Obama's Assault on Religious Liberty Covered by Telegraph Columnist

 Courtesy of David Hughes, The Telegraph

'The Obama administration’s decision to take on the Catholic Church at this stage of the political cycle is either very brave or very stupid. As Jon Swaine reports this morning, the President’s overhaul of healthcare includes a provision that religious charities, universities and other groups must now provide contraception in staff insurance packages and failure to do so will result in hefty fines.

More than 150 Catholic bishops have spoken out against the change, with one accusing Obama of waging a "severe assault on religious liberty". According to Alexander Sample, the Bishop of Marquette, "we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees and suffer the penalties for doing so.” With 70 million Catholics in the United States, this looks like a kamikaze mission by the White House. Why have they done it? David Brooks in the New York Times has a persuasive theory:
Members of the Obama administration aren’t forcing religious organizations to violate their creeds because they are secular fundamentalists who place no value on religious liberty. They are doing it because they operate in a technocracy. Technocrats are in the business of promulgating rules. They seek abstract principles that they can apply in all cases. From their perspective, a rule is fair when it can be imposed uniformly across the nation. Technocratic organizations take diverse institutions and make them more alike by imposing the same rules. Technocracies do not defer to local knowledge. They dislike individual discretion. They like consistency, codification and uniformity.
This obsession with legislative uniformity could have a big price tag.  When he was elected in 2008, Obama outscored John McCain by 54 per cent to 45 per cent among Catholic voters. That advantage has, I suspect, just been frittered away.'

Comments

Johannes Faber said…
That's quite plausible. I do wish people would stop trying to argue against it using religious liberty, which I have written about here (http://goldenstraw.blogspot.com/2012/02/avoiding-religious-liberty.html). It's totally mad. Every time I go on thepulp.it it's 'Tuesday Afternoon Religious Liberty Extra' or whatever. I think arguments that use other grounds are much more sensible.
gemoftheocean said…
No, Johannes, it's not plausible, and it is a direct attack on Catholics. The MUSLIMS and Amish were given a FREE PASS on having to comply. Obama hates Catholics, always has, always will. He tramples on Catholic's rights which are guaranteed by the first amendment. He makes up law as he goes along.

In addition he'd promised a cadre of idiot Catholic democrats that in exchange for their support of shoving this overall unconstitutional Obamacare down everyone's throat that he would NOT require religious institutions to pay for such things. Well, a lot of those idiot congress critters lost their seats in the 2010 elections. Bart Stupak, for one, was toast -- afraid to even run for re-election. A bunch of Judases.

This crypto-Muslim does NOT have the right to dictate that religious people go against their consciences. It will NOT stand, and this usurper will have his nose shoved in excrement in due course by the Supreme Court. He is a constant danger to the republic, and so is any so called Catholic, or anyone who values religious freedom and freedom in general who votes for him.
Anonymous said…
Our Lord told us to do two things when teaching the gospel. First, 'Preach the gospel boldly' and secondly 'In all your speech be 'yea, yea, nay, nay' (Matt 5:37). If we aren't doing that we can hardly expect our evangelisation to work. Too often our Bishops and now spokesmen like CV have behaved like sorry a**** in front of the cameras or in print and consequently we've evangelised practically no one. Contrast this with the reaction John Sentamu got from the press last weekend when he spoke out against gay marriages. What happened? He got instant respect and people understood very forcefully this was a man to be reckoned with. You could hear the applause in the background. Why? Because he spoke the gospel BOLDLY and he was plain in speech and manner i.e. he did what Our Lord told him to do and behaved exactly as He would. One of Our Lord's chief characteristics was his courage and boldness - people loved him for it. Unless we start imitating Him our evangelisation will fall on stony ground.

If we continue down this track of parsing our words and nuancing everything we are going to come serioulsy unstuck. I've seen Jack Valero faltering on TV on the issue of homosexuality where the interviewer had him squirming in his seat and this CP legislation with the 'missing clause' has the ability to make us look positively Machiavellian. How Jesuitical I can here the audience saying. No, this approach is doomed to failure and Our Lord has told us so. It's 'preach the gospel BOLDLY', not 'be a wimp' and 'in all your speech be yea, yea, nay nay' not 'play jiggery pokery with everything I say and get the best deal you can'.

