Catholic and SSA

Tuesday, August 13, AD 2013

Joseph Prever, who has blogged under the pseudonym Steve Gershom, (and who is Simcha Fisher’s brother), has written a rather intimate post discussing being homosexual and a practicing Catholic. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the key point:

You probably know this already, but I’m celibate, because I’m Catholic. You will not hear me talking about When Oh When Will The Church Get With The Times, because that kind of talk is boring nonsense. Guys, the whole point of having the Church is having one thing, just one!, that you can depend on to always be the same. Thank God for that.

If you want a church that constantly changes to fit in with whatever’s fashionable this decade, there are a bazillion options, and you’re bound to find one that is custom-tailored to your particular set of prejudices. Happy shopping.

It’s actually harder to come out as celibate than to come out as gay. Various people have pitied me, or tried to convince me that my life is vewwy vewwy sad, or tried to talk me out of it, or even surreptitiously tried to set me up with their gay friends. If you do this shit, I will not spin-kick you in the face, but I will very badly want to.

Now as is typical for the Catholic blogopshere, while many if not most have been supportive of Joseph, there is a rather vocal undercurrent that is more critical. Some of the more vitriolic, and frankly unhinged comments are simply not worth the time to respond to. There are a couple of more rational criticisms, expressed in many circles, that are worth addressing.

That Joseph uses the word “gay” to describe himself has bothered many. You’ll hear this complaint on many topics related to same sex attraction, particularly if you ever use the term “gay marriage.” There is some merit to this objection, as words do have significant connotations. Even Prever himself is uncomfortable with the word, and says so himself:

Some people have a problem with the word “gay”. That’s okay; I get it. I have a problem with it too. I’ve written a little about that. It’s not a perfect word, but words are like that. You have to know the context. My life is the context. Get to know me first, and then we can argue about it.

Unlike most who have read this paragraph I gather, I bothered to look at the link Prever provided, and it opened to his about page where he writes this:

So are you gay, or what?

You could say that, if you wanted to, although I don’t like the term and don’t identify with it. I’m attracted primarily and almost exclusively to men, and have been since I was about fourteen; but I don’t date men or have sex with them, so where does that leave me? I’m a faithful Catholic, so a romantic relationship with another man literally doesn’t fit into the way I see the world. I don’t see myself as different in any essential way from heterosexual men, so describing myself as “gay” doesn’t seem to fit.

On the other hand, “homosexual” sounds clinical, “queer” certainly isn’t me, and “man who’s attracted to other men” is cumbersome. So, “gay” is a useful sort of shorthand, and I’ll use it from time to time until a better word comes along. SSA (same-sex attraction) is a useful term too, as in “He has SSA” rather than “He is SSA.”

Okay, but can’t you please use some other word besides “gay”? People are going to get the wrong idea.

People have made the point that, by using the same terminology used by those who hold the view that homosexuality is a normal, natural, healthy, super-wonderful sexual variant of human behavior, I’m implicitly legitimizing that view.

This is a valid point. Over and against this point, however, I weigh the fact that the word “gay” is immediately recognizable. If anyone cares enough to read what I’ve written on the blog, they’ll find out what I think about it. And — let’s be honest — “gay” is much better for SEO purposes.

Scandal! Well, not really. This is an eminently reasonable argument. If you want to quibble, feel free, but to me it seems rather pedantic, and I’m not about to cast Mr. Prever into the hellfire for using the term.

The more serious criticism is basically this: it is wrong for Prever to identify as gay (or homosexual or SSA) publicly, as he is giving tacit support for the lifestyle. Essentially, his public profession gives scandal.

This is wrongheaded for a number of reasons. As he makes abundantly clear, he lives a chaste life. No one who reads what he has written could claim with any level of intellectual honesty that he has given tacit support for the homosexual lifestyle, or that his admission of being gay somehow implies that identifies as gay above being Catholic, or that it is his sole defining identification. I would like to believe that this audience is familiar enough with the Catechism to understand that nothing that Prever wrote contradicts in any way the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

More importantly, the calls for Mr. Prever to, for lack of a better term, stay in the closet strikes me as stupefyingly boneheaded. We live in a culture where homosexual behavior is not only accepted, it is largely celebrated. Here we have an amazing testimony that goes profoundly against the grain. Here we have a gay man (sorry, homosexual) who proudly testifies to the truth of Holy Scripture, affirms the magisterial teaching of the Holy Church, and conforms his life to these teachings. And he should shut up? This magnificent sign of contradiction shouldn’t evangelize to the truth? Are you kidding me?

It seems that so often we Catholics strive diligently to be our own worst enemies. We do our best to shout down the very people who are the greatest testimonies to the awesome love  of our Lord.

I understand to a point the almost reflexive anger demonstrated by some Catholics when it comes to homosexuality. We feel we’re banging our heads collectively against a wall, battling a culture that seems (and is) outright hostile to our values. The Gestapo-like tactics employed against those who oppose this cultural transformation sickens us all. But can we just take a minute before becoming the caricatures we’re portrayed to be? Can we display that love of Christ here on Earth and embrace those who are the very exemplars of courage and sacrifice? Or would we rather obsesses over semantics and condemn to hell the very people who most need our support?

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29 Responses to Catholic and SSA

  • Good post, Paul; and bravo to Mr. Prever.

  • He is a better man than I am.

  • I don’t read anything in Mr Prever’s post that should draw any ire, at least from a serious Catholic. His choice to live a chaste life without recourse to reparative therapy is a perfectly legitimate one.

    I am one of those who disagree with the use of the word gay, simply because the meaning of the word has nothing to do with sexual orientation one was or the other. This part and parcel of how the left has been able to affect culture through use of euphemisms. As the late moral theologian Msgr. William B Smith used to say “All social engineering begins with verbal engineering.” This is something our side has yet to understand for the most part.

  • It’s actually harder to come out as celibate than to come out as gay.

    I know I got harassed (by other straight females) as a celibate female; I’ve seen how guys get pushed to have sex. I have trouble imagining what it must be like for those with the niche identity issue…..

    I kind of like the way he’s using the term– it only causes scandal if we accept the claim that “gay” is an objective term which requires sexual activity, rather than a popular shorthand for what group one is interested in sexually.

  • I guess I’m a bit out of touch because when I saw the headline of this story, “Catholic and SSA” I thought it was going to be about the Social Security Administration.

  • I offer best wishes and prayers to Mr. Prever and others with SSA. However I do not support the “coming out as gay” inclination that he and other Catholics with SSA seem to have. Courage, the fine Catholic Apostolate , which ministers to those with SSA, specifically recommends against usage of the term “gay”.
    Our Lord created us with a human identity; as male or female. There is no third hybrid option. One is male or female, and will live out that identity as a celibate, or in marriage. To Mr Prever others I would respectfully say that you are a man, and your identity comes as a man, whether you live out your life as a single man, or in marriage. To self identify as “gay” seems to be quite self limiting. How much better to embrace manhood as the essential part of your human identity? Labeling yourself as “gay” adds nothing to your humanity, and in effect stigmatizes yourself.
    Our diseased culture, often with the witting or unwitting help of Catholics, has turned sex into an idol, which as much as anything explains the obsession with all things Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender; even to the point where Christians who refuse to validate the GLBT lifestyle are stigmatized and increasingly facing official state sanctioned persecution.
    And as an aside, if a faithful Catholic is right to publicy self identify as “gay” how about as a bisexual, or transgender? Since, no doubt they would say that is exactly who they are, why should they not “come out” as Bi, or Transgender Catholics? When they do, will that be a good thing, or will it confuse the essential message of The Faith, as contained in scripture and the CCC, wherein we acknowledge that God created us, male and female; our essential sexual identify as human beings, and called us to live chaste lives always, both within marriage and without. Identifying with a disordered lifestyle, which use of the word “gay” in my opinion does; as with the words “lesbian”, “bisexual”, or “transgender”, places ones feelings, passions,and inclinations far too much front and center; in a place where the Lord our God should be.
    That all said, I affirm that those who have SSA, whether they self identify as “gay” or not deserve, along with all human beings, our love in Christ.

  • I will register a dissent. It is neither necessary nor proper for him to make a public point of this, or, really, much of anything particularly personal.

  • I saw criticism of Joseph Prever / Steve Gershom by a Catholic blogger on Facebook. I was unaware of the facts. Thank you, Paul Zummo, for an enlightening post.

  • That’s a really interesting blog. Thanks for linking to it.

    I read a few of the entries, and I didn’t see anything morally objectionable, and there was plenty that I’m really going to be thinking about. He should be lauded for providing insight to the world about his personal struggles with sexuality, something that’s problematic even for the saints.

    As for the use of the word “gay”, I guess it leads to misconceptions, but so do a lot of other words. I’m tired of semantic arguments over “schismatic” versus “independent”, “libertarian” versus “free market”, and any of the other debates that could go on forever. I was just trying to explain this to a “pro-choicer” who was offended at the term “pro-lifer”. Yes, words have baggage, but the reason we use words next to each other is to flesh out an idea. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t read a blog of a “gay Catholic”, but I’m glad I read this.

  • Obviously I am not Foxfier, but it seems to me that Susan has a fixation for genital titillation, whether hetero or homosexual. How typical of today’s neo-pagan, post modern hedonists who insist that they are dedicated to reason, logic and science, but just can’t wait to titillate with the irresponsible abandon of the simians from which they think they evolved (or is that devolved?).

  • I have deleted Susan’s comments, and she will no longer be welcome to comment here.

  • If we are to live in the world, we have to use words that mean something to the people we are trying to evangelize too. We aren’t creating a closed society. So I think using the term “gay” and perhaps expanding or changing the definition to include those who have SSA but don’t act on it is a good way to reach beyond the Catholic fold. SSA is a temptation, like any other. I think it’s perfectly appropriate for us to talk about how we overcome and avoid those temptations that tug at our hearts.

  • Thanks, both Pauls.

    I will admit I got a startled laugh out of it because I was knee deep in kids when I read it. 🙂

  • I would like to add that “same sex attraction” is ambiguous in a way that is destructive. The end of the attraction is not specified, only the object of the attraction. All people should have some level of same sex attraction because we need relationships with people of the same sex.The question is the end and effect of that attraction, not the object. Without this distinction it can be very damaging. For example, when I was subject to these therapies an unhealthy scrutiny and suspicion developed of all of my attractions which only made matters worse. Ergo, drop SSA it is more hurtful than helpful.

  • My objection (which may be wrong) is that using the term “gay” seems to imply that there is a biologic determinism. “I am what I am.” Perhaps. This is even indirectly argued by Mr. Prever in that he notes that he has been attracted to men since age 14. Clearly alcoholism and schizophrenia have biologic (genetic) factors. Others like anxiety are a mix of genetic and environmental factors.

    As far as homosexuality (clinical yes, but accurate) is concerned, the argument for a genetic factor is still extremely weak. The best that some have come up with is that there is some genetic factor but it is not clear how much it contributes to the overall expression of homosexuality. Therefore, much of SSA (better?) seems to be environmentally influenced.

    That being the case, identifying oneself by one’s sexual drives seems misguided. Something more extrinsic rather than intrinsic to the person.

  • Thank you Paul for shedding light on your personal issue. It made me realize that the term SSA is preferable, and that you made a personal decision based on SSA and live with it in the context of our Church! You are to be applauded! We are all children of God, and you obviously listen to Him!

  • suzanne,

    The post was not written about me, but rather another blogger, though your sentiments are spot on.

  • Since alcoholics were mentioned in a previous comment, I personally like what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says about sex on pages 68 through 70 in chapter 5, “How It Works.” This discussion is given at the tail end of the instructions for performing a written Fourth Step: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” It is reprinted below.

    I realize that the following is written from a secular perspective and my beliefs are decidedly from a Christian perspective, but remember the Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith designed the AA Program based in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 1st Corinthians 13 and the Epistle of St. James. We know this from the other books that Bill Wilson wrote. And remember also when reading this that ultimately sexual relations (e.g., adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc.) outside the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony fail Bill Wilson’s acid test in being possessed of selfishness, dishonesty and inconsiderateness. Sadly, that sometimes happens within marriage, too. 

    Now about sex. Many of needed an overhauling there. But above all, we tried to be sensible on this question. It’s so easy to get way off the track. Here we find human opinions running to extremes-absurd extremes, perhaps. One set of voices cry that sex is a lust of our lower nature, a base necessity of procreation. Then we have the voices who cry for sex and more sex; who bewail the institution of marriage; who think that most of the troubles of the race are traceable to sex causes. They think we do not have enough of it, or that it isn’t the right kind. They see its significance everywhere. One school would allow man no flavor for his fare and the other would have us all on a straight pepper diet. We want to stay out of this controversy. We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct. We all have sex problems. We’d hardly be human if we didn’t. What can we do about them?

    We reviewed our own conduct over the years past. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead? We got this all down on paper and looked at it.

    In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test-was it selfish or not? We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed.

    Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it. We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm, provided that we do not bring about still more harm in so doing. In other words, we treat sex as we would any other problem. In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, if we want it.

    God alone can judge our sex situation. Counsel with persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge. We realize that some people are as fanatical about sex as others are loose. We avoid hysterical thinking or advice.

    Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk. Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and on our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts out of our experience.

    To sum up about sex: We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing. If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. This takes us out of ourselves. It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache.

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  • I really don’t care that Mr. Prever calls himself gay because the more important fact is that he correctly strives to live a chaste life. I wish more Catholics who struggle with same sex attraction but who are also striving to live chaste lives would speak up!! Please speak up!! They are the lights in the darkness that can help save the souls of the misguided Catholics out there who think using contraceptives is okay (which is sexually deviant) but that gay “marriage” is wrong. Most Catholics have been a complete disaster in the face of the onslaught we are seeing from the “gay” activists simply because they have no clue what it means to live a chaste life…married or not! I would love to see more people like Mr. Prever speak up and stand along side the rest of us “straight” Catholics who are also striving to live chaste lives…I would welome that partnership in trying to help turn our culture around!!

  • “I would like to believe that this audience is familiar enough with the Catechism to understand that nothing that Prever wrote contradicts in any way the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.”

