Tag Archives: Catholics

Another Religious Freedom vs. Gay Rights Ethics Clash: The Country Mill Farms Farms Affair

Steve Tennes (above) and his devout Catholic family own  Country Mill Farms, Winery, Orchard and Cider Mill. in Charlotte, Michigan. The picturesque locale makes additional income by renting out the venue for weddings and events.

Last August, a visitor to Country Mill’s Facebook page asked if they hosted gay weddings at the farm. Tennes answered in the negative, explaining that his Catholic family believes marriage should be between a man and woman. The Tennes family sells its products at an East Lansing  farmers market, and that city’s officials were notified of their “no gay weddings” policy. A city ordinance  requires that participants in the market, even those not located within East Lansing city limits, have to agree with its non-discrimination ordinance.  “I think it’s a very strong principle that you should not be discriminating against somebody elsewhere and then come here and want to participate in our market,” East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas told the news media.

Lansing  officials urged (threatened?)  Tennes to comply with its ordinance, so the farm stopped hosting weddings of any kind for a while. Then Tennes decided to defy the order and announced on Facebook that the farm would resume hosting weddings, but only those involving a man and a women. In turn, the city told Tennes that his farm would not be welcome at the farmer’s market for the 2017 season.

“It was brought to our attention that The Country Mill’s general business practices do not comply with East Lansing’s Civil Rights ordinances and public policy against discrimination as set forth in Chapter 22 of the City Code and outlined in the 2017 Market Vendor Guidelines, as such, The Country Mill’s presence as a vendor is prohibited by the City’s Farmer’s Market Vendor Guidelines,” the city said in a letter to the family. Just coincidentally I’m sure,  East Lansing recently updated its civil rights ordinance to include discrimination at “all business practices” for participants the city’s farmers market. City Mayor Mark Meadows said the farm’s exclusion is based on the Tennes family’s “business decision” to exclude same-sex weddings. (Since the limitations on the weddings performed undoubtedly forfeits business, I have my doubts about whether the city can win the claim that it is a business decision and not a religious one.)

Now the farm is suing East Lansing. “Our faith and beliefs on marriage and hosting weddings at our home and in our backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing,” Tennes said at a press conference last week “Nor does it have anything to do with the produce that we sell to the people that attend the farmers markets who are from all backgrounds and all beliefs.”

The suit asks the court to restore Country Mill Farms’ freedoms, stop East Lansing’s “discriminatory policy,” and award damages. The city claims its policy is in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling eliminating a ban on same-sex marriage.

My first comment: Yechhh. I’ll sure be clad when society is accustomed enough to same-sex couples that people stop treating them like they are viruses and other people stop bullying those who are slow to accept the cultural shift into submission.

I think East Lansing loses this lawsuit, or at least should.

At first it reminded me of this case, from 2014, where a family-run chapel was initially told by Coeur d’Alene, Idaho that it had to hold same-sex weddings. The city backed down, but the decisive issue in that case was that the chapel’s minister would be forced to do a ceremony that his religious beliefs didn’t permit. Forced speech is as unconstitutional as restricted speech, so the city eventually said, “Never mind!”

I wrote in part,

What’s next, legally requiring citizens to accept invitations to gay weddings? Make sure they get a nice gift? …It appears not to even occur to dedicated gay marriage rights activists that Americans can’t be forced to say what the good people think they should say, or support what the right people insist they should support. I happen to believe that same-sex marriages are good, and that legalizing them is right. Nonetheless, if you tell me I have to officiate at one of them or be fined, we have a problem. This kind of fascism from the left—and that’s what it is— forfeits the support of the fair, the moderate and the sane…Any advance in ethics can become a slippery slope to the unethical, and this is a good example. Personal autonomy still matters; freedom of belief is still an important right to respect and protect. Slippery slopes need sand, and this is an excellent example of why.

The ethics issue here is related, but different. This one reminds me more of the Chic-Fil-A controversy, when various mayors were announcing that because the company’s owner was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, his business wasn’t welcome in their cities. I wrote (in part) about that ethics train wreck: Continue reading

47 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Is “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” Being Produced By The Most Unethical Theater Company There Is?