BJC
Johannes Faber said…
You may all be right, but I stand by the fact that using religious liberty is a bad idea, given its confusing place in the magisterium of the Church. There are better arguments that do not involve such ambiguity.

You don't need to be associated with the SSPX (and indeed I am not) to notice that what was said by all the Popes before the council about religious liberty seem to contradict what the council says. Even if you hold to a hermeneutic of continuity, and think it will all be reconciled soon - it isn't yet, and it would be best to avoid this area like the plague.
Nicolas Bellord said…
Whether the NY Times article is plausible or not it seems to me that the result is the same. The great modern heresy of the left is that one can make people "good" (which supposes they will be happy) by legislation and regulation. Everybody has to be squashed into the same regulated mould anaesthetised with bread and circuses. The bread is to be strictly controlled by the medical profession and the circuses (mainly in the form of TV) by the consumer industry and the Government in an unholy alliance. It requires us all to think the same way etc. It is the Brave New World of Huxley. Of course the Alphas at the top will be exempted from such horrors.
Jules said…
Sorry, I know this is probably a closed issue now, but what really is so objectionable about the proposed bill? If you read it, the main point is as follows: large organisations ostensibly run by religious bodies but not staffed exclusively by members of that religion must offer health-insurance that meets national requirements (think, for instance, of Notre Dame University. A 'Catholic' university that is not staffed by Catholics alone. Neither the academic staff nor the cafeteria workers *have* to be Catholic). So, no one is being forced to use contraception, but nor are employers allowed to refuse to cover contraception on religious grounds (since this is clearly denying provision to staff who are not Catholic). Basically, the bill states, if you can't refuse to hire someone because they are not Catholic in a place (or because they ARE Catholic of course), you can't use that as a pretext for altering health-care plans. What's the big fuss over then? Obviously SOME institutions CAN discriminate (no one is suggesting that the RCC can't refuse to appoint priests who are not Catholic! Or to refuse to pay for contraception for them! This would be crazy), but those that (quite rightly) can't, such as large universities, must offer at least the option of standard health-care to their staff. I think this is just a cheap shot not founded int he facts of the case (which you don't appear to have a solid grasp of)
Nicolas Bellord said…
Jules: Abortion and contraception are against the natural law which applies to all humanity. Being complicit in providing the means for either is immoral whether to Catholics or non-Catholics. The bill apparently tries to force Catholic institutions to provide those means thus going against their conscience. That is gravely wrong.

You may not agree but which part of the above argument do you not agree with?
Jules said…
Dear Nicholas,

I suppose my point is as follows: everyone knows the Catholic Church is opposed to abortion. Abortion is already legal. So neither of these two points can be the cause of this fresh scandal. The scandal ostensibly surrounds the fact that Catholics are being 'forced' to do something, but this isn't actually true. There is no compulsion in the proposed bill (which had now been modified anyway to remove contraception from co-pay. Basically insureres have decided to give contraceptives for free with the health plans as it saves them money in the long term anyway). The bill does not say individual Catholics have to do anythinmg they don't want. Nor does it say religious believers must abide by the same rules. For instance, several religious institutions are clearly exempt from the bill, including convents, seminaries etc. The non-exempt 'Catholic' institutions include large universities in recepit of state funding and employing thousands of people, Catholic and non-Catholic. The bill quite reasonably states that the health provision for these employees should not be contingent on the religious beliefs of their employer, since the institution employing them is not a religious institution in the same way that a church or convent is (it is not necessary to be a Catholic to work as a janitor at the University opf Notre Dame). So, my point again: Why is this causing such friction? Yes, you don't agree with abortion. But we know that already. Why is this particular case so abhorrent? It seems like a cheap shot at the president that is not founded on the inherent evil of the proposed bill, which actually makes a lot of sense (the basic point being that a large institution employing a mix of people and operating for profit has no conscience and so can't appeal to conscience in trying to worm out of paying for health-care plans for its staff. It's about money, not souls)

Now, just to clarify once more, you say "(a) Being complicit in providing the means for either [contraception of abortion] is immoral whether to Catholics or non-Catholics. (b) The bill apparently tries to force Catholic institutions to provide those means thus going against their conscience. That is gravely wrong."

