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Today a local bishop wrote a letter against marriage equality, and I want to respond.
His letter reads, in part:

And the real issue at hand is this: The church’s obligation to defend the truth that marriage is between one man and one woman, a truth that comes to us through sacred Scripture and sacred tradition, a truth that a teacher at St. Joseph’s School denies and so forfeits her position as a teacher at the school.

Rather than criticize church leadership so harshly, and offend many, many Catholics, the editorial staff of The Forum should applaud it for proclaiming “the bright light of truth,” even if the truth contradicts secular thought, ensnared by relativism.

What a bunch of bullshit. Anyway, I have just a few random thoughts for my letter and they are:

The bishop would have us enshrine his religious doctrine in civil law.
No thank you, bishop. Not in my country. What you propose is no different than what the Taliban attempted to do. Who gave you the right to "speak the Truth" for all of us?

In my country, we citizens live under The Constitution of the United States.
In our Constitution, every citizen is guaranteed equal protection under the law - and this includes civil marriage law.
In my country, we believe that discrimination in any form is wrong - and that includes gender discrimination.
And finally, bishop, in my country, we believe that civil rights belong to all of us. No exceptions.

So these are my random thoughts that I would enflesh in my letter. I am open to your suggestions.

Additional info: The bishop's letter was prompted by an editorial the the editorial staff of the newspaper wrote.
The young lady was fired because she put on her self-evaluation at the end of the year that she wanted an "open discussion" in the Catholic Church about marriage equality. She said she never spoke to anyone publically about her views about marriage equality, but she thought she had to be honest in her evaluation. She was fired for her view point in her self-evaluation.
Now, to my surprise, the newspaper criticized the school for firing her, saying she was fired for her private, and not public beliefs. They called the school the "purity police".
Then they asked, "how many  priests and nuns subscribe 100 percent to Catholic doctrine, and fear getting fired if they make their views public?".
The other thing is that is that there is a lot of discussion about marriage equality here in Minnesota, because of the constitutional amendment vote this fall to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. This bishop, along with the others, are very vocal about how marriage equality is against "divine law", etc. So when this teacher was fired, the issue became not simply about her, but about the whole issue of marriage equality.
The point is, the bishops are using the argument of "divine law" to push a civil, constiutional amendment against marriage equality here in Minnesota, and religious doctrine should never be used as a basis for civil law

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Comment Preferences

  •  I dunno (6+ / 0-)

    I hate the LTE section of the paper, but we had one similar to the one you quoted here recently.

    The best comeback I saw was written by my GF, and it basically said we are all supposed to have freedom of religion. That means that we are free to not be oppressed by any given doctrine of any given church. That you want to force your religion on others may seem like freedom of religion to you, but it is exactly the opposite to anyone who is not a practicing Catholic (Muslim, Mormon, etc.)

    The church DOES have an obligation to protect its faith. It does not, however, have the right to force laws on the rest of society because of that faith.

    Hope this helps :-/

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:57:51 PM PDT

    •  Agree, and... (4+ / 0-)

      Agree completely, and would make the point that the same parts of the U.S. Constitution that protects this bishop and all Catholics in the U.S. to practice the faith of their choice also protects all others to practice the faith (or no faith) of their choice.

      I defend anyone's right to believe as they choose and fight anyone's effort to force others to believe the same.

    •  Having family in Canyon County (0+ / 0-)

      Why do you hate letters to the editor?    

      Prior to the so called WWW and internet this was the ONLY real voice of the people that others and average citizens were ever permitted to write or see,   albeit censored.    The MSM controlled the written and spoken word and it is truly anti-democratic.

      The MSM controlled the total message then as it does now.   Their repeated message becomes not information but the belief of the people.   I see the MSM as extraordinarily powerful and potentially corrupt to a free society.

      Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

      by dailykozzer on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:01:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  John F. Kennedy (0+ / 0-)
      I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

      I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

      And so on.

      Makes Rick Santorum want to throw up, I know.

      Hands off my ObamaCare[TM]

      by Mokurai on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:59:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is this about firing a teacher (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor, Torta, annecros, Lujane

    from a Catholic school?  

    I agree with you that there is a difference between civil law and religious beliefs.  

    If the bishop's letter was prompted by some discussion of civil law,  such as some civil law defining marriage, your thoughts would be pertinent, it seems to me.  Then, it is about the bishop "enshrining his doctrine as civil law," to quote you.