Atlanta’s Out Front Theatre Company’s production of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told”  opens on April 27, but Paul Rudnick’s 1998 silly comedy that recasts Bible stories with all gay characters is being protested as blasphemous. The outraged in this case is the conservative Catholic group America Needs Fatima, whose members are particularly offended by the spoof’s portrayal of the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. It has an online petition demanding that Out Front’s Artistic Director Paul Conroy cancel the production.

Sure. Like that’s going to happen.

“I fear God’s wrath will fall upon us if reparation is not made,” the hysterical screed concludes. Over 40,000 hysterics have signed it. Yes, I’m sure that God has nothing better to do than to punish humanity for a theatrical production of a 20 year-old comedy in Atlanta. The group then threatens to oppose the play “loudly, peacefully, and legally in as large a protest as we can help make possible” if the production goes forward. Idiocy, of course. Last I heard, nobody is forcing anyone to go to see the play, and the First Amendment is pretty clear about the ability of the law to censor performances based on content. The contention from the religious right in this case mirrors the Left’s fervent efforts at the moment to censor speakers they don’t agree with and “hate speech.”

If you don’t think that you will enjoy a play, the remedy is not to go see it. Simple as that. Trying to interfere with the production in any way, or to prevent those who want to see a production in which Adam and Eve become Adam and Steve, is unethical. It is also directly contrary to the principles the United States was founded to ensure.

Okay, that settles that.

Now about Out Front Theater Company….

Continue reading

185 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

Again, The Pope Is An Ethics Dunce, And Again, Someone Is Ticking Me Off By Making Me Defend Donald Trump

handogod1It is unethical to punch down, you see.

Figures of great prominence, popularity and power end up abusing all of that by denigrating, attacking and criticizing private citizens, including corporate citizens. When such individuals condemn others, they naturally focus the antipathy of their supporters on the targets, and since the targets never have similar hordes to support them, this is a grand variety of bullying….in fact, lets call it Grand Bullying.

Thus Pope Francis is ethically wrong to publicly attack Donald Trump. It’s also unbelievably stupid and petty, but never mind: we’ll just concentrate on unethical.

Trump, in one of his periodic moments of clarity—if you pew out random thoughts about everything all the time, it is like a million monkeys eventually typing “Hamlet;” the odds say that eventually something sensible will come out by accident—said that the Pope was “political” and that Francis “doesn’t understand America’s problems.”  True…true. He also could have said that the Pontiff should stop meddling with U.S. illegal immigration and environmental policies when the principality that he heads doesn’t tolerate any of the former, and he has no practical reasons to be dubious about climate change, the Vatican having no jobs, industry, or trade-offs to consider. So the Pope felt that he had to respond, and when asked by a reporter, “Can a good Catholic vote for this man?” replied, Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “The Pope’s Smoking Gun”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican Ambassador, now residing under a bus...

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican Ambassador, now residing under a bus…

The blatant dishonesty of Pope Francis posing as an apolitical moral authority while engaging in outright political advocacy before the U.S. Congress, as he accepted accolades from manipulative partisans who have no interest in religion but who nonetheless were delighted to exploit his influence for their own purposes, was nauseating. Nearly as nauseating was the furious attempts by Catholics as well as these Pope fans-of-convenience to spin his comments and his conduct in support of Kim Davis, and by extension, her rejection of gay Americans and the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After several days of stonewalling, the Vatican decided on a strategy that should be familiar to anyone who follows U.S. politics: make a lesser official the scapegoat. The difference, of course, is that because this is the Pope, we are supposed to accept such standard duck-and-cover strategies as (heh) the gospel truth. I was preparing to write a post about the furious spinning going on to excuse the Pope’s inexcusable conduct when the Vatican spoke up, and Rich in Ct did an excellent job analyzing the ethics carnage.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Pope’s Smoking Gun. I’ll be back at the end: Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy

The Pope’s Smoking Gun

Papal MitreI have been touched by the passionate defenses of the Pope during his visit here, by sincere believers who desperately wanted not to see what was going on. If only Pope Francis respected his supporters enough to live up to the ideals they projected on him, which included insisting, against all evidence, that he was merely talking in broad, moral generalities to Congress rather than lobbying for progressive policies, like making illegal immigration legal.

