An important reminder from Patricia Miller about one primary reason we're seeing that "wave of firings and forced resignations of gay men and lesbians" at Catholic schools around the U.S., about which Michael Paulson wrote in a recent New York Times article that I discussed earlier in the week:
The freedom to discriminate against gay people in hiring is the second prong of the Catholic bishops’ 15-year effort to expand the definition of "religious liberty" to allow it to impose its religious precepts on others.
When the U.S. Catholic bishops claim that their religious freedom is being curtailed and is under siege as the Obama administration mandates contraceptive coverage as part of its Affordable Care Act, they also maintain--and it's important to remember this--that their religious freedom is being threatened by laws that prohibit discrimination in hiring and firing on grounds of sexual orientation. As Patricia Miller notes, their "religious freedom" initiative in the Fortnight for Freedom crusade is also all about maintaining their right, in the name of religious freedom, to ride roughshod over the human rights of LGBTI citizens of the U.S.
Miller notes that the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed the first two lawsuits against the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate on behalf of Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and Colorado Christian University, is working hand-in-hand with the USCCB and the Knights of Columbus to resist laws preventing discrimination against gay employees in hiring and firing:
To this end, the U.S. Catholic bishops have teamed up with the Knights of Columbus and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty to block the expansion of marriage equality in the states, push anti-gay marriage amendments, and seek constitutional protections for religious-based discrimination. The Becket Fund in particular has emerged as a powerhouse public interest law firm in pushing right-leaning definitions of religious liberty. It successfully argued the hugely influential Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court case that found a "ministerial exception" that can be used to exempt religious employers, such as Catholic schools, from anti-discrimination laws.
As she concludes, though (and I think she's very right about this), the bishops may have begun to push against the limits of their bogus religious freedom PR crusade as more and more Catholics like the young people at Eastside Catholic high school in suburban Seattle ask how Pope Francis's "Who am I to be judge?" can be reconciled with the bishops' unrelenting attack on the human rights of those who are gay.