Americans hold most sacred. They might as well write off the next two or three or 10 generations, among whom nondiscrimination is the 11th commandment.

If that’s how it has to be, that’s how it has to be. Fidelity to what one believes to be religious and moral truth is more important than popularity. We live in a post-Christian society. It’s going to get much worse for non-conforming Christians before it gets better. How Obama responds to this letter will be a critical bellwether.

UPDATE: E.J. Dionne, a liberal Catholic, writes about this kind of thing in his latest column. [5] Excerpt:

It’s unfortunate that the Obama administration’s initial, parsimonious exemption for religious groups helped ignite the firestorm that led to Hobby Lobby. It might consider this lesson as it moves, rightly, to issue an executive order to ban discrimination against LGBT people by government contractors. I’ve long believed that anti-gay behavior is both illiberal [6] and, if I may, un-Christian.

It would be better still if the House passed the more comprehensive Employment Nondiscrimination Act that cleared the Senate last year on a bipartisan vote and includes a religious exemption. But before it issues its executive order, I hope the administration convenes a broad public consultation with religious groups to explore if there are ways to ban LGBT discrimination that they can live with.

Perhaps key religious groups will refuse to give ground. LGBT organizations may well see any accommodations as selling out fundamental principles. I get this. But the effort is worth making because we don’t need more distracting religious wars that give the right the sorts of openings the court used this week to push us backward.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, it ought to be easy to recognize how often religion has been a progressive force in our national life. Liberals should embrace religious liberty as their own cause. It should not be put to the service of reaction.

Advertisement
123 Comments (Open | Close)

123 Comments To "Faith And Family Leftists Speak Out"

#1 Comment By Anand On July 3, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

There’s a general issue here with what constitutes a federal contractor. For example, suppose a monastery opens a homeless shelter, and gets reimbursed by the government for some (but not all) of the costs. Should it lose this funding because the monastic community is male-only? What about the day care in the church basement- should it lose it’s funding to provide hot breakfasts for poor kids? In many parts of the country a significant fraction of these services are provided through religious organizations, which supplement government money with their own donations. It seems to me that we all lose if such private-public partnerships aren’t allowed to function.

There is a legitimate retort here that folks who want religious institutions should have to pay for them- that they *should* be at a disadvantage with respect to secular institutions. Jesus never promised us a tax discount. But I think it is telling that *both* liberals and conservatives here are more exercised about gay rights than about feeding poor kids.

My preferred solution in these cases is to give vouchers and let the recipients choose which services they prefer. If those happen to be provided by churches who choose to hire only those who support their mission, then fine.

#2 Comment By Matt2 On July 3, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

Unless I am mistaken, religious institutions can discriminate in hiring and firing on the basis of an applicant/employees’ religion and, based upon the ministerial exception, their sex. I can see how a religious organization might not want to hire a LGBT applicant. Should they be forced to?

A corrolary is that it is difficult to see a good reason why a non-religious corporation should be able to discriminate based upon sexual orientation.

#3 Comment By Alex On July 3, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

There’s a general issue here with what constitutes a federal contractor. For example, suppose a monastery opens a homeless shelter, and gets reimbursed by the government for some (but not all) of the costs. Should it lose this funding because the monastic community is male-only?

Under current laws (since 1965), if this organization is fulfilling a government contract (not all funding to charitable organizations count as “government contracts”, you must realize) the monk-volunteers can be certainly male-only, but if they hire any employees to work at the shelter, they are not permitted to deny employment to women.

What about the day care in the church basement- should it lose it’s funding to provide hot breakfasts for poor kids?

Under current law (since 1965), they can get government contracts as long as they do not restrict their hiring of any day care staffers to co-religionists only – they have to give atheists and Buddhists equal opportunity for employment.

In many parts of the country a significant fraction of these services are provided through religious organizations, which supplement government money with their own donations.

And these religious organizations have structured their charitable activities for the past fifty years to comply with the government’s requirement that federal contracting means they can’t discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The question is, if religious organizations have been complying with this EEOC requirement for five decades, why is it suddenly beyond the pale when gay people are included as well. What makes being gay more intolerable than being a non-believer?

