Faith-Based Restrictions by James Hitchcock

Faith-Based Restrictions

In England a crowd assaulted a street preacher who posted a sign saying, “Stop Homosexuality.” The police arrived and made an arrest—of the preacher. He was convicted of insulting and harassing behavior. Also in England, an Anglican bishop was investigated by the police after he publicly suggested that homosexuals seek counseling.

Meanwhile the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has warned the Catholic Church of possible prosecution if it promulgates the Holy See’s official statement on “same-sex unions.” In Canada a teacher has been suspended for writing a letter to a newspaper saying that homosexuality is immoral.

The preacher was being deliberately offensive, and the teacher’s letter no doubt upset any homosexuals among his students. But would there have been similar actions by the authorities if the preacher had attacked the Catholic Church, or if the teacher had denounced “religious fundamentalists”? I know of no such cases.

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James Hitchcock is Professor emeritus of History at St. Louis University in St. Louis. He and his late wife Helen have four daughters. His most recent book is the two-volume work, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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