Threat to Religious Freedom in San Francisco

Threat to Religious Freedom in San Francisco

Good for Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco! He actually believes that a Catholic school should teach and practice what that religion believes.

Many parochial schools have wandered from this and allowed the goal of giving a good education replace the goal of inculcating the teachings and values of the sponsoring church. The parents don’t mind a crucifix on the wall so long as faith and values aren’t stressed. A pastor or bishop who tries to turn the school back to its proper mission is in for headaches and opposition—in this case from the teachers’ union and politicians.

Archbishop Cordileone wants teachers who will stand for those teachings, not apologize for them, and do so with compassion. “We don’t want kids mouthing what we tell them to say. We want them to believe it. But to believe it they need living, breathing examples of people that are fulfilled living this, and they exist!”

That a religious school should be free in America to teach the faith and values it embraces should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Politicians, in disregard of the separation of church and state, have come out against the archbishop:
• The 11-person Board of Supervisors of San Francisco has unanimously approved a resolution opposing the archbishop’s policy.
• Eight California lawmakers have written a letter of opposition.

What an intrusion into religious conviction and expression! Turn the tables and imagine this—what if nineteen bishops high-pressured San Francisco’s government one way or the other on some non-religious issue? Listen and you will hear loud howling on how the “wall of separation” is being violated! *

In a written reply, the archbishop challenges the legislators, asking them:
“Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general?”

Joan Desmond asks in the National Catholic Register, “What is the primary mission of a Catholic high school?” All churches, Protestant or Catholic, need to ask this question about their educational institutions. If they have wandered ‘off mission’ they must be called back and held accountable. * *

And the government’s job is to support their freedom to do so, not erode it.

* Actually the First Amendment prohibits the government from interfering with the free exercise of religion. It safeguards the right of the citizens (including citizens who act collectively such as through a church) to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

* * If the church did allow its schools to slip “off mission” and “off message”, this is a warning to all religious schools. Much easier to keep strong in message and values than to let these things get diluted over the years and then try to restore them. Still, restore them they must (they needn’t choose between good values and good education). Otherwise, close the schools, save your money, and let the public system or secular private schools do the task of education.

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