Religious Freedom in a Cave, Under a Blanket, with a Flashlight
First, of course society should “allow dissenting opinions about the significance of homosexual relationships,” but those opinions should not be written into our laws to deny equal civil rights to those who enter into what some may consider less “significant” relationships.
Second, we must begin with equal civil rights. If there are consequences that flow from that position, then our society’s people, organizations and institutions will have to make adjustments to deal with those consequences. For instance, if the Catholic Church is “torn from the adoption business” because it refuses not to discriminate against lawfully married same-sex couples, then other institutions and organizations would have to step in to fill that void, and they would. This would not impinge on the Church’s, or any individual Catholic’s, religious freedom. They would remain free to believe what they believe and practice as they wish. They would not be free, however, to use religion as an excuse to be exempted from adhering to laws that grant equal civil rights to all members of our society.
His argument has the pleasant consequence (for the pro-SSM side) of avoiding all of the procedural difficulties inherent to life in a free, democratic society in which people disagree about fundamental principles. Civil rights come first, and your bigotry is not a right. We win. You lose. The End. Knock the gavel.
But by what contorted vision of religious freedom — that is, religious citizens’ civil rights — can it not be a prohibition of “the free exercise” of religion to bar a Christian organization from offering charitable services in accordance with its members’ beliefs?
In keeping with that wispy dismissal of a weighty question, Pincince goes on to treat consequences lightly, indeed. In the delicate balance required of our form of society and government, Pincince insists that his definition of civil rights must come first, with a promise of answered obligation: “other institutions and organizations would have to step in to fill that void, and they would.” Would they? Apparently, the Catholic Church’s involvement answered some kind of a shortage. More likely than not, the other institution or organization that must step in would prove to be of a taxpayer-funded sort.
From the Catholic’s perspective, the mandate of this particular brand of civil rights has harmed those unfortunate children anted as investment in a flawed concept of family — deprived by design of the closest representation of mother and father available to them. Now from the society’s perspective, the entire citizenry (with emphasis on the working and middle classes) will be further burdened with the weight of expanding government as a drain on their resources and a meddler in their lives and with the consequences of having brushed away the wise tradition of mother, father, marriage, child, family.
And for what? So that a group of people — better educated and wealthier than the average — can answer the ever expanding requirements of their refusal to acknowledge that, whatever the moral implications, their affections are out of keeping with an historical norm that has value as such. Worse yet: so that a broader segment of society can absorb a ready-made balm of being “on the right side of history,” with no direct cost to themselves and many moral and personal palliatives.
Under the preferred regime of Mr. Pincince, Esq., citizens would not be free “to use religion as an excuse to be exempted from adhering to laws that grant equal civil rights to all members of our society.” What he doesn’t explain is why his civil rights construct ought to be imposed upon his fellow Americans. Perhaps he understands, deep down, that it is built upon a worldview that is ultimately no more objectively founded than the religious views of those to whom he would dictate the law.