    This calls for our support, not our condemnation, and should serve as the basis for any conversation about what he has written.

  • That Joseph uses the word “gay” to describe himself has bothered many. You’ll hear this complaint on many topics related to same sex attraction, particularly if you ever use the term “gay marriage.”
    –Paul Zummo

    I too wish that Joseph Prever didn’t use the word “gay” in such ways but the burden of cleaning up the English language falls not on him but on all the rest of us who omitted making loud objections when a militant political movement and its media minions hijacked the word. So I realize that my wish doesn’t matter much today and won’t ever come to pass unless all the rest of us begin schooling the wider public that “gay” is a politics, “homosexual” is a lifestyle, and “same sex attraction” (or “same sex sexual attraction”, to answer Aaron Harburgh) is a source of temptation, something that by our God-given free will one can choose to give into or choose to turn away from.

    I kind of like the way he’s using the term– it only causes scandal if we accept the claim that “gay” is an objective term which requires sexual activity, rather than a popular shorthand for what group one is interested in sexually.
    Foxfier

    Yes, if only the distinction was always made so clearly in the popular media. What I see, though, is that many media mouthpieces are eager to eliminate the distinction between the personal and the political in order to advance the gay political agenda or curry favor with its partisans.

    It’s actually harder to come out as celibate than to come out as gay.

    I know I got harassed (by other straight females) as a celibate female; I’ve seen how guys get pushed to have sex.
    Foxfier

    I’ve seen it too. And I’ve seen how violent-crazy some straight females become when their sexual advances are refused by a young man trying to hold fast to his chastity. (That could be a topic for another time.)

  • Michel Foucault has, rather drolly described the change that took place in the 19th century: “Sodomy, that of the old civil or canon laws, was a category of forbidden acts. Their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The nineteenth-century homosexual became a personage: a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a character, a life-style and a morphology, with an over-inquisitive anatomy and, possibly, a mysterious physiology. Nothing that he was, escaped his sexuality… It was consubstantial with him, less as a habitual sin than as a singular nature…. The sodomite had been a lapse; the homosexual was now a species.” [My translation]

    From being a sinful action to be repented, or a vice to be overcome, “homosexuality” became a condition to be treated. Now, of course, for many, it is an identity to be validated.

  • “From being a sinful action to be repented, or a vice to be overcome, “homosexuality” became a condition to be treated. Now, of course, for many, it is an identity to be validated.”

    Actually, it has become an identity to be lauded and extolled. Sadly, Romans 1:32 applies and I wish that were not the case:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%201:32&version=NRSVCE

  • I wish more Catholics who struggle with same sex attraction but who are also striving to live chaste lives would speak up!! Please speak up!!

    Kim, it’s my privilege, notwithstanding my SSA, to strive for chastity as witness to my desire to live fully in Christ and to share His message with others. In this I am eternally thankful for the Courage apostolate (mentioned elsewhere) and for the brave priests, religious and lay folk who support it in the face of a rising tsunami of persecution of chastity. Your plea supports our cause, and I thank you for it.

  • Michael Foucault wrote on the history of sexual discourse in the West. He says that sexual identities didn’t exist until Victorian doctors sought to understand and medicalize different sexualities. Prior to that, it would never have occurred to someone to slap a sexual label on someone such as straight or gay. Today, we identify people in terms of their sexuality, and we get all sorts of labels, yet they notably break down as is the case with bi-curious. This reflects the reality we learn from Scripture, that people are subject to a sinful nature and may or may not act according to passions. It is an anthropological matter of great importance.

  • Jon

    It is no accident that Foucault is, perhaps, best known for his social history of madness, such as « Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique – Folie et déraison » (Paris: Plon, 1961) translated as “Madness & Civilisation” and « Naissance de la clinique – une archéologie du regard médical» (Paris: PUF, 1963) – “Birth of the Clinic – an Archaeology of Medical Perception.” Again, he describes the same process of medicalisation.

    I am far from agreeing with Foucault about most things, but he is an historian of prodigious and often obscure, learning and he does produce some remarkably good insights. There is a place in philosophy for the « enfant terrible »

  • (This is adapted from something I wrote to a friend. It seemed appropriate here, although so many of you said more briefly some very good things.)

    Recognizing that we all have desires and appetites that we strive to satisfy, we also must admit that everyone of us also has disordered appetites that when out of control or not understood can lead us and our behavior astray. It becomes especially difficult to handle if a want, often tied to real needs, becomes a psychological fixation that brings on strong physical (sensual) reactions in our bodies. Self-mastery over our habits of thought and actions, virtue and a truthful moral compass are the answer, but these require constant vigilance.
    I would not be surprised if every person ever, except two, had to struggle with some kind of unhealthy sexual attraction because I believe Satan most easily takes advantage of perverting this strong, God-given drive. Even with married couples it can be a real challenge keeping sexual relations from self-seeking satisfaction and even if only in the mind, some perversity. In one way, concentrating on the act and not the person. Giving of ourselves selflessly and completely embracing the wholeness of another during sexual intercourse does not come easy in our sinful state.
    What does it mean when one person looks at another, or at their anatomy, and thinks, “I want a piece of that!” The attraction here is not based on “love” but a desire for a sexual “piece of meat” – of wanting to devour it or making it completely mine. It really has little to do with another person, rather it is about oneself and one’s own body parts. When you consider pornography, where there is only an image not even a person, this is even more obvious. In many ways I think masturbation is the training ground for this kind of sexual fixation focused on a body part and not on a person. That is, other than wanting to absorb and completely own your infatuated perception of other person.
    As a heterosexual person do I identify myself as Opposite Sex Attraction? What if I were tempted to , or should I say “oriented to” animals, teens or simply myself? Myself Sex Attraction? Or perhaps I have a myriad of sexual attractions, not just bisexual but “I’m MSA, Multi Sex Attraction?” My point here is, and I do finally get to the thread of this conversation, is that identifications like “I’m gay” fatalistically reduce a human person to being a behavior and not a whole person, who by the way has countless other behaviors and desires we could arbitrarily identify by. I think, for example, it is better to have the self- image as a person with an alcohol addiction rather than an alcoholic, although all these terms make for easy classification.
    As to “opening the closet” to share with the world just one of many attractions, “I’m oriented to only having sex with other men, but I live a chaste life” perhaps can be helpful in giving hope to others struggling with the same temptations. However, although I think it even courageous it could also be very damaging if it promotes the “doom” that identifies as “I am gay”, “I was born this way”, “this is who I am” and “I’ll do my best fighting it.” Whereas St. Paul is abundantly aware of his own temptations and failures, he does not make them his identity but finds himself in Christ and consequently, is “reoriented.”
    I have two brothers who claim to be “gay.” They say “they always felt different” and “knew from an early time” and fall back on the “being born this way” as a reason they cannot do anything about it. This is what I mean by being “doomed.” Instead of recognizing that we all develop “orientations” that need to be “re-oriented” they have given into letting this appetite devour them. And by no means do I mean to underestimate how hard that particular struggle can be as I humbly admit there are appetites that might have devoured me. Which brings me to my closing comment: While the homosexual agenda is a relentless attack on the truth of human sexuality and the human person, people we know and love don’t see, or want to see it this way. We are in great need of witnesses, probably martyrs, to speak convincingly and compassionately about the truth of human sexuality and the meaning of marriage instead of just knowing it ourselves. If this Joe can add his voice effectively, his witness is applauded by me.
    As an aside: I just heard that Gov. Christe is going to sign a bill pushed by the “gay lobby” to prohibit therapies for reorienting young homosexuals. He displayed such compassion and wisdom in telling us that he believed we are born this way and that it is not a sin. The funny thing is I have only seen newborns or young toddlers born male or female and not particularly sexually oriented anywhere yet. Perhaps he can also share with us his support for contraception, masturbation and being born multi-sexual, bestial or whatever? And while he’s at it, why not abolish the idea of sin altogether?

  • Kevin

    Aristotle, as usual, has something good to say on this, if one takes the trouble to tease it out.

    In the Nicomachean Ethics, he observes that some states or conditions “arise as a result of disease (or, in some cases, of madness, as with the man who sacrificed and ate his mother, or with the slave who ate the liver of his fellow), and others are morbid states (C) resulting from custom, e.g. the habit of plucking out the hair or of gnawing the nails, or even coals or earth, and in addition to these, sexual intercourse with males [τῶν ἀφροδισίων τοῖς ἄρρεσιν – tōn aphrodisiōn tois arresin]; for these arise in some by nature and in others, as in those who have been the victims of lust from childhood, from habit.” (Nicomachean Ethics Book 7:5; Arist Eth Nic 1148b 27-30)

    (Note that some English versions translate τῶν ἀφροδισίων τοῖς ἄρρεσιν as paederasty, why I don’t know: Ἀφροδισιάζω means to have sexual intercourse and ἄρσην means male; ἄρρεσιν is the dative plural. Had he meant paederasty, there is a perfectly good Greek word for it, παιδεραστία – paederasty, as it happens]

    With his rather bizarre examples of hair-twisting and nail-biting, I believe Aristotle is making an important point that runs all through his ethical thinking. The good choice, “This – being such – is to be done,” is intelligible, because intelligent; the bad choice is, ultimately unintelligible. True enough, we can often trace its causes to instinctive or dispositional factors, but it remains logically incoherent. Such behaviours have causes, not reasons.

Out of the Closet and Married

Thursday, June 14, AD 2012

Humor writer Josh Weed has written a remarkable personal piece. Weed is an out of the closet gay Mormon – who also happens to be married with three children. Josh, as well as his wife Molly, detail how Josh struggled to live up to the tenets of his faith. He didn’t hide his homosexuality from his parents, who by the way were understanding right from the outset. His wife Molly had been a close friend and confidant, so she was aware of Josh’s same sex attraction before they even began dating.

It’s a truly remarkable story that should be read in its entirety. Clearly it is applicable in Catholic circles, though as my wife suggests, celibacy is a more viable option for gay Catholics than for Mormons.

Josh gives every indication that he is perfectly happy, but he does not come off as preachy, nor does he suggest that all individuals who struggle with same sex attraction can or ought to make the same choice he did.

Even more heartening is that this post has over 3,000 comments, and the overwhelming are supportive or at least understanding. Now I stopped skimming after about a thousand comments, so it’s possible that things got nastier once the post went viral on Facebook. But the relatively generous feedback that he received is almost a story unto itself.

That’s all. Please go read. Now.

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6 Responses to Out of the Closet and Married

  • When I first started to grasp Catholic teachings on sexuality I tried to build a story around a character that had a disordered attraction to children of the same sex; he recognized it as wrong, dangerous and evil, and made dang sure to distance himself. Sadly, I have zilch skill at story telling, so it fell to the wayside.

    That said, I’d be highly interested in a story about a character who lusts after the same sex and resists it. I know that if I hadn’t had the grounding that I did, if I’d had a ‘normal’ upbringing, I’d probably have become a lesbian. (and been much sadder for it, looking back)

  • Thanks for posting this, Paul. Great read.

  • “I’d be highly interested in a story about a character who lusts after the same sex and resists it.” Temptations too, are road signs that tell us not to go there. Lust destroys true love and the friendship that grows from real affection and human bonding. Lust is destructive. Love creates all that man needs or wants.

  • Well even if a boy gets good vibrations around a girl he likes that can be used to do good and end up marrying her.

  • “Passions and emotions in themselves have no moral Good and no moral Evil.” this statement is in the Catechism.

  • Passions and Emotions can only do Moral Good or Moral Evil if they are applied otherwise they are not morally Evil or morally Good.

MSNBC/NY Times Poll Alert: “Are Religious Rights Being Trampled on by Government?”

Thursday, December 29, AD 2011

Fr. Z says it best:

Perhaps other blogs will pick this up and help.

An article from the ultra-liberal New York Times (“Hell’s Bible”) is posted on the even more liberal MSNBC.

The article concerns the objections of the USCCB against pressure from the Obama Administration and/or states to force Catholic adoption agencies to allow homosexual “couples” to adopt.

You have to scroll down to the bottom of the MSNBC webpage to find the poll form.

Click here!

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5 Responses to MSNBC/NY Times Poll Alert: “Are Religious Rights Being Trampled on by Government?”

  • Chris Matthews of MSNBC has blatantly stated that he wants to see Obama re-elected. They are obviously using this survey to find chinks in their secular armor, and to defend Obama’s policies.

  • For roughly half a century, it has been the right of the Adoption Agency to determine who is fit to be a parent, why is it that the government feels that that right must be changed now? Why can’t we say that homosexuals aren’t fit to be parents?

    I agree that this is a complete intrusion of the rights of religion. Thanks for the heads-up on the poll (when I voted, roughly 18,300 voted and it was a 49-49-2 split).

  • Not a very good poll design– I tried a different browser after I voted and it would have let me vote again.

  • Interesting. I just voted @ 9:30pm Eastern Time and the poll results were:
    18,148 votes and 49-49-2 split.

  • Interestingly, the article states that the Lutheran Church in Missouri is going to go ahead with referrals to gay couples. I read that the Lutheran Church membership is dwindling, and they’re looking to expand their membership. Herbert W. Chilstrom is former presiding bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Chilstrom has written an open letter to the Bishops of Minnesota asking them to accept gay ‘marriage’ because gays are like blacks or something (his words).

    Changing doctrine to accommodate members is a short-term solution. The one thing that make the Catholic Church strong is it’s unity, catholicity, apostolicity, and holiness. The Lutheran church is making itself weaker, not stronger by bending God’s word to accommodate its membership.

    Back in 2001, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a noted psychiatrist had reported that homosexuals who really want to be cured, can become heterosexual using a variety of techniques.

    “Contrary to conventional wisdom,” Spitzer concluded, “some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual orientation, and achieve good heterosexual functioning.” Spitzer looked at 200 homosexuals – 143 men and 57 women. To the researchers’ surprise, good heterosexual functioning was reportedly achieved by 67% of the men who had rarely or never felt any opposite-sex attraction before the change process.

    Here’s a link to Dr. Spitzer’s discussion of his work:

    http://www.narth.com/docs/spitzer2.html

    Incidentally, Dr. Spitzer was the lead on getting homosexuality removed from the DSM in the 1980s because it supposedly couldn’t be cured. They gay community raised him on a pedestal then. Now they want him to go away.

