Friday, October 21, 2011

Is the Catholic Church Acting Out of Bounds As To Minnesota and Gay Marriage ?

Over at Huff post Gay Voices there is a piece called The Catholic Church Is Overstepping Its Bounds Against Marriage Equality in Minnesota

Now the author of this piece is the blogmaster at the Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters blog. I follow him on a good deal on twitter. He is pretty aggressive with the National Organization For Marriage every day ,and though I support them I do enjoy watching his aggressive back ,and forth. For the record I have only interacted with him twice. That being this morning on twitter ,and once when I asked to correct some misinformation he had about a Priest and sexual abuse. Which by the way he did

Now I have objections to this piece on several grounds. However the prime thing that I find annoying about it is in the fine tradition of such pieces that make a mish mash of what the law is about what the Church can do in the public square.

We see this on BOTH the left and the right all the time. On the right I see it as to people complaining about the Church being involved on immigration policy, economic matters, it's support of Unions etc. On the "left" we see it as to such issues as abortion and gay marriage.

It's basically I don't like the content of this political speech and thus why are these people not taxed.

First of all, I wonder if it is legal for a tax-exempt organization to take such a role in the political process?
And even if it is, I am seriously disturbed by this latest development. I feel very uncomfortable when I think of the possibility of how deep the Catholic Church is putting itself into this state issue. I think people should vote as their faith dictates. However, I have a serious problem with a church official using his office or name to marshal large groups of people to vote in a particular way. And my problems become deeper when I realize that the church where that official belongs is tax-exempt

This is all perfectly legal by the way no matter who has a problem with what is being said. It also seems to be forgotten that Minnesota has a tradition of being a very progressive state.

Over the many decades the Catholic Church has been a part of that tradition in many respects and has helped that voice in the public square. For instance right now in Minnesota the public arm of the Bishops Conference is promoting DREAM ACT SUNDAY. Something that has got the right all riled up.

Again we see the objections in reality are not CHURCH Vs STATE issues but are more to content often. Other issues that the Church Officals use their office to marshal "large groups of people" in Minnesota include reforms recommended by the Legislative Commission to End Poverty, as well as support an increase in tax revenue should it become necessary.

I find there are no general objections to the Catholic Church and other diverse faith communities that are tax exempt from joining voices to influnce large amounts of people on other issues. In Minnesota we have for instance the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition .

That Coalition among other things has opinions and advocates on how Judges should be selected in the State and thinks the minimum wage should be raised to $8.80/hour.

The fact is there is really no constitional distinction between the Bishops pooling resources for a Marriage amendment and between trying to get the minuium wage raised up to $8.80 a hour.

Now I don't know Mr McEwin's view of the world is as too all this. Maybe he think the Church has no business in any of that if they are tax exempted. But that would be a pretty radical position legally and as well as to our American tradition.

Further we have seen "Progressive" churches and bodies pooling resources ( that are also" tax exempted" to push for such things as legal gay civil unions and marriage, abortion, and other causes. This is their right and I don't see them as a threat to the Republic.

Moving on:

Any entity flexing its power over how large groups of people vote while being exempt from laws that cover this sort of thing is a dangerous entity in terms of manpower and money. Moreover, this entity's actions are a slap in the face of an American core belief: the right to vote as your conscience dictates and not be intimidated via implied or stated threats, be they physical ("you are going to be murdered") or spiritual ("you are voting against God's law and will go to hell for it").

I am not sure that the Church saying that one's political choices might have a effect on one's salvation is going against a "core American value". I am pretty sure the folks in the anti Slavery movement, the Civil Rights movement, etc would not think that.

Archbishop Chaput recently said:
As far as the social justice question goes, I don't think you can be an evangelist, or part of this evangelical movement in the church, without being as clearly committed to social justice as the church has been in the past. We can't preach the Gospel and not live it. If we don't love the poor, and do all we can to improve their lot, we're going to go to Hell.

While he does not mention Governement programs ,I highly suspect he thinks that is part of the picture. I did not think he was violating a core American value. Maybe others do. I personally think depending on the situation some legislators and advocates that advocate harsh anti illegal alien measures are risking their soul and I am not afraid to tell them. I don't think that makes me anti American. Maybe in some eyes it does.

Now as to Gay Marriage of course we get into areas where is less leeway for the Catholic voter and legislator than lets say if head start is a good or bad thing. Still I suspect the Catholic Church's campaign will be a lot more sophisticated than a "you are going to hell" talking point.

Finally this:

..But regardless of that, this is a country ruled by the Constitution, not papal authority. And frankly, any person who surrenders his or her vote to the whims of someone else -- even if that person supposedly represents a "higher power" -- needs to examine themselves.
Furthermore, I don't think that any entity that assumes tax-exempt status should be allowed to take such a role in a political vote -- at least not without being taxed.
No group should be above the laws of this country, even if that group is of a religious nature

I am not sure why the "Pope Card" is pulled here. Catholicism and Catholic social Justice issues are a Universe that contains more than the Pope that includes scripture, tradition, natural law, etc etc.

While the Pope no doubt has made statements on such matters the reality is the average Catholic in the pews or the voting booth have likely not heard them. I wish that was different but that is the case.

