Religious Freedom after the Sexual Revolution
A Catholic Guide
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Laws mandating cooperation with the state’s new sexual orthodoxy are among the leading contemporary threats to the religious freedom of Catholic institutions in the United States. These demand that Catholic schools, health-care providers, or social services cooperate with contraception, cohabitation, abortion, same-sex marriage, or transgender identity and surgeries.
But Catholic institutions’ responses seem thin and uninspiring to many. They are criticized as legalistic, authoritarian, bureaucratic, retrograde and hurtful to women and to persons who identify as LGBTQ. They are even called "un-Christian." They invite disrespect both for Catholic sexual responsibility norms and for religious freedom generally, not only among lawmakers and judges, but also in the court of public opinion, which includes skeptical Catholics.
The U.S. Constitution protects Catholic institutions’ "autonomy" – their authority over faith and doctrine, internal operations, and the personnel involved in personifying and transmitting the faith. Other constitutional and statutory provisions also safeguard religious freedom, if not always perfectly. Catholic institutions could take far better advantage of all of these existing protections if they communicated, first, how they differ from secular institutions: how their missions emerge from their faith in Jesus Christ, and their efforts both to make his presence felt in the world today, and to display the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God. Second, they need to draw out the link between their teachings on sexual responsibility and love of God and neighbor.
Drawing upon Scripture, tradition, history, theology and empirical evidence, Helen Alvaré frames a more complete, inspiring and appealing response to current laws’ attempts to impose a new sexual orthodoxy upon Catholic institutions. It clarifies the "ecclesial" nature of Catholic schools, hospitals and social services. It summarizes the empirical evidence supporting the link between personnel decisions and mission, and between Catholic sexual responsibility norms and human flourishing. It grounds Catholic sexual responsibility teachings in the same love of God and neighbor that animate the existence, operations, and services of Catholic institutions.
"An engaging and highly readable defense of Catholic sexual morality that will be invaluable to readers called upon the defend to Church’s view of the person, sexual relations, and role of religious liberty in expressing our communal beliefs."~Teresa Stanton Collett, University of St. Thomas School of Law
"As ever, Helen Alvaré brings her remarkable breadth of learning, cheerful confidence, and keen understanding to a topic of vivid importance for our times. This new book on religious liberty is nothing less than an indispensable resource for Catholic leaders, because it not only describes the cultural landscape with perception but also proposes ways forward that are all at once faithful, bold, and compassionate. An important contribution on a crucial topic, challenging and invigorating!"~Monsignor James P. Shea, President, University of Mary, North Dakots
"This invaluable book includes an expert presentation of the Church’s doctrines about sex. It depends for its success upon a cogent description of the Church’s institutions as integral parts of her evangelical mission. The book’s value depends on more than that, for it requires an author who is also an expert in the constitutional law of religious liberty. And who is a savvy student of the sexual revolution and its now-toxic fallout. And who is intimately familiar with the Church’s episcopal leadership and with the operation of its many social apostolates. In other words, this overdue, essential book cold only be written by Helen Alvaré."~Gerard Bradley, University of Notre Dame
"Alvaré’s much-needed book fills a gaping lacuna in the Catholic world. She shows that personnel in Catholic institutions are not just employees of a social-service provider; they are also Christians entrusted with the tasks of active love and evangelization. Drawing on years of experience, Alvaré shows how to frame the truth of Catholic moral teaching as a call to a demanding and responsible love. Along the way, she draws on Scripture and Church teaching as well as the best social and scientific evidence concerning how human beings flourish in relationships. Her masterful chapter summarizing Catholic sexual morality is itself worth the price of the book. This volume should be required reading for diocesan and parish leaders, educators, and anyone tasked with representing the Church in the world."~Angela Franks, Saint John’s Seminary, Boston
"A major obstacle for religious freedom advocates these days is increasing lack of sympathy for the views on sex and marriage that are intrinsic to the identity of many religious institutions. Helen Alvaré, an eloquent Catholic spokesperson herself, has performed a real service by showing how those teachings can be presented in such a way as to inspire understanding and respect for their experience-based wisdom."~Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University
"Helen Alvaré offers a much-needed and genuinely new strategy for addressing the religious freedom challenges facing Americans. Religious Freedom After the Sexual Revolution is a clear, readable and beautiful articulation of the Catholic faith — a must-read for anyone concerned about religious freedom, and especially for those working in Catholic churches and organizations."~Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
"Simply put, Religious Freedom After the Sexual Revolution is a work of uncommon clarity and intelligence in a time of toxic political conflict. As an explanation and defense of Catholic institutions, it’s an invaluable resource. And it testifies to the wisdom and Christian character of the author."~First Things
"Alvaré offers an in-depth yet succinct synopsis of the law on privacy rights, religious freedom, marriage, and sexual expression of all varieties. She focuses on the doctrine of ‘church autonomy,’ which can provide significant protection for religious institutions, and which requires a more robust explanation, grounded in sound theology and empirical science, of how unity of belief and practice is at the heart of these institutions’ mission."~The American Spectator
"This is must reading for pastors, administrators of Catholic schools and health care facilities, and directors of Catholic social service agencies."~The Catholic Response
"This book should be required reading for Catholic bishops, as well as their lawyers, communication directors, and anyone in a leadership position. While it is explicitly aimed at Catholics, it can easily be adapted to and applied by other religious communities. All the book’s arguments are presented clearly and cogently. Some subjects, particularly the legal ones, are complex and difficult, but the author succeeds in making them accessible to non-experts, thereby achieving an eminently practical book."~The Human Life Review