Samuel Rodriguez Calls for 21st-Century Renewal

Faith is transparent, transcendent and transformational. Faith equips us to cross over obstacles, shout down walls, break through crowds and walk on the impossible, even in the midst of storms.

Faith encourages us to survive the fires of life, overcome the den of lions, silence the serpents and outwit the fox. Faith empowers us to see the invisible, embrace the impossible and hope for the incredible.

Faith exhorts us to care for the poor, speak for the marginalized and welcome the stranger, all while doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly before God.

It is faith, as the author of Hebrews 11 contextualizes, that serves as the nexus of hope and conviction—the very force that enables us to praise beyond our problems, give beyond our needs and love beyond our own.

Yet we live in a time where the very freedom to express our respective faith narratives stands threatened. In essence, we’ve never been down this road before. From the HHS mandate that requires religious organizations to sacrifice conviction on the altar of political expediency to businesses such as Hobby Lobby, which are required to abandon conscience or suffer the consequences of continued litigation, freedom of religion in America can best be characterized in the year 2013 as nothing other than an “endangered species.”

For that matter, we must embrace one simple truth: As people of faith, we cannot be silent while our sacred liberty lies threatened. We cannot be silent while Billy and Franklin Graham suffer the wrath of Uncle Sam via the conduit of an IRS audit for the simple act of articulating biblical truth. We cannot be silent while our Catholic brothers and sisters pay the penalty of noncompliance with a health care mandate obligating the rendering of services that run counter to the very ethos centered around the sacredness of life in and out of the womb.

Silence is not an option. For with conviction and compassion, we understand that a posture of complacency today will result in a position of captivity tomorrow. Thus, as people of faith, for the sake of our children and our children’s children, we gather today to issue a clarion call reminding our fellow Americans that this nation emerged from the womb of religious liberty.

From the womb of religious freedom, our Founding Fathers relinquished the shackles of political tyranny by vociferously declaring that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights—amongst these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

From the womb of religious freedom, Abraham Lincoln confronted the sin of slavery, framed the optics of emancipation and then offered a reconciliatory prescription by declaring, “With malice towards none and charity towards all.”

From the womb of religious freedom, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought an end to segregation and laid out a vision where, as Americans, the day would come where we would be judged not by the color of our skin but rather by the content of our character.

For to silence faith is to silence the moral conscience of our nation. To obstruct religious liberty is to obstruct the forces that reconcile righteousness with justice, covenant with community, sanctification with service and faith with action. To oppress religious freedom is to deny the prophetic while granting amnesty to the pathetic.

Our Founding Fathers, whether deists or Christians, inscribed a faith narrative that cannot be denied. From the beginning, as we have seen, faith, spirituality and the actual practice of religion have affected public discourse, elections, politics and foreign affairs, not usually as the centerpiece of policy but almost always as one of the elements that shapes the norms and mores by which policy is written. One cannot extract from our ethos the spiritual thread woven into the American genome.

While France and other European nations treat religion as a historical artifact and have stripped even the vestiges of spirituality from public life, and while Iran and a score of other countries actively persecute religious minorities, our nation thrives through religious pluralism and tolerance.

Consequently, our greatest export may not be technology, popular culture or our brand of democracy, but rather a commitment to religious pluralism, diversity and tolerance—a commitment that stems directly from our Judeo-Christian value system, a system that encourages us to propose while prohibiting us from imposing our religious worldview.

For at the end of the day, religious freedom and freedom of conscience serve as the facilitative platform from which all other liberties flow. This is what truly makes us exceptional. We are not exceptional because of our military prowess, economic wherewithal or political fortitude. American exceptionalism stems from the revolutionary idea, one which Marc Nuttle defines as “God over man and man over government.”

In other words, our freedoms stem not from the legislative, executive or judicial branches. Our freedoms come from our Creator, from whom all blessings flow. Moreover, our nation’s greatest gift to the world lies embedded in a 200-year demonstration of two simple truths: The antidote to religious totalitarianism is religious pluralism, and religious freedom serves as the proverbial firewall against secular tyranny.

Our relationship with God demands constant vigilance. We have been worrying about our potential to fall away from the very beginning. George Washington said the following of his fellow citizens after acknowledging the “divine interposition” in American affairs: “I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.”

If we deviate from the premise that in America God is over man and man is over government, we will not last long as a nation. The rejection of this catalytic framework will surely result in chaos, angst and the potential termination of our noble experiment.

Finally, I’m reminded of a program I watched on a nature channel. A lion returning from the wild seeking additional foods for his little ones stood ambushed. The narrator stated that the lion suffered what seemed to be mortal wounds. He had no strength, not even enough to raise his claws, lift his head or open his eyes.

At that precise time, the cameras captured the images of a band of predators aiming toward the lion’s position. They came with the intention not of finishing off the lion, whom they assumed powerless, but instead advanced with the purpose of attacking the descendants, the little ones, his most precious possessions.

Yet at the precise moment when the enemies of the lion approached the camp and threatened his offspring, the wounded lion—who did not have the ability to raise his head or claws—released the last resource available: his roar. Immediately and without exception, all the enemies threatening the lion’s offspring and most cherished possessions fled. The narrator stated the following: “Why did the enemies of the lion flee? Simple. His enemies know very well that as long as the lion roars, they cannot take away what belongs to him.”

It’s time to emerge as vertical lambs and horizontal lions. It’s time to pray, but it’s time to release a collective faith-filled roar. For as a Christian, as an evangelical, I understand that defending religious freedom stems not from the agenda of the donkey or the elephant but rather from the agenda of the Lamb.

Therefore, rise up and protect religious liberty. Rise up and speak truth to power. Rise up with civility and grace, and remind our great uncle of the the following: “Uncle Sam, you may be our earthly uncle, but you are not and never will you ever be our heavenly Father!”

Editor’s Note: This is a revised version of a speech Samuel Rodriguez delivered as a keynote address at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s 2013 National Religious Freedom Conference last week. Click here to see the video.

A leading voice among Hispanic believers in America, Samuel Rodriguez is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, the co-pastor of a multi-ethnic, Spirit-filled church in Sacramento, Calif., and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The Wall Street Journal has named him as one of the seven most influential Hispanic leaders in the U.S. today.