Personally, this is where I propose drawing the line for religious freedom with regards to gay people. If it is an area of life where you are permitted to discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation, then fine, you can also be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. If, however, you are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, then it hardly seems fair to allow you to discriminate on the basis of adherence to religious doctrine, including the doctrine that homosexuality is immoral. That is if you’re not allowed to hold your employees accountable to a statement of faith, neither are you allowed to hold your employees accountable to a statement of sexual purity.

Rod, is this a compromise you can accept?

[NFR: Yes, I think so. It sounds like a decent compromise to me. — RD]

#4 Comment By JonF On July 3, 2014 @ 6:19 pm

Re: Nevertheless, don’t you think there’s a significant difference between (1) a person who recognizes an act as a sin and repents and (2) a person who celebrates the act not as a sin but as a fundamental virtue?

Irrelevant to my argument. It’s not as if all non-gay people are penitents in sackcloth and ashes for their own sins. Assume for a moment a Mormon business owner who thinks drinking is sinful. Should he be able to fire any employee who drinks off the jobs and doesn’t think it’s sinful?
Do you see the issue now? How about Catholics refusing to hire non-Catholics who have divorced and remarried? I could come up with a large number of other examples. Outside a very narrow space (churches hiring clergy and other religiously involved figures) it should be none of an employer’s business what an employee’s moral beliefs or (legal and licit) practices off work are. None, zip, nada.

#5 Comment By John Dumas On July 3, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

Rod,

[NFR: There *are* no federal employment protections specifically for LGBT people. — RD]

I’m aware that there are no federal employment protections specifically for LGBT people. And those who have petitioned to the President would really prefer to keep it that way.

Meanwhile, they’ve been working to gut employment protections for LGBT people where they do exist.

Which is why I suggested broadening the exemption for religious groups (but not a general relaxing of anti-discrimiation law based on a claim of religious scruples) in exchange for actual protection against discrimination everywhere else.

So the Catholic food bank, run by the archdiocese, can decide not to hire gay people. The school run by the religious order can fire the teacher they learn is a lesbian. All this without fear of having to turn down government grants.

On the other hand, the baker whose sensibilities are disturbed by the thought of baking a cake for a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, needs to get out that flour and get baking.

That’s a compromise. My side gives something up. So does your side. Your side gets more freedom for religious groups dealing in the public square. My side gets broader protection against discrimination.

#6 Comment By Darrel On July 3, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

Fidelity to what one believes to be religious and moral truth is more important than popularity.

But what baffles so many of us isn’t your refusal to change your view that SSM is wrong in the eyes of God. It’s your insistence that it’s wrong in the eyes of God, therefore we should discriminate against same sex couples in the provision of public accommodations.

Presumably people who do flowers and photographs and whatnot also believe many other couples (those who have lived in sin, for example) fall short of marriage as their religion understands it. But they only try to justify discrimination against a small subset of ungodly marriages.

Perhaps there’s an explanation for why this selectiveness isn’t a sign they’re using religion to cover for their bigotry. But I keep looking for it, and I can’t find it.

#7 Comment By Roger II On July 3, 2014 @ 8:09 pm

Three days after issuing the Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court has now issued an unsigned opinion stating that Wheaton College cannot be compelled to fill out the form required for the non-profit exemption. In other words, three days after issuing an order stating that extension of the non-profit exemption mechanism would be the least restrictive means of providing contraceptive coverage to Hobby Lobby’s employees, the Court has indicated that the non-profit exemption cannot stand. Of course, one day after Hobby Lobby, the Court made clear that the decision applies to all contraceptions, not just four alleged abortifacients. I think it’s pretty clear where this is going, and that many liberals’ fears of a slippery slope are pretty well-founded.

#8 Comment By M_Young On July 3, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

“On the other hand, the baker whose sensibilities are disturbed by the thought of baking a cake for a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, needs to get out that flour and get baking.

