Churches should not be punished

Bishops Cordileone, Lori, Wenski and Malone eloquent and forceful
Archbishop Cordileone

Archbishop Cordileone

The following comes from a July 17 statement by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Richard Malone contained in a release by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Washington Post reported July 8 that the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups were no longer supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The reason, said the executive director of one of the lead organizations: the Hobby Lobby decision opens the door for private companies to determine that “LGBT people are not equal…and fire them.”

But the Hobby Lobby decision does no such thing. The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was an application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that, if the federal government wants to impose a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of its citizens, it must prove that the burden serves a “compelling government interest” and does so by the means “least restrictive” of religious exercise.

Archbishop Lori

Archbishop Lori

The decision was the Court’s recognition that in the case of the HHS contraceptive mandate the government failed to use the “least restrictive means” of providing coverage for certain contraceptives. The Court deliberately said nothing about whether the government had a “compelling interest” in requiring that coverage. In any event, the current debate about ENDA does not focus on its interplay with RFRA, but instead on whether ENDA itself should have any exemption for religious employers – as all prior versions have – and if so, how broad it should be.

So what is really the matter with ENDA according to these groups?

They argue that ENDA in its current form would leave religious employers free to “discriminate” based on their religious convictions. They argue that religious people cannot “impose” their morality on others. This ignores the fact that these advocates themselves seek to impose their morality on religious people and runs directly counter to the religious diversity that modern societies aspire to.

Archbishop Wenski

Archbishop Wenski

As Pope Francis wrote: “A healthy pluralism…does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques. This would represent, in effect, a new form of discrimination and authoritarianism” (Evangelii Gaudium no. 255).

To dismiss concerns about religious freedom in a misguided attempt to address unjust discrimination in the workplace is not to advance justice and tolerance. Instead, it stands as an affront to basic human rights and the importance of religion in society.

The U.S. legacy of religious freedom has enabled the Catholic Church and other faith communities to exercise their religious and moral convictions freely and thus contribute to the good of all in society. No good can come from removing this witness from our social life.

This also makes a July 8 letter to President Obama about a proposed ENDA executive order rather remarkable: it is from religious leaders who argue against religious freedom protection in ENDA. One would expect these leaders to defend the rights of all people – even those who may

Bishop Malone

Bishop Malone

disagree with them – to act according to deeply-held religious beliefs and moral convictions about the dignity of the human person and the purpose of human sexuality. Instead, these faith leaders go the opposite direction in the name of “anti-discrimination.”

Indeed, discrimination is already happening to those who advocate for religious liberty protections. Just after the president of evangelical Gordon College signed a coalition letter asking President Obama to include such protections in a proposed ENDA executive order, the college became the subject of review by its higher education accrediting agency.

Unjust discrimination against any one – whether that person experiences same-sex attraction or is of a particular religion – harms us all. But ENDA is simply not a good solution to these problems and, as the Bishops explained last November 7, it should be opposed.

Instead of protecting persons, ENDA uses the force of the law to coerce everyone to accept a deeply problematic understanding of human sexuality and sexual behavior and to condone such behavior. The current proposed ENDA legislation is not about protecting persons, but behavior. Churches, businesses and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity.

Eliminating truly unjust discrimination – based on personal characteristics, not sexual behavior – and protecting religious freedom are goals that we all should share. The current political climate makes it very difficult to maintain a reasonable dialogue on these contentious issues, but we must keep trying.

Lobbying for coercive laws that violate freedom will not promote justice in the workplace. Nor will it advance the common good to seek to silence debate about sexual morality. We, like all Americans, wish there was an easy way forward. There is not. But there is an honest one. And it starts with the unflinching commitment to the inherent dignity of every human person, and to the “healthy pluralism” we all wish to share.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore chairs the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami chairs the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Richard Malone chairs the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

 

To read the original release, click here.

To add a comment, click on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ icons OR go further down to the bottom of comments to the Post your comment box.

Comments

  1. May God bless and keep our brave Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Richard Malone.

    The Obama Administration hates most Religious Faiths. His goal is to marginalize all according to his own beliefs, and to support Intrinsic Evils.
    Those who voted for Obama should be ashamed of themselves. He has done more damage against Religious FREEDOM than any other President in the USA.

    • I hope that all Diocese Newspapers carry this article.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

        PETE,

        Re.: “I hope that all Diocese Newspapers carry this article.”, you are indeed a dreamer!

        May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
        Viva Cristo Rey!
        Yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

    • Caiside says:

      “The Obama Administration hates most Religious Faiths. His goal is to marginalize all according to his own beliefs, and to support Intrinsic Evils.” Could you please provide some proof of these statements aside from your opinion? Otherwise your statements are libelous.

