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Council Member Says She'll Vote Against Church Rezoning Request Because of the Church's Ideology:

The Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette reports:

A county board voted to rezone a greater Bluffton church over the objection of one County Council member who said she'll vote against it because of the Catholic church's stance on reproductive rights and other issues....

During the discussion, Laura Von Harten, who represents Beaufort and Port Royal, but is not a member of the land committee, said she won't support the rezoning when it comes before the council because official Catholic policies are an "affront to my dignity and all of womankind."

Von Harten cited the Catholic church's position against female clergy and "uterus rights" as her reason for opposing the rezoning request.

"I don't want to support anything that will perpetuate that," she said. "I just have to vote in favor of love and not hate." ...

The Catholic News Agency reports the councilwoman's quote further:

If land must be rezoned, she said, "I want it to be to create a loving inclusive mixed-use community and that's the only way I will give up rural land... I just have to vote in favor of love and against hate when I see hate."

How about voting in favor of First Amendment rights and not against them, or in favor of being "inclusive" of views you disagree with? Fortunately, the member has apparently acknowledged that denying a rezoning request on such a basis is improper:

Saying she intended no infringement of anyone's religious freedom and did not intend to disparage any individual member of the Church, she added:

"I respect the rights of all people to worship in the church of their choosing. Given the history of persecution endured by members of the Catholic Church, I regret my insensitivity on this matter."

Saying she was "truly sorry" for having "interjected" her concerns about the Catholic Church into a zoning discussion, she claimed she had "meant only an extension of my overall opposition to development that restricts access on the basis of factors such as race, age or gender but it was an inappropriate forum."

"Please be assured that I have been reminded of the importance of separation of church and state in matters of land use, and have learned a great deal from this incident," Von Harten continued, asking for forgiveness and pledging "to approach my duties as councilwoman from a more restrained and objective viewpoint."

Glad to hear it, though I hope she also recognizes the importance of not discriminating against land users based on their speech, whether they are "church[es]" or not: Such discrimination is a Free Speech Clause violation, not just a matter of the "separation of church and state."

Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.

FlimFlamSam:
She should resign from office or be removed for malfeasance.
11.21.2008 9:27am
Skyler (mail) (www):
I'm not sure of the problem. There's no law saying what reasons legislators must give for the votes they cast. That's the whole purpose of representative government.

I'm just glad she's as candid about her reasons as she has been. Most politicians have far worse rationale for their votes but won't say so publicly.
11.21.2008 9:30am
Skyler (mail) (www):
I'm not sure of the problem. There's no law saying what reasons legislators must give for the votes they cast. That's the whole purpose of representative government.

I'm just glad she's as candid about her reasons as she has been. Most politicians have far worse rationale for their votes but won't say so publicly.
11.21.2008 9:30am
amcalabrese (www):
I agree there is no law saying legislators should explain themselves, I will point out though that if you really look at it, the Catholic is run by women primarily for women, men (from the drunk parisoner in the back at &;30 AM Mass to the the Pope) are there only on sufference.
11.21.2008 10:00am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
I understand the church would have had a winnable case under RLUPIA, but would they win under the First A. (if in fact they had been denied?) I would have thought zoning was one of those generally applicable things churches don't get exemptions for under Smith. The establishment clause isn't my area of expertise.
My neighborhood is so poor Mother Teresa sent us nuns,and the nuns wanted to open a soup kitchen, but the local zoning board said no.
11.21.2008 10:00am
Per Son:
I think her behavior is deplorable and disgusting, but not illegal. Unless, the zoning code gives a list of reasons for why requests should be denied.
11.21.2008 10:03am
Monty:
She should have crafted her objection as being to the special treatment of the church over non-church applicants. That certainly would have been acceptable under the 1st amendment, and in fact is clearly in the spirit of the establishment clause.

Where she went wrong is singling out the church from other religions based on her views of the church's paticular faith. Her honesty is the only problem...
11.21.2008 10:15am
josh:
As a legal matter, I think EV is right on. But from a moral standpoint, I'm not sure how this council member's actions differ much from the recent denials of, say, communion, or threats of excommunication by churches who disagree with politicians views, or the voters who vote for them.

That said, there's obviously a difference here in that it comprises state action. And the Church is not a state actor.
11.21.2008 10:25am
GMS:
It's not so much her honesty that's the problem, it's what she's being honest about. Her honesty merely precludes her from deceiving us.
11.21.2008 10:28am
Daniel M. Roche (mail):
She also seems not to understand that when she insults the religious beliefs of millions of people she's going to offend them, even if she "did not intend to disparage any individual member of the Church." People are so ignorant.

I must have missed the memo informing everyone that the disparagement of religion is now about "love." ROFL.
11.21.2008 10:37am
Al Maviva:
As long as she thinks there's nothing wrong with basing government actions on abstract religious grounds, I'm sure she won't object to being expelled on the grounds of being a Godless heathen, if a coalition of Catholics and Evangelicals can gain control of the County Board.

They said government agencies would attempt to Enforce Uniformity of Thought if Bush was re-elected -- and they were right!
11.21.2008 10:39am
AKS:
I think her behavior is deplorable and disgusting, but not illegal. Unless, the zoning code gives a list of reasons for why requests should be denied.

Her reasons discriminate on the basis of religion, and that violates RLUIPA, 42 USC 2000cc(b)(2): "No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination."

Had her vote changed the outcome, the church would surely have won the lawsuit.
11.21.2008 10:46am
Randy R. (mail):
Many religionists claim that there is NO separation of church and state, and that that is a fallacious doctrine that has only recently become law.

So how would *they* square this? If there is no separation of church and state, then surely this councilwoman would be able to vote for the reasons she stated, right? What am I missing here?
11.21.2008 10:51am
Professor Chaos:
"But from a moral standpoint, I'm not sure how this council member's actions differ much from the recent denials of, say, communion, or threats of excommunication by churches who disagree with politicians views, or the voters who vote for them."

So you believe that you have a moral right to belong to a church and to participate in its rituals, regardless of whether you agree with or adhere to that church's teachings? Or is it that you [i]don't[i] believe the owner of private property has any moral claim to use that property as he sees fit? (What about occupying the property? Excluding others?) I'm just trying to figure out how you see a moral equivalence here.
11.21.2008 10:53am
Sean M.:
The church wouldn't need to rely on RILUPA to win its case (assuming the councilwoman's views carried the day).

It could rely on standard First Amendment principles of viewpoint and content neutrality. Like parade permits and solicitor permits and the like, the government cannot allocate permits in a system in a way that denies benefits to views it disfavors. That's a Sec. 1983 slam dunk. RILUPA just makes it even easier.
11.21.2008 10:56am
Eugene Volokh (www):
It would indeed be unconstitutional -- specifically, a violation of the First Amendment -- for a government official to deny a zoning variance to an applicant because of the applicant's ideology, just as it would be unconstitutional for a government official to deny a zoning variance to an applicant because of the applicant's race, sex, or religion.
11.21.2008 11:01am
Professor Chaos:
"If there is no separation of church and state, then surely this councilwoman would be able to vote for the reasons she stated, right? What am I missing here?"

You're missing the distinction between developing public policy views based on religious beliefs (to include voting in accordance with those views), and using the power of the state to disadvantage religious beliefs with which you disagree. Everyone is free to do the former, but that freedom is limited by the First Amendment, which prohibits the latter.
11.21.2008 11:08am
PeterWimsey (mail):
This reminds me of a lot of the old race-based discrimination cases from the 50s and early 60s, which were relatively easy to win because the councilmen would explicitly state that they were voting for/against a measure because the didn't want "n*****s" doing x. Later, of course, people learned not to put that on the record.
11.21.2008 11:10am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

There's no law saying what reasons legislators must give for the votes they cast.