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  • baal

    And you all wonder why atheists find you scary. In your words, I pray that you see the only true calling of Christ is to avoid hurting others and considering constantly what negative impacts our choices have on the health and lives of those in being.

  • Rich Wilson

    And I always thought it was the female lions who did the hunting

    And that the greatest threat a young lion faced was that it would fall victim to infanticide at the jaws of the pride’s new Alpha.

  • tedseeber

    Actually, I wouldn’t say never. I would say Hispanic Evangelicals and Catholics ran into exactly this situation in Mexico in the 1920s, and their history, if it can be uncovered, may well have a lot to do with the solution.

    • Pofarmer

      A war killing around 100,000?

      • tedseeber

        Because they let it go, yes, that’s what ended up happening. But it started small. It might be nice to know what happened *before* that war- what signs we should be looking for.

        • Pofarmer

          The church thinking they have the right to overrule the state is what happened “before”.

          • tedseeber

            How is keeping the land the Church purchased the “right to overrule the state”?

          • Pofarmer

            Lol. Purchased. My understanding is that the church held title to as much as 50% of the land in Mexico. All tax free. But even that wasn’t the straw. My understanding of what led to hostilities is when the state wanted to institute secular schools. That was a bridge to far for the church, and they instigated violence.

          • tedseeber


            Might give you a clue as to who fired the first shot.

          • Pofarmer

            Priests and bishops were constantly undermining the rule of the State, what did they expect would happen?

          • tedseeber

            Yeah, because the state is so moral. Maybe the State should have been, gasp, LISTENING to the Church instead of combatting it.

          • Pofarmer

            Like it or not the state has the right to its sovereignty

          • tedseeber

            Yes it does. Nobody says it doesn’t. But God is above the King.

            And that- secularists hate more than anything else. That is a crime for which every priest must be tracked down, every mass invaded with armed militia units, and the reason why all the Catholic Schools in Mexico were closed.

            Subsidiarity should exist, but subsidiarity need not lead to a war between church and state.

          • Pofarmer

            I’m sorry, buy you’re waging a 15th century argument, one that, happily, has been superseded. I would suggest that you find a country that fits your ideals, rather than attempting to form this country, the U.S. into a mold it was never, ever, designed to exist in.

          • tedseeber

            It is a 15th century argument, but nobody has proven to me that any progress has been made since then, at all.

            Near as I can tell, Obama is a dictator like any other tin hat dictator.

          • Pofarmer

            Oh, I dunno. You won’t be burned at the state for printing a book or being accused of being a witch, at least in the first world. I’d call that progress. We don’t have institutionalized slavery, I’d call that progress. The Church doesn’t get to pick your leaders, I’d call that progress. We’ve put men on the moon, sent a probe out of our solar system, I’d call that progress. But, then again, I’d guess you and I have a different idea of progress.

          • tedseeber

            No, you’ll just be thrown in Gitmo without trial and tortured for a decade or so, or called a homophobe, in the First World.

            I see no progress at all.

          • Pofarmer

            Well, granted, it’s not like Africa where whipping up religious fervor can lead to the killing of hundreds of thousands. That’s real progress.

          • tedseeber

            That progress originally came in the 10th century, when the Catholic Church created the inquisition to give a rule of law where there had previously been vigilante justice. Succeeded too- in the 800 years that the Inquisition kept records of their trials, over 85,000 people were tried- and just 1500 put to death for their crimes. The rest got lesser sentences that no lynch mob would have ever handed out.

          • Pofarmer

            So, progress is thousands killed, tens of thousands tried and tortured, for having the temerity to disagree with the church?

          • tedseeber

            Yes, that is progress over what was before- hundreds of thousands killed for disagreeing with their neighbors, with no records or trials whatsoever.

            Funny, that’s what the Mexican government brought back during the Christeros war.

          • Pofarmer

            Dude, the ONLY reason folks were killing their neighbors for disagreeing WAS THE CHURCH. So, I suppose it’s somewhat commendable for the church to attempt to dial er back a little, after a thousand years or so.

          • tedseeber

            The reason folks were killing their neighbors for heresy, usually had far more to do with business than religion. Especially in Spain, where the fight between Islamics, Jews, and Christians for control of land had been going on for 400 years before the Inquisition was even thought of.

            The cases the Inquisition tried *rarely* had any actual heresy- and far more than 50% of cases tried never even resulted in torture, where with the vigilante system in place before, a man could get rid of a business rival rather easy by stirring the crowd up into a heresy charge against the rival.

            So, no, not so much. You really have been reading propaganda, not history.

          • Pofarmer

            Oh, and the Catholic schools were closed because the Catholic Church was in open rebellion against the State of Mexico. Ever since the Catholics tried to install Maximilian as Emperor, there had been a little, um, tension there. To claim the Catholic Church as blameless and pure here is imbecilic in the extreme.

          • tedseeber

            If they had accepted Maximilian as Emperor, the rest wouldn’t have happened? Interesting idea.

          • tedseeber

            The Wikipedia article suggests that it was Napoleon, not the Catholic Church, who supported Maximilian I. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

  • gimpi1

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see your religious liberty threatened. Mostly what you stand to lose is your tax-exemptions. If you lobby to restrict the behaviors of other people based on your beliefs, that is political action, not religious activity. Political action isn’t tax exempt. Confusing the right of free speech with the privilege of tax-exempt status is mistaken.

    If you try to circumvent law, discriminate or cause harm based on your religious beliefs, you most likely won’t get a free pass. Denying medical coverage for basic care is causing harm. Birth control is basic medical care. Some groups have tried to deny that basic care because of the false belief that oral contraception can cause early abortions. That idea has been tested through scientific research and found to be mistaken.

    The idea that gay couples would not do well raising children has also been subjected to study. The most reliable studies have shown that committed, loving gay couples do as well as their straight counterparts in raising healthy, well-adjusted kids. The belief that allowing gay couples to adopt is hurtful to children is mistaken.

