QUOTE TO NOTE: Religious Liberty Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

computer_key_Quotation_MarksI 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.

11 replies
  1. Ned Flaherty
    Ned Flaherty says:

    For the last 13 years, Ryan T. Anderson has maintained 13 of the characteristics most often found in closeted, gay men.

    • At age 34, he is single.
    • He never married.
    • He claims no girlfriends.
    • He keeps his sexual orientation a secret.
    • His faith tradition requires celibacy until marriage or death.
    • Among 5 sons, only one of his brothers ever married.
    • As a 4th son, he is biologically twice as likely to be gay.
    • He spent a decade of his college years oppressing LGBT people.
    • He dedicated his entire professional career to oppressing LGBT people.
    • He endorses “ex-gay” therapies.
    • He is an authoritarian arch-conservative.
    • All his articles, speeches, and legal briefs echo the Vatican Catechism.
    • None of his work contradicts the Vatican Catechism.

    Anderson declines to clarify, so audiences must draw their own conclusions.

    • Friends
      Friends says:

      Thanks, Ned! I just did an extensive Google search on both his writings and his photos. He absolutely “pegs the needle” on my Gaydar Detection Meter as well. It’s really tragic when a committed professing Catholic doesn’t — (or can’t or won’t) — accept the fact that Jesus loves ALL PEOPLE who love Him, and especially those who strive to follow the example that He set in His universal ministry to our entire world. Jesus explicitly aligned Himself with the disparaged and underprivileged people of His own time. What part of this blessed truth does David fail to understand, let alone to celebrate and to uphold?

  2. Casey Lopata
    Casey Lopata says:

    Frank, the zero-sum world insight relative to LGBTQ discrimination and religious liberty is indeed interesting and begs for further analysis. That insight may be helpful with other contentious issues as well, such as immigration and the wealth/income gap (so called “givers” vs “takers”). Thanks for picking up on this.

  3. Thomas Smith
    Thomas Smith says:

    Exactly, Frank. Aquinas wrote: (something like) what is good and right for one person, depending on their situation, may not be good and right for another. In other words, it would be sinful for gay people to engage in hetero sex, and visa-versa.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] liberty is actually a progressive  and highly Catholic idea that is not, as the bishops imply, a zero-sum exercise. Many commentators over these past years have pointed out both the genuine threats to religious […]

  2. […] But this need not be the case: a majority of Catholics reject legal discrimination against LGBT people and have generally supported LGBT rights, and religious liberty is actually a progressive  and highly Catholic idea that is not, as the bishops imply, a zero-sum exercise. […]

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