|Colin Collette (Tribune Photo)|
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.