Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Confession Needs More Protection Than That
But there’s a murkier, unresolved legal issue in the U.S.: Who qualifies as a “minister”? The umbrella of exemption was definitively expanded in the recent Hosanna-Tabor case, but remains, at least for now, fairly open-ended, encompassing the ‘actually ordained’ (priests, reverends, rabbis) then running through religious education teachers, parish employees, part-time volunteers, and ending somewhere around the local chapter of a twelve-step group. And for faiths and Christian communities without as clearly-established an ordination process as the Catholic Church (and there are many such denominations in our democratic land), articulating the boundary becomes messy business for a court.Two quick thoughts here. The first is that we have gotten increasingly entrepenurial in our development of churches, and thus done away with denomination and their hierarchies, we have asked ofr many of the erosions of religious protection that have come to pass in the last few decades. When the denominations ruled the land, the line between the religious and the a religious was clear. Not so much anymore. Maybe those denominations were worth more than we thought.
Second thought follows on - confession needs the protect not just of law, but of sacrament. Have we have sought to make church more "accessible" we have done away with highfalutin' concepts like sacraments, much to our detriment. Not only does such further fuzzy the line between the religious and the a Religious, but it erodes the value of the practice as well.
One must be careful when one changes. Sometimes good stuff gets gone too.
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