More on the Defining “Freedom”

This is about an article on ChristianPost.com expanding on the topic of religious freedom. It’s worth revisiting.

The State of Illinois is terminating its relationship with Catholic Charities.  If I understand correctly, the termination came about because Catholic Charities does not place children for adoption with gay couples.  Illinois law now allows gay marriages and adoptions.

Catholic Charities claims it religious freedoms are being harmed.  It does not place children with gay couples for religious reasons.  The State’s gay marriage legistlation was not to infringe on anyone’s religious freedom.

So, we’re returning to the question, “What is meant by religous freedom?”  Is is to believe and worship in any way you choose?  Or, it is to conduct business in anyway you choose, even if it means depriving certain groups of their rights and/or discriminating against such groups?  

If we could take our current laws and political practices and project them backwards to, say, 1950, here is what the majority of voters would be saying.  “Do not integrate the schools in our state.  Forcing my child to go to the same school as Negro children violates my religious freedom.”  The religious freedom they would have been talking about was a Bible based prohibition of interracial marriage.

In my opinion, Catholic Charites is making a mistake by using this argument.  They are bound to lose.  It may jepordize other places were the “religious freedom” excuse is used.

In this era of faith based institutions receiving tons of money from government, it would be wise for churches not to overreach.

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Announcing Red River Freethinkers 2nd Annual Conference, Sept 24, 2011.  Make new freinds.  Watch an epic debate.  Info at www.redriverfreethinkers.org

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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15 Responses to More on the Defining “Freedom”

  1. Bob says:

    The Obama admin. is giving tons of money to faith based institutions–that’s wrong in my book. The founders are rolling in their graves over it.

    I think the problem with the gays not getting rights, all spins back to the Abrahamic texts. It says in Leviticus to stone gay men to death, so why on earth would bible/torah/koran believers ever give gay people rights like adopting a child or marrying? The texts are ultimately the problem. Imagine a book written that would have said included a few lines like, “And remember my sheeplings, treat same sex partners the same way you treat your opposite sex couples. For they are your beloved neighbors in the eyes of the lord your god also.”
    I think things would be very different in the world if even a few lines of scripture were different. Its too bad those dummies back then did that.

  2. .e says:

    Civil unions are sanctioned in the name of tolerance.

    Same sex couples were referred to other agencies.

    It seems like the judge in this case is pushing CC out of the process to make a point. Who will suffer? The most helpless in our society.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .e 2:18 “… same sex couples are referred to other agencies…judge..pushing out CC ..to make a point.” What the judge’s motive is neither of us know. My point is it just seems the court system is slowly moving to redefine religious freedom. In my opinion, the direction is good. Others who disagree might see it differently if atheists, Hindus or Muslim began inserting their beliefs into the administration of social policy. (it just dawned on me why you use the handle .e. Very clever!)

  3. Bob says:

    I agree, using, .e, is clever and irrational, right?

  4. Henry says:

    “The State of Illinois is terminating its relationship with Catholic Charities.”

    Definitely a loss for the State of Ill.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 4:38 It’s a loss for people who want to discriminate against gays. It’s a gain for everyone else.

      • Henry says:

        The way to cure the supposed discrimination is to discriminate against the perceived discriminator?

        An eye for an eye. The children lose out due to the Ill. secularist ideologues. I’ll take the Catholic ideologues any day of the week. They lost on this political attack on them.

  5. .E says:

    I think I am being dense because I am not following.

    How would you think the courts historically defined “religious freedom” compared to where they are moving?

  6. Bob says:

    Are there two e’s? .E, and .e? eh?

  7. .E says:

    It sounds like the judge took a pass on using the Religious Freedom Act to rule on this case. To Quote the article from the Christian Post:

    The Thomas More Society, a pro-life law center representing Catholic Charities, said the court did not even consider its argument that the state violated religious freedom protections when it dropped the Catholic Charities’ contracts. Peter Breen, executive director of the pro-life legal firm the Thomas More Society, explained, “What the ruling did was stated solely that the state can decided to contract or not contract anyone, for any reason.”

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      E. 6:02 The way I’d interpret this, leaving out a lot, would be the religious right has stumbled over its own maneuvering. In Ten Commandment cases the right has successfully argued that is state or local government wants to post a proChristian monument, it can do so. Now, that the political winds are blowing in favor of gay marriage, the State of Illinois is using something similar to tell Cath. Charities to take a hike–we can contract with whomever we please.

      In recent decades, using the religious freedom argument has allowed religious agencies to do things of questionable constitutionality, not to mention moral authority. But, now that it is no longer as politically popular to discriminate against gays, this rug is being slowly pulled.

  8. .E says:

    .e. .E

    Just depends on my mood to press the shift key

  9. .E says:

    Jon, do you have any examples of questionable constitutionality things that a religious agency has performed?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .E 2:10 “…questionable constitutionality..” I should have said, “in my opinion” questionable constitutionality. The constitution prohibits establishment of a state religion. The complex question is how does a government go about establishing a religion? The Supreme Court has acknowledged a religion can be established in many ways. One is by passing a law establishing one religion. Another is by passing laws about uses of public money to promote one faith. It seems to me yet another would be to hire private sector contractors who perform government services in a way that promotes one religious view at the expense of others.

  10. billy bohnes says:

    Catholic Charities argument is flawed and poorly thought out…no one has a “right” to a state contract. But I agree with Henry, in the sense that you have an agency with a system in place, that is helping kids find loving homes for adoption…and probably quite effectively. The Catholic Church through it’s various charities, hospitals run by religious orders etc. have played a significant role in the availability of these various services in the history of this country. You terminate their contract, and how many adoptions are delayed because someone else has to get set up, develop the “infrastructure” hire workers etc. Why not just make sure there are other agencies with contracts who do provide the service. The fact of the matter is that there are many “religious” run social service agencies that provide services without shoving their beliefs down anyone’s throat. And as long as the government does not limit the possibility of a contract to any one religious group, it is not establishing a religion.

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