How’s this for “Diversity” and “Inclusion”?

Friday, December 2, AD 2011

The United States Senate has approved a defense authorization bill by a vote of 93-7 that includes changes to Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: no longer banned are sodomy and sex with animals (bestiality).

Article 125 used to state:

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

The change in Article 125 ostensibly is due to President Obama’s support to remove the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Quite likely, the removal of the bestiality provision was not intentional.  But, the simple fact is that under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there’s no longer a provision to prosecute military personnel who engage specifically in bestiality.

The U.S. Armed Forces have been touted by those on the political left as being on the vanguard of “social change.”  They cite, as the primary example, the demise of segregation in the U.S. military following World War I and officially when President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

So, if The Motley Monk “gets it,” any soldier who engages in sodomy with an animal cannot be prosecuted under the provisions of the Uniform Code.

Hopefully, the Conference Committee will deal directly with this particular “social experiment,” as the House version of the Defense Authorization Act includes reinforcing the Defense of Marriage Act and prohibiting same-sex marriage on military bases.

What is this nation coming to when U.S. Senators legislate something like bestiality in the U.S. Armed Forces?

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12 Responses to How’s this for “Diversity” and “Inclusion”?

  • When homosexual sodomy is legalized and sanctified as marriage, then why not marriage between multiple consenting people? Why not Mormon polygamy (we will now have to apologize to all those LDS members for discrimination against their life style generations ago)? Why not between adults and children? Why not between human and other species. If everyone is consenting and no one hurts anyone else, then what’s the problem?

    With liberalism there is no morality because everything is relative – if it feels good and everyone agrees and no one is hurt, then go right on ahead.

    I despise and loathe liberalism and the Demokratik Party of death.

  • “Quite likely, the removal of the bestiality provision was not intentional.”

    I want to believe whoever did it knew what he/she was doing and the political commissars missed it. Mark Shea often writes: “Sin makes you stupid.”

    Never misunderestimate the GI.

    Otherwise, this fuster cluck gives new meaning to the Vietnam war-era saying “F… the Army.”

  • Was this a parody of how the far right obsesses over extreme trivialities? How many cases of bestiality in the military were prosecuted before the ban was lifted? And how is lifting the ban “legislating something like bestiality”? Wouldn’t reintroducing the ban now be social engineering?

    @Paul P., lots of people are for legalizing polygamy though some have reservations because many times polygamy is a result of coercion. Children and non-humans can’t legally consent. The pro-gay-marriage side’s concept of marriage is a legal contract so all the normal rules of contracts would still apply. To debate them, you have to argue against their first principles. Why is marriage merely a contract? You can’t argue by bringing up things that don’t follow logically from their own definition.

  • Yes, you are logically correct, RR. Thanks.

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  • RR

    Same same the extreme left, justice and peace cadres obsess over trivialities like four water-boardings and 200 executions to rationalize providing material support for 45,000,000 abortions and taxpayer funding for millions more.

    FYI – among Real Catholics bestiality is as much a mortal sin as sodomy. Among the justice and peace cadres, there is no sin except tax cuts for the rich.

  • Be advised that the bill hasn’t gone through the House of Representatives yet. I’m sure they’re already aware of the problem. It’s just a question of whether only the anti-bestiality clause will be reinstated in the House version or whether they’ll put the whole thing back in and fight it out during the reconciliation process.

  • That first picture is brilliant.

  • What’s this nation “coming” to? I would suggest that we’ve been here for quite some time. We have dug quite a hole for ourselves and I think we’re still digging. God bless America.

  • It seems logical, fair, and inclusive.

    If it is licit for a male to stick his “member” into another male’s orifice (generally rectum, I hear) and pour in his seed; why the vicious hatred against someone that desires to do likewise to a beast?

    PS: I don’t buy the peta B S that animals are rational.

  • As the Catechism puts it, it is contrary to human dignity to cause unnecessary suffering or death to animals. To abuse them to offend against chastity is wicked, disordered and cruel.

  • These things to waste more time avoiding debt reduction, to so much further revile people, and to show our children and the world more atrocious depths of U.S. officialdumb. Senators and Representatives: Please read the short story about the origin of the word you are legislating in Genesis Chapter 19 and weep.

Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

Wednesday, October 5, AD 2011

An Article by Melinda Selmys, author of the book Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism.

Twelve years ago, I converted to Catholicism and began a long dialogue with my own sexuality. At the time, I was involved in a lesbian relationship that had been going on for a little over six years. I had, in the course of researching the Catholic position  with  a  view  to  refuting  it,  encountered  the  Church’s  teachings  on homosexual relationships before, so when I decided to embrace the Church as my mother, I knew that meant giving up my lesbian partner. I called her that night and explained my decision.

At the time, I thought that I was signing up for a life of celibacy. I was okay with that:  before I became a Catholic I was a hard rationalist, and it wasn’t a long stretch to port my idealistic devotion to rational self-possession into an iron-clad commitment to  Catholic sexual teaching. I would simply apply my will to the problem, subsume my passions to the rule of Reason, and everything would be fine. Right?

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25 Responses to Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism

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  • Interesting.

    Is there a meaningful distinction between “gay identity” and “queer personality”? Should there be? A gay identity seems no more contrary to Church teaching than a female identity. If that’s the case, it would make sense to encourage a gay identity within the Church rather than making Catholics choose between the two.

  • Honest self-examination and self- knowledge are essential if we’re going to make any headway in achieving chastity, in or out of marriage

    Amen to that. She seems to be doing a marvelous job at it, and it is wonderful that she is willing to share so much. Her advice is not only helpful for the LBGTQ community, but for “straights” as well. We all face temptations, and self-mastery is difficult for the best of us (just ask St. Paul). It is particularly difficult in a society that constantly encourages us to give in to our passions rather than rule them.

  • I don’t have anything to add, but thanks for posting this.

  • This is one of the most honest, intelligent pieces on the subject I have ever read. This will better help me relate to some of my friends who are gay and lesbian and has enlightened my understanding and insight. Thank you for writing this and for your transparency.
    God bless!

  • Paul, kind of the opposite. From their website: “By developing an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians, one can move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ.”

    What’s wrong with a homosexual identity? I remember reading something critical of the organization you linked to. I can’t remember where I read it. I think it was a blog by a chaste gay orthodox Catholic. The criticism was related to the issue I pointed out. Instead of creating a welcoming environment for the “gay and Catholic,” they seem to be saying “don’t be gay, be Catholic.”

  • RR,

    I wouldn’t consider “gay” identity to be equivalent to “male” identity or “female” identity as you suggested. Rather, “gay” identity would be more like “alcoholic” identity or “addict” identity.

    “Male” and “female” identities are normal. A “gay” identity, while real, is no more normal than an “alcoholic” identity or an “addict” identity. The Church needs a creation of a “gay” identity no more than it needs a creation of an “alcoholic” or “addict” identity. But the sympathizers of the gay community and the gay community itself insist on normalizing a “gay” identity as something natural like a “male” or “female” identity, and that simply isn’t the case. Being gay, like being alcoholic may have a genetic pre-disposition factor to it, but it still isn’t natural. It’s abberant (did I spell that correctly?)

    Now that doesn’t mean that we persecute and harrass gay people any more than we persecute and harrass alcoholic people. We all have our own special demons to taunt us. But let’s not normalize the abnormal; let’s not legitimatize the illegimate.

  • I thought again about RR’s idea of a separate identity for gays in the Church. Galatians 3:27-28 bears upon this:

    27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  • As Paul W Primavera says, or alludes to, our primary personality should be that of Christ. In that context, we do not develop an alcoholic personality, nor a wrathful personality, nor a lecherous personality, nor a “much afraid” personality. Those are disorders, and we don’t embrace them as fundamental to our nature or our being. Someone who is prone to these things is called to work on letting Christ heal them. That does not happen by socializing oneself into them. An alcoholic who is letting Christ heal him acknowledges that he is an alcoholic, but I don’t think that is the same as saying he has an alcoholic personality.

    As the Canadian bishops said in their guideline to ministry with young people with same-sex attractions, Catholic theology does not use the word ‘gay’. Any adjective on the word ‘personality’ is too limiting – the important factor is the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and beloved of Him.

  • Thank you very much for your witnessing.

  • Good on her.

    The description of attraction that she mentions jives with my personal experience– attraction to someone’s appearance often boils down to reading character traits into their appearance. (For example, I can’t remember a time I thought that Tom Cruise was attractive, but I also can’t remember a time I didn’t know he was a jerk.)
    Possibly an aspect of SSA is the way that all sexual attraction gets flanderized? I’m quite straight (TYVM) but I’m far from attracted to men in general, and I can see how admiration based attraction or friendship-attraction could very easily be interpreted as sexual, with the right base assumptions. It would just be another influence, but if the deck is stacked enough….

    (Side note: quickly scanning things can be bad for your mental health. I saw this was a post by Tito in my reader, scanned quick and saw the phrase “I was in a lesbian relationship;” serious confusion.)

  • Amazing article and an amazing personality….a sort of Catholic existentialist in her stress on choice over inclination.

  • Paul, the Galatians passage isn’t entirely relevant since there’s no problem with a female identity or American identity within the Church.

    I’ve thought about the “homosexuality as a disease” perspective and I’m not sure it matters. There are no sober alcoholics who feel that they need to be recognized as a distinct group. If they exist in some bizzaro world, then I don’t see any problem with it. It seems like some are confusing the fact that separate identities don’t exist in other analogous situations with the idea that they shouldn’t exist.

  • We are called to respect the inherent dignity of all persons as we live in relationship as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, not to view one another as objects of sexual desire, but as persons who have been created equal in dignity while being complementary as male and female, made in the Image of God to live in a communion of authentic Love.

  • RR said,

    “There are no sober alcoholics who feel that they need to be recognized as a distinct group.”

    So why do gays (or at least some gays and their straight liberal supporters) feel they rate special recognition? There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, straight or gay – to paraphase a verse of Scripture.

    I think that some people want gays to have special recognition because that would serve to legitimatize the deviancy of their sexual actions. People need to stop being gay just as people need to stop being drunken addicts. Having a homo-erotic impulse is no different than having a compulsion to drink.

    We’re powerless and our lives are unmanageable (1st step)
    Only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (2nd Step)
    We have to make a decision to turn our will and lives over to His care (3rd Step).

    And that’s exactly how this whole thing ought to be treated (not forgetting of course steps 4 through 12). One can recover – as this post on which we are commenting so elegantly demonstrates.

    But one other thing is important: we are NEVER recover-ED. Alcoholics who say that usually go out drinking again – it’s called arrogance and pride, the first to come in a slip (Sobriety Loses Its Priority). Rather, we are recover-ING (steps 10, 11 and 12). Whether it’s sobriety from a drinking complusion or sobriety from homo-erotic impulses, it’s still a DAILY reprieve contingent on one’s spiritual well-being. Giving special recognition to a gay identity or an alcoholic identity only serves to inflame the ego which inevitably leads to a slip (whether from homo-eroticism or drinking).

    But some people – even straights out of some perverse sense of tolerance – WANT homosexual filth to be declared as normal and would rather gays go to hell than gays find happiness in Jesus Christ. Sad.

  • Paul, sure we’re all God’s children but there are Jews and Greeks, slave and free, straight and gay.

    “So why do gays (or at least some gays and their straight liberal supporters) feel they rate special recognition?”

    Read the blog post!

    “Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.”

    “I think that some people want gays to have special recognition because that would serve to legitimatize the deviancy of their sexual actions.”

    It’s worth repeating:

    “Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.”

  • RR, I still don’t think gays rate special identity any more than alcoholics do. You disagree.

  • Foxfier, I made the same mistake about Tito. I thought maybe Tito was a woman until it registered. Anyway, Jesus and St. Paul are abundantly clear that the single life is a calling. Categories such as straight and queer are not biblical ones. These emerge from a culture of sexual politics. Sexuality is here seen to be defining in a way that Scripture never suggested.

  • I’m glad my kids were all napping when I had time to read this entire article, because it reduced me to tears. The author and I share a common experience of homosexual behavior. When I was a young woman, who had survived some childhood trauma within the family, I had an incredible amount of difficulty forming stable relationships with men. A well-meaning counselor (because counseling can solve any problem, right?) suggested that my difficulties were caused by suppressed homosexuality. I was twenty, it was 1991, and this seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Seven years later, I began to realize that her advice had been incredibly destructive. With the prayers, love, and support of my closest friends and a priest who is the finest example of his vocation I have ever known, I ended the relationship. It took me five years and exacted a physical, emotional, and financial toll that I’d rather not describe in detail.

    The difference between Mrs. Selmys’s story and my own is that I was never “gay.” I’m not terribly attracted to men aside from my husband (and father of our four children) and Jim Cantore (okay, you can laugh), but I think that’s more a function of love than anything else. I can see a good-looking man and think that he’s good-looking, and the same with a lovely woman, but there’s no sexual component to it.

    I am terribly, terribly grateful to Mrs. Selmys for sharing her tale and her experience. I know several other people who share the experience of living in a homosexual relationship and then choosing to live a chaste life, and the temporal conseuences have been terrible for most, if not all, of us. That said, the freedom I (and my friends) have found in following His will is a greater joy than any roll in the hay could ever provide.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Thank you so much for this. I struggle with SSA every single day and have been experimenting with other men recently. It’s been very emotionally draining and it just sucks the life out of my faith. This article was very encouraging for me as I struggle daily to be a half-way decent Catholic.

  • I have just said a prayer for you Freddy. Keep the Faith! God is stronger than any sin.

  • I hope it is an encouragement, Freddy. And I like-wise just said a prayer for you.

    God give you strength.

  • Freddy, may God bless you and keep you. You’ll be in my prayers always, and you have my love and respect.

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Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

Monday, November 22, AD 2010

The Pope’s comments in an unauthorized excerpt release from Peter Seewald’s latest book, “Light of the World, The Pope, The Church and The Signs of the Times”, has caused quite a stir.

