Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rights, Religion, Politics....

Hi Friends;

  Over the past month or so I've become quite enamored with the ACLU blog.  I sometimes don't agree with their views, but that's ok.  I love the fact that they fight for freedom.  And, I guess, anyone who would suggest that isn't a laudable goal really needs to pull back and consider things a bit closer.
  The other day in my explorations, I found a picture that I just truly loved.  Unfortunately, I didn't save the addy so I can't find it again.  But, as most of you know of my religious beliefs, I'll just tell you what it said:  it said  "Jesus is my saviour, not my religion".  Now, this made me stop and wonder a bit.  I came to realize in my thoughts that when we Christians refer to Jesus as our "Personal Savior" and then begin to abide by a bunch of rules promulgated by man into a "religion", we lose the substance of our belief into our structure.  I know, that's a bit convoluted, but I guess I'm saying we lose focus.  And, since our goal is to be, by definition, "Christ like", perhaps our focus is quite important.
  Now, I've got issue with what I call "Cherry Picking Christians"; people who pull scripture that is complimentary to their belief system and sort of gloss over that which isn't.  These same will deny another person his rights so that this so-called Christian can be "right".  Well, I don't believe that is anywhere near "Christ-like".  We have man made laws, and we have God's Law.  Christians really need to read a bit more, pray a bit more, and definitely THINK a bit more,  and listen to preachers a lot less.
  So, now we come to the crux of my issue:  this piece found at the ACLU Blog.  I guess I could have left my thoughts to the end, but knowing me I'd forget to do so.  Well, here we go....tell me your thoughts:

please note:  I made some highlights of interesting phrases and claims.

ACLU Lens: Using Religion as an Excuse for Discrimination

This week, the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops is holding its annual meeting in Baltimore. The bishops are the lobbying arm of the Catholic church, and they hold substantial sway over lawmakers. But instead of focusing on issues like poverty or the economy, the bishops are instead complaining loudly that recent laws broadening women’s access to contraception and granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry amount to an assault on their religion.
However, as this Media Matters piece attests, this is hardly the case.

The bishops complained of anti-Catholic bias when the Obama administration declined to award them a contract to administer a program assisting victims of sex trafficking because the bishops refused to allow program funds to be used for abortion and contraception services and referrals. HHS instead gave grants to organizations that enable these women to get the care they need (legal aside: the ACLU has an ongoing case challenging that initial grant, and will continue litigating to ensure that government money is never used to impose any set of beliefs on vulnerable victims). Media Matters dissects the bishops’ arguments as articulated in a recent Washington Post piece by Michael Gerson.

The Gerson piece attempts to gloss over the fact that trafficking victims are often sexually abused, which is why it is critical that they have access to a full range of reproductive health care. Media Matters points to a British study that found that 95 percent of trafficking victims in Europe report being sexually assaulted.

Additionally, Media Matters shows that the bishops do not speak for the overwhelming majority of American Catholics, 78 percent of whom believe that rape victims should have access to abortion care and 63 percent of whom believe that insurance should cover contraception.

With facts like these, it is a matter of good sense, not animus, that the administration gave the contract to groups that will allow victims access to critical reproductive health services.

There’s no question that the Constitution allows everyone to practice their religion as they see fit. However, the Constitution does NOT allow one particular group to impose its beliefs on everyone else with federal money. That is exactly what the bishops are seeking to do. Nobody’s religious liberty is in jeopardy here. It is the right of others to live free from discrimination that is in danger.

And it’s not just the bishops. We’re seeing cases in which students training to be guidance counselors refuse to help teenagers in crisis because they are gay. We are seeing adoption agencies that use government funds refuse to adopt to same-sex couples. We are hearing of hospitals facing censure for providing a critically ill woman with an abortion in order to save her life. The bishops are not the victims here.

Our government’s top priority should be to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, in accordance with our constitutional values. Allowing one particular faith to dictate how others should live does nothing to achieve this.


Doug said...

I completely agree with you. If you are going to be a Christian then you have to live by everything that God and Jesus taught us, not just some of the things. God loves everybody, not just a chosen few.

Women who are forced into the sex trade and become pregnant should not be punished for it by being forced to have a baby they don't want. I do believe however that if you are a willing participant and end up pregnant, then you should live with the consequences of your actions.

As far as adoption goes, if somebody can prove they can take care of a child, and have the means to do so, then they should be able to adopt the child whether they are gay or not.

Anonymous said...

You're right, every state government should be immune from religious influences.
On the other hand, it is important that the church criticizing the actions of the government attaches.
Margot Kaessmann was the first female bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).
In her sermon on Christmas Eve 2009 in the Market Church in Hanover, Kaessmann put the Christmas cards slogan "Everything is good," a series of grievances against.
Among other things, she said:
"Nothing is good in Afghanistan. All of these strategies, they have long deceived about the fact that soldiers use weapons once and just now even civilians are killed. [...] But creating weapons obviously be no peace in Afghanistan. We need more imagination for peace, for all other forms to cope with conflicts. "
Then she was attacked from all sides, that the Church should not interfere in the work of government.
My opinion is: It is this interference that makes the Church in the population more credible. An honest opinion of a pastor is dearer to me than one therefore say of phrases and dogmas.

randy said...

