sinners in the hands of an angry state

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 30, 2007

In the UK, the government is refusing to give Catholic adoption agencies the liberty to follow Catholic teaching in the matter of gay households. The Minister for Education Alan Johnson gives the rote rationale:

"I've never seen the case for an exemption. To me this is legislation to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and you cannot do that and at the same time allow discrimination in one area."

Note what's going on here. In ordinary discourse, the wrongness of discrimination has to do with discrimination that results in deprivation of something of value (e.g., housing, school admission, etc.). But in this case that doesn't apply: the Church has no monopoly on adoption services, and, regrettably, the Church's prohibition in favor of the child doesn't prevent gays from adopting or even incommode them. They can freely go to alterative agencies to effect their project. That's to say, the Church's so-called discrimination -- more accurately termed "discretion guided by moral sanity" -- has zero restrictive effect on the disfavored group.

Then why is it intolerable to let the Church practice this harmless instance of "discrimination"? Because the state has deemed it to be sinful in itself. Even if no person is wronged in a juridically intelligible way, the state has taken upon itself the duty to enforce a code of gay-positive morality. Anthony Esolen already spotted the game being played out in Massachusetts:

Then why the compulsion? Homosexuals in Massachusetts can already adopt children; it is unlikely that anyone will have been seriously inconvenienced by the Church's policy. The conclusion seems inescapable: the Church was given the ultimatum not so that homosexuals would benefit, but so that the Church would be hurt, either by a capitulation that would signal its subservience and irrelevance evermore, or by a curtailment of the freedom of Catholics to practice their faith in the public square.

Trade places with the other team for a moment and imagine how -- if you were an Andrew Sullivan or a Peter Tatchell or the editor of the Tablet -- you'd want the dominoes to fall. In their position, you want a weakened Church, you want a Church cut off from her own teaching, you want a purely ceremonial association of off-duty social workers presided over by moral geldings. The adoption discrimination ruse is a gambit too good to pass up. If you understood progress the way Barney Frank understands it, you realize the Catholic Church is your prime obstacle in the path forward.

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  • Posted by: Lisieux - Jan. 31, 2007 4:20 PM ET USA

    The Church (at least here in Britain) has already lost in 'the court of public opinion': not particularly through sexual scandal, as in the US (though we do have our share of these), but because no one dares to be seen as 'right-wing' or 'homophobic' here, including the bishops. Especially the bishops. We are reaping what we have sown.

  • Posted by: unum - Jan. 31, 2007 11:27 AM ET USA

    Cupertino has it right. A basic principle of Christianity and western freedom, God-given rights, is at stake here. This is no time for the Church to "go along to get along". I don't think the Church will lose in the court of public opinion by accusing the government of 1) favoring the rights of homosexuals over those of orphaned children, and 2) trying to deny Catholics the right to practice a basic belief of their faith.

  • Posted by: Cupertino - Jan. 30, 2007 9:00 PM ET USA

    A most unpleasant point must not be lost here. Since the political debate is framed around "equal rights" and those rights flow from the state and are not mandated by natural law or the law of God the evil majority will always prevail. Appeals to Divine Law, natural law and prescriptive rights (a man and a woman has always constituted a marriage) cannot prevail. Catholics and most especially the Bishops must understand that we have to go it alone and pay the political and social price now.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Jan. 30, 2007 7:25 PM ET USA

    Reading that story in the Tablet was disgusting. Not only in the obvious way, but the sanctimonious, self-righteous bullying attitude of "you'd better let me do what I want or I'm going to make everyone miserable and blame it on you". His "sympathy" for the poor orphans who are going to be deprived of the work of the Catholic Church is nauseating.

  • Posted by: ladybird - Jan. 30, 2007 12:49 PM ET USA

    Di, I heard my beloved grandmother (she who left her cad of a husband, with infant & toddler; went to work to support them back when young mothers didn't do that sort of thing; then steadfastly refused the advances of many suitors, because she would not give up receiving our Lord in the Eucharist; she of unfailing charity, sharp wit, humor & compassion-RIP) often use the word "discommode". Her tolerance she expressed thus "Each to his own taste... said the lady as she kissed the cow."

  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2007 10:44 AM ET USA

    "a purely ceremonial association of off-duty social workers presided over by moral geldings" Uncle Di, you describe the Diocese of Qu├ębec so well, you must have been visiting here recently!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2007 10:38 AM ET USA

    The UK needs a Bill of Rights. Despite aberrant decisions of activist courts, this is much less likely to happen in the US --- except perhaps in states like Massachusetts with activist supreme courts.

  • Posted by: Deacon Bart - Jan. 30, 2007 10:11 AM ET USA

    God has given the Church in England the chance to witness to the truth;pray she will have the strength to do so.If she does then this gambit of the humanist becomes a defeat as large as Waterloo for Napolean.If Holy Mother Church is true to herself then secular power losses all hold over her.The humanist have sown the seeds of their own defeat but only if the Church is true to herself.Pray for the British Bishops to be strong, faithful witnesses even to loss of privilege,freedom & life if needed

  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2007 8:05 AM ET USA

    It's a degenerate world where we trade in our moral health for immoral disease. This didn't start with the Barney Franks of the world, its a long growing malignancy that has its roots in secular humanism and modernism. And its ultimate goal is the gelding of the Church. But like all of Satan's works--it will not ultimately prevail.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2007 7:42 AM ET USA

    I see another danger here. In addition to arranging adoptions, the Catholic Church also blesses marriages. Will this right, too, be removed if the Church refuses to bless gay "marriages"?