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Pay no attention to that totalitarian behind the curtain

The left continually tries to reassure us that its demands are reasonable and that those who are alarmed about them are Chicken Littles.

One wonders after a while why anyone on the right or even in the center believes them anymore. The bait and switch is so transparent. Why do they even bother?

In Canada and the EU, this bait and switch has more than once taken the form of phony religious exemptions from morally questionable laws. Even on their face such exemptions aren't really very comforting, because even if they were what they pretended to be, they wouldn't apply to moral traditionalists who have objections that are not specifically based on religion. And such exceptions are not even thought to apply to individual religious businessmen, only to expressly religious organizations.

But it's really worse than that, as we now begin to see here in the U.S. Herewith, two examples of phony religious exemptions even for expressly religious organizations:

In Illinois, a new civil union law has been passed. Just to make it clear to all those stupid right-wing alarmists that no attack on religious freedom was intended, this homosexual-rights law was named the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. And if any of those hesitating Congressmen retained any doubts about the religious protections in the law, we have the following exchange from the floor of the Illinois State Congress:

Haine: "'Nothing in this Act shall interfere or regulate with (sic) the religious practice of any religious body.' Any religious body is free to choose whether or not to solemnize or officiate civil unions. Now, I take it from your comments that the intent of this bill is not to make that one item but two separate intents: the solemnization of civil unions is one sphere; the second sphere is religious practice, which includes a wide variety of things. Is that correct?"

Koehler: "Yes, that is correct."

Haine: "So, we should not read them together as just referring to the act of solemnization of a civil union, right?"

Koehler: "If I understand your question correctly, yes."

Haine: "Therefore, and this is part of the intent, this has been the worry of these institutions of faith of all denominations, Christian and Jewish. Go to their various agencies providing social services...adoption agencies, a wide gamut of things--so that's covered under the first sentence (of the civil union act)?"

Koehler: "Yes. The intent is not to at all impede the rights religious organizations have to carry out their duties and religious activities."

This expressly addresses social services and their potentially "discriminatory" actions and the protection thereof.

Enter the case of Catholic Charities Illinois, a name that should go down in the minds of conservatives along with Catholic Charities in Boston, and for a similar reason. Despite the religious exemption in the law and despite the above floor exchange, this spring the Illinois Attorney General's office issued a statement that the charity does not comply with the law! Why? Because it "discriminates" against homosexual couples in placing children for adoption.

Moving smoothly into action, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services picked right up on this declaration from the Attorney General's office and told Catholic Charities that their contract with the state to place children for adoption is terminated because of their alleged violation of the new law.

Recently a judge has ruled that DCFS can refuse to contract with anyone for any reason, so (apparently) it doesn't really matter that DCFS's rationale for terminating the contract is based on an interpretation of the law that flies in the face of the law's legislative history. Presumably if someone actually tries to bring direct penalties (whatever the law allows for--fines?) against Catholic Charities for its past "discrimination," that issue will have to be addressed. But as long as the punishment merely takes the form of canceling a contract with the state, the state can say anything it pleases about the meaning of the law, and the courts will coyly refuse to comment on the legal merits of their argument. Clever, huh?

Pay no attention to that totalitarian behind the curtain. And pass those "rights" laws quickly, relying on protections for "religious exemptions."

Then there's the case of the HHS. New HHS regulations require insurance plans to pay for both contraception (including "morning-after" pills) and sterilization without co-pays. A phony "religious exemption" allows "religious" employers not to cover these services, but only if they primarily serve only members of their own religion! Obviously, Catholic social services are going to be the hardest-hit by these regulations, and equally obviously, Catholic social services do not primarily serve only members of their own religion. I can't help agreeing with Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, who says, "Health and Human Services must think Catholics and other religious groups are fools." Then again, that depends on who is supposed to be fooled by this "religious exemption." Perhaps only the larger public is its intended audience, not serious Catholics or others concerned about the religious freedom of Catholic organizations.

I note: This is a requirement. In other words, these insurance plans can't legally exist if they don't do what HHS says. This isn't only going to be a matter, as in the case of the Illinois DCFS, of withholding some state contract. Presumably there are penalties for entities that "illegally" continue to supply insurance to their employees while not following the diktats of The Secretary. Welcome to the world of federal takeover of healthcare.

The rest of us are still waiting to see whether Catholic organizations comply with these regulations. I hope they hunker down and fight a legal battle royal instead.

Meanwhile, the point regarding "religious exemptions" is timely. Let's not forget that the New York State Congress, shamefully led by Republicans, recently passed a homosexual "marriage" law. And what pacified some of these Republicans? "Religious exemptions" in the law. As already noted, even if such exemptions were what they purport to be, they would cover neither individual religious people nor non-religious traditionalists. But the bait and switch doesn't stop there.

All over the Western world, people are clinging to religious exemptions as the last refuge of common sense from left-wing totalitarianism. Message to lawmakers in the allegedly more conservative parties: It's all a lie. Don't be taken in. Just say no.

Update: A reader points out (with unsuccessful intent to imply that my entire post is misleading) that the initial letter by the Attorney General referred to an earlier Illinois law, the Illinois Human Rights Act. This appears to be true, and I am glad to correct the record. However, as I note in the comments, according to the story I link above, the DCFS head expressly said that he was withdrawing the contract from Catholic Charities because they did not intend to comply with the new Civil Unions (and "religious freedom") act. Moreover, Catholic Charities states that the older Human Rights act also contains religious exemptions. So both my points stand--namely, the bait and switch of religious exemptions and the relevance of the floor discussion of the Civil Unions Act.

Comments (56)

It's almost too depressing to contemplate.

The state has become its own religion.

This is just the French Revolution all over again. The Church didn't come out of that too well, either. We need to start building spaceships. It's going to get bloody, soon.

