It seems that when the majority religious sects have a government policy go against them and their religion – they make a legal claim demanding separation of church and state. They never ask for it when a policy – say the Faith Based Initiative – supports them or gives them an advantage – like government funding.
On April 3rd, The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sued the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (similar to a city council) for violating the 1st Amendment in passing a resolution asking the Archdiocese of San Francisco to ignore an edict from the Vatican to stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households through their Catholic Charities group.
The League is using the services of our buddies at Thomas More Law Center – who represented the Dover, PA school board last year in their lawsuit about their Intelligent Design school curriculum.
Positive Liberty has the text of the resolution at the heart of the lawsuit.
The Catholic League termed the resolution as “hate speech”.
According to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, “The demagoguery and virulent words of this resolution are reminiscent of the anti- Catholic bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan and the Know Nothings, which marred our Nation’s earlier history. San Francisco may as well have put up signs at the City limits: ‘Faithful Catholics Not Welcomed.”
Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling this matter, commented, “Our constitution forbids hostility toward any religion. In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco are abusing their authority as government officials and misusing the instruments of government to attack the Catholic Church. This egregious abuse of power is an outrage and a clear violation of the First Amendment.”
Yes, the 1st Amendment, and past court cases, do prohibit hostility toward religion – in laws enacted by a legislative body. If the Board of Supervisors had passed an ordinance that attempted to force Archbishop Niederauer and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to defy all discriminatory directives of Cardinal Levada, then it would be a good case of a violation, however since the article is a resolution, their claims are weaker.
Resolutions are non-binding and are expressions of the view of a public body. The San Francisco resolution addressed the issue of a foreign country “meddling” in the affairs of the citizens of the city. That foreign country is the Vatican. According to the US State Department – the Vatican IS a country.
The resolution doesn’t force Catholics to do anything. The Church can continue to teach against homosexuality and members of the Church can follow those teachings. The charity group can also continue to follow the Vatican edict.
It isn’t the first time the Archdiocese of San Francisco had an issue with the city. A few years ago the city passed a law requiring that businesses and groups that do business with the city had to provide domestic partner benefits to employees. The Archbishop complained but backed down when it found out how much of hit their social service group would take without city funds.
I think The Catholic League filed the suit because the make up of the US Supreme Court favors their views now that 5 members of the court happen to be Catholic. The League is probably shooting for the case going to the high court. If they succeed in their case then it would put a chill in any criticism of religion.