I came across an article today: "Catholic profs told to report opposition to 'gay marriage' as harassment :: Catholic News Agency (CNA),” that is troubling in one sense, and downright chilling in another sense. The troubling sense of the article is that a Catholic university (Marquette) has had a training session which tells them to report opposition to so-called “same sex marriage” as “harassment.” The article reports a spokesman from Marquette as saying:
Brian Dorrington, senior director of communications at Marquette University, told CNA Nov. 21 that the university requires all employees, faculty, staff and student employees, to complete an anti-harassment module “in accordance with federal law and university policy,” He added that harassment training “includes the latest changes in law, and workplace diversity training reflects developing regulations.”
He said the presentation uses “hypothetical scenarios” are “teaching tools do not necessarily equate to university policy.”
Given that the Church condemns sexual acts outside of the marriage of one man and one woman as morally wrong, the fact that a Catholic university has given such a training session to be morally troubling.
However, while troubling (a Catholic university should bear witness to the truth despite what people say), this is not what makes it chilling.
What makes it chilling is the fact that this university believes it has to do this to be in compliance with EEOC regulations and court decisions that decree that the belief in marriage being between one man and one woman is “discriminatory.” Apparently, the government sees this belief, expressed publicly, is considered harassment. In other words, to publicly express that a thing is morally wrong is speech which can be targeted. As the program states:
“Although employees have free speech rights under the United States Constitution, in academic and other workplaces those rights are limited when they infringe upon another person’s right to work in an environment free of unlawful harassment.”
Of course, the person who thinks they should be allowed to work without having their religious beliefs attacked aren’t covered. The rights of the atheist to mock Christianity in a university is widespread. But the rights of the Christian to say, “This is wrong,” are blocked.
So, it’s a “right” that is similar to the sentiment expressed in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
if someone dislikes what you have to say, you can’t say it—so long as what you say goes against the favored ideologies. So, you’re free to bash religion in public, but presumably a Catholic in a Catholic institution could be accused of harassment for quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church when it states:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)
Our teaching says we cannot mistreat a person—treat him or her as less than human—just because he or she has a same-sex inclination, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept such behavior as morally indifferent. But apparently, speaking out on what is right counts as “unlawful harassment."
What it boils down to is that we no longer have the freedoms of the First Amendment. We have preferred ideologies which are free to say what they want, and unpopular beliefs which will not be tolerated when they speak against the preferred ideology.
That’s kind of troubling. One thinks of how Brendan Eich was forced out of Mozilla because he privately supported the defense of marriage against redefinition by a donation. Mozilla suffered no repercussions for their action, even though Eich’s action was in no way a violation of Mozilla policy. But, on the other hand, a Catholic parish is being sued because they terminated an employee for publicly flaunting their defiance of Church teaching. One wonders if, by 2016, Google (which runs the Blogger sites) might decide that the blogs which speak in a way they disapprove of can be removed because they promote “discrimination.” Perhaps not, but it is part of the same principle—if speech our political and social elites dislike can be labelled “unlawful harassment,” then the limits to what they can get away with are few.
That’s a real problem. Such policies violate freedom—which America is supposed to be based on—in several different ways, but because the targets are unpopular with the cultural elites, they can get away with it..
In terms of the Freedom of Religion, Catholics believe that the Church is given the mission by Christ to preach the Gospel to all nations. This includes teaching about sin and the need for repentance. We cannot be forced to do what we think is evil and we cannot be forced by the government to teach only what they want us to teach. The Constitution, in this respect, recognizes that the government does not have the right to make such demands on a person. But more and more often, we are seeing the government decree (or permit lawsuits) that do make such demands, while denying the rights of the Christians to live as they believe they ought—particularly if they run a business.
In terms of Freedom of Speech, we are seeing amazing hypocrisy. Christians in America are constantly being told that if we don’t like something, just ignore it. But when others hear Christians say or do things they dislike, we’re told to cease and desist. There’s no freedom of speech there. At a bare minimum, we can say, either give us the same freedoms that our critics possess or give them the same restrictions they give us. Otherwise, there is no freedom.
Our rights to petition the government peaceably for grievances are being denied. When we enact laws which promote the shared values of a majority of citizens, the result is unelected courts overturning the laws they dislike—not by a blind equality for both sides, but by an unequal favoritism towards some views.
Now, it is disappointing that Marquette went along with this policy, instead of standing up for what was right. But let’s remember that the symptom of Marquette reflects the real problem—that publicly expressing what we believe is right means we can suffer legal penalties for being obedient to Christ in a way that even the most indifferent person should recognize is a right the Constitution promises and the government ignores.