    Your beliefs that your rights come from your creator, and that those rights are greater than your rights in law is also mistaken. Your religious beliefs don’t put you above the law. You certainly do have the right to believe anything you choose, but you don’t have the right to force your beliefs on others, to deny others their rights because the exercise of those rights upsets you, or to violate the law regarding your treatment of others. The belief that having to respect the beliefs of others is somehow a violation of your rights is mistaken.

    I understand how strongly many people feel about things like birth control or marriage equity and religious beliefs, but those strong feelings, based in religion or not, don’t (and shouldn’t) have any standing in law. In short, right to swing your beliefs stop at my nose. You may not know it, but you’ve been hitting folks in the nose for some time now. Push-back was inevitable.

    I applaud your devotion to speaking for the poor and marginalized. I appreciate how strongly you believe. However, what it seems you are losing is not your basic rights to speak or believe as you will, but the privileges you have been accustomed to as a majority religion and a power-player.

    • tedseeber

      How is poisoning women to remove their fertility “basic care”?

      • gimpi1

        Perhaps you are unaware how many women die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth every year. Perhaps you don’t know how many women’s health issues unrelated to fertility that oral contraception is used to treat. Perhaps you are unaware of the radical health-tole taken by repeated pregnancies. Perhaps you really haven’t seen the gains made in women’s general health and life expectancies since they began to use “poison” to control their fertility.

        Perhaps you don’t know that most medicines can be classified as “poison,” depending on the dosage and use. Perhaps you don’t understand the what the idea of personal agency, i.e. the right to reject your beliefs and take advantage of modern medicine’s “poison” to control their fertility means to women. Perhaps you are unaware that well over 90% of all American women of childbearing years make that choice, including over 90% of both Evangelicals and Catholics.

        If you didn’t know any of these things, you might want to do some research. I do know that oral contraception isn’t perfect and comes with its own problems, like most medicines. There are many cases every year of liver damage due to one of our most safe and studied medication, Tylenol. Nothing is perfect. No medicine is perfectly safe. But overall, the use of oral contraception to control fertility is one of the safest things a woman can choose to do. It’s certainly safer than 10-15 pregnancies.

        • tedseeber

          “Perhaps you are unaware how many women die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth every year. ”

          I am. Are you? What is the modern rate of deaths in childbirth?

          “Perhaps you don’t know how many women’s health issues unrelated to fertility that oral contraception is used to treat. ”

          If it is unrelated to fertility, then that isn’t intentional contraception anymore, is it? Except as a side effect?

          “Perhaps you are unaware of the radical health-tole taken by repeated pregnancies. ”

          Hmm….So the human race shouldn’t exist in the first place because pregnancy is so dangerous that no woman can survive it?

          “Perhaps you really haven’t seen the gains made in women’s general health and life expectancies since they began to use “poison” to control their fertility.”

          There’s been quite the gain in the cancer rate- is that what you are talking about?

          “Perhaps you don’t know that most medicines can be classified as “poison,” depending on the dosage and use.”

          No, I’m well aware of that- and what I’m saying is the dosages are way too high, and that pregnancy is a normal condition, not a disease.

          ” Perhaps you don’t understand the what the idea of personal agency, i.e. the right to reject your beliefs and take advantage of modern medicine’s “poison” to control their fertility means to women.”

          Based on the falsehoods you’ve put into this discussion so far?

          “Perhaps you are unaware that well over 90% of all American women of childbearing years make that choice, including over 90% of both Evangelicals and Catholics.”

          I am well aware of that, it is the primary cause of the Demographic Decline that requires us to have a million immigrants a year just to have a stable population.

          “If you didn’t know any of these things, you might want to do some research. I do know that oral contraception isn’t perfect and comes with its own problems, like most medicines. There are many cases every year of liver damage due to one of our most safe and studied medication, Tylenol. Nothing is perfect. No medicine is perfectly safe. But overall, the use of oral contraception to control fertility is one of the safest things a woman can choose to do. It’s certainly safer than 10-15 pregnancies.”

          Simple enforced abstinence by sleeping with the child can solve that one.

          • gimpi1

            The modern rate of child-birth related deaths is much lower than the historical average, but still much higher than the rate of complications from any form of birth control. Many if not most groups who refuse to provide insurance benefits do not make exceptions for prescriptions used to to treat painful periods or other conditions.

            No individual pregnancy is that risky, however, repeated pregnancies are increasingly dangerous. Before the advent of modern medicine, the most common way for a woman to die was with pregnancy-related problems or in childbirth.

            What falsehoods are you referring to? I am not aware of any falsehoods, if you see one, please let me know. But stick to facts. I don’t really care one way or the other for personal opinions.

            Pregnancy is a normal condition. It’s a normal condition that has pronounced risks. Women can now have a normal sex life and choose not to take those risks, a power that men have always had. Why does that bother you?

            There is no “demographic problem.” Humans are in no way an endangered species. And I have no problem with having immigrants move here, rather than having more children. Why do you?

            Enforced abstinence. That says it all, really. Again, who are you to demand that choice? If someone chooses to control their fertility through modern medicine, they have that choice. If they choose to take the minimal risk to use oral contraception, they have that choice. If they choose to risk their health or life and carry a risky pregnancy to term, they have that choice as well. Personal agency. Freedom to live you life as you choose, not according to someone else’s dogma. Welcome to America in the 21st century.

          • tedseeber

            Is the rate of maternal death higher than live births? Has it ever been?

          • Feminerd

            Nope. Historically, each pregnancy had ~1% chance of death for the mother and ~9% chance of death for the baby. In places without access to birth control and modern medicine the death rate for women in childbirth is as high as 1 in 9; that is, 1/9 of women will die in childbirth or of childbirth related complications over the course of their lifetimes. That’s why humans survive as a species, by the way; maternal and neonatal deaths rates were not higher than live birth rates. And of course, death and injury rates vary based on risk factors.

            Of course, I’m also not sure what your point is … would you eat a candy if I told you it had a 1% chance of being composed of cyanide? What if it only had a 0.013% chance to kill you? Would you keep eating them if the first one didn’t kill you? Should you be legally forced to eat the candy? We assume that if you eat the candy and it doesn’t kill you (or even if it does), a whole new person magically appears with no effort on your part. Of course, that person has a chance of being dead too.

