Robert P. George: Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexist


Gay marriage proponents will not allow for religious freedom of their political opponents because their belief system does not allow for the fact that dissenters can be reasonable people of goodwill, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, argued at the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s 2014 Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture.

My Dad taught me that Good and Evil can’t coexist. What do the rest of you think?


Pretty much, in Canada it’s basically illegal to openly challenge the idea of gay marriage via forming groups with stated beliefs against gay marriage (the proposed Trinity Western Law School, The Knights of Columbus being fined for refusing to host a gay marriage reception) or to preach biblical truth of the immorality of homosexual acts (a certain pastor from Alberta has been fined or simply preaching against homosexuality).


From what I know in the UK (at least in England, Scotland and Wales), their same-sex marriage laws say that religious groups are not forced to perform such marriages and can choose to refuse. Of course sometimes what’s written in law isn’t necessarily followed in practice. I’ve heard stories from the UK of religious ministers being heckled at or are called to be arrested because their refusal of same-sex marriages is “discriminatory”.

However from what I’ve read the laws are not fully enforced. Anyone from the UK would tell me what’s actually happening?


Good and evil co-exist at all times and in all places - from relations between people and nations right down to our own hearts.



Robert P. George: Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexist

I think this might be the worst defense of traditional marriage that I’ve ever read.


I don’t know if its a good argument for why same-sex marriage shouldn’t be accepted, but if you don’t think the author is correct in his argument then I think you should explain yourself.

As a hopeful for medical school (if any one wants to pray for me, that would be just swell) I’ve keenly invested in looking at how conscience rights are respected in the medical profession. Two examples of note are Abortion and Euthanasia.

In Canada, Abortion was only decriminalized in the 1980’s. At the time, it was understood that those who did not want to participate would not have to (i.e. doctors would not be forced to perform an abortion or refer for one). Even by the late 90’s abortion supporters were calling for doctors to be disciplined for refusing to refer for an abortion. Just this past summer, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons began public consultations about whether doctors should be allowed to refuse to perform an operation or surgery on the basis of one’s moral or religious beliefs. The take away? At the time,anyone would be labeled a nut for thinking that people would be forced to perform an abortion, yet now we are a stones throw away from all physicians losing their conscience rights.

Similarly, in Belgium, Euthanasia was legalized just 12 years ago. At the time, Euthanasia was thought to apply in a very limited set of cirumstances and only for those doctors willing to participate. Once again, we find that in only a decade there is an incredible pressure for physicians to refer or preform Euthanasia. In medical schools, students who do not wish to Euthanize their patients are openly mocked a ridiculed.

The incredible thing is that in both cases, doctors refusing to preform these services are in an extreme minority. No patient will have a difficult time getting an abortion in Canada, and no patient will have a difficult time getting Euthanized in Belgium (it turns out that’s true even if they are not eligible for Euthanasia under the current law). Large parts of liberal society in both countries believe that doctors unwilling to preform these procedures due to their conscience should not be allowed to practice medicine, not because they endanger their patients or make it difficult to get these services but because they hold views that are contrary to the established norm.

What does this have to do with gay marriage? If we don’t see the liberal establishment respecting the rights of doctors to refuse procedures on the basis of their conscience (when, as I have mentioned, it affects practically no one), why should we expect supporters of gay marriage to respect anyone’s conscience rights in this regard? I don’t not think that Churches will ever be forced to marry people of the same-sex, but the Canadian situations demonstrates that in any other area of life, people who do not actively applaud and support the same-sex marriage of the same-sex lifestyle will be shunned. I think the author has done a good job at explaining why.


Except that it wasn’t written to be a defense of traditional marriage. :rolleyes:

It was written to counter a bad premise in the argument to change the definition of marriage. Those are two quite different objectives. Odd that you didn’t pick up on that.

Robert George has, however, co-written an entire book that does set out a complete case in defense of traditional marriage.