That’s a compromise. ”

No. That’s totalitarianism.

#9 Comment By M_Young On July 3, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

“Assume for a moment a Mormon business owner who thinks drinking is sinful. Should he be able to fire any employee who drinks off the jobs and doesn’t think it’s sinful?”

Yup, especially if the employee is ‘out and proud’ about his drinking. Should MADD or Alcoholics Anonymous have to tolerate an employee — one that works in, say, IT and so has nothing directly to do with ‘the mission — that is open about going out and getting sozzled every other night? Should PETA have to tolerate an employee that posts pictures of his weekend BBQs on his cubicle wall.

And you know what, AFAIK, there are no protections for alcohol enthusiasts or meat lovers (the normal kind). Why should homosexual be favored over those groups?

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 3, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

That’s a compromise. ”

No. That’s totalitarianism.

When M_Young gets it right, he hits it out of the park. It is not unconstitutional to require a bakery to sell a cake straight off the shelf regardless of race, sex, religion, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation (real or alleged — I mean, how would we even know for sure?). It IS unconstitutional for the state to require the baker to create an expressive message the baker abhors. (“Freedom of religion” is a red herring to this issue — it may incidentally be the baker’s motive, but the restraint on state power is the same whether the baker’s objection is religious or not.)

Presumably people who do flowers and photographs and whatnot also believe many other couples (those who have lived in sin, for example) fall short of marriage as their religion understands it. But they only try to justify discrimination against a small subset of ungodly marriages.

Straw man. Nobody is “discriminating against” ungodly marriages or anything else. People are declining to be active participants in extolling something they abhor. Whether it is a marriage, a slogan, or anything else, the state may not compel a person’s expression. Even public accommodation laws may not be imposed in that manner. (I never tire of citing this — have you tried reading it? Hurley v. Irish Gay and Lesbians of South Boston.

Outside a very narrow space (churches hiring clergy and other religiously involved figures) it should be none of an employer’s business what an employee’s moral beliefs or (legal and licit) practices off work are. None, zip, nada.

Generally true, and not in the least specific to gays. BUT, just as the Open Housing law in 1968 made an exception for buildings with four or fewer units, where the owner lived in one of them, I would make an exception for, e.g., a business with five or fewer employees, where everyone shared a small space working together on a project or craft. Even bigots need their space. (That is NOT constitutionally required, but it is a common sense restraint in the exercise of the real powers of the commerce clause.)

Alex’s compromise makes perfect sense.

Well, this is just silly. Every choice that any person makes is a “discrimination”. It’s a choice to prefer one thing and discard the rest, at least for the time. What is loathed is what is called “invidious” discrimination…

I don’t follow Dalton all the way down the road to savage the Civil Rights Act and uphold Barry Goldwater’s opposition… but there is a good point here. Discrimination is good, necessary, and progressive. Read old literature, you find the discretionary powers are to be used “with discrimination,” which meant, examine carefully when and how you employ them to best effect.

What’s wrong with discrimination on the basis of race is not that it is discriminatory, but that race is no basis at all for discrimination. Segregation is not wrong either: people with severe cognitive disabilities THRIVE in environments carefully attuned to their capacities, and denouncing this as “segregation” is doing them a great disservice. But race is not basis for segregation, although a pattern of anti-social behavior may be.

When is it appropriate to discriminate against gays? When the specific characteristics that make them “gay” are directly implicated. A woman who dreams of the man she could marry will “discriminate against” both lesbians and gay men, for obvious reasons. A legal brothel in Nevada will “discriminate against” males seeking to prostitute themselves with male customers, although one might open that caters specifically to gay men. Does being gay implicate a man or woman’s ability to operate an acetylene torch? Generally not.

#11 Comment By James Bradshaw On July 3, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

“They just want to be able to be faithful to their own teaching while fulfilling government contracts.”

