Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maryland same-sex marriage bill threatens religious liberty--at least according to Catholic bishops

Maryland Catholic bishops are opposing the proposed Maryland same-sex marriage bill because, they claim, it threatens the freedom of Catholics to practice their religion.

So the bill requires Catholic priests to perform same-sex marriages, right? Nope.

So the bill forces Catholics to marry only people of the same sex, right? Nope.

So the bill forces Catholics in heterosexual marriages to get a divorce, right? Nope.

Requires Catholic priests to preach about the rights of same-sex couples to marry? Nope.

Then the bill must close down Catholic churches, right? Nope.

Prevent Catholics from going to mass and participating in their sacraments? No.

Ban the saying of the rosary? No.

Force Catholics to give up saving bits of bones and skin and drops of blood from their saints as a health risk? No.

Oh...the bill keeps the Catholic bishops from insisting that everyone, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, live in accordance with Catholic religious beliefs, is that it? Yes! That's it!

Look, Catholic bishops, allowing same-sex marriages doesn't keep any Catholic from practicing any part of his or her faith. A law recognizing same sex marriage no more threatens Catholic religious liberty than laws allowing the prescribing, selling, and use of birth control do. (Of course, Catholic bishops might indeed believe that the government's permitting the use of birth control does threaten Catholic religious liberty, but the evidence of harm to the religious rights of Catholics is non-existent.)

Do you threaten the religious liberty of Jews and Muslims when you eat pork, or that of Hindus when you eat beef? Do you threaten the religious liberty of Mormons when you drink coffee? Do you threaten the religious liberty of Seventh Day Adventists when you work on a Saturday? Do you threaten the religious liberty of Jehovah's Witnesses by celebrating birthdays or getting a blood transfusion? Do you threaten the religious liberty of Jains when you kill mosquitoes or flies? Well, do you?

Bishops, stick to trying (but increasingly less successfully) to control the behavior of people who voluntarily choose to believe in the stuff you claim God has told you through the straight-from-God-to-the-minds-of-Catholic-authorities psychic pipeline. Keep out of the marriages and bedrooms of the rest of us.

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