But once you state your reasons, those cannot be illegal or unconstitutional ones. At least in an administrative/quasi-judicial area like zoning decisions.

If she said nothing but voted against it, there would be significant proof problems. Once she opened her mouth, she provided the proof.
11.21.2008 11:26am
ChrisIowa (mail):
I frequently deal with City Councils, since my job is in the public works arena. It is not unusual in city councils to have a member raise irrelevant points, as the religious issue in this one. Sometimes the other council members will point out the irrelevancy, and get the one council member to focus on the relevant issues. That apparently happened here. Mostly the other council members will just roll their eyes, say to themselves "that's just Laura being Laura" and outvote Laura for the right reasons.
11.21.2008 11:27am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Many religionists claim that there is NO separation of church and state, and that that is a fallacious doctrine that has only recently become law.

So how would *they* square this?


"Many" religionists? That's an extraordinary claim without corresponding extraordinary proof.

So the views of a tiny sub-sub-minority of people who have no impact on policy is is of no moment to anyone, except those interested in bashing religious folk using a tiny extremist minority to do so. I wonder what your reaction would be if someone did exactly the same thing, but used terrorists as representative of all Muslims instead?
11.21.2008 11:29am
SeaDrive:
Of course the legal situation would be the same in the case of a Catholic (i.e. a local government official who was a Roman Catholic) who voted against permission for an abortion clinic. Would it get the same interest?
11.21.2008 11:33am
Professor Chaos:
Randy,

On further reflection, I probably shouldn't have responded to your question. I thought I understood it, but I'm no longer very confident of that. Can you point to a more fully fleshed-out example of the sort of claim by "religionists" that you're referring to?
11.21.2008 11:38am
Christian K:
I find her moral stance quite refreshing, however she should learn better tact if she wanted to continue a political career.


Question:

Her reasons discriminate on the basis of religion, and that violates RLUIPA, 42 USC 2000cc(b)(2): "No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.


Wouldn't granting land use (zoning) rights to one denomination or religion, catholics, but not another, Mormons or Atheists, also be a violation of the same code? Why should the catholic church be granted favorable treatment?
11.21.2008 11:39am
Bama 1L:
Von Harten can cast whatever vote she wants for whatever reason. She is answerable to the voters alone. I am surprised to see persons connected with the Catholic Church suggesting otherwise, considering that we tend to believe religious views should inform public policy. Guess what? It works both ways. If we want a place at the table for religiously-motivated political actors then we have to admit to the table those who oppose us.

Had the rezoning been denied, then the parish probably would have won under 1st Amendment principles. That's a separate analysis. Von Harten's mistake in that case would have been providing evidence of discriminatory purpose. Lukumi Babalu Aye, etc. RLUIPA just helps.
11.21.2008 11:40am
Mike S..:
"But from a moral standpoint, I'm not sure how this council member's actions differ much from the recent denials of, say, communion, or threats of excommunication by churches who disagree with politicians views, or the voters who vote for them."

Separation of church and state constrains the sate, not the church (except in its ability to use the state.) Surely if freedom of religion (or the free exercise clause) means anything, a church is free to determine who is a member in good standing on any basis it sees fit.

And there is a sound moral reason. One who disagrees with the position of his religion on some issue may, if he wishes, organize a schismatic sect. As Jefferson Davis and his colleagues found out, one may not establish a schismatic state because one disagrees with its position.
11.21.2008 11:48am
Pol Mordreth (mail):
Christian K,

What? How does granting a change in zoning that would allow an existing church to use more of the land it currently owns implicate "...the catholic church granted favorable treatment"?

Pol
11.21.2008 11:51am
Tony Tutins (mail):

She should resign from office or be removed for malfeasance.

I disagree. As a non-Catholic, she is already likely to burn in Hell for all Eternity. Let her enjoy her few remaining years on Earth.

Separation of church and state

If there were truly an iron wall, churches would not be subject to zoning at all. In my home town, well before 9/11, a Muslim congregation could not build in a residential neighborhood (would generate too much traffic). Nor could it build in an industrial district (deemed too unsafe for the congregation's children). About their only choice was to build in a strip mall. But such property was the most expensive of the three, plus the prospect of praying between, say, Safeway and a sports bar was unappealing. So, by government fiat they had no acceptable place to assemble for prayer at all.
11.21.2008 11:51am
Professor Chaos:
Bama 1L,

"If we want a place at the table for religiously-motivated political actors then we have to admit to the table those who oppose us."

I agree, except that the First Amendment establshes a limit to political actors' religiously-motivated conduct. "Screw the First Amendment, let 'em sue me if they don't like it (even though I know they'll win if they do sue me)" is not an honorable position for a public servant who presumably has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.
11.21.2008 11:55am
Mark E.Butler (mail):
At least she was honest in her anti-Catholic bigotry.

Too many zoning boards dream up constitutionally neutral reasons (increased traffic, construction noise, dust, etc., too big for the neighborhood, etc.) to hide their anti-religious biases.
11.21.2008 12:00pm
David Warner:
"I want it to be to create a loving inclusive mixed-use community and that's the only way I will give up rural land..."

Does she have title?
11.21.2008 12:07pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I must have missed the memo informing everyone that the disparagement of religion is now about "love." ROFL.

Can I defend the "disparagement" of religion for a second? I agree that she should not be making zoning decisions based on people's religious beliefs. And I don't think people should face discrimination based on such beliefs.

But "disparaging" a RELIGION is different than discriminating against the believers. And I think there are a lot of religious conservatives who have, for several years, taken to arguing that any criticism of right-wing versions of Christianity or Catholicism constitutes bigotry. It is not that.

When someone says, for instance, that conservative Catholic teachings on sex and gender (rejected by most American believers) are abominable, they are not being bigoted. They are criticizing a political position that the Church takes. You don't get a pass on criticism for your political positions just because you claim that a supernatural being (whose existence cannot be verified) dictated or inspired them.

This woman has every right and obligation to criticize the horrible teachings of conservative Catholics on sex and gender. What she doesn't have the right to do is base a zoning decision on it.
11.21.2008 12:36pm
MikeS (mail):
I'm wondering how many of the people criticizing Ms. Von Harten for her motives in voting against the rezoning also assert that firing US Attorneys for their refusal to become partisan actors is purely an internal personnel decision.
11.21.2008 12:51pm
Angus:
There is no first amendment issue here. The first amendment guarantees free exercise of religion, not freedom to get your land zoned to whatever you want.
11.21.2008 12:59pm
gee mail (mail):
I'm wondering how many of the people criticizing Ms. Von Harten for her motives in voting against the rezoning also assert that firing US Attorneys for their refusal to become partisan actors is purely an internal personnel decision.


Councilwoman: unconstitutional and illegal action, arguable based on your beliefs about whether her stance is "moral".

Firing US attorneys: constitutional use of executive power, legal action. Also partisan and petty, and probably "immoral" if you think of politics in those terms.

What do either action have to do with each other, given that one clearly falls under the scope of authority of the govt actor, and the other does not?

Count me in the "she can have any opinion she wants of catholics and I'll defend her right to her opinion to the death" camp, at the same time condemning her making an illegal decision based on the same.
11.21.2008 1:02pm
gee mail (mail):
There is no first amendment issue here. The first amendment guarantees free exercise of religion, not freedom to get your land zoned to whatever you want


Just like the whole "free speech" part of the first amendment lets you say what you want, it doesn't mean you're free to paint pictures someone else doesn't like!"

