Thursday, March 15, 2012

Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Religion - Part 4

And finally, Part 4 of my commentary on a post from a friend's blog.

Religion:

Couching religion as only "A PERSONAL set of beliefs", is a fallacy. Did the Founders of our country take this tact? Thankfully no. A little over a year ago, I published a post entitled, Our Civic Responsibility as Christians. In it, I quoted Fr. Frank Pavone from a Washington Post article, where he said,
"Religion isn't just private. Beliefs have consequences on public policy, morality, and the safety and rights of citizens."
As I said then, it's a particularly American attitude, being the ultimate individualists that we are, to feel the need to keep our faith in our pocket and not let it out, because it's PRIVATE and PERSONAL, don't ya know. But ultimately, as I said then, it's our responsibility as Americans, to take a stand for what we believe in, and to act on that belief, otherwise we are just hypocrites, right? If, I as a Christian, belief that all human life is sacred, is it not my responsibility to act on that belief in the public square? Is that then, ME forcing my religion on YOU? I can't see how. Isn't that the point of a democracy? Divergent voices coming together to discuss, debate and ultimately vote on the issues? But discussion and debate aren't politically correct any longer, are they?

It is unrealistic, and I would have to say un-American, to expect that citizens of faith just sit on their hands, go to Church on Sunday (or Friday or Saturday, etc) and just shut up when it comes to socially and
constitutionally relevant issues that directly affect us. Let's look, for example, at the current situation with the Department of Health and Human Services mandate. This current tension over religious freedom comes down to a simple fact. The First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion. It really is that simple...the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion; and that includes the right of religious institutions to define and carry out their ministries. Unlike how it is being portrayed, this issue is not about contraception. It's not even about abortion. And is certainly isn't about "healthcare". It's about the guarantees of the First Amendment. The Obama Administration's HHS mandate that compels virtually all employers to provide sterilization and contraceptives without a co-pay does have religious exemption to it, but it so NARROW that Jesus Christ himself wouldn't qualify for it. The Administration is in effect attempting to redefine what a religious ministry is. A specific ministry would qualify for an exemption only if:
  1. the people providing the service are (insert your religion/denomination here);  
  2. the ones being served are (insert your religion/denomination here) in their entirety; and  
  3. the service itself comes packaged with (insert your religion/denomination here) religious instruction.
What about the innumerable religiously-based hospital ministries, soup kitchens, private non-profits, etc, etc, etc? It seems to me, as I stated above, that it's the church (whatever religion/denomination) that defines its ministries, not Caesar. Christians, for example, are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, and visit the imprisoned. That is why these ministries exist. There is no "ID Check" before service, that's simply antithetical to the principle of serving your fellow man (and by "man", I of course, mean "mankind" ;-) ). So by DEFINITION this mandate PROHIBITS the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Yet the Administration and a majority of the media continue to attempt to frame this as a "women's healthcare" issue...and some people are buying that. Scary. And contrary to modern pop-culture belief, the First Amendment was designed to keep government out of the religion business, not the other way around.

So when someone tries to tell me not to FORCE my religion on them, I'll say, I'm not. I'm acting with a fully-formed conscience on the social and political issues in this country that affect me.

In speaking on religious liberty George Washington said,

"For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” - from an August 17, 1790 letter to Moses Seixas and the Jewish congregation of Newport, Rhode Island.
How sad is it that we have reached a point in this country where the Government itself is giving said assistance to a persecution of its own making?

In the end, how should we all respond to hate and persecution? My faith tells me, "with love". God Bless You.

2 comments:

  1. A gift for you from the wilderness...
    Satan has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9 until a woman delivers the true word John 1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 from the wilderness Rev 12:6 at the heel of time Gen 3:15. God our Father will not put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. I invite you to check out the bruising of Satan at http://minigoodtale.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete

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