Hi Doug;

Thank you for your input. I do think you set upon an interesting phrase: If one can prove that he is able to take care of a child and financially able, should be able to adopt". I agree whole heartedly, my "interesting" point is that no one puts that limit on those who can have children naturally. So, some cracked out prostitute is ok to have a child, but, under many laws, a loving gay couple who have a great home, stable, independent, etc., the State would look sideways upon when wishing to adopt. Right, wrong, who just is.
thank you for your comment.

randy said...

Hi Nikki;
People who are in government are going to be influenced by their beliefs. That's just natural. And, I do believe it is important to let folks know that certain things are to be prayed over, ie: war.
What the issue here is that the U.S. Gov't cannot endorse any religion. That doesn't mean that a religious group can't provide a service, but it does mean that they cannot limit services based upon their religious beliefs that are otherwise legal and acceptable in normal societ if receiving tax dollars to provide said services.
I was sorely unimpressed that the church would say their religion is being undermined....their belief system is their own. Now, if they wish to enforce that system upon others, then I guess "freedom" of religion does include "freedom from religion" as well.
Thank you for the comment.

Scottie said...

Hello Randy. I have a question. You have been open about your faith. I have also been open about my lack of belief in a deity. The two of us respect each other and our respective feelings. I have always support the right of people to worship, and you have never felt the need to force your faith on others. So my question is this: what is the difference between faith and religion? Between being Christian and or being a member of a Christian denomination? In the movie "Dogma" one of the lead characters said Jesus had a great idea and then humans ruined it by making it a religion. or something close.

Oh and another thing maybe you can answer because you understand people. Why do some people insist on exporting or pushing their brand of faith on all other people. Thanks. Hugs

randy said...

Hi Scottie;
Let me answer your question with this: My family came from Germany about 1900 or so, where they were Lutheran. And, that has been our denomination since, though I've been to other denominations in the past. My 84 year old Aunt, who was born and raised in the Lutheran church - which, by the way, is divided into numerous divisions or 'synods': Wisconsin, Missouri being the most prevelant, and now there is just ELCA and Missouri - visited my parents up north. They went to church and the church denied my 84 year old Aunt communion (bread/wine - body/blood) because she wasn't a member of their synod and could be taking the communion unprepared.
Religion denies belief and dictates form. Belief denies form and calls on faith.
Jesus said we are called to put God above all things and love our neighbor. I don't do either of those well, but... You, Scottie, are more Christian in your actions than most I see in the front pew.
I believe that being a humanist, caring for ones neighbors and self, loving others, not judging, not hating, etc., marks one for a place in heaven. I also believe that being a great believer in Christ while being a cruel human being, being judgemental, hateful, making people hate others and themselves, etc., removes one's place from heaven.
Jesus said "how can you love God whom you can't see and hate your brother who you do?"
If God is truly powerful, almighty, and all knowing, then He doesn't need us to believe in Him nearly so much as we need to love and care for eachother.
And, to answer your second point: much like the situation with my aunt, people so focused on the forms, not the substance, so fucused on the method and not the meaning, so enamored with the cover of the book and unconcerned about the story and lessons within, are also the ones so caught in being right that they are unwilling to think there may be more to life.

You have been my friend since we first met. You have encouraged me to grow, to care, to live a good life and to help others. You make people laugh, you love them when they cry, and you ask only that people treat eachother well.
I know you will argue with that. But, can you imagine a world where people were more concerned with making heaven on earth than "saving" the sinners for heaven?

hugs and love,

Scottie said...

Hello Randy. Thank you for your very kind words, but I am just a person, a human with all the feelings,hurts, and wants and needs of other people.

I treat people the way I do because it is the right thing to do. I know I inside what is right and wrong, and doing right not only is the correct thing, but it makes me feel good also. I have heard it said that unless you belong to this church or that church you can't be a moral person or they say that all morals come from church and we need to put prayer in school so kids will have morals. That I just don't understand or get. I have met a world full of people who have moral codes and I never thought to ask them which God they follow.

I love that some people get great comfort in worship. I love being with the church people I knew. But I also love being with the non-church people also.

and I think the world of you Randy. Hugs,

randy said...

right back at you, Scottie.

Anonymous said...

Hallo Randy,
Did I understand you correctly? Your aunt was not admitted to Last Supper (Abendmahl), because she was not a member of the community, although she was a member of the same Protestant church? This is bad!!!
In Germany, anyone can partake of the sacrament, who wants to. There were even attempts to celebrate the Last Supper together with Catholics. But here, the Vatican is against it.

randy said...

Hi Nikki;
Yep. You heard right. You want to get an old woman murderous, tell an 84 year old woman who was baptised and confirmed Lutheran, went to church every Sunday for over 80 years, that she isn't Lutheran enough to take communion.