Bishops as experts on “liberty”

The Catholic bishops have released another Declaration of Theocracy.

Sarah Posner reports

As expected, it’s basically a rehash of the same arguments the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty has been making for almost a year. This document, though, is even more pointed and hostile than previous statements, expressing disdain for (and even a refusal to acknowledge) court rulings against the Bishops, vowing not to obey “unjust laws,” and pledging to deploy “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” to resist “totalitarian incursions against religious liberty” this summer.

In other words, theocracy. Disobey laws, disobey judges, do what the bishops say “God” says instead. That. is. theocracy.

The Bishops’ statement complains about the treatment of Christian students on college campuses, alleging that “the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.” The CLS requires members and those wishing to hold leadership positions in the club to be professing Christians and to disavow “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle.” To gain official club status, the group requested an exemption from the school’s anti-discrimination policy, which the school denied, thus denying CLS official student organization status. In 2010, though, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the law school’s denial of official status to the group did not violate its free exercise rights. Yet the Bishops persist in claiming that this denial infringes on Christian student rights.

As the ACLU’s Paul Cates noted when the case was pending before the Court in early 2010:

If the court were to accept CLS’s claim that religious beliefs trump the need to abide by non-discrimination rules, all non-discrimination laws—the laws we have put in place to guarantee everyone an equal opportunity to earn a living, find housing and to obtain access to critical services including health care—would be in jeopardy.

And we would be living under a theocracy. That would be bad. Resist the bishops.


  1. unbound says

    Well, it is very important to them that the Catholic clergy are able to perform their religious liberties with the young boys. Those secular laws keep making it sound like they are doing bad things…which, of course, is oppression, right?

  2. sailor1031 says

    So in 2010 the very catholic supreme court said “hogwash” and RCC Inc executives still won’t accept it? Poppycock! Off with their mitres!!

  3. ema says

    …expressing disdain for (and even a refusal to acknowledge) court rulings against the Bishops, vowing not to obey “unjust laws,”…

    Hey, when, in the course of your trial, there’s evidence that your response to sexual abuse accusations is that the altar boy probably seduced the pedophile priest into abusing him, refusing to acknowledge court rulings and vowing not to obey the law is the way to go.

  4. briandavis says

    The bishop’s declaration contains a list of “concrete examples” of their religious liberties being attacked. Most of them make me want to shout that being prevented from discriminating against someone is not a violation of your rights. But there is one item where they seem to have a point.

    This new Alabama law makes it illegal for a Catholic priest to baptize, hear the confession of, celebrate the anointing of the sick with, or preach the word of God to, an undocumented immigrant. Nor can we encourage them to attend Mass or give them a ride to Mass. It is illegal to allow them to attend adult scripture study groups, or attend CCD or Sunday school classes. It is illegal for the clergy to counsel them in times of difficulty or in preparation for marriage. It is illegal for them to come to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings or other recovery groups at our churches.

    If this is accurate then Alabama has really gone overboard with this law.

  5. Rudi says

    Awww, more poor Cwistians who are going to scweam and scweam until dey get their ice cweam.

    For crying out loud, how pathetic are these people? Why are they so desperate for my hatred?

  6. F says

    The real pisser is that the huge percentage of the laity who do not agree with almost any of the crap the Church spouts will not do a goddamned thing about it. “But my parish/priest isn’t like that.” You have power which you are refusing to use, dumbasses. (And I’m looking right at you, my dear parents.)

  7. Darkling says

    Why is it that “religious liberty” always seems to boil down to wanting to impose their religion on others?

  8. eric says

    @4: without knowing the Alabama law in question, I will bet that it is a general anti-immigration law making it a crime to knowingly harbor an illegal immigrant.

    I’ll bet it has nothing to do with Catholicism per se. That RCC clergy are affected exactly the same way every other Alabama citizen is affected. And that – while the law is evil and draconian – the RCC is being deceptive and wrongity wrong wrong in trying to make you believe that the law has anything to do with preventing clergy from doing clergy stuff.

  9. Jeff Sherry says

    The two things I see in this declaration are: The Church is above American law and that the Catholic Church has aligned itself with the U.S. religious right.

  10. Jeremy Shaffer says

    briandavis at 4 and eric at 9- The anti- immigration law in Alabama is seriously draconian, even though there are some that feel that it does not go far enough. That said eric’s assessment is basically correct: it does effect everyone equally and, as far as I can tell, does not single out churches specifically though it may use them as an illustrative example. I will give the RCC some due since they are one of the main voices speaking out against the law and their influence can be helpful in that endeavor, even if I think the RCC purpose for doing so is self- serving.

    That being said the law is currently being reviewed as they found that it adversely effects “good” (read: white) immigrants and not just “bad” (read: brown) immigrants as intended. This was discovered recently when a visiting German executive from Mercades- Benz was arrested for not having the proper identification on him. Since one of the major employment and economic sources we have in Alabama is the M-B manufacturing plant, one can imagine that this did not go over too well.

  11. Jeremy Shaffer says

    This document, though, is even more pointed and hostile than previous statements, expressing disdain for (and even a refusal to acknowledge) court rulings against the Bishops, vowing not to obey “unjust laws,”…

    I’m okay with them refusing to obey laws they find to be unjust through acts of civil disobedience but for some reason I get the feeling that, were they to engage in such action, they would also demand that they not receive the prescribed punishment that is the result of breaking said law.

  12. had3 says

    Jeremy Shaffer @ 12; I so agree with you! It used to get under my skin when people would say that “X” was committing a crime but because it was perceived to be on behalf of the U.S., it was acceptable. My response was, “I understand that you may do something you believe is right, even if it is illegal, but you still have to be subjected to the consequences of the illegal act or else it’s a free-for-all.”

  13. Jeremy Shaffer says

    had3- I would also state that they shouldn’t receive harsher punishments either. There was a recent episode of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC that talked about this a little.

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