Will Supreme Court’s marriage ruling threaten religious freedom?

Ruling will challenge Catholics and people of faith and traditional values

Many expect the Supreme Court’s looming decision on “same sex marriage” will be a troubling milestone in a larger cultural war. Catholics and people of faith and traditional values could find the freedom to practice their faith and maintain a religious identity at risk.

Threat to religious freedom

The Supreme Court is about to finesse a clash between civil rights and civil liberties. SSM advocates want statutory rights, created by laws against discrimination, made equal to constitutional rights by a favorable court ruling. Thus protected, advocates believe these rights would then be compelling enough to trump the First Amendment’s actual constitutional rights—freedom of association and free exercise of religion.

If granted, such protection could bar SSM being contested in the public square. Even then, having the “freedom to marry” will not suffice. SSM advocates also want to get rid of any trace of moral objection traditionally attached to homosexual conduct. It would be replaced with a compulsory new morality requiring respect from everyone—especially from those who don’t agree with it. Expressions to the contrary become “hate speech.”


Activists for SSM will be fired up regardless of how the Court rules. How will Catholics respond?

CDL’s mission to defend the Catholic Church from attacks includes response to threats to religious freedom. “Bringing the voice of Catholic laity into the public square” is a political and legal response. CDL is providing tools to help, such as talking points or legislative scorecards.

As losses in this conflict mount, some suggest withdrawal from the public square. They believe that in reality we must look at this conflict as a “spiritual war.” Ultimately there is no better vantage point. Still, neither view need rule out the other.

On the spiritual front

It will take a vibrant faith to support the commitment to stand firm in the face of a huge cultural shift. It means preaching the gospel by example and living our faith out loud. It means praying more and giving more: in our family life, in strengthening our parishes, and in reaching out to the needy in our communities.

This can be done while remaining active in the public square whether in politics, legislation, or elections. It can be done by speaking up with friends or in public.

Prepare for the long haul by joining those engaged in the public square and culture war. Join us in the search for strategies that allow for expressing our faith in a culture that’s becoming ever more anti-Christian and anti-Catholic.

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