      • Caiside, Obama actively supports and promotes the Intrinsic Evils of Abortion, Contraception, and Sodomy Marriage.
        Further by his actions he has proven he wants to FORCE ALL others to remotely support these evils through their tax dollars or his Executive Orders – even though it violates their freedom of religion.

        Obama is an intelligent man, who purposely belittles, TWISTS and MOCKS the teachings in the Bible – to gain the support of those who have never read the Bible or have never taken the time to understand it.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0kvrWz2u8Y

        CCC: ” 81 Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.
        And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.
        It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.”

      • Ann Malley says:

        Obama’s public record speaks for itself. There is no libel.

  2. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    To quote the Bishop’s statement: “To dismiss concerns about religious freedom in a misguided attempt to address unjust discrimination in the workplace is not to advance justice and tolerance. Instead, it stands as an affront to basic human rights and the importance of religion in society.”

    To deny gay people employment IS an unjust discrimination. How are they to provide for themselves and their families? Do you prefer to force them into poverty, to become wardens of the state and the Church? Should employees be judged by their religion rather than their proven ability to do the job they were hired for? To do otherwise is surely unjust discrimination!. Do you oppose unjust discrimination or do you support it?

    • YFC, I’m sure Hollywood would take them with open arms. Not to worry, there is plenty of wealth there and plenty of debauchery as well!

    • Catherine says:

      YFC, Your sinful activism is another type of scourge and plague on our nation and our world for unfaithfulness to God. Do you prefer a beheading over a confessional? I highly doubt that you and your fellow trolls will be waving your rainbow pride flags when our country and our churches are facing the same persecution that these Christians are facing. Don’t think that this cannot happen here.

      http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/07/18/A-Desperate-Cry-from-Iraq-Christians

      • Actually, Catherine, there is almost zero chance that what is occurring in Iraq will occur here. The last time we saw the widespread extrajudicial murder of innocent people was during the Civil Rights movement. Even then, it was small groups of persons who would target token black people to instill fear. Christians have never had to fear such behavior in the US

        There are a couple of reasons this won’t ever happen here:
        1. There is currently no militant fundamentalist threat in the US. There is occasional terrorist attacks, but those are always focused on the government, not religious organizations. The only time we have seen targeted killings of people with religious identification was when small cult groups engaged in murder-suicide.

        2. Do you really think the US government would let someone target Christians? You have very little sense if you believe otherwise. You live a very privileged life in this country, you should be grateful for all of the privileges you enjoy.

        I think, if religious groups insist on an blanket exception to ENDA legislation, the trade off should be tax exempt status. No government handouts if you can’t comply with the law.

        That being said, I do support a ministerial exception for faith leaders and other officials in church groups. A church should be permitted to select the leader of their organization as they seem fit. However, they should not get to deny employment to the janitor. The nature of janitorial work does not require active ministry.

        Additionally, there are many people within Christian organizations who are affirming of the lgbt community. They should enjoy the same religious liberty that you desire. That includes practicing their faith free of discrimination.

        • Sara D, we see the legalized murder and violation of civil rights – the right to life – in this Country every day.
          The murder of approximately 1 MILLION innocent unborn human beings annually for the convenience of another.

          Obama has already been targeting Christians and others of good will by the use of his Government power of taxation and executive orders to FORCE us to support abortion, contraception, and sodomy marriage.

          That being said, I do support tax exempt status for all legitimate Faiths.

          However I do not support Government Grants to do the government’s bidding.
          The Government creates the mess, let the government fix the mess. The government has the wherewithal to handle actions themselves.
          And I do not want the Catholic Church or others of good will to compromise any tenants of their Faiths for money.
          ” For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – JESUS –
          Lk 12:34.

          No where in the Bible does Jesus partner with any governments.
          Not even for good.

    • I’m not aware of gay “familes,” YFC. First definition for family I find is “a group of people who are closely related by birth, marriage, or adoption.” Note “closely related by birth, marriage, or adoption.” Gay so-called marriage doesn’t count; it isn’t marriage.

      In all seriousness and compassion, wouldn’t it be better for your soul for you to spend more time with scriptural readings, the Catechism, and biographies of the saints rather than trying to propagate your own interpretation of the Faith through the CCD?

