Thursday, April 22, 2010

(Un)Exempting Churches From Gay Rights Laws

One of the concerns religious groups raise whenever they are confronted with gay rights laws is that they will be forced to condone something they consider immoral. “Nonsense!” say the proponents of these laws, “we’ll exempt religious organizations from the law.” Well, England has now shown exactly what those exemptions are worth, and churches are right to be concerned -- especially since British leftism eventually infests our left as well.

Some time ago, England passed laws forbidding discrimination against homosexuals in hiring. At the time, those laws included an exemption for religious groups that consider homosexuality immoral. In the past month, the British Labour Party has tried to pass a law “clarifying” those exemptions. What they tried should send up huge red flags to anyone who thinks that people have the right to maintain their own beliefs.

Specifically, Labour tried to pass a law that expanded the anti-hiring-discrimination laws to all aspects of religious organizations, except for the hiring of clerical personnel. That's right, everyone except the actual priests, ministers, rabbis, shamans or imams.

Calling this a “cautious aim” and “fairly modest,” The Economist said:

“[The government] was not questioning the right of religious bodies to follow their own beliefs when hiring priests or imams; it merely wanted to clarify that, in recruiting for non-religious jobs (accountants, for example), churches must obey the law and refrain from discrimination against gays.”
Oh, is that all? So churches have the right to their beliefs, but they can only exercise those rights in rare occasions -- when it comes to choosing actual priests. For all other jobs, they need to follow the beliefs established by the government, instead of their own?

Does anyone see a problem with this? The Economist surely doesn't because they don't really believe churches should be doing this. But I wonder how they would feel if we looked at this principle more broadly. Indeed, while we’re busy defining when you can and can’t exercise your beliefs, why stop with sexual orientation? Why do we allow religious discrimination for example? Shouldn't we force churches to hire atheists? So long as we don’t require them to hire atheistic priests, then we aren’t really questioning their right to follow their own beliefs, are we?

No doubt The Economist would approve of that because they have over the years shown a pretty clear dislike for Christianity. But Christianity isn't the only religion. Maybe we should force Mosques to employ Jews and Synagogues to hire Muslims? I can't see why this would be a problem so long as they were free to pick their own imams and rabbis?

By the way, if you think this can't be a problem, let me point out part of an argument before the Supreme Court this week. In a case where the court is deciding whether universities can ban Christian groups who refuse to admit gay members, one of the justices asked the representative for the gay group: if we don't let the Christian group control its own membership, what keeps others who disagree with their views from flooding into the group and voting themselves into the leadership and, basically, taking over the group? The answer: well, they could go form a new group if that happened. Seriously? Ok, let's run with that...

With that in mind, let's not forget that these laws apply well beyond religious institutions as well. So shouldn't gay groups be forced to hire devout Catholics and Muslims. . . except for their most senior positions of course. Though, now that I think about it, I'm not even sure why we should exempt their senior positions as those aren't "religious" positions, are they? And while we're on a roll, why shouldn't pro-abortion groups be required to hire devout Roman Catholics? Shouldn't feminist groups be required to hire devout Muslims? And if not, why not. . . as The Economist says, it’s not like this will interfere with their beliefs. And if they don't like it, they can just go form another group, right?

Seriously, this shows the left’s promises for what they are: lies. They promise an exemption and then quickly redefine the exemption into absurdity and then eliminate it all together.

It also show the danger of letting the government decide what you can believe and when you can act on those beliefs. If we take this law seriously, then no group can be safe from a determined opposition seeking to infiltrate the group and destroy its message. . . all sanctioned with the force of law.

If you believe, as I do, that people have the right to their own beliefs, be they right, wrong, stupid, offensive or otherwise, then this is the sort of thing that should scare you: the government telling you when you can and cannot exercise your beliefs.

And if these things do happen, then activists on the right should get their resumes ready. It's open season on leftist interest groups!


rlaWTX said...

