or, "JT: You're wrong!"
provocative post title?
But seriously. It seems like we're doing this a lot lately, JT and I. Rebutting each other I mean. (*teehee immature giggles*)
You know why? Because part of being in law school, or a philosopher, or a thinking person devoted to logic, is to parse arguments -- to find holes in them, and to play devil's advocate.
That said, when I write this rebuttal please don't think that I advocate the Pope's position. I'm just showing you the flip side of the coin. Feel free to respond with "Ravenna: You're wrong!"
As JT (not-so) kindly pointed out
yesterday, there's proposed equal rights legislation in the UK that which has the Pope in a tizzy. I heard about it on BBC radio, not to give away the secret to how I come up with blog topics, and I think the BBC News article
covers it well.
What's got the Pope so upset exactly? Well, one way to phrase it would be to say that he wants the Church to retain the right to discriminate against homosexuals. That's the way that makes the Church and all religions look downright evil (a point I don't personally contest). The other way to phrase it would be in a legal context -- to say that he wants the Church to retain independent governance and freedom from religious interference. Sound familiar
This would never even make the news in America, let alone make legislation. Because we have that little thing called the "Free Exercise" clause. When I took a class on non-profit organizations last Spring, I was appalled but in no way surprised to find that religious organizations can do basically anything they want without the government stepping in and mandating what or how. And you know what? That's how we want it!
It's the same clause that prevents government mandating we pray in schools, the same clause that makes courthouses remove the 10 commandments from their walls, and the same clause that lets Westboro Baptist
decry "God Hates Fags!" whether we agree with it or not.
We shouldn't be pissed off at the Pope for demanding of the UK government what they are entitled to, and what they would have (what all Churches do have) in America: the ability to say to the legislators "Yeah that's nice, but what has it got to do with us?
If there's a problem here, it isn't with the Church per se. It's with the law, and the institution of law.
Don't ask "Why does the Church want special treatment?" Instead ask yourself, "Why does the law afford special treatment to religious organizations?"
I think if you probe into the First Amendment, its purposes, history, and caselaw long enough, you'll be surprised by your answer.