09 September 2011

In Illinois, as in Britain

In what seems a rather surprising move in Britain - as it would in many other places today, sad as it is - the Advertising Standards Authority has banned a cell phone commercial that was to air during Holy Week the ASA deemed would be offensive to Christians.  From the description given of the commerical, I'm not sure it is so much offensive as it is simply in bad taste and poor in thought.
Said the ASA:
"We considered that, although the ads were intended to be light-hearted and humorous, their depiction of Jesus winking and holding a thumbs-up sign, with the text "miraculous" deals during Easter, the Christian Holy Week which celebrated Christ's resurrection, gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs," the ASA said on Wednesday.
"We therefore concluded that the ads were disrespectful to the Christian faith and were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians."
Could it be that these is part of the fruit being born in Britain after Pope Benedict XVI's recent pastoral visit there?

Perhaps, but there is also the distubring news from Britain - that will soon likewise happen in the USA (indeed, it is already being to happen) - that a Member of Parliament has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to make it illegal for Christian churches to refuse to conduct homosexual civil unions; indeed, Mike Weatherley would go so far as to refuse to allow Christian ministers to conduct even true marriages.  It sounds all too familiar to the present situation in Illinois.

Prior to the passage of the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act we were told explicitly - on the floor of the chamber - that the new legislation would not affect foster care and adoptions.  After the passage of the law we find the contrary to the true: the State is actively seeking to force Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoptions, all on the basis of our inability to recognize as a civil union as the equivalent of a valid marriage (which, it should be remember, the RFPCUA does not require us to do).

What is the basis for MP Weatherley's push to force the Church out of marriages?  Her inability to recognize civil unions as the equivalent of a valid marriage:

He told Mr Cameron to follow a precedent he suggested had been set by laws compelling 11 Catholic adoption agencies to assess gay couples as potential adopters and foster parents, although most of them have either since closed or left the control of the church.

Mr Weatherley said that the alternative would be to surrender to a “messy compromise” in which gays would remain the victims of inequality.

“I am becoming increasingly concerned about the inequality which exists between the unions of same-sex couples and those of opposite-sex couples in this country,” he said in his letter.

“As long as religious groups can refuse to preside over ceremonies for same-sex couples, there will be inequality,” he said.

“Such behaviour is not be tolerated in other areas, such as adoption, after all.”

Mr Weatherley described the 2004 Civil Partnership Act, which permitted legal recognition of same-sex unions, as an “uneasy truce” between campaigners for equality and people who sought to uphold the religious significance of marriage.
This is all too close for comfort, as they say.

A similar situation will - if things continue to progress as they are - come upon us in the United States of America, all in the name of tolerance.  But one group will not be tolerated: those who hold to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In Illinois, when the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act was passed, we were told it was not an attempt to push the Church out of marriage and that those advocating for the passage of the Act only wanted the same rights of married couples.  All of these civil rights they could already have if they simply went through the appropriate channels and filed the proper papers.  But that wasn't enough.

Neither will simply forcing Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoptions be enough for them.  As long as the Church stands against their agenda and goals, they will not rest.  The next assault in Illinois will be as in Britian; it will be an assault against marriage.


  1. I'm curious - is there any appetite in your circles for a suggestion frequently made on liberal blogs that governments get out of "marriage" altogether, certify something called "civil unions," and leave "marriage" as a strictly religious and personal ceremony?

  2. I'm not aware of any such thought in my circles.

    Given that our current struggles in Illinois revolve around civil unions and the free exercise of religion, such a situation would not at all solve the problem.

    We in the Church recognize that marriages do indeed have civil consequences and we respect the authority of the State to regulate marriages within certain limits. The difficulty comes when the State seeks to redefine marriage. I can call a dog a cat, but that doesn't mean the dog in fact becomes a cat. Marriage itself has a certain intrinsic reality that cannot be changed.

  3. Really? Your last sentence might hold up theologically, but it doesn't historically, given the heritage of polygamy, or expectations in some societies that marriages could be temporary. Marriage is a social institution, constructed like any other.

  4. Even in ancient Israel there was polygamy, but it was merely tolerated and was never seen as the ideal.

  5. Though to get back on my point, it seems like if the state were to start regulating marriage in a way that was in keeping with most of the society and the beliefs of, say, Congregationalists and Episcopalians, but not those of the Catholic Church, that stating that only the church can define marriage for itself is one avenue to avoid the outcome you fear.

  6. It would only stop it as a mask. The State would still force us to recognize civil unions as the equaivalent to marriage (in adoptions and foster care, for example, not to mention medical insurance plans and other such things) which we simply cannot do. A civil union is not a marriage and those who would enter a civil union would - pontentially - not be married (but having sexual relations) and, hence, living in a state of sin.

  7. Anonymous7:36 PM

    There was some discussion of this topic over at the "other" Fr. Z's blog yesterday with some enlightening commentary by his UK correspondents.

    In Britain, all marriages have to be witnessed by civil registrars. Clergy of the Church of England are recognized by law as civil registrars. For ceremonies performed in other churches, a civil registrar has to be invited to attend, witness the ceremony and sign the necessary documents.

    What this MP is proposing would, if it actually came to pass, likely NOT be a complete ban on all religious weddings (if for no other reason than that the Muslims would never stand for it), but a ban on civil registrars attending or recognizing weddings in churches deemed to be "discriminatory."

    If that occurred, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other couples would simply have to have separate civil registry weddings IN ADDITION to their religious ceremonies. This situation already exists in many countries (France, Italy, Monaco, etc.) where the state doesn't recognize church weddings. In fact the US is one of relatively few countries where religious wedding ceremonies are also recognized by the state.

    I agree this is a VERY disturbing development but the worst-case scenario may not be quite as dire as it appears.


  8. In most - if not all - States of the Union, clergy are agents of the State in so far as religious weddings are granted civil status.

    Don't be sure so sure they won't push beyond what the commenters are saying now. There was a time not too long ago that no one thought the present situation would come to pass, though some saw it coming.