First amendment: As the great inigo montoya said: "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
11.21.2008 1:06pm
gasman (mail):

I'm not sure how this council member's actions differ much from the recent denials of, say, communion, or threats of excommunication by churches who disagree with politicians views, or the voters who vote for them.

The difference would be that matters of communion and excommunication are the internal workings of a private organization occurring among people who have each voluntarily made association with each other and with the organization.
The workings of a zoning council are for the benefit of the community as a whole and must be applied uniformly without respect to various protected groups, including type of religion, race, gender, etc. It is not for a councilman to apply her perception and biases of a whole religion (Catholic Church as an institution along with its set of religious teachings) to the determination of any particular religious order. The particular petitioning catholic parish may have none or only some of the faults for which she rails against, and may be unfairly maligned merely by association.
11.21.2008 1:09pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

There is no first amendment issue here. The first amendment guarantees free exercise of religion, not freedom to get your land zoned to whatever you want.

Zoning violates freedom of assembly then. It's hard to assemble if there's no dedicated space in which to do so.

Most people of faith in the US congregate to worship. Letting zoning laws preclude this public exercise of religion is as senseless as allowing same-sex marriage while prohibiting sodomy.
11.21.2008 1:09pm
MikeS (mail):

What do either action have to do with each other,


Both actions (firing, voting) are within the powers of the elected official performing them and both are made from (at best) questionable motives.
11.21.2008 1:11pm
gee mail (mail):

Both actions (firing, voting) are within the powers of the elected official performing them and both are made from (at best) questionable motives.



And as I pointed out, one is within the power of the govt official, and one is not. Their motives are certainly subject to criticism and scorn, but the legality of the actions taken are clearly different. The executive gets to hire and fire his staff. City councilpeople don't get to violate the first amendment in granting zoning variances.
11.21.2008 1:14pm
Professor Chaos:
Angus,

"The first amendment guarantees free exercise of religion, not freedom to get your land zoned to whatever you want."

True, but the rules for getting your land zoned are supposed to be neutral. "I don't like Catholic teachings" is not a religiously neutral principle, is it? Being treated differently in zoning decisions because of the unpopularity of your religious beliefs infringes your right to free exercise. Or does it only count if, you know, someone actually throws you in jail for your beliefs?

Take a step back and really think about this for a moment. Even leaving aside the free exercise issue, do you honestly think it's OK for zoning boards to discriminate against property owners whose beliefs the board finds unpalatable? So Republican dominated zoning boards should be able to penalize property owners who displayed Obama yard signs during the election? And Democrat dominated boards should be able to do the same to McCain supporters? Forgetting First Amendment issues altogether, doesn't that seem an awfully arbitrary approach to private property rights?
11.21.2008 1:25pm
MPE oldtimer:
Here is another article. It includes a video of her statements, as well as the full text of her 'apology'.
11.21.2008 1:30pm
richard cabeza:
Huh. Goverment restrictions on property transfer and usage encourage rent-seeking behavior in those who get to decide how the property is to be used.

Who would have thought?
11.21.2008 2:35pm
RPT (mail):
"I'm wondering how many of the people criticizing Ms. Von Harten for her motives in voting against the rezoning also assert that firing US Attorneys for their refusal to become partisan actors is purely an internal personnel decision."

One can hope that the anticipated GOP/FedSoc attack on Eric older will argue that internal DOJ proceedings and deliberations, whether on past (or forthcoming) presidential pardons or otherwise, are no longer protected by executive privilege.
11.21.2008 2:35pm
George Smith:
Nobody has commented on Ms. Von Harten's characterization of the Roman Catholic Church's theologigcal position on "reproductive rights" (however many things she may have meant by that) as being "hate." Have all of you accepted that as accurate? Seems to me to be a pretty irrational statement.
11.21.2008 3:10pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I understand Randy and know which religionists he is talking about. For them, his point is right on.

Why do either RLUIPA or the First Amendment have to be dragged in? Don't zoning decisions have to be made on some rational nexus to land use impacts? What's the rational nexus between a church's dogma and the presence of worshippers in a building?

This would have been red meat to the Becket Fund, the one religious-oriented organization that this atheist really, really likes.
11.21.2008 3:24pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
Pro-life sentiments are now hate. Because we Catholics really want to punish promicuous women, not protect a group of Americans disenfranchised by virtue of age.

You may not agree with our pro-life sentiments, but dismissing them as "hate" is irrational.

It's a little like saying pro-choice people have a bloodthirsty hatred of the unborn ... that's irrational. too.

Pro-choicers believe an abortion should be a private issue between a woman and her doctor.

Pro-lifers believe the decision should be made among a woman, her doctor and the unborn child, and thus is inherently a public issue. Hatred doesn't enter into it.

But now being Catholic equals hatred. That's a shame.
11.21.2008 3:26pm
MikeS (mail):

And as I pointed out, one is within the power of the govt official


Then you're arguing one of two things:

1. Zoning decisions are not within the power of a zoning board.

2. Using the Justice Department to influence elections is within the power of the president.

Otherwise you're inconsistently taking motive into account in one case but not the other.
11.21.2008 4:22pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Pro-life sentiments are now hate. Because we Catholics really want to punish promicuous women, not protect a group of Americans disenfranchised by virtue of age.

1. You shouldn't say "we Catholics". Most American Catholics are pro-choice. At the most, it's "we conservative Catholics". You don't speak for the many millions of pro-choice members of your Church in America.

2. I don't think that being pro-life automatically constitutes a form of sexism or misogyny. Obviously, it is possible to be quite on board with feminism and the sexual revolution, but believe that abortion implicates questions of human life that are too important and outweigh even the important considerations of gender equality that animate feminism and the changes in Western society in the last 50 years.

3. However, I don't think that very many pro-lifers are actually on board with feminism and the sexual revolution, as evidenced by their positions on every other issue affecting sex and gender. And THOSE pro-lifers are indeed misogynists and should be treated as such.
11.21.2008 4:23pm
Professor Chaos:
"I understand Randy and know which religionists he is talking about. For them, his point is right on."

Then would you mind elaborating? I'm genuinely curious. If you can cite a concrete example of a religious person making the sort of argument that you and Randy are criticizing, that'd be especially helpful.

"Don't zoning decisions have to be made on some rational nexus to land use impacts?" Yes, that's what I was getting at when I asked Angus whether he really thinks it's OK for zoning boards to discriminate against property owners based upon their beliefs. But in this case the First Amendment argument is another legimate way of arriving at the same conclusion.
11.21.2008 4:28pm
whit:

I'm not sure how this council member's actions differ much from the recent denials of, say, communion, or threats of excommunication by churches who disagree with politicians views, or the voters who vote for them.



it differs qualitatively.

churches are private clubs. you have no RIGHT to be a member, and they have the right to allow or exclude anybody they damn well please.

zoning is not a private club, and govt. should not be deciding who gets zonign based on their views.

OF COURSE, religions should be deciding who gets to be a member, and participate in their rituals based on their views and/or actions contrary to those views.
11.21.2008 4:40pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
Most American Catholics are pro-choice. At the most, it's "we conservative Catholics". You don't speak for the many millions of pro-choice members of your Church in America.

