Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Catholic chaplains face arrest for performing mass during shutdown

Todd Starnes of Fox News does a good job of covering the how the secular left infringes on religious liberty in the military.

Check out his latest story. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

The U.S. military has furloughed as many as 50 Catholic chaplains due to the partial suspension of government services, banning them from celebrating weekend Mass. At least one chaplain was told that if he engaged in any ministry activity, he would be subjected to disciplinary action.

“In very practical terms it means Sunday Mass won’t be offered,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services told me. “If someone has a baptism scheduled, it won’t be celebrated.”

The Archdiocese for the Military Services tells me the military installations impacted are served by non-active-duty priests who were hired as government contractors. As a result of a shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains, the government hires contract priests.

Broglio said some military bases have forbidden the contract priests from volunteering to celebrate Mass without pay.

“They were told they cannot function because those are contracted services and since there’s no funding they can’t do it – even if they volunteer,” he said.

John Schlageter, general counsel for the archdiocese, said any furloughed priests volunteering their services could face big trouble.

“During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so,” he said in a written statement.

A well-placed source told me that a furloughed Air Force chaplain was threatened after he offered to forgo pay. The chaplain was told he could not go on base or enter his chapel offices. He was also barred from engaging in any ministry activity.

The source told me the chaplain was told that if he violated those orders he and his supervisor would be subjected to disciplinary action – with the possibility of being fired.

I don’t think anyone should be surprised that the Democrats are hostile to freedom of religion. They are, after all, socialists. Government is more important than religion, and if they conflict, government wins.

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House introduces new legislation to protect defenders of traditional marriage

I would love to say that this new legislation was introduced only by Republicans, but there are Democrats co-sponsoring it, too!

Look:

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Steve Scalise, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) introduced a landmark bipartisan bill today to protect freedom of conscience on the issue of marriage.  Their bill – H.R. 3133, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act – would prohibit discrimination through the federal tax code against individuals or institutions that exercise religious conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Regardless of your ideology, we can all agree about the importance of religious liberty in America,” said Rep. Labrador.  “Our bill will protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  This is not a Republican or Democrat issue.  As President Obama said, ‘Americans hold a wide range of views’ on marriage and ‘maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom’ is ‘vital.’ We agree.

“Our bill will ensure tolerance for individuals and organizations that affirm traditional marriage, protecting them from adverse federal action.  I’m proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing this bill, and will strongly advocate for its passage.”

Most religious institutions fall within the 501(c) portion of the U.S. tax code, which allows for tax exemption.  Under the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, no individual or institution which celebrates and defines marriage as between one man and one woman would be denied or lose exemption from taxation provided for under federal law.

Ryan T. Anderson has an article on the Heritage Foundation web site that explains why this bill is needed.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a photographer’s right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony—even though doing so would violate the photographer’s deeply held religious beliefs as a Christian.

Christian adoption and foster care agencies have been forced to stop providing those services because they object to placing children in same-sex households. Other cases include a baker, a florist, a bed-and-breakfast, a t-shirt company, a student counselor, the Salvation Army, andmore.

California’s legislature was poised to pass a bill that would have stripped tax-exempt status from groups such as the Boy Scouts because of policies on sexual orientation. Though it had passed the state Senate, 27–9, the bill was tabled in early September after criticism from surprising quarters—including the liberal Los Angeles Times.

These and other laws are creating a climate of intolerance and even intimidation for citizens who believe that we are created male and female, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage. These state and local laws are used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

Given the bad ruling and disparaging tone of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress has an opportunity to protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience at the federal level.

Now, what’s going to happen to this new legislation? Hard to say, because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. I think that all we can hope for is to have everyone vote on it to see where they stand, so that we know that going into the 2014 mid-term elections.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

Robert P. George: what is religious liberty? what is conscience?

From the Public Discourse, an article that explains why freedom of religion is a human right. (H/T Chris S.)

