We’ve already seen that one of NOM’s favorite claims — that they’re protecting voters’ rights — is just a deceitful pose. NOM has another argument: They defend religious liberty against intolerant gays. Let’s see if that one holds up any better. [SPOILER ALERT: It does not.]
The argument is tough to analyze — it changes based on whom they’re speaking to. Writing for the uber-conservative Townhall website, Maggie Gallagher frets that churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to marry gays. But when addressing an audience less eager to fall into an orgy of anti-gay fear-mongering, she admits, “Clergy may be protected by the First Amendment.” Though even there, she’s being dishonest in saying they only may be protected.
Still, you’d expect NOM to be happy when the California legislature passes a bill saying,
The bill would specify that no priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination would be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. The bill would state that any refusal to solemnize a marriage under that provision shall not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.
But no, NOM’s unhappy. NOM’s youth outreach affiliate, the Ruth Institute (“Making marriage cool again!”), says this:
The real intent behind this bill is to make it appear as though it eliminates one of the main objections to same-sex marriage, that it jeopardizes religious freedom, in what gay activists hope will be an effort to get gay marriage on the ballot in California in 2012. They think that doing this will make gay marriage seem more acceptable to the voters of California and make it easier for such an amendment to pass…
The bill modifies several sections of California law and would change the word ‘marriage’ to the phrase ‘civil marriage.’ But a wedding is already a civil ceremony! Again, why would they want to modify these portions of the civil code? Well, the idea is to pave the way for two different kinds of legally recognized marriages: religious marriage and civil marriage.
But you know, the Public Religion Research Institute recently surveyed Californians and discovered support for marriage equality zooms to 61% with a law like this one in place. It’s what the voters want. And yet NOM and the Ruth Institute are against it. Funny — first they condemn us for opposing the vote of the people, and then they condemn us for supporting the will of the people. It’s almost as if…as if…as if NOM would condemn us no matter what we do.
Okay, so it’s not about clergy. Then what is NOM worried about? Maggie keeps bringing up Catholic Charities of Boston, which shut down adoption services because it could no longer legally discriminate against married same-sex couples. Maggie considers this a violation of Catholic religious freedom. Hmm. Where does this reasoning take us?
Same-sex marriages are just one type of marriage the Church refuses to recognize. The Church will recognize as valid a marriage between, say, a Lutheran and a Methodist conducted in a Methodist church. But it will not recognize a marriage between a Catholic and a Methodist conducted in a Methodist church. Now, Massachusetts law forbids Catholic Charities from discriminating against such a couple, even though the Church doesn’t view the marriage as valid. Yet Catholic Charities never threatened to shut down adoption services over it. Why not?
Oh, hell, let’s go even further. I had this email exchange with Maggie in April, 2009 (I’m in italics; she’s in bold):
Do you believe that accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior is necessary in order to go to Heaven?
I believe that the only way to the Father is through the Son.
Is the a mass email or a personal question directed at me?
(Do I know you?)
This is not a mass email, but your work has been in the news lately and I’ve been curious about your religious beliefs, since most of your work seems to focus on secular evidence about marriage.
Thanks for your quick reply. Your answer could have several meanings, though. I’m not sure if your answer means that one must accept Jesus as one’s lord and savior in order to be granted access to Heaven. Is that what it means?
I believe God sent his Son to die for us and it is only through Jesus that we are saved.
And that God does not force salvation on anyone so yes we have to choose to accept Jesus.
Thanks for the clarification. I hope you don’t mind if I share this with others who might be wondering as you continue your work.
My faith is not a secret so sure. (I am a Roman Catholic) Maggie
Thanks. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family, too, and was an altar boy even.
There’s one thing that some of my Jewish friends find troubling about this issue. They interpret it as a statement that Jews cannot go to Heaven unless they convert. That offends them. Is there a way to counter that belief (does God give an exemption for his Chosen People) or is this something that has no wiggle room?
That would be up to God, not me.
That’s what I found troubling about your question: I don’t put restrictions or issue edicts to God about what is necessary for Him to save people.
I believe he sent his Son to do this. Maggie
Near as I can tell, Maggie thinks only Christians can go to Heaven, unless God grants a special exception. The implication for adoption is clear, then: Placing child with Jewish parents (for instance) would put that child’s eternal fate in jeopardy.
So does Maggie think Catholic Charities should be allowed to discriminate against Jews? I’ve never heard her say so. I doubt that she does believe so, even though it’s a clear implication of her rhetoric about religious freedom. It’s almost as if…as if…as if she only cares when it comes to teh gays.
That’s bad enough, but as is so common with NOM, it gets even worse. Go back to the Ruth Institute article about California’s religious liberty bill, and you’ll find this worry:
[W]hat about the county clerk who refuses to conduct gay marriages because of his faith…
Wow. They’re no longer talking about clergy, or charities, or even some random private individual. They’re talking about a government employee, hired to provide services to the American public, and paid with taxpayer dollars. They think government employees should be able to freeze out any American citizen they like, as long as they can shout, “Religion!” And still keep their jobs.
As far as I know, NOM complains a lot about religious freedom, but they’ve never fully defined the protection they’re looking for. Would they dare? Because I think it comes down to something like, People can ignore any law they want if they can give a religious pretext for doing so.
Wait, that’s not right. If that were right, then people of faith would be able to do any religious thing they wanted — even marrying same-sex couples despite state law to the contrary. And we know NOM doesn’t want to extend that liberty, no matter how religiously motivated.
Geez. It’s almost as if…as if…as if NOM’s vision of religious liberty consists of allowing people to do whatever NOM wants them to do.
No wonder they’re so vague.