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An All Too Familiar Tune

April 22, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By MIKE MANNO

A new drama is being played out in a federal courtroom near the Cleveland suburb of South Euclid, Ohio, that has all the notes we’ve heard sung before: “In the name of toleration you can’t practice your belief.”
The story is simply a remake of stories we hear from all parts of the nation. A local city, town, school board — you pick the place — has decided that if you cannot support and embrace the new political morality that rejects traditional concepts of marriage and gender, you must be bad and need to be silenced or put out of business.
The victim this time is a school, The Lyceum, which is described as “a classical religious school.” The city, as other cities, towns, school boards, and so on across the country have done, passed an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on religion, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Gender is defined as “actual or perceived sex.” The ordinance applies to all public accommodations.
Now The Lyceum: The word itself refers to a classical educational system, and it is a Catholic school that, according to its petition to the court, “believes that a classical Catholic liberal arts education enables a person to seek the light of truth, especially ‘the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ’.” In keeping with its religious tradition, the school’s curriculum is ordered by its study of theology which is “based on the Holy Scriptures, Catholic Tradition, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Magisterium, the Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, and Catholic authors.”
Thus the school upholds traditional Catholic values, including those based on the Church’s teachings on marriage, sexual identity, and sexual ethics. The Lyceum will not accept students who, along with their parents, reject Church teachings on “marriage as the union of one man and one women, sexual identity, and sexual ethics.”
In its court filing it further states that “The Lyceum will not permit employees, students, or parents or guardians to join or remain part of the school community if they wish to adopt a gender identity at variance with their sex…[and it] will not permit sex-specific facilities to be accessed by members of the opposite sex, regardless of gender identity.”
When the city drafted its legislation it originally included an exception for religious institutions. That provision, however, was removed by the city council before final passage. So the question for the school to answer was whether the newly passed ordinance applied to it as a public accommodation. So the school asked the city.
There was no response.
So the city filed a public records request seeking to obtain any communications from an LGBT organization, Equality Ohio, and the city council had prior to the passage of the ordinance. “In violation of Ohio’s public records law, the city has not responded,” the school’s complaint alleges.
Finally, in February of this year The Lyceum asked the city’s legal department if the ordinance applied to the school. The response: The city could not say whether it did or not. Thus with the help of our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), suit was filed on April 3 alleging the usual litany of actions: violation of the Free Exercise Clause; violation of free speech; violation of the right of free association; violation of due process, and violation of several provisions of the Ohio constitution and statutes.
Of course, if this all sounds familiar, it is because it is. Twenty-four states and over 400 cities and other localities have passed similar legislation, referred to SOGI laws — Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. And now the speaker of the U.S. House, that noted Catholic theologian, Nancy, Her Eminence Cardinal Pelosi, has proposed a national SOGI law for the United States, called the Equality Act.
It would, under the guise of civil rights, expand the categories of protection under existing law to include sexual orientation, which have been used as a weapon by LGBT activists to target people of faith, such as florists, bakers, and others for refusing to take part in activities for which they have a moral objection. We’ve seen it play out over and over.
Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of ADF, stated that the Equality Act would undermine “the fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience that the First Amendment guarantees for every citizen.”
But don’t listen just to our side, consider what Andrea Shorter said in an article she penned in the LGBTQ news in the San Francisco Bay Times: “The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit. The Act would also push back against religious liberty claims used to discriminate against LGBT people.”
You see, it is an attack on religion. Under similar state and local laws, Catholic hospitals have been sued in California and New Jersey for refusing to perform hysterectomies on women seeking gender reassignment surgery; a teacher in Virginia was fired for using the wrong pronoun for a female student who preferred a male pronoun; a homeless shelter for abused women was sued for refusing to admit a biological male, claiming to be transgender, in the same facility with women; bakers and florists in several states have been sued — some into bankruptcy — for refusing to provide services for same-sex marriages.
And: Minnesota law is attempting to force a Christian filmmaker to create films supporting same-sex marriage; a printer in Kentucky was sued by the city for refusing to provide Gay Pride T shirts; numerous school districts have opened restrooms and shower facilities to the gender confused, thus allowing biological males to expose themselves to school age girls; a Catholic hospital in California was sued by a man claiming to be a woman for not providing breast augmentation surgery; in several locations, Christian adoption agencies have been forced to close rather than adopt to same-sex or unmarried couples; and, of course, the list goes on.
But these are not usually actions by everyday homosexual men or women. Many tend to live and let live. These are the actions that are taken by activists. It’s an activist that goes to an establishment — knowing it has a moral objection to the requested service — in order to do exposure and harm, not to seek justice. The Kentucky printer mentioned above referred the patron to another printer who did the work for free. He was still sued. In California during the Proposition 8 campaign to strengthen traditional marriage, gay activists called and threatened the employers of people who had signed the petition to put the issue on the ballot, and people actually lost jobs over it.
This, of course, is not a civil rights issue. It is just one method used by activists and politicians in a full-out assault on our traditional values and our right to live out our faith as it has been handed down to us for the past 2,000 years.
It is part of an attempt to weaponize public policy to push Christian values out of the public square. Of course, we’ve seen it all before, as the young men and women of The Lyceum will learn from the Prophet Isaiah in their Scripture classes: “Judgment is turned away, and justice stands far off, for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter.”
The battle lines have been drawn; unfortunately many on our side are in a state of denial and cannot see them. We need to wake up. The battle is being waged and too many of us are still asleep.
(Mike can be reached at: DeaconMike@q.com.)

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