mirrorshard: (Default)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
There's two things I really don't get about this business. First, the Church are claiming that complying with anti-discrimination regulations (binding on organizations accepting government money) and placing children with gay couples is against their principles.

If you'll excuse my language - bollocks it is. Their religious principles, even the bad, wrong, counterproductive ones that say homosexuality is a sin (and if I recall correctly, that's from Leviticus. The same book of the Torah Bible that prohibits the wearing of mixed fibres, advocates the death penalty for witches and women taken in adultery, and lays down the Jewish dietary laws) have nothing whatsoever to say about accepting government funding. With the option of going it alone freely available, suggesting that their religious principles are being compromised is complete nonsense.

Secondly, the Church are claiming that if they don't get an exemption, they'll have to scream and scream until they're sick close their four adoption agencies, which between them place 200 children a year. "Oh, no," they say. "It's not a matter of sulking at all. We'll just have to close for lack of funding if we can't accept the conditions attached to your dirty dirty government money."

If you'll excuse my language - bollocks they will. This is, let me remind you, the Catholic Church we're talking about. The same millennia-old incomprehensibly rich organisation that spent most of its existence running a substantial fraction of the globe. The same guys who, for a long time, more or less defined civilised Western society... we used to call it 'Christendom' for a reason.

And they're telling us they can't afford to run four adoption agencies, in the faith-based charitable sector, with all the cheap labour costs that that implies? My heart goes out to them, really it does.

Whoever's using the World's Smallest Violin, please pass it back, the Catholic Church needs YOU.

Date: 2007-01-25 07:35 pm (UTC)
ext_3375: Banded Tussock (Default)
From: [identity profile] hairyears.livejournal.com


There's converse view: it is discriminatory and possibly illegal to exclude non-catholics from the ranks of the clergy - but if you compelled the Church to do so that would be a severe attack on religious freedom. Think it through: can you compel a church or a religious individual to act against their professed beliefs?

I believe that the answer is 'yes', under extreme circumstances in which those beliefs, or actions arising from them, are damaging to society to such an extent that repression is the only course of action that will preserve order, racial harmony, and the ability of society to maintain the freedoms of the majority. Pursuing a nebulous 'greater good' and abstract principles of individual choice doesn't cut it.

The point at issue is that those adoption agency exists to place Catholic children in Catholic households, where they will be brought up in the Catholic faith by adults whose professed beliefs, behaviour and lifestyle are in keeping with Catholic doctrine. Imposing a legal duty on the agency to place the child in any other household is, in the view of the Church, a legal compulsion to remove the child from the community of believers and raise the child outside the Catholic faith.

That's very, very close to an act of the state requiring a Catholic to renounce the creed in public.

I believe that the adoption agencies should be free to place a child identified as Catholic in a Catholic household. I am not so sure that they should receive public funding in doing so, when their actions discriminate against other groups in a way that is contrary to public policy. That's the grey area here - funding and access to the resources of the state - not the issue of how and by whom the church believes children should be raised in the faith.

Actually, I beliece that it is immoral to indoctrinate anyone in the delusions of religion until they are mentally an adult and can formulate their own opinions. But as raising children in the faith is a core activity of religions, imposing that view on others would constitute a war of oppression against sizeable minorities in the population.

In expanding the principles of equality, and extending one set of freedoms, we've run up against another set of freedoms - and, if the underlying principle of anti-discrimination in society is not the achievemnt of perfection, but the pursuit of a 'greatest good for the greatest number' process that preserves harmony in society, then this particular spat with the church may represent an overall lessening of our freedoms and a illiberal misuse of the State's authority. So we have to let the adoption agencies and the church do as they please, more or less, and take care that the usual anti-clerical agitators don't see the issue as some kind of bandwagon.

Date: 2007-01-25 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
Adoption agencies, whatever their faith background, should obey state law and should not discriminate unlawfully against prospective parents. They also shouldn't discriminate against children. Around 10% of these children will turn out to be queer. If the agency is homophobic and the parents are buying into that, then there is a strong chance that such children will have a wretched time of it and experience homophobia from their adoptive parents. The consequences of this are serious: suicide rates are particularly high amongst young gay men in particular (http://www.mind.org.uk/Information/Factsheets/Diversity/Factsheetlgb.htm), along with incidence of bullying and so forth. Many young queer people are rejected by their families, even thrown out into the street. Because of this, I feel that no child should be placed with an avowedly homophobic family for risk of ill-treatment. How would we react if the Catholic Church dragged out some biblical quotation that was supposedly against disability or mixed-race, and claimed their right to reject all disabled or mixed-race parents (or children, come to that)?

