Monday, August 04, 2008

Faith-based organizations, charities, taxes, and discrimination: CA ruling really does not affect this

The Washington Times has an editorial on p B2 of the Sunday (Aug. 3) paper called “Religious Liberty” in which it claims that the California state supreme court’s ruling on gay marriage (blog entry here May 15) rules that “sexual orientation is a matter of discrimination” and that therefore religious organizations that receive government grants to provide services will have to stop providing the services to remain faithful to their beliefs. It pointed out that Catholic Charities in Boston had stopped its 103-year-old adoption program rather than comply with a Massachusetts law saying that gays be allowed to adopt children.

Actually, the ruling from the California court was more to the effect that California marriage law could cause gay individuals, even those not trying to marry, to be treated as second-class citizens when competing with heterosexual individuals, usually those with marital and familial commitments related to legal marriage.

In any case, there is a real problem when faith-based charities depend on taxes rather than private contributions, which can more easily take into account personal moral beliefs without running into government. But we know that problem from the Boy Scouts of America.

I’m not sure about the details in Massachusetts, but in most states, religious charities that provide social services with their own privately raised donations and particularly church offerings are free to follow their own religious teachings in administering their programs. That’s how it should be.

There’s an internal contradiction in the desire to prohibit gay adoption. I thought the trend was to get more people involved in raising the next generation. The message sent in religious doctrines that ban gays from raising children is that gender sexual conformity and performance itself has moral weight – perhaps intermingled with the personal development that leads up to it. That, after all, was one of the points of the second of three “Colors” films by Krzysztof Kieslowski (called “White”).

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