Excerpt:

In its fullest and most robust sense, religion is the human person’s being in right relation to the divine—the more-than-merely-human source or sources, if there be such, of meaning and value. In the perfect realization of the good of religion, one would achieve the relationship that the divine—say God himself, assuming for a moment the truth of monotheism—wishes us to have with Him.

Of course, different traditions of faith have different views of what constitutes religion in its fullest and most robust sense. There are different doctrines, different scriptures, different ideas of what is true about spiritual things and what it means to be in proper relationship to the more-than-merely-human source or sources of meaning and value that different traditions understand as divinity.

Religious liberty is the ability to use reason and evidence to determine the truth about religion:

For my part, I believe that reason has a very large role to play for each of us in deciding where spiritual truth most robustly is to be found. And by reason here, I mean not only our capacity for practical reasoning and moral judgment, but also our capacities for understanding and evaluating claims of all sorts: logical, historical, scientific, and so forth. But one need not agree with me about this in order to affirm with me that there is a distinct human good of religion—a good that uniquely shapes one’s pursuit of and participation in all the aspects of our flourishing as human beings—and that one begins to realize and participate in this good from the moment one begins the quest to understand the more-than-merely-human sources of meaning and value and to live authentically by ordering one’s life in line with one’s best judgments of the truth in religious matters.

If I am right, then the existential raising of religious questions, the honest identification of answers, and the fulfilling of what one sincerely believes to be one’s duties in the light of those answers are all parts of the human good of religion. But if that is true, then respect for a person’s well-being, or more simply respect for the person, demands respect for his or her flourishing as a seeker of religious truth and as one who lives in line with his or her best judgments of what is true in spiritual matters. And that, in turn, requires respect for everyone’s liberty in the religious quest—the quest to understand religious truth and order one’s life in line with it.

Because faith of any type, including religious faith, cannot be authentic—it cannot be faith—unless it is free, respect for the person—that is to say, respect for his or her dignity as a free and rational creature—requires respect for his or her religious liberty. That is why it makes sense, from the point of view of reason, and not merely from the point of view of the revealed teaching of a particular faith—though many faiths proclaim the right to religious freedom on theological and not merely philosophical grounds—to understand religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

Here’s the definition of conscience – it’s not just autonomy to do whatever you want:

Conscience, as Newman understood it, is the very opposite of “autonomy” in the modern sense. It is not a writer of permission slips. It is not in the business of licensing us to do as we please or conferring on us “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Rather, conscience is one’s last best judgment specifying the bearing of moral principles one grasps, yet in no way makes up for oneself, on concrete proposals for action. Conscience identifies our duties under a moral law that we do not ourselves make. It speaks of what one must do and what one must not do. Understood in this way, conscience is, indeed, what Newman said it is: a stern monitor.

Contrast this understanding of conscience with what Newman condemns as its counterfeit. Conscience as “self-will” is a matter of feeling or emotion, not reason. It is concerned not so much with the identification of what one has a duty to do or not do, one’s feelings and desires to the contrary notwithstanding, but rather, and precisely, with sorting out one’s feelings. Conscience as self-will identifies permissions, not obligations. It licenses behavior by establishing that one doesn’t feel bad about doing it, or, at least, one doesn’t feel so bad about doing it that one prefers the alternative of not doing it.

I’m with Newman. His key distinction is between conscience, authentically understood, and self-will—conscience as the permissions department. His core insight is that conscience has rights because it has duties. The right to follow one’s conscience, and the obligation to respect conscience—especially in matters of faith, where the right of conscience takes the form of religious liberty of individuals and communities of faith—obtain not because people as autonomous agents should be able to do as they please; they obtain, and are stringent and sometimes overriding, because people have duties and the obligation to fulfill them. The duty to follow conscience is a duty to do things or refrain from doing things not because one wants to follow one’s duty, but even if one strongly does not want to follow it. The right of conscience is a right to do what one judges oneself to be under an obligation to do, whether one welcomes the obligation or must overcome strong aversion in order to fulfill it. If there is a form of words that sums up the antithesis of Newman’s view of conscience as a stern monitor, it is the imbecilic slogan that will forever stand as a verbal monument to the “Me-generation”: “If it feels good, do it.”