So let's quickly summarise these two distinct points. (b) They are not really 'Catholic institutions'. Truly Catholic institutions (ones whose function is essentially bound up with their Catholicism) are exempt, as indeed they ought to be. The bill covers only those for-profit businesses that receive state funding and employ non-Catholics, that is fair enough. (a) Is irrelevant to the proposed bill. If you think contraception is inherently evil and should be banned then you have a more substantial task than stopping a bill that is, in and of itself, rational and just. By painting this particular bill as oppressive is therefore cowardly
Nicolas Bellord said…
Dear Jules,

I do not think whether insurers add contraception as a “free” extra or whether it is included in the package really makes any difference.

I am not aware of the constitution which governs the University of Notre Dame but let us suppose there exist non-exempt institutions whose constitutions require them to be run in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Those teachings would require following the natural law. You may say that such an institution does not have a conscience but it is run by trustees and directors or whatever the governors of the institution are called, who are human beings with consciences.

I am not sure what you mean when you say contraception has been removed from co-pay which is a term with which I am not familiar. But for the moment let us assume that the legislation obliges these non-exempt institutions to provide a health insurance package which includes contraception whether as an added “freeby” or as part of the package. In that case it is the human governors of the institutions who are being obliged to pay for contraception through the health package. That is attempting to oblige them to go against their consciences in becoming complicit in providing services which are contrary to the natural law. This is not some religious rule that only applies to the followers of a particular religion but something that applies to all as part of the natural law.

You think this is reasonable, that opposition is a cheap shot, that this bill makes a lot of sense, that it is rational and just and opposition is cowardly. These are just statements of opinion for which you provide no evidence.
Jules said…
Dear Nicolas (spelled correctly this time, my apologies),

Co-pay is a type of US insurance contract. Basically it means the insured party gets lower premiums for which he must pay the first such and such a percent of the bill, with the insurer picking up the tab only if it runs over a set limit (so if you break your leg and the bill is $10k, your co-pay is about $2k and the insurer pays the other $8k). As co-pay is designed to stop insured persons frivolously accessing medical services (i.e. taking a day off to go see the GP when they feel a bit rough and then charging the company for it) something minor like contraception would not be eligible for co-pay on most health insurance policies. However, most employers pick up the contraceptive co-pay because they would rather not pay maternity/paternity costs (in other words, Ford will pay for condoms and contraceptive pills because it is cheaper than paying for a worker to have a baby). Catholic institutions did not want to meet this shortfall, and insurers wanted to charge them for it. The deadlock has been broken because the major insurance firms have recently (i.e. in the last few days) agreed to waive co-pay for contraceptive devices, pills, condoms etc. So basically the problem has been solved through diplomacy and the issue can be put to bed. But the point nonetheless stands – in what sense is an institution entitled to behave as an individual? Why must (say) a Jewish member of staff be told that their employer’s religious preferences inform the healthcare they are willing to provide, particularly when said employer is not a person but something rather abstract like an institution? Would it be acceptable for an institution owned by Muslims to insist that employee health insurance would not cover any diseases brought on through the consumption of alcohol or pork? Catholic institution may be run by human beings with consciences, but if they are not permitted to demand that their staff be Catholic, still less to follow what they believe to be the natural law, then why should their individual moral beliefs be indirectly imposed on their staff? Now I am trying to depoliticise this as much as possible because I know it’s a sensitive area for anyone who holds a moral belief passionately. But, as far as I can see, your (i.e. their) argument boils down to saying that if a person who sits on the board of trustees doesn’t like something, then he or she has an inalienable right to insist that any employee is denied access to it on company funds, even if the law normally permits it as a standard clause in a contract. Let’s forget the health care bill (because the issue has been put to bed by the insurance companies’ actions) and take another issue like sex outside of marriage. According to your logic it would not be unjust for a large American Catholic university to hold that (i) non-Catholics may be employed there but that (ii) they can be sacked for having sex outside of marriage as it violates Catholic mores. Surely at this point most people would ask what right the employer has to interfere in the moral choices of his employees in such a way. You might say “This is not some religious rule that only applies to the followers of a particular religion but something that applies to all as part of the natural law” but I think even you will permit me my right not to abide by your religions rules, no matter how much you may believe such rules to be in my interest (again, if you don’t hold this to be true you are actually arguing for a much more extreme position, viz. I must be legally obliged to conform to Catholicism!)
Nicolas Bellord said…
Jules:

You say this matter has been put to bed and solved. Are you able to point to any statement by the US Bishops accepting that the problem has been solved?