Basically he said, as an extreme example, if a male prostitute was to use a condom during sex, it was a step towards a better morality.

Pope Benedict wasn’t speaking ex-cathedra.

Nonetheless, the secular media, like clockwork, has declared that condoms are now allowed by all fornicators (not like dissident Catholics were following the teachings of the Church anyways).

So here is a short roundup of the better informed among us:

Pope Approves Restricted Use of Condoms? – M.J. Andrew, TAC

Understanding Pope’s Dilemma on Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRgstr

Condoms, Consistency, (mis)Communication – Thomas Peters, AmP

Pope Changed Church Condoms Teaching? – Q. de la Bedoyere, CH

A Vatican Condom Conversion? – Mollie, Get Religion

Pope: Condoms, Sex Abuse, Resignation & Movie Nights – John Allen

What The Pope Really Said About Condoms in New Book? – Janet Smith

Ginger Factor: Pope Approves of Condoms! – Jeff Miller, The Crt Jstr

The Pope and Condoms – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms May Be ‘First Step’ In Moralization of Sexuality – Cth Herald

Pope Did Not Endorse the Use of Condoms – Fr. Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?

Did Pope Change Teaching About Condoms? – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

(Hat tips:  The Pulpit & Henry Karlson)

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15 Responses to Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere Reaction to Pope’s Condom Comments

AP's Article On The Catholic Blogosphere & NPR's Firing Of Juan Williams Are Par For The Course

Monday, October 25, AD 2010

National Public Radio’s ludicrous firing of Juan Williams and a subsequent mainstream media article on Catholic bloggers may seem to be two separate issues. Some may say what does the overwhelmingly conservative leaning Catholic blogosphere have in common with the liberal leaning Juan Williams? The answer is quite simple; both scare the mainstream media because Juan Williams and the majority of the Catholic blogosphere put forth interesting solutions to often discussed questions.

The modus operadi of some in the mainstream media is to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. Combine this with a Juan Williams quote which most of America agrees with and voila you have it; the ultimate straw man from which you can tear apart any minority who appears on Fox News or any Catholic blogger who faithfully defends the teachings of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church.

In this Associated Press article on the Catholic blogosphere, the piece mentions Thomas Peters and Michael Voris (who is known for his videos not his blogging,) but focuses on harsh unnamed Catholic bloggers. The article quotes John Allen who calls elements of the Catholic blogosphere “Taliban Catholicism.” The highly respected Mr. Allen, who though working for the dissident leaning National Catholic Reporter, is often known for his many high ranking Church contacts and his fairness. He should have know better than to give the quote that he did. To take a few bloggers from the right (or even from the left) and call them the Catholic blogosphere is the type of journalism that would not pass muster for a high school paper, let alone the AP. This would be akin to taking the worst rated college or pro football team and telling the world this is the best of American football, or perhaps watching the Walla Walla Community theater production of Hamlet and saying this is Hamlet at its finest. John Allen should have realized where this article was going and chosen his words more carefully.

The AP article continues by naming a Church official who seems worried about the Catholic blogosphere. One wonders if the Church official would know the difference between Father John Zuhlsdorf from Father Richard McBrien, Amy Welborn from Aimee Semple McPherson, Mark Shea from Mark Sanford, Rocco Palmo from Rocco Mediate, or Tito Edwards from Tito Santana. I worked for years in a diocesan office and I have yet to meet, even in my travels, a diocesan official who is well versed in the blogosphere. It seems to be a generational thing and most diocesan officials are not to be confused with the younger, more conservative seminarians or young priests being ordained.

While some in the mainstream media snicker at the Pope and Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church) they in reality have their own magisterium. In their secular magisterium anyone who believes in the Catholic Church’s authority is hopelessly outdated, because according to gatekeepers in the mainstream media, true thinkers are those in the dying liberal churches who don’t know what they believe. Sadly, GK Chesterton prophetically predicted this would happen. He said, “It’s not that atheists and agnostics believe in nothing, they believe in everything.” In modern parlance, “It’s all good.” How sad that some who proclaim to be “open minded” can’t see the obvious; liberal Christianity is dying on the vine.”

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19 Responses to AP's Article On The Catholic Blogosphere & NPR's Firing Of Juan Williams Are Par For The Course

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  • Keep preaching brother!

    I nominate the following excerpt to be the quote of year here at The American Catholic.

    “One wonders if the Church official would know the difference between Father John Zuhlsdorf from Father Richard McBrien, Amy Welborn from Aimee Simple McPherson, Mark Shea from Mark Sanford, Rocco Palmo from Rocco Mediate, or Tito Edwards from Tito Santana.”

  • Nothing to “wonder” about. The answers are self-evident.

  • Well said, excellent, wonderful!

  • Uh…it’s “magisterium.”

    Good piece, though.

    🙂

    -Theo

  • It’s not clear to me that Allen was interviewed for the AP story. He was using “Taliban Catholics” in his own writing at least as far back as February.

  • Great piece with good insight. I especially like your quote about people not knowing the difference between Catholic bloggers and others.

    One note: Allen’s quote reveals more about himself than it does about Catholic blogging or orthodox Catholics. For all those who believe him to be fair, you might want to read his work more closely and don’t forget that he chooses to work for the dissident Reporter. His work displays some real blind spots.

  • It’s just funny that in article that to some extent is bemoaning in the incivility of the blogosphere, the term “Taliban Catholic” is so casually tossed about as though there is nothing uncivil about that comparison.

    But that, of course, is par for the course for people who yelp the loudest about tone and the harshness of dialogue. What it really is is an attempt to change the topic and avoid having to defend indefensible positions.

  • Defending the indefensible?

    As in an article that defends the civility of Michael Sean Winters but paints Catholics who are righteously standing up and saying enough as fringe.

    30-40 thousand readers a month may be ‘nobody reading’ to you, but I think it is enough to get an army of Catholics to get folks who espouse the opinions of dissent, silenced.

    It is half past time we take our parishes and schools back.

    We’ll look forward to more armchair criticism from you.

    Carry on.

  • Someone should ask John Allen when was the last time a Catholic blogger destroyed millenia-old works of art. Or shot a woman in the back of the head as halftime entertainment at a soccer match. Or sponsored terrorists who flew airplanes into buildings killing 3000 people.

    For the life of me, I’ll never understand why people who should know better consider John Allen to be “fair”. “Fair” people don’t make such idiotic comparisons.

  • We’ll look forward to more armchair criticism from you.

    Umm, what? I was critiquing the Allen quote and the condescending tone of the AP article, not Dave’s post.

  • Please, please, please – check your spell-check and correct “magEsterium” to “magIsterium”. The word comes from the Latin – magister.

  • Paul,

    Yes, my comments were about the article, not your comments which I completely agree with and thank you for stepping up to the plate to say.

  • p.s. I am not of the opinion that the article had coded message in it that needed to be cracked.

    There are many of us that are finished with letting teachers and priests preach and teach dissent and we area shutting it down by exposing what is going on with teaching, sanctifying and governing.

    Writing intellectual treatises on the internet is swell but it is not helping our children down at the local school being hoodwinked by Sister Mary Wear the Pants and Fr. Hehirtic. We have had to flee from our parishes, pull our children out of schools.

    What are we running from? It’s time to go back and demand our religion be taught.

    1. Pour through every bulletin and expose every problem, naming names and exercising your gifts by explaining the theological problems and consequences to our children.

    2. Start holding the priest accountable.

    3. If the priest won’t be held accountable, go to the Bishop.

    4. If the Bishop won’t be accountable, go to the Nuncio.

    5. If the Nuncio won’t hold them accountable, go to the Holy See.

    Round up as many in your area who are willing to do it.

    If in time, they do not intercede and do something to stop the people poisining the wells our children are drinking from, start a campaign to hold up the money on the annual Bishops appeal.

    Build it and they will flee.

    People may call it harsh. People like this author will call it fringe. Whatever hits you have to take from the author of this article on The American Catholic or anyone in the AP – Do it anyway.

    :O)

  • Anna, I do hope your not talking about me as being part of the dissent, or just sitting at my computer composing essays while Rome burns. I do think my bona fides as a writer, educator (working in the Church and taking a lot of heat from Church liberals) etc should fit pass muster. I would hope so anyone, considering how many nasty names I have been called by the liberals in the Church. If I have misinterpreted your remarks, please forgive me. However, it would appear to me that you think this article is somehow not orthodox enough. I don’t know how that is possible. It would seem to me that the first three or four commentors (among others) like what I have to say. Anyway, God Bless & take care!

  • David,

    I actually never knew you existed before I found your article, but I can see that you are not a dissident.

    It has been such a refuge to come to the internet and read solid opinions. But we need those opinions to get into our schools and parishes and it is time to do something a little different.

    As a Boston activist who is part of the blogging community described in the AP, those of us on the ground doing this difficult ministry not only get called ‘names’ by dissidents, we are undermined by people on the right, sitting staring at their computers using their orthodoxy and bonafides to take cheap shots at us.

    ” to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. ”

    Is blogosphere a game of “who is the bigger player”? Is it about chumming around with folks who post comments telling you how great you are?

    Oh wait…

    Look, I’ve done my share of years of writing and defending the Magisterium.

    But you know what we realized?

    Not a single dissident in our children’s schools been removed from teaching children by the things we are writing on the internet (myself included)

    A lot of us have been parish shopping for ten years.

    It’s time to go to plan b.

    I can appreciate your frustration with the article that they failed to recognize the big wazoos who have been banging away at their keyboards. But the work we are doing is critical new work and the author of the AP article knew more about that then you did!

    Nobody on the ground is a threat to your thunder. We will not be competing in who is the greatest of them all contests. At ease.

    We are people who are trying to focus getting orthodoxy to our own children, family and friends while you bang away at your ministry doing it for people in the com boxes. Not as worthy as the work you are doing, but it is nonetheless, worthy work that did not deserve your cheap shot.

    The kicker was your respectful attitude towards John Allen, who in between working with Joan Chittister, Tom Roberts, Michael Sean Winters and Bishop Gumbleton (talk about fringe!) serving up poison to Christ’s souls, characterized parents fed up with dissent that is continuously being taught no matter how much you write with concerns to your Bishop, as lecherous murderers.

  • Goodness Anna I think the liberals have got the best of you. I spoke kindly of John Allen? I took him to task for his comment. I only said he was respected by many. Have you ever read what Father Zuhlsdorf says about John Allen? Father Z calls him “his friend and highly respected.” Do you think Father Z has gone wobbly too?

    I understand what you must be going through living in Boston. You may remember that I mentioned in my article that my childhood parish was scourged with not only one priest sent to the slammer for molestation, but two. Some of those these two deviants molested were my friends, so believe me I don’t need any lectures on that subject.

    I would suggest you take some time to pray over the whole matter, calling those that are on your side not wholly orthodox doesn’t help. God Bless & take care!

  • David,

    I must not be making myself clear.

    I have the greatest respect for Fr. Z. But I disagree with his characterizations of John Allen. I am NOT attacking Fr. Z or his orthodoxy. Nor, am I attacking your orthodoxy. Nor am I attacking you.

    Phew.

    There is no need to be defensive. Be at peace.

    The AP wrote an article about a new ministry in the Church and your reaction to it was a knee-jerk.
    Look here:

    ” to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. ”

    The good people in Boston are getting off their fannies and taking our schools and parishes and chancery back. That’s what the article was about.

    What is it about that you wouldn’t embrace?

  • Anna, there is nothing about what you said that I wouldn’t embrace. God Bless you and the good people of Boston who are helping turn the tide. May God Be With You All!

Culture War

Thursday, August 5, AD 2010

People justly tire of the term “culture war” and find themselves asking, like the philosopher Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

And yet watching the disparate reactions to yesterday’s Federal Court ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8 (for now) it struck me that the culture war terminology is quite apt. What is termed the culture was is essentially a zero sum game over which of two roughly equally numerous groups will be allowed to define the dominant understandings of culture and society in our country. by taking this to the federal level, same sex marriage advocates have made it clear that no degree of regional acceptance is satisfactory — their understanding of the nature of marriage must be the single dominant understanding enforced throughout the country, and those with a traditional understanding of marriage must be the ones who find themselves aliens within their country. And, presumably, is same sex marriage advocates lose, they will in turn consider themselves aliens within the country. Given that it is the most basic units and purposes of society which are in dispute, it seems hard to see how it can be any other way. And while the dispute is to an extent regional, it is much more so philosophical and ideological, making the culture war more resemble the Spanish Civil War than the American. Every city and region has representatives of both sides.

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19 Responses to Culture War

  • To your point about it being impossible to make the traditionalist case: I thought Frank Beckwith’s following comment over at What’s Wrong With the World was spot on:

    Political liberalism was invented in the mid-1980s in order to provide a theoretical foundation that can exclude religiously-informed policy proposals while seeming to defend religious liberty and citizen participation. There had, of course, always been many liberalisms, including the Lockean, Kantian, Millean, Hobbsean, and Roussean varieties. But each suffered from the same problem: each presupposed a particular philosophical anthropology as the correct account of humanity. This was a problem because popular liberalism suggested neutrality on matters of worldview. So, you could not very well say that the state should be neutral on such matters while requiring it to embrace a particular one. Social conservatives understood this since the mid-1950s, as seen in what Bill Buckley called “the great liberal dilemma.” But with the ascendancy of the religious right and its insistence that “liberalism” is not as neutral as its proponents claim–that it too tries to answer the same questions that traditional religions answer–folks like Rawls needed a new way to defend liberalism in a pluralistic society that was both morally required but did not depend on a particular metaphysics. Presto, we get “political liberalism,” and with its numerous defenders including Rawls, Gaus (who is more of a libertarian), Nagel, and to a certain extent Dworkin.

    So, instead of explicitly defending metaphysical liberalism, we get political liberalism with allegedly none of the metaphysical commitments. But, strangely, on every issue about which metaphysical liberalism would take a stand–e.g., abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, etc.–political liberalism gets the exact same results. Wow, what a coincidence! But the benefit of political liberalism is you can rule your opponents’ views as a priori violations of political liberalism while saying that their views are still “rational.” This means you get to sound like you respect pluralism, diversity, and the rationality of your opponents’ point of view while shutting them out of the debate on “principled grounds.”

