Faith Under Fire: An Unexpected Protest Against Same Sex Marriage

Editor’s Note: Faith Under Fire, Catholic Exchange’s series documenting increased hostilities against the Faith by the State, continues today with some eyebrow-raising observations by the irrepressible Gail Finke on the subject of same-sex marriage… 

Two remarkable protests against redefining marriage this weekend show that the battle may not be lost, and that the battle lines are different from what many people think.

In England, more than 1,000 priests — about a quarter of the priests in the country, covering a wide variety of philosophical and political views — signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph warning that redefining marriage could lead to the sort of institutional persecution of Catholics there not seen since the 1700s. And in France, more than 300,000 people (some estimates go as high as one million, but the police say 340,000) marched on the Eiffel Tower to protest “gay marriage.”

Neither country can be accused of intolerance to homosexual couples living openly together. Both have legally recognized civil unions. In England, “civil partnerships” give the partners the full legal benefits of marriage. Since becoming legal in 2006, 50,000 have been contracted. In France, where “civil solidarity pacts” granting couples most of the same rights as married couples are available to anyone, almost 95% of those choosing them have been heterosexual couples.

Both countries are heavily secularized. While France is technically a Catholic country, the majority of French people remain functionally agnostic, while those who practice their faith are largely caught up in the bitter fight between the leftist mainstream church and the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X and sympathizers. Opposition to the redefinition of marriage there is not driven by theology.

In England, British blogger Damien Thompson noted, Catholics are “Britain’s largest and, arguably, best-integrated religious minority,” generally taking a middle-of-the-road posture on political and social issues. But British Catholics have long memories. It wasn’t long ago, in the life of the nation, that Catholics were almost wiped out. Generations of harsh laws denying them education, land and voting rights, admission to many professions, and often permission to worship at all, left English Catholics a small, impoverished underclass by the time most of the laws were repealed in 1829.

The weekend’s protests elicit the same charges that American protests of “gay marriage” do: bigotry, intolerance, and just plain nastiness. But the French and British protest emphasize very different issues than those emphasized by American protests, which tend to be Biblical commands (among non-Catholics), and natural law arguments (among Catholics trying to steer clear of religion).

France 3

A French protest sign

In France, the argument is the rights of children. French protesters say they are not against homosexuals, they are for marriage. Every child, they say, has the right to a mother and a father — and two “mothers” or two “fathers” are not equivalent substitutes. “We are for respect for all families and against homophobia,” said one promotional video for the protest. The hundreds of thousands of French people who protested in the freezing cold, many bringing their small children with them, specifically claim not to be bigoted, intolerant, or nasty.

In England, this weekend’s protest was specifically Catholic, clerical, and based on the legal consequences of redefining marriage to Catholics as a minority group. The clergy signing the letter say that marriage already has a meaning, and that it is not possible to redefine it. If the government does so, they say, Catholics will be required to use that definition and will refuse to do so. It will mean the end of British tolerance of religious differences, the end of free speech, and the beginning of new religious persecution.

Unable to teach the new definition, Catholics could be barred from teaching  in or operating schools — as they used to be. They could be barred from entering many professions (such as legal, medical, and military professions requiring workers to use that definition) — as they used to be. They could be barred from academic degrees and licenses — as they used to be.

The weekends very different protests should be a warning, and an opportunity, to Americans engaged in the same battle. The lines we have drawn — here, largely religious ones — are not the only natural ones, and the people fighting it — here, largely religious lay people — are not the only natural soldiers.

While many Americans fighting for “gay marriage” seem preoccupied with being hip and tolerant, no one can accuse the French of a lack of hip tolerance. While American Catholics fighting against it are often accused of paranoia, British Catholics know what governmental persecution is and aren’t afraid to say so.

Our legal system and Constitution are different from France’s and England’s, but our underlying issues are the same. In America, as in France, “gay marriage” would take away children’s rights to know both their mothers and their fathers. In America, as in England, redefining marriage would bar anyone who refused to teach or use that definition from degrees, jobs, and professions.

Taken together, our three countries show that what is at stake is more than any one country chooses to focus on. The battle is bigger than we think, and our adversaries more determined than we perhaps knew. In France and England, civil partnerships already give same-sex couples most or all of the legal benefits of marriage. None of those things, then, are what the conflict is about. The rights of children, the freedoms of religion and of speech, and the hard-won rights of a minority all hang in the balance.

What else is at stake that we haven’t thought of yet?

Gail Finke

By

Gail D. Finke is an author and mother living in Cincinnati, where she writes for The Catholic Beat at Sacred Heart Radio.

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  • st therse

    Same sex marriage foes have better things to worry than being called bullies,bigots and
    nazi’s. They need to start worrying about our country’s slide into Gommorra.

  • Sam Hill

    LaSallete! Especially for France! Our Lady spoke and the stiff necked chose to turn away. This current fight could have been avoided by obedience to the commandments of God; especially the commandments that pertain to LOVE of GOD, because without those there is no true love of neighbor. Remember to keep the Sabbath Day Holy, this command kept us from SPIRITUAL SLAVERY. Our Lady’s words are long forgotten. Look at the consequences that we now face! To the Church: these bandages that you are attempting to apply wherever the festering appears over the Body of Christ do not cure the root cause! Stop the infection at it’s source. Preach the commandments! Love of God, none before him, REMEMBER TO KEEP THE SABBATH DAY HOLY, with this, evil will flee! Our Lady told you well in advance that the monster was coming. Well, we can all see, the monster is here and carnage ensues!

