Catholics will stop social services if D.C. passes gay marriage law

Catholic Church gives D.C. ultimatum on same-sex marriage issue – washingtonpost.com:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

"If the city requires this, we can't do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem." . . . .

Catholic Charities, the church’s social services arm, is one of dozens of nonprofit organizations that partner with the District. It serves 68,000 people in the city, including the one-third of Washington’s homeless people who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church.

Is this the right thing to do?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    is is an evil thing to do, but the evil and the blame are directly with the corrupt City of Washington, DC, Council and officials who essentially demand that in order to provide social services, you need to be secular.

    So, has Lutheran Social Services issue a similar statement as the Archdiocese?

  • Carl Vehse

    is is an evil thing to do, but the evil and the blame are directly with the corrupt City of Washington, DC, Council and officials who essentially demand that in order to provide social services, you need to be secular.

    So, has Lutheran Social Services issue a similar statement as the Archdiocese?

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    While I think resistance to this law is necessary, I’m not sure this is really the right path. It’s true that we are called by God through Scripture to “discriminate” “against” homosexuals (of course “discriminate” merely means to recognize a difference, and any such recognition on the part of Christians isn’t or at least shouldn’t be “against” homosexuals but for them). Still, we are called to be merciful and charitable as well. Choosing one over the other doesn’t seem appropriate.

    Perhaps civil disobedience would be more appropriate in this case. Continue the charities, disobey the law, and let the chips fall where they may. Pay for the legal costs and fines against employees (if any) out of the charity’s funds. If there is no legal action, they are still fulfilling both callings. If there IS legal action, then it will be homosexual activists crushing a charity rather than Christians ceasing to be charitable for the sake of moralism.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    While I think resistance to this law is necessary, I’m not sure this is really the right path. It’s true that we are called by God through Scripture to “discriminate” “against” homosexuals (of course “discriminate” merely means to recognize a difference, and any such recognition on the part of Christians isn’t or at least shouldn’t be “against” homosexuals but for them). Still, we are called to be merciful and charitable as well. Choosing one over the other doesn’t seem appropriate.

    Perhaps civil disobedience would be more appropriate in this case. Continue the charities, disobey the law, and let the chips fall where they may. Pay for the legal costs and fines against employees (if any) out of the charity’s funds. If there is no legal action, they are still fulfilling both callings. If there IS legal action, then it will be homosexual activists crushing a charity rather than Christians ceasing to be charitable for the sake of moralism.

  • Joe

    I think it may be the right thing to do because it would prevent the Catholics from considering their own teachings and convictions when faced with an adoption request from non repentant same-sex couples. If the Catholics chose to keep running the adoption services then they have to comply with the law. One thing that is not clear to me is if this law is limited solely to programs using public funds. If that is the case, then the path is clear. Try to prevent the law and if you lose, stop working with the City – but don’t stop being charitable. Operate a separate, not City affiliated, network of charities. It may be smaller and it may cost more but that can’t be helped.

  • Joe

    I think it may be the right thing to do because it would prevent the Catholics from considering their own teachings and convictions when faced with an adoption request from non repentant same-sex couples. If the Catholics chose to keep running the adoption services then they have to comply with the law. One thing that is not clear to me is if this law is limited solely to programs using public funds. If that is the case, then the path is clear. Try to prevent the law and if you lose, stop working with the City – but don’t stop being charitable. Operate a separate, not City affiliated, network of charities. It may be smaller and it may cost more but that can’t be helped.

  • Carl Vehse

    Imprecatory prayers by the Church should also be included.

  • Carl Vehse

    Imprecatory prayers by the Church should also be included.

  • Kirk

    I’m with Matt completely on this one. I really do understand the Church’s concern, but I think that with the amount of services that they provide, they have a bargaining chip. True, their using that chip now, but it makes them look like bigots. If they wait until after the gay marriage ordinance passes, it would make the city and gay activists look anti-religious. I think that one way or the other, the city will probably create an exemption that addresses the Catholic’s complaint, but just from a PR standpoint, it might have been better to wait.

  • Kirk

    I’m with Matt completely on this one. I really do understand the Church’s concern, but I think that with the amount of services that they provide, they have a bargaining chip. True, their using that chip now, but it makes them look like bigots. If they wait until after the gay marriage ordinance passes, it would make the city and gay activists look anti-religious. I think that one way or the other, the city will probably create an exemption that addresses the Catholic’s complaint, but just from a PR standpoint, it might have been better to wait.

  • Bruce Gee

    “Is this the right thing to do?”

    Absolutely.

  • Bruce Gee

    “Is this the right thing to do?”

    Absolutely.

  • Carl Vehse

    For the Archdiocese to publicly say ANYTHING that implies they plan to intentionally break the law could itself be taken as evidence of a conspiracy within the Archdiocese to break the law. That would not be a good thing.