    This is why on the issue of homosexual conduct, those that are critical of it for moral reasons cannot be considered reasonable actors who simply disagree with others on the issue. They must be irrational. For if they are rational–that is, if there views are not unreasonable to hold–then the state cannot, according to the canons of liberalism, force these citizens to acquiesce in their public and private lives. But this means that same-sex unions would not be treated equally, since political liberalism would grant the legitimacy of those who think homosexual acts are immoral. Consequently, the bigot charge is so fierce and not well-argued. It is meant to intimidate and silence, not persuade or convince. For, again, to suggest the position is arguable is to grant it legitimacy, and that simply cannot be allowed.

    So, despite Rawls’ wonderful intention to provide a theoretical grounding on which people with differing points of view on worldview matters can dialogue in a climate of mutual respect and understanding, he failed miserably. For what he in fact did was give to either side in the culture war, the ultimate weapon: declare the other side “unreasonable,” for once that sticks the game is over and there is no need to treat the other with respect or equal regard.

  • Well, apparently the history standards used in CA are even worse than I thought if Judge Walker can say with a straight face that historically there were no restrictions on marriage based on gender and that marriage was traditionally a matter of mutual consent. Heck in many parts of the world today, mutual consent STILL has nothing to do with marriage. I bet he would die before giving the Catholic Church credit with introducing consent as a feature of marriage.

    And since when does marriage have nothing to do with procreation? Many states require blood tests for Ruebella, which has everything to do with preventing birth defects in the future children of the marriage. (They don’t excuse you from the blood test just because you say you don’t plan on having children.)

    Also, inheritance law is very much intertwined with marriage both now and historically. But hey, with after death conceptions now due to IVF technology, maybe our culture should just declare children chattel and stop trying to pretend everything that the adults want magically is good for the children. We can just declare it so and move on with clear consciences!

  • Why should they (gays) be happy? They may as well be miserable like the rest fo us. Farce/OFF

    Did the judge rule YOU cannot have religious morailty in LAW? I like that part. Get the welfare (Catholic Social Justice) state off our backs.

    To your point: J. M. Barrie, “God gave us memory so that we could have roses in December.”

  • The following comment of mine was censored by the Huffington Post and taken off the site. It stated, “This comment was removed in accordance with HuffPost’s moderation guidelines.” I was totally taken aback. My words were neither offensive or in bad taste in anyway. Here is what I wrote:

    When anyone is vocal against gay marriage and homosexuality, supporters of gay rights like to label them as intolerant, prejudice and ignorant. I don’t consider myself any of the three. I was taught that we are all part of the human race and, therefore, no one is better than anyone else, regardless of race, class or religion. I feel I have always been on the right side, fighting for the poor, the minority, etc. But being gay is a desire and not a right.
    Whatever people do in the privacy of their homes is their business. It is not anyone’s place on this earth to judge others’ actions and desires. I know people who are gay, and I treat them no differently, than I do anybody else. Everyone should be free from ridicule and attack, but to go so far as to give rights to an abnormal desire that contradicts nature since the beginning of time is wrong and can only lead to an untested and precarious road. You don’t have to be religious or a moralist to know that what isn’t natural shouldn’t be. Gay people should neither be attacked nor encouraged, but helped and prayed for. This ruling is misguided because the law has no place in sanctioning unnatural and defective desires and acts.

  • Well now you’ve said several offensive things. Calling homosexuality a “desire” and not a “right”. Calling it an “abnormal desire that contradicts nature” and labelling it “wrong.” Finally you call for us to “pray” for them. You are engaging in hate speech you know.

  • by taking this to the federal level, same sex marriage advocates have made it clear that no degree of regional acceptance is satisfactory — their understanding of the nature of marriage must be the single dominant understanding enforced throughout the country, and those with a traditional understanding of marriage must be the ones who find themselves aliens within their country

    well, obviously that was the goal all along. But they would not have gone the federal route if they could have won state by state. when the people are asked, they emphatically say no.

    Today, gender is not
    relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law.

    where the hell does he come up with this?

    It is not anyone’s place on this earth to judge others’ actions and desires.

    I would have to quibble with this. It is precisely our place to judge actions and desires. We do that all the time – it’s called enforcing the law. The judge himself did it in this case by judging that those whose actions/desires are that same sex couples should not be recognized as married are wrong.

    It is not our place to judge the eternal destination of someone’s soul because of those actions and desires.

  • The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household

    Great. So when does polygamy kick in? I chose a spouse in 2010, then I chose another spouse in 2011, then I chose another in 2012….

    Someone owes the Mormons a BIG time apology!

  • If those words were offensive, then most comments would be pulled, since I have seen a lot worse on the web. We have something in this country called freedom of speech. You may not agree with me, but I kept it clean. I guess they just thought my simple words would sway others.

  • I was being sarcastic. I actually agree with you.

  • But I suspect others would not be sarcastic if they said such to you. That’s why your post was pulled. Soon you may not be able to say it publicly.

  • Ruth,

    It’s pure and simple censorship.

    You are evil if you disagree with them. At least they are not planning to destroy you, yet.

  • Jess,

    …maybe our culture should just declare children chattel…

    Welcome to the Roman Republic circa 150 BC.

    Where children were actually described as property of the father (they were a strictly paternally driven society back then).

    So with that, progressives are advocating for a regression towards olde tyme Roman Law.

  • Dear Judge: repeat after me: The state did not create marriage. The state does not own marriage. The state receives marriage as a cultural institution. The state is not the culture, it serves the culture. The state is a servant obligated to respect and foster the culture’s pre-existing and more fundamental institutions. Marriage is a cultural institution constituting relations between a man and a woman, period.

  • Tony-
    Judge Walker would take your framework of thinking about marriage and say that homosexual unions are apart of the contemporary culture and that Prop 8 was the state trying to own marriage.

    But of course, I get what you are saying and you are correct: marriage is a pre-political, natural institution; the state has no competency to alter it.

    There is no chance for common ground on this issue: as Elizabeth Anscombe noted decades ago, this battle was lost when artificial contraception became normal.

    Time to get out your MacIntyre, reread it and weep.

  • Also, Frank Beckwith noted a key logical flaw in Walker’s opinion:

    “Oddly, the judge claims that the belief that heterosexual monogamy is better than homosexual unions cannot be one of the reasons. But in that case, the judge begs the question, since that is precisely why we should privilege male-female marriage. So, it turns out male-female marriage is unconstitutional become it is male-female marriage. That’s called begging the question.”

  • For the sake of a view from the other side, here’s a post by a Christian who voted against Prop 8 & now regrets it…good illustration of how constant media exposure can muddle thinking:

    http://www.elizabethesther.com/threes_a_crowd/2010/08/why-i-regret-voting-yes-on-prop-8.html#comment-6a00d83451d95b69e2013486109b9c970c

  • Fellow Catholics, we must beat on our own chests. Judge Walker’s reasoning is largely unassailable and may well be upheld by the Supreme Court, perhaps even with the votes of some Catholic justices. The case in favor of Prop 8 was prepared weakly, and the defendant (Gov. Schwarzenegger) didn’t really want to fight it. Both Schwarzenegger and the Attorney General of CA have since come out in support of same-sex marriage. Nobody saw that the issue shouldn’t be presented as about the nature of marriage but as about the nature of sex. It should have been built on “Male and female He created them” (Gen 1:26), by arguing that individuals (or, for Catholics, persons) by nature belong to one of two sexes and that there is no artificially chosen “gender”. Catholics appear to be about the only ones left who have an interest in pursuing the case. Will we even be strong enough to grasp the last and minute chance before the Supreme Court? Now or never. Unified and strong leadership by our bishops is necessary, as is support by our universities, media, and best legal minds.

  • Do any of you know anyone who is gay? Do any of you know any gay couples? There are many, many, gay couples in committed relationships who simply want the same benefits under the law. Spousal inheritance, survivor benefits, next of kin rights at the hospital, visitation rights. Have any of you read the science on homosexuality? It is not a choice, and it is natural. Homosexuality is present in nature in many different animal species. Homosexual people are physiologically different than straight people. 10% of all populations are historically gay, and not something people can control and not something you should discriminate against in civil law. It is the American Law we are talking about here. Now you can decide.. do you want to live in a Free country, where we are all able to pursue life, liberty and happiness, or would you rather your homosexual brothers and sisters just continue to commit suicide for fear of rejection by their families, be forced from their homes when their partners of sixty years pass away and their relatives come and take everything, or lose rights to children they raised in a break-up? Jesus Christ never spoke of homosexuality, and by the majority of theologians he was the radical liberal of his day. Learn to live and let live. The agreement two people have to each other under the law affects none but those two people. In a pluralistic, free society we have to learn that the law applies to EVERYONE, not just the majority. A man and a woman can still get married as they always could have so tell me how does this impact them? This is about equal protection under U.S. law for all families in this country. If you want the rule of religion to to be the basis of civil law in the country you live in, please go look at Muslim countries that run on Sharia law as an example of how backwards it could become. Separation of Church and state, as well as Freedom of Religion are a beautiful thing. Now, if you want to really focus on ridding the world of sexual deviance, take a look at your own “celibate”, child molesting priests and the Popes who shelter them.

  • David,

    There is an unselfconscious irony in someone showing up to demand tolerance, while loudly displaying his own intolerance of anyone with a view different from his own. A great deal of what you say is ignorant, or untrue, but what comes through very clearly is that you absolutely and unconditionally despise anyone who thinks different from you. How you expect this to be persuasive from those who differ from you because they have thought long and deeply about their beliefs is beyond me.

WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

A few short years ago the mere suggestion that the Son of God, His Apostles and Saints would face arrest for hate speech would have seemed absolutely ludicrous. However, events have spiraled out of control across the western world. In his opinion that strikes down California’s recently voter approved marriage law, Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that those who speak in the name of religion to put across their views that same sex marriage is wrong are “harmful to gays and lesbians.”

Across Europe and Canada, faithful Christians speaking out for traditional marriage face the threat of being hauled off to court for citing the teachings of the Catholic Church and various Evangelical Churches. Where will this all end? Some see a great persecution coming against the Christian faithful. Though possible, one need remember that the Christian faith always grew when persecuted.

The Catholic Church has long taught that some individuals have an inclination toward same sex attraction; they are to be loved as all people are to be loved. The Church teaches that these feelings are not to be acted upon. The Church goes on to teach that all individuals are given a cross to carry in this world and for those who are same sex attracted; this is their cross. An organization exists for those who are same sex attracted called COURAGE. It has many chapters and members.

Recently a profile was done in The New York Times on same sex attracted Eve Tushnet, the Ivy League educated Catholic daughter of Harvard Law professors. She has chronicled her growth in Catholicism and the logic of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. For years the Catholic Church took some heat from some quarters of Christianity for not stating that anyone who is same sex attracted would be going to hell. The Church now is facing a maelstrom of vitriol from those who claim the Church hates homosexuals.

For the Church to change her teachings would be to deny not only what Christ said (Matthew 11:20-24,) but his Apostles, not to mention Saint Paul’s lengthy discourse on the subject (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.)  In addition to the Apostles and saints, there is a rich history of saints writing on the subject, particularly the Early Church Fathers like Saint Augustine, St Justin Martyr, St. Basil and St John Chrysostom as well as Church intellectuals like St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Albert the Great (the greatest scientist of his time,) along with mystics like St Catherine of Sienna to name but a few. To say that the greatest minds of their respective eras were all wrong is simply breathtaking.

Many who disagree with the Church tend to forget that homosexuality was much more common and approved of by the Roman government in the early Christian era than it is even in 2010. Many in the upper echelons of Greek and Roman culture experimented with all sorts of sexual practices. It would have been far easier for Jesus, the apostles, saints and popes to approve of this conduct than it would to disapprove of it. Christianity might have grown at a faster pace. However, there was a reason for this swimming against the tide, and the faithful accepted it.

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4 Responses to WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

  • Great column as usual, Dave. It just blows my mind that our nation is no longer a republic of, for and by the people but an elite and arrogant oligarchy that is unleashing one perverted social experiment after another on us.

    The far left have the nerve to needle the conservatives for wanting to have less government yet have government restrict marriage. Quite the contrary, we want to be able to decide how our society should function, not have the government do so.

    It’s a shame that the voters in my state of California were robbed once again, but we can still hope for the Supreme Court to save the day. In the meantime, this should serve as a wakeup call for the voters, especially those in the 45 states who have kept marriage to one man and one woman, to vote the radicals out in the fall and make sure the Democrats never control government again as long as the militant secularists who are ruining this nation continue to call the shots for the party.

  • This is almost a grand slam!

    This is government hate speech against, and injurious to, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

    Oh, that’s okay!?

    Never mind.

    Thanks for voting for them dems.

  • Prepare for the worst. There is little doubt that in the near future Christians will be arrested and imprisoned by the American Socialist State if they continue to preach the gospel and traditional morality. The American politicians have created their long desired Atheistic State which will have no tolerance for believers. Prepare for the dark days of persecution but the good news is that it will separate the wheat from the shaff and the sheep from the goats.

  • But Jesus and the Apostles were arrested and even put to death for their speech.

    When DeGaulle was reproached for not taking more care against assassination, he replied: “It comes with the job”.

It's About the Children. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

I must confess that today’s judicial ruling out of California which overturned Proposition 8 has riled me up, suprisingly so. I heard about the ruling while listening to the livestream of a tech podcast in which one of the three podcasters is a lesbian (previously “married” in CA) and the other two (middle-aged married men) evidently supported the decision. The ease with which they threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage. Simply put, the state’s interest isn’t strong feelings or commitment… it’s children. And — to state the obvious — a homosexual relationship isn’t structured towards procreation the way marriage is.

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29 Responses to It's About the Children. Seriously.

  • Well said.

  • Exactly. Americans, even conservative Protestants, have removed children from marriage. Without a procreative intent, admittedly, there is little reason to ban gay marriage. Or incest for that matter.

  • Americans?

    Westerners. America still has the highest birth rate in the Western world, and Utah has the highest birth rate out of all the states.