You ask various questions suggesting that something is being imposed upon employees. If a Jewish or Muslim organisation were to refuse to provide pork in their canteens is that imposing something on their employees? I would say that they are perfectly entitled not to provide pork and the employees, having been aware of this from the start, are free to find employment elsewhere.

You go on to say " But, as far as I can see, your (i.e. their) argument boils down to saying that if a person who sits on the board of trustees doesn’t like something, then he or she has an inalienable right to insist that any employee is denied access to it on company funds, even if the law normally permits it as a standard clause in a contract. " I do believe they have such a right. It is their money and they have a right to decide how it should be spent or not spent. I cannot see that saying that because something is a standard clause in a contract it is therefore right gives any support to your argument. Nobody is imposing anything; if you go and work for a particular organisation then you surely must accept the rules of the organisation. If you do not like them go elsewhere.

I do believe that an organisation has the right to take objection to the immoral behaviour of an individual. If a teacher in a Catholic school were to lead a flagrantly immoral life which would set a bad example to the children I believe the school would have the right to sack that teacher.
Nicolas Bellord said…
Jules: If you look at this link I think you will find that the US Bishops do not regard the problem as solved:

http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-026.cfm

(Thanks to Protect the Pope for providing this link)
Jules said…
"having been aware of this from the start, are free to find employment elsewhere" - employment law doesn't work like that does it? You *may not* discriminate - it's no defence to say 'yeah but they knew I was going to do it when they accepted the job'. Where could it lead? 'Who knows what's down the road?' as VN says. Perhaps an employer could say 'those female employees KNEW that I wouldn't tolerate them starting families, so they can't complain when I sack them', or 'those Catholics KNEW that I was an anti-papist zealot when they took the job'. And thus we slide back into the dark ages of bigotry and partisanship

"It is their money and they have a right to decide how it should be spent or not spent." - it is not *their* money. The very essence of this debate is that the institutions concerned are not charities/self-funded endeavours, but public institutions in receipt of government funds. The Roman Catholic Church does not have the money to run modern hospitals with medical staff, nor to pay academic salaries. These are not exclusively religious institutions and therefore ought to be exempt from the opt outs granted to religious institutions.

"Nobody is imposing anything" - this works both ways. Nobody is imposing the use of contraceptives, they are just saying that those non-Catholic employees who are offered free contraceptives from their employment insurance should not be prevented from accessing them because the bishops on the board of trustees would rather they didn't use them. No one is asking the bishops for a penny any more, yet they are denying staff at state-funded institutions access to contraceptives because they don't like the morality of it. If that's not imposing your will on people, I don't know what is (leaving aside the fact that something like 95% of US Catholics admit to contraceptive use, a staggering indication of the bishops' lack of influence over Catholic morals, let alone anyone else's)

"If a teacher in a Catholic school were to lead a flagrantly immoral life which would set a bad example to the children I believe the school would have the right to sack that teacher." Depends, doesn't it? If that school is obliged to admit non-Catholic pupils then would, say, the teacher's cohabiting with his/her partner constitute grounds for dismissal? In this case I would say, given that cohabiting is de facto not seen as a gross violation of mores (indeed it is 'the norm') there would be no reason to let any institution discriminate against staff who happen not to hold the employer's minority view. Basically, that is modern employment law and, to repeat, if you don't agree with modern employment law, your argument is far more fundamental than 'Obama care'. Yet for some reason I don't hear these bishops moaning about US employment law or trying to challenge that through the courts [basically this is a variation of the well worn argument which runs as follows: Catholic bishops are very vocal when it comes to the impropriety of homosexual relations. Yet the justification for such antipathy can equally be applied to other practices, such as masturbation. Of course you never hear a peep out of them over this because they would be laughed out of town. So, as all good cowards know, pick a fight with the smallest kid in school and hope to get a few punches in before someone pulls you apart. Jesus Christ must be weeping tears over what his Church has become]
Nicolas Bellord said…
Dear Jules,