Perhaps you are not aware of the structure of the Catholic Church? The Church has official positions on certain matters of faith and morals that bind the conscience of all Catholic believers. Other matters of faith and morals are matters of individual conscience and choice. The Church hierarchy proffers the official teaching, explains the difference between the two, and exercises discipline when necessary. The local bishop, in communion with the Bishop of Rome, is the only one who speaks the official teaching within an individual diocese, except for official duties delegated to local priests. The bishops speak for the Church. The Church is not a democracy of people who call themselves Catholics and there are specific teachings where assent is required: The bishops themselves are bound by them. Pro-life is one of those teachings.

Abortion is not a matter of individual conscience. The official teaching of the Church is thus: Cooperating in an abortion incurs automatic excommunication. Voting for a pro-choice candidate because of his or her pro-choice position constitutes formal cooperation with grave evil. Voting for a pro-choice candidate in spite of the pro-choice position constitutes material cooperation with grave evil -- unless the voter has proportionate reasons for the vote (the person is less pro-choice than the other candidate, the candidate who is pro-choice has promised steps to reduce abortions while keeping it legal, some say even economic reasons may suffice).

Anyway, the point is, what you call conservative Catholicism is Catholicism. Those who are pro-choice and call themselves Catholic are kidding themselves -- it's either/or by clear Church teaching. You cannot be pro-choice and Catholic. You are talking about cultural catholics when you speak of the majority.

Hope that clears it up.
11.21.2008 4:56pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
BTW, I sometimes wonder about the "would you say that over dinner" policy here at the Conspiracy. I wouldn't say any of this stuff over dinner. I'd make jokes, be collegial and generally try to make sure everyone had a good time.

So, to translate my previous comments into dinner conversation:

"I'm not sure the Catholic Church teaches thatm but I'd rather not discuss religion, politics or the Great Pumpkin over dinner. Are those capers in the sauce?"
11.21.2008 5:17pm
Heh:

But "disparaging" a RELIGION is different than discriminating against the believers.


Speak of anti-Catholic bigotry, and you appear to dish some out. Of course, along with your std attempt to try to act like you're not. Try to stay on topic instead of spewing your hatred of Catholics.
11.21.2008 5:20pm
Bama 1L:
Why do either RLUIPA or the First Amendment have to be dragged in? Don't zoning decisions have to be made on some rational nexus to land use impacts?

You need the 1st Amendment. Without it, government could claim that religion provides the rational basis for the zoning decision.
11.21.2008 5:29pm
Bama 1L:
It would indeed be unconstitutional -- specifically, a violation of the First Amendment -- for a government official to deny a zoning variance to an applicant because of the applicant's ideology, just as it would be unconstitutional for a government official to deny a zoning variance to an applicant because of the applicant's race, sex, or religion.

I have been turning this over in my head again and again. Is "ideology" a euphemism for "religion or lack thereof"? That is the only way it makes sense to me.

Ideology more generally doesn't trigger Constitutional protections, does it? The relevant authority could refuse to rezone for an pro-smoking group's variance but do so for an anti-smoking group, couldn't it? Racist group vs. non-racist group? Unpatriotic group vs. patriotic group? Etc.
11.21.2008 5:43pm
Ben S. (mail):
I find it more than a touch ironic that this person seeks to create "a loving inclusive mixed-use community" but criticizes a religious faith specifically because it wants to stop the destruction of unborn fetuses.

It seems to me that both sides can be accused of using "hate" in an attempt to foster more "lov[e]."
11.21.2008 5:51pm
Smokey:
Feel the love intolerance.
11.21.2008 6:06pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Abortion is not a matter of individual conscience. The official teaching of the Church is thus: Cooperating in an abortion incurs automatic excommunication.

The problem with this is that right-wing Catholics are trying to have it both ways. The Church has every right, if it wishes to, to excommunicate every pro-choicer and bar them from participating any Catholicism in any fashion, if that is what it wishes to do.

But if it did that, it would have a very tiny, politically powerless Church in the United States. So instead, the choice has been made to tolerate pro-choice Catholics while pretending that their views don't actually exist because they are in disagreement with those of the hierarchy.

That's fine too, but if that's the choice the Church decides to make, than the Church's right wing can't claim to speak for all American Catholics on the issue of abortion. Because in fact, most American Catholics disagree with that stance and yet the Church has allowed them to remain in the flock.
11.21.2008 6:58pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Speak of anti-Catholic bigotry, and you appear to dish some out. Of course, along with your std attempt to try to act like you're not. Try to stay on topic instead of spewing your hatred of Catholics.

If you want to call me names, at least actually read and absorb my post first.

The distinction is between discriminating against people because they believe in Catholicism (wrong and bigoted) and criticizing the actions of the Catholic Church (not bigoted).

By your reasoning, it would seem that even criticizing the Church's handling of the sex abuse scandal would constitute anti-Catholic bigotry. This is a distinction that MUST be maintained, because otherwise everyone gets a free pass for even the most offensive views just by making the (unprovable) claim that the views came from God.
11.21.2008 7:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Perhaps you are not aware of the structure of the Catholic Church? The Church has official positions on certain matters of faith and morals that bind the conscience of all Catholic believers."

That's true. I suggest we should never say anything about what Catholics believe. It's too confusing. Does it mean what the rank and file believes, or does it mean what the teaching authrity says. They can be very different.
11.21.2008 7:18pm
Professor Chaos:
Bama 1L

"The relevant authority could refuse to rezone for an pro-smoking group's variance but do so for an anti-smoking group, couldn't it? Racist group vs. non-racist group? Unpatriotic group vs. patriotic group? Etc."

Let me rephrase that for you:

"It's perfectly OK for the government to discriminate against people whose speech on issues of race, patriotism or smoking does not please the government. Right?"

I'm no zoning expert, but I find that position pretty hard to reconcile with my understanding of the free speech clause. Of course there might be some minor exceptions (e.g., I'm not up on the adult-oriented business issues), but as a matter of first principles I'm pretty sure that's not OK.
11.21.2008 7:55pm
Real American (mail):
"I just have to vote in favor of love and against hate when I see hate."


I suppose it isn't surprising that people who talk about being against "hate" practice so much of it themselves. But I guess that people who want to "vote in favor of love and against hate" will have the chance the next time this lady is on the ballot.
11.21.2008 7:59pm
Bama 1L:
Prof. Chaos, I think you are making a jump from ideology to speech rights. Government can't punish or prevent the speech. That's the extent of the free speech right, though. Government can discriminate except when it can't, and the circumstances in which it can't are pretty small.

Suppose I believe smoking is good for you, not harmful, and everyone should smoke. That's my ideology. I don't believe cancer causes disease. I think it makes me smell good. Etc.

Government cannot stop me expressing my opinion. My free speech rights protect me.

But government can run its own anti-smoking publicity campaign; i.e., it can indoctrinate people with a directly opposing ideology. It can do so to an extent that it drowns my message out entirely with its anti-smoking propaganda.

Government can offer benefits to non-smokers and deny them to smokers. For instance, it could make expenses associated with quitting smoking tax deductible as some sort of health expenses. It could decline to offer any benefit for people like me who keep smoking. Discrimination!

Government can discriminate against me in employment. Let's just see me get hired as a health teacher at a public school. My failure to buy into government's "smoking is bad for you" ideology will get me labeled as unsuitable for the job because I won't teach the curriculum and seem to be ignorant of modern science.

Etc.

That strikes me as permissible discrimination.
11.21.2008 8:27pm
Sua Tremendita (mail):
Reminds me of a personal favorite quote to keep beloved female family members engaged in conversation around the dinner table:


"Woman is naturally bigoted and relentless in her effort to make others as good as she thinks they ought to be... Woman's narrow attitude toward life makes her a greater danger to liberty wherever she has political power."

