“The Individuals entrusted with civic authority should not impose their personal religious beliefs, or any one interpretation of religious beliefs, on society as a whole, nor use them to deny rights to peoples.”

From marriage equality Rhode Island’s “Religious Coalition”.   ❤ this so much.

Meanwhile, a few Catholic leaders in the state, including Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, have vocalized their opposition to marriage equality. And the media has been quick to report – that Catholic leaders are standing against marriage equality.

The continued focus of the news media on Catholic opposition to gay marriage is interesting for a number of reasons: first, a significantly higher percentage of American Catholics support marriage equality than Protestants -58% versus 33%. Why, then, the focus on Catholic opposition?

It seems that Catholic opposition, much as it is with the abortion issue, is really Protestant opposition backed by a small group of Catholic higher-ups. Said Protestants use the privileged status of Catholics like Tobin in American discourse, which is given to them for being part of an international religious institution that nominally opposes gay marriage, in order to reframe the debate over homosexuality. Hateful opposition to the rights of homosexuals becomes support of “religious freedom.” In this argument, the opinion of a Catholic institution is seen to trump the opinion of the majority of Catholics. And arguments that the “opinions” of religious institutions should trump the opinions of their members will always be conservative arguments, since religious institutions are slow to change.

Of course, the losers in this (besides homosexuals, obviously) are American Catholics, who are considered to be culpable for the negative actions of some in their church. Meanwhile, none are considered to culpable for the negative actions of Protestant churches,  even though they make up the majority of the opposition to said laws.

Continued plays to the opposition from “Catholics” to gay marriage in the news media both bolsters the blatantly idiotic right-wing argument that gay rights runs against religious freedom, gives credence to the notion that the opinion of a few bishops is the opinion of the Catholic church and thus the opinion of Catholics, and, in doing so, revitalizes the embers of old stereotypes about Catholics.

674px-Poperob

An example of classic American stereotypes about Catholic instiutions

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