Where are these rights under attack today? Well, in this country we have situations where Christians are being forced to act like atheists in public in order to avoid offending atheists. The view that Christianity is something that should be kept private because it is offensive to atheists is an atheist view. So what this really is then is atheists forcing their atheism on Christians. You can see atheists attack religious liberty today when valedictorians are forced to hid their true beliefs in order to avoid making atheists feel bad. Conscience is under attack in many places, but one of them is the abortion mandate in Obamacare, which requires Christian business owners to provide their employees with drugs that can cause abortions. So there are very real threats to religious liberty and conscience today. If you value religious liberty and conscience rights, then you should oppose expanding the power of any government that is hostile to those rights.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

Obama pushes for gay marriage at second inauguration

From Life Site News. (links removed)

Excerpt:

 President Barack Obama forcefully advanced the homosexual agenda in his second inaugural address this afternoon, saying redefining marriage must be enacted “by [God's] people here on earth.”

[...]“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” the president said.

Although the president trumpeted his support for redefining marriage during the presidential campaign, he promised to leave the issue to be settled by the states. However, his decision to include gay ‘marriage’ in an inaugural address alongside issues such as green energy, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and robust entitlement programs, which he has pledged to actively champion, suggests it may be part of the president’s legislative, or administrative, agenda.

The president wove homosexual activism into multiple aspects of the inaugural ceremonies.

A clergyman who supports the homosexual movement gave the benediction in place of a pastor who supports the traditional family.

Luis León, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church just across the street from the White House, has been described by MSNBC as a “pro-gay Episcopal priest.”

[...]Leon replaced Rev. Louie Giglio, who was pressured out of giving the benediction by homosexual activists who had discovered a sermon he delivered in the 1990s offering a “Christian response to homosexuality.”

[...]At another juncture in the inaugural festivities, poet Richard Blanco earned the distinction of becoming the first gay Hispanic poet ever to read a poem during an inauguration.

If gay marriage is legalized, then speaking and acting like an authentic Christian ill be much harder. Dr. Robert P. George explains why that’s so in Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union—not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it—they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume—and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one—that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously.

[...]Thus, advocates of redefinition are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality—those who would “expand the circle of inclusion”—on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination—those who would exclude people out of “animus”—on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists. Of course, we (in the United States, at least) don’t put racists in jail for expressing their opinions—we respect the First Amendment; but we don’t hesitate to stigmatize them and impose various forms of social and even civil disability upon them and their institutions. In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty—especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience—and genuine equality are undermined.

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm.

[...][T]here is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.

The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.

You can read about some examples of attacks against proponents of traditional marriage in my secular case against same-sex marriage.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teachers face termination for refusing to promote gay marriage

From the UK Telegraph. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

Primary school teachers could face the sack for refusing to promote gay marriage once same-sex unions become law, a minister has signalled.

Liz Truss, an education minister, refused to rule out the possibility that teachers, even in faith schools, could face disciplinary action for objecting on grounds of conscience.

Miss Truss said simply that it was impossible to know what the impact of the legislation would be at this stage.

Her admission came in a letter to a fellow Conservative MP, David Burrowes, last month.

[...]Mr O’Neill, an expert on human rights, was asked to advise on the impact redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could have on schools, churches, hospitals, foster carers and public buildings.

Among his conclusions was that schools could be within their statutory rights to dismiss staff who wilfully fail to use stories or textbooks promoting same-sex weddings.

Parents who object to gay marriage being taught to their children would also have no right to withdraw their child from lessons, he argued.

And, in theory, the fact that a school was a faith school would make no difference, he added.

Read the rest, because our country just voted for Barack Obama, and he supports gay marriage.

How would gay marriage change your life?

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