He was, we were told, only showing us where “true North” was according to the Church. I guess he just forgot to bring up abortion, which the Church regards as murder (and Joe Biden too, when he’s not playing politics) as he was lecturing our legislators about “human rights.”

The second he returned home, the Pope threw gay couples under the Popemobile, stating that Kim Davis’s position as a government official refusing to obey the law was a “right.” Again, his defenders insisted that this was just an abstraction. Now we hear from Davis’s lawyers that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis. Davis says that he hugged her, gave her a rosary, and told her to “stay strong.”

“That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, it kind of validates everything to have someone of that stature,” Davis said.

Naturally, those who can’t handle the truth will say she is lying. There is no evidence that Kim Davis is untruthful, and her lawyer would be facing discipline if they falsely reported what did not occur. This really happened. Continue reading

61 Comments

Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

Unethical Quote Of The Month: William Spencer Reilly, Executive Director of the Sheen Center

This was Bishopr Sheen, after whom the Sheen Center is named. Having spent a lot of time watching and listening to Sheen, I am fairly certain that he would not concur with the Sheen Center's decision. Why? Because, among  other reasons, he was a lot smarter than that.

This was Bishop Sheen, after whom the Sheen Center is named. Having spent a lot of time watching and listening to Sheen, I am fairly certain that he would not concur with the Sheen Center’s decision. Why? Because, among other reasons, he was a lot smarter than that.

“When an artistic project maligns any faith group, that project clearly falls outside of our mission to highlight the good, the true, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages.”

William Spencer Reilly, the executive director of Manhattan’s Sheen Center,  in an email announcing that it was cancelling an anti-censorship benefit event at its theater because the organizers refused to allow the Center to change a play’s title and redact the content of some speakers’ remarks.

Yes, a theater found an anti-censorship event unacceptable because it refused to submit to censorship.

Ethics Dunce is too kind for Mr. Reilly, though I suspect he is more likely a traitor to his art and profession because he wants to keep his job. He is, however, a strong candidate for Hypocrite of the Decade. He rents out the Center for a theatrical project to condemn censorship, and then attempts to censor the event.

Cowabunga.

There were two ethical courses open to him: either refuse to rent the space to the event, or rent the space, knowing its purpose, and leave the event alone. What he did instead was ludicrous, and indefensible.”The management of The Sheen Center actually suggested that we alter the title of Neil LaBute’s play, and alter the content of some of our panelist’s speeches,” said the artistic curator of “Playwrights for a Cause.” “Which we find completely out of line with the anti-censorship mission of the benefit.”

Ya think? Yes, I’d say that is res ipsa loquitur. Also indefensible was Reilly’s tortured interpretation of the Sheen Center Mission Statement, which is, admittedly, a pompous mess:

“The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is a forum to highlight the true, the good, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages. Cognizant of our creation in the image and likeness of God, the Sheen Center aspires to present the heights and depths of human expression in thought and culture, featuring humankind as fully alive. At the Sheen Center, we proclaim that life is worth living, especially when we seek to deepen, explore, challenge, and stimulate ourselves, Catholic* and non-Catholic alike, intellectually, artistically, and spiritually.”

Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes

Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?”

islam

Rich (in CT) delivers his second Comment of the Day this month, as he delves into the complex ethical considerations affecting our understanding of the relationship between Islam and Islamic terrorists. (President Obama’s delusion notwithstanding, “What relationship?” is neither an honest nor responsible position.)  This is really two comments from Rich over the past 24 hours. Fascinating, thoughtful and helpful.

Here is Rich’s double-Comment of the Day, on the post, The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?:

Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Religion and Philosophy