The Chicken

The only solution to this is to make the federal civil rights criminal statutes draconian. I would say that abolishing individual immunity for state and local employees carrying out orders and establishing strict liability (no criminal intent required) would be a good starting point. Then bring charges against every DCFS employee involved, no matter how minimally. The only way to break this cycle will be to use the federal civil rights laws to not just take out those involved, but to do the legal equivalent of irradiating the entire landscape (prosecuting literally every single employee involved) so that prospective replacements are so terrified of having their lives ruined that they don't even want to work in that capacity anymore.

Why? Because it "discriminates" against homosexual couples in placing children for adoption.

They should finish the sentence..."it "discriminates" against homosexual couples in placing children for adoption..." because of religious policies.

Apparently, the judge doesn't understand that religious agencies are inherently discriminatory. The word, religion, comes from the Latin meaning to bind. To bind is to restrict which is to discriminate.

Now, last I heard, discrimination in hiring because of religion is illegal, so the judge's ruling is unconstitutional on the face of it and Catholic Charities should not only sue DCFS silly (although they probably won't win because the DCFS can claim any other trumped up reason) to raise public awareness, but also to force a review under appeal.

Of course, any religious adoption agency has to be denied a contract by virtue of religion if the DCFS denies Catholic Charities, because every one is discriminatory in some sense. DCFS needs to be pressed to publically admit that it is because of the homosexual couple issue that they denied a contract with Catholic Charities. If the DCFS's strategy can be seen for what it is, the law can be directly applied and they can be held up to public ridicule. Both Boston and Chicago are nominally Catholic cities. One wonders what is in he water that could make their secular government so loopy.

The Chicken

DCFS needs to be pressed to publically admit that it is because of the homosexual couple issue that they denied a contract with Catholic Charities.

Admitting it! They said it outright. They claimed that Catholic Charities violates the law and that this is their reason for taking away the contract. But because "all" they are doing is removing a state contract, their interpretation of the law isn't even getting reviewed. The judge has apparently stated a principle that means the contract can be withheld or rescinded from a previous contractor by DCFS at will, that because it isn't a "property interest" of Catholic Charities, there's just no issue and it doesn't matter why they did it. That's how I interpret the news story, anyway.

Legally, I don't actually know whether the removal of such state contracts in a religiously discriminatory fashion is litigable either under state or federal law. I do know that since Catholic and other charities have become dependent on government money, it's rather an urgent issue, and all the more so if laws can be used as a pretext for removing such contracts even when their legislative history indicates an express intent by lawmakers only to vote for a bill that would not have that effect.

The libertarian in me wants to say, "This is what comes of taking government contracts," but obviously, by working with the State of Illinois, Catholic Charities wasn't simply getting money; they were getting access to a particularly large set of children in need of their help, and that was of course why they did it.

One wonders what is in he water that could make their secular government so loopy.

Much of the Catholic Church has been a willing vehicle for left-wing advocacy in the name of mercy and justice. A lot of Catholics, even some on this site, have lost any sense of discernment both in their ability to use it and the necessity of employing it. The result is that we've reached a point where "good Christians" have little idea of how to aid others wisely and what is just and unjust.

One of those areas is that we've lost the understanding that a sinner who defiantly persists in their sin is not entitled to mercy from the Church. They're not a repentant sinner seeking mercy, but rather a rebel seeking aid from the very God they're fighting against.

It all comes together. There is no compartmentalization. When part of the church starts teaching, for example, that the idle, feckless and criminal elements of the poor are entitled to food, medicine, etc. in the name of "mercy and human dignity" in clear defiance of the Apostle Paul (they who won't work shall not eat!) it's only a matter of time before such heresy spreads into other areas like not being able to discern that homosexuality is a serious sin which renders one unfit, biblically, for being a parent no matter how good they may outwardly appear.

But Mike, actually, the church organization is holding the line on this one. That's why they lost the contract. I think you're trying a little too hard to do the "everything is connected to everything" bit. About the only tenuous connection I can see is that the truly "extreme right," "fundamentalist" groups always work outside of government contracts anyway. They don't trust them. Catholic Charities have always been more mainstream, and now they are paying the price for that. But in this case, the clash is occuring between their attempt to work through mainstream channels and their (good) insistence on holding the line on the adoption issue.

I don't see why DCFS can get away with saying "we have a right to remove any contract we want" business. We have seen in thousands of other cases, like firing an employee: the employer doesn't HAVE to give a reason. He can walk up to an employee and say "you're terminated, walk out" and not give a reason. BUT, if the employer walks up to an employee and says "you're fired because you are black", that violates federal law. Same with a bank saying "we won't lend to you" - they don't have to. BUT if they say "we won't lend to you because you are female," that's illegal. The fact that they DID use a reason, and that reason is impermissible, should matter.

I think you're trying a little too hard to do the "everything is connected to everything" bit. About the only tenuous connection I can see is that the truly "extreme right," "fundamentalist" groups always work outside of government contracts anyway.

My point wasn't directed at the charity, but at the church. The Masked Chicken asked what makes these governments so loopy and my response is that the way many Christians, especially Catholics, are taught leads them to a dysfunctional view of the world. The fundamental value of the welfare state, which is an inherently totalitarian institution, is that "we are all sinners and all sinners are equally deserving." The truth is almost the exact opposite. Each person, while a sinner, is unique in what they can and cannot do and what society should do to or for them. The state which says, for example, that a welfare queen with kids by 3 different men is as deserving of welfare as a widow with 3 legitimate children won't hesitate to say that a clean, middle class homosexual is as competent to be a father as a clean, middle class heterosexual.

Theory may say one thing, but the facts on the ground show that this is the evolution of things.

The fundamental value of the welfare state, which is an inherently totalitarian institution, is that "we are all sinners and all sinners are equally deserving."

