Gay Rights vs. Religious Liberty, Again
Everybody’s looking at the Supreme Court’s refusal today to review five state same-sex marriage cases as a sign that gay marriage is moving toward nationalized status, though not as swiftly as proponents would like. And that is true. The most important thing from a religious liberty perspective, though, are things like the news that the Evangelical Christian school Gordon College will have one year to “review” it’s homosexuality policy or risk losing accreditation. Excerpt:
The higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges met last week and “considered whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of ‘homosexual practice’ as a forbidden activity” runs afoul of the commission’s standards for accreditation, according to a joint statement from NEASC and Gordon College.
The commission asked Gordon College to submit a report next September. The report should describe the process by which the college has approached its review of the policy “to ensure that the College’s policies and procedures are non-discriminatory,” the statement said.
Here is Gordon College’s policy on homosexuality. It specifies that sexual orientation isn’t a problem, but sex outside of Christian marriage is. All people, straight and gay, are expected to refrain from sex outside of marriage. The policy also acknowledges that gay students on campus may have felt threatened in the past, and commits the school to making things safe for them.
That isn’t good enough for the accrediting agency. They mean to force Gordon to abandon its Christian beliefs, or else. Says the reader who sent me this story:
While I am a huge supporter of gay rights in general, this action has frightening implications. Accreditation of colleges and universities is a voluntary process and the accrediting body is not a governmental agency. However, loss of accreditation could mean loss of eligibility for federal student loans for the student body and other quite unfortunate consequences.
What on earth does the policy of this religious school toward the sexual conduct of its students and faculty have to do with the quality of the education one gets there? Nothing. Not a thing. This is not about quality education; this is about driving traditional Christians out of the public square.
The hatred of Christianity driving this in the Northeast won’t stop there. These are the new battle lines: not for marriage (we lost that one long ago), but for the right to practice our faith and be part of American society.
UPDATE: Annie writes:
I’d like to second what Ike said about the drastic shift in temperament that some commenters here don’t seem to believe exists, and attack Rod for believing in. I’m also religious, and almost exclusively are the people I know urban liberals in the major metropolitan areas of the East and West Coast. I spend all my time (except at work) with people who drastically disagree with me on every issue. I can feel the change, I listen to the increasingly angry polemics directed at me and the vague memory that I’m religious (I discuss it as little as possible with my loved ones). So when Ike says Waterloo is long over for us, he is entirely correct.
The media says or implicates the same thing that everyone I know does: religion is irrelevant at best, dangerous at worst. I have been screamed at by emotional men and women (yes, screamed) for suggesting Christianity is compatible with feminism. People I love who used to show a modicum of respect have been convinced by peer pressure that this respect is itself a form of discrimination. Every week, it seems, the aggression and scorn heaped upon people with different beliefs grows, and I am grieved as the social media memes and twitter-rants pile-up.
My friends and family have lost the reference points for discussing faith. They don’t know what Catholics believe. They don’t know what the inside of a Church looks like. It is all so much gobbledigook to them, and they let me know it. Their ignorance in conversation about religious matters is only to be matched by their righteousness (again, I try to say very little except gently correct them when they’re historically mistaken).
To be fair, we’ve been far too complicit. I work at a Catholic school which teaches the faith but also teaches worldly success, Common Core, and how great iPads are in the classroom. We can’t manipulate our environment, live wealthy existences, participate in the abuses of the empire, and then think people will take us seriously. I work with very good men and women, and I love them, but there is always more we can be doing, and the first thing to do is to stop using mainstream society’s frames of reference. Let them keep their worldly success and accreditation. It’s time to start living differently and disengage from them while keeping the door open to refugees from that culture, and refraining from judging our opponent’s hearts. They mainly mean well.