    However, if the bishop's letter was prompted by a teacher being fired from a Catholic school for not adhering to Catholic doctrine ("a truth that a teacher at St. Joseph’s School denies and so forfeits her position as a teacher at the school") that's an entirely different issue, it seems to me.  When it comes to religious beliefs, the First Amendment absolutely protects their right to believe whatever they want to believe about marriage, to have only those religious marriage ceremonies that comport with their religious views about marriage, and to insist that those tasked with imparting Catholic views to children in Catholic schools also adhere to those religious beliefs.  Being a big supporter of the Constitution, I support the First Amendment rights of all people, even when I vehemently disagree with their views.  That's not about the bishop "enshrining his doctrine as civil law," which you say, but about a church exercising its First Amendment rights within the bounds of a religious institution - a religious school designed to impart the religious beliefs of that church.

    So, it seems to me that some context is necessary here before people can comment on your response.  

    •  from local SCOTUS decisions it seems the crux of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the matter is if the employee is basically ministerial or profane in terms of his job description.  If the employee is ministerial then his opinions and beliefs are the express property of the Church

      •  And "ministerial" is very broadly defined (1+ / 0-)
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        under the latest unanimous SCOTUS decision, churches can pretty much designate "going in" that teaching positions require adherence to that church's views, and that part of the duties -- even if it is not the major part -- includes imparting those views.  In other words, it seems that courts will not go behind religious institutions and decide which positions need adherence to the views of that religion and which do not.  If both the employer and employee agree "going in" that the employee needs to buy into that church's views, and impart them to the children, as part of the job description, that seems to be sufficient.

        •  so it would seem so that any secular employee (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          of any religious institution would be well advised to keep all job descriptions and other documentation of the secular nature of their position in the event they are terminated for violating church doctrine

          •  That seems to be the case. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If a person goes to work for a religious organization whose purpose, at least in part, is to impart their religious views, he/she needs to be clear going in whether he/she is expected, as part of the job, to be imparting those religious views.  If so, and he/she can't do that or doesn't believe those views, then he/she can't do the job as described, I think.  

            The church also has a responsibility, it seems, to make sure that the potential employee knows, up front before he/she takes the job, that buying into the religious views, and passing them on to the children, is (or is not) part of the job description.  I think that under that decision churches can still be made to abide by civil rights laws if they don't make it clear up front when imparting religious views -- i.e., being a "minister" --  is part of the job description.

    •  see my additional info I added above. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, BlueEyed In NC

      There is a bigger picture: the issue for me is not the firing of a teacher, but that bishops are using the argument of
      "divine law" to push for a constitutional ammendment against civil law (marriage equality)

      •  It might be helpful if you posted the bishop's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        letter in full.  

        Does his letter go into that part -- pushing for a constitutional amendment?  If so, it would seem to me to be appropriate to say, in response, essentially "what you do in your Catholic school is your own business (and your constitutionally protected right).  But I do not believe your religious views should be imposed on me through the civil law" -- essentially what you've said.  

        However, if his letter is in response to the firing of the teacher, and states that church's constitutionally protected beliefs about marriage ("divine truth") and is not directed to asking people to pass that constitutional amendment, then the part about his "imposing his religious views on others" is kind of out of place.  

        I understand that FOR YOU the bigger picture is the constitutional amendment.  But if you are responding to THIS LETTER, then perhaps you ought to respond to THIS LETTER.  If you want to write a LTE addressing the constitutional amendment, and the bishop's letter doesn't address it, then go ahead and write your own letter -- you don't have to reference the bishop's letter to do that.  

        I am adamant about this because if a person is only in favor of SOME constitutional rights, he is a hypocrite.  If a person wants HIS constitutional rights, he has to respect the constitutional rights of others.  

  •  The central point IMO is that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varii, Lujane

    his version of "truth" is being foisted upon us. I like your letter. You might come back with a good restatement of 'foisting his version of truth on everyone' comment to close.

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:04:04 PM PDT

  •  I would first like to know more about the issue. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It seems a teacher recieved a sanction at a parochial school. Was she teaching marriage equality there? It is one thing for the church to impose penalities for teaching in their own schools and another to advocate for such sanctions in the public sector. To adequately respond it would be helpful to know what the actual situation was.

