Although precise figures about gay marriages in Canada are elusive, there are thought to be fewer than 30,000, after an initial surge of around 10,000 as soon as the law was passed. But if large numbers of gay people failed to take advantage of the law, the law certainly took advantage of its critics. Again, definitive figures are almost impossible to state, but it’s estimated that, in less than five years, there have been between 200 and 300 proceedings — in courts, human-rights commissions, and employment boards — against critics and opponents of same-sex marriage. And this estimate doesn’t take into account the casual dismissals that surely have occurred.
In 2011, for example, a well-known television anchor on a major sports show was fired just hours after he tweeted his support for “the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage.” He had merely been defending a hockey player’s agent who was receiving numerous death threats and other abuse for refusing to support a pro-gay-marriage campaign. The case is still under appeal, in human-rights commissions and, potentially, the courts.
The Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, Alberta, Fred Henry, was threatened with litigation and charged with a human-rights violation after he wrote a letter to local churches outlining standard Catholic teaching on marriage. He is hardly a reactionary — he used to be known as “Red Fred” because of his support for the labor movement — but the archdiocese eventually had to settle with the complainants to avoid an embarrassing and expensive trial.
In the neighboring province of Saskatchewan, another case illustrates the intolerance that has become so regular since 2005. A number of marriage commissioners (state bureaucrats who administer civil ceremonies) were contacted by a gay man eager to marry his partner under the new legislation. Some officials he telephoned were away from town or already engaged, and the first one to take his call happened to be an evangelical Christian, who explained that he had religious objections to carrying out the ceremony but would find someone who would. He did so, gave the name to the man wanting to get married, and assumed that this would be the end of the story.
But no. Even though the gay couple had had their marriage, they decided to make an official complaint and demand that the commissioner be reprimanded and punished. The provincial government argued that, as a servant of the state, he had a duty to conduct state policy, but that any civilized public entity could accept that such a fundamentally radical change in marriage policy was likely to cause division, and that as long as alternative and reasonable arrangements could be made and nobody was inconvenienced, they would not discipline their employee for declining to marry same-sex couples. Anybody hired after 2004 would have to agree to conduct such marriages, they continued, but to insist on universal approval so soon after the change would lead to a large number of dismissals, often of people who had given decades of public service. This seemed an intelligent and balanced compromise. Yet the provincial courts disagreed, and commissioners with theological objections are now facing the loss of their jobs, with the situation replicated in other provinces and also at the federal level.
He's got much more and it's completely predictable.
Whether it's the HHS Mandate or the threat that this piece reveals, it's becoming clearer even to this dunderhead, that Catholic thought and doctrine are under attack by forces who aren't simply going to go away.
Sooner or later, a side will have to be chosen by those currently more interested in other things. And choosing the side of truth may come at a price many will consider to be too costly to pay.
It's sad surely... and on one level, it's frightening.
Inroads are seemingly being made against the faith's tenets while those who deem themselves faithful are being distracted and deceived and too often manipulated. I'm convinced the Church will survive this, as she has for over 2000 years, though likely much leaner and more focused. Perhaps that's the Divine plan.
Nevertheless, a time of choosing is coming and in my view, sooner rather than later.
What alarms me frankly, what bothers me, is this notional default position that too many seem to too easily take these days, the position that the Catholic faith is archaic and no longer relevant, yet when questioned, it becomes quite clear that what they believe is Catholic doctrine truly isn't. This, to me, is quite frustrating.
There's still much I acknowledge I need to learn about Catholicism. I can't deny that. But as I delve into particulars, I find much that makes sense, that rings true, that is clearly thought through and in the end convincing.
While recognizing that at times in history, the Church has steered wrongly and has been in need of correction, on this issue and on the HHS mandate, she is steering true.
And I've made the choice to follow that steering.