    Supposedly “family friendly” Europe cut children out of the picture a long time ago. All of the welfare provisions, reduced work weeks, paid maternity/paternity leave didn’t do a damned thing to reinforce families or birth rates.

    This is because Europe not only removed children from the marriage, but God from their lives and culture. Mormon Utah thrives for exactly the opposite reason. When will Catholics get it?

  • Actually, welfare did help increase the birth rate in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have the highest birth rates in Western Europe.

  • How would things look if marriage were dead? Out-of-wedlock births, acceptance of any cohabitation arrangement, the presumption that any relationship in non-binding…exactly what we have today. Marriage is dead as a norm in the West. There are only pockets and subcultures that preserve it.

    We talk about the “war on Christmas”. Christmas has been stripped of its old meaning and given a new purpose; a few of its traditions are unthinkingly continued. By the time the courts started enforcing “holiday pageants” in public schools, the war was long lost. That’s exactly what’s happened to marriage.

    Maybe my blood sugar is low or something, because even I am not usually this pessimistic. I’m just not seeing any reason to be encouraged.

  • Marriage is dead as a norm in the West.

    Yes, this is what I’ve been saying about the SSM debate all along. To those who ask, “How is SSM going to harm your (traditional) marriage?” I say, “It’s not — the damage has already been done. I just don’t see the reason to codify the death of marriage in law.”

  • Marriage is certainly in disrepair in the west. Many forces contributed to that, but the disentanglement of sex, children and marriage via modern birth control options is certainly a key part of it, resulting in the normalization of premarital sex, cohabitation, divorce, serial monogamy, etc. That said infidelity (i.e., extramarital sex) is still largely unaccepted in the US. Marriage may be in the ICU, but it is not dead yet.

  • Pingback: Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously. « Agree to Disagree
  • The trolls are out.

  • restrainedradical wrote Thursday, August 5, 2010 A.D. at 8:29 am
    “Actually, welfare did help increase the birth rate in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have the highest birth rates in Western Europe”.

    The birth rate in Sweden is 1.67 children born/woman (2010 est.), i.e., less than replacement. Much of this is probably due to immigrant populations.

  • It seems to me that there is an assumption that the U.S. is a fine moral country.
    The opposite seems to be true. The number of child murders continues to increase.
    Poverty is widespread despite “Wars on Poverty” [because of?].
    The immigration question continues to fester. {On what moral basis can immigrants be denied entry?].
    The continued base treatment of Indians reeks to heaven.
    Justice Ginsberg speaks of “undesirable populations”.
    Multi-skillionaires give much money to killing babies in this country and abroad.
    Pornography becomes more and more widespread like a plague.
    Actors are treated as moral gurus, because their faces are familiar, not because they know how to behave.
    To put it succinctly: what is it in the U.S. which gives it any claim to be a light unto the nations?

  • I’m not sure I understand the argument. People who don’t procreate shouldn’t get married? Then where are the rallies against childless marriages? Why aren’t we banning people whose disabilities prevent them from having children from marrying? Or the elderly? Why aren’t we protecting the procreative institution of marriage from these barren impostors? And what about adoption? Since adoption by same-sex couples would challenge your argument, you must be against that, too. In which case, shouldn’t we stop straight couples from adopting, too? Those children may be in need of care, but of course the bigger need is for people to have their own babies. Please help me understand how we can include the disabled, the elderly, adoptive parents and those who are childless by choice into the Prop 8 campaign, because clearly we’re leaving a lot of people out.

  • Thanks for the comment, Maisha. You raise a common but good question with regard to our position, and it’s one that certainly seems to follow from my post. I somewhat oversimplified the argument last night, but in so doing left the door open for your objection. Let me see if I can offer at least a beginning of a response.

    Our position is that marriage is an institution in which a man and a woman come together with a desire to grow more deeply in love and with an openness to children, *even if children are for some reason impossible for them*. For us, the act of marital love — sexual union — is itself ordered towards procreation, even if in at any particular time procreation is impossible (perhaps due to infertility, because the woman is not in the fertile stage of her cycle, or whatever). So in the case of an elderly couple beyond childbearing years, the sexual union remains structurally oriented towards procreation.

    Such is obviously not the case for the same sex couple, however: same sexual acts of their nature cannot be procreative, while — all things being equal — heterosexual acts are always structurally procreative.

    That’s the beginning of a response… let me know where I’m unclear, and I’ll try to clarify.

  • When I comment on subjects like this my post is in danger of being deleted, which is ok, I have to answer to God for me, not whomever does the deleting.

    That being said:

    With the Catholic Church, the children are really just pawns. The real battle is keeping the pews full, I think for the power that gives the Church. I would like to think otherwise but I really do not, based upon personal experience.

    When divorce happens, the Church does and says nothing, to heal a marriage, when it is clear to the Church, as they have all the evidence they need in nullity cases, that a marriage has simply been abandoned and the abandoner has taken the spoils, including the children.

    Rather, should not individual priests and bishops in authority, address the situations, especially when these are presented to the Church for nullity investigations and work, tirelessly, pastorally and with canonical strictures, to restore marital union? Especially so when nullity is shown NOT to exist?

    No such thing happens, at all!

    No, Chris. I do not agree it is about the children. It is about power and control, although it should not be that way.

    If you must delete this, go ahead. I did not mean any disrespect by it. I just commented on my personal experience and from what I have heard from others, who have been through it.

    Regarding marriage, I believe, the chemical inability to make the sperm/egg do not invalidate, the inability to “perform the act” necessary for procreation, either physiologically or psychologically, is what validity and hence, real marriage, hinges on, provided the people are free of all other impediments.

  • If I’m following you correctly, Karl, two comments come to mind.

    First, there are programs present in the Church which try to heal broken/dying/weak marriages… Retrouvaille comes to mind.

    Second, I’m not sure what you think clerics can do to get two people back together who refuse to do so.

    Can you elaborate or clarify?

  • Going there would hijack the topic. I simply wanted to infuse my personal experience into my comment.

    I have never, once, seen the slightest concern for the scandal and abuse our five children have experienced by any of the priests or bishops who were supposed to pastor them. To this day the scandal is encouraged.

    Our acceptance of divorce has prepared the groundwork for this “dumbingdown” of marriage.

    It is about the children and their souls, that is clear, but I do not see the Catholic Church as having the moral high ground. Not over divorce, Chris.

    God is teaching his Church, if it will listen to spouses like myself and others who have seen its evil deeds, to repent and to LISTEN. Bur for twenty years, the ears of the Church have been sealed, in my personal experience.

    I hope, whatever it takes to break the back of the dead consciences of the Catholic intelligencia, lay and clerical, is done. They do not listen. They listen to “experts” they DONOT

  • LISTEN to their victims.

  • The Church must defend marriage, period, not selectively in the face of a homosexual challenge.

    It must cease allowing its teachers to stress the “benign” nature of divorce. It must do so with strong canonical sanctions. It must hold to account, with formal canonical sanctions those who abandon marriages, particularly when they do not seek counsel from the bishop or when they abuse those few specified canonically allowed circumstances when separation is allowed.
    Wrongful divorce must not be unaddressed, in public and those who refuse, without substantive, serious reasons, to work, endlessly if necessary, at reconciliation, especially if there are children involved, should be formally and very much in public, be admonished and in short order, formally excommunicated, if the refusal to work toward healing the marriage continues. All those who cooperate, formally, with the support of the unrepentant, should similarly be held to account, with more vigor if they are a religious or in any position of authority/importance in the Church.

    The Church has lost all credibiliy due to its generations of laxity regarding marriage. This is constantly used against the Church and justifiably so.

    Unless this is addressed and addressed, last year, the Church is the hypocrite it is so often accused of being.

    May God have mercy on His, very unfaithful Bride. It is those of us who are struggling to be faithful to both our spouses and our faith, who God requires
    His Bride to listen to. The Pope and the rest of the Catholic clergy need to understand how much harm they do each day our cries are left unanswered with almost anything but disdain, from those who should know better.

  • Karl,
    When you write that “the Church” has been moving in the direction of accepting divorce, I believe you should modify that by saying many [most?] priests and bishops have been moving in this direction. And it is, as you rightly note, part and parcel of the sexual scandals. Once start hedging – even in the smallest manner – on matters of Church teaching, the hedging simply grows.
    The hierarchy is mealy mouthed when it comes to the use of the pill. Most of the pills are abortifacient. All of them sterilize. How often do priests and bishops note this? How often do they remind the faithful that they are committing a mortal sin by the use of the pill?
    But I believe there is a mistaken notion that our bishops, as such, are a saintly lot. They are not. You have but to read a bit of the history of the episcopacy to realize that bishops do not contribute much to the list of saints, to those we are enjoined to emulate. They are for some reason a timid lot.

  • Unfortunately too true. We must remember that the priesthood and episcopacy are charisms, gifts for the good of the Church, and not holiness. A mother at home raising her children may have a far greater place in heaven than many a bishop.

  • How is SSM going to harm your (traditional) marriage?

    That is really the incorrect question – it should be “How is SSM going to strengthen marriage as an institution?”

    And the answer is, it is not. It will only further hide the now barely recognized fact that the proper end of intercourse is procreation.

  • I think there’s a real serious question whether ANY church in the USA takes marriage seriously–with (ironically) the possible exception of the Mormons. Among Catholics, even those who cannot remember the number of the commandments, let alone the content of the list, can tell you that when we want to divorce and remarry in church, we just get an annulment on some (frequently bogus) “psychological” ground. This happens no matter how long the supposedly invalid marriage has lasted or how many children it produced. This last point is especially important; the annulment regime now in force is saying that it is NOT important to stay married “for the children’s sake.”

  • ron chandonia, I agree that there have been serious abuses in Catholic Church annulments. But the idea of an annulment does not hinge on whether the apparent marriage lasted many years, nor on how many kids there are, nor on whether it is better for the kids’ sake to stay together. If a couple never did get married to begin with, despite appearances, then it means that they have been living an error for however long the apparent marriage has been going on, whether short or long. I accept that a long-lasting arrangement suggests that there must have been a real commitment to permanence, but there are other commitments needed for the marriage to have taken place to begin with.

    I know a couple who got married 20 years ago, and got an annulment 2 years ago: the guy had been a pornography addict and sexual deviant the entire period. He was incapable of a real commitment to marital fidelity at the time of the wedding, because he was addicted to porn.

    The Church usually states that if a couple has kids, they both have a deep, serious obligation to see to their welfare even if a divorce or annulment occurs. How can it be better for the kids for the Church and society to pretend that a marriage took place when it didn’t. I should think, generally, that a couple with young kids, who discover that they never did truly marry, ought to ask themselves whether they might have a moral obligation to actually make real the apparent marriage that they had been living in action, for the sake of the kids. But of course, nobody discovers this without a marital breakdown, and at that point it is often difficult to establish that it really would be better for the kids if their mom and dad got married even when they hate each other.

    Given that at least 30% of heterosexuals don’t seem to have a grave problem with the very idea of homosexual marriage, it is probable that many, many people don’t understand marriage enough to actually form a marriage bond with another person. Given that, it should not be surprising that many annulments are granted correctly.

  • May one not also ask what is the difference between gay “marriages” [sodomy] and marriages in which the female uses the pill to sterilize herself? Marriage is not even chiefly for procreation. Procreation is an added blessing. To reject that blessing is to reject the Almighty.

    Consider also the vow “until death”. As Harry Truman remarked “if a man will not keep his word to his wife, to whom will he keep it”? The Church does not prohibit divorce when it is but separation. It prohibits divorce – it points out the breaking of the vow – for “remarriage”.

  • Gabriel,
    It is my understanding that the Church does not so much prohibit divorce as simply not recognize it. Indeed, while legal separations may be favored over divorce as such, I believe that the Church understands that divorce under civil law is often necessary in order to ensure protection of the weak — usually but not always the wife or children. Consequently, what is not permitted is remarriage (absent an annulment of course), since the first (without an annulment) the marital sacrament remains in place and remarriage constitutes adultary.

    Thanks for the Truman quote. I was unaware of it.

  • How mislead and scandalous these comments are.

    How easily you have swallowed the Kool Aid of divorce to think that it is anything but condemned.

    Do you reacall it says…..God Hates Divorce. How easily man has rejected the expressed Will of God and searches for rationalizations for his sins.

    Watch and learn as society and the Catholic Church decay for their self-serving attitudes, especially towards marriage. The reconing will come.

  • Karl,
    Emoting about Kool Aid is not productive. While I’m hardly an advocate of divorce, and it is certainly true that the rate of broken marriages is scandalous, the fact is that obtaining a divorce in and of itself is not understood by the Church to be a sin. Indeed, the Church views a civil separation and a civil divorce indentically. Neither has any effect whatsoever on the marital Sacrament. The Church recognizes that the parties are not morally enjoined from selecting whichever legal route leads to greater justice under our civil law system. This is especially important in the case of serious abuse. Neither legal approach, however, permits “re-marriage” in the Christian sense, even if civil divorce does so under civil law. The sin occurs if a person bound by the marital sacrament to his spouse remarries or otherwise has relations with another regardless whether the married couple are separated, divorced, or neither. Note the important fact that the Church does not view civil divorce as disturbing the status of a Christian marriage.
    Of course, as I noted the rate of divorce is evidence of deep and disturbing problems within our society. The wounds, especially to children, are incalculable. But divorce is a symptom of sin, not the sin itself. This is pretty straightforward Church teaching.

  • Karl,
    Catechism 2383:
    “The Church teaches that the separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases. The Catechism states: “If civil divorce remains the only possible way of ensuring certain legal rights, the care of the children, or the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense.”

    Which is to say “divorce” is a civil separation, not a breaking of the marriage vow.

Proposition 8 Struck Down, For The Time Being

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

By now I’m sure you all know that Proposition 8 was struck down by a federal judge. Who knows what will happen on appeal. There is much to be said, but I want to focus on one narrow and possibly tangential point. This phrase from the judge’s ruling, a phrase being reposted on facebook in many statuses:

“A private moral view that Same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples is not a proper basis for legislation.”

