The Archbishop, Gay Marriage, and Science
Nienstedt's misstatements about children erode credibility
By Shawn Lawrence Otto | Jun 13, 2011 | Comments (0)
One can quickly get into trouble when one makes an ideological argument and claims the "facts" or "science" support it. Facts have this troublesome quality we Americans love: anyone can check up on them, and decide the truth for him or herself.
The Catholic Church in particular hasn't had the best track record when it comes to this sort of thing - witness the indictment of Galileo:
- The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures.
- The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least erroneous in faith.
The Church's more beautiful teachings were diminished, science passed Italy by, and it faded as a world power.
So it's concerning to see Saint Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt wading into these waters, claiming science and the facts support his argument for a proposed Minnesota state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage :
- Pastorally, children flourish best in the context of having both a
mother and a father. Every scientific study confirms this reality ... it is a proven fact that boys and girls develop better
with the influence of a mother and a father, living in the same home.
No matter how one feels about gay marriage, it is rarely wise to say that every anything supports your position. Many parents will recognize that as a red flag signalling that what is about to come is false, and the speaker is full of emotion about it. In this particular case, the Archbishop's statement is false. An international analysis of 81 scientific studies shows that, so far, there is no broad substantial measurable difference between children raised by hetero couples and those raised by same-sex couples. It turns out it's the quality of the parenting that matters, not the gender of the parents. However one may feel about gay marriage, those are the facts we've been able to measure so far.
Since science actually contradicts what Archbishop Nienstedt claims (readers are invited to do the American thing: check it out for yourself), will he stand corrected and change his position? It seems unlikely. Beyond the emphatic tone of his letter, Nienstedt has displayed a personal zeal on this issue that is puzzling, sending more than four hundred thousand DVDs out opposing gay marriage, but not on other pastoral issues affecting far more people - such as alcoholism, divorce, and poverty - inciting division within Catholic clergy. He has gone so far as to deny communion to college students at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict because they were wearing rainbow-colored buttons. And he seems not to recognize that it is a violation of freedom of religion to seek to impose his view on the whole of a democratic society - an action that has historically led to loss by both society and the Church.
- "Regrettably, the media and some secular commentators have chosen to
mischaracterize this measure as anti-gay, mean-spirited and prejudicial,"
wrote Nienstedt in supporting the amendment.
- "This is not the case or the intent behind the initiative."
As long as we're citing science.
Tags: Belief, Politics, Religion, Sex, Family, Antiscience