When the New York legislature passed a law last Friday legalizing same-sex marriage, all of New York's Roman Catholic bishops signed a statement warning that they now expect efforts to enact laws attacking churches that defend the truth.
"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love," said the bishops.
"But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves," they said. "This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths."
The bishops are wrong -- about the timing. Efforts to sanction churches for defending the truth will not be starting now, they have already started.
America's liberal establishment has already shown how it can flout the Constitution and use government to force churches to act against their own moral teachings.
As I wrote in my book "Control Freaks," the 2004 case of Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. the Superior Court of Sacramento County demonstrated this.
In the Catholic Charities case, a six-to-one majority of the California Supreme Court upheld a law enacted by the California legislature that required Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations to provide prescription contraception coverage for their employees if they purchased any prescription drug coverage for their employees at all.
It did not matter to the majority in California's legislature, who passed the law, and then Gov. Gray Davis, who signed it, that employees of Catholic organizations were free to buy any kind of contraceptives they wanted -- with their own money. These politicians wanted to force the Catholic Church to buy contraceptives against its teaching.
The Catholic Church argued that it deeply believed and clearly taught that artificial contraception was wrong. The church also said it believed it had a moral obligation -- as part of its duty to treat workers justly -- to provide prescription drug coverage for its employees.
The liberals behind California's contraceptive law no doubt relished putting the Catholic Church in this box: force Catholic authorities to choose between upholding their church's teaching on artificial contraception or upholding their church's view of the just treatment of workers.