Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kansas Catholic Conference Still Defending "Right" of Private Businesses to Discriminate on Grounds of Conscience

As Sarah Posner points out for Religion Dispatches today, even after the demise of Arizona's anti-gay bill, state Catholic conferences still continue to push for "religious freedom" legislation to "protect" Christians from gay folks as cakes are baked and flowers arranged: Posner cites Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, who recently told the Kansas City Star,

[T]he Catholic Conference also wants protections for non-clergy. HB 2453 would have shielded business owners, private employees and government employees who declined to serve couples on religious grounds, provisions which were opposed by gay rights activists as discriminatory.

[T]he Catholic Conference also wants protections for non-clergy. HB 2453 would have shielded business owners, private employees and government employees: the Catholic Conference of Kansas is arguing for a "Taco Bell exemption" for business owners and private employees who claim that their consciences are being violated when they're asked to sell cakes or flowers to gay couples. The idea of a Taco Bell exemption originates with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who are on record in their amicus brief defending Hobby Lobby, as well, with the assertion that private businesses have a "right" to discriminate on grounds of conscience.

As Matt Bruenig points out at Salon, this kind of rhetoric is the predictable last-ditch stand of those opposed to movements of human rights who recognize that they are losing their battle against human rights:

Historically, this has been a common last-ditch defensive posture for political factions that have lost their fight to deny others existential equality, whether on the basis of gender, race, sexuality or otherwise. First, they fight against existential equality outright, by limiting, for instance, equal access to schools for women, equal access to hotels for blacks, or equal marriage rights for gays. Second, once they’ve lost that battle, they try to defend pockets of discriminatory exclusion on some comical grounds that really it is the bigot whose rights are being trampled.

But as Bruenig also points out, you know what's funny about the religious right (USCCB included) and its absurd "religious freedom for me but not for thee" arguments attacking gay rights today? The religious right never defends the consciences of Christians who believe that the earth and its goods were given by God to all and not just to property owners--a position deeply entrenched in Christian history and reiterated over and over throughout the course of Christian history.

Wonder why?

And we keep asking why the Catholic church is perceived by a majority of Americans as more homophobic than any other religious group in the country!

The graphic is from the recent PRRI survey of American attitudes about LGBT issues.

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