Over the past 6 to 8 months or so the Roman Catholic Church has become increasingly interested in exercising political power. It’s something I’ve blogged about before, and in my home state of Connecticut, appears to be accelerating. This is in spite of the RC Church’s prior policy of non-involvement in secular affairs.

This time the Catholic Church in Connecticut demands — if you can believe it — a religious right to discriminate agains gays, specifically gays who marry, as the Hartford Courant reports:

Concerned that the state’s new same-sex marriage law would infringe on religious liberties, the Connecticut Catholic Conference today proposed some broad exemptions which it believes are necessary to protect those rights.

The law does not require Catholic priests — or any other clergy member — to preside over same-sex weddings.

However, the church is seeking additional exemptions. For instance, it wants to ensure that a florist opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds not be forced to sell flowers to a same-sex couple.

“Same-sex couples have their liberties protected fully. Religious people are wondering ‘how is this going to effect me?”‘ David Reynolds, lobbyist for the Catholic Church, told members of the legislature’s judiciary committee.

Their logic here is bizarre. They’re actually demanding the ability for businesses to discriminate against gays, as an expression of religious worship!

If the situation were different — say, a member of a white-supremacist church were a florist, would he have the “right” to refuse to wait on African-Americans?

The answer — according to federal civil-rights laws and court interpretations — is no. There is no “religious freedom” exception to racial discrimination.

Why then should there be a “religious freedom” exception allowing people to refuse to serve gays?

The assumption by Connecticut’s bishops that they are entitled to force the state to enact legislation which accords with Catholic doctrine, is disturbing. A long time ago — 1302, to be exact — there was a Pope, Boniface VIII, who decided he had the right to control all of Europe’s secular states and order them as he wished. Toward that end he issued the bull Unam sanctam, which declared the papacy to be the ultimate authority, even above the monarchs and sovereigns. While he believed it would settle matters in his favor and make him the “Lord High Emperor of all Christendom,” the results turned out to have been quite different. The monarchs could not let such a precedent stand, and one of them, Philip IV of France, did something about it; he had Boniface briefly imprisoned. The Pope was released but died shortly after, apparently of shock and outrage over having been captured.

Quite literally, Boniface could not handle being anything less than the Supreme Ruler of the World.

He has, since his demise, been viewed as having gone too far in his attempt to seize power over Europe. Even some of the most ardent proponents of Catholicism agree on this point. His papacy has been an object lesson in how not to conduct oneself as Pope.

The bishops of Connecticut, however, appear not to accept this any longer. They seem to believe they are entitled to control the state government, like puppetmasters — in just the way that Boniface VIII believed he had a right to control Europe’s monarchs.

How foolish and asinine! It’s not going to work. The bishops’ lobbying on behalf of ballot question number 1 in 2008 failed — miserably. I doubt that their standing up for the right to discriminate on religious grounds, will go very far; it certainly doesn’t make them look very Christian. They’re really just acting like children and ought to grow up.

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