  • disqus_V29ynLFcFu

    An approval of performing same-sex marriages by the Episcopalian Cathedral in Washington hits too close to home for us Catholics! It brings to mind how Poland must have felt when Hitler was allowed to annex the Sudetenland. The left-wingers, in America’s case, are inching toward a redefinition of marriage. Isn’t it enough that we have given the nod of approval to such ceremonies outside the Church? They want more. If they are allowed to have their way, we will not only redefine the Sacred institution of marriage, No! We will soon redefine the definition of “normal”! These people are pushing for legalizing smoking of “weed “and euthanasia (as evidensed recently in Belgium)–What is next? We Catholics cannot allow ourselves to be banned from certain rights and positions. We are not about to comply with this non-biblical , so-called redefinition of marriage. The world knew what Hitler had in mind as he marched into and annexed whatever he chose. Yet the world stood by and did nothing. The enemy is at the gate! Ther time has come, once again, to DEFEND THE FAITH! We will never let down, so now is the time for action! Who is going to start the ball rolling? Who has the guts? . .

  • http://www.foxnews.com Mtxun

    The LGBTQ claim “equality” yet, they betray themselves when they have to use the force of law to have “equality” mandated on an unwilling public. Every time they bring the referendum before the people — it FAILS. They can’t get a single popular vote, not even in California. Marriage is for 1 man and 1 woman. Period.
    Meanwhile, in the UK, a whole sickening sub-set of perverts have come before the public eye – “Animal Lovers”. That’s right, beware the window, once you have it opened. The winds might blow hard enough to let in all kinds of evil permutations. Now, the “animal-lovers” are afraid that the government is going to “regulate” their relations with their animals, dogs/cats, etc. Over 100,000 of them recently signed a petition in the UK to prevent government intrusion. This is the direction this kind of perversion will go unless it is stopped NOW. I pray AND fast for an end to the evil that is the democrat party platform; abortion, socialism/communism, secularism, euthenasia, gay marriage, etc., etc.

  • http://www.foxnews.com Mtxun

    The LGBTQ claim “equality” yet, they betray themselves when they have to use the force of law to have “equality” mandated on an unwilling public. Every time they bring the referendum before the people — it FAILS. They can’t get a single popular vote, not even in California. Marriage is for 1 man and 1 woman. Period.
    Meanwhile, in the UK, a whole sickening sub-set of perverts have come before the public eye – “Animal Lovers”. That’s right, beware the window, once you have it opened. The winds might blow hard enough to let in all kinds of evil permutations. Now, the “animal-lovers” are afraid that the government is going to “regulate” their relations with their animals, dogs/cats, etc. Over 100,000 of them recently signed a petition in the UK to prevent government intrusion. This is the direction this kind of perversion will go unless it is stopped NOW. I pray AND fast for an end to the evil that is the democrat party platform; abortion, socialism/communism, secularism, euthenasia, gay marriage, etc., etc.

  • nah

    Reality is finally setting in. Once gay marriage is law, the Church and any other religious denominiation will be under attack for intolerance and hate speech type lawsuits. This is the intent of the string pullers behind the useful idiots carrying the water for gay marriage. The Church and probably all decent Christians know of and love people who are in homosexual relationships. Although the sin cannot be accepted and condoned, there is no desire to persecute or hold back rights to our gay brothers and sisters. Civil unions accomplish this with no objections from the Church or people of faith. But the far left ideologues have another agenda that uses gay marriage to suite its ends. It’s really not very hard to see how it will play out.

  • andreagregorio

    The 600,000 anti-equal marriage submissions to the UK government consultation represent less than 1% of the UK population. The majority of the UK parliament and the Uk people are FOR equality. In France, 350,000 took to the streets (this was the accurate figure determined by police aerial crowd measurement) – about 0.5% of the French population. 1000 self-hating Catholic priests writing to a newspaper are just going to make the injury to the Church’s authority that much greater when the legislatioin is appproved by an overwhelming vote in Parliament.

  • andreagregorio
  • CW

    The sooner those who would stand for religious bigotry, and hide behind their mythology to deny the rights of others. The better off we are.

  • Peter Nyikos

    Calling every one of the 1000 priests “self-hating” marks you as an unreasoning propagandist.

  • QuoVadisAnima

    I agree that the sooner these homosexual activists are rejected in their religious bigotry and are no longer allowed to hide behind their mythology in their effort to deny the rights of others, the better off we will be!

  • QuoVadisAnima

    It is more than that: these poor fools do not even realize that as they work to deny others their right to free speech and the free practice of religion, they are setting themselves up to lose exactly those same protections.
    Our Founding Fathers knew that’s how Constitutional rights work – or don’t; too many in this generation are painfully ignorant of the history they are trying to repeat.

  • Fred

    I think the family unit is the fundamental building block of society, of
    which marriage is the key element. Now if one believes in absolute
    separation of church and state, then marriage (a church product) should
    never be recognized by the government. However, I suspect most are
    willing to adopt certain church elements, when they support the common
    good – things such as murder, stealing, lying under oath, are wrong, for
    example.

    I have to disagree with calling a same sex couple as having a marriage
    on principle. It’s not a product of the church (at least not the one I
    attend), but rather, of the state. Perhaps the solution is to no
    longer, have marriages recognized by the state, but leave the
    recognition to one’s church. If this happens I feel our society will
    slowly crumble – like the story of the frog that’s boiled to death. I
    feel that supporting same sex marriage is like supporting a
    counterfeiter. Would it bother you if your next door neighbor
    counterfeited a few $100 bills? Maybe not. It doesn’t really hurt the
    economy or anything. What if $1 million were counterfeited, $10
    million, $100 million, etc. eventually the consequences would be felt.

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