Catholic strategy, take 3

This is my third post in a series (see previous posts  here and here) criticizing the Catholic Church’s strategy regarding gay marriage and abortion. The brief version of the argument goes like this: as a rational actor, the church should view its strategic choices as either 1. go for broke now and push back against the gay marriage tide but also risk becoming irrelevant int he future, or 2. bide your time, keep moderates in the fold, and play long ball. My instinct is that option 2 would be much more fruitful for them, given their goals. The risk is just too high that today’s younger generation will be completely turned off by their anti-gay marriage antics. After all, if just the under-35 crowd made the laws in this country, we’d have legal gay marriage in 38 states by now.

So with that as background, does it make sense for the Catholic Church to continue to make opposition of gay marriage its Waterloo? The latest development: the Church gave DC an ultimatum, threatening to stop providing social services in the city if the city council votes in favor of recognizing out-of-state gay marriages. Classy.

This seems ridiculous on several levels. First, why make your stand at gay marriage? Why not make these puerile threats over decisions to go to war, support abortion rights, fail to provide an adequate social safety net, failure to reduce crime rates, etc? I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure there is no theological reason to highlight gay marriage over any of these other social priorities that the church professes to believe in. Secondly, the Church looks like a bully for picking on DC. DC is a poor city with high need for social services, so it’s an easy target for a threat like this. Did the church make such threats in Maine, Massachusetts, Iowa, California, New Hampshire, Vermont when similar issues were being decided? No. Bullies pick on the weak kids. Principles are easier to stand up for when the opposition is the DC city council rather than the supreme court of Massachusetts.

Anyway, that’s the last I’ll have to say on the subject, until the next time the Catholic Church decides it doesn’t want under-35 people to be welcome at communion.


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This is a group blog. JSC5 currently writes from the US. JSC7 writes from behind the Great Firewall of China.

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