Emma Goldman
11.21.2008 9:23pm
Professor Chaos:
Bama 1L

"Government can discriminate except when it can't." Right. And one of the times that it generally can't is when it doesn't like your speech on a particular issue -- be it race, smoking, abortion, feminism, the existence of God, etc. -- and its discrimination would penalize you because of that speech.

Your counter-examples are poorly chosen because they involve government as employer (which operates under very different rules than government as such), penalties for conduct (actual smoking, rather than speech about smoking), and government actions that don't penalize your speech at all (pushing its own preferred message, while still allowing you do to push yours if you wish).

If you still don't get it, perhaps I'm just not communicating effectively. Hopefully someone else will take a shot at it.

Happy Thanksgiving.
11.21.2008 9:41pm
Daedalus (mail):
Its her right to vote as she wants.........but its also the right of the people to remove IDIOTS, and those who do not support the will of the people.
11.22.2008 12:52am
John Moore (www):
@Dilan Esper:
Most American Catholics are pro-choice


Only by the loosest definition of "pro-choice." While the majority of American Catholics do not hold strictly to church teachings on the subject, the majority are, by any reasonable standard, "pro-life."

The mis-use of this statistic is fairly typical in the area of abortion. It is akin to the assertion that "the majority of Americans are pro-choice" when in fact the majority advocate significant restrictions on abortion, while the pro-choice advocacy groups support only the extreme position of zero restrictions.

Note:

The Marist survey found 63 percent of Catholics say abortions should be permitted in none or almost no cases by opposing all abortions, all abortions except to save the mother's life, or all abortions except to save the mother's life or in cases of rape or incest.

That puts 63 percent of Catholics opposing about 98 percent of all abortions, according to Alan Guttmacher Institute information about when abortions are done.

Breaking down the polling data further, 72 percent of practicing Catholics take one of the three pro-life positions opposing all or almost all abortions, even though 59 percent call themselves pro-life.
11.22.2008 2:36am
John Moore (www):
I forgot to mention... the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is permissible to save the mother's life.
11.22.2008 2:39am
spectator:

I forgot to mention... the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is permissible to save the mother's life.

Strictly speaking, she does not teach that, if we understand abortion as the direct killing of the child. What is permissible under the so-called doctrine of double-effect is a medical action intending to save the mother's life with a side-effect that threatens the child's life.
11.22.2008 6:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ideology more generally doesn't trigger Constitutional protections, does it? The relevant authority could refuse to rezone for an pro-smoking group's variance but do so for an anti-smoking group, couldn't it? Racist group vs. non-racist group? Unpatriotic group vs. patriotic group? Etc.
Uh, no. Where on earth did you get that idea?

The first amendment does not, as a general rule, allow the government to discriminate based on viewpoint in carrying out its government functions.

Prof. Chaos, I think you are making a jump from ideology to speech rights. Government can't punish or prevent the speech. That's the extent of the free speech right, though. Government can discriminate except when it can't, and the circumstances in which it can't are pretty small.
You have it backwards. Government can't discriminate except when it can, and the circumstances in which it can are pretty small when we're talking about speech. And about the only time when it can is when we're talking about government speech rather than private speech.

But government can run its own anti-smoking publicity campaign; i.e., it can indoctrinate people with a directly opposing ideology. It can do so to an extent that it drowns my message out entirely with its anti-smoking propaganda.
Disagreement is not discrimination. Being more persuasive than someone else is not discriminating against him.
Government can offer benefits to non-smokers and deny them to smokers. For instance, it could make expenses associated with quitting smoking tax deductible as some sort of health expenses. It could decline to offer any benefit for people like me who keep smoking. Discrimination!
On the basis of actions -- smoking -- not speech. It cannot offer benefits to anti-smoking advocates and not to pro-smoking advocates because of their views on smoking.
Government can discriminate against me in employment. Let's just see me get hired as a health teacher at a public school. My failure to buy into government's "smoking is bad for you" ideology will get me labeled as unsuitable for the job because I won't teach the curriculum and seem to be ignorant of modern science.
That's a government speech issue, not a private speech issue. Still, the government can only discriminate if you refuse to teach the government curriculum, not if you simply disagree with it. Again, actions, not speech.
11.22.2008 10:21am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Dilan:
3. However, I don't think that very many pro-lifers are actually on board with feminism and the sexual revolution, as evidenced by their positions on every other issue affecting sex and gender. And THOSE pro-lifers are indeed misogynists and should be treated as such.
Misogynists are people who hate women. Wanting to restrict abortion, contraception, or sex generally is not equivalent to "hating women." Not being on board with the sexual revolution is not equivalent to "hating women."

There may indeed be pro-lifers who hate women. Those people can legitimately be termed misogynists, but there is a very small number of such people. There is a significantly larger group of people, some of whom are pro-lifers, who support/approve of/want to discriminate against women in employment/education/civic affairs. This group is almost certainly not motivated by hatred of women, so "misogynist" is the wrong term. Chauvinist, or sexist, would be the more accurate term. But neither of those are synonymous with opposing the sexual revolution, much as feminists want to portray it as such.

The problem with your quoted statement is that a slight majority of pro-lifers are women. You inaccurately claim that the Catholic Church doesn't speak for Catholics -- definitionally, it does -- but self-proclaimed feminists don't speak for women.
11.22.2008 10:30am
Elliot123 (mail):
"You inaccurately claim that the Catholic Church doesn't speak for Catholics -- definitionally, it does -- but self-proclaimed feminists don't speak for women."

Is it reasonable to say the Church speaks for all Catholics on birth control? I'd suggest the rank and file speak for themselves by their actions.

I agree there is a teaching authority, but Catholics have overwhelmingly rejected it on BC. It hardly speaks for them.
11.22.2008 12:16pm
richard cabeza:
All this talk of who speaks for whom is so far from the right set of questions to ask that it's just hilarious.

Step back from your collectivism. Try to evaluate beliefs on their bases and practice.

Or you could just promote the same destructive party line that an official in a property-rights-denying position worships.
11.22.2008 3:26pm
melissa (mail) (www):
Dilan wrote:
3. However, I don't think that very many pro-lifers are actually on board with feminism and the sexual revolution, as evidenced by their positions on every other issue affecting sex and gender. And THOSE pro-lifers are indeed misogynists and should be treated as such.

I'm a life-long Catholic, and a woman of childbearing age, and am certainly someone who believes in equal rights and high achievement for women (as well as men). I have known a great deal of pro-lifers in my time, and very few, if any of them, have shown to me that they were "not on board with feminism." (perhaps not "on board" with the sexual revolution, but more in the sense that sex is something to be respected rather than given away freely, but not in a sense that particularly impacts women.) That is certainly not the attitude that my (extremely pro-life) family has, nor is it the attitude that I have ever experienced from fellow church-goers. (Where I have seen this sort of attitude, it almost always comes from fundamentalist protestant sorts, rather than Catholics.)

In other words, I think that your opinion about "not very many pro-lifers" is sadly misinformed and based on stereotypes.
11.22.2008 5:36pm
ReaderY:
The relevant religion clause involves the Free Exercise Clause as well as the establishment clause. Whatever one thinks of the scope of the Establishment Clause, for a government to prohibit a church from erecting a house of worship because it disagrees with its beliefs is an unequivocal violation of the Free Exercise Clause. Christmas displays, school vouchers, prayers at city council meetings, and the like are simply not on the same level as the state prohibiting a church from erecting a building because a state official doesn't agree with its message. If that's not a Free Exercise violation, what is? As Professor Volokh points out, Freedom of Speech rights are also implicated.
11.22.2008 9:35pm
ReaderY:
Of course the legal situation would be the same in the case of a Catholic (i.e. a local government official who was a Roman Catholic) who voted against permission for an abortion clinic. Would it get the same interest?

