Yesterday at Mass, our padre spoke briefly on the brouhaha over the gay marriage DVD being distributed in the archdiocese. He didn't get into the details of the issue itself, rather he explained that contrary to what was being presented in the local media, this is not about the separation of church and state. It is about the Catholic Church having and expressing a viewpoint that runs counter to that held by many of the self-appointed leaders of our secular culture (not the population as a whole however). He asked us to imagine how different the reaction would have been from those leading the outrage charge if the Church had instead come out with a DVD espousing the other side of the gay marriage argument.
And he's right. The very same folks who today are howling about separation of church and state and suggesting that the Catholic Church lose its tax exempt status, would instead be singing hosannas of praise about how wonderful it was that the Church had finally seen the light on gay marriage. They would be ecstatic that the Church had at last gotten over its hang-ups about "right" and "wrong" and stopped being so judgmental. They would have welcomed the change and celebrated a more inclusive, diverse Catholic Church.
And there would be no equivalent effort to silence debate from supporters of traditional marriage if the Church attempted to inform its members about its position in favor of gay marriage. It would be regarded as a matter for the Church and its members, not a threat to democracy as we know it. In fact, if tomorrow the Unitary Church of Latter Day Episcopalians or one of the other churches whose values are rooted in today instead of 2000 years of teachings and tradition sent out a pro-gay marriage DVD to its members, no one on the traditional marriage side would object or call for that church to be punished for daring to have an opinion on a political issue. Because we understand that the right to free speech does not end at the narthex.