Again … not buying it. Why? Because religious fundamentalism requires one embrace the notion that anyone who does not affirm a very narrow set of ideas and beliefs (which shifts depending on who you ask) is doomed to Hell. A consistent fundamentalist would insist they not be required to hire or retain “Hell-bound” Jews, Mormons, Catholics or any other person whose beliefs they deem heterodox.

No one insists on this, though. They just don’t want to hire the queers. That’s not principled.

[NFR: Here’s a newsflash: religious organizations are not now required to hire people outside their faith to work in the church or ministry. I know you mean “fundamentalism” as a slur word, but there are all kinds of nonfundamentalist churches who only wish to hire within the religion. And you know what? That’s morally acceptable, and legally permitted. — RD]

#12 Comment By Chris 1 On July 3, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

I found the callousness of this to be shocking:

They might as well write off the next two or three or 10 generations, among whom nondiscrimination is the 11th commandment.

If that’s how it has to be, that’s how it has to be. Fidelity to what one believes to be religious and moral truth is more important than popularity….

I think you’ve confused fidelity with Christ to fidelity with what you think is correct, and by so doing have now shown your inner Fred Phelps to the world.

[NFR: Because I believe what the Orthodox and Catholic churches teach and have always taught about homosexuality, I am Fred Phelps? Good grief. Get a grip on yourself, would you? Is there a Fred Phelps inside Pope Francis just dying to come out? The Pope is still Catholic, you know. — RD]

#13 Comment By M_Young On July 3, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

” I think it’s pretty clear where this is going, and that many liberals’ fears of a slippery slope are pretty well-founded.”

And the end of the slope is… that sexually active people will have to buy their own contraception, or work for a company that provides it in their plans, or get free contraception from the variety of sources available.

Seriously, what a ‘nation’ of whiners.

Besides, since barrier methods are the only way of preventing (mostly) STDs, thats what a ‘healthcare plan’ should cover.

#14 Comment By Darrel On July 4, 2014 @ 12:50 am

Nobody is “discriminating against” ungodly marriages or anything else. People are declining to be active participants in extolling something they abhor. Whether it is a marriage, a slogan, or anything else, the state may not compel a person’s expression.

To be clear, I’m sympathetic to that legal argument. I’m commenting not on the legal aspect but on the social one–that (some religious conservatives) target only one small subset of the people whose lives and lifestyles fall short of your religion’s requirements in their desire to discriminate via their business.

Shorter me: if you inconsistently cite your religion as an excuse to discriminate against a particular group of people, don’t be surprised if that makes you look like a bigoted *sshole to the rest of us.

I grew up in Christianity, and studied the Bible throughout my early years. The belief system didn’t take, but I really liked a lot of it. I couldn’t help but notice, and admire, and indeed learn some moral lessons from the fact that Jesus was consistently decent and kind to sinners. That (some of) his alleged followers use their religious identity to be a discriminatory jerk toward (a very small subset of) those they considered sinners makes them look pretty petty and small to normal people, but even moreso to those of us who actually read the book they purport to follow.

#15 Comment By JonF On July 4, 2014 @ 1:54 am

Re: Should PETA have to tolerate an employee that posts pictures of his weekend BBQs on his cubicle wall.

Tolerate the employee? Yes. Tolerate the pics: no. The cubicle is company property and the company has every right to decide what is permitted there or not.
The employee is NOT company property (see: 13th Amendment) and the company has no rights– none, zip, nada– to control what the employee is doing when s/he is not on the clock. Indeed the company (which is not a human being, a citizen, or anything remotely equivalent– it’s a frigging legal fiction!) has no right to hold or express an opinion on such matters whatsoever.

(As a practical matter I do sign onto the compromise suggested re: non-believers legitimately excluded– but I will insist up to my dying breath that we need to stop treating legal fictions as humans and citizens which they emphatically are not)

#16 Comment By Glaivester On July 4, 2014 @ 2:00 am

ratnerstar: I’m completely aware of the fact that right now Federal contractors can fire or refuse to hire people solely because they are gay. I’m not sure how that’s relevant. The current situation is a travesty, so I should be completely happy with any movement in the right direction?