          • tedseeber

            The point is, that we need to teach men abstinence, not poison women.

          • Feminerd

            Riiight. Women like sex too, you know. Quite a lot. The answer is in fact control of fertility; whether that is joint celibacy, copper IUDs, implants, pills, condoms, NFP, or some combination thereof, the couple (and more specifically, the person in the couple who can get pregnant) gets to decide. Until you stop calling BC poison, though, you clearly aren’t even trying to listen. Repeat after me: if BC is poison, pregnancy is 100x worse poison. It’s the same hormones.

            Also, “we” need to “not poison women”? Women are people with agency of their own, thanks. “We” don’t do anything about my BC: I went to the doctor, I talked to him about the risks and benefits, and I decided to take them.

          • tedseeber

            Apparently, you don’t understand the line between Natural and Unnatural.

          • Feminerd

            I live in a house that includes AC, an electric stove, and particle board. I’m typing this on a computer as I sip my tomato soup that I heated up in the microwave and drink my iced tea (in a plastic cup) that stayed cold in a refrigerator. The shirt I’m wearing is made partly of polyester. When I finish my soup, I’m going to take vitamin supplements because my doctor told me certain levels were low using blood tests.

            None of that is natural. Using what is ‘natural’ as a guide to life is in fact a great way to be very uncomfortable and die an early death of treatable disease or infection.

            And none of this changes the fact that women make choices and you have no right to take those choices away.

          • Rich Wilson

            And of course ‘tomatoes’ only exist due to thousands of years of selective breeding. But maybe that still counts as ‘natural’.

            Kissing for pleasure, however…

          • Rich Wilson

            You remind me of Mohandas Gandhi. I’ve read his autobiography, and a couple of books about him, and nowhere have I seen a description of his wife’s reaction to his vow of celibacy. (other than in the fictional movie, and even there it wasn’t exactly clear)

          • UWIR

            “Teach” abstinence? What does that mean? It’s not like people are using birth control because they’re ignorant. They are making an informed decision that you disagree with. When your response to people making a decision that you don’t like is “We should teach them about what I would do”, that makes you sound like an arrogant asshole.

          • Pofarmer

            “That makes you sound like an arrogant asshole”. Typical removed from reality catholic.

          • tedseeber

            They are apparently ignorant of the idea that sex is procreative, rather than recreative.

            And if that makes me sound like an arrogant asshole, well, better than than a Malthusian Eugenicist.

          • UWIR

            Sex is clearly procreative and recreative. Making statements that fly in the face of obvious facts makes you look like a moron. Of course, you probably mean that sex shouldn’t be recreative, in which case “ignorant” is not the right word, as “ignorant” refers to facts, not opinions. That you refer to people as “ignorant” simply for not agreeing with your opinion is what makes you sound arrogant (and that you don’t think sex should be enjoyable suggests that you have serious psychological problems). The idea that people with the “wrong” opinions need to be “re-educated” is the sort of position that a totalitarian government takes.

          • Feminerd

            In the US, maternal mortality in 2006 was 13.3/100,000, with much higher rates of maternal morbidity (injury). There were about ~30,000 near-deaths per year from childbirth; 1.7 million women per year have birth injuries that adversely affect their health. and

            I have low-dose hormones myself; even the high-dose ones are still much lower doses than pregnancy. You did know that hormonal BC uses the exact same hormones as pregnancy, right? If hormonal BC is “poisonous” because it has too high doses of hormones, pregnancy must be truly toxic.

            The US is sailing along at a birth rates of ~2.3, which is just above replacement rate. Our population is growing due to immigration, but it wouldn’t be shrinking even if no one moved here. And even if our population was shrinking, so what? That doesn’t even begin to justify turning women into baby-making slaves for the “greater good of society”. You really sure you want to go down that path of argumentation?

            Enforced abstinence is unrealistic and absurd for years at a time. Many marriages won’t survive a period of 10+ years of no sex, because sex is both pleasurable and an expression of intimacy. We should, rather, let people control their own fertility and be happy the modern world has let us do so. Not to mention a) sleeping with a child doesn’t actually prevent sex unless you’re incredibly vanilla and b) sleeping with a child is hella uncomfortable.

            EDIT: I’d like to point out that heart disease, cancer, hernias, appendicitis, and smallpox are all natural too.

          • Rich Wilson

            Ted thinks that a woman with Cerebral Palsy choosing to not have kids amounts to abuse of her partner for not giving him kids. Just so you know in advance where this discussion will go.

          • Feminerd

            Yeah, I know. This isn’t for Ted- I’ve had this argument with him before. This is for the lurkers and people who read it after the discussion is long over, so they have a chance to see true things and get a few links to direct their research if they’re so inclined.

          • tedseeber

            No, I think that the partner of a woman with CP needs to understand going in that celibacy is a part of his marriage vows.

          • Rich Wilson

            At least you’re one of the very few Catholics who actually holds true to the teaching of your church.

          • tedseeber

            All of those indicate abstinence. Just because sex is pleasurable doesn’t mean we have to have sex to live.

          • tedseeber

            Thank you for proving my point that the rate of maternal death is not higher than that of live births.

          • Feminerd

            The rate of dying of cocaine overdose is less than the rate of usage too. Your point is what, exactly?

          • tedseeber

            In cocaine, dementia is quite the side effect.

            Having said that, my point is that all of this political “pregnancy is an evil disease that must be eradicated” garbage is just that, political rhetoric, nothing more. Even your own numbers show that it is incredibly rare, and increasingly so as time goes on.

            The good point in all of this though, is we need to teach men that celibacy is possible. And sometimes, loving a woman means NOT having sex.

          • Feminerd

            No, that’s not what anyone’s saying. What people are saying is that pregnancy is dangerous and a woman has the right to decide if she wants to do it or not. That’s it. It has real risks that are fairly small, but are still much larger than the risks of not-being-pregnant. If a woman wants to take the risk to make a new person, more kudos to her. All we’re saying is that no one should be forced to take that risk, and that celibacy is both a cruel and unrealistic answer. Especially when, for all your claims about equality, women like sex quite a lot too. Sometimes loving a woman means having sex with her on her terms instead of denying both of you for stupid ideological reasons.