  • Carl Vehse

    For the Archdiocese to publicly say ANYTHING that implies they plan to intentionally break the law could itself be taken as evidence of a conspiracy within the Archdiocese to break the law. That would not be a good thing.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well I think this is a two way street, and the city ought to consider hard what they are doing before the do it. If the city can’t handle these problems themselves they ought not make it hard for the Catholics to do it.
    That said I think the problem goes a bit deeper when the church starts contracting with the city to do these sorts of things, rather than just doing them themselves. I don’t know which way the money is flowing here, but…
    And though I agree the Catholics have a political right to do this, I’m not sure it is the right or loving thing to do. As I read this it seems it is all law.
    Carl,
    Lutheran Social Services? like we Lutherans are near as involved as the Catholics with this stuff. And even when we are, Lutheran Social Services probably rallied for the law to be passed, as half if not more than half of that organization is run by the ELCA, and they probably thought that social service meant marching in Gay Pride day.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well I think this is a two way street, and the city ought to consider hard what they are doing before the do it. If the city can’t handle these problems themselves they ought not make it hard for the Catholics to do it.
    That said I think the problem goes a bit deeper when the church starts contracting with the city to do these sorts of things, rather than just doing them themselves. I don’t know which way the money is flowing here, but…
    And though I agree the Catholics have a political right to do this, I’m not sure it is the right or loving thing to do. As I read this it seems it is all law.
    Carl,
    Lutheran Social Services? like we Lutherans are near as involved as the Catholics with this stuff. And even when we are, Lutheran Social Services probably rallied for the law to be passed, as half if not more than half of that organization is run by the ELCA, and they probably thought that social service meant marching in Gay Pride day.

  • Carl Vehse

    It would be worthwhile, given the upcoming LCMS convention and the already ongoing political campaigning on various confessional and liberal Lutheran blogs, to have a statement, one way or the other, from the Lutheran Social Services.

    As the saying goes, sometimes silence is golden, sometimes it’s just yellow.

  • Carl Vehse

    It would be worthwhile, given the upcoming LCMS convention and the already ongoing political campaigning on various confessional and liberal Lutheran blogs, to have a statement, one way or the other, from the Lutheran Social Services.

    As the saying goes, sometimes silence is golden, sometimes it’s just yellow.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The Catholic archdiocese of Boston in 2006 was forced to give up an excellent hundred year old adoption program due to a state law that required the agency to allow gay couples to adopt.

    There could well come a time when serious, principled discussion by opponents of homosexuality behavior and marriage will be regarded as bigoted, homophobic hate speech.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The Catholic archdiocese of Boston in 2006 was forced to give up an excellent hundred year old adoption program due to a state law that required the agency to allow gay couples to adopt.

    There could well come a time when serious, principled discussion by opponents of homosexuality behavior and marriage will be regarded as bigoted, homophobic hate speech.

  • fws

    #10 peter leavitt

    the mormons did not need to abandon a similar program in massachusetts. why? they received no state funding, therefore they did not need to comply with state laws in certain areas.

    This is a big part of the story no one mention. If you want religious freedom, don´t expect to receive government subsidies.

    but wow…

    “Fearful that they could be forced, …, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.”

    huh? this is some sort of christian/religious moral quandry? since when is that?

  • fws

    #10 peter leavitt

    the mormons did not need to abandon a similar program in massachusetts. why? they received no state funding, therefore they did not need to comply with state laws in certain areas.

    This is a big part of the story no one mention. If you want religious freedom, don´t expect to receive government subsidies.

    but wow…

    “Fearful that they could be forced, …, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.”

    huh? this is some sort of christian/religious moral quandry? since when is that?

  • Matthew 25

    It’s wrong, but no different from Christians using abortion to oppose the extension of health care to the poor. The church has forgotten Christ.

  • Matthew 25

    It’s wrong, but no different from Christians using abortion to oppose the extension of health care to the poor. The church has forgotten Christ.

  • Joe

    Matthew 25 – no one is using abortion to prevent poor people for getting health care. People are opposing having the federal gov’t pay for abortions via the public option. Also, health care and health insurance are not the same thing.

    Frank – Is dead right on the state funding aspect.

  • Joe

    Matthew 25 – no one is using abortion to prevent poor people for getting health care. People are opposing having the federal gov’t pay for abortions via the public option. Also, health care and health insurance are not the same thing.

    Frank – Is dead right on the state funding aspect.

  • Rev. Joseph Eggleston

    “Lutheran Social Services? like we Lutherans are near as involved as the Catholics with this stuff. ”

    Bror,

    Catholic Charities reports income of just under $4 Billion, annually. Lutheran Social Services reports $16.6 Billion. The Catholics claim a higher number of people served than LSS (over 8 million for the Catholics, with just under 6 for LSS) but the two are in the same ball park.

    Whether or not the ELCA-affiliated agencies support the homosexual agenda or not, I can’t say; but Lutheran Social Services is a huge collection of service agencies. Its size and scope easily rivals any other.

  • Rev. Joseph Eggleston

    “Lutheran Social Services? like we Lutherans are near as involved as the Catholics with this stuff. ”

    Bror,

    Catholic Charities reports income of just under $4 Billion, annually. Lutheran Social Services reports $16.6 Billion. The Catholics claim a higher number of people served than LSS (over 8 million for the Catholics, with just under 6 for LSS) but the two are in the same ball park.

