A city’s official condemnation of Roman Catholic Church teachings as “discriminatory,” “insulting,” “callous” and “defamatory” is being taken to the U.S. Supreme Court because of the Constitution’s requirement that government not be “hostile” to faith.
The case stems from a 2006 non-binding resolution from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that called the Catholic Church’s teachings “an insult to all San Franciscans” and accused the Vatican of being a “foreign country” that “meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great city’s existing and established customs and traditions.”
The case is being fought by the Thomas More Law Center, which is arguing that the Supreme Court should take this opportunity “to secure and maintain uniformity of decisions on an important issue of federal law.”
“The crux of the problem is that this court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence … tends to be hostile toward religion,” the petition to the court said.
WND reported earlier when the case was submitted to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a fractured ruling that offered no resolution.
Three judges found for the petitioners, three found for the defendants and five decided there was no standing in the case.
The formal statement from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors attacked the church’s belief because it prohibits the adoption of children by homosexuals.
The resolution, adopted March 21, 2006, calls the Vatican a “foreign country” that is meddling in the city’s affairs. Further it states that the church’s moral teachings are “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “hateful,” “insulting and callous,” “defamatory,” “absolutely unacceptable,” “insensitive” and “ignorant.”
The resolution further references the Inquisition and calls on the archbishop of San Francisco and other Catholic officials to defy church teachings and beliefs.
According to the Thomas More Law Center, Catholic doctrine teaches that allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would mean doing violence to the children “in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.”
“Such policies are gravely immoral, and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households,” the center explained.
“The 9th Circuit prohibits a government display of the passive symbol of the war memorial cross on Mt. Soledad, yet it expressly approves of the government’s explicit condemnation of Catholic religious beliefs,” said Richard Thompson, chief counsel for the TMLC.
“This outrageous double standard is made possible by the Supreme Court’s flawed tests by which it interprets the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment – an interpretation that is hostile toward religion,” he said.
The challenge claims San Francisco’s resolution violates the First Amendment, which forbids government disapproval of a particular religion, religious belief or of religion in general.
At the 9th Circuit, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote, “The ‘message’ in the resolution, unlike, say, the message that might be inferred from some symbolic display, is explicit: a Catholic doctrine duly communicated by the part of the Catholic church in charge of clarifying doctrine is ‘hateful,’ ‘defamatory,’ ‘insulting,’ ‘callous,’ and ‘discriminatory,’ showing ‘insensitivity and ignorance,’ the Catholic church is a hateful foreign meddler in San Francisco’s affairs, the Catholic church ought to ‘withdraw’ its religious directive, and the local archbishop should defy his superior’s directive. This is indeed a ‘message of … disapproval.’ And that is all it takes for it to be unconstitutional.”
“This case is a ‘poster child’ for the inconsistent results caused by the Supreme Court’s muddled Establishment Clause case law,” said Robert Muise, senior trial counsel for the TMLC. “Thus, it provides an opportunity for the court to abandon this unworkable jurisprudence in favor of one that respects our nation’s religious heritage, history, and traditions and that eschews the absurd results produced by the status quo. Unfortunately, under the current jurisprudence, the closest measure for predicting the outcome of a particular case is the personal predilections of the judge or judges deciding it.”
Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue told WND at the time the comments denouncing church doctrine were “incredible, invective and bigoted comments.”
“This is beyond belief. It clearly is a hostile environment,” he said.
The issue of state control over the adoption of children has been growing exponentially in recent months. In several locations, Catholic organizations have stopped providing adoption and other referral services because of government mandates that they provide children to homosexual duos when asked.
The San Francisco statement also claimed that “same-sex couples are just as qualified to be parents as are heterosexual couples” and condemned Cardinal William Levada of the Vatican’s Doctrine of the Faith as “a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city.”
City officials included a directive urging local Catholic officials “to defy all discriminatory directives of Cardinal Levada” and telling Levada “to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.”
“Petitioners object to and have been injured by the anti-Catholic resolution adopted by the city,” the petition explains. “The city’s resolution attacks petitioners’ deeply held religious beliefs, conveys an impermissible, government-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility toward the Catholic religion, and sends a clear message to petitioners that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community,” it continues.
“The effect of the city’s anti-Catholic resolution … is the same as posting a large sign on the front door to city hall reading, ‘Catholics are not welcome in San Francisco.'”
“Because the Constitution forbids hostility toward a particular religion or of religion in general – hostility that has no place in our nation’s history and traditions – such practices should be judged under the Establishment Clause by applying a struct scrutiny standard of review,” the petition argues.
“Government speech that explicitly disfavors religion, such as the resolution at issue here, should be held ‘invalid unless it is justified by a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest.’ Here, there is no compelling interest – or indeed even a rational basis – to justify the ‘insolent, stupid, or worse’ … resolution expressly condemning petitioners’ religion,” the petition states.