St. Faustina received a revelation from Christ as part of the Divine Mercy message to the effect that: the greatest sinners are most entitled to my mercy.

I am thinking you might be making the same mistake as the workers who assumed they would get paid more because they worked more. It is unjust to give more aid to a welfare queen than a widow, but mercy triumphs over justice. Who is to say the welfare queen might not repent if shown mercy, but if not, might commit suicide. It is better to err liberally with mercy in this life and leave strict justice for the next. That does not exclude admonishing the welfare queen and nagging her until she gets off her rear end.

I realize there is room for disagreement, however.

Still, I am tempted to make the observation (God forgive me), that politics is as close to he'll as a man can get on earth.

The Chicken

the greatest sinners are most entitled to my mercy.

But MC, nobody is entitled to mercy. It is justice that they have title to. Mercy exceeds their entitlement. The above paraphrase from Sr. Faustina reflects a context in which each potential recipient is asking for mercy in order to become better. In that, God's readiness to grant mercy is as it were greater for the one who needs it more, if one were to _measure_ the mercy by the need (i.e. from the recipient's angle). In measuring it from God, of course, it is no more difficult for Him to grant grace to one than to another.

It might be the case that the state ought to be an ordinary, standard vehicle for mercy (although I have concerns about that, but for the sake of hypothesis here), there is nothing to support the idea that the state ought to dole out mercy with blindness to the condition of the person asking for it. With God, when He gives mercy, He always does it with the person's FINAL good in mind, not just their immediate good. Is there some reason the state cannot also say " you just want this welfare money to go buy more drugs, and we are not inclined to help you in your vices"?

Who is to say the welfare queen might not repent if shown mercy, but if not, might commit suicide. It is better to err liberally with mercy in this life and leave strict justice for the next.

Likewise, who is to say that if the welfare queen is shown a firm attitude of "God helps those who help themselves" she might go on a self-improvement campaign? The person offering the help, THAT's who. That person not only has the right, but also the inherent DUTY to make reasonable forecast of the good expected to be achieved or not by their action. They are not given the God's eye view of the future, so by definition they ought to be guided by the rational, reasonable human view. If a druggie used the last 30 welfare payments to buy drugs, chances are he is going to do it with the 31st. It cannot be a way of "copying" divine merciful providence to dole out mercy while BOTH being ignorant of what intimate motivations in one's secret heart of hearts would jump-start a change out of vice (the God's eye view), AND ignoring the humanly, rationally forecastable probable outcomes of granting further welfare allowances. We cannot give up using the best human prognostications of probable effect until we have a better method (like God does).

(Note: when a human agent doles out his own largess on behalf of a certain person, he may choose to be guided by an inner light that he may receive via grace. We see the saints do this all the time. Such a model of action cannot be ascribed to the state, and cannot be asked of a civil servant who is following law and regulations. This is, naturally, one of the reasons I am not confident that the state ought to be a standard, _ordinary_ vehicle of mercy.)

Good points, Tony. My comments come from experience dealing with people on the streets, so it is personal and not corporate. Still, one very large problem is the inconsitent, nay, almost random and contradictory sets of rules that almost any institution will develop if given enough time. I don't know if this is a deep and testable hypothesis in sociology, but it sounds, intuitively, correct for every corporation not infallably guided. I prefer that charity be done on as individual a level as possible, but these days, there is so much moral ignorance among many individuals that I shudder when I think of turning them loose. Until the Church re-asserts it role as teacher and being responsible to a higher authority than the state, things will only get worse. Of course they will get worse if the Church tries to stand up to a government, but one is reminded of Stalin's misguided quote: how many divisions does the Pope have? To which Pope Pius remarked, "You can tell my son, Joseph, that he will meet my divisions in heaven."

The Chicken

St. Faustina received a revelation from Christ as part of the Divine Mercy message to the effect that: the greatest sinners are most entitled to my mercy.

I agree with that statement, but you're comparing the mercy of Christ to the "mercy" shown by a state in the form of wealth transfer payments. That really is an apples and oranges comparison. One is a matter of spiritual redemption, the other subsidizing a life or merely a lifestyle.

Who is to say the welfare queen might not repent if shown mercy, but if not, might commit suicide. It is better to err liberally with mercy in this life and leave strict justice for the next.

I think we are looking at it differently. You see it as mercy, I see it as leading her into sin. Who is more likely to repent? A man who faces imminent death by firing squad in the morning for murder or one left in prison to die of old age for the crime? Likely the former, as the reality of his condition becomes far less avoidable. Liberals and Christians sympathetic to welfare often fail to realize that there is even scientific evidence that artificially creating favorable circumstances can create dangerous complacency.

When you show the welfare queen "mercy" by continuing to support her lifestyle rather than making her risk imminent poverty, you only prop up the illusion in her mind that this lifestyle doesn't have serious consequences.

The fact that they DID use a reason, and that reason is impermissible, should matter.

Tony, yes, it should. I don't know what the law is about various forms of discrimination, such as discrimination against religious organizations in the name of a law with an explicit religious exemption (!), in giving and withholding contracts with a charitable organization. _Is_ the DCFS allowed to discriminate on grounds that would be impermissible if applied to loans, hiring, etc.? I don't know. The judge evidently says they can discriminate on any grounds they darned well please! I'd have to research federal and state (Illinois) law to know if he's technically right about that, but it's certainly instructive that this has gone this far.

Various Catholic Charities around the country need to be taking careful notes and _opposing_ laws while in their embryonic stages that are likely going to have this effect. Here's another question: Did the various Catholic diocese and charitable organizations strongly oppose the Illinois civil union law?

I wonder what would happen if Illinois DCFS withdrew or withheld a contract and stated as their reason, "That is a black-run charity." Would this be legally hunky-dory?

