Accepted paper:

Freedom to love? Moral sentiments and the Catholic response to gay marriage in France

Authors:

Nofit Itzhak (University of California San Diego)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork among Catholic humanitarian workers and members of a Charismatic community in France, this paper investigates the interplay of freedom and restraint in the Catholic opposition to gay marriage and its reconciliation with the moral sentiments defining the community’s ethos.

Paper long abstract:

Recently signed by French president Francois Hollande, the law authorizing marriage and adoption by sex-same couples was met with considerable public opposition, the scope, force, and perseverance of which surprised many, within France and without. While this opposition was mobilized primarily by practicing Catholics, the rhetoric employed by opponents to the law did not rely on theological or explicitly moral argumentation, and of particular note were the frequent references to the question of freedom, specifically the freedom of speech, which opponents to the law felt was denied to them by the state. That one of the most prevalent images used to represent the "manif pour tous" collective opposing gay marriage was a gagged Marianne underscores the prevalence of this sentiment. This paper investigates the interplay of freedom and restraint in relation to the question of gay marriage in the lives, both public and private, of Catholic humanitarian workers and members of a Charismatic community in France. In particular, I examine how the opposition to gay marriage is reconciled with moral sentiments anchored in the community's self-definition in terms of the Charisms of Adoration and Compassion, exposing the interplay of freedom and restraint in multiple public spaces, that of the state, and that of the broader Catholic community itself.

panel P36
What is (religious) Enlightenment? Kant, freedom and obedience in religion today