Re “When the Law Is a Crime” (Editorial, 3/10): In Jesus Christ there is no male or female (sexism), no Greek or Jew (ethnocentrism or religious sectarianism), no slave or free (classism) because all are one in Jesus Christ.
There are countless species of life on earth in which intersex and natural sex-reversal is common. There are more than 30 known causes of atypical sex differentiation in humans. More than 1 percent of people are not simply a perfectly typical XX-female or XY-male. So why are these realities never even addressed? Homophobia is at the root of the denial in many societies that intersex and sex-reversed people exist. These religious societies even attempt to erase us by abortion or “corrective” surgeries without consent, and by shaming us into invisibility and silence.
How would the editors of America have responded to the legislation in Arizona that legitimized discrimination against gays by private businesses? [Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the legislation.]
The Arizona law and those in Africa seem to differ only in degree, not in essence. In Africa the state has used legislation to criminalize homosexuality. In Arizona the state is using the legal system to support discrimination. The African laws seem extreme, but the Arizona law is also an unjust law that legitimizes treating gays as less than equal human beings.
The issue in Arizona is complex. Here are the questions in my mind. Shouldn’t the business owner have the freedom to refuse to be part of an “event”? Isn’t discrimination against a person different from refusing to be part of an event? What if a Catholic owner of a catering company is approached by an abortion organization to provide food services? Should the Catholic owner be forced to take the job, even though what the event promotes is against his religion?
Does owning a business mean abandoning all your moral convictions? It seems legislation could be written to protect people from being forced to take part in an event they object to, for whatever reasons, without allowing discrimination against individuals who belong to a certain group.
Total Human Experience
John P. Langan, S.J., never disappoints in his clear analysis, but I have a few comments on his challenging article (“See the Person,” 3/10).
First, as baseball season soon begins, I am very conscious of the role of a “stance.” It is to help give a better angle, footing or posture to achieve a goal—that is, to hit the ball safely. Metaphorically then, there is no purpose to changing one’s “stance” regarding homosexual orientation and expression if one is not going to achieve the goal of evaluating and appreciating homosexual human personhood in ways that are seen as morally valid.
Second, although the article is comprehensive, it does not situate itself well within the total examination of human sexual orientation, expression, commitment, fecundity and love. Indeed, the word love is never even mentioned here.
Finally, although Father Langan agrees with Pope Francis to “see the whole person,” his approach still seems rooted in the biological, with nods to other dimensions of human sexual expression. Perhaps this must be so, but somehow seeing the whole person and knowing homosexual persons in long-committed and loving relationships surely must be appreciated to evaluate the totality of the morality of the homosexual and, ipso facto, heterosexual human experience.
A Complex Issue
To take a rigid position on the issue of homosexuality, be it doctrinal, legal or religious, seems to me almost impossible at this time. Respect for the dignity of every human touches many of the above areas of knowledge. The open discussion of homosexuality is now geographically worldwide, and there are conflicting legal, religious, biological, medical and cultural views. Its complexity does not escape any leader or reasonable person.
Pope and President
“When in Rome,” by John Carr (3/10), is sad and insidious. When Pope Francis meets with President Obama, I hope he praises him for all the struggles and constant opposition as he has tried to pass laws for a just minimum wage, overtime pay, preventing pollution and preserving the earth.
Mr. Obama has kept a well-balanced stance when it comes to foreign affairs. He will also be credited in history for a phenomenal undertaking to provide medical care for all.
Pope Francis will face similar challenges. The hierarchy and split membership within the church will take its toll. He has already failed to get cooperation from many bishops who chose not to solicit broad responses on the questionnaire of the family.
Pope Francis too will begin to age more than we can imagine—if he actually lives to achieve some of the needed changes. Who needs to learn lessons from whom?
Readers respond to “When the Law Is a Crime” (Editorial, 3/10).
How torn and in anguish our Catholic brothers in that region—and the world—must feel. Bravo America for your leadership in denouncing this grave error.
In a country that is 40 percent Roman Catholic, the church should not be surprised when the harsh, unscientific language the church uses to describe gay people (“intrinsically disordered”) is translated into harsh law. The church cannot dodge the real-world effect of its harsh language about gay people.
The answer to both Uganda and [and the now vetoed legislation in] Arizona is libertarianism: the non-aggression principle and freedom of association are the right way to approach both cases.
When sociologists of religion get bored, they restart debates on “the secularization thesis,” which, in effect, envisions the day when “sightings” of religion will be fewer and observers of religion will have too little work to justify their jobs. But has the progressive disestablishment of religion, whether in 1830 or 1947, led to decline in religion?
There were no “good old days” for religion, as the advocates of nostalgia picture them. When the churches were disestablished, First and Second and other “Great Awakenings” led to new religious prosperity....
Of course, “secularization,” under myriad definitions, has occurred and is occurring. Western Europe is usually held up as “Exhibit A.” But religious scholars cannot explain the trend by reducing it to court decisions, “law professors,” or “engaged progressives.” There are multiple causes for times of religious prosperity or depression. Reno and others who focus prematurely or almost solely on current political trends and moments could help us more by looking also, if not instead, at the worlds of entertainment, worship, commerce, the arts, habits, and concerns for the “common good.”