Yes, there are two ways to look at many things. I have to take my sorry, poor, butt, and pay bills, so I'll join back in, later. All I can say is that working isn't all it's cracked up to be when bills won't leave me alone, but keep nagging me like unruly children who will not listen when I tell them to take a time-out. How can I be a responsible person, a tax payer, but at the end of the day be very little better off than someone on welfare, sigh.

The Chicken

Lydia,

I don't have much of substance to add Lydia, other than I'm glad you are highlighting these injustices and I suppose it is a good reminder of why we do need a Constitutional Amendment to end the madness of individual states trying to redefine marriage.

One quick correction -- in Illinois our legislature is called the General Assembly, although like Congress that body has a House and Senate. The House members are called "Representatives" and the Senate members are called "Senators": http://www.ilga.gov/

Thanks, Jeff, for the correction.

I'd be interested in predictions regarding the HHS. Do people think Catholic organizations will stop offering insurance to their employees, provide plans that cover all these things that the HHS is demanding, or fight the regulations in court?

Oh, just a couple of points on a federal marriage amendment, brought to mind by Jeff Singer's comment:

There have always been multiple versions of a marriage protection amendment, and only some would prevent civil unions. So, as far as the Illinois situation is concerned, some U.S. marriage amendments would not make a difference. Second, the heavy lifting has usually been done by anti-discrimination laws, which have often (in fact, I'd say usually) been passed in locales, states, etc., which do not officially recognize with SS"M" or even civil unions. Sometimes the enforcement of these anti-discrimination laws (which include things like "sexual orientation and gender identity") has had the effects feared from actual SS"M" laws or civil union laws. Elaine Hugonin, for example, was nabbed for refusing to photograph a lesbian "commitment ceremony" that had no official legal standing in her state.

So the non-discrimination laws must be fought.

Lydia, unfortunately the Catholics who recognize the problem are not, by and large, the Catholics who have the ear of anyone in the various diocesan chanceries who could coordinate a large campaign to fight these stupid, evil laws. Mostly, what will happen is that Catholic Charities, and a few other entities associated with the Church, will fight after-the-fact battles in court, and the others will throw in the towel. There just isn't a large, determined, powerful (in the sense of having decision making authority) group that can and will push a really hard battle, at least not that I have seen. It's really a sorry picture.

It's pretty clear that the Democratic Party establishment is in a destructive feedback loop: pass laws that clear out conscientious religious believers -> increase the power of activist groups harmful to public life -> pass more bad laws.

But what if the conservative opposition to that establishment is also in a negative feedback loop?

Complain about Democratic-dominated government bureaucracy -> discourage your allies from joining the government bureaucracy -> watch as the government becomes ever further left -> fight for a few inept Republicans, then complain some more.

If there had been a few more trad Democrats in a few key positions, the bureaucrats who made the Illinois decision would not have advanced to their present state.

We've embraced an impotent libertarianism or an ineffective Republican Party. We've left the major cities and Democratic stronghold states to be dominated by the cultural left.

Sauron's Ring could only be destroyed in Mordor. Perhaps only dissent internal to the Democratic Party can stop the cultural left.

Maybe those of us who have been Republican regulars need to think about becoming rogue Democrats. It's not like anyone else will start the counterinsurgency.

B.A.D., they don't call it "the party of death" for nothin'. Third-party I'll go for. Democrat, I won't. And by the way, in the healthcare bill crisis we saw what a "pro-life Democrat" really means. They caved.

Which ties in with Paul's thread on coalitions. It is one thing to head up an independent group that temporarily works together with a bad group, like current Dems, for a limited objective, while retaining your clear separate purpose for being. It is a whole nother ball of wax to "become" a Dem to work from within. How can you intentionally join up with a party whose platform is pro-death? I don't see it.

A Catholic reader has written to ask what the fight against such legislation would look like, in my opinion.

An important part of the answer to that is that the fight against various laws that are proposed needs to mention the laws themselves. It's not enough just to teach the laity correct moral doctrine. Pastors need to say, from the pulpit, things like this, "There is at present a law, # __________, proposed in our state assembly [or our Congress, our city council, etc.] which would do x. This is a very dangerous law. This is an attack on our religious freedom. This is wrong." Dioceses and church leaders need to be willing to make statements of the same sort. There need to be activist groups that inform their membership on how and when to make contact with their lawmakers to oppose specific things. There need to be lobbyists for such groups in state capitals and in D.C. lobbying against such legislation.

In other words, we have to get political and stay political. To some extent we do see this. E.g. At the federal level, there was a good amount of concerted activity from Catholic leaders speaking out forcefully about the possibility of abortion funding in Obamacare. We need more of that, and we need it at the state and local level.

Sorry if that sounds crass, but that's the way it is. And our opponents have no objection to doing that, either.

Another point is that in other countries we've definitely seen things we need _not_ to be seeing--bishops and official organs of the Catholic Church (for example) coming out _in favor_ of really bad stuff. For example, see these two posts of mine, one about England, one about Quebec. (In fairness, I shd. add that in the post about Quebec there is one good bishop and one bad bishop.)

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/04/useful_idiots.html

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2009/09/were_all_relativists_nownews_f.html

By the way, in case anyone wants to know why I, a Protestant, care what Catholic leaders do or think, here's the short version of the answer: Because they influence a lot of laymen who are inclined to be on the right side and only need some guidance.

This dovetails with what I said in “A Nation that Honors Sin:”

(http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2011/08/05/a-nation-that-honors-sin/)

But one obvious way the church could lead a cultural renewal is by teaching not just the Christian doctrine that is its primary teaching responsibility, but also principles of proper social order. Theologically conservative churches already teach some of these principles indirectly; for example, when they teach the sinfulness of fornication and abortion. But it is not enough to teach what is sinful for the individual to do. The order of society does not arise spontaneously from individuals practicing personal piety. Society’s laws, rules, customs, and traditions must also be made right by sociopolitical action, and the necessary foundation of a properly ordered society is a general belief among the population that society’s order ought to be proper. The people must believe, for example, not just that homosexuality is sinful, but also that law and custom must reflect this reality. They must believe not just that husbands ought to have primary authority in the home, but that society’s rules should honor this truth. The church must teach the necessity of a proper social order.

