The Unexpected Consequences of Laws and Lies

Two of my recent posts at The American Conservative turned out to be about unintended consequences.  The first, "Drop Those Wedding Rings in the Name of the Law," covered the suit filed by the United Church of Christ in North Carolina to be allowed to perform private, unofficial, same-sex weddings.Currently, it is illegal for anyone who can conduct legal weddings to conduct extra-legal ones.  It's a bizarre constraint on religious practice, but the original purpose of the law has nothing to d … [Read more...]

Churches Should Be Leery of Patriotism

In the most recent issue of First Things, one paragraph in Grant Kaplan's essay "Celibacy as Political Resistance" really caught my attention.  He's writing about the USCCB's opposition to the contraception mandate, but I think his point is well-taken regardless of your position on that policy question: In response to the government’s decision to force Catholic institutions to comply with the new health care law, for example, one might have hoped for a strong, prophetic, and theologically seri … [Read more...]

Don’t Rely on the State to Legitimize your Faith

Germany's state-run schools all include religious education.  In most districts, students can pick from Catholic, Protestant, or the secular 'Civics' in order to get a grounding in ethics and philosophy.  Recently, one of Germany's states, responding to demographic change, has added 'Islam' to the mix.  After another holiday season of fights over state-sponsored Christmas displays and perennial cases of school prayer,  some American religious activists might envy Germany's casual integration of r … [Read more...]

Legal Shortcuts So Sharp You’ll Cut Yourself

Sorry for the absence, readers!  We've been short-staffed due to plague at work.  This week will be usual posts, and next week the atheist round of the Turing Test will begin.I'm a little troubled by the way same-sex marriage is becoming de facto legal in Pennsylvania.  When I was having SCOTUSblog parties back in June, I found the reasoning based on standing kinda messy.  If a law is challenged, it seems like the appropriate state officials should be obligated to defend it.  Ducking it s … [Read more...]

Sex Ed is Obviously Meant to Teach…

Last Friday, I was on Sheila Liaugminas's Relevant Radio show ("A Closer Look") with a couple other bloggers from the Catholic channel here (Calah Alexander, Sam Rocha, Betty Duffy).  We all sat down for a roundtable on sex-ed (the mp3 can be found here).The format was a little unconventional.  Instead of Sunday-morning-political-show-style crosstalk, where all the participants speak in dialogue (frequently overlapping dialogue) and question or build on the previous speaker's comments, S … [Read more...]

Yes, I am in favor of civil gay marriage!

It looks like folks thought I was being coy in Sunday's post about the knock-on effects of gay marriage.  In fact, I was trying to avoid having the "gay marriage: yay or nay" debate hijack the point I was making: that the advent of gay marriage has made people pause and ask exactly what marriage is instead of embracing or rejecting it in a knee-jerk way.  The argument I was making didn't have the moral stature of gay marriage as a premise, and I wanted it to discuss something orthogonal to the us … [Read more...]

If only I could throw dinner parties for semi-fictional characters…

I've been reading Hillary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety, and I'll admit I don't like it as well as Wolf Hall.  I don't feel the same intimacy with Robespierre that Wolf Hall gave me with Thomas Cromwell, and the distance is killing me.  However, I thought readers of the blog might like this dialogue between Camille Desmoulins and a French judge in the early days of the revolution. "I object to the use of the courts as instruments of the intrusive moralizing state""Really?"  The judge le … [Read more...]