Thursday, December 29, 2011

Catholic Bishops want Cake and Eat it Too: Gay Adoption

Catholic Charities in Illinois has served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children. But now most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois are closing down rather than comply with a new requirement that says they can no longer receive state money if they turn away same-sex couples as potential foster care and adoptive parents.
For the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, the outcome is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are now the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals.

The Practical Buddhist Responds
Buddhists are tolerant. With 2600 years of compelling teachings on social justice, they have not a single commandment. Anybody who embraces the dharma teaching can be a Buddhist. Anybody. 
Christianity, like most religions, is a club with rules and requirements for membership. No problem, if you're free to join or abstain.
Our Founding Fathers decided we’d be a secular state, with all religions welcome and none favored. Even though the majority religion is Christian, Christians don't have special rights or protections, any more than Rastafarians.
It’s only a problem when religious leaders want the government to make laws and policies that favor their views. 
The Catholic Church in Illinois doesn't pay taxes, but they provide many noble services for the poor. Catholic Charities serves 10 million people nationwide every year.
But they don't get to benefit from government contracts unless they respect the same civil rights as secular agencies do.
 If you want the contract for helping victims of sex traffic, you have to agree to provide contraception counseling. If you want to run adoption programs for the government, you have to serve all qualified parents, even the gay ones. You can preach against contraception and gay people on every street corner, take out slick ads on TV like the Mormons, or even excommunicate people who don't agree.  It's your club and you get to set the rules, and your club has done a lot of good for a lot of people. 
But you don't get my tax money if you selectively withhold services based on your beliefs.  
Besides, if a bishop ever asked my advice, I'd say leave the gays and the contraceptives alone for a while. There's a war on, Your Excellency, and we need to hear you preach peace in the name of the Prince of Peace. There are increasing social inequities, racial and economic. (I haven't heard a bishop object to Sheriff Joe's abuse of Mexicans).
And quit complaining that your religious rights are being trampled. You have absolute freedom of religion around here, so long as you don't expect government money.