Archbishop Nienstedt of St. Paul & Minneapolis stands up again!
Catholic Church ramps up opposition to Minnesota anti-bullying bill
By Beth Hawkins
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has come out strongly against proposed anti-bullying legislation, linking it to the push to legalize same-sex marriage.
Calling it an extension of the push to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota, the Catholic Church is urging parishoners to call on lawmakers to reject an anti-bullying law.
According to a column in the Catholic Spirit, the official publication of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the proposed Safe Schools legislation is an “Orwellian nightmare” that would “usurp parental rights” and create “re-education camps.”
The column was written by Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which represents all Catholics dioceses in the state.
In addition to imposing burdensome legal mandates on parochial schools, the Roman Catholic Church also has argued in communications to parishioners that the law would unfairly discriminate against students who oppose same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights.
“The bill’s proponents want to require private schools to follow the mandates of the law as well,” an action alert from the Minnesota Catholic Advocacy Network warned. “If a Catholic school refuses to comply, its students could lose their pupil aid, such as textbooks, school nurses, and transportation.”
(While private schools in Minnesota do not receive per-pupil tuition dollars per se, they do receive many of the same ancillary funds as public schools.)
Separate, parallel bills creating and funding the Safe and Supportive Schools Act are in the final stages of going to the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives for a vote by the full membership. Passage roughly along party lines is expected.
At 37 words long, Minnesota’s current anti-bullying statute is frequently described as one of the weakest in the nation. It doesn’t define bullying and harassment or require districts to track or report complaints or mandate efforts toward creating healthy school climates.
The proposed measure is based on the work of a task force appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in the fall of 2011, after the GOP-dominated Legislature rejected efforts to strengthen the law. A wave of student suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin School District had drawn wide attention to the bullying issue.
Last August, the task force submitted its recommendations, along with a plea for policymakers to act on them with “a strong sense of urgency.”
Among other best practices, the panel looked closely at the terms of a settlement among Anoka-Hennepin, a group of students who filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court here and the U.S. departments of Justice and Education. That agreement had been hailed as a potential national model.
The arguments raised by opponents of the Anoka-Hennepin settlement, most of them religious conservatives and proponents of conversion, or “pray away the gay” therapy, mirror those now being advanced by the archdiocese.
The Catholic Church has gone a step further, however, in linking the issue to same-sex marriage. The Archdiocese spent at least $650,000 in 2011 and 2012 campaigning to secure a constitutional ban on gay marriage; numerous dioceses and Catholic groups around the country donated hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
“The redefinition of marriage should not be seen as a stand-alone act,” the Catholic Spirit’s March column explained. “It is the harbinger of broader social change aimed at creating gender and sexual ‘freedom’ and breaking down the supposedly repressive social norm of heterosexual monogamy. And it is accompanied by other significant pieces of legislation working their way through Minnesota’s Legislature that should be resisted just as vigorously as same-sex ‘marriage.’”
Specific language in the bill protecting students from religious harassment and recognizing their constitutional right to free religious speech hasn’t satisfied critics, who have warned that schools will be forced to “teach same-sex marriage.” Both the recognition of same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools legislation will protect select groups of individuals at the cost of the rights and safety of others, the Archodiocesan communications argue.
“If marriage is redefined, the coercion of silence will enter the legal sphere, where real penalties will befall those so-called ‘bigots’ who ‘discriminate’ by clinging to the traditional definition of marriage,” the Catholic Spirit said. “The schools are the ideal place to foster this new regime of ‘tolerance,’ and forcefully suppress any bad thoughts or ‘hate’ speech that may emerge.” [That sounds right.]
The arguments are buttressed by testimony from Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten and from University of St. Thomas professor Michael Stokes Paulsen, described as a nationally recognized constitutional law expert.
Read the rest there. It is interesting.
Creeping incrementalism, friends.
Of course now the left, liberals and promoters of unnatural acts will accuse the Church of being in favor of bullying.
Fr Z kudos to Archbp. Nienstedt and the Minnesota Catholic Conference.