Monday, February 4, 2008

The Church can not be an instrument of the State

Joseph Kosten of the Acton Institute: for the study of religion and liberty recently has commented on the current legal arguments between the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado (ADC) in the person of its Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and the State Legislature. The proposed laws the ADC maintains would interfere with vital rights of the Church and require the Church to higher those who disagreed with the teachings and policies of the Church.

You will want to read the commentary of Mr. Kosten before proceeding, after which return to Quod Scrpsit site for some debate of the issue. http://www.acton.org/commentary/427_
religious_liberty_anti_discrimination.php

First Comment:

I will summarize my position by stating that unless I read incorrectly, the proposed legislation does not force you to hire someone but it does prevent you from rejecting someone from employment based on discriminatory grounds. I believe that regardless of belief, or faith religious institutions are led by human beings that have proven to have faulty characteristics.

JOSE

Second Comment:

It looks like Mr. Kosten distorts the proposal of the Colorado House Bill. He writes, correctly, that, "The freedom to hire without government interference is vital to the survival of religious institutions. In order to effectively promote the message of the organization, both the individual and the message must be in harmony." However, the Colorado House Bill will only, as Mr. Kosten acknowledges, "limit the applicability of the exception from compliance with employment nondiscrimination laws... that are funded with government funds" (my emphasis). In so far as religious institutions receive state financial support, they become an extension of state policy and action, and the (classical) liberal principles on which this nation is founded require that instruments of state policy not restrict free speech. Accordingly, if a religious institution desires public funding -- funding which comes from taxpayers who may themselves not adhere to the doctrines of that religious institution -- it must meet the participatory standards of the public at large.


TIM



Eques Responds:

Given your observations, we may conclude that this is the reason that the Archdiocese of Boston has already opted out of the adoption business, thus avoiding state interference in Church polity.The Archdiocese of Boston chose not to argue the point. The ADC has risen to the challenge. Siding with the ADC I do believe that the states interpretation of this ecclesial and governmental relationship is unconstitutional. Strict constructionists might opine that when the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; that it means just that. The Congress and by virtue of the 14th amendment the States can make no law that requires the Church to do anything that violates its own well established constitution and Code of Cannon Law, including who to hire or fire. The Church can never become an instrument of the State.

It seems some folks want a high wall of separation between Church and State permitting the State alone to reach over adjusting the polity of the Church to correspond with its notion of justice. The wall of separation should separate each from each equally. If anything, given the first amendment, the Church has presumptive rights from governmental interference. The State of Colorado et alii presumes it can legislate for the church unless prevented by subsequent court reversals.

“In so far as religious institutions receive state financial support, they become an extension of state policy and action, and the (classical) liberal principles on which this nation is founded require that instruments of state policy not restrict free speech. Accordingly, if a religious institution desires public funding -- funding which comes from taxpayers who may themselves not adhere to the doctrines of that religious institution -- it must meet the participatory standards of the public at large.”

I disagree with the above statement. If this is true than the Church becomes an instrument of the State and the wall of separation is most definitely breached. In as much as the State does not intend in any way to subsume the Church as an organ or instrument of the state what you wrote above cannot to be true. If this where true then the State would have to desists from giving any aide whatsoever to any church organization. It would be a “prima face” violation of the Constitution. What the state is claiming is the authority to dictate policy to church organizations because they receive state aide. This violates Cannon Law.

The Church cannot be by its ecclesiological nature “an instrument of state policy.” The Church has fought this battle many times through the centuries under the heading of “lay investiture,” in which kings, emperors, and princes of all kinds attempted to control church policy by claiming the right to appoint bishops and approve lower clergy. This battle is still being fought in the Peoples Republic of China, and other totalitarian regimes.

Today it seems that several states are attempting to do the same by placing conditions on monies given for social services, this would make the church an instrument of state policy. This would violate Cannon Law and the Church would have to forgo many of its social services, which would then fall back on the states, something the states do not want. I believe that Archbishop Chaput will win this legal battle, historical precedent being on the side of the Church. Otherwise, the relationship and cooperation between the Church and the State will be seriously altered. the first stress fractures have already appeared in Boston over the “adoption rights” issue.

Eques


1 comment:

liv4armani said...

Tim makes a good point I had considered but did not write on. Should religious organizations accept government funds? Some of this issue could be resolved if they did not. But, seeing as many organizations do accept funding but wish to keep their rights as a private organization, there should be a certain level of control by the authority presiding over the organization (in this case, the Bishop). NOW, NARAL and other such organizations accept government funding, I do not agree with their mission, but I still pay my taxes. However, I also agree that they should have the option of controlling who they hire. This is vital to the advancement and success of any organization. Unity of mission and vision.
Anyway, thank you very much for posting my commentary. The more people who read it, the more research will be done into this pressing issue. Whether people agree with me or not is irrelevant. I wish to have informed citizens who know their rights and fight for them.