The City of San Francisco recently labeled the Catholic Church to be a hateful organization and engaged in a tirade of anti-Catholic rhetoric. It’s not surprising that the City of San Francisco would engage in a childish rant because the Catholic Church reiterated a theological position that has been held for thousands of years, after all, they same council expressed support convicted cop-killers. What is surprising is that the attempt of the City to intervene in a purely ecclesiastical matter was ruled “constitutional” by a Carter-appointed federal judge.
In writing on the case, the federal judge states:
In view of Article IV, section 10, of the Considerations statement, Resolution 168-06 is a measured response. It does not constitute excessive entanglement under existing case law. There is no regulatory enforcement, no law adopted nor other action taken by virtue of the Resolution. It is merely the exercise of free speech rights by duly elected office holders. In sum, Resolution 168-06 does not create an impermissible entanglement between government and religion. Because plaintiffs have also failed to establish that Resolution 168-06 lacks a primarily secular purpose or a primarily secular effect, plaintiffs have failed to plead a cause of action under the Establishment Clause.
In short, that the public action of these officials in speaking on religious matters, in dictating that local Church officials should disregard Vatican directives, does not violate the Establishment Clause. Yet, somehow, when a public official prays in Jesus name that “entanglement” is so severe that the entire weight of the federal judiciary must come down upon it. Taking the common interpretation of the Separation of Church and State (despite that is not what it really means), how can this be reconciled? How can the Establishment Clause at once seek to avoid religiously-run states yet simultaneously allow state-run religions?
The court boldly proclaims that it is not San Francisco’s fault the conflict occurred. It never is the fault of the person behaving badly.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement, by its Considerations statement.
Wait, I thought there was no entanglement?
Let’s do a brief timeline. 33 AD â€“ Jesus dies, the Catholic Church is founded and holds among a great many other things, that Jewish teaching (which is thousands of years old at that point) on homosexuality is valid. 1776 AD â€“ some Spanish settlers come along and found San Francisco. 2006 AD â€“ In inventing entirely new family structures, the City of San Francisco has a foot-stomping temper tantrum that the Catholic Church decides not to change thousands-of-years-old theological doctrines to suit the whims of the City. That’s provocation?
The Catholic Church and its teaching have remained and will remain, unchanged, for centuries before San Francisco exists and centuries after San Francisco no longer exists. In fact, the idea that Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for a Church that has a population 1,735 times larger than that of San Francisco was picking a fight with the City is absurd. The City of San Francisco is a fart in the wind compared to a Church with 1.1 billion members in every country in the world. Somehow, I don’t think the CDF knows, much less cares, about the childish rants of city officials.
The City of San Francisco has deigned to tell the Church what it can or cannot believe. It has told local Church officials to disregard Church teaching or “face the consequences.” Catholic Charities in San Francisco simply believes that gays don’t make good parents. This presents no challenge to the freedom of gays to adopt because they can go to another agency. That’s the remarkable benefit to freedom; you can choose to do business with people who share your values instead of being dictated to from on high. Yet, to San Francisco, not accepting the dictums of the liberal elite amounts to hate.
As amusing as the cognitive dissonance of the City board is, infantile rants on the taxpayer dime show more hatred and contempt than the Catholic Church has shown. The only one engaging in name-calling and disparaging is San Francisco.
The federal court, in this case Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, has shown what the left-wing idea of separation of church and state means. It does not mean the institutions are actually separate. It means that religion most conform to whatever absurd and intellectually malformed ideas the left has on a given day. To them, the state must remain supreme.
John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for Blogcritics and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education. He is the current owner of BlogSoldiers, a blog-only traffic exchange.