I am not all that familiar with UK employment law and know nothing of USA employment law. However suppose that a Jewish or Muslim organisation were to offer employment to anybody whatever their religion. As a term of employment they state that there is a canteen which they subsidise but which only serves meals in accordance with their customary dietary systems e.g. they do not serve pork. I think that would be entirely reasonable and I think any system of employment law that thought otherwise was wrong. As a Catholic I would respect their requirements and not object. Similarly if I invite a Jew or a Muslim or a vegetarian to my house I would respect their dietary habits perhaps discretely asking them beforehand as to their exact requirements. That is showing respect for other people.

Similarly a Catholic institution is perfectly within its rights to offer employment and to include the benefit of free health insurance but such insurance would not cover procedures contrary to Catholic teaching such as non-therapeutic mutilations, contraception and abortion. Any law that prevented that would be wrong.

There seems to be a modern view that discrimination of any kind is wrong not just unjust discrimination. I spend most of my waking life making choices, discriminating between which actions I will now take e.g. go for a walk or not etc. Just how far are people going to take this idea that you must not discriminate? Perhaps one day my state pension will be cut if I do not take enough exercise. Freedom goes out of the window at the behest of liberals.

As to their taking Government funds you say that Catholic Hospitals and educational institutions could not run without them. I would query that. Another modern shibboleth is "diversity". Where is this diversity if the Government tries to micro-manage the workings of institutions which it happens to fund to however small a degree?

The family is the prime educator of children and the state is only there to assist not to dictate. If it raises taxes to provide education it must not discriminate against a particular group in order to frustrate the desires of the families as to how their children are educated.

You further seem to think that because certain behaviours such as fornication and masturbation are very common that they should be accepted.

You say that these institutions are denying their employees access to contraception. No they are not - they are just saying that do not want to pay for them. There is nothing to stop the employee paying for them.

Catholic sexual morality says that all sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong whether it be homosexual acts, fornication, adultery or masturbation. At the moment there is a very vocal lobby of homosexuals who claim that homosexual sexual activity is perfectly okay and its practice be instituted in civil partnerships etc. Catholics speak out against this. If there was a similar lobby proclaiming that masturbation was to be encouraged no doubt Catholics would speak out. There has been a relatively minor lobby acting in schools in that sense and Catholics have spoken out.

You may find these extra-marital sexual activities perfectly acceptable and laugh at anyone who asserts the contrary. I fail to see how you can call people who speak up against what you believe to be a majority view, cowards. But I sense there is a lack of respect for other people's views coupled with too great a respect for the State.
Jules said…
Dear Nicolas,

Sorry to keep batting this back and forth, I will not reply again, thank you for your courtesy.

Firstly, I find these arguments descend into an exchange targeted at the assumed belief of a straw man. You conflate inviting a person round for dinner with agreeing to uphold the law. If you invite a person round for dinner and racially abuse then, you thereby break the law. The fact that it is your house makes no difference to the law of discrimination. You then conclude that a Catholic institution is “perfectly within its rights” to break employment law with respect to discrimination. It is not – you mean to say, I think, that in your view it ‘ought’ to be right. That is to some extent immaterial to the current debate between the Bishops and the American government. Of course what ‘ought’ to be done and what ‘is’ done must remain in constant ethical dialogue, but the basic presumption of any social contract is that you can’t break the law as and when you wish and then appeal to right. You must appeal to right to change the law and, until such a time as it does change, you must obey the law. You raise the subject of homosexuality, and there is an interesting legal parallel here concerning Alan Turing – the Lords refused to issue a retrospective pardon because, though they no longer believe homosexuality to be wrong and though it is no longer contrary to the law, he had nonetheless broken the law by acting against it. Fair enough I’d say

A second straw man is set up when you say:
“I spend most of my waking life making choices, discriminating between which actions I will now take e.g. go for a walk or not etc. Just how far are people going to take this idea that you must not discriminate? Perhaps one day my state pension will be cut if I do not take enough exercise. Freedom goes out of the window at the behest of liberals.”
Firstly, this is a bad argument; you are (wilfully) conflating two senses of ‘discriminate’. Presumably it works in reverse – ‘since I can decide whether to go for a walk or not I can decide whether to be gay or not’? No? OK, so the one type of choice is not related to the other (because only in a more limited sense of ‘discrimination’ do your actions have any bearing on other people – actions which, presumably, are the sole domain of the civil and criminal laws). But the straw man conclusion that “Freedom goes out of the window at the behest of liberals” is a silly, cheap shot, particularly as the debate now concerns whether you ought to be ‘free’ not only to hold, but to act on opinions that will adversely affect another person’s decisions [N.B. your third, largely irrelevant, straw man comes when you say “Another modern shibboleth is "diversity"” – a confusing leap of logic to a subject I hadn’t even introduced and which is, as far as I can see, utterly at odds with both the central point of contention (i.e. the lack of diversity in the US law with respect to the Church), and your own stated philosophy (i.e. that the monolithic state erodes diversity and is therefore a bad thing). I am at a loss as to know why you knowingly live by a shibboleth] However, I just want to emphasise that I am *not* making a 'might is right' argument when I speak of cowardice. I use the term cowardice because I find the following somewhat puzzling/disingenuous in a way that I think really gets to the heart of what’s rotten in your worldview:

[you say] "Catholic sexual morality says that all sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong whether it be homosexual acts, fornication, adultery or masturbation. At the moment there is a very vocal lobby of homosexuals who claim that homosexual sexual activity is perfectly okay and its practice be instituted in civil partnerships etc. Catholics speak out against this. If there was a similar lobby proclaiming that masturbation was to be encouraged no doubt Catholics would speak out."
Jules said…
Ok, first of all, I am sure you know perfectly well that the number of 'masturbators' is far higher than the number of homosexuals. Probably 99.99999999% of Britain have indulged. You know this, and it's not a subject to dwell on in polite conversation, so we can just leave it at that.
However, given that you know this to be true, why do you insist that the 'homosexual lobby's' being 'vocal' is the issue here? Let's be honest, you're an intelligent gentleman who (I assume) knows this isn't a good argument. I would give three primary reasons why, but the first two you may disregard (since they are not consistent with Catholic beliefs):

(1) Homosexuality is legal (and indeed ought to be). If an act is legal there is no need to suppress it. Your complaint that homosexuality is socially visible suggests that you don't like seeing it, not that homosexuals are doing anything inherently wrong (in a legal sense). A homosexual has no more need to 'hide' his love than does a heterosexual

(2) To the extent that homosexuality has been politicised, it is clearly a response to fairly vicious prejudice. Ethnic minorities began to form societies to petition for greater protection & representation in the 70s & 80s for a very similar reason - they were facing prejudice and quite legitimately acted to protect their interests. It seems to me to be slightly illogical to hold both (a) that homosexuality should be criminalised and (b) that homosexuals who speak out against your opinions are the subject of their own condemnation for politicising the issue! If I started an anti-Nicolas Bellord society I could hardly justify it by saying 'I decided to act when that Nicolas Bellord started complaining about the society'

(3) If you really believe this is not a problem with homosexuals (note, 'homosexuals': people, with opinions and desires of their own) as such but with any form of sexual behaviour that defies Catholic teachings, then (assuming Anslem is right in saying that the end of the world is not as grave as a venial sin) you ought to be vocal in campaigning against masturbation. I find that, contrary to your views, it is the Catholic Church that 'politicises' homosexuality when it chooses this one sin and ignores other, far more common, ones. To do so is 'cowardly' - cowardly because it suggests a group that has realised they won't *ever* win a campaign to criminalise masturbation, divorce, or sex outside marriage, but believes that if they appeal to popular opprobrium they may win one little battle against an oppressed group. It's the actions of a group that have not only lost the argument, but are no longer even trying to win it effectively. You have as good as given up on your major premise (Catholic sexual teaching) and resorted to arguing that you should be permitted at least one prejudice. Why, if it is Catholic sexual teaching that condemns homosexuality, should a Catholic school be permitted to dismiss a homosexual employee but not one who has had sex before marriage? The same ethical logic should apply, the only difference is you know as well as I do that if the Church argued it should be allowed to modify employment & insurance contracts in order to penalise those who have had sex outside marriage, sued contraception, or masturbated, then you would meet with near total social resistance (let's face it, 99% of practising Catholics wouldn't support the proposal, nor, presumably, would the Pope himself)
Nicolas Bellord said…
Dear Jules,