The author of the Huff Post piece kindly commented on my blog. He said in part:
You made a vague point about progressive churches pushing a large number of people to vote a certain way but did not offer proof of this.
Fair enough here are some national examples.
In this piece we see that when the marriage amendment failed in NY the first time the Diocese of NY was an active participant in the political debate and advocacy.

Needless to say as to amendment California has been a hotbed of activity for Churches that opposed the Prop 8 issues and used their considerable influence to rally voters against it. An example being the Diocese of Los Angeles. Further more we can see the California Bishops and their Diocese all being politically engaged with the Prop 8 issue here.

Here we see on the local level quite a large number of Churches using resourse in San Jose alone to defeat Prop 8 in 2008.

We saw Candlight vigils , preaching from puplit against Prop 8 all over California. All of which was perfectly legal in order to rally large numbers of people against it.

We can duplicate this all over the country really.


BlackTsunami said...

And I will totally disagree on your piece via the following points:

1. You made a vague point about progressive churches pushing a large number of people to vote a certain way but did not offer proof of this.

2. You failed to make the distinction between speaking out on issues and actively jumping into the political process, in a way which is marshaling people to vote a certain way while still keeping a tax-exempt status. I have serious problems with this coming from any group. And that little point is a distinction you failed to mention. You inaccurately seem to imply that I don't have a problem with it when it is coming from progressive groups, but you never asked me whether or not I did. I do. I have a problem with any tax-exempt faith group - progressive or not - exploiting their religious titles to get people to vote a certain way. I think that is what's happening here. A voter's decision is personal and not be dictated by any form of religious intimidation, be it overt or subtle. And when a religious leader or organization takes such a role in an issue like this, there is an essence that going on.

3. Something you totally ignored. How can any group talking about faith and values ally itself with another group which pushes slanderous lies that gays engage in bestiality, pedophilia and the consuming of bodily wastes? The Catholic Church is doing this by teaming up with the Minnesota Family Council.

In actuality, your comeback is smoke and mirrors which serves to sidestep the issue. You dance around the point I made in my piece without actually addressing the core of it. BTW re: what you said about a priest and sexual abuse which u supposedly corrected some "misinformation" by me? Please refresh my memory on this.

James H said...

As to 1 I can go back and update this post later and will inform you when I do. I did note the efforts over the past of relgious groups advocating for gay marriage and other issues.

As too 2

Actaully in the post I said I was not sure of your view of the world as to progressive groups. I did say if you had that view (which it appears you do ) it would be pretty radical. Which is fine of course. Also the things I mentioned are Churches actively getting involved in the process and asking people to vote a certain way

3. I have no opinion on the Minnesota Family council or the Family council in general I don't keep up with them thus I can't offer any commentary as to that

4.I don't think I am sidestepping at all. I am just saying what the Church is doing here is not illegal and there is a tradition to it.

I can't recall the exact post you did as to the sex abuse issue. I do recall some misleading press reports came out with a misleading title about the case on your web site. I alerted you to this and you then after researching it were fair enough to change the title. That I recall.

BlackTsunami said...

Hold it. Forgive me for being a bit pushy about this but you MUST address point 2. Not because I am trying to use it as a way to "win the argument." I don't care about winning the argument. Point 2 speaks to the lack of integrity of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. We are talking about a group claiming that gays molest children, rape animals, and eat urine and feces. I am not lying about this. As skillfully as you employed google or whatever search engine to find facts to back up your argument, I think you can do the same to find info on the Minnesota Family Council. Thats's what I mean when I say "sidestep." The Catholic Church teaming up with them is not a trivial point unworthy of deeper investigation and discussion. It is the singular point which weaves together a huge argument in regards to faith, intimidation, integrity, and lies and underhanded actions done in "the name of God."

BlackTsunami said...

One correction - the point I mentioned about the Minnesota Family Council is actually point 3. That's what I was talking about.

James H said...

As to the Family Council I am sure there is a point or two that the Church would disagree on with.

I am pretty confident the Church would not agree with various groups on all parts of their perpsective on issues when they join forces.

I suppose what you are implying is that the Research council is a hate group and thus the Church should not be associating with that. I have seen this argument laid out lately by the Southern Poverty Law Center as to some groups and on the whole I disagree with that.

As to the Minn group I find their web site strangely lacking in material considering they are main player or perhaps they located somewhere on their I can't find.

I did see this about them being a hate group

And the evidence seemed flimsy sedies from the fact that they think same sex sex is wrong.

James H said...

I see that the MINN Family group was vocal against some anti Bullying laws and that might be part of the reason they are called a hate group.

I usually have a skeptical opinion of anti bully laws because they are so over broad they often create many more problem. That has little to do with the "gay" component of it to me. It's just a concern that we are giving a ton of power of DA's and have to just depend on the good graces of DA's to use that power risely in not very well worded legislation.

Since I did not follow the Minn legislative history of those laws I can't have an opinion on if the laws were good or bad.

Again I know tht is different subject. But it seems to be a big part of what "right wing" watch was concerned about which seems a vocal critic of them