Sunday, January 3, 2010

Catholic Charities: San Francisco v. the Christians.

From Bread on the Water, a (hilarious and amazingly "sheltered") article about the challenge in San Francisco to Catholic Charities, which refuses to allow gay couples to adopt from its agency.

The article is worthwhile because of how it perpetuates a number of conservative and fundamental myths: the Church is under attack; gays have sex by fisting; exaggerating crowd sizes is a legitimate way to inflate public support of the church; children need a mother and a father to have "normal" lives; only a godly household is conducive to parenting; the separation of church and state means the state can't regulate the church; religious freedom means churches are free to impose their discriminatory doctrine via social services on a diverse society.

I say the article is hilarious because it is all emotional - fear and hatred, specifically - and has little regarding the facts of the case or any studies showing how children fare in gay households. In other words, it is indicative of the anti-intellectualizing that is rampant in media: go for the outrageous; justice, truth, science, rational thought be damned. As though any member in society is justified in making up their mind about a legal case based on an unprovable idea (gays are perverse) and not on the facts (children fare as well in secular and even gay households as they do in Christian households, perhaps better if you consider education a good thing.) And then there's the photo used to represent those hideous gays!

But the writer is wise in some ways. By painting religious discrimination as just and decrying the persecution of religious, traditional, patriarchal beliefs, the Christian right is able to rally it's core believers. Their brand of faith teaches them to find glory in condemnation, to fight on against their (contrived) enemies, that opposition and challenge makes them more Christ-like and holy.

This view of others as opposition is entrenching, sustaining. As fundamental beliefs have shaped our laws over the past 50 years as activists for minority groups have risen up in search of their own rights, fundamentalists have declared that any reclaiming of personal rights by these groups is encroachment (see abortion). The church has moved so far beyond its proper boundaries in society that pushing it back out of social services (funded by federal funds which, of course, can't be used for necessary women's health care but are necessary for the spread of religious ideology), out of bedrooms and private lives, out of medical care and marriage is looked at as aggression by the church and even by non-religious, conservative by-standers. If you're not gay or don't know much about the gay community you could easily see this kind of issue as perhaps unimportant. Why would perverts want to raise children? So what if those facilitating adoption deem the gay community unworthy?

But as a member of a pluralistic, diverse society, as a voter and a citizen who's duty it is to demand and enforce the rights of minority groups, we are responsible for your own ignorance and wrong assumptions, particularly when they perpetuate the kind of hilarious drivel below for the sake of continued hatred, ignorance and discrimination. Being passive in the face of the church, or even reverential, as is society's general approach, is allowing such ignorance, stereotyping and discrimination to continue.

Religious freedom doesn't mean much to many people who don't practice a religion, but it cannot be denied that defending freedom of religion, at the very least, defends one's ability to choose one's own values and then act on them, provided that those actions don't deprive others of the same ability.

The City of San Francisco is presently governed by a body of legislators who have chosen to believe that same-sex couples are entitled to all the benefits of heterosexual couples, including parenting children.

As in all things, Nature has something to say about that. To parent children, same-sex couples must introduce a member of the opposite sex into the equation at some point. For some same-sex couples, the answer is adoption. However, Catholic Charities in San Francisco has refused to place children in their care into same-sex households.

Scandalized, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in early 2006 passed a resolution (Resolution 168-06,
click here) condemning the Catholic Church's refusal to offer children for adoption by gay couples. A week later, the Board officially condemned a rally of 25,000 Christian teenagers gathered to oppose a popular culture that glamourizes violence and sex, including abortion and homosexuality.

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors labeled the Catholic Church's refusal to require parentless children to be raised by homosexuals as "hateful," "discriminatory," "insulting," "callous," and "showing a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors."

As opposed to (one cannot help observing) the tact, sensitivity, and enlightenment displayed by San Francisco's answer to the traditional religious community, namely, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (shown) whose motto is, "Go and sin some more." (I am not making this up.) It should be noted that San Francisco's Catholic churches do not prevent the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from participating in Catholic religious services. But the Church is not putting little babies into their hands.
Catholic doctrine teaches, for example, that allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development," the center explained. "Such policies are gravely immoral and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households."
And what did San Francisco's elected legislature think of that rally of 25,000 Christian evangelical teenagers eager to follow that antique guideline known as the Ten Commandments? The Board of Supervisors called their rally a "fascist mega-pep rally" of "virtue terrorism." Got that? San Francisco feels "terrorized" when faced with non-fisting adolescents.

At present, the 9th Circuit Court is considering
a challenge to San Francisco's resolution condemning the Catholic Church for its moral teachings. The challenge was brought by the Thomas More Law Center, which presented oral arguments to the Court on December 17, 2009.

The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution
does not permit government hostility toward religion. Robert Muise, who argued the case before the eleven-judge panel, said, "If the full court allows this government attack on Catholics to stand, it will likely further embolden anti-Christian attacks by government." Bill Donohue, speaking for the Catholic League, pointed out that Board of Supervisors' "invective and bigoted comments" tell "what will be happening under the 'hate crime law' recently signed by President Obama."

On the other hand, according to Muise, "Should the full court ultimately render a decision in our favor, this case will establish much needed precedent for claims alleging government hostility toward religion."

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