On the SSM hustings

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The, ah, irrepressible GOP candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, managed to stick his foot in it by assuming the anti-gay posture in a speech to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (part of the GOP base in the Empire State). As the NYT reports:

“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and
much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t
want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally
valid and successful option — it isn’t,” he said, reading from a
prepared address, according to a video of the event.

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t
march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My
opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our
children.” Newsday.com reported
that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text had included the sentence: “There is
nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr.
Paladino omitted the sentence in his speech.

The Paladian spokesman, Michael Caputo, explained that the Buffalo real estate mogul was “simply expressing the views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic.” Right…in prepared remarks contrasting himself to the Catholic Democratic candidate delivered in a campaign appearance with the election less than a month away. Thanks for sharing your faith, Carl.

And thanks too, to the Archbishop of Minneapolis, John C. Nienstedt, for sending out 400,000 DVDs to Minnesota Catholics denouncing same-sex marriage as the greatest threat to marriage in their state and urging support for a constitutional amendment to ban it a few weeks before a gubernatorial election in which one of the three candidates opposes it. Not politics, he said, but just a “teaching tool.” Fr. Michael Tegeder of St. Edward’s Church was not convinced, and wrote to the Minneapolis Star Tribune to say so. (“Most scandalous is that Archbishop Nienstedt has compromised his office with the use of anonymous money to fund this effort.”) Good luck to him, as the archdiocese announces its reorganization of parish life next weekend.

Meanwhile out here in Mormon country (I’m in Logan to give a couple of lectures at Utah State), there’s a good deal of talk about the recent speech of Elder Boyd K. Packer declaring the LDS Church’s position on gender roles to be “revelation”–which contention was then suppressed in the official transcript. Coming on the heels of Elder Marlin Jensen’s apology for the Church’s handling of its anti-Proposition 8 campaign, there’s evidently some considerable roiling of the waters going on here too.

In his new book The Religious Test, Damon Linker thoughtfully offers some rules of the road for sorting out our differences over religion in public life. But in a public square that these days resembles a carnival midway more than a New Republic editorial meeting, it’s the hooting and hollering, I’m afraid, that keeps politicians and spiritual leaders from getting completely out of control.

  • Religion has no legitimate role to play in politics. It is inherently discriminatory against atheists and usually leads to other forms of discrimination.