          • tedseeber

            It is natural for women to want to do so. It is highly unnatural to spread rumors about risk and inflate risks until no woman would want to do so.

            Celibacy isn’t cruel, celibacy is freedom. It is sexual slavery that is cruel.

          • Feminerd

            Forced celibacy, like forced sex, is cruel and harmful. It’s all about choice and consent.

            Spread rumors about risks? Pregnancy and childbirth is dangerous. It always has been. It’s safer now in developed countries than it ever has been in the past, but it’s still going to be uncomfortable and, for most, involve nausea and a lot of other unpleasantness. Labor is generally described as the worst pain ever experienced. Women in the US have a ~0.013% chance, if they get pregnant, of dying from it. They have a much higher, though still objectively very small, risk of nearly dying and/or having a permanent injury from it. These are facts about pregnancy and labor; how is it spreading rumor or inflating risk to tell people true things?

            I also don’t think “unnatural” means what you think it means …

          • tedseeber

            Choice and consent? Neither actually exist. They require free will, and without God, without a soul, free will cannot exist.

            You are still trying to make that .0013% chance into a 100% chance, and pushing contraception for an extremely slight risk.

            “Unnatural” in this case means “using politics and lying to shape behavior, where if it wasn’t for your propaganda, the norm would be that women *like being pregnant*”

          • Feminerd

            Women have never universally *liked being pregnant*. Read a little history- women sobbed when they confirmed their pregnancies sometimes, and it wasn’t from happiness. They would tell people they had one foot in the grave. They would take herbs they knew could kill them to get rid of the pregnancy, or douche with lye, or swallow glass, or drink gin in a hot bathtub. They would poke inside with a sharp blade of straw or twig from a broom to induce an abortion and just hope it wouldn’t kill them. They made pessaries of crocodile dung or wool and oil to function as primitive sponges. Women always, everywhere, have wanted to control their fertility and have been scared of the risks of pregnancy.

            People don’t take contraception so they don’t die from pregnancy. They take it so they don’t get pregnant. Nausea, weight gain, bloating of ankles, internal organs being crushed, and then 10+ hours of excruciating pain (less if multip) are the norm- that’s not fun. Some women love being pregnant and feel great, while others despise it with every cell of their being. Most women are somewhere in between. It’s a big health risk and a big life change, though, which is why women have the right to control if and when they get pregnant.

          • tedseeber

            Then why did the widow weep when her only son was dead?

            Your own numbers show that fear of pregnancy is kind of like investing in the lottery to provide for your retirement. You have a much better chance of getting hit by lightning than a woman has of dying from pregnancy.

            Once again, without God, there is no free will, and can be no consent, therefore a secular society can’t recognize consent or what people “want”.

          • Feminerd

            Because he was her child, not her pregnancy. Your belief that God creates consciousness and free will is blinding you to your effort to enslave women into unwanted baby-making machines.

            If God created free will, then he gave us the right to tell you and him to fuck right off and to control our own bodies. Secular society is the only society in which consent and free will matter, because it recognizes that some people will follow 2,000 year old mishmashes of mythology and philosophy and some won’t, and either is acceptable. Free will is unethically constrained when the book’s rules are all that is allowed.

          • tedseeber

            How about “because he was her only way to survive in a world where being a widow without a son was death”?

            God created free will, but the secular society rejects God, thus your totalitarian ideal of everybody being sterilized.

          • Feminerd

            Uh, not so much. My “totalitarian ideal” is that people choose when to have kids and how many. They can use artificial contraception if they choose, and they can be sterilized if they choose. They can also choose to be celibate and/or pop out as many kids as they happen to get pregnant with.

            Methinks totalitarianism doesn’t mean what you think it means, either … but thanks for making me giggle at yet another example of “tedseeber doesn’t know what words mean”.

      • UWIR

        The fact that you are asking a blatantly loaded question shows that you have outright contempt for the contempt of civil discussion.

        • tedseeber

          Yes, in fact I do have “outright contempt for the contempt of civil discussion.”

          I have tried it for years and see no purpose whatsoever in discussion.

          • gimpi1

            Then what the heck do you think you’re doing here? If you don’t want a discussion, why are you blogging?

            Oh, right. You want to force everyone to conform to your would view. Never mind.

          • tedseeber

            I want to make sure nobody is fooled by outright dishonesty. I see no chance whatsoever of anybody conforming to any worldview- including your attempt to force me to conform to your worldview.

          • gimpi1

            How am I trying to force you to conform to anything? All anyone here is saying is that everyone, women of childbearing years included, have the right to make their own decisions about their beliefs, health and lives. Radical stuff, I know. If you’re talking about force, you’re the one who used the phrase “enforced celibacy” to describe your favored method of birth control.

            What dishonesty are you referring to? I haven’t seen any from anyone.

          • tedseeber

            How about the dishonesty in the statement “All anyone here is saying is that everyone, women of childbearing years included, have the right to make their own decisions about their beliefs, health and lives.” when you know full well that there is more than just one life involved once a woman becomes pregnant?

            THAT is the kind of dishonesty and subtle conformity that I am objecting to.

          • gimpi1

            Since we’re talking about contraception, that isn’t related to abortion, which is, I assume, what you are referring to. Preventing pregnancy through medical means does not affect a child that is not conceived.

          • tedseeber

            “Preventing pregnancy through medical means does not affect a child that is not conceived.”

            Another subtle dishonesty, since as you well should know, many chemical birth control methods work by simply refusing the *already conceived* zygote to implant in the uterus.

            But worse than that, is the idea that we should be limiting family size by any choice other than abstinence.

            Sacrificial love. There is nothing in this world quite like it.

          • gimpi1

            That’s actually incorrect. The work by preventing ovation. The idea that they would block implantation was believed up until a few years back. However, when it was researched, it was found to be false. For some reason, most “right-to-life” followers have refused to accept this new knowledge. I don’t know why.