Well, Alan, I'll say for the Catholic Church that its official teachings do indeed address the issue of public policy and the need for that policy to uphold the family--e.g., opposition to no-fault divorce, opposition to government recognition of homosexual relationships.

Lydia, either you have gotten your facts wrong or you are intentionally misrepresenting them.

After mentioning the passage of the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, you state:

Enter the case of Catholic Charities Illinois, a name that should go down in the minds of conservatives along with Catholic Charities in Boston, and for a similar reason. Despite the religious exemption in the law and despite the above floor exchange, this spring the Illinois Attorney General's office issued a statement that the charity does not comply with the law!

You are clearly implying that Illinois Attorney General issued a statement that the charity was not in compliance with the law you just mentioned. But the link you provide doesn't quote the Attorney General's letter in its entirety.

In truth, Polly Hayes' letter to Catholic Charities dated March 8, 2011, indicates that the office has been informed that the charity was acting in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. This Act was passed in 1979 and amended in 2005, years before same-sex civil unions were legal in Illinois.

You make the claim that the religious protections in the Civil Union Act were phony, and then you support this claim with an example of a religious organization which was found to be in violation...of a completely different law. You are accusing "the left" of engaging in a bait-and-switch tactic, while at the same time you are engaging in a bait-and-switch tactic.

Do you believe this to be a matter of religious freedom, or of religious privilege? Do you support the right of any religious group to refuse services to citizens based on their religious views, or do you only support the right of like-minded religions to do this? Do you support the right of a Muslim organization to refuse to place infants with foster parents who were Christian converts?

Do you believe this to be a matter of religious freedom, or of religious privilege?

I can't speak for Lydia, but in my view it is neither. Rather, this is a matter of justice. Homosexual "unions", contraception and sterilization are morally wrong and socially destructive. The state should discourage these evils to begin with, or at minimum not persecute those who resist them.

Do you support the right of any religious group to refuse services to citizens based on their religious views, or do you only support the right of like-minded religions to do this?

What a loaded question! Only a fool would answer it on its own terms. I don't support the right of "any religious group" to provide services in the first place, much less refuse to provide them. Truth be told, you don't either. You support your kind, we support ours - the only difference is that your side is unwilling to admit its own bias and its eagerness to smash the opposition.

What a loaded question! Only a fool would answer it on its own terms.

Fair enough, Jeff. "Any religious group" could open you up to all kinds of crazy scenarios. (Maybe the follow-up question is easier to answer?) The Original Post dealt with alleged "phony religious exemptions" and indicated that the decision to require Catholic Charities to follow the nondiscrimination law in question (the Illinois Human Rights Act) was a violation of "the religious freedom of Catholic organizations."

It sounds like you're saying, since you write that this is not a matter of religious freedom, that you disagree with Lydia.

It sounds like you're saying, since you write that this is not a matter of religious freedom, that you disagree with Lydia.

It's likely that I disagree with Lydia on the framing of the issue. She is bowing, quite understandably, to the political reality in this country and the common belief in religious liberty that most Americans claim to share.

I am increasingly of the opinion that the abstraction of "religious liberty" is no longer of much use. It's become a dodge meant to avoid the hard questions of content, truth and falsehood, morality and vice, justice and injustice, etc., and that just isn't good for anybody. Christianity is more than likely facing a long and bitter defeat in the world. If we're going to lose, let's please not lose in the name of "religious liberty" - let's lose in the name of Christ, the Gospel, and the Church.

Christianity is more than likely facing a long and bitter defeat in the world.

Jhn16:32-33

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The Chicken

Do you believe this to be a matter of religious freedom, or of religious privilege? Do you support the right of any religious group to refuse services to citizens based on their religious views, or do you only support the right of like-minded religions to do this? Do you support the right of a Muslim organization to refuse to place infants with foster parents who were Christian converts?

First, before any answer to this question can be given, it beholder you to define your terms. What is religion? Also, a religious freedom can also be a religious privilege, so the terms do not define a dichotomy.

The Chicken


Beholden should be behooves. iPad spell-check gone wild.

The Chicken

Phil, is this statement incorrect in the story I linked:

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) director, Erwin McEwen, sent a letter to a Catholic Charities director in which he said that DCFS is denying Catholic Charities foster care and adoption contracts because Catholic Charities "does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection Act and Civil Union law" which McEwen asserts "applies to foster care and adoption services."

I see that you are correct that the initial statement by the State Atty. General referred to the Human Rights Act. I'll put a correction in the post accordingly. However, McEwen evidently referred to the Civil Unions law in denying the contract.

Moreover, Catholic Charities _also_ states that the Human Rights act contains religious exemptions. Since most such laws do, I assume they're right. Evidently they thought those exemptions meant something.

You, sir, are nit-picking at something that does not affect the point concerning either the Civil Rights act and its floor debate (since according to my sources that act _was_ referred to in the denial of the contract) nor the point concerning religious exemptions (since both acts referred to allegedly have them).

Jeff C., I would imagine that whatever our agreements or disagreements on the broader ordering of society, you would agree that Christians are doing something perfectly legitimate if they try to make use of religious exemptions expressly written into bad laws.

Of course, my point in the main post is that it looks like the left is determined to make sure that doesn't work, but Catholic Charities is completely within its rights to try.

This is, let's put it bluntly, a matter of deception. This Civil Unions law was passed with express floor debate assuring members of the Assembly that *this very thing* wouldn't happen. They shouldn't have been passing it anyway. But to the extent that some were influenced in doing so by religious exemptions, there is something particularly distasteful about the _instantaneous_ application of the law by DCFS, aided and abetted by the courts, in violation of the floor debate on those very exemptions.