Totally different situation. Ones views of abortion have no necessary relation to ones religious denomination, a wide variety of religions and religious people both support and oppose it, often within the same denomination.

This argument used to be made about slavery, supporters of slavery used to argue that because the arguments against slavery were made on religious grounds, laws against slavery were violations of the Establishment Clause. Pro-choice activist John Calhoun in particular was a strong proponent of this argument, fiercely arguing that people had no right to impose their morality on others and the question of whether a negro slave was or was not a person was a moral question that ought to be left to American citizens' individual conscience rather than having one particular relgious denomination's view forced down dissenter's throats. He argued Americans could be trusted with a choice on these sensitive, personal religious matters.

The slavery question seems to be strong precedent that general questions of what is and is not a "person" or what other classes of humans might be entitled to or bestowed rights or protections in particular circumstances are public policy question, not a religious questions. Their answers have nothing inherently to do with beliefs about a Supreme Being or beings. Accordingly, the various answers people have to such questions represent public policy differences which are simply outside the scope of the First Amendment.

John Calhoun was wrong. His view was rightly rejected. It ought not to be resurrected.
11.22.2008 9:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Misogynists are people who hate women. Wanting to restrict abortion, contraception, or sex generally is not equivalent to "hating women."

Yes it is. Wanting to prevent women from enjoying their bodies without fear of pregnancy and dependence on men while fully participating in society is basically trying to force women back into the slavery they lived in under patriarchal societies for centuries. And that is the most deep-seated hatred of women imaginable.

So yes, if you want to use reproduction to control women, you are a misogynist. If you don't believe me, ask any urban single woman with a sex life.
11.23.2008 12:09am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The problem with your quoted statement is that a slight majority of pro-lifers are women. You inaccurately claim that the Catholic Church doesn't speak for Catholics -- definitionally, it does -- but self-proclaimed feminists don't speak for women.

Pro-lifers hide behind pro-life women, but the vast majority of women are pro-choice. In any event, pro-life women have no right to tell pro-choice women how to live.

As for feminists, I don't claim they represent all women or speak for them. I do claim, however, that the basic tenets of second-wave feminism (including the right of women to have sex without being forced to depend on men and the separation of women's sex lives from procreation) are things that every non-misogynist would believe in.
11.23.2008 12:13am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I'm a life-long Catholic, and a woman of childbearing age, and am certainly someone who believes in equal rights and high achievement for women (as well as men). I have known a great deal of pro-lifers in my time, and very few, if any of them, have shown to me that they were "not on board with feminism." (perhaps not "on board" with the sexual revolution, but more in the sense that sex is something to be respected rather than given away freely, but not in a sense that particularly impacts women.)

Read Kristin Luker's "Abortion And the Politics of Motherhood". The vast, vast majority of pro-lifers do indeed believe sexuality and procreation should be used to constrain women's choices. The pro-lifers you talk to are either in the minority, aren't being frank with you, or you are minimizing their views.
11.23.2008 12:15am
richard cabeza:
ReaderY: I agree, and that is how it should be, but the first amendment uses the phrase "Congress shall make no law," which seems to allow States that freedom.

Still, South Carolina's own constitution does say "The General Assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, [...]" and by virtue of how municipalities derive their legitimacy (I'm just guessing here), that may indirectly but strongly apply to this situation.

But what if the State's constitution did not include that? (Is that the case anywhere in the US?)
11.23.2008 1:55am
melissa (mail) (www):
Dilan,

Do you honestly believe that every Catholic that I have ever met throughout a lifetime of interaction with them is a "minority" or not "being frank with" me? And I'm supposed to discount a lifetime of experiences because some pro-abortion sociology professor wrote a book about it? There is simply no way to characterize that other than just plain silly.

The pro-life position is simple: the fetus is a child, a distinct human being who deserves protection; there is no moral difference between unborn and born. Now you can disagree with that if you wish; that's certainly worth discussing. You can even assert that the woman's freedom is worth more than the life of the child, if that is your opinion.

But, for some reason that I can't understand, you simply cannot accept that a person could have any reasons for their belief other than the subjugation of women, and you insist on seeing the "vast majority" of those who disagree with you through that lens despite any evidence to the contrary. Any person with an agenda can put whatever she wants into a book. Try having actual conversations with people who disagree with you and listen to their point of view, rather than just making assumptions and demonizing them.
11.23.2008 9:14am
IB Bill (mail) (www):
ReaderY: It is scary how analogous the arguments are made between slavery and abortion ... and they both focus on the idea that it's up to the individual conscience, as you said, to decide whether someone is a person or the property of another. Tks for your explanation.
11.23.2008 1:27pm
Heh:

Yes it is. Wanting to prevent women from enjoying their bodies without fear of pregnancy and dependence on men while fully participating in society is basically trying to force women back into the slavery they lived in under patriarchal societies for centuries. And that is the most deep-seated hatred of women imaginable.


You've not dealt with the real world much, have you? Having been a prosecutor, I have seen some deep-seated hatred of women, and it is deeper and darker than it seems you're capable of imagining. That you would even suggest that anyone who has different opinions than yours on contraception or abortion is in that league would be laughable if it wasn't so damn sad.

As for your reference to slavery, it's an interesting mention. Much like the pro-abortion side, slaves were once considered less-than-a-whole-person by the pro-slavery side. Like slavery, I suspect that society will eventually come back around to the realization that abortion is wrong as well. It might take a little more time, but it will come.

Wha
11.23.2008 2:00pm
Heh:

Wha


What I was going to say, was that the one of the most odd things I remember observing was that some of the most ardent anti-death-penalty people were also some of the most ardent pro-abortion people. It's kinda funny how when some murderer is on death row someone will scream and yell that they shouldn't be put to death (regardless of the number of lives they took), and then turn around and say kill the unborn (the absolute innocent). Sometimes I wonder about the human race :)
11.23.2008 2:09pm
Jayna (mail):
"But if it did that, it would have a very tiny, politically powerless Church in the United States. So instead, the choice has been made to tolerate pro-choice Catholics while pretending that their views don't actually exist because they are in disagreement with those of the hierarchy."

I think you're misunderstanding what the position of the Church is on this issue. We are told by our bishops and priests that we are to respect and obey our elected officials. The toleration of their stance exists insofar as they may have this belief and we still must obey them under law, but we are also called to work and pray for their change of heart. I would also add that many bishops expressed dismay over pro-choice politicians publicly receiving communion during the Holy Father's visit earlier this year.

On the question of excommunication, the Catechism is very clear that "Formal cooperation in an abortion ... 'incurs excommunication latae sententiae'" (Cathechism 2272). However, that is not to say that absolution cannot be granted, even in the case of a mortal sin, if the penitent approaches confession with a sincere and contrite heart.

This is not an issue of right wing and left wing. It is a question of right and wrong. Attaching labels of right and left wing views of Catholicism is one of the many destructive tendencies inflicted on the Church as a result of Vatican II. You either adhere to the teachings and doctrine or you cannot in good conscience call yourself Catholic. You cannot pick and choose what you agree and don't agree with, it just doesn't work like that. If you do not agree, you must change your mind; simple as that. These people may say they are Catholic, but in the eyes of the Church they are not.
11.23.2008 2:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Do you honestly believe that every Catholic that I have ever met throughout a lifetime of interaction with them is a "minority" or not "being frank with" me?