A paper that generally, though not completely, lays down the argument is here:

The book, however, is more detailed and tighter, logically speaking.


The standard liberal progressive rejoinder to a moral argument is the fact that “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy. That is true to the extent that taking a stand on a slippery slope does not logically entail you will necessarily end up on the bottom.

However, practically speaking, especially where significant moral issues hang in the balance, the slippery slope strategy - moving people to stand on slippery moral precipices - has been the MO of liberal progressives for at least the past 50 years.

It is a prudent thing to ask anyone who wants you to stand on the slippery edge of a cliff to provide a sufficiently cogent reason for why you should - which is, I think, George’s point - but also to ask why they have their hands out in front of them, seemingly, ready to give you an additional push once they’ve got you to stand there.

Your examples demonstrate that liberal progressives aren’t merely - or at all - concerned about anyone’s moral health when prompting (or daring) them to take a stand on the slippery precipice.

Fool me once… and all that.


It may be illegal on the books there, but would it be enforced if a Muslim not of Central or Northern European descent complained?

I hear a lot of targeting and bullying of straight white Christians over this issue, but those in the West who peddle this nonsense don’t seem as eager to challenge minorities and Muslims, who interestingly enough seem to oppose so-called gay “marriage”.

And as we can all see, there are some thick layers of self-love going here which is strictly opposed to Church teaching.


The standard liberal progressive rejoinder to a moral argument is the fact that “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy. That is true to the extent that taking a stand on a slippery slope does not logically entail you will necessarily end up on the bottom.

How many times have progressives assured us everything will be alright and for the better, get called out later when their policies blow up in everyone’s face and begrudgingly admit “FINE! YOU WERE RIGHT!”?

I suspect some of them know it will end like that, but as long as they can say those four words, all is still well because…sniff…sniff…they tried, and if it doesn’t work out, they sit in the corner with a sad face that says “I cared” and everyone can all cry together because all that matters is caring, not the actual results.


There is a hierarchy of groups on the scale of political correctness.
Women’s rights take a lot of precedence, but if the woman is Hirsi Ali speaking out against Muslims who mutilated her genitals, then Muslim rights take precedence over women’s rights.
It is interesting indeed how so many illiberal practices present in regular Islam are above reproach, even when it comes to the sacred cows of liberal orthodoxy, such as women’s rights, and now, gay rights.


Robert P George’s defense of traditional marriage is that it is defined as one flesh union of man and woman in eternal bonds of sacred matrimony, with both procreative and unitive (social, emotional, personal) aspects. It is based in biology as well where the one-flesh union is literal, in that it only takes one to participate in other biological necessities such as waste removal and feeding, but it takes two literally joined together as one flesh to fulfill the equally necessary procreative function.

It may not sound to you like a very good defense of traditional marriage, but it is the Catholic defense of traditional marriage.


I don’t think that the left ever comes out and admits a mistake actually.
The facts may scream out “FINE! YOU WERE RIGHT!”, but I think Dennis Prager is quite astute in his observation that being a liberal means never having to say you are sorry.

In Canada, the assurances that changes to Canadian law over orientation would not mean that religious would no longer be able to preach their gospel, but when a preacher was brought up on hate-crime charges, there was no begrudging admittance of mistake on behalf of the left. There was, if anything, indifference, and even resentment that the laws were not interpreted more oppressively against the preacher.

Robert P George notes that there will be liberals that do stand up for liberalism, but he is quite correct in noting that they will not prevail. What is progressive about progressivism is not liberty progressively increasing, but the freedom to have a dissenting voice from the leftist orthodoxy becomes progressively stamped out.


What does your father mean by that?
I mean…if you follow and believe the Christian religion (and many religions), one of the main beliefs is that both God and Satan exist, at the same time.

So then…do you or don’t you believe that?



In my experience, it’s more like someone pouring sugar into a gas tank, then - when the car doesn’t work - deciding that the only possible solution is to add more sugar.