I think that if you get 90% of what you want, you can argue that you should have gotten 100%, but to act as if it’s the end of the world or that the other side is being unreasonable because you did not get 98-100% of what you want is pretty ridiculous.

Darth Thulhu:

No, if organized Christianity does not treat Lustful sinners exactly the same as it treats Greedy sinners and Gluttonous sinners and Prideful sinners, it is committing suicide.

The point is not whether they are sinners, but that they are celebrating their sin. As M_Young said, it would be like requiring PETA to hire someone who proudly boasts about how much he loves hunting and animal testing.

Fifty years ago, they weren’t banned from discriminating against blacks either. Now, they are banned from discriminating on that basis,

That’s not exactly the point. I’m not saying that because something is the status quo, anything that improves upon it cannot be questioned, or you cannot argue for something even better.

My point is that “slippery slope” arguments generally assume that things will continue to slide in a bad direction. At worst, if the Hobby Lobby decision causes Obama or a future president to add some exemptions to any executive order expanding non-discrimination policies, the slope amounts to you getting only some of what you want or getting it slower.

You can certainly argue against religious exemptions. I do not think you can reasonably argue that religious organizations getting exemptions from potential future laws would constitute moving us toward a theocracy.

It’s like 10 years ago when I was arguing with someone who said that we were moving toward a theocracy because so many states were passing same-sex marriage bans. The fact that states felt they had to explicitly say something that pretty much everyone thought was so obvious it did not need to be said actually proved the strength of the gay rights movement in changing the conversation.

I guess what I am saying is, you guys are pretty sore winners.

#17 Comment By Glaivester On July 4, 2014 @ 2:20 am

“By Jove, these uppity darkies confound me! I cannot ascertain why they “freak out” about allowing me to continue discriminating against them in perpetuity. It’s not as if that takes away any rights they currently have!!”

I’m sorry, what you seem to be implying here is dishonest. We’re not arguing about whether or not to maintain the status quo. We’re arguing about whether you get 90% of what you want or 100%.

These kind of “all or nothing” behaviors keep sowing the wind. The Law of Merited Whirlwind Reaping is going to leave you with nothing, if you and yours keep indulging this kind of thing.

Project much? You are demanding that you get 100% of what you want. 90% is too little for you. And you claim I am the one being all or nothing?

I also love your implication that if only we were willing to work with you, you would find a compromise that leaves us with something. B.S. If the GOP had decided to work out some same-sex marriage compromise back, say, in the mid-90s, all that would happen is that the discussions we are having now would be happening 10 years earlier. People who stand up to you have prolonged the period where our concerns have some sway.

You just want some excuse to comfort yourself that when you become the persecutor that those you leave with nothing really do deserve it, and that it’s their fault and you would have thrown them a bone if they hadn’t forced you to go after them.

For example: the (repeatedly) passed ENDA bill from the Senate, which has religious liberty provisions.

Which I totally trust you to honor as soon as you have power.

Be honest. You hate religious/social traditionalists and want to grind their bones into powder, and intended on leaving them with nothing no matter what. Your statements about how they are bringing it on themselves are just a rationalization; you are looking for something, anything you can use as an excuse so that you can deny responsibility when it happens.

#18 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 4, 2014 @ 7:22 am

Re: Should PETA have to tolerate an employee that posts pictures of his weekend BBQs on his cubicle wall.

Um, you’re pegging my schadenfreude meter. Given how much I dislike PETA I’d love to see them forced them to hire a grilling enthusiast.

#19 Comment By Crates On July 4, 2014 @ 10:13 am

“Be honest. You hate religious/social traditionalists and want to grind their bones into powder, and intended on leaving them with nothing no matter what.”

