Sunday, June 19, 2005

Canadian Bishop Harassed by Government for Opposition to Same-Sex "Marriage"

From Canada, we read that Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary is being harassed by the Canadian equivalent of the IRS in an attempt to intimidate and silence him for his opposition to same-sex "marriage". His gave testimony earlier this month before a Canadian legislative committee on the growing religious intolerance in that country. His comments on the twisting of our language and phony "rights" claims are to the point:

Religious freedom is central to the current debate about the re-invention of marriage. There is a growing spirit of religious intolerance in Canada and an inability to think critically. ...

Two individuals have filed a complaint against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary and myself on the ground of sexual orientation in the area of "goods/services refused and terms of goods/services", and in the area of "publications, notices, signs and statements," based on my January 2005 Pastoral Letter.

These complaints are an attempt to intimidate and silence me and are without any foundation in fact. As a matter of fact, lodging these complaints constitutes a violation of my right of freedom of expression and freedom of religion guaranteed by the [Canadian] Charter [of Rights and Freedoms]....

Particular circumstances might lead to some future court legitimately trying to force religious officials to perform these [same-sex "marriage"] ceremonies against their conscience, though the justices decline to speculate on what those circumstances might be. It is disquieting that the Court would even raise the possibility.

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has been quoted as saying that " a right is a right is a right." Although not a lawyer, but rather as philosopher-theologian, I would point out that his simple approach ignores two key facts.

Ordinary dictionary definitions of rights have a variety of options and there are vast differences between varied notions of rights, merely asserted, conventional, legal and natural.
Governments may euphemistically call mass destruction of civilians "collateral damage." Such definitions misuse language. Definitions of marriage can be misused as well.

Varied uses and notions of rights reflect essential conceptual distinctions. Asserting that I have the right to fly the Concorde to Paris does not establish the right. Legally, I have no right to a university degree unless I meet certain legal University Senate requirements. Claiming the natural right to equality in income with Supreme Court justices does not establish the right. Rights are of various kinds and the application of racial models for same-sex rights claims conflicts in many ways with logical uses of analogies.

Claims of a "right" to same-sex-marriage are not the slam dunk Cotler thinks. The so-called "marriage act" as understood in ordinary language, refers to the unique act of sexual intimacy involving intercourse between a man and a woman.

In spite of Clintonesque interpretations of sexual acts, the ordinary usage remains entrenched in language. The so-called "marriage act" is not possible in same-sex relations. The acts in these relations are vastly different in origin, in real experience, and in goals.

The radical re-definition affects every order of human life from uses of logic to healthy moral and cultural life. This radical cultural shift accounts for the resistance of the majority of Canadians to redefinition of marriage on both religious and rational grounds. It is a mystery to the majority of Canadians as to why parliamentarians just don't seem to get it.