Sadly, I agree. This is a fantastic article. Liberal intolerance is a huge threat to religious freedom and even democracy itself. History runs in trends though - you see this kind of intolerant social thought and practice gaining ascendancy in the French Revolution or the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 20th century. Now it is in the West in the form of secularism. I personally think it will inflict a host of injustices and, more importantly, cause social disorder and unrest before people begin to see it for it is and oppose it. They will learn through experience of its poverty, not arguments against it. And it could well take generations to pass away. And another important point is to distinguish between benign liberalism and intolerant liberalism. There are both kinds of people. For every 5 Rousseaus, you have 1 Robespierre. (Same thing on the right to be honest.) Different people will abandon this kind of secular liberal intolerance at different points. We will rediscover the value of being an open and tolerant society to all, preserving true liberty. But I doubt it will be in my lifetime. :rolleyes:


This is true for any group.
“Conservatives” and/or “Non-Progressives” also think their ways will work, and then some of them blow up in people’s faces.
No specific group is perfect or has all the answers.
And, there are time “Progressives” try a new idea that works beautifully and is much better than the old way. Heavens, if people didn’t try new things and takes risks, we’d still be carving our names in stones with rocks and in the dark ages.
It’s better to try something new than be stuck in old ways that are not working. To try to improve something and fail is better than never having the guts to try at all.



You are confused about what “religious freedom” is. The state does not have an obligation to pass laws that are morally agreeable to your religion doctrines or dogma. The only criteria is that everyone is free to practice the religion of their choice, i.e. a same sex marriage act does not prevent your freedom to have a religious marriage or other legal marriage of your choice.


Just read this article.
This guy is wrong, wrong, *wrong *so many times–from the first sentence onward!

He is wrong, as per the lede, that those who support same-sex marriage don’t think “dissenters” from the liberal position can be reasonable people of goodwill.
What the heck is he talking about here?

He is wrong when he says most who support same-sex marriage don’t know or understand the arguments against the redefinition of marriage.

He is so, so, so wrong to say that most proponents of SS-marriage think “those who oppose it are simply driven by hatred of gays.”

He is wrong when he says that those who consider marriage to be “companionship of people committed to mutual affection and care” think “any distinctions beyond this one they condemn as baseless.”

I can’t even go on. Those are just the first four points made in the article, but practically every point he makes, from beginning to end, are ridiculous, extreme, un-wise mass generalizations.

He is planting and spreading unfounded hate and fear where it does not need to be, and that is dangerous.



The numbers game explain why gay activists don’t mind minorities that disapprove of gay “marriage,” but the huge Muslim population exceeding Catholic population in the world, not to mention Muslim population growth in every Western country is a looming threat they ignore. I would agree thick layers of self love (also self preservation) explains their picking on Church teaching but not on Quranic teaching.

We have gay activists in this very forum – intelligent pro gay “marriage” long time posters in the country and Western Europe, especially in the U.K., who refuse to answer the question, refuse to see the big picture. They are only concerned what is in front of their noses, mobility and liberties they can enjoy in the state where they are, or in another state or Western country to where they can travel or immigrate. Where are the protests against the world’s homophobic religion? Against inhumanity of Islam towards their homosexual brothers and sisters?

Gay activists quibble, take great umbrage, on Church language, especially “intrinsic disorder” in the CCC 2357, which says “… homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” They want to erase “intrinsic disorder” and the moral teaching altogether.

But they pass up on Quranic surahs and hadith verses indicating express permission to stone or kill homosexuals! Just a partial list below:

Qur’an (7:80-84) - “…For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds… And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)”

Abu Dawud (4462) - The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”.

Abu Dawud (4448) - “If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death.”

Bukhari (72:774) - “The Prophet cursed effeminate men (those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, ‘Turn them out of your houses .’ The Prophet turned out such-and-such man, and 'Umar turned out such-and-such woman.”

al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152 - [Muhammad said] “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver.”


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