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Wednesday, February 06, 2008
On the City Journal website this week, John Leo gives an update on liberalism and diversity in our society and courts. It's not pretty.
“In order to enhance diversity, it was necessary to suppress it,” Walter Olson writes at Overlawyered.com, referring to a transgendered Californian who is suing a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a breast augmentation procedure.
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The hospital, Seton Medical Center in Daly City, has not clearly explained its position, but it apparently views breast enlargement in this case as part of a sex-change process that it objects to on moral grounds. In a written statement, a spokeswoman said that the hospital “does not perform surgical procedures contrary to Catholic teaching, for example, abortion, direct euthanasia surgery or any of its related components.” The procedure is elective and surely not an emergency, and there is no shortage of hospitals in the San Francisco area willing to increase the plaintiff’s hormone-assisted breast size. Yet the case is likely to be framed as a bias violation, with little attention paid to the right of voluntary service institutions to operate by their own moral rules.

The 2006 controversy over gay adoptions in Massachusetts is the classic example of how antidiscrimination law is used against religious institutions. In the conventional liberal narrative, the refusal of Boston Catholic Charities to approve gay adoptions was a simple issue of discrimination. Generally absent from the discussion was this question: Under what conditions can the state force churches and religious agencies either to violate their own principles or to quit providing social services altogether?

In effect, Massachusetts used its licensing power to bring the Church to heel—no gay adoptions, no license to conduct any adoptions. Acting on traditional social principles—that one father and one mother are best for children—became bias. Rather than capitulate, Catholic Charities retired from the adoption field after 103 years, leaving other agencies in the state with an enormous new caseload. Catholic Charities had shouldered 31 percent of the state’s special-needs adoptions—children who were abused, neglected, disturbed, or handicapped—almost entirely at its own cost. Very little was at stake for gays wishing to adopt, since all other agencies in the state approved gay adoptions. All gays lost was access to adoption through a Catholic agency.

John Garvey, dean of the Boston College Law School, argues that the most pressing concern should have been religious freedom, not who was right about gay families. “When freedom is at stake, the issue is never whether the claimant is right,” he writes, any more than freedom of the press requires publishers to guarantee that everything they print is true. “Freedom of religion is above all else a protection for ways of life the society views with skepticism or distaste.”

Pressure is increasing on churches and believers to accept dominant secular norms. The pressure includes laws requiring Catholic institutions to provide medical plans offering “morning after” pills to female employees, attempts to force religious hospitals to approve abortions and abortion training, and campus efforts to force Christian evangelical groups to allow sexually active gays into leadership positions.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, calls this establishment pressure “liberal monism.” She means that those who talk the most about diversity and pluralism are often the most willing to mandate that all private and religious institutions conform to one ideological framework. Liberals, she says, are eradicating the differences needed to make tolerance a viable practice. In order to enhance diversity, it is necessary to suppress it.

2 comments:

Sarah Jo said...

i'm sorry your man romney left - and after such a good post too!

Sarah Jo said...

you know - my parents said that about clinton, bill that is, back in the day and the world didn't come to an end then...i'm just saying... ;-)

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables


Darius Teichroew's favorite books »