Melissa, the polling confirms that a majority of pro-lifers (including pro-life Catholics) believe in traditional, oppressive gender roles and see abortion not only as an issue of life and death but also as part of the culture's move away from traditional values, and gender roles and constraints on sexual activity ordained by God, and believe that public policy should create incentives to push society back to the traditional model.

As I said, Luker's book sets it out quite clearly. Not only did she take polls, but she also did intensive interviews with a sample of pro-life and pro-choice activists.

That may not be your experience. But it is the truth. Your comment is reminiscent of Pauline Kael's comment after the 1972 election (a landslide for Nixon) that she didn't know how Nixon won because she didn't know anyone who voted for him.

But, for some reason that I can't understand, you simply cannot accept that a person could have any reasons for their belief other than the subjugation of women, and you insist on seeing the "vast majority" of those who disagree with you through that lens despite any evidence to the contrary.

You did not read my post. I indicated that it is possible to be a committed feminist who understands the importance of women assuming modern gender roles, having sexual freedom, and avoiding dependence on men, but nonetheless oppose abortion. I believe there are such people. But there are very few of them. The polling data supports my claim.
11.23.2008 6:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
You've not dealt with the real world much, have you? Having been a prosecutor, I have seen some deep-seated hatred of women, and it is deeper and darker than it seems you're capable of imagining. That you would even suggest that anyone who has different opinions than yours on contraception or abortion is in that league would be laughable if it wasn't so damn sad.

You can only hold this view if you don't understand what it is like for a woman who is caught between her sex life, dependence on men, and the sentence of carrying and bearing a child she doesn't want to bear. For those women, it is slavery. And it is a slavery that the sexual and feminist revolutions emancipated her from.

So yes, people who think that traditional gender roles were preferable do hate women. Because they want to constrain their choices to ensure that they give up either their sex lives or their careers to become baby factories.
11.23.2008 6:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Jayna:

You are giving the religious explanation for what the Church did. But the Church doesn't get its orders from God. (Otherwise the sex abuse scandal wouldn't have happened.) The Church does whatever is in its self-interest, just like everyone else in this world.

It is in the Church's self-interest to (1) pretend pro-choice Catholics do not exist when it comes to saying what Catholic doctrine is, while (2) counting pro-choice Catholics as existing when it comes to counting the total membership of the Church and extending its influence.

Thus, the Church says that the pro-choicers "excommunicate themselves", but the Church takes no action to actually kick them out. That is the only position that allows the Church to have it both ways on pro-choice members, which is exactly what it wants to do.
11.23.2008 6:43pm
Jmaie (mail):
Thus, the Church says that the pro-choicers "excommunicate themselves", but the Church takes no action to actually kick them out.

Dilan, the purpose of excommunication is not to expel a person from the church. It is a penalty intended to covey the seriousness of the sin. Absolution is still possible, and indeed is the desired outcome.
11.23.2008 11:01pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Jayna:

Again, I understand what the Catholic Church claims the purpose of excommunication is.

I am just telling you that since these guys have no direct pipeline to God (anymore than anyone else does), you have to look at what their actual motives might be.

And the position they take jibes perfectly with what you would do if you wanted to be able to say that all "real" Catholics were pro-life while also not dealing with a mass exodus of pro-choice members who leave or are forced out of the Church because of the Church's official position.

So unless you really believe that God is advising the Vatican (in which case, I suppose, that God must have wanted hundreds of priests to molest children and then be protected from the authorities and reassigned to molest other children in other parishes, because that's what the Vatican hierarchy brought about with all their prayers and ceremonies and mysticism), the obvious explanation is that the Vatican is trying to have it both ways on the subject of whether pro-choicers are Catholics.
11.24.2008 5:10am
Elliot123 (mail):
"You either adhere to the teachings and doctrine or you cannot in good conscience call yourself Catholic. You cannot pick and choose what you agree and don't agree with, it just doesn't work like that. If you do not agree, you must change your mind; simple as that. These people may say they are Catholic, but in the eyes of the Church they are not."

That may be true, but since such overwhelming numbers of people who self identify as Catholics disagree with the Church on birth control, it's then reasonable to say the US Catholic population is closer to 6 million than 65 million. These people do not change their minds to agree with the Church teachings. That's not how works. It's simple as that.

I'd accept the notion that the Church does not consider people who disagree to be Catholics if it actually did something about it. There may be some regulation on a dusty shelf in the Vatican, but I judge an organization's policies by real world actions.
11.24.2008 11:58am
IB Bill (mail) (www):
I believe I was incorrect in my previous post about who is Catholic.

There are two questions: If you are pro-choice, can you call yourself a Catholic in good conscience. And if you are pro-choice, does the Church consider you still Catholic? The answer to the first is "no" and the second is "I think so." Can you ever leave the Church from the Church's perspective? Certainly you can from your own perspective, but I don't believe from the Church's perspective you can leave. (I'd happy to be corrected or have this clarified by a priest, however.)

Say you are baptized and confirmed Catholic. Then you leave the Church from your perspective, formally apostasize, and join another religion or no religion. Some time later, you decide to return. I think all that's required for you to receive communion at Mass in the Catholic Church is you go to confession. You do not need to be confirmed again or go through any kind of process. Drop by the confessional, receive absolution, and that's it.

So from the Church's spiritual perspective, you can't leave -- you can just be disobedient. Which is true, I believe, of all members at one time or another. To cling to disobedience for life, however, causes a person to miss much of the beauty of knowing God through His Church in this life and imperils the soul. (Notice I didn't say damns the soul -- the Church teaches there is a hell, but does not say if anyone is in it. Though some saints say that it's well populated. Others have hinted at universal salvation. In any case, the point is knowing God.)

I think that's it. But I'm willing to be corrected by someone who knows more about this than I do.
11.24.2008 12:58pm
Heh:

You can only hold this view if you don't understand what it is like for a woman who is caught between her sex life, dependence on men, and the sentence of carrying and bearing a child she doesn't want to bear. For those women, it is slavery. And it is a slavery that the sexual and feminist revolutions emancipated her from.


First it's the worst thing to have different opinions on contraception or abortion, worse than someone who takes his hatred out by mutilating bodies. Though I admit you did move the goal posts on that, so credit to you on walking back an unreal statement. But now it's a sentence to carry a child and slavery. Please. These words mean something, and every time someone like you tries to use them on minor things like this, you diminish the ability of someone who has real concerns when they need to use those words properly.

But I suppose I shouldn't care. I mean, The flip side of watering-down some of these words will be the greater ease of convictions for those still employed as a prosecutor. I'm sure that can't possibly be a bad thing :)
11.24.2008 7:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Misogynists are people who hate women. Wanting to restrict abortion, contraception, or sex generally is not equivalent to "hating women."

Yes it is. Wanting to prevent women from enjoying their bodies without fear of pregnancy and dependence on men while fully participating in society is basically trying to force women back into the slavery they lived in under patriarchal societies for centuries. And that is the most deep-seated hatred of women imaginable.

So yes, if you want to use reproduction to control women, you are a misogynist. If you don't believe me, ask any urban single woman with a sex life.
Ah, so now it comes down to the notion that "feminism" is defined as "serving the interests of single women who want to have lots of recreational sex without consequences." Well, if that's how you want to define the term, then I agree that pro-lifers aren't "feminists." But that doesn't make them "misogynists." Nor is not endorsing casual sex "using reproduction to control women."