            As to your “worse than that” nonsense, again, do what you please. Stay out of everyone else’s decisions. This is a free society. Your beliefs about the wonders of abstinence has no power over me or anyone else. We make our own choices. Get used to it.

          • tedseeber

            Can you point me to this “research” or is this another lie from the pro-choice side (there have been oh so many)? New knowledge that is really propaganda, isn’t.

            There is no such thing as a free society, except maybe in Somalia. “We make our own choices” when under fraud and duress is as much a lie as anything else.

          • gimpi1

            I don’t see why I should do your basic research for you, since you failed to post any links, but here goes.


            This is the New York Times, about a year old.


            Here’s another, regarding changes to AMA standards, after the new information came out.


            And another from the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

            I doubt any of this will change your mind. Anyone who believes that there is no such thing as a free society is pretty much past the pale. Since you have no power over anyone, whatever.

            I do have a question, however. If you did have power over us all, would you outlaw birth control ? Mandate celibacy? Outlaw religions except for your own? How would you restrict this freedom you say doesn’t exist.

          • tedseeber

            So basically, you’re pointing me to a newspaper that accepts advertising from the contraception manufacturer, and a government agency whose *direct orders* have been to provide Plan B without perscription, and you don’t find that perhaps those studies had some confirmation bias going on? How gullible are you?

          • gimpi1

            Not gullible to believe your statements without any verification. I notice you still haven’t offered any.

            Did you check out the link about the AMA Standards Change or the fact that the NYT graphic had been provided by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics? Did you even read the article? I don’t follow this kind of thing as closely as I used to, since I had a tubal-ligation (something else I’m sure you would ban) so I’m not so up on things, but everything I can find says that the best current evidence is that hormonal BC does not prevent implantation.

            The best evidence says you’re wrong. You reject that best evidence, and choose to believe what says you are right. Then you seem to want to restrict everyone else’s options based on your mistaken belief.

            You don’t think YOU might be subject to confirmation bias? No, no never.

          • tedseeber

            The International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, you mean?

            Yeah, sterilization is also an equally bad idea, except for cancer.

            “Best current evidence” from “The International Consortium for Emergency Contraception”, you’re grasping at very weak straws here.

            Even the manufacturer, on their website ( ) states that the emergency contraception pill works by:
            3. How does Plan B® One-Step work?

            Emergency contraception is similar to a birth control pill, and works primarily by:

            -Preventing ovulation

            -Possibly preventing fertilization by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or egg

            -Altering the endometrium, which may inhibit implantation

            That last means it is an abortificant, based on “life begins at implantation”, not “life begins at conception”

            Of course, if you are an anti-pregnancy extremist, that’s exactly what you want, isn’t it?

          • gimpi1

            That information is out of date. Did you check the date? That was the whole point of the 2012 article. Both manufactures and the AMA thought that the endometrium happened, but discovered that it didn’t .

            Also, the definition of the beginning of pregnancy is not conception, but implantation, based on the fact that over 50% of fertilized ovum fail to implant.

            I hate to break it to you, but you are the extremist. I’m mainstream. Demanding control of my life is extreme.

            Why is sterilization a bad idea?

          • tedseeber

            “That was the whole point of the 2012 article. Both manufactures and the AMA thought that the endometrium happened, but discovered that it didn’t .”

            Rather convenient politically, kind of like the removal of homosexuality from the DSM with very little *real data*.

            “Also, the definition of the beginning of pregnancy is not conception, but implantation, based on the fact that over 50% of fertilized ovum fail to implant.”

            God’s actions and man’s actions are different, and should rightly have different morality.

            “I hate to break it to you, but you are the extremist. I’m mainstream. Demanding control of my life is extreme.”

            Nobody has control over their own life, if you think that is wrong, go try living on ingestion of radio waves.

            “Why is sterilization a bad idea?”

            Turns the person into an object for the sexual pleasure of others.

          • gimpi1

            Or, perhaps they discovered new information, just as they did about 20 years ago, when they discovered that antibiotics could affect oral contraception’s effectiveness. As I understand it, researchers were looking into this supposed effect to find a way to prevent it, and discovered that it did not happen. That’s science for you, always changing. And that’s a good thing.

            The same with realizing that homosexuality isn’t pathological. That was a case of taking the religious preconceptions out of the picture and just looking at how people’s lives worked. It turned out, gay people were just fine, if they were not harassed. So they revised their views. That’s a good thing.

            You don’t speak for God. I don’t especially care what your view of God is. You don’t get to pass your views into law. That’s a good thing.

            I have control over my life-in law. I can’t violate the laws of physics, but I can choose to live as I see fit, as long as I don’t harm anyone else. That’s a good thing

            And becoming an object of sexual pleasure for my husband and myself, without worrying about an unwanted pregnancy is exactly what we wanted. What we chose. What we had the right to choose. And that’s a very good thing!

          • tedseeber

            Real Science doesn’t serve political ends just for the fun of it.

            And if you are practicing contraception and abortion- you are harming not only yourself, but also others.

            A marriage in which the spouses turn each other into mere sex objects is a marriage that will end in divorce the day one of them becomes too ill to have sex.

          • Pofarmer

            “A marriage in which the spouses turn each other into mere sex objects is
            a marriage that will end in divorce the day one of them becomes too ill
            to have sex.”

            I’m sorry ted, but you’re a moron, and folks are completely wasting effort replying to you.

          • tedseeber

            I’ve seen enough bad marriages where the partners were only interested in sex to know. In fact, I’d call not wanting to take care of the other partner when illness comes calling a major cause of divorce, and it is almost always from a “marriage is only about sex” philosophy.

          • Pofarmer

            Yes, but how many of those marriages started only about sex, because the folks got married so the COULD have sex? Granted, marriage is about more than sex, but you wouldn’t know it the way most churches prioritize it.

          • gimpi1

            Wow, you are so far off base. I’m partially disabled due to an aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis. My husband certainly didn’t leave me. We love each other more than ever. My mother had the same condition. My father didn’t leave her when she became wheelchair-bound. In fact, one of the main reasons I decided not to have kids is my condition is genetic, and might well be inherited. Some genes should pass away. How on earth is that decision harmful?