    In neither case would the Bishop's position be defensible, IMHO, but the background would be important to any response.

    The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

    by Pirogue on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:06:27 PM PDT

    •  No, the teacher was teaching 5th grade. (1+ / 0-)
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      The only reason her views on marriage equality became known is because the local priest read her self-evaluation. Her views only became public when she was fired, and parents were upset about her being fired.

  •  You have hit upon they argument: (4+ / 0-)

    The bishop, the rabbi, the lama, the atheist are all free to believe as they wish. They are NOT free to make their beliefs laws under which others must live.

    Jefferson famously said, "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." Using one group's beliefs to deny another group its civil rights does do injury, and that is why we wisely separate the sacred and the civil.

  •  Perhaps a simple compare-and-contrast (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tripodisblack, varii, Gordon20024, Lujane

    Something along the line of:

    Bishop Fuckwit's right to follow his faith, including the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman only, is protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution.  Coincidentally, that is the same Amendment that protects the rest of us from having to follow the teaching of the Catholic Church, or any other faith for that matter.

    Bishop, please don't impose your religion on me, and I won't impose mine on you.

    I don't know the bishop's real name... hope you don't mind my substitution.
  •  Depends what his letter was really about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, Gooserock, Lujane

    If he was defending the firing of a Catholic school teacher for going against Catholic Church beliefs on the hot-button issues, then I'd stay out of it.  

    If he is attempting to shape the law for all citizens, regardless of religion, and to shape it to the strictures of the Catholic Church, then I would get involved.

    •  Irrelevant I Think: the Bishop Issued Divine Truth (0+ / 0-)

      to the general public in his response. That makes it our business to reply in public that his divine truth is false.

      You're right though that if he has a right to fire the teacher, we don't have a say in that.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:33:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  His statement about "divine truth" (1+ / 0-)
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        is his constitutionally protected religious belief.  We don't have to agree with it.  But we have to respect his right to hold that belief.  

        "Divine" means some message from God or a deity.  A purely religious belief.  Unless the diarist wants to get into some discussion about the merits of various religious beliefs ("my religion is better than yours," always an unproductive exercise) I think I'd stay out of what is "divine truth" and what is not.  What is "divine truth" depends entirely on your view of the "divine."

        If the bishop had said, "the law of this country," that may be the opening for a discussion of civil law of the kind the diarist states here.    

  •  Your bishop needs to provide evidence (1+ / 0-)
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    that "sacred truth" and "sacred scripture" provided any such premise regarding civil rights, privileges, or traditions.

    The Bible is full of wacky marriages, misogyny, torture, incest, concubines, and abominations, so you will easily counter whatever citations he feels build his case.

    (I know he is deceiving his flock and intimidating them with his wholly-unfounded holiness.) It is a sin to believe a lie when you know better, so don't do it.

    Your bishop is hanging by a thread onto tax exemptions that rely stringently on his church being a religious entity and not a business or a political organization..

    As soon as he wants to politicize his personal views, he can kiss his exemptions goodbye. He does not have any BUSINESS politicizing his religious views UNLESS he forgoes his status as a tax exempt religious entity.

    I read it in a constitution somewhere; don't make me come over there.

    Mitt Romney has no idea what he stands for. Do you?

    by Says Who on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:32:19 PM PDT

    •  No he doesn't. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "divine" in and of itself means that it rests on his notion of deity -- i.e., a purely religious belief.  His statement about "divine truth" is his constitutionally protected religious opinion.  And he has the same right to state that as someone else has to write a letter to the editor and argue that there is no deity.  

      His exemption has nothing to do with "politicizing" his religious views.  He has a constitutional right to do that -- i.e., use his religious beliefs to express opinions on political and social issues.  The Catholic Church only risks its exemptions if it campaigns for or against, or publicly supports, specific candidates for office. Or if it does lobbying (and that's defined, and it doesn't include letters to the editor or speaking to their own group).  Read the IRS rules for 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations.

      •  If there IS such a sacred truth or tradition (0+ / 0-)

        overriding our laws, please tell.

        And tell the bishop to stick to the truth and the tradition and to quit pretending his views are sacred over law. And warn him of his tax exemption, because, as God Knows, his church is going broke defending so many of its personal "ministries." Relate to him how much church property has been liquidated to defend the behavior of its truthful traditionalists. Speak of how many parishes, churches, and schools have been sacrificed defending sin itself.  