The absurdity of that sentence really struck me. There was nothing “private” about the view of the “superiority” of hetereosexual couples. It has been carried on through generations of communities and in the present day was represented by 52% of Californians. How a popular decision that represented thousands of years of ethical thinking and concern for the family became a private morality is baffling.

More troubling is the implication of the judge that a “moral view” is not a proper basis for legislation. Since when has this been the case? Our laws on pedophilia, minimum wage, health care, torture, human rights, etc. are based at least on part on “moral views,” views that in some respects may be just as if not more private than the ones the judge rejects today.

If morality is not a basis for legislation, what on earth is? Morality guides us in making decisions; without a moral or ethical compass (or perhaps even without a religious one) there is no basis for legislation to be made. Laws are supposed to help make society run better, but there is no way to make society run better unless you have a notion of what a “better society” looks like, and you don’t get to that notion without morality.

State recognition of homosexual marriage is one thing, but this ruling attacks the foundation of our government. Morality must have a place in the public sphere and must be one of the foremost foundations of legislation.

To be sure, the judge is simply smoke-screening for the fact that he is imposing his own standards of morality. But the fact that his statement rejecting a moral basis for legislation is being so celebrated should worry all Americans.

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6 Responses to Proposition 8 Struck Down, For The Time Being

  • I heard several commentators on the radio using this language today. We need to put a stop to this “inferior” vs. “superior” language altogether. It is irrelevant to the question at hand and just pulls on the emotional strings of those on the fence who are concerned about “equality.”

    Gay marriages are not some form of marriage which we think is an “inferior form” to the “superior form” between heterosexuals. Gay marriage quite simply isn’t a “form” of marriage at all. It doesn’t exist. To let the pro-gay-marriage crowd frame it in these emotional, egalatarian-based terms is to get off track and play into their hands.

  • From the ruling:

    “Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage….. Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage…”

    This passage from the ruling is the real core of this debate. Gender historically had and currently has nothing to do with the core of marriage? What an astonishingly bold and bald lie. That’s the level of unreality we are up against.

  • This is stupidity on afterburner. I’m actually ashamed of our judicial system; these judges are a joke. Between this and the “sweet mystery of life” passage, the rule of law is effectively dead. Pack up and go home.

    I suggest as a form of mass civil disobedience that all Christians commit a petty crime and use this decision and Casey as a defense. “The heart of liberty is to define one’s own concept of existence, and morality is no basis for legislation.” Our robed masters said so.

    There is no such thing as law free from morality; there is no metaphysically neutral politics. I have no sense for what greater good this progressive-liberal culture is aiming; what is its summum bonum? At least with Christianity, one knows where one stands. But where will this nonsense end? What moral outrage will we be forced to accept next year and the year after that?

    Not that I would do it, but I’m sort of starting to see why people burn American flags. I’m disgusted by this.

  • Really good article and pertinent to the points made here. I met the author, Thomas Messner, in my travels a few weeks ago, really smart with a law degree. Forgive me if it has already been discussed/posted here.

  • Given that the Dems control the Senate, is there any point to pushing for a removal from office of this judge? At this time the push would lose. Would that losing effort help or hurt the larger cultural war?

  • Depends on how strong a push you could mount. If anything, it should make those Senators up for re-election nervous to see the natives restless.

    The best push would be to push some of those Senators out (although I heard this guy was a Republican appointee).

Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

Tuesday, August 3, AD 2010

The New York Times runs an article about how the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to address concerns about shrinking membership as they celebrate 100 years of boy scouting in the US. The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978, with 2.8 million boys currently in the Scouts.

To judge from the commentariat at the Times, you would think this is entirely the result of the BSA remaining firm in their ban of gay scout leaders and statement that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with obligations in the Scout Oath.” Not to mention saying that boys who refuse to recite the Scout Oath because of its references to God and reverence may simply not have a place in the program. Commenters claiming to be Eagle Scouts line up one after another in the comments to announce that no son of theirs will ever be a member of the Scouts while it remains homophobic and theocratic.

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6 Responses to Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

  • After a year in scouts, I allowed my son to walk away. My girl is still in scouts. There are many, many factors involved. A lot of it is the parental leaders. The pool is small for those able to do it, and they are volunteers after all. Another factor is other activities. There is a lot more for children to do, and of course those activities are also run by adult volunteers. Then there are the not so good reasons like there being more entertainment available at home through electronics.

    I always find the political explanations somewhat entertaining. In neither scouting group was their a vast amount of ideological diversity. For a den we’re talking 8-12 children. Politics and political issues don’t come up all that often and were it ever to come up, whatever instruction the kid had from the parent would generally be respected. Most people when they are off the Internet don’t look for excuses to beat other people over the head.

  • My sons are currently in scouting. My oldest son is 12 and in Scouts. My 8yr old is in Cubscouts. I am a den leader for the Cubscouts. I have been a leader for 6 years and being that I have a 2 year old will probably end up being a leader for about 15 years. I have found that in Cubscouts the focus is learning morals and some responsibility but also to have alot of fun with friends in your den and Pack but also to foster fun within the family. Parents are a key component to the success of the Scouts. The more you involve the parents the better chance that the boys will remain in Scouts and the better chance that they will get more out of the program.

    My goal has always been to get the boys to have fun at the den meetings, pack meetings and at home with the family. I enjoy seeing the boys mature in there confidence and there relationships with other members of the Pack and especially with there family. For me there is nothing more satisfying then getting the Cubscouts into Boyscouts where they will fully mature and learn life skills that are not taught today in the culture in general.

    Along with the factors you talked about another factor contributing to the loss of members in Scouting is the idea of sacrifice. I think that a culture that loses its connection with Christianity loses the idea of sacrifice. I think sometimes People are a little selfish with there time. They seem to feel that it is there time and they don’t have to share it with anyone. Now this is a small percentage that I am talking about but just wanted to add to the things that are affecting attendace.

    Scouts is one of the greatest organizations for boys to be involved with. Of course that is second to the Church.

  • “The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978….”

    Umm, there’s an even easier and more straightforward reason for this decline. The Baby Boom. The number of boys born between 1946 and 1964 accounts for the peak number in 1978.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_boom

  • Good point. Maybe simplier is more correct.

  • The population went through a sudden period of growth with the baby boom, but the population has continued to grow since that time. The absolute number of boys 8-18 is higher now than it was in 1978.

  • My husband is the scoutmaster of my son’s troop at our parish church. My son-15 is the oldest scout in the troop and hopefully will complete his Eagle project within the next year and a half. That being said, my son has told me repeatedly that it’s not “cool” to be in Scouts. He likes Scouts but doesn’t want it mentioned to anyone. I embarrassed him once by mentioning he was in Scouts to two girls he liked. In our troop, once the boys make Eagle or turn driving age, they drop out of the troop, leaving the troop pretty leaderless(as the troop is supposed to be self-led. we do have adult volunteers). Being a clean cut Scout is no longer appealing to a lot of teenage boys.

Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Wednesday, July 14, AD 2010

Last week I wrote here about the firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell who had the audacity, in a class about the Catholicism, to actually state Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.  There has been enough of a furor since that the University of Illinois is acting, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A faculty group at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus will review the decision to fire an adjunct religion professor for saying he agreed with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

Urbana- Champaign campus Chancellor Robert Easter said Monday he hopes to have a decision on the firing of Kenneth Howell from the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure by the time fall classes start. The review is to determine whether Howell’s academic freedom was violated.

“We want to be able to reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here,” new university President Michael Hogan told members of the Faculty Senate on Monday. “This is a very, very important, not to mention a touchy and sensitive, issue. Did this cross the line somehow?”

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Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

I am an alum of the U of I.  I obtained my BA in 79 and my JD in 82.  My wife is also an alum of the U of I, obtaining her MA in Spanish in 82.  Our eldest son will be entering the U of I as a freshman in August.  I therefore found the news that  Professor Kenneth Howell, an adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, has been fired for teaching in a course about Catholicism  basic Catholic doctrine on homosexuality quite alarming:

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39 Responses to Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

  • Looking at the e-mail from the student to the administration, and the original e-mail from Howell, two things seem clear:

    1. Neither the student nor his “friend” have a clear understanding of the purpose or content of Howell’s e-mail. They clearly cannot distinguish between advocacy and presentation of a fairly standard-issue argument in Catholic moral theology. I might expect this of high school students. College students should know better.

    2. This supposed college student’s grasp of standard English is most distressing. “Anyways”? Yikes!

    I am forced to question the Department Chair’s ability to notice the above.

  • In other words: Teach Catholicism, but don’t teach that it has anything to do with reason and reality. We must continue the lie that faith and reason are at odds, that the Church opposes gay marriage solely as a matter of religious faith, and that religion is purely a matter of private opinion, not public action.

    And this is supposed to “promote independent thought”? I’d wager that those students have never encountered any though quite so radical as Prof. Howell was exposing them to. He was doing exactly what they say they wanted.

  • Elena Kagan demonstrated how liberal pandering to any special interest group trumps your right to freedom to exercise your religion.

    Kagan on Whether Catholic Church Could Recruit at Harvard Law

    http://tinyurl.com/369nxwj

    This is precisely how Hitler took over Germany. It began with politically correct “thinking” which led to politically correct “law” and everything Hitler did was “legal”. This “judge” who never met a politically correct cause she didnn’t love and support (regardless of it’s standing the law) is about to take a seat on the highest court in the land.

    Yet she is touted for her “brilliance” and legal scholarship. They teach you all about the law in law school – they don’t teach you a thing about JUSTICE.

    ———————–
    “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    ~ President John Adams

    “Authentic democracy is possible only in a state ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person. It requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the “subjectivity” of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility. Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

    ~ Pope John Paul II – Centesimus Annus

  • theory of Catholicism

    So now Catholicism is a theory and not a faith?

  • Just read the emails. I’m no natural law philosopher, but wasn’t the professor’s explanation of natural law a little weak? It was more about biology than teleology. Nor was his description of utilitarianism exactly correct.

    Still not grounds for dismissing him, however.

  • Does anyone else see the immediate bias by Kaler when saying “the theory of Catholicism.” This sums the issue up. Another situation of higher education punishing the religious guy.

  • I hope that it is starting to dawn on the “Catholic Church” that when you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. Amen!

  • TonyC,

    Are you referring to the U of I as dogs?

  • Do you think if he had taught what Islam tenets are in the Koran on morality and homosexuality and the handling of those of that orientation, he would have lost his post.

  • “When I joined the military it was against regulations to be homosexual, then it became optional. I’m getting out before it becomes mandatory.” GySgt Harry Berres, USMC

  • Guys, guys! Remember, you’re free to talk all you want about Catholicism, as long as you don’t believe it!

  • Very, very troubling indeed! May God have mercy on us. It is so hard for me to see the radical decay all around. May I work to be faithful, to pray for the Catholic Church and for men like this, punished harshly for speaking of their religious beliefs, that were once protected by the very Constitution that is now used to persecute them.

  • This is just awful. Kenneth Howell, in case you don’t know, is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic faith — which of course, forced him to give up THAT job — and who has written several books on Catholic doctrine. He converted well BEFORE he took this job. He was hired by the U of I specifically to teach classes on Catholic doctrine, which have been offered, for credit, for decades. It should not surprise anyone that he agrees with Catholic teaching on homosexuality and other issues.

    What he said is not “hate speech” any more than, say, an observant Orthodox Jewish professor who teaches classes specifically on Judaism attempting to explain kosher dietary laws and having a student who raises hogs back home take offense at it.

  • Friend, huh? Might this ‘friend’ not be a student? Is it possible that someone just wants a politically correct elucidation of the theory of Catholicism without any of the truth of what the Church teaches?

    I am also curious, how does saying that sodomy is an unnatural act ostracize people with homosexualist proclivities? Any biologist would tell you that certain human orifices are for evacuation and not anything else, except in cases of medical testing. Should we outlaw the theory of biology?

    Apparently the school wants to teach the theory of Catholicism and disassociation themselves from what the Church actually teaches. Why? Does anyone really think the UI Religion Dept. is somehow associated with the Church or with Catholics in anyway? Why did his statement violate the ‘inclusivity’ policy? Was he banning homosexualists from his class? Did he tell them that Sodomites aren’t allowed to learn about the theory of Catholicism? Were they told they were not allowed to disagree with Natural Law? Since when does the Church or those who teach her truths believe that humans don’t have free will?

    Are we going to fire history teachers who teach the offensive act of killing Jews? How do you study Nazi Germany without addressing the wholesale slaughter of Jews, Catholics, etc.? You can’t. It is the truth. Nazis did kill Jews. It is offensive. It certainly isn’t inclusive. I seriously doubt that any history teacher worth their mettle thinks it is OK to kill Jews – but they teach it nonetheless, because that is what Nazis did and what they believed. No one has to agree with it. This is ridiculous.

    I wonder if its OK to teach about Nazism because most Nazis were Sodomites and not OK to teach about Catholicism because the Church teaches that Sodomy is not OK, despite the proclivities of a small number of her members – of course, we don’t talk about pederast priests, we talk about pedophile priests because if we addressed the real problem, we may have to indict Sodomy. Me thinks there is an agenda here and just like in the late Wiemar Republic it starts with the homosexualists.

  • I was tempted to say that this development would make Msgr. Edward Duncan, the VERY longtime U of I Newman Center chaplain (over 50 years, from the 1940s to the 1990s), “turn over in his grave”, but after doing a quick google search on his name it appears he’s still alive, or was as recently as 2008. Anyone know his status? I don’t doubt he would have a LOT to say about this.

  • They would never have pulled this Elaine if Duncan were still in charge of the Newman Center. He was a formidable presence on the campus and not a man to brook any insult against the Church, as I noted when I was at the U of I. Judging from the spineless reaction of the Newman Center to this outrage, I guess the University decided that Catholics would just take this slap in the face lying down. Time to prove them wrong.

  • Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?

  • “spineless reaction of the Newman Center to this outrage”

    I just hopped over to Thomas Peters’ blog and read the actual letter from Dr. Howell himself, explaining his side of the story.

    After reading it, I’m almost as ticked off at the Newman Center and the Diocese of Peoria as I am at the university! It APPEARS that they told him “Sorry, can’t help you, and by the way, we no longer need your services either, so good luck and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” What’s up with that?