            As to your real science comment, real science goes where the evidence leads. That’s exactly what happened. The very real science on both contraception and human sexuality led away from the mythology that had always hampered it. It lead away from what you believe. You’re simply wrong. And there’s no way you will ever see it. Good luck with life in the bubble.

            Pofarmer is right, replying to your nonsense is a waste of my time. Fare well.

          • Rich Wilson

            But worse than that, is the idea that we should be limiting family size by any choice other than abstinence.

            But I’m guessing you don’t have a problem prolonging life by any means possible. Well, with the exception of anything involving stem cells that is.

          • tedseeber

            No, I have a problem with that too. Some of the Catholic Church’s best martyrs were under the age of 25, including Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río, to tie it back to the other thread in this same post.

  • Machintelligence

    Faith is just gullibility dressed up in its Sunday best.

  • Feminerd

    You do realize that an organization doesn’t qualify for 501(c)4 status if it’s political, right? And that if you have the phrase “Tea Party” in your name, that’s a giant red flag that says ‘This is a political entity that is just applying for tax-exempt status to shield its donors, not because it’s actually a social welfare organization, and you probably should take a good hard look at what this organization actually does’?

    I worked for a 501(c)4 for a while. It was focused completely on water quality and environmental concerns- not one piece of our literature nor activities said anything about politicians other than “this person’s in charge of this committee or is an important vote on this bill, so write hir to protect our environment”. That’s the sort of social welfare a 501(c)4 is supposed to take part in. Anything that screams partisan political involvement should be scrutinized heavily, because that’s what 537 status is for.

    • tedseeber

      And yet, is a 501(c)4

      • Feminerd

        MoveOn doesn’t endorse candidates nor any political party as far as I know. They are in fact issue-based; when I still got emails from them, they were always about specific issues, asking for signatures and letters to Congresscritters regardless of party. They never even said “Congressperson X endorses Y and Y is bad”. While I feel they are probably too political to really be a 501(c)4, they do technically meet the requirements. And I bet they had to deal with a ton of IRS scrutiny before they got the designation, too.

        • tedseeber

          So is the Tea Party- issue based that is. You just happen to disagree with their major issue (which originally, was anti-Republican, against the 2007 Bush Bank Bailout).

          I see no difference at all between them.

          • Feminerd

            You don’t? Tea Party says “I am a political party”. You can’t be a 501(c)4 and be a political party- I assure you the Dems and Reps and Socialists and Constitution Party (also called U.S. Taxpayer Party) have a tax code under which they file, but it’s not that one. They do have to disclose donors. Most Tea Party groups I’ve seen do things that 501(c)4′s aren’t allowed to do- they endorse specific candidates, for example. They run voter registration drives (which is allowed) while talking about which candidates are best (which is not). Heck, some Tea Party groups run candidates for political office! While many Tea Party groups are only issue-based, many are also explicitly partisan, and it is the IRS’s job to sort between them.

            You have to be a social welfare group to be a 501(c)4. If you receive that designation after additional scrutiny because you picked a name that screams partisan political activism, the IRS did its job. It didn’t pick on anyone unfairly. If I started a group called the “Worker’s Socialist Party” and tried to register as a 501(c)4, intending to work on labor safety and minimum wage, you’d damned well better believe I’d expect a lot of scrutiny because my name suggests a lot more political activity than just ‘educating people on the issues’.

          • tedseeber

            “MoveOn is an American non-profit, progressive[1]or liberal[2][3] public policy advocacy group andpolitical action committee, which has raised millions of dollars for candidates it identifies as “progressives” in the United States. It was formedin 1998 in response to the impeachment ofPresident Bill Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives.[1]”

            How is that NOT the same as what the Tea Party does?

          • Rich Wilson


            I looked for ‘MoveOn’ candidates, but I couldn’t find any. Granted, MoveOn does endorse candidates, but the candidates themselves don’t run as ‘MoveOn’ candidates.

            I’m not sure if that distinction matters to you, but it exists.

            Edit: having said that, and read a bit more, I’m not entirely sure, since ‘Tea Party’ doesn’t seem to be an official political party, but more a label people like to apply to certain politicians. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of groups using ‘Tea Party’ in slightly different ways. There’s only one MoveOn.Org.

          • UWIR

            1. The numbers in brackets suggests that you cut and pasted this from wikipedia, but you don’t bother saying so. It would nice if you would actually say where you’re getting your information, so that other people can properly address it.

            2. Further down in the wikipedia article is this paragraph:

            “MoveOn comprises two legal entities, each organized under a different section of U.S. tax and election laws. Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation,[5][6][7][8] and was formerly known MoveOn Civic Action focuses on education and advocacy on national issues. Political Action is a federal political action committee, and was formerly known as MoveOn PAC. It contributes to the campaigns of many candidates across the country. MoveOn calls the legal structure of MoveOn Civic Action that of “a California nonprofit public benefit corporation” and Political Action that of “a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation,” and refers to both corporations collectively as “MoveOn”.[9] ”

            You couldn’t be bothered to read that part?

          • Feminerd

            Gotta love them basic research skills!

          • tedseeber

            So the Tea Party can’t do the same thing?

          • Feminerd

            They can. And they do. If you note, the IRS just scrutinized them harder and then granted them 501(c)4 status after determining that they did meet the qualifications. Had they been denied, there would be a scandal. As it is … nope, not seeing it.

          • tedseeber

            I still don’t understand how this is any different than what the Tea Party was trying to do.

            Especially in the beginning, when their focus was on the illegal bailout of the banks.

  • Castilliano

    “a commitment to religious pluralism, diversity and tolerance—a
    commitment that stems directly from our Judeo-Christian value system, a
    system that encourages us to propose while prohibiting us from imposing
    our religious worldview.”

    I love this commitment, and it’s part of the current American JC cultural value system (thank goodness most Christians have humanist values), but it doesn’t stem from the JC belief system (which equally supported the South re: slavery) nor from the Bible (which supports the opposite view re: other faiths & other peoples) nor from centuries of Church persecution (where it brutalized other Christians as much as anybody). More likely it stems from the Enlightenment and Humanism, both of which significantly influenced the Founders and from our settlers escaping persecution. Just sayin’.
    See Treaty of Tripoli re: how Christian America is. (Hint: “In no way” is used.)
    Also see the Constitution and count how many times God & Jesus are mentioned. (Hint: It’s less than one).

