As the Washington, D.C., City Council moves toward a vote on a bill to legalize same sex "marriage," the Archdiocese of Washington is warning that the lack of religious liberty protections could force them to abandon many of their ministries to D.C.'s most vulnerable populations.
According to the Archdiocese of Washington, the City's Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary has narrowed the religious freedom exemption in the bill. If passed in its current form, the bill would require organizations like Catholic Charities to promote and support same sex "marriage" through their services.
The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., said in a press release:
"The committee’s narrowing of the exemption leaves religious organizations and individuals at risk for adhering to the teachings of their faith, and could prevent social service providers such as Catholic Charities from continuing their long-term partnerships with the District government to provide critical social services for thousands of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
"The bill provides no exemption for individuals with sincerely-held religious beliefs, as required under federal law. In fact, one council member opposed an amendment that would have respected an individual’s federally-protected, deeply-held religious beliefs by saying that would encourage a 'discriminatory impulse.'”
At risk are Catholic Charities' many outreach services to the poor and others in need, including adoption services, social services, employee benefits and more.
"As a result, religious organizations and individuals are at risk of legal action for refusing to promote and support same-sex marriages in a host of settings where it would compromise their religious beliefs. This includes employee benefits, adoption services and even the use of a church hall for non-wedding events for same-sex married couples. Religious organizations such as Catholic Charities could be denied licenses or certification by the government, denied the right to offer adoption and foster care services, or no longer be able to partner with the city to provide social services for the needy," the archdiocese stated.
Of course the secular media is trying to cast this as the Church being discriminatory. One article, in the Washington Post, said that religious organizations such as the Catholic Church oppose the same sex "marriage" law, which will be voted on next month, because "they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians."
Saying an organization just wants to discriminate against a group of people sounds a lot better than saying an organization is simply trying to uphold and live its long-held beliefs, which are based on natural law.
Susan Gibbs, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, was quoted in the same Washington Post article, saying: "If the city requires this, we can't do it. The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem."
Exactly. Religious liberty and religious freedom mean being able to practice your beliefs without being forced to promote something that stands in direct opposition to those beliefs. More of this is coming as same sex "marriage" debates continue across the country. Good for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., for coming out strong and reminding people what's at stake -- for Catholics and for those we serve.
To read the archdiocese's full press release, click HERE.