    Whether or not the ELCA-affiliated agencies support the homosexual agenda or not, I can’t say; but Lutheran Social Services is a huge collection of service agencies. Its size and scope easily rivals any other.

  • DonS

    This is the right thing to do. As a faith-based organization, regardless of the good you are doing through your charitable efforts, your primary obligation is to stand up for and promote the tenets of your faith. In this case, the answer is obvious. Catholic Charities can no longer run social programs for the District. As Frank and others suggested above, they will need to conduct their charitable operations on their own, using their own private funding.

  • DonS

    This is the right thing to do. As a faith-based organization, regardless of the good you are doing through your charitable efforts, your primary obligation is to stand up for and promote the tenets of your faith. In this case, the answer is obvious. Catholic Charities can no longer run social programs for the District. As Frank and others suggested above, they will need to conduct their charitable operations on their own, using their own private funding.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Is this the right thing to do?”

    Yes. Without hesitation, yes.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Is this the right thing to do?”

    Yes. Without hesitation, yes.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWA, the fact remains that an excellent private/public partnership Catholic adoption agency had to shutter its doors due to the militant gays who managed to pass a law requiring such agencies to allow gay adoptions.

    It’s well and good to be a purist and keep such agencies free of public funds, though in a reasonable world church-related adoption agencies who object to gay parenting ought to be exempt from such laws.

    No wonder that the gay militants with these hardball tactics have lost the favor of the public when the issue of a gay marriage referendum comes up.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWA, the fact remains that an excellent private/public partnership Catholic adoption agency had to shutter its doors due to the militant gays who managed to pass a law requiring such agencies to allow gay adoptions.

    It’s well and good to be a purist and keep such agencies free of public funds, though in a reasonable world church-related adoption agencies who object to gay parenting ought to be exempt from such laws.

    No wonder that the gay militants with these hardball tactics have lost the favor of the public when the issue of a gay marriage referendum comes up.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, the fact remains that an excellent private/public partnership Catholic adoption agency had to shutter its doors due to the militant gays who managed to pass a law requiring such agencies to allow gay adoptions.

    It’s well and good to be a purist and keep such agencies free of public funds, though in a reasonable world church-related adoption agencies who object to gay parenting ought to be exempt from such laws.

    No wonder that the gay militants with these hardball tactics have lost the favor of the public when the issue of a gay marriage referendum comes up.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, the fact remains that an excellent private/public partnership Catholic adoption agency had to shutter its doors due to the militant gays who managed to pass a law requiring such agencies to allow gay adoptions.

    It’s well and good to be a purist and keep such agencies free of public funds, though in a reasonable world church-related adoption agencies who object to gay parenting ought to be exempt from such laws.

    No wonder that the gay militants with these hardball tactics have lost the favor of the public when the issue of a gay marriage referendum comes up.

  • wayne pelling

    I can understand the RCC walking away from adoption aspects of its Social service programs,given that the gaydom is inconsistent with Christian views of the family ,but to withdraw services in homelessness and health care would be going too far.

  • wayne pelling

    I can understand the RCC walking away from adoption aspects of its Social service programs,given that the gaydom is inconsistent with Christian views of the family ,but to withdraw services in homelessness and health care would be going too far.

  • Ryan

    The title of this post is unfortunate. They are not withdrawing all social services, but those with contracts with the City/Government. This necessarily means a reorgination of how things are done, the RC church will never stop providing charity, but it does mean the end of many current programs government aided programs.

    I believe this is the right thing to do – to borrow roughly from a non RomanCatholic – when ones conscience is bound to the Word of God it is not safe to against it.

  • Ryan

    The title of this post is unfortunate. They are not withdrawing all social services, but those with contracts with the City/Government. This necessarily means a reorgination of how things are done, the RC church will never stop providing charity, but it does mean the end of many current programs government aided programs.

    I believe this is the right thing to do – to borrow roughly from a non RomanCatholic – when ones conscience is bound to the Word of God it is not safe to against it.

  • Ryan

    Wow not enough caffeine yet, sorry about the typos.

  • Ryan

    Wow not enough caffeine yet, sorry about the typos.

  • wayne pelling

    We have a similar problem here in the State of Victoria Australia as regards abortion law reform,in that this nefarious law stops prolife health professionals from refusing to refer a woman seeking an abortion to a doctor whom will. in other words it is an attack on the right of conscience.The Arcdiocese even raised the issue of transferring their public hospitals over to the State Government-who already look after public hospitals-and walking away from health care. i believe that there may be challenge to this law in the High Court of Australia. tHE GREENS- a group with toxic policies in general- firmly supported this law and their one member of State Parliament is quite a bigot

  • wayne pelling

    We have a similar problem here in the State of Victoria Australia as regards abortion law reform,in that this nefarious law stops prolife health professionals from refusing to refer a woman seeking an abortion to a doctor whom will. in other words it is an attack on the right of conscience.The Arcdiocese even raised the issue of transferring their public hospitals over to the State Government-who already look after public hospitals-and walking away from health care. i believe that there may be challenge to this law in the High Court of Australia. tHE GREENS- a group with toxic policies in general- firmly supported this law and their one member of State Parliament is quite a bigot


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