        'Sacred' is a point of view. Your church does not need it tested in a court of law. The courts mean business and the church is on a losing streak. Clean your own house and stop with the political fluff: you are evading the issue.  

        Divine that!

        Mitt Romney has no idea what he stands for. Do you?

        by Says Who on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 02:16:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Three points. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Says Who

          1.  "If there IS such a sacred truth or tradition overriding our laws, please tell."  
          As I understand it, the bishop was referring to the firing of a teacher in a Catholic school, for not adhering to Catholic teaching.  From the diary's quote of the bishop's letter:   'a truth that a teacher at St. Joseph’s School denies and so forfeits her position as a teacher at the school."  

          In such a situation, a unanimous SCOTUS has held that a church's First Amendment rights of free exercise do override civil law, at least the federal civil rights laws.  See here.  So, yes, in that situation, a church's First Amendment right to its religious beliefs about "sacred truth or tradition" DO override laws, as the SCOTUS has held.  Like I said, my comments are premised that the bishop's letter was directed toward some criticism of him, or his church, becuse of that Catholic school teacher who denied what that church believes is "divine truth."  In that case -- the case the bishop apparently was addressing in HIS letter to the editor --  First Amendment protected religious views as to "divine truth" DO override some laws.  

          2.  "And warn him of his tax exemption"

          As for tax exemptions, taking a position on matters like abortion or marriage do not in any way jeopardize a church's tax-exempt status.  In order to do that, the church would have to engage in "lobbying" (which is very specifically defined) or in supporting a particular candidate for office -- like running ads that say "vote for Romney."  The IRS sets out the rules for all 501(c)(3) organizations like churches.

          3. "'Sacred' is a point of view."

          Absolutely true.  However, it is a constitutionally protected point of view under the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause.  

  •  small thought on monogamous relationships (0+ / 0-)

    Polygamy was the norm for the OT.  Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines.  David was punished but it was for having Bathsheba's husband killed to make her available. While the Church usually does not recognize divorce, as common as it is in today's society, it was possible in the OT:

    I would take the tack that while the Church does not accept divorce (albeit using annulment as an ecclesiastical dodge, they still employ divorced individuals.

    Now if they do not accept a teacher who advocates marriage equality, does this also mean that they refuse to hire divorced folks and fire them if it is discovered that they are divorced?

    If the Church insists on biblical authority for their policies, I would also point out that the Bible in places also seems to oppose out-group marriages such as interracial marriages

  •  It's Short Enough to Run (0+ / 0-)

    which is always a good place to start.

    The Bishop is telling the general public that he is an authority on Truth for society.

    That view is false so he is open to attack on it. He could say that he's giving his Church's position and acted on that basis, but his church cannot be an authority on such a matter for the public under the Constitution.

    The Constitution opens saying that it is "ordain[ed]" not by the Lord Thy God but by "We the people." We ordained it as the framework of a secular society that bans any test of religion for any office and bans establishment of a national religion.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:41:50 PM PDT

    •  Doesn't his use of the word "divine" do that? (0+ / 0-)
      He could say that he's giving his Church's position and acted on that basis,
      He said it was "divine truth."  Definition of divine:  
      a. Having the nature of or being a deity.
      b. Of, relating to, emanating from, or being the expression of a deity: sought divine guidance through meditation.
      c. Being in the service or worship of a deity; sacred.
      By saying "divine truth," he is already saying truth according to his belief in a deity -- i.e., a religious belief.  
  •  The bishop is confusing the marriage sacrament (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with the marriage contract.

    He can define his sacraments however he wants, but the states define contracts.

    If he wants government to define sacraments, why not save money and replace wine with beer?

    As ever, keep it simple.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 02:31:32 PM PDT

  •  Divine Truth, from the Bible? There are so many (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    too many people

    errors and contradictions in the Bible that I don't see how anyone can call it 'divine."  

    If God made Eve from Adam's rib wouldn't that make Eve the DNA equivalent of Adam?  

    There is no divine truth and I'd ask this bishop how can there ever be too much love in our country or the world?

    "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." President Barack Obama 3/24/09

    by sfcouple on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:18:40 PM PDT

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