Phil, in answer to your question, if religious exemptions are allegedly written into laws (laws that I consider to be bad laws anyway) in an attempt to assure lawmakers and citizens that these bad laws will not, in fact, attack the religious freedom of religious organizations, then they should at least be applied as people were assured they would be applied. This would _limit_ the extent to which these laws put pressure on religious organizations to deny the specifically relevant religious convictions that people were concerned about when the law was written.

In this case, that specific freedom was the freedom not to place children with homosexual couples. That is an important freedom, because children should _not_ be placed with homosexual couples. Therefore, if people were told that this law would mean that Catholic Charities could go on not placing children with homosexual couples (which they were told, almost in so many words--see the floor debate), that particular religious freedom should at least be granted.

I made clear in the post that other freedoms I consider important are undermined anyway. But the deception concerning charitable organizations and homosexuality is nauseating.

"Any religious group" could open you up to all kinds of crazy scenarios.

This is a good reminder of why liberalism is based on a faulty history and tradition. It arose in a Christian society. It never conceived of a day when worshipers of Kali, Satan, Molech, Pazuzu and other blatantly evil entities would have bona fide religious liberties that might include things like child adoption. Any liberal who says that they believe that those who practice the worship of blatantly demonic entities should not have the same right to adopt as a Catholic or Muslim is inherently admitting to the fact that the state cannot truly be neutral to religious belief.

At that point, we're just haggling over which religious should get positive treatment and which shouldn't.

In this case, that specific freedom was the freedom not to place children with homosexual couples. That is an important freedom, because children should _not_ be placed with homosexual couples. Therefore, if people were told that this law would mean that Catholic Charities could go on not placing children with homosexual couples (which they were told, almost in so many words--see the floor debate), that particular religious freedom should at least be granted.

I'd like to know the secular justification for denying beastophiles (or whatever they're called) adoption rights. Having a sexual preference for farm animals or household pets has only hypothetical danger to the children by way of disease. Considering the rate of serious diseases like AIDS among homosexuals, it'd be hypocritical to carve out an exception here.

(This is my nihilistic side being allowed to play devil's advocate)

"what if the conservative opposition to that [Democratic] establishment is also in a negative feedback loop?"

Christopher Ferrara, in The Church and the Libertarian, describes the dynamic this way:

"An ever more liberal 'conservatism' constantly yielding ground to an ever more radical liberalism that never compromises its principles, with socialism the boogeyman whose threat to property rights distracts the increasingly liberal conservatives from any recognition of the fundamental shifting of society onto liberal foundations."

Expecting much help from the GOP or the mainstream right here is a pipe dream, as they are far too distracted by Ferrara's bogeyman to expend much effort at resisting the overall leftward shift of society, let alone to admit their contribution to it by their incessant drum-beating for the very individualism and narcissism which is a primary engine of the shift.


For commentator Phil's edification, here is the PDF of Erwin McEwen's letter to Catholic Charities:

http://www.illinoisfamily.org/content/img/f35345/dcfs-foster-and-adoption-contracts.pdf

It does indeed expressly cite the new Civil Unions law. It also mentions statements made by Catholic Charities in a recent legal action in which it sought court affirmation of the legality of its actions. This legal action was taken in response to the Atty. General's accusation that they were in violation of the Human Rights Act. McEwen decides to use _against_ them their statements in the course of that legal action as supposedly demonstrating that they are in violation of the Civil Unions act!

And here

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/catholic-charities-fight-back/

We have the ACLU admitting 1) that they are stepping up their campaign against Catholic Charities specifically because of the Civil Unions law and 2) that the older Human Rights Law does contain an express exemption for "religious doctrine" but that (surprise, surprise!) the ACLU thinks it is "construing this too broadly" to think that, you know, it actually _exempts_ Catholic Charities from placing children with homosexual couples.

I note, also, that it's an odd thing: Catholic Charities only just got this letter from the Atty. General's office this spring, while the Civil Unions law was in the works, despite the fact that they've been placing children for adoptions for years while the older law was in effect. What a coincidence.

You're correct about Erwin McEwen, Lydia. But from what I can tell, the court did not agree with him; the court decision regarding Catholic Charities was not based on McEwen's logic. So, potentially, McEwen could be wrong and Catholic Charities' actions could still be illegal.


I note, also, that it's an odd thing: Catholic Charities only just got this letter from the Atty. General's office this spring, while the Civil Unions law was in the works, despite the fact that they've been placing children for adoptions for years while the older law was in effect. What a coincidence.

Is there evidence that the state was made aware of Catholic Charities' potential violations of the human rights act prior to 2011? In Boston, the state took action after the organization changed their practices.


But from what I can tell, the court did not agree with him; the court decision regarding Catholic Charities was not based on McEwen's logic.

Well, yes, in a sense: I don't have a copy of the court ruling, but I already discussed this. As I understand it, the court said (or implied) that it didn't have to rule on whether the reasoning by DCFS for withdrawing the contract was in blatant violation of the legislative history/legislative meaning of the law the DCFS itself cited. The court said that it didn't have to rule on this, because DCFS can have any old reason it pleases for withdrawing the contract. This, in effect, makes the protection of the exemptions in the Civil Unions law meaningless as regards the *very issue being discussed* in the floor debate! That *very issue* concerns adoption agencies and their freedom to continue not placing children with homosexual couples!

That's a sweet little loophole for the government. It can find these ways to make life difficult for religious adoption agencies despite the very exemption discussed in the very floor debate on this law, and it can even cite the law while doing so, and the court will never rule on whether it's misinterpreting the law. Jolly.

In Boston, the state took action after the organization changed their practices.