I work for a church in an admin position - when the temp agency called, they would not tell me the name of the church. After I explained the definition of "denomination", she gave me that much. There are certain ones that I would not work for because I would implicitly be supporting and furthering their aims, with which I disagree.
I said all that to make this point:
if those with diametrically opposing positions are trying to get hired, does that not imply that they are either [1] supporting the job's aims or [2] intending on sabotage? I realize that appealing to a lib's common sense is contradictory, but puh-lease!!!

Unknown said...

Andrew: How well that points out the danger and the slippery-slope of interfering with the First Amendment right of free exercise of religion. Secular law has slowly wormed its way into religious affairs in the name of some abstract "human rights." Freedom of association and assembly implicitly includes the right not to associate or assemble with those of differing lines of thought, particularly as it relates to the religious guarantees of the First Amendment.

This also explains why I oppose any California gay marriage law which is not a constitutional amendment that protects religious institutions. A mere statute can include gay marriage and religious protections. But statutes are at the whim of the legislature. Gay marriage could be left in place, while the religious exemptions could be wiped out with the mood of the legislature or the opinion of a liberal court.

We are not Britain or Europe--yet.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I think that is exactly the point that is being (intentionally) missed. Why would someone want to work for an organization with which they disagree? The only reason that comes to mind is to sabotage it's mission.

And when you look at what was argued before the Supreme Court, it sounds like the left is fine with that -- if a bunch of leftists want to take over school church groups or the college Republicans, then so be it. . . they can just go form another group. Yeah, until that one gets taken over too.

If the left is going to proceed with this, then it's time for conservatives to start striking back. Use these weapons against the left, as they would use them against the right.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, The right to not associate is the key to this. What good is the right to associate if you don't have a right to not associate with it? In other words, what good is it to have the right to meet with your friends if you can't keep out your enemies from the meetings.

This is the problem with encroachments on the First Amendment. Once you start letting the government tell people what they can believe and who they can associate with, then you've given up the most fundamental human rights. The government should not have the power to tell people what they can believe.

patti said...

the left "clarifying" anything is an alarm to be sounded. one more in a long line of many bells tolling...

AndrewPrice said...

True Patti, "clarify" means "change" or "push further" to the left.

My issue isn't with gays, I really have no opinion on that -- I've met many who I like, some I don't, and it's not an issue for me -- my issue is with telling people what they need to believe.

I believe that every human should have the right to hold to their beliefs, be they right, wrong or crazy. To me, that's the most fundamental part of being a human being. But the left doesn't like that. They want to make people into little clones.

StanH said...

“Inch by inch everything’s a cinch!”

Societal manipulation is one of the great tools of leftist regimes worldwide, and one of the few enemies of the centrally controlled state, is the church. Though I’m not particularly religious, I do understand the importance of the Judeo-Christian traditions of America, they are critical to our continued existence And like was said up-thread for me it’s a 1st Amendment issue, you let statist dictate how you work, play, or pray real trouble is on the come.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, To me this isn't a religious issue either, it's a First Amendment issue. This is the government telling people that they can't believe what they want to believe. I find that offensive on so many levels.

The most fundamental freedom is the right to your own beliefs. This is an attempt to force people to change their beliefs to what the government considers acceptable beliefs. And it don't like that no matter whose beliefs are being attacked.

clew said...

Yup, tolerance needs to be legally mandated from everyone but the leftists, apparently.

I just got in a huge tangle with a bunch of atheists last night about how stupid and oppressive I am simply because I pointed out the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the constitution. Oh, really?

AndrewPrice said...

Clew, the problem is that they've been listening to the left for too long which reads Constitutional Amendments the way they want to read them, rather than reading what they really say.

tryanmax said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've always taken the freedom of association do imply the freedom of disassociation. That pesky First Amendment ruins all the left's fun.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That would be correct, except the left doesn't recognize that part. Otherwise things like affirmative action would go down in flames. In their book, "freedom of association" means right to unionize, form left-wing hate groups and protest Republican governments.

tryanmax said...

Don't forget the right to impose union membership on people who don't want it and to forcibly disband groups you disagree with.

AndrewPrice said...

But tryanmax, It's for their own good. ;)

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