A proposed bill in Pennsylvania may redefine the lines between Church and State. The bill would change employment regulations, and may end up requiring Catholic organizations to violate their beliefs in order to meet the regulation that a business cannot discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation.
The Catholic Church teaches that all people are equal, and should be treated as such. It does not make a distinction based on sexual orientation – all people are equal in the eyes of the Catholic Church. However, the Church does teach that homosexual acts are a sin, and in violation of Church teaching. Homosexuals are called, by the Catholic Church, to a life of chastity, and are encouraged to join the priesthood or other religious life. To be a homosexual is not a sin, as some other Christian groups preach, but any action by a homosexual to live in sin and participate in homosexual acts is considered a grave sin by the Catholic Church.
The new bill in Pennsylvania is drawing attention because it is considered to be in response to the firing of a gay teacher from a Catholic school, which is not associated with the local Archdiocese in Philadelphia. The man chose to enter into a civil union contract with his partner, who he had been with for 12 years, the same length of time he was employed by the school. Mr. Michael Griffin claims that the school was aware of his sexual orientation, and even invited his partner to school events. He says he kept his orientation secret from the all-boy school population, but figured that some students had figured things out on their own.
Because the school is not connected with the Archdiocese, it does not fall under regulations regarding the separation of Church and State, and therefore would be required to abide by the new law. This makes the situation just another example of how the line between what constitutes a “Church” has changed over the years. Should a group or organization that holds to strict religious beliefs – whatever they may be – not have access to the same freedom to make decisions based on those religious beliefs as a defined church? What makes a school, operating outside the Catholic Archdiocese, which seeks to instil Catholic teachings different from a school operating within the Archdiocese? If the freedom to live one’s religion as one sees fit is applicable to an individual and a defined church, why is it not applicable to a business or a school that holds to those same set of beliefs?
The definition of what a “Church” is, what we as a nation define “religion” to be, is under attack. It is not a matter of what one religious group deems right or wrong. It is a matter of what the government tells us the definition of what constitutes our religious freedom. More and more, the government, at all levels, is pushing to redefine the separation of Church and State.