ACLU Won’t Pursue Legal Action Against Idaho Wedding Chapel, Says It Provides Religious Services

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The ACLU has declined to pursue legal action against The Hitching Post wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho because the chapel only provides religious services.

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel, were facing possible jail time and enormous fines that would have put them out of business because they do not offer same sex wedding services at their facility. The Knapps are ordained ministers in the International Church of the Four Square Gospel. The denomination’s teaching holds that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Leo Morales, ACLU Idaho’s interim director said Thursday that the organization would reconsider the decision not to sue “if the chapel were to offer secular services, such as providing flowers or cakes, or holding nonreligious ceremonies.”

While I am glad that the ACLU has decided not to pursue this case, Mr Morales’ caveats constitute an attempt to impose an undue limitation of First Amendment rights by threat of lawsuit. Are churches going to be forced to forgo all sales on their premises or the use of their facilities for “non-religious” purposes or face lawsuits trying to shut them down?

Does this mean that churches who open their buildings for AA meetings or hold bake sales to raise money for a new gym are running the risk of being drug into court?

For that matter, what about allowing church buildings to be used as polling places? Do you want to raise your taxes to build government facilities for elections in every precinct in this country? Or maybe, in small towns, we could just put the voting booths out in a field. I am quite certain that a failure to provide sufficient and accessible polling places constitutes a violation of the core Constitutional right of this nation: To engage in free elections.

I’m glad that the ACLU actually did something that appears to be in support of the First Amendment, but I’m extremely leery of them or any other organization using the threat of lawsuit to limit First Amendment rights in the way Mr Morales seemed to be attempting to do.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal firm defending the Knapps, says that the ACLU is “terrified … that the ordinance has been used in exactly the way we said it would be. The ACLU wants nothing to do with the worst possible set of facts that could result from one of these ordinances.” The ordinance Mr Tedesco is referring to is the non-discrimination ordinance by which the Knapps were being threatened.

From The Blaze:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho announced Thursday that it will not wage a legal challenge against Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, the for-profit business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that could be in violation of a local non-discrimination ordinance for its ardent refusal to marry same-sex couples.

Leo Morales, the ACLU’s interim executive director, said that chapel owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp — both ordained ministers — recently changed their business status to become a “religious corporation,” according to the Associated Press.

Morales made these comments during a press conference Thursday, noting that the newdesignation would likely exempt the family from performing gay marriage ceremonies so long as Hitching Post — which will remain a for-profit business — exclusively performs faith-based weddings.

“As long as a entity is conducting a religious activity, that is accepted. That should be accepted under the nondiscrimination law in Coeur d’Alene,” Morales told TheBlaze Friday. “Once that entity begins to offer other services that are secular services, we believe it then falls under the category of public accommodation.”

Following Jesus Means Supporting Human Rights for Homosexuals.

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If you’ve got gay fatigue, you’re not alone.

I’ve been hearing muttering from some surprising places, including people who are strongly in support of gay rights, that they’re “tired” of the obsessive focus our society has on homosexuality.

The endless circular debates about forcing people to bake a wedding cake or if ordained ministers should be allowed to not perform gay weddings is beginning to try the patience of people from all points on the ideological compass.

However, there is another side to this, and it’s not about petulant demands that everyone collude in the fantasy that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. It has to do with the most basic of human rights: The right to life. It also has to do with another basic human right: The right not to be incarcerated unjustly.

I’m talking about countries that have draconian laws giving the death penalty, lashing or long prison sentences for homosexuality. Sadly, most of these laws are being justified because of bogus claims to religion, including, in a couple of places, Christianity. To the extent that this is true, it calls for Christians to speak out against these laws and take a stand against them. Laws such as these are an affront to the basic human dignity of men and women who are made in the likeness and image of God. They are a smear on the name of Christ.

One of the best parts about this story is that, at least in one circumstance, the passage of such laws has been turned back. Uganda’s law which would have provided for a death penalty for homosexuals, was scrapped. This was due to the work of brave homosexual people and their supporters all over the globe.