  • Do I have this right? A man teaches the 2,000 year old teachings of Holy Mother Church in a U course on Catholicism and is terminated for hate speech.

    But Obama supporters call for murdering crackers and their babies; and that’s free speech.

    Go figure.

  • If the “Institute of Catholic Thought” for which Dr. Howell worked is structured in such a way that an instructor can no longer work for the Institute if they no longer work for the university, well, isn’t this living proof that the Newman Foundation and the Diocese had better do something about that? If they don’t, then I will have to take back all my past comments about the U of I being a more “Catholic” university (because of the quality of its Newman Center, and of the ICT classes) than some Catholic in name only schools are.

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  • As a no longer proud alum of U of I it shows me that the motto Learning and Labor has left the learning behind. Universities understand only one thing now and that is money. Don’t just write comments on blogs, write the president of U of I at mjhogan@liinois.edu If you are an alumm tell him you won’t send them another dime until this is fixed. Send emails to all of your alumni friends. Post this on all of your blogs.

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  • Msgr. Duncan is still alive. His health isn’t so great anymore, but he occasionally makes appearances at St. Johns. I know he was there as recently as last fall for a special event.

  • This is simply further proof that the so-called Diversity Movement is about anything BUT diversity. It is about conformity to a set agenda with dogmas as entrenched as those of the Catholic Church with whom they are at war. Homosexuality and the praise thereof top the list of that agenda.

    I was particularly awed by the following excerpt taken from the email sent by the offended students “friend” and the mention of “independent thought” : “Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote in the e-mail. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one’s worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation.”

    Who is genuinely aware of the meaning of true public discourse here? Who is promoting genuinely independent thought? Who is being ostracized? It certainly isn’t the Diversity Movement, not is it the offended student, who is still a student, while the good Prof. is beating the streets looking for a job.

  • Food for thought received in an email from the Manhattan Declaration group:

    ” . . . may be one of the gravest, most insidious threats to religious freedom I’ve seen in my lifetime: What may be an attempt, at the very highest levels of government, to RE-DEFINE the very meaning of religious freedom, from “free exercise” to merely private worship.”

  • “Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?”

    No, only anti-catholic bigotry is allowed.

  • Is there any anti-Buddhism, anti-Hinduism, anti-Islamic, anti-protestant? Why there is anti-Catholic Bigotry? If there is answer please answer me. Thanks!

  • GM: I think (bombs away!) that there is anti-Catholic bigotry because Holy Mother the Church (the minority that actually adheres to its precepts) is a major safeguard against secular humanist cultural/societal hegemony.

    And, if one believes (as a small minority of so-called Catholics believes) that we are IN this world, but not OF this world, one is less easily controlled and, thus, one is a threat to the statist, fascist far-left liberals intent on controlling aspects of our lives.

    And, because the majority of bishops, nearly all so-called catholic scholars, catholic university regimes, etc. have sold out to Obama and the socilaists. In this rounnd the bowl of pottage is full of human dignity, peace, social justice, etc.

    I could barf!

  • T. Shaw,

    Food for thought received in an email from the Manhattan Declaration group:

    ” . . . may be one of the gravest, most insidious threats to religious freedom I’ve seen in my lifetime: What may be an attempt, at the very highest levels of government, to RE-DEFINE the very meaning of religious freedom, from “free exercise” to merely private worship.”

    That is why the Obama administration and many liberals continue to say “Freedom of Worship” instead of “Freedom of Religion”.

    They want to eliminate faith completely from the public square by redefining certain precepts of the U.S. Constitution.

  • You can say that Catholic bigotry is alive at the University of Illinois, but your church is a most dangerous foe of civil and religious liberty. The Catholic Bishops descended on Congress and pressured our legislators to pass Obama’s health care bill, even though the nation could not afford it and is on the verge to ruin and bankruptcy. The Bishops have no respect whatsoever for the U.S. Constitution. All across the board the church is pushing its’ agenda, seeking to dominate and control. The papacy is battering down the walls of church-state separation every where she can. She is pushing to enforce Sunday observance upon all of Europe, and is pushing for Sunday enforcement in the U.S. also. The Founding Fathers enacted safeguards, but these are being dismantled. Persecution is returning as sure as day. The words of John Adams, our second president, are proving true, as liberty of conscience is more and more threatened, “I have long been decided in opinion that a free government and the Roman Catholic religion can never exist together in any nation or Country.” “Liberty and Popery cannot live together.”

  • Logan,

    The Catholic Bishops are U.S. citizens.

    You need to brush up on the constitution.

    The last time I read it we all have freedom of expression.

  • Actually Logan the Bishops opposed Obamacare due to fear of it funding abortion. However I have found that anti-Catholicism and rank ignorance tend to go together so I am unsurprised that you are misinformed.
    As to your comment about the Church attempting to enforce Sunday observance, that is a fantasy you either got from an anti-Catholic website or dreamed up in your fevered imagination.

  • Logan, if you are some sort of Christian, then you should prayerfully read John 8:32.

    If you aren’t Christian, then you should pray, “God, if you really exist, help me understand what you are telling me in this Scripture reading.” and then read John 8:32.

    God and His Church do not impose, He proposes – the rest is up to you. Know that your Father loves you, despite any feelings you have otherwise.

  • Logan,

    The wall of separation between Church and States is from a letter Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, a religious minority fearing that they would not be able to worship the way they were inclined and Jefferson was assuring them that the first amendment to the Constitution protected their religion from interference by the federal government.

    Jefferson was an adept diplomat and knowing his audience, Baptists, he wrote in terms they would understand. The wall of separation was drawn from a sermon by Roger Williams, whose sermons would have been known well among Baptists in 1802.

    The particular sermon is titled, “The Garden in the Wilderness” preached in 1644. He said, “When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the candlestick, and made his garden a wilderness, as at this day. And that there fore if He will e’er please to restore His garden and paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world.”

    Clearly Jefferson was referring to the fact that the wall separated the Church (the garden) from the State (the wilderness of the world) to protect the Church from the corruption of the political power. He was not even intoning that the State had a right to be ‘protected’ from the Church. In Jefferson’s time, even though it followed the Enlightenment, people of faith knew that religion formed men in virtue and virtuous leaders, men of character, were what was required to govern the Republic.

    Twisting this wall of separation to mean that religion has no place in public life is an atheistic Communist ploy. Probably concocted by the Communist front – the ACLU. It is a lie and intelligent people using the gift of human reason wouldn’t employ such a tired and weak argument.

  • “Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?”

    An excellent question! Are similar courses in Islam being taught there?

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Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

Back in 1979 I was one of the founding members of the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Hastings College of Law at the University of California was within its rights to deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because the group requires that members agree, among other principles, that sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful, and that members must be Christians.  Hastings contended that these principles violated the open membership policy of the university, in that it would discriminate against prospective members on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation.  Go here to read the decision.

Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, wrote a thought provoking dissent.

The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

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23 Responses to Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

  • Kagan once said, it’s okay for the government to ban books because the gestapo would be ineffective at enforcing it.

    You have to scratch a liberal just a wee bit to get to the totalitarian essence under the uber-thin vineer of warm and fuzzy bu!!$hit.

    Isn’t there a right, somewhere in the US Constitution, to free association, in addition to the rights to abortion; gay privileges; being fed, clothed and housed by the taxpayer.

    The king denied the Colonists the right to meet. They met anyway – Committees of Correspondence. The king isn’t king of this country. We shall overcome.

  • The pairing of decisions yesterday reminds us that our constitutional rights are basically at the mercy of the whims of Justice Kennedy. It’s truly frightening. Though he seems to have re-discovered some measure of a backbone, on social issues he remains completely inept.

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

  • Question: If Hastings is a state institution, thus receiving government funds (from the tax payer), does that not mean it is essentially a politically-funded entity?

    And if so, should we not be surprised that what is politically correct weighs heavey on their policy choices?

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

    I think the issue is more that it makes it very difficult for CLS to assemble, hold activities, etc. on campus if theyr’e not recognized as a campus organization.

  • Darwin, CLS can, and probably will, amend its pledge banning gays and the club will continue with business as usual, i.e., without gays.

  • One of the things I find interesting is that the argument that a group should be allowed to keep out people they do not like is being argued by two different groups.

    First, CLS. They say they should be free to have a group which follows the principles they hold dear. Of course, if they were not on a campus, looking for funding and approval to use facilities on campus, I think no one would question such a right.

    However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.

    Can someone show me why CLS can discriminate and not the university? I am in favor of free associations, and I do think a university should encourage such free associations (the university’s policy is wrong), but I also do wonder how a university is not accorded such a right?

  • BTW, I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights.

  • Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences. 🙂

  • I am not a huge Kennedy Basher but bioth the right and left are right at times he gets carried away with his verbiage. I am amazed that a Catholic Justice basically said that Creed like matters are like Loyalty Oaths

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision?

    I disagree. Traditional morality is only tenuously tolerated. This further institutionalizes its banishment from the public sphere. It has very little to do with whether CLS admits gays or not; look beyond the legal ramifications to see the cultural narrative. A Christian group, along among others, is singled out for chastisement. This has everything to do with what metaphysical premises are acceptable in polite company.

    “Untenured” at WWWtW said it best (with respect to another story):

    Increasingly, we are seeing secularists posture as though their pet metaphysical and moral committments are some kind of reasonable “default” that everybody would naturally gravitate towards if only it weren’t for the malign influence of religious “indoctrination.” There is a very real movement to portray traditional morality as some kind of “pathology” that is okay to exercise coercion against. Witness, for example, the attempt to make moral objections against homosexuality appear as if they are *no different* from objections to interracial marriage. Even people with philosophical training who ought to know better, like to pretend that this line of reasoning is cogent out of some kind of weird “political solidarity” with “sexual minorities.” They don’t give a darn about intellectual honesty- they want to deny traditional moral beliefs a toehold in the space of reasons, and they will do so by any means necessary. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we are soon going to see people arguing that there is *no difference* between a homeschooler being taught traditional morality and an underage bride at a Mormon polygamy compounds. Then some arguments, with the pretense of hand-wringing, about how reasonable people have no choice but to coerce these backwards homeschoolers out of existence. For the sake of the children, of course.

  • ” I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights”

    Henry I think it is clear that the University cannot , as a general matter with exceptions of course) discriminate against viewpoint discrimination.

    Now I realize this is a complicated case and in hindsight I am willing to bet the Justices wised they never took up the case because they discovered it was such a procedural mess and the factual record was clouded.

    That being said while many are saying the Opinion is narrow ( focusing just on this odd unique all comers policy) I am not so sure if it that narrow at all. The comments by some of the Justices on how they got there are perhaps the most disturbing and I am hoping like Justice ALito this si an aberation

  • “Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences.”

    Well the case is not over. They still have a chance to prove that this “all comers” policy was a pretext for unlawful discrimination

  • “However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right?”

    I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society. All Catholics, members of an organization that is looked upon with hatred by many of the elites in our society, should look with alarm at this decision. “The Catholics want to prevent women from being priests? Fine, we will pass a law dictating that no non-profit may have tax exemption unless they sign on to this non-discrimination policy.”

  • I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society.

    Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination. In other words, their argument is if they support the society, they are supporting such discrimination as a public institution. They are not saying what CSL can or cannot do, just what they can or cannot do if they want to be a student group at Hastings. The court, of course, said something unusual, in that it said a university can engage in such rules, but does not have to. It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

  • “Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination.”

    That is a way of saying that the public entity will discriminate against a group based upon its membership policies, unless the private group has membership policies acceptable to the public entity. The implications for Newman Centers on public campuses are clear, along with any groups that are in official disfavor. The true absurdity of this policy of course is that almost all private groups, by definition, discriminate. A staunch Republican like me would not be wanted among College Democrats. If I join a Chess group on campus, I will be expected not to insist upon the group playing checkers. Why this absurd policy of no discrimination in admissions by private groups of course is being implemented on campuses is as a hammer to beat groups that do not sign on to the gay rights agenda. This is governmental action engaging in viewpoint discrimination in order to banish from campuses those groups engaging in heretical thoughts.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

    I don’t think I agree or understand what you said before, but I agree with this sentence. Whenever one tries to enforce what SCOTUS said in this opinion is a “viewpoint-neutral” outlook, you run into problems once you have conflicting viewpoints. Instead of ditching the whole flawed approach, the majority here tried to argue “this form of discrimination isn’t really discrimination” by pointing out that CLS can exist off campus (which as a college student I can tell you is a waste of time; w/o events on campus and the funding to throw even small lunches, recruitment is difficult to impossible).

  • Says Kennedy, via the Washington Post: “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Memo to Kennedy – as an American citizen, I have a right not to engage in dialogue. As an American citizen, I have the right to freely associate with whomever I choose. And the students on that campus, a public campus, have those rights as well.

    The right to associate and exclude on the basis of values may be the only thing that prevents radically different groups from going to war with each other. American governments and courts that think they can force everyone to “dialogue” are going to be in for a rude awakening. This isn’t Europe.

  • “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Kennedy is always good for a bone-headed quote. This one is hilarious for two reasons.

    First, the clear intent of the Hastings Policy is to quash a point of view that the administration of the law school finds distateful by denying the Christian Legal Society recognition.

    Second, if there is any group more cloistered from opposing views than the federal judiciary, with lifetime appointments, I am unaware of it.

  • Henry Karlson wrote: “If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.”

    This is exactly what my husband said when we discussed it. He’s pretty libertarian in outlook. His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules. He says it’s better for them to do so and believe what they want to.

    Things are coming to a head, and I’m afraid that anyone looking for tolerance anywhere is likely to be disappointed.

  • “His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules.”

    It should not be the role of any government entity to set the membership policies for private groups. It is of course especially ironic that this attempt to stifle a viewpoint is taking place at a university, a supposed citadel of intellectual liberty. Of course most universities in this country, as demonstrated by repeated attempts to impose speech codes on students, are as enamored of freedom of speech as they are of cutting their budgets to reduce the exorbitant tuition that they charge.

  • The libertarian outlook sees this case as yet another illustration of the need for separation of Schooling and State.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.-Henry Karlson

    Seems? (Hint: category error.)