Archbishop Pens Powerful Op-Ed in Local Newspaper

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who serves as Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, penned a powerful response to a letter sent to the editor of a Kentucky newspaper by a citizen who expressed concern about his support for the First Amendment Defense Act – a bill which some are claiming will legalize discrimination against the LGBT community.

In spite of what LGBT activist groups and their supporters are saying, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is designed to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals or institutions based on their beliefs about marriage. It aims to put a stop to the harassment of individuals who are being penalized simply because they believe in the Biblical definition of marriage.

As the Archbishop explains in his op-ed, which the Courier-Journal published, the Catholic Church is against all forms of unjust discrimination.

“As Catholics, we understand the pain and disadvantage that discrimination causes. There was a time in our nation’s history when anti-Catholic laws prevented our full engagement in public life. No one desires a return to state-sponsored discrimination against people of faith,” he writes.

However, “We are at a point in our country where the time-honored meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is not shared by all people. The Supreme Court’s decision by Obergefell, by which a slim majority of the Court supported the redefinition of marriage in the law, has left many unresolved issues. One such issue is whether people who believe marriage can only be between a man and a woman have the freedom and space to hold and share those views without fear of government retaliation or discrimination.”

He adds: “Reasonable people can and should be able to disagree and still respect one another.”

Contrary to the “spin” being put on this bill by LGBT activist groups, the First Amendment Defense Act is designed to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals or institutions based on their beliefs about marriage. It also creates a cause of action in federal court for individuals or institutions that have been discriminated against by the government. Plaintiffs can seek injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and compensatory damages. This would include people such as Baronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers, Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakes, and so many others who suffered severe financial losses after being sued for refusing to serve same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs.

But it’s not just about protecting Christian businesses, it’s about “an ability to pass our faith and moral convictions down to our children and to serve our sisters and brothers as Jesus would expect of us,” the Archbishop writes.

This is a faith that has not only served Catholics well, but also society in general with the Church’s vast network of education, health care and social services that benefit the common good of society.

“In a pluralistic society, we understand that not everyone will agree with our way of life, nor we theirs. But disagreement does not diminish the inherent dignity of every life. We all stand equal before God and are in need of his mercy and love.”

He concludes: “Let’s not put that at risk because some are offended by our belief in God’s plan for us. The freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution and in the hearts of millions of Americans. There is room for all of us in the public life of this nation.”

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