However, Uganda did end up passing a law that criminalizes “homosexual activities”  and metes out harsh punishments. This law clearly violates the civil liberties and human rights of homosexuals.

I think it’s important for us as Christians to join the fight against laws such as these, and for us to do it in the name of Christ. This does not mean that we should stop our defense of traditional marriage. It is a requirement on us as Christians that we walk this line of supporting the human rights of all persons, including homosexuals, and that we also refuse to back down in our defense of the family.

Each in its own way is a human right, which must be defended.

The commitment to Christ Jesus is always a counter-cultural commitment. It does not matter the culture. Following Christ, if you are true to the call, will pit you against the cruelties and lies of your society. That is why so many people who claim to be Christian do not, in fact, live Christian.

Living Christian is not easy. It requires being attacked for one position, and then crossing the street to stand with your attackers on another issue. There is no country for the authentic follower of Jesus except heaven itself.

I’m going to make an effort to follow these attacks against the basic human rights of gay people and to let you know ways in which you can join in the fight against them. At the same time, I am going to continue to urge you to stand strong in the work ahead to rebuild and reclaim traditional marriage, and to work against the onslaught of attacks on First Amendment freedoms in the name of bogus claims of “human rights” violations against gay people in this country.

If that seems like a contradiction, so be it. It is my idea of following Jesus the best that I can.

From the Washington Post:

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signed a law that imposes a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts — and life sentences for those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”

A measure imposing the death penalty was removed from an earlier version of the bill.Homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, as it is in 37 other African countries.

Though the death penalty was removed from Uganda’s law, it’s a potential punishment elsewhere, including parts of Nigeria, Mauritania and Sudan.(Last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a measure similar to Uganda’s into law; a few weeks later, a mob pulled 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them, screaming about cleansing their neighborhood of gay people. )

Haters Gonna Hate: Christian Ministers Forced to Perform Gay Marriage or Face Jail Time

Donald and Evelyn Knapp at the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur dAlene Idaho Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom CNA 10 20 14

Photo Source: Catholic News Agency

Remember the lies?

Gay marriage would not lead to polygamy, they said. But before gay marriage is even fully out of the gate, the court movement to legalize polygamy is afoot. 

Gay marriage will never lead to ministers being forced to perform gay marriage wedding services, they told us. Well, so much for that one, too.

David and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, have been told by Coeur d’Alene’s city officials that, due to their refusal to perform a gay wedding, they may face up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines for each day they do not perform gay wedding services.

A lawsuit filed on the minister’s behalf by the Alliance Defending Freedom, says in part:

If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for one week, they risk going to jail for over three years and being fined $7,000. If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for 30 days, they risk going to jail for over 14 years and being fined $30,000. If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for a year, they risk going to jail for 180 years and being fined $365,000.

The city is taking the legal position that the couple’s wedding chapel, which is called the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel, is a “place of accommodation” that would is subject to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

That’s kind of rich since the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel is a denomination going with over 8,000,000 members worldwide. There are 1,875 Foursquare Gospel churches here in the United States alone.

The legal basis for this contention seems to hang on the thread that the Hitching Post Chapel is incorporated as a “religious corporation limited to performing one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” According to Fox News Radio, the Hitching Post Chapel is a for-profit corporation.

I do not know if Idaho law has a discreet entity called a “religious corporation” in its statutes, or, if it does, what that means. I do know that the City of Coeur d’Alene called these two ministers. Again, according to Fox News Radio, the city attorney claims that even ordained ministers whose church teachings do not allow gay marriage will be required to perform gay marriages.

I think it’s telling that two days after the Ninth Circuit issued an order allowing same-sex marriages, in Idaho, Pastors David and Evelyn Knapp received a phone call from the city advising them they had to perform gay marriages.

David and Evelyn Knapp are ministers who were ordained by a legitimate denomination.

