Archbishop Charles Chaput called House Bill 1080 an "attack on religious identity" in his weekly column appearing in last week's Denver Catholic Register. He subsequently answered questions about the bill in an e-mail exchange with the Rocky Mountain News:
Q: The most straightforward interpretation of your column suggests that you will shut down Catholic Charities if this bill - or any bill - passes which restricts your ability to hire or fire based on Catholic religious standards. Is that a correct reading of what you will do?
Chaput: No. Catholic Charities will continue its core mission to the poor with or without public funds. If the government wants to carry the burden it currently asks religious-affiliated groups to carry, that's the government's business, and so are the costs and problems that go along with it.
What I actually said is that Catholic Charities "is an arm of Catholic social ministry. When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services." At this point, HB 1080 is only a bill; a bad bill — but not yet the law. If HB 1080 were to become law, that would be the time for us to make service decisions based on the content of the law. But if you're asking me whether I meant what I said about closing services rather than compromise our religious identity, I most certainly did.
Q: What current standards do you and the Catholic archdiocese demand of your employees when it comes to sexual orientation and religion?
Chaput: We expect our employees to respect Catholic teaching and support it in their professional lives. That's logical and just because the Catholic community has a religious mission. Obviously, we respect the personal lives of our employees. We have no interest, nor does any other sensible employer, in intruding on their privacy or family autonomy outside their service to the Church. But it's self-defeating to imagine a Catholic-affiliated ministry where the key guiding people can't be required to be Catholic.
To follow the entire story, you'll have to read Olson's story and the various interviews and components to which he links. It is a story that concerns religious freedom in the US and is compelling.