May 17, 2007
In 2003, lawmakers in Sweden passed Hate Crime laws. That summer, Pentecostal pastor Ake Green was arrested at his church. His crime: his preaching from Sacred Scripture on the subject of homosexual behavior. Because he had publicly criticized such behavior, he was charged with hate speech. He was given a month in jail.
Prosecutors were not happy. They tried to up the sentence to six months for his hate speech against homosexuals. The case drew international attention. The case made it up to the Supreme Court in Stockholm. Eventually the pastor was acquitted. But not because of Swedish law. Rather, he was given protection because of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Recently the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution denouncing the Catholic Church as "hateful," "defamatory," "insensitive" and "ignorant." Why? Because the Church is not in favor of using its adoption agencies for homosexual adoption. Federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel would not strike down the resolution. In effect, Judge Patel ruled that the Catholic Church's moral teaching against homosexual activity merited such a hostile resolution. Her decision moves the Court in the direction of limiting the Church’s freedom to preach according to her faith and morals.
In England, this past January, Roman Catholic adoption agencies were judged as practicing discrimination against homosexuals because they would not place adopted children in families of same-sex couples. Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that church-run adoption agencies could not opt-out of gay rights legislation permitting adoption. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor warned that the agencies would close rather than accept these rules that violate Catholic moral teaching.
In March, 2006, Catholic Charities in Boston announced that it would shut down its adoption services. The reason: it could not follow State laws requiring the Catholic agency to adopt children to homosexual couples. As a result, Catholic Charities agencies across the country have begun to examine their own practices. The issue comes down to following traditional Church teaching on morality or the new antidiscrimination laws.
In Massachusetts, the Estabrook Elementary School religiously follows the mandated statewide curriculum that seeks to break down prejudice and discrimination. They have children read books such as “
Who's In a Family?” and
“Molly's Family.” These books include same-sex parents, along with others. Another book is
King and King, a story about two men who fall in love and marry.
Some parents were not happy. They brought suit against the Lexington Public Schools because their children were being exposed to stories about same-sex couples. For these parents, marriage as defined between a man and a woman is part of their religious tenets. Therefore, they argued that their constitutional rights to free exercise of religion were violated, as well as their rights as parents to raise their children according to their convictions.
Federal Court Judge Mark Wolf dismissed their lawsuit against the Lexington Public Schools. He said it was simply a matter of teaching diversity. Interesting fact. Massachusetts’ law allows parents to take their children out of classes on human sexuality. The judge ruled teaching about same-sex unions is not teaching about sexuality. In his mind, it is simply about tolerance of others and the fact of diversity in society.
In effect, the struggle to redefine marriage is spilling over into the limiting of parental rights and religious freedom. One parent involved in the lawsuit was Robin Worthlin. Her child was in second grade. Another parent was David Parker. His child was a six-year-old in kindergarten!
To be continued…