How many young Catholics in Arizona will stop going to church this week? A new poll released today from Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Catholics believe same-sex marriage should be legal. Not surprising. What is revealing, however, is that a third of Millenials who leave their childhood faith cite hostility to LBGT people by their church as a very important reason.
What’s this got to do with Arizona?
Earlier tonight, Gov. Jan Brewer said she would veto SB1062, a bill that would have encoded discrimination against LGBT people under the guise of religious freedom. In announcing her veto, Brewer said the bill “does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona.” Even the bill’s supporters in the Arizona legislature were unable to come up with specific examples of religious liberty at threat.
Aside from a few cities, in Arizona sexual orientation is not a protected class. And since there’s not federal protection for LGBT people, most Arizonans are free to discriminate against gay people. So it seemed that the people supporting the bill were extremists who were concocting problems to further the culture wars. In fact, watching the bill’s sponsors on CNN reminded me of the Christians on HBO’s True Blood, whom I once considered unfair caricatures.
So imagine my shock when a friend pointed out that the Arizona Catholic Conference was leading an online campaign, urging Catholics to contact Brewer to ask her to sign the bill into law.
Whoever is advising Catholic bishops in Arizona should be sued for malfeasance. The bill was never going to be signed into law. It was a political gimmick, red meat for an increasingly marginalized and desperate wing of the GOP. Besides, even young Republicans support marriage equality. The writing’s on the wall.
Writing in the Washington Post, EJ Dionne credited the Arizona legislature with “doing such an excellent job at de-evangelization.” Add the Catholic Church to that list, too. It appears to be hell bent on pushing more and more young adults into the ranks of the unaffiliated. It’s support of SB1062 was as perplexing as it was shameful.