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“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Whose Season is it, anyway?

Because, sure, that's what happens:

“I believe that if the Supreme Court, as expected, enshrines gay marriage as a constitutional right, I believe it’s truly going to be, to use your phrase, ‘open season’ on Christians and those who believe in traditional marriage,” Jeffress said. “Once you make gay marriage a civil right then anyone who opposes it is guilty of a civil rights violation.”

Bob Jones University outlawed interracial dating among its students; well, until they lost their federal funding and student loans, grants, etc.  They finally gave up and changed their policy, thus giving them renewed access to federal monies.  But nobody associated with the university was arrested for a "civil rights violation."

Maybe this is just the difference between being a pastor and being a lawyer.

I remember the story of a church, too, which forced out a lay couple (just members, not clergy or anything) because they were an interracial couple.  If I recall correctly, they refused to allow the marriage to take place in their church.  Despite Loving v. Virginia, no one arrested the church members or the pastor; the church was just shamed.  Whether or not they relented on their racist policy, I don't recall.  But again:  no one was jailed.

So the "open season" has never come.  Which will be good for the rabbits and the ducks.


Blogger rick allen said...

None of us really knows how changes today will play out tomorrow. Anyone who's spent any time commenting on public affairs, right, left, or center, can extrapolate present decisions into coming dystopias. It may be the most common form of political rhetoric.

Those for expanding marriage beyond the relationship of opposite sexes have successfully marshalled the language of the civil rights movement. Those about to lose the argument fear that they will be, at best, pressured into silence, and perhaps subject to the full force of civil (if not criminal) marginalization, again on the analogy of the civil rights movement: Pentacostal florists and Catholic adoption agencies will necessarily go the way of segregated lunch counters.

I myself doubt that those fears will come true, at least once the dust has settled. However little people think of the institution of marriage (as it has been conceived until recently), I doubt that it will widely be considered as evil as slavery or Jim Crow.

The Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the Protestant evangelicals, the Pentacostals, the historically African-American Protestant denominations--these, I imagine, will continue to adhere to marriage as a relationship of opposite sexes. These institutions may not be popular with the makers and interpreters of the law, but my guess is that they will be sufficiently substantial to resist going the way of Bob Jones University. None, I'm sure, want to lose their tax-deductable status, but none would be destroyed by such a loss, if it came to that. It might even strengthen them in the long run.

So, yeah, the apocalyptic scenarios are possible, but I think them unlikely. I would put my money, despite the current preponderance of the civil rights analogies, to the considerably greater change inaugurated by the no-fault divorce laws. It will move marriage one step further from what has traditionally been considered marriage by the churches. But I doubt that there will be any serious attempt to coerce those who aren't going to go along.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I don't know how many of the critcs fear punishment as much as they just don't want to lose the political argument.

But that's probably just my cynicism talking. I don't know how noble regulars on TV are.

It's certainly no more than a quibble on my part. I like the reference to no-fault divorce. I think that's the right analogue.

10:34 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

Moral arbiters are used to having their promulgations ignored. They're NOT used to being responded to, "No, YOU are immoral!" And they're squealing like stuck pigs at the shock of it...

2:59 AM  
Blogger ntodd said...

s. These institutions may not be popular with the makers and interpreters of the law, but my guess is that they will be sufficiently substantial to resist going the way of Bob Jones University. None, I'm sure, want to lose their tax-deductable status

Not sure why churches would lose their tax exempt status in any scenario, unless they engaged in political action (any kind, not just to support discriminating in the public sphere). As RMJ noted, churches have done things contrary to anti-discrimination law before, and the only result is public shaming--no penalty from "the makers and interpreters of the law." Which is central to the point.

9:03 AM  
Blogger rick allen said...

"Not sure why churches would lose their tax exempt status in any scenario"

The most likely would be church schools and colleges, as happened with Bob Jones. All schools are pretty much now dependent on some degree of government largess, whether it's textbooks, grants, tax-deductability of gifts, or access to federally-guaranteed student loans. Science education, especially, requires funding, at the very least, for laboratories, and the more advanced scientific equipment that forms even the minimum for large universities is extremely expensive. A return to the trivium and quadrivium is probably not practical.

Tax deductions have long been considered hidden subsidies. It's not difficult to imagine how the question could be put in a political context: "Why are American taxpayers subsidizing discrimination?" The question is not uncommon in internet discussions, but it's not a widespread cause of the left, especially since about half of us Catholics still reliably vote Democratic.

I do wonder where the generalized movement to end "discrimination" will lead: the law's fundamental discrimination between married and unmarried has fueled a movement, not to end that discrimination, but to allow a new group of couples to receive the benefits (such as the are) from moving from the "single" to the "married" category, That leaves unaddressed the continuing fact that the law treats the married and unmarried differently, for reasons that, under current thinking, it's hard to rationalize. Religion and morality are no longer "rational" bases for legal distinctions. What's the difference, today, between a married and an unmarried couple? Why should one be treated differently than the other?

6:29 PM  
Blogger ntodd said...

The most likely would be church schools and colleges, as happened with Bob Jones.

Those aren't churches. Those are schools and colleges, which are arms that operate in a different public plane.

And if they can't follow generalized laws, they don't need generalized benefits like tax exemption.

7:03 PM  
Blogger rick allen said...

"Those aren't churches. Those are schools and colleges"

I know that that's a conventional distinction, but most churches that run schools consider them an essential part of their religious mission. Obviously they have historic roots in the universities that grew up adjunct to the great cathedrals in the middle ages. Nowadays they would be justified more along the line supplied by Cardinal Newman, in his "Idea of a University," that an integrated conception of universal knowledge must include a theological component--a component that state schools are largely prohibited from offering.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I think the primary legal benefit is almost more social: recognition as family, not just 'friend,' in medical matters and the like.

Not to mention inheritance in intestate estates.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Oh, and community property, where that applies.

8:43 PM  

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