May 24, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - You would think that the bishops were condoning sexual abuse – or, God forbid in this topsy-turvy moral age, maybe even cigarette smoking – so outraged are many amongst the Canadian left. In a letter last week from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, one line has stimulated the war against religion like no other: “Furthermore, we support (believers’) right to conscientious objection as a fundamental expression of the freedom of conscience and religion.”
Yes, that means that Catholics – or the many other people of faith in this country, like evangelical Christians, Jews and Muslims – who do not support the concept or practice of same-sex marriage will not be forced to get on their knees and beg this progressive age to forgive the transgression of their outmoded thinking and anachronistic dogma. Specifically, it means that marriage commissioners should not be coerced to perform same-sex marriages.
For the chorus on the left who are insisting that human rights must trump religious freedom, it is time to acknowledge that religious freedom is a basic human right and that neither sexual orientation nor, for that matter, marriage can be construed as a human right. Sexual orientation is a descriptive term that can be defined as anything and therefore means nothing. No matter how one chooses to define or redefine it, marriage is a human choice – not a right – that may or may not be realized in one’s lifetime. So much for freedom of religion being trumped.
As history so well documents, there are no human rights without such a fundamental right as religious freedom. Most of twentieth century tyranny was aimed at the eradication of the Christian church in the hope that the death of Christianity would also mean the obliteration of the conscience and the non-recognition of right and wrong.
Has our society really become that misdirected and so unfocused on what is integral to a democracy and what is merely tangential, that libertines are prepared to jettison freedom of religion in order that homosexuals and others of less traditional sexual choices may walk through life without the danger of these choices being challenged? Are we so afraid of offending people and so insistent that every sexuality be applauded and reinforced that we must now check our basic philosophical contentions and religious convictions at the public forum door in order to avoid controversy or because refusing to perform a same-sex marriage is somehow a disavowal of human rights? This is surely madness.
The faith community that does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriage nor its sexual foundation is in no way endangering the human rights of the self-proclaimed gay community. There is no desire to marginalize their participation in society, reduce their influence upon the economy, impede their influence in the democratic process – there is no desire to force homosexuals to be anything other than what they view themselves and feel themselves to be. We do not insist upon their sanction or demand their agreement. In a democracy we are prepared to agree to disagree.
But not so for the anti-religious left. They demand much more from the religious community. They demand obedience. We may be allowed to ruminate on our thoughts but not to articulate these musings. In reality, they would be even more content if we did not even think differently from what they consider sound doctrine.
There is more than a hint of irony in this, as the faith-hating opponents of religious freedom have become intolerant, intransient and intolerable secular tyrants whose bullying rivals that of any theocratic state. The same people who would nullify religious freedom with one sweep are really no different from those who would impose a religious consistency upon every mind and brook no argument.
Religious freedom is not some disposable commodity. Yet for too many today it has been deemed to be just that and contingent upon the legislative flavour of the week.
David Krayden is the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies.