Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Chicago Archdiocese Sued By Church Music Director Fired Over Entering Into Same-Sex Marriage

Colin Collette in 2014
Colin Collette (Tribune Photo)
A case out of Chicago explains precisely why people of sincere religious faith insist upon enacting religious freedom restoration ("RFRA") laws. Colin Collette worked as a director of music and worship at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, Illinois. When Collette announced he was marrying his same-sex partner, the parish's pastor asked him to resign because of the church's doctrine opposing gay marriage and public acceptance of homosexuality. Collette refused, and the church fired him. He's now suing the parish and the Chicago Archdiocese in federal court, claiming the church violated the federal Civil Rights Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act and Cook County's Human Rights ordinance.

Churches are always assured by gay activists that they have no intention of dictating to them their religious practices; rather, they want civil protections to ensure they are not discriminated against in their secular endeavors, whether that's employment, housing or public accommodations, and I believe the law should guarantee those protections. Yet we see these cases continuing to creep up where gay activists want to use civil rights laws in such a way that churches are no longer able to practice their religion according to the dictates of their own conscience. Gay activists want their individual rights to trump the practices within churches.

Laying that aside, Collette's legal claims against the archdiocese are problematic. The federal Civil Rights Act does not currently protect persons from discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. His lawsuit complains that he's being treated differently by the church than heterosexual employees who've entered into marriages not sanctioned by the church. His lawsuit also characterizes his employment as director of worship and director of music as non-religious in nature. The church will also rely on its First Amendment right guaranteeing religious freedom and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Illinois has also adopted its own RFRA law that the church will use as a defense to the state and local law claims.

For the life of me, I don't understand why people insist on belonging to churches with which they disagree on such fundamental issues. If a person wants to join a church that accepts homosexuality and sanctions same-sex marriages, there are plenty of churches from which to choose. Instead, they insist on demanding that a church change its fundamental doctrines to comport to their personal views of what's right and wrong. When the church refuses to accept their beliefs, they want government to step in and tell the church what it can and cannot believe. The day when government dictates to churches what they can and cannot believe is the day religious liberty ceases to exist in this country. If Collette has a problem with the Catholic Church's beliefs, then he should work within the church to change its practices or just leave the church, not expect the government to compel it to change its practices to conform to his personal beliefs.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the craziest thing I ever heard of. What attorney would take it? Who paid for it?

Bottom line as usual: Gary is spot-on. If Collette has a problem with the Catholic Church's beliefs, then he should just leave the church, not expect the government to compel it to change its practices to conform to his personal beliefs.

Some of the founding principles of this country were the freedom of choice, thought, religion. The very idea of Government telling subjects what they have to believe is contrary to the principles of our country. That should be dismissed with punitive damages for the frivilous waste of filing & response.

David Drasin said...

I think you have one valid point of view. On the other hand, it is often suggested as a mental exercise that one substitute the word `black' for `gay' and see how it fits. To the extent these are the same situation will help guide the way it appears to the reader. When I was a teenager there were many religious organizations which insisted that segregation is a natural state of life, and ordained in the Bible. On the other hand, I am sure that today many people think that being gay is a matter of personal choice, which is quite different than one's race. In recent years that point of view has suffered serious challenges, with even a person's gender being something which has ambiguity about it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

David, In practice, most churches are segregated. Their denominations may be accepting of all races, but individual churches within a denomination are often segregated. Should an all-black, inner city Baptist church be subject to a lawsuit if it only hires black ministers and choir/music directors? The Mormon church did not end its ban on blacks from full participation in its church until 1978 as a way of shedding its racist image without being forced by the government to change its ways.

Anonymous said...

I'm a die-hard liberal who supports same-sex marriage, but I agree with Gary's assessment. There are plenty of accepting religious congregations.

Anonymous said...

I think the Little Sisters of the Poor have a facility on West 86th street where they take good care of people who no one else will. These little old ladies don't want to pay for birth control for themselves or for their employees as contraception is not a biblically based value. Most Christians being informed of the teachings against contraception tend to agree that it is an introductory sin to a social structure of sinning. However, obama thinks differently.

Anonymous said...

I cannot be sure from the account above whether Mr. Collette was a member of the church or simply its employee. If a member, I can understand the church refusing to perform his marriage, but does his marriage to his partner really prevent him from doing his job? If he is not a member, how does his legally marrying his partner change anything from the church's perspective? Was the church fine with hiring & employing a gay music director as long as his sexual orientation officially stayed in the closet?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Given the church's history with priests, perhaps it's a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:53 - I can answer your question. Catholic doctrine teaches that knowingly acting against God's wishes is sinful. It's not a sin to be gay. It is a sin to engage in gay sex, just as it is a sin to engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage. The Church's position is fundamentally fair and totally consistent. Is Church law applied consistently across the board? No, unfortunately not, but neither is civil law and you know it if you think about it. In that way, the civil system is every bit as flawed as the Church.

The Church is also very clear about who can be married and who can't. I am talking Sacramental marriage, not civil marriage. Nothing has changed in that regard. The Church does not recognize same sex marriage and never will no matter how much the gays scream about it or otherwise threaten. The Church will simply go underground or cease to exist before that happens.

By openly flaunting sin (gay marriage), this man leaves the Church no choice. Of course, I suspect that was exactly the plan, whether it was his plan or his puppet master's, whoever that happens to be. Here's the problem he and those sympathetic to him face. There are millions upon millions of us who, when asked to choose between God's law and man's will choose God's. Every single time. They can threaten us. They can fine us. They can jail us. They can burn us at the stake. It will change nothing. I will never see it there way. I will never choose to validate someone who believes in recreational sex as a means and end to itself over God's law. The very thought of it is absurd and ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, I am sure that today many people think that being gay is a matter of personal choice, which is quite different than one's race. In recent years that point of view has suffered serious challenges, with even a person's gender being something which has ambiguity about it."

How can being "gay" NOT be a personal choice? It is also a choice many people find morally offensive.

Very few people have any physical ambiguity with their gender. Some people CHOOSE to change their gender, but that is still a CHOICE. Get over the political correctness crap.