Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Intimidation of Religious Leaders. . .

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Two Bay Area lawmakers are seeking an investigation of working conditions at high schools administrated by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, over the archbishop’s proposed morality clauses for teachers.

Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) are urging the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation.  “California cannot become a laboratory for discrimination under the guise of religion,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent Monday. They said the rules “set a dangerous precedent for workers’ rights through manipulations of law that deprive employees of civil rights guaranteed to all Californians.”
Last week, Ting and Mullin were among eight Bay Area lawmakers who sent Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone a letter calling the proposal “divisive” and urging him to drop the clauses from the teachers’ handbook.  Cordileone responded to the lawmakers’ letter last week, saying he respects their right to hire whoever they want to advance their mission and seeks the same respect.

My comments. . .

Perhaps it is already too late in the game to exercise responsibility over church owned colleges and universities.  The issues of accreditation, federal money, student loans, and the independent nature of the governing authority of these institutions have all created a roadblock to the discipline or removal of faculty who teach in violation with the tenets of the churches who own or sponsor those institutions.  I wish it were not the case but I fear it is -- already a lost cause for too many of those institutions of learning begun by and still owned by churches.

That said, it is surely not too late to exercise responsibility over church owned high schools and elementary schools... or is it?  If you cannot attack the authority of churches to administer and run these institutions of learning within the parameters of their doctrine and practice, then you can use public intimidation and the court of public opinion to tear down the reputation of the schools and the churches that own and operate them.  That appears to be what is poised to happen in California according to the report listed above.

It is certainly clear that the present administration and its justice department has set a national standard in siding with employee rights against church employers and in crusading to restrict the right of free religion to a mere right of freedom to worship.  Perhaps that has encouraged those who believe now is the ripe time to attack the churches and the schools where doctrine, values, and practices are set not by popular opinion or current cultural norms but by the faith believed, taught, and confessed by those churches.

My point in all of this is that this is but the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and there is more to come.  The orthodox Christian faith is under direct attack but the more insidious means of tearing down this doctrine and practice is the threat of intimidation and the destruction of the public reputation of these institutions.  As churches we need to be ready.  We probably cannot fight in the media without a means to make our voice known but we dare not cower nor fold out of fear of what people might think.  Our institutions may indeed shrink in size for a time as parents and members decide this is too much for them but in the long run holding fast to the faith once delivered to the saints will enable us to endure.  Whether in military chaplaincies or school ministries or social service agencies, we cannot cave in and abandon the doctrine and practice that is faithful to the Scriptures and therefore both catholic and evangelical in the best sense of those terms.  We may be misunderstood and tar and feathered by innuendo and open threat, but we shall gain nothing by succumbing to the court of popular opinion only to be in conflict with God's revealed will and truth. 

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