Saturday, February 18, 2012

Religious Liberty a la Bishops' Conference

"Among the challenges we see is a pattern in culture and law to treat religion merely as a private matter between an individual and his or her God.Instead of promoting toleration of differing religious views, certain laws, court decisions, and administrative regulations treat religion not as a contributor to our nation's common morality but rather as a divisive and disruptive force better kept out of public life.  Some invoke the so-called doctrine of separation of church and state to exclude the Church from public policy, thus ignoring the historic role of churches in ending slavery, in securing civil rights, in promoting just labor practices, including the introduction of child labor laws."
            from section "III. What We See" of  Address on Religious Liberty
            by US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

I fail to see how treating faith as "a private matter between an individual and his or her God" is in anyway intolerant. In fact, I'd argue that that attitude is the corner stone of religious freedom. The moment you begin favoring the idea of religion's involvement in public policy it becomes inevitable that specific aspects of a particular religious sect gains dominance over others. Religions, even the sects/denomination of a single religion, are too contentious to all be given equal weight in public matters. Nothing would ever get accomplished since each would be pushing the policy in different directions.

It is also interesting to note the committee's denial of a long standing foundational concept of US democracy, separation of church and state. They refer to as "the so-called doctrine of separation of church and state." It is possible to argue that the church contributed to a number of social justice issues. However, there can be no argument to the contrary that the church helped to create and prolong all the above social problems referenced. Slavery is a good example. The Bible clearly supports slavery. The Bible was used to excuse and justify slavery. Believers who opposed slavery ended up having to do some creative interpretation or else focus on doctrines without the use of biblical allusions. Basically, the church's "historic role" is a poor foundation to make an argument about anything.

"This aids and abets the erosion of religious liberty, which is expressly recognized and protected by the First Amendment, by the imposition of court-mandated "rights" which have no textual basis in the Constitution such as those that pertain to abortion and same-sex marriage.  Refusal to endorse the taking of innocent human life or to redefine marriage is now portrayed as discriminatory.  As a result, the freedom of religious entities to provide services according to their own lights, to defend publicly their teachings, and even to choose and manage their own personnel is coming under increased attack."
            also from section "III. What We See"

The Bishops use a rather blatant and self-serving double standard. There is nothing in the constitution that grants religious believer the right to dictate to anyone else what they should accept as right or wrong. They falsely claim they are forced to defend their views. From what are they defending against. There are no public policies that force anyone to have an abortion or to think it is moral to do so. The bishops are free to think that abortion is immoral just as the are still free to teach in every parish across the country that it is immoral. They do not have the right to insist that I agree with them or the right to prevent others from seeking abortions. That right is not in the constitution! It is the Bishops who are provoking others to attack their opinions.

I also find it the height of hypocrisy that this group of pampered individuals think they can take a morally superior position when they have not only failed to protect the well being of children but have continually aided and abetted sexual predators. Before lashing out at others for what they believe to be moral lapses they aught to take a long look at themselves. Enabling, concealing, and then refusing responsibility for the rape of countless children is truly despicable. Setting aside the hypocrisy and arrogance laced throughout the address, it is astonishing to me that anyone can view this group of men as having any legitimate moral authority. I have no doubt that if it were not for their Roman collars and miter hats they would all be under investigation if not already locked up for their crimes. Make no mistake, they have committed crimes. Bishop Dolan, who head the conference, among others has conspired to conceal the crimes of others and in  so doing has not only committed multiple crimes but has behaved in ways that can not possibly be seen as anything other than immoral.

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