Date: 2007-01-25 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
I don't think we fundamentally disagree. I'm uncomfortable with the identification of children as 'Catholic children' rather than 'children from a Catholic family' or the like, but I'm not sure it isn't a moot point in these circumstances.

Can you compel a church or a religious individual to act against their professed beliefs?

You and I both know, some of these professed beliefs are as nutty as weasel-free fruitcake. Some are actively harmful - this one is, given the suicide rate amongst young gay men, largely due to familial and social rejection. It's not like some extremes, though, which condone or even preach murder on religious grounds.

I really don't see a meaningful distinction between professed religious beliefs and other kinds of professed belief. They can hold any belief they want, as far as I'm concerned, but if they try to put it on a privileged pedestal because it's Religious, we get to point and laugh. They just can't put dangerous or harmful ones into effect. We can't legislate against beliefs, but we can legislate against behaviour, if we're willing to call it wrong or bad, or (as in this case) if we're willing to decide that it breaks the terms and conditions of continued funding.

I also don't see a problem with giving them a grace period in which to adjust to a new legislatory or regulatory climate - this just seems normal. At the very least, they should be allowed to carry on as before until the end of the current funding period.

Of course, what will actually happen is that they'll identify some related factors and start turning prospective gay couples down on the basis of that instead.

For that matter, how many gay couples actually go to Catholic adoption agencies in any case? Given that the agencies place 200 children a year between them, which almost certainly means rather fewer than 200 families adopting children, the number of prospective adopters can't be that vast, and I'd suspect that a rather lower proportion of them than in the general population will be gay.

The tragedy is, gay Catholic couples would probably be ideal for a gay teenage adoptee from a Catholic background, but this is pretty much the exact scenario the adoption management probably want to forestall.

As regards an overall lessening of our freedoms, to be honest I'd far rather the state (involving elected and accountable officials) managed this particular aspect than that a religious body with a top-down appointed hierarchy and an appallingly bad record on children's rights did. But yes, they do have the complete right to withdraw themselves from state oversight and continue as they have been, and I wouldn't try to take that away from them.

Much as I'd like to.

Date: 2007-01-26 09:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thirstypixel.livejournal.com
Think it through: can you compel a church or a religious individual to act against their professed beliefs?

Can you compel a racist individual to act against their beliefs? Yes you can, where those beliefs contravene agreed minimum standards of conduct, i.e. the law. Otherwise, we may not agree with them, but they are free to be racist.

I support freedom of religion, but a religion is no more than a set of beliefs. These beliefs are not necessarily any more sincere, important, or fervently held than any other kinds of belief. Everyone should be able to think what they want, and do what they want with as few exceptions as possible, but the law is supposed to rule out what cannot be reasonably accepted, and it should in this case.

Date: 2007-01-26 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lizw.livejournal.com
The point at issue is that those adoption agency exists to place Catholic children in Catholic households, where they will be brought up in the Catholic faith by adults whose professed beliefs, behaviour and lifestyle are in keeping with Catholic doctrine.

No, they don't. Catholic adoption agencies in the UK will place children with Christians of other denominations, non-Christians, single parents, unmarried parents and parents who use contraception. Just not with gay parents. As far as I can see, it's the purest hypocrisy and bigotry.

Date: 2007-01-25 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fjm.livejournal.com
Funding isnt' the issue. They'd be breaking the law even if they didn't accept state funding.

--
Interesting article in today's Independent on the difficulty of finding head teachers these days. Apparently the faith schools find it hardest to recruit, with the Catholic faith schools really struggling.

Many of the people who work for the Catholic adoption agencies might actually disagree with the Cardinal's statements. If forced to discriminate openly, I wonder how many staff will drift away? Never mind the disproportionate number of lesbians I meet who are social workers of some kind.

Date: 2007-01-25 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Funding isnt' the issue. They'd be breaking the law even if they didn't accept state funding.

Hm, good point. Most of the arguments I've seen against it have focused on the terms-and-conditions aspect, rather than the outright-illegal aspect.

That's an interesting point about staffing difficulties, too - that could well be a much more likely reason for them to have to close than lack of funding would be.

Date: 2007-01-26 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
Oh hell yes, my ex-girlfriend (as gay as they come) did a stint in social work and said they're largely queer there.

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