  3. St. Christopher says:

    “Your Fellow Catholic”: Sigh. The President is trying to complete the elimination of the Catholic Church, and the Faith that is its treasure, from influencing the public forum. His recently issued Executive Order seeks, in effect, to eliminate the rights of Catholic, and other Christian, government contractors, from following their religious beliefs. Of course, no religious belief-based exemption was provided. The Democratic Party, and many, many in America want to prohibit a Catholic man who owns a business from operating that business according to his religious beliefs. Does this do an “end-around” the oft mis-quoted “Hobby Lobby” decision? Who knows, except that it appears to intrude much further into basic exercises of corporate decisionmaking than the Affordable Care Act did, in several key areas. Obama is simply evil, the the Homofascists so adored by the Left are also evil and demonic. Of course, to many, even stating these beliefs will get you in trouble — lawyers will have a field day litigating what “rights” of employees of government contractors who refuse to have LGBT training, or sensitivity sessions, or who refuse to agree to an “affirmative action” level of hiring and advancement for LGBT people; the list is endless. Even your question assumes the presence of employment “rights,” none of which exist at all. Obama and the Democratic Party do not understand, and despise, the Catholic Faith; his Executive Order reflects this hate.

    • St. Christopher, if I might point out the obvious, no Catholic group is required to contract for government work. As the head of the Executive branch, the president has the authority to set the hiring standards for federal employees and can impose requirements in government contractors.

      If a Catholic business insists on discrimination, they can operate freely on the market. There is no right to a government contract and those contracts come with strings.

      It’s not as if this executive order applies to grant recipients, so charities are not covered. It only deals with businesses that receive contracts to provide specific services or products for the government. Good examples include military weapons and arms manufacturers or companies that provide concessionary services in national parks.

      At the end of the day, much of the blame falls in conservatives. A version of ENDA has been killed in almost every congressional session since Bill Clinton. If Republicans would have pushed it through, they would have been able to set the scope of such protection.

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        a slight correction to Sara D’s post. She says. “At the end of the day, much of the blame falls in conservatives. A version of ENDA has been killed in almost every congressional session since Bill Clinton. If Republicans would have pushed it through, they would have been able to set the scope of such protection.” EVERY version of ENDA has been killed in EVERY congressional session since it was ever introduced. By Republicans. Who refuse to acknowledge that gay people are harmed by anti gay discrimination every day of every work week, and these same Republicans fail to provide protections against that bigotry.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      His executive order merely added the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” into previously exiting executive orders dating back to the time of Lyndon Johnson. And by this addition of four words, claims you, seeks the President to eliminate the Catholic Church? Really, four words eliminate the Catholic Church? Really?

  4. The Commies/Progressives will use the wedge issue of Homosexual marriage to close up Catholic Churches in the name of egalitarianism. Sed libera nos a Malo.

  5. St. Christopher says:

    “Sara D”: Your comment is simplistic and wrong. In fact, it is only a matter of time before the EO becomes part of all federal assistance “cross-cutters” that are imposed on federal grantees. Yes, it will happen and Obama wants it to happen. A Company with Catholic values need not check its owners morals at the door as the price of competing for a federal contract, either. The Democratic Party is not the same thing, at least not yet, as the Federal Register, containing all the permitted and required rules of the Federal Government. Many, many of the Federal cross-cutters, like minority/disadvantaged/women-owned business, and Davis-Bacon, requirements are simply inflationary and serve nothing but political ends for the Democratic Party’s “Master-Slave” mentality in parsing our benefits. “Your Fellow Catholic”: read the full sentence, which says that Obama is attempting “the elimination of the Catholic Church . . . from influencing the public forum.” There can be no doubt that this is true — the President does not want the bishops to raise truly moral issues against his murderous policies on abortion and the like. Of course, Obama’s concerns are likely mollified in that most bishops are his pals and now, with the receipt of millions of dollars in grants, his economic allies in attempting to bring yet more Latin American illegals to America. Obama really hates children especially, doesn’t he?

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      No Obama doesn’t hate children. You are making ridiculous statements in order to provoke an emotional response among people.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      I actually did misread your statement, St. Christopher, when you wrote “The President is trying to complete the elimination of the Catholic Church, and the Faith that is its treasure, from influencing the public forum.”. I didn’t read correctly what you wrote, I apologize for that. I disagree with the statement, but you do deserve to have your statements read and understood properly. Again, apologies.

    • Christopher, I would hardly call the ban on workplace discrimination “inflationary.”

      I could provide you examples from every state where lgbt people, women, those with disabilities, racial minorities have suffered discrimination in employment. Most recently, there was the lesbian police officer in South Carolina who was fired by the mayor for her sexual orientation. The city counsel literally had to remove the mayor’s powers to reinstate her. This was despite the fact that almost everyone in the town believed that she should not lose her job as a result of her sexual orientation and the mayor’s inability to deal with it like a civilized person (read: permit an exemplary civil servant to continue to provide excellent services).

      And as to your claim about a Catholic business not needing to check it’s morals, you would be I correct based on this law. Additionally, a Catholic business is required to comply with all contractual terms to which it agrees. If the contract says no discrimination, then the business decides whether is primary mission is more important than providing incidental equality in opportunity to it’s employees. It is pretty simple.

