A religious think tank is trying to persuade the religious and academic world that America needs more-permissive attitudes about sex. Specifically, the Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics (RCPRHE) wants to remove remaining religious taboos against abortion, homosexuality, teen-age and other forms of nonmarital sex.
Headed by former Roman Catholic priest Daniel Maguire, who now teaches moral theology at Marquette University, the "consultation" seems particularly antagonistic toward Catholic teachings on sexual morality. But its list of participating scholars includes numerous liberal Protestants and non-Christians as well. It safely can be said that the think tank is aimed at overthrowing any traditional religious ethic that imposes limits on sexual behavior.
Those scholars working with Maguire include Protestant liberationist theologian Chung Hyun Kyung of Union Seminary in New York; World Council of Churches officials Aruna Gnanadason and Manfred Kulessa; Catholic homosexual activist Mary Hunt and a host of prominent liberal church luminaries; and Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu scholars.
The scholars see religion as a "powerful motivator." So naturally, working in tandem with secular allies, its scholars are attempting to suppress that motivator. They want either to discredit traditional religious voices in the culture at large or to subvert those voices from within religious institutions. The group convenes conferences for theologians, publishes scholarly papers, joins in international forums and tries to gain media attention for its views.
Much of the nonprofit's identity is wrapped up in the personality of its leader. Maguire is a regular speaker about "spirituality and sexuality" at Planned Parenthood gatherings. He is a consistent advocate of "choice" not just in abortion but in all sexual matters. He insists that all major religions are conducive to his message of uninhibited pleasure. "The big deception has been that the most conservative view is the one and only view in these religions," Maguire told a Planned Parenthood group earlier this year. "We're simply breaking the silence and letting people know there has been a shift already, and the shift is in the direction that I represent." The Marquette ethicist has dismissed traditional Christians who disagree with him as a "fundamentalist minority."
"In areas of sexuality and reproduction, the First Amendment has failed," Maguire insisted at the Planned Parenthood gathering. "Pleasure is what sex is all about," he told an undoubtedly approving audience. But "stoic philosophy" invaded Western culture and made sexual pleasure painful. …