    I would also love if the JC value system actually did prohibit Christians from imposing their religious worldviews on others. Then we wouldn’t be in this bind. But Christians (not all, but more than enough) consistently try to push their views into government circles, and despite Nuttle’s quote, our nation was founded with the intention of people’s concepts of god(s) not interfering (nor being interfered with). Jefferson, defending Baptists’ rights, made this point abundantly clear when equating the 1st amendment to a wall separating Church and State.

    Do you really think religious freedom is ‘endangered’ in a majority Christian
    nation with 10s of thousands of churches? You likely speak to 1000s
    every Sunday with zero risk to yourself or your followers who most likely live
    prosperous lives.
    That’s not persecution.
    Meanwhile, atheists and non-Christians in America get socially shunned (often losing their jobs/friends/families). And people in other countries get killed or imprisoned regularly for holding the wrong beliefs.
    You haven’t been persecuted, and religion is hardly dying out, you’re just being reminded that the government should be neutral, advocating for civil rights regardless of religion. That’s all.

    It gets messier re: line between non-religious businesses and their
    religious owners, but IMO civil rights of people come before business’
    rights. Using one’s business or position of power to determine what
    religious restrictions employees must abide by is “imposing”. The
    businesses you mentioned are BUSINESSES that must grant employes basic
    employee rights so the employee is not held to the standards of the
    owners (whose own religious beliefs and practices are separate and at no
    Imagine if somebody used their business to enforce Sharia Law on its employees. That’d be wrong, correct? Wrong to enforce on non-Muslims, and wrong to hire only those who would abide by it. It’s the same thing, it’s just you happen to agree with your version of religious law.

    Also, using religion to determine who will be your customer is wrong.
    “We don’t serve (insert disliked minority) here.” That’s just wrong, and using religions to reinforce bigotry is historically popular. Rethink which side you’re on, please.

    If a religious person or institution cannot provide the fundamentals inherent to a profession (counseling/medical/flower baskets/whatever) then they should not be involved in that profession. Civic duty comes first when performing civic functions. And civic duty demands equality for others.

    Please, sir, when you see a case where Christians are trying to put religious symbols on government land or make religious gestures on government time or dime, ask yourself “Why isn’t a church doing this?” “Why are Christians imposing here?” “Why does it have to involve the government? Ever.”
    That’s right, people are free to do those things on their own, and don’t need to get the government involved. It’s not like Christians don’t have the infrastructure.

    Sincerely hoping you agree with most of this, or at least understand us better,

    Cheers, JMK

    • gimpi1

      Well said, Castilliano.

    • tedseeber

      “You likely speak to 1000s every Sunday with zero risk to yourself or your followers who most likely live
      prosperous lives.”

      Tell that to the parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco.

      • Castilliano

        I don’t think they want to hear about Samuel’s prosperous church.

        Your example probably shows not all Christians are prosperous, but is irrelevant to the quote which is addressed to Samuel alone and refers to his church which lies in Elk Grove, an upper-middle class suburb of Sacramento.
        (Hint: “You”=Samuel Rodriguez, not just any Christians you want to pull out of the blue.)
        Maybe I’m wrong though:
        Does Samuel preach at both?
        Does your link show religious freedom being ‘endangered’, the subject of the debate?
        If so, tell me.
        If not, try a new angle.

        Cheers, JMK

        • tedseeber

          I was thinking the “zero risk” part isn’t so Zero- if a prosperous Church like Holy Redeemer, which goes out of their way to support homosexuals, is attacked anyway for being against gay marriage, then nobody is safe.

          • Castilliano

            Misunderstood your angle, sorry.
            Went to link, and yes, there’s anger out there at Christians that gets unleashed in unhealthy ways.
            Change ‘zero’ to ‘minimal’. Done.
            Whole argument remains intact.

            Hopefully we’ll all realize how we share most of the same values and find a civil solution. Hopefully…

            Had big post, but realized I’m sort of done here.

      • gimpi1

        It’s my understanding that to claim persecution the action has to be sanctioned by the government. If the police investigate the acts properly, and the wronged party is defended by officialdom, then what happens to them is a crime, but not persecution as such.

        People of all stripes will be wronged. Sometimes because they behave badly, sometimes because someone else is disturbed or just plain mean, and sometimes because they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That can’t be totally prevented, any more than any crime can be totally prevented. However, being wronged doesn’t mean anyone is being persecuted by the U.S. or the state of California or whatever. It It might just mean some people don’t like them, and don’t always respect the law or other people’s rights. You know, like you.

        Also, you can’t really be supportive of anyone unless you believe them to be equal in law. That’s all marriage-equity is. Equality before the law.

        • tedseeber

          “It’s my understanding that to claim persecution the action has to be sanctioned by the government.”

          Why? I have no such prejudice.

          By your definition, the Rajneesh should not have been prosecuted for putting salmonella in the salad bar in an attempt to take over county government, after all, they weren’t the government at the time, right?

          • gimpi1

            Not at all. Crimes happen. The Rajneesh were guilty of attempted poisoning. That crime was addressed by the police in Oregon.

            Crimes happen in every country. Hate crimes happen in every country. We can’t prevent them all. As long as the authorities address address the crime in question, you can’t hold those authorities accountable for the crime. To me, the word persecution implies official sanction.

  • Louise Martinez


  • Louise Martinez

    hi thats was goood stuff

  • UWIR

    Apparently, “religious liberty” is the right to ignore any law that conflicts with your religious beliefs. Funny, though, that Rodriguez only complains when it’s Christians’ ox being gored. A girl faces threats and gets called “an evil little thing” by a member of the sate legislature for complaining about a school prayer banner? Not worth mentioning. Native Americans not allowed to use peyote in religious ceremonies? Not enough room in his essay for that, I guess. Should Muslim cab drivers be allowed to refuse service to people carrying bottles of wine?