Freedom of Religion is not Freedom of Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination

By | March 20, 2006

I am fed up with people claiming that the Freedom of Religion of the Catholic church and Boston’s Catholic Charities have been violated by the state’s insistence that they obey anti-discrimination laws. Which part of, “If you want to discriminate, then don’t take the state’s money,” do they not understand?

My wife and I have both been grinding our teeth about this for weeks. She even wrote a letter to the Boston Herald in response to a particularly egregious column, although she ended up not sending it in because someone else’s letter making many of the same points was published.

Today, however, the Herald ran a column by Kathleen Parker which was so egregious that I just had to send them a letter in response. The column doesn’t appear to be available on the Herald’s Web site, but a longer verson of it is available here. Here’s the letter I sent:

To the editor:

Only an idiot could fail to understand that the government’s authority to prohibit discrimination in publicly funded programs does not extend to private ones. Apparently, either Kathleen Parker is an idiot, or she thinks her readers are. Her suggestion that revoking Catholic Charities’ funding for a discriminatory adoption program could be a prelude to forcing the Catholic church to perform gay marriages is patently absurd.

Equally absurd is her assertion that Governer Romney’s proposed law would not authorize discrimination against protected classes other than gays. There are religions which consider blacks, Jews, or for that matter Catholics to be unsuitable parents. Would Parker have the government pick and choose which forms of religiously motivated discrimination should be publicly funded? That would be patently unconstitutional. For that matter, so is Romney’s proposed law.

Parker is right about one thing: Catholic Charities’ decision to stop facilitating adoptions will hurt vulnerable children. However, the fault for that lies not with the government’s enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, but rather with Catholic Charities’ decision to stop following them after doing so for decades without a word of complaint.

  Jonathan Kamens

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One thought on “Freedom of Religion is not Freedom of Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination

  1. sethg

    Any columnist who uses the phrase “homosexuals and lesbians” can be safely dismissed as an idiot.


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