Coexist?

07-12-2015Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The Supremes have sung and not in harmony and apparently there really ain't no mountain high enough. So what has Obergefell v. Hodges wrought?

We have been lead to believe there is a huge majority ground swell of support for the redefinition of marriage and those who oppose are the lunatic fringe. While polls often show a majority support for redefining marriage, thirty-six states, tens of millions of people voted not to redefine it. One of them, California, by a 60% margin voted to reaffirm the definition of marriage and did it during a Democratic primary election. What does the divide tell us? It tells us that we are less free. People will say one thing to a pollster but another in the voting booth.

So what happens now? When I drive around I frequently see "Coexist" bumper stickers. I support that, totally. "Live and let live, you do your thing and we'll do our thing". I am not being sarcastic or snarky, I really hope for that. It's just that the supporters of the redefinition of marriage don't appear to really want to coexist.

Here's the proof and this is not fear mongering nor meant to be divisive but is what is actually happening now around the US. Yes ss-marriage will clash with religious freedom unless you define religious freedom as only what happens inside the walls of a church. Those who hold this narrow definition of religious freedom magnanimously tell us that the "churches" will not be forced to participate in ss-weddings. True based on that narrow definition of religious freedom. However if you take your religious practice out of the church then when there is a conflict between religious practice and ss-marriage, ss-marriage must prevail. Here's a list of where that conflict is at present.

We've already seen what happens to businesses that refuse to participate in ss-wedding ceremonies based on religious objections. This is not just by happenstance. Businesses are sought out and targeted to be used for lawsuits to be made examples of what happens if you dissent from the new orthodoxy.

Next up for scrutiny are religiously affiliated institutions: social services and healthcare. Adoption agencies that do not adopt out to same-sex couples will be forced out of business as happened in Massachusetts. A corollary to this is that families who do not support ss-marriage, will no longer be eligible to adopt children. Catholic healthcare is under pressure to provide In-Vitro fertilization to same-sex couples. Additionally health insurers that make fertility treatments/assisted reproduction available for opposite gender couples will need to cover the same for same-sex couples since their "sterility" is now a medical condition. This (and abortion) is forcing Catholic hospitals to stop offering maternity services or have their Catholic identity revoked.

Next under the microscope are church-owned facilities. Churches who rent out their facilities for weddings and other functions will either have to limit that to faithful practicing members or be sued for discrimination for not renting for a same-sex ceremony. This has already happened in a number of jurisdictions. The issue of clergy signing civil marriage licenses will be challenged and probably it would be wise for us to surrender that right sooner rather than later. Churches will not be forced to perform same-sex weddings, that is just a distraction meant to appease religious believers.

A huge area that is now and will be more and more under assault is our employment practices: hiring, firing and employee codes of conduct. Churches and church related institutions that dismiss employees for failure to follow the Employee Code of Conduct, specifically those who enter a same-sex marriage or who teach or catechize contra Church doctrine are now being sued for discrimination. Likewise failure to hire someone for Church employment for the same reasons might result in a discrimination charge.

Catholic universities/schools will have their accreditation challenged or revoked for not changing their curricula to one based on the new non-scientific and anti-biology view of "gender identity". Our schools should expect this assault to come both from without and from within from parents who purposely enroll their children in our schools so they can use them as pawns to force our schools to change.

The issue of the tax-exempt status of Churches is already being thrown around. While this issue is complex and probably a ways away it could happen and maybe should.

This is not Christmas Future but Christmas Present of things that are happening now and will intensify. I'll write more in depth about these issues over the coming weeks. How this plays out depends on how the courts rule and how preemptive we can be. Though Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion tried to reassure religious believers that they could maintain their long held practices it is to be seen whether or not he was blowing smoke up our arse. None of this looks like Co-existence. #LoveWins, I'm not feeling it.

Love, Fr. John B.

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