Istook’s Insights: Religious rights erode, Pope encourages American bishops to shine a light

Religious rights versus gay rights — which wins?

According to President Obama, freedom of religion takes a backseat to same-sex rights. That is basically what he told a big joint dinner combining the Democrat National Committee and the LBGT community — Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender.

Obama praised same-sex marriage and then added: “Our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their Constitutional rights.” He clearly was talking about the Supreme Court decision that designated same-sex marriage a new right.

Think about that: Free exercise of religion is explicitly guaranteed by the First Amendment. Same-sex marriage is never mentioned in the Constitution, yet Obama and others now say that same-sex rights take precedence over religious rights.

That is how convoluted things have become. That approach not only is wrong, but it’s also dangerous to our core First Amendment freedoms.

During his visit, the Pope bemoaned that marriage is not what it used to be.

Pope Francis met with American bishops before returning to Rome.

He told them that the religious view of marriage and the legal view have separated. No longer, he said, are religious marriage and civil marriage essentially the same thing. They have diverged with the emergence of same-sex marriages, which the Catholic Church continues to oppose.

Francis noted the negative impact of this change on families, which he called the center of the connections between God and the Church.

Just the same, the Pope told the bishops that a faith which only talks about its doctrine is dangerously unbalanced. He urged them to focus on helping people and watching over their flocks.

And, he urged them to spend more time shining a light on the beauty of the family, as an expression of God’s plan, and less time complaining.