12.28.2011

Are Gay Rights Rules Limiting Religious Freedom?

The headline at the New York Times web site is: Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Freedom of Religion.

But the telling line in the story is: "Catholic Charities affiliates received a total of nearly $2.9 billion a year from the government in 2010, about 62 percent of its annual revenue of $4.67 billion.  Only 3 percent came from churches in the diocese (the rest came from in-kind contributions, investments, program fees and community donations)."

First off, only 3%!  But lets put that in context, that is still $140,100,000.  If you give everything you can, everything you have, then another comes along and gives ten times as much, that does not diminish what you have done.  What we don't know is how that 140 million compares to the rest of the churches budget.  That would be the truly telling number.


That said, it is not the rules that are limiting the churches freedom.  The churches freedom was limited when it chose to work with others in its community through the government, and in particular, when it chose to use their money.  Not necessarily a bad decision, but one that does limit options in some ways, while increasing them in others.

If you are going to be a part of the democratic process by using the people's money, then you have to abide by the communities decesions.  That money open's doors and allows you to do alot of things.  But it means making compromises.  That is the nature of living in community, of living in a democratic nation.  If you can't convince people to see things your way...

Contrast that decesion with this one: "Taking a completely different tack was the agency affiliated with the conservative Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, which like the Catholic Church does not sanction same-sex relationships. Gene Svebakken, president and chief executive of the agency, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois... explained that the best option was to compromise and continue caring for the children."

“We’ve been around 140 years, and if we didn’t follow the law we’d go out of business,” Mr. Svebakken said. “We believe its God- pleasing to serve these kids, and we know we do a good job.”


In short, if you want to do it your way, use your own money.  It is not undemocratic for the majority of people to insist that if you are using their money, you do it their way, or at least within their parameters.  No one is saying you can't do things your way with your money.  It is when you start using our money that you run into problems.

So to answer the question, are gay rights rules limiting religious freedom? No.  They are not limiting the churches use of its own money and what goes on in church.  They are limiting what the church can do with the people's money.

Working with other requires compromises that may or may not be worth it, but it is worth noting, those compromises often allow more to be done than otherwise would have been.

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