Not true for me. I don’t hate you, but I am exhausted by you. I wish you the safety of your own community where, much like the Old Believers, Amish and others, you can practice your faith unhampered. A place where you may exercise your prejudices and daily parade your righteous vanity, and have no impact on my life. For, you see, I do not follow your god, nor do I wish to. I do not subscribe to your scripture, nor wish to engage with it other than as literature. Your laws and rules are just that: yours. If you cannot partake in a secular civil society than it might be time for you to consider the reservation option. I, for one, would welcome the peace, and to have the energy to devote attention to more serious, pressing matters that affect humanity, some of which many Christians–those not haunted by the love lives of the neighbors–are already nobly at work on.

#20 Comment By Chris 1 On July 4, 2014 @ 11:12 am

[NFR: Because I believe what the Orthodox and Catholic churches teach and have always taught about homosexuality, I am Fred Phelps? Good grief. Get a grip on yourself, would you? Is there a Fred Phelps inside Pope Francis just dying to come out? The Pope is still Catholic, you know. — RD]

Pope Francis is the perfect contrast with your post, Rod.

The Pope has not altered Catholic moral teaching one iota, and yet he is deeply worried that putting the moral teaching first, proclaiming Christian morality outside the context of the love of Christ, is alienating generations. He cares about those generations, and thus has set about putting Christ first (much to the discomfort of social conservatives, I might add) while your stated view towards those generations amounts to “tough titties to them if they don’t like it.”

The difference between your callousness and Francis’ behavior that culture warriors decry lies in understanding this Scripture:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.”

It is the preference to be “loud and proud” without regards to the consequences over the preference to be loving that evidences your inner Fred Phelps, rather than your inner Pope Francis.

#21 Comment By Socrates On July 4, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

M_Young said: “And the end of the slope is… that sexually active people will have to buy their own contraception”

This just makes me crazy.

Even with the mandate they already ARE paying for their own contraception.

The insurance is part of their compensation. The employees are paying for their own contraception. By working. It’s really very simple to understand this!

Please find an argument that isn’t fundamentally dishonest.

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 4, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

Darrel, as long as the constitutional parameters are clear and accepted, I can (and must — whether I like it or not) tolerate any amount of cacaphonous name-calling of “bigot” and “intolerant” and anything else the right left progressive conservative fundamentalist queernation etc camps want to indulge in. That is merely freedom of speech.

Similarly, as long as it is clear that the Roman Catholic Church is under no obligation to change its doctrine just because some sociologist publishes a screed saying the church is out of date, I can (and must) tolerate any number of people impotently spouting their opinion about how out of date the Roman Catholic Church is.

Should PETA have to tolerate an employee that posts pictures of his weekend BBQs on his cubicle wall.

Tolerate the employee? Yes. Tolerate the pics: no.

Let’s be a little more precise. PETA exists to advocate and express a point of view. There is no reason it should not prefer candidates for employement who embrace and can honestly support that point of view. I suppose one could argue that the janitor who cleans the office doesn’t express a point of view, but most likely s/he is hired by the building owner, not the tenant of the office space. Or, PETA may own a small storefront and everyone shares cleaning duties.

I wish you the safety of your own community where, much like the Old Believers, Amish and others, you can practice your faith unhampered.

One could say the same about gay couples who want to be accepted as “married.” They should form their own self-sufficient communities where they won’t have to worry about neighbors who may think they are going to burn in hell for eternity, and won’t be flaunting their evil life style in good Christian neighborhoods.

But the fact is, this is a densely packed, diverse, society. Gay couples are under no obligation to move to some rural commune (although they, and amorous heterosexuals, should refrain from frightening the horses). Conversely, Bible-believing Christians are under no obligation to retreat into Amish style communities. The Amish chose to do that. Others may, but we are also all free to move in next door to each other. We owe modest obligations like keeping the sound level on the stereo down when the windows are open, no matter which music we like or don’t like, and not to keep hundreds of watts of Christmas lighting on after 10:00 pm. But that’s about it.

#23 Comment By JonF On July 5, 2014 @ 7:24 am

Re: And if there’s one thing that’s glaringly obvious at this point, it’s that the Affordable Care Act sucks.

True enough and we could do better, but the status quo ante sucked worse for those who were frozen out of the system by poverty or illness.