You start by saying that I have conflated “inviting a person round for dinner with agreeing to uphold the law.”. I do not quite follow that. I was trying to make a case that we should respect other people's religious opinions and consciences.

I then get the impression that you hold views similar to those expressed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his “Contrat Social”. I do not. I do believe that people faced with an unjust law have the right to resist it by not obeying it. That is a moral right in my view. The law may enforce the law and punish me for resisting the law but I believe that would be morally wrong.

In your next paragraph when discussing the meaning of discrimination I think you have a consequentalist view of morality which I do not share when you say that the criterion is whether ones actions have any bearing on other people i.e. something is only right or wrong in the light of what consequence it has for other people. I believe certain things can be intrinsically wrong whether or not they affect other people.

Perhaps “shibboleth” was the wrong word but “diversity” does seem to be a buzz word in the world to-day and the intolerance of diverse religious opinion does not seem to square with it.

I am afraid I do not follow your argument about why you use the word “cowardice”.

In respect of the second post I would just say that I expect that 100% of humanity are guilty of sexual sin at some time time in their lives in respect of extra-marital sexual activity. We are all sinners. However Christ came to bring us forgiveness for our sins and redemption from the bonds of sin into a life of freedom.
Nicolas Bellord said…
You then go on to make some assumptions about Catholic belief and I will use the same numbering:

(1) Neither I nor the Church would seek to criminalise homosexual activities. But whilst homosexuals may not be doing anything wrong legally I believe that they are doing something morally wrong if they indulge in homosexual sexual activity. The Church would seek to dissuade them as would I. I think St Augustine got it right when he said that sexual sin is habit-forming and extremely difficult to escape from and damaging. However we believe that sins are forgiveable and redemption leads to freedom.
(2) As I have said above we do not believe that homosexual acts should be criminalised any more than say adultery should be criminalised. I can understand homosexuals wishing to campaign against unjust discrimination. The Catholic answer is to hate the sin but love the sinner. The catechism makes this very clear. What I do object to, are gay pride marches which mock the Pope and cross-dress as nuns to mock them. Further I do object to people who use the pulpit in Catholic churches to assert that homosexual sexual activity is not a sin. Most of us commit sexual sins; it is quite another matter to assert that they are not sins. I therefore object to people who might try and persuade young people that homosexual activity is quite okay and thus lead them into such practices.
(3) As I have tried to explain before, the Church condemns all extra-marital sexual activity. I think if you find the Church more vocal on this one kind of sexual activity it is because there is a homosexual lobby which promotes the idea that such activity is not sinful. There has been some, but much less, propaganda in our schools in promoting masturbation and Catholics have spoken up against that. If you see an imbalance I think it is because the media pick up immediately on any mention of homosexuality and ignore all the other things which the Vatican has to say or does.
I do not think the Church would dismiss a person who has homosexual inclinations or has committed any sexual sin. We believe that sins can be forgiven in confession and we can start again with a clean slate. However if someone in a school were to actively promote sinful activity and behave in a flagrant disregard of Catholic morality then I think the school would be justified in terminating their employment after due process.

Not sure who you are referring to as Anslem!

I understand the situation in the USA is that President Obama is seen as being a very active promoter of abortion. The Church is opposed to this. In any moral issue you have to draw a line somewhere and this proposal of forcing Catholic institutions to provide abortifacient pills etc is where the Church has to draw the line. Whatever you may think I do not see that accusing them of cowardice is correct.