I read an interesting comment the other day on a blog dedicated to “the pursuit of LGBT equality and gun sanity.” The blog, uniquely titled The Slowly Boiled Frog, is written by David Cary Hart, a gay man who was the victim of gun violence.
Hart’s post focused on the question of religious liberty. At the conclusion of the post, Hart comments on a recent essay by Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Anderson regularly writes on marriage, bioethics, religious liberty and political philosophy. In responding to Anderson’s latest essay, Hart stated:
“Anderson insists that everyone is created heterosexual and cisgender. Anderson has an Ivy League education and a PhD from Notre Dame and I think that he is gay. Yet he finds the need to assert that sexual orientation and gender identity are acquired traits, presumably to suggest that they can be altered. This, in turn, justifies discrimination. Anderson’s only concern in life seems to be LGBT discrimination in one form or another because Anderson lives in a zero-sum universe. Every measure of equality for LGBT people is somehow a deduction from his Catholic religion. In other words, faith conquers intellect and common sense.”
First, a disclaimer: to my knowledge, Anderson has not made any public statement about his sexual orientation, so I don’t think that Hart’s assessment is legitimate in this regard. However, I find his analysis of Anderson’s argument very insightful.
Hart points out a problem that I think needs to be more fully examined in the religious liberty debate: the zero-sum universe. So much of the argumentation about religious liberty imagines that one side has to give up something in favor of the other side. Religious leaders too often see the expansion of equality for LGBT people as the diminishment of their liberty.
Such does not have to be the case, especially for Catholics. The history of Catholicism is replete with examples where great thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, and John Courtney Murray reconciled faith with secular thought. More work needs to be done with finding common ground instead of fighting a turf war.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, February 18, 2017
New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis, is scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, Chicago, Illinois. Plenary speakers: Lisa Fullam, Leslie Griffin, Rev. Bryan Massingale, Frank Mugisha. Prayer leaders: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv. Pre-Symposium Retreat Leader: Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS. For more information and to register, visit www.Symposium2017.org.