      You might criticize the employment non discrimination framework, it certainly has many flaws, but the problem of employment discrimination is very real and very well documented. If employers behaved rationally and made employment decisions based on perfromance, there would be no need for EO. Unfortunately, that is not the case and this is the system the legislature designed.

      Under Title VII, there is no religious belief exception for any of the protected traits.

  6. Sara D says: “If a Catholic business insists on discrimination, they can operate freely on the market.” Really!! Tell that to the baker from Colorado who is being punished for upholding his religious beliefs – NOT DISCRIMINATING.

  7. MIchael McDermott says:

    ENDA could not pass the House – so POTUS ‘Down Low’ Soetoro did and Endaround via Executive Decree which will be just as Evil – and his Turkey Baster Creationist Courts will enforce this as they did the Attack on Marriage:

    SEE CLAIM – OBAMA HID ‘GAY LIFE’ TO BECOME PRESIDENT
    http://www.wnd.com/2012/09/claim-obama-hid-gay-life-to-become-president/#0ujs2SVDfdWtZ2p6.99
    “… “President Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel are lifetime members of the same gay bathhouse in uptown Chicago, according to informed sources in Chicago’s gay community, as well as veteran political sources in the city,” Madsen wrote.

    He said the bathhouse, “Man’s Country,”

    Writing in HillBuzz.org Tuesday, DuJan said rooms at Man’s Country bathhouse are still referred to as the “presidential suite,” or the “Oral Office,”

    because “the current President used to haunt the place when he was a just another Illinois state senator that no one had ever heard of or cared about.”

    DuJan said he believes that, someday, “all of this is going to be as public knowledge as JFK’s affair with Marilyn Monroe and the other women he cavorted with while married to Jackie.”

    “Someday,” he said, “in the next 10-20 years, everyone will know all about Man’s Country, and the place will no doubt get a plaque of sometime commemorating that place as a gay hangout for the future leader of the free world.”

  8. MIchael McDermott says:

    BTW – Even ‘Camelot’ isn’t what it used to be:

    “The abortion of JFK’s children was evil – but it’s also a tragic loss
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/the-abortion-of-jfks-children-was-evil-but-its-also-a-tragic-loss?

    Did you know that John F. Kennedy had more than four children? That writers Christopher and Peter Hitchens had two other siblings? That Marilyn Monroe actually had a large number of children?

    Mimi Alford, a White House intern that JFK had a relationship with for over a year, reported that when she told the president she believed she was pregnant, he “took the news in his stride.” Shortly afterward, she was contacted by a White House staffer named Dave Powers, often assigned to protect the president’s reputation.

    “An hour later,” Alford recalls, “Dave called the dorm and told me to call a woman who could put me in touch with a doctor in New Jersey. The intermediary was a necessary precaution, because abortion was illegal. That was pure Dave Powers: he handled the problem immediately, and with brute practicality. There was no talk about what I wanted, or how I felt, or what the medical risks might be.”

    Another of JFK’s famous mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner (*Shared with a Mafia Don), reported having an abortion in 1963 after becoming pregnant by the president.
    Not all Kennedys, it seems, end up in Washington, D.C. Some of them end up in trash cans behind seedy clinics, victims of their parents’ sexual ideology.

  9. St. Christopher says:

    “Your Fellow Catholic”: Apology accepted. But, the point about “hating children” remains. Obama is a political power driven person, with no discernible care for anyone or thing besides achieving and retaining power. He is certainly not alone in this, as many, many in the Democratic Party, and fewer Republicans, also follow this form of idolatry. The problem here, is that Obama, in complete partnership with America’s bishops, planned a way to get children to come to the USA. He (and the bishops) did not consider what would happen to the children as they tried to get here, and what would happen once they were here. In truth, many correctly consider Obama sheltered by Satan, so it is likely that little will happen to him now. No one in modern politics has ever been so lucky: down in the polls, then came “Sandy” and he got to act presidential with a Republican governor, which saved his bacon. Then, down in the polls, and the Malaysian plane went down, and he gets to talk tough with Putin and add some sanctions; there are many examples. Obama will get through his Term, and it is not at all unlikely that the Democrats will retain the Senate, as Republicans rush to embrace homosexual sexual ethics and to go very lightly on the “right to choose” issue. No one really says much against the Democrats, except Fox News and few writers and commentators.

  10. Getting back to the article – “Churches should not be punished” is critically important to Freedom of Religion.

    This also means that the USCCB and all Diocese Bishops should teach about VOTING responsibilities of Catholic citizens.
    And about not voting for candidates / politicians who support the INTRINSIC EVILS.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.