Nor is pregnancy/motherhood "slavery," and silly rhetoric like that is why most women no longer are willing to identify themselves as feminists.

Pro-lifers hide behind pro-life women, but the vast majority of women are pro-choice. In any event, pro-life women have no right to tell pro-choice women how to live.
The first statement is false; the second is irrelevant to the topic, and you don't really believe that anyway, since you're a liberal. What you mean is that in the narrow sphere of sex, pro-life [women] have no right to tell pro-choice [women] how to live. You have no problem denying choice in most other aspects of life.

Of course, "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are underspecified terms, but for any definition of "pro-choice" other than "doesn't want to forbid all abortions," most women -- most Americans -- are not pro-choice. A majority of women, a majority of Americans, think abortion ought to be legal under a very narrow set of circumstances (life/health of the motion/rape/incest) that compose 5% or so of abortions.
11.24.2008 9:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But now it's a sentence to carry a child and slavery. Please. These words mean something, and every time someone like you tries to use them on minor things like this, you diminish the ability of someone who has real concerns when they need to use those words properly.

Why don't you get to know some women who have had abortions and the circumstances that they face. Really, you carelessly approach this issue in a very abstract fashion, and you don't know what a life-ruining event a pregnancy can be.

A woman who doesn't have control of her reproduction is either forced to give up her sexual freedom (unacceptable, but the goal of many pro-lifers) or often ends up in impossible situations of dependence or forced procreation.

This doesn't mean that one can't be pro-life because one thinks the life of a tiny tadpole-like fetus outweighs this-- it's that you need to appreciate what needs to be outweighed. And the polls indicate that most pro-lifers have no idea really.
11.25.2008 12:34am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Ah, so now it comes down to the notion that "feminism" is defined as "serving the interests of single women who want to have lots of recreational sex without consequences." Well, if that's how you want to define the term, then I agree that pro-lifers aren't "feminists."

By belittling those interests, you show how anti-women you are. You see, those women WANT to have those sex lives, and they are ENTITLED to have those sex lives, and the government has no business forcing a "virtue" that they reject onto them.

That's what this debate is really all about. Pro-choicers know how important sex is to unmarried career women. Pro-lifers think unmarried career women with sex lives are being selfish.

And that, you will note, has NOTHING to do with the life of the fetus.
11.25.2008 12:36am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Pro-choicers know how important sex is to unmarried career women."

How important is it?
11.25.2008 12:48am
IB Bill (mail) (www):
How important is it? Apparently so important that a baby's life and rights can be ignored. Nothing like an entitlement mentality ... I'm entitled to sex without consequences, and if 45 million babies have to die on that altar, so be it.
11.25.2008 5:54am
Heh:

Why don't you get to know some women who have had abortions and the circumstances that they face. Really, you carelessly approach this issue in a very abstract fashion, and you don't know what a life-ruining event a pregnancy can be.


The only one being careless here is you. Why don't you spend 13 or so months working on a case where someone went running around carving up bodies of women because something snapped in his head. You keep talking about how this is so horrible for these women and their abortions, but that is NOTHING compared to the horrors on I've seen. NOTHING.

The fact that you continue to make it out like someone disagreeing with your opinions on reproduction is anything near this level just continues to put you out as a fool. A damned lucky fool, who didn't have to learn the hard way that there is true evil on the planet. That's the only way you can continue to make these arguments, ignorance. And it almost sounds like you prefer to hold on to your ignorance, lest you have to admit how wrong you are.
11.25.2008 9:39am
ReaderY:

ReaderY: I agree, and that is how it should be, but the first amendment uses the phrase "Congress shall make no law," which seems to allow States that freedom.


While there's an argument that the Establishment Clause was not intended to create an individual right and hence is not subject to incorporation by the 14th Amendment, this argument does not apply to the Free Exercise Clause. The Free Exercise Clause was intended to refer to an individual right, and hence is incorporable by the 14th Amendment.

My personal view is that there is some merit to the argument, and hence states may not be restricted as the Federal Governemt in things like religious displays, legislative prayers, and the like which may arguably "establish" religion without impairing anyone's freedom of exercise; however, anything which does impair freedom of exercise would be prohibited.
11.25.2008 10:54am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
How important is it? Apparently so important that a baby's life and rights can be ignored. Nothing like an entitlement mentality ...

Again, you guys have proven my point. THIS, and not life, is what the pro-life movement is all about. You guys object to female sexual freedom. You think it's "selfish". An "entitlement mentality". And then you guys complain when we call you anti-woman.

Well, this IS anti-woman. Again, get to know some career women before you start telling them that they have to be baby factories. And no, heh, seeing death and destruction does not give you a free pass from understanding how the policies you favor would enslave women.

2 of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th Century were the emancipation of Western women and the sexual revolution. The pro-life movement is, for the most part, the rump that never accepted those things.
11.25.2008 1:37pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Why don't you spend 13 or so months working on a case where someone went running around carving up bodies of women because something snapped in his head."

Did you catch him?
11.25.2008 3:37pm
IB Bill (mail) (www):
Contumacious. Self-contradictory. Unwilling to concede the obvious. No point in continuing discussion.
11.25.2008 3:39pm
Heh:

And no, heh, seeing death and destruction does not give you a free pass from understanding how the policies you favor would enslave women.


Once again, no one is being enslaved when someone doesn't agree with your views. And you continually fail to overcome the basic test; you can't justify killing the unborn to justify someone's recreational life.

There was a reason that when Clinton said "safe, legal, and rare" he scored big time. I'm sure an easy majority of people want abortion available in those corner cases of rape or incest or medical exceptions. But no one ever has a survey that asks "Do you support abortion as birth control?" or "Do you support abortion for any reason whatsoever?".
11.25.2008 8:35pm
Heh:

Did you catch him?


The police caught him. The team I was on prosecuted. It was a good deal of effort, but in the end we got the conviction.
11.25.2008 8:37pm
richard cabeza:
So "Congress shall" means "legislatures at various levels shall" now?

So that's why they call it "Supreme."
11.25.2008 11:52pm
ReaderY:
One has to remember that proponents of slavery believed that the only possible reasons anyone could have for opposing slavery was hatred of Southerners just as sincerely as people believe what they believe today. And for the same reasons. And they used virtually the same rhetoric. Amd with similar motivation, too.

People's tendency to project their own repressed feelings on to others has such a long history.

People do indeed have an amazing tendency to believe the most absurd things when it happens to suit their interests.
11.26.2008 12:50am
ReaderY:
One also has to remember that slavery proponets sincerely beleived that they were the liberal, enlightened people here to protect America from the ravages of religious intolerance. They sincerely believed that theirs was the side of reason and their opponents the side of darkness. They took it the obvious rightness of their position and the obvious evil of their opponents every bit as much for granted as people do today. It wouldn't have occured to them otherwise. Same here.
11.26.2008 12:56am
richard cabeza:
You've lost me, but that's probably because I'm not familiar with the history of this line of interpretation. I'm guessing that, when they're not just discarded, interpreting in a way a text isn't written a principal document a set of laws has throughout written-law history been justified. But all that does is create a precedent for interpretations that discard any plain reading or spirit of that document.

Which is to say, I have no idea what slavery has to do with it, but if people think that the laws which require perverting an amendement are so important, then why don't they just add to the amendment to make it read the way they want?
11.26.2008 1:40am