I have no reason whatsover to think that the Illinois charity globally or generally changed its practices. As I recall the article I linked above, the ACLU indicates inconsistencies in application from one "branch" to another, but that isn't the same thing. It's obviously not a coincidence that the Atty. General decided to give them a hard time just then, and that "non-coincidence" seems highly plausibly related to the imminent passage of the new law. In fact, the ACLU practically admits as much.

I note: On Phil's conjecture, the floor debate about whether religious adoption agencies would be able to continue to follow their consciences and not place children for adoption with homosexual couples was pointless! The assemblyman asking questions about whether adoption agencies would retain such rights was under a mistaken impression! Because Phil thinks it plausible that a separate law, which would remain in force, forbade such "discrimination" anyway! Nobody seems to have pointed this out to the assemblyman. So on this view, the "religious exemption" in the Civil Unions law was a sham and a deception also, though for a different reason! Phil apparently supports such totalitarian measures and thinks maybe the DCFS just accidentally cited the wrong one in withholding the contract. And note: If such "discrimination" was forbidden by the Human Rights law, it was forbidden for all adoption agencies, with whatever penalties the Human Rights law provided, regardless of whether they were taking a government contract or not!

Because Phil thinks it plausible that a separate law, which would remain in force, forbade such "discrimination" anyway!

It appears to be the case. It's like the man, facing surgery on his hand, who says, "Doctor, will I be able to play piano when this is over?" After the doctor says yes, the man replies, "That's great, because I could never play it before!"

The doctor, reasonably, understood the question to mean, "Will this _change_ my ability to play the piano?" But the man meant--or understands the answer to mean--"This will magically grant me the ability to play the piano."

A religious exemption, if it does not change the status quo, is not a "sham." it is merely superfluous. If it were a sham, it follows that opposition to civil unions on religious grounds would also have been an act of deception.

A religious exemption, if it does not change the status quo, is not a "sham." it is merely superfluous. If it were a sham, it follows that opposition to civil unions on religious grounds would also have been an act of deception.


I don't know what you think you're talking about. I sometimes feel like I have to put my points in words of one syllable for my liberal commentators. There's a kind of deliberate denseness that is incredibly time-wasting. Let's try this again: There existed some number n of Illinois assemblymen who believed that the religious exemption in the new Illinois Civil Unions law was _preserving a freedom_ that _at that time existed_ for adoption agencies to "discriminate" on the basis of homosexuality. That is absolutely clear from the above-quoted floor debate. Presumably, this exemption and this accepted meaning among the assemblymen was meant to influence some of them to vote for the law. Got that? But if your conjecture were correct, Phil (and I have reason to believe it isn't), this would mean that leading them to believe that, and thus leading them to vote for the law, was a form of deception, because no such freedom existed anyway, and putting the exemption in the law would not create any such freedom.

Don't know how much clearer to make it.

Of course, the very fact that the assemblymen apparently knew of "discriminating" adoption agencies to which they could refer is some evidence that those adoption agencies were not doing anything illegal under the law in force at that time.

If there was some such clause in such a law, then it was _that_ law that was totalitarian and it was the religious exemptions in _that_ law that did not protect what apparently the adoption agencies (and others in the state) had been happily going on for years believing they protected.

Lydia, if your analysis is correct, then the religious "exemption" about the solemnization of same-sex unions is also deceptive, because churches are already protected under existing law. No church can legally be forced to perform a marriage that violates its religious tenets. There was absolutely no legal need to include _that_ part of the exemption. Would you agree?

Phil, when a new law is passed, it is completely legitimate to make it clear that it is not _changing_ the state of law and taking away freedoms in particular ways. Otherwise it might be understandably wondered whether it was indeed taking away such a freedom by means of the new law. Sometimes such clarifications are not strictly practically necessary and sometimes they are not legally necessary; it depends on what, in fact, the courts would have done. But it can easily make sense to include them so that there is no ambiguity about a matter that has concerned particular lawmakers or citizens and to tell the courts in no uncertain terms that it is not the intent of the legislature to change the law in such a way as to try to abrogate that freedom.

I cannot imagine how such a statement in a law could be regarded as "deceptive." It seems to me that, again and as usual, you are being a wilfully dense and time-wasting liberal commentator. I just explained the way in which religious exemption that only appeared to preserve a freedom for adoption agencies if that freedom had already been permanently taken away would be deceptive. I explained how the floor debate reassuring assemblymen on such a point would be deceptive. There is no parallel to such a thing in a case where a new law reasserts, in its text, a freedom for the sake of emphasis and clarification that that freedom is retained.

Again: My main points in the main post were correct; your attempted correction was trivial. It failed. You either didn't know or deliberately tried to suppress the fact that my reference to the Civil Unions law and my quotations from its floor debate _were_ completely relevant, because an alleged violation of _that_ law was indeed what triggered the withdrawal of the contract.

And now you're wasting my time with bizarre and inapplicable attempted parallels.

Bag it.

You're being even more annoying than our resident liberal commentator, Al. At least at the moment.

I just explained the way in which religious exemption that only appeared to preserve a freedom for adoption agencies if that freedom had already been permanently taken away would be deceptive. I explained how the floor debate reassuring assemblymen on such a point would be deceptive.

Certainly, if a religious exemption specifically stated that religious discrimination in adoption placements could continue unaffected upon implementation of the bill, that would be "deceptive."

But that's not the text of the religious exemption you're criticizing. The exemption that you quote is "Nothing in this Act shall interfere or regulate with (sic) the religious practice of any religious body."

Are you claiming that Koehler was deceptive when he stated that "the intent is not to impede the rights that religious organizations have[...]?"

If he was being honest about the intent of the law that he wsa co-sponsoring, what should have have done instead? Should he have clarified that if an adoption agency was operating in a way that was inconsistent with existing law, that the status quo would not change and the adoption agency would still be operating illegally?

