Reported on Why Evolution Is True, "Pope implicitly supports Kim Davis’s refusal to grant marriage licenses to gays" the Pope made a few comments that appear to support the Kentucky embarrassment Kim Davis. I think he messed up here! Here is his comment:
"I can’t have in mind all the cases that can exist about conscientious objection … but yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right."Aside from the whole "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and give unto God what is God's" argument, let's look at this realistically. The Pope just gave his consent for anyone who conscientiously objects to anything carte blanche to do whatever they want and cite their conscientious objection as justification. While I would normally say something like 'he screwed the pooch', but I don't think that wording is appropriate for the Pontiff. In any event, this is just too wide open, but I am sure someone will be mentioning it in a future case.
What's my objection to it? I have no problem with a conscientious objector voicing their opinion, but what I have a problem with is their total freedom to avoid responsibility. One example, obviously, is Kim Davis. Her objection is noted, but does her objection give her the right to fail in carrying out her duties? No it does not. She should have quit her job, but that would require a certain level of moral courage. But let's look at it from another point-of-view. During coverage of the Kim Davis idiocy, the owner of a bake shop stated that he would not do a wedding cake for a gay couple because he felt it was against his religion. Ladies and gentlemen, that's called discrimination and it sounds like the Pope just put his papal stamp of approval on it. What's next, a racist who conscientiously objects to serving minorities? A misogynist who refuses to provide a service to women? I had hoped we were past this foolishness, but I guess we are not. We appear to have an infinite capacity to hate other human beings and are perfectly willing to use religion to foster that hatred through discrimination.
There are already laws in place to accommodate conscientious objectors, the military is an excellent example. But it is not left to the individual to make their own determination. Back in the mid-to-late 80's two young airmen assigned to Nellis AFB refused to salute the flag or to salute and obey the orders of female officers (The Spokesman-Review) claiming a religious objection. They were held responsible for their actions. Imagine trying to run a military based on the Pope's comments? Or a fire department, police, or any government agency. What about a business? Does a business have a right to discriminate based on the business owner's religion? Up until recently the answer was no! But everyone now has papal approval.
Are my examples far fetched? Then let's dial it back down a bit. Should a parent be able to refuse a vaccination for their child on religious grounds? Even knowing how that can affect not just their child, but the other children they interact with? That's legal in two states, it will be interesting to see the illness rates of preventable diseases will be in the future. How about refusing medical care for a child? That happens much more often than it ever should. Anyone who uses their religion to avoid their responsibilities is wrong, regardless of what those responsibilities are, whether it's issuing marriage licenses or raising children.
The Pope said when asked if this principle applied to government officials carrying out their duties, he replied:
“It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”Sure, a government official can object, but their objection doesn't give them the right to avoid carrying out the responsibilities of their office. That's what we are talking about, not someone's conscience, but their responsibilities. When the two are in conflict, you either carry out the responsibilities in spite of your objection, or you resign your position on principle. If you cannot resign, as in the military, you can either carry out your responsibilities or be held legally responsible, just like anyone who refuses to do their job!
Anyone else remember Nathanial Abraham? How about Jean Camara? Nathanial was hired at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute as an evolutionary biologist. AFTER being hired he revealed that his religion didn't believe in evolution so he couldn't 90% of his job. After some efforts at negotiation, Woods Hole fired him. He sued . . . he tried everything, but lost in the end. Yes, he tried religious discrimination.
Jean Camara is a new one, earlier this year. Apparently he was hired by Costco as a cashier's assistant. His religion said he couldn't handle pork or alcohol, even though he knew Costco sold such items. Costco transferred him to wrangle the shopping carts in the parking lot. Two weeks later he was fired for insubordinate conduct. He's currently suing for . . . wait for it . . . religious discrimination.
In both cases I think Nathanial and Jean are guilty of fraud, accepting a job knowing full well they were not going to be able to fulfill the job requirements. Yet in each case accommodation was discussed and apparently rejected in some form. Nathanial refused to accept 10% of his salary for only being able to do 10% of his duties, and Jean allegedly became insubordinate.
But I guess the Pope might give each of them more ammunition. Who's next Guillermo Gonzalez?