Religious freedom properly exists only to the extent that it is immaterial in the lives of those who choose not to participate. hence one may believe anything one wishes. Once belief begins to be translated into action public policy rules.

I may believe that it would be proper to give human sacrifices to the Dark Lord Cthulhu. I am free to believe that; I am not free to offer up little Jimmy down the road. Closer to home, the Catholic Church is free to not recognize the marriages of Catholics who have divorced without jumping through the necessary ecclesiastical hoops; That nonrecognition, however, has no material effect.

If he was being honest about the intent of the law that he wsa co-sponsoring, what should have have done instead? Should he have clarified that if an adoption agency was operating in a way that was inconsistent with existing law, that the status quo would not change and the adoption agency would still be operating illegally?

Since Haine expressly mentioned adoption agencies, if Koehler believed that adoption agencies would not be permitted to "discriminate" he should have said something like, "Well, actually, I believe that some of the things you have in mind there, such as adoption agencies discrimination, are prohibited under the Human Rights Law, and that will continue. This religious exemption will not change that. The adoption agencies can't discriminate."

Frankly, I don't think he said that because I don't think he believed it, and I think you're just _wrong_, Phil, about the previous state of the law.

Yeah, yeah, Al: Religious freedom applies only in the total privacy of your own mind, no matter what, and "discriminating" against homosexuals in adoption has something to do with child sacrifice. Thanks for the notice. You've now fully "come out" as a leftist totalitarian. But you did that a few posts ago. I'll be sure to quote this latest comment if you ever try to start up the "nobody here but us harmless civil libertarians" shtick again.

Since Haine expressly mentioned adoption agencies, if Koehler believed that adoption agencies would not be permitted to "discriminate" he should have said something like, "Well, actually, I believe that some of the things you have in mind there, such as adoption agencies discrimination, are prohibited under the Human Rights Law, and that will continue. This religious exemption will not change that. The adoption agencies can't discriminate."

You realize that the conversation you quoted involved one co-sponsor of the bill asking another co-sponsor of the bill about a clause in the bill (that they were both sponsoring), don't you?

Your stance appears to be this: if a liberal politician would like to pass a law, even if that law is perfectly reasonable, and even if the liberal politician wants to make it perfectly clear that the law will not change the status quo with regard to religious discrimination, that politician must first research all of the possible ways that religious organizations--not just churches, but all religious organizations--are currently discriminating so that he can provide explicit and redundant answers to impromptu questions about organizations which might already be operating illegally.

That's quite a tall order.

Do you believe that adult same-sex couples in the United States should enjoy any legal benefits in conjunction with the choice to spend their lives together?

Frankly, I don't think he said that because I don't think he believed it, and I think you're just _wrong_, Phil, about the previous state of the law.

Clearly, Lydia, with regard to the previous state of the law, you and I both disagree with the analysis of the Illinois DCFS. I agree with the analysis of the Attorney General of the State of Illinois, and you agree with...the Catholic Charities understanding of Illinois Law.

Is that a fair description of our respective positions?

are currently discriminating so that he can provide explicit and redundant answers to impromptu questions about organizations which might already be operating illegally.

The answers aren't redundant if they haven't been given to the questions being honestly asked by another person, now, are they? If you don't know, you say, "I don't know." What you don't say is, "Yes," which definitely gives the impression, "Hey, it's all all right, this religious exemption takes care of all of your concerns in that area."

You realize that the conversation you quoted involved one co-sponsor of the bill asking another co-sponsor of the bill about a clause in the bill (that they were both sponsoring), don't you?

No, I didn't. That makes it even more interesting, doesn't it? In that case, one of the very sponsors of the bill (Haine) _clearly believed_ that the religious exemption protected an _existing right to discriminate_ by adoption agencies. That seems like a pretty strong argument right there against your view. Of course, I suppose it could mean that they were playing some kind of play-acting thing and that they were both being deceptive for the benefit of other assemblymen: "Now, Joe, this won't interfere with any of the freedoms that people might think of or be worried about in connection with, you know,religious adoption agencies or anything, will it?" (Wink, wink) "Oh, no, Jack, everything with that will be all right." (wink, wink)

But I don't actually believe that. It's just that it does come to mind given your point about their both being sponsors.

Do you believe that adult same-sex couples in the United States should enjoy any legal benefits in conjunction with the choice to spend their lives together?

Assuming I understand the question correctly, the answer is no. Not a one.

I agree with the analysis of the Attorney General of the State of Illinois,

Which he suddenly discovered after the Human Rights Law had been in existence for years and he just, darn it, hadn't noticed this terrible discrimination that had been going on, and the ACLU was suddenly suddenly getting het up about it, which coincidentally happened just a few months before the passage of yet a different law about civil unions which the ACLU wanted to make good and sure would not include any meaningful protection for Catholic Charities.

In other words, I tend to think the Attorney General was acting more or less in bad faith and at the behest of the ACLU for reasons connected with the upcoming Civil Unions law.

and you agree with...the Catholic Charities understanding of Illinois Law.

Is that a fair description of our respective positions?

In the context of the rest of this comment, including my immediate comments above, I'll just say, "Yup."

Lydia,

Real quick -- one more annoying correction -- our Attorney General is a woman (the adopted (!) daughter of the powerful Democratic General Assembly House Speaker Mike Madigan -- I can't stand her smug liberal attitude and policy positions).

Also, I am endlessly fascinated by al's interpretation of the First Amendment and what he thinks the role of religion in public life should be. What is so amusing about this worldview, shared by many a left-winger, is that they have their own faith, but they refuse to acknowledge that they worship any Gods (you know, the Gods of "choice", "diversity", "equality", etc.)

Thanks for the correction, Jeff. :-) Is she new? (I don't think so but thought it would be interesting if true.)

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