According to the Gay Christian Movement Watch, here is the International Church of the Four Square Gospel’s teaching on the matter:

The Biblical record shows that sexual union was established exclusively within the context of male-female relationship and formalized in the ordinance of marriage. In the New Testament, the oneness of male and female in marriage pictures the relationship between Christ and His Church. . . . The Scriptures identify the practice of homosexuality as a sin that, if persisted in, brings grave consequences in this life and excludes one from the Kingdom of God.

The facade of lies in support of gay marriage is falling down, and it’s doing it quickly.

From The Daily Signal:

For years, those in favor of same-sex marriage have argued that all Americans should be free to live as they choose. And yet in countless cases, the government has coerced those who simply wish to be free to live in accordance with their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Ministers face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

Just this weekend, a case has arisen in Idaho, where city officials have told ordained ministers they have to celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time.

The Idaho case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, both ordained ministers, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel. Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

A week of honoring their faith and declining to perform the ceremony could cost the couple three and a half years in jail and $7,000 in fines.

Government Coercion

The Knapps have been married to each other for 47 years and are both ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. They are “evangelical Christians who hold to historic Christian beliefs” that “God created two distinct genders in His image” and “that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.”

But as a result of the courts redefining marriage and a city ordinance that creates special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Knapps are facing government coercion.

Supremes Put Gay Marriage on Hold in Virginia.

Supreme Court US 2010

Maybe the Supremes meant it when they said that marriage was a state issue.

If they did, a lot of federal judges around the country didn’t get the memo. It’s old hat by now, the steady click, click, click of dominoes falling as one federal judge after another overturns state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman. This action has long seemed to turn statements made by the Supreme Court that marriage should be defined by the states and that the feds should stay out of it on their head.

The Supreme Court took the position that marriage is a state rather than a federal issue as part of their reasoning for overturning DOMA.

Whenever a lower court rules on something, the Supremes have a number of options. By far the simplest course of action in the case of the Virginia ruling would have been to let it stand. However, they have granted a stay. This is the third time they’ve done this.

What does it mean?

I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know. Maybe the Court meant it when it said that marriage was a state matter. If they did, these federal judges are overstepping. On the other hand, maybe they will use the occasion to rule in favor of gay marriage. Or, perhaps, they are taking small exceptions to parts of particular rulings. The Virginia case in particular may have been given a stay because of the high-handed way that the judicial panel tried to do an end run around the right to appeal.

Whatever comes of this, my feeling about the fight to defend traditional marriage is much the same as my attitude about defending the sanctity of human life: Don’t quit.

In case you didn’t know, that’s how all tough fights are eventually won.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

The US Supreme Court issued a stay Wednesday that keeps in place a ban on same-sex marriages in Virginia until after the high court has had an opportunity to consider the issue.

The high court action maintains the status quo in Virginia until the case is ultimately resolved by the justices. In addition, it sends a clear signal to other appeals courts and federal judges across the country that the Supreme Court expects them to issue similar stays in future cases.

… In the Virginia case, the action means the state’s requirement that marriage be limited to a union between one man and one woman will remain in place while the court considers whether to take up legal challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Virginia and other states.

The Supreme Court has twice before issued orders that federal appeals court decisions concerning same-sex marriages must be put on hold pending high court review. Wednesday’s action is consistent with those earlier moves.

The latest stay order came in response to a July 28 decision by the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. The appeals court panel voted 2 to 1 to strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. The court then refused to postpone its ruling to allow time for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

 

Tenth Circuit Rules Okies Can Get Gay Married

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The tenth circuit has upheld a lower court ruling striking down Oklahoma’s Constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

I am guessing that Oklahoma will take this to the Supremes.

it should be interesting to see if the Supreme Court agrees to hear this and, if they do, how they rule.

If they intended to destroy marriage by judicial fiat and not put their hands directly on it, they’ve succeeded brilliantly. However, if they really meant that marriage is not a federal issue and that the states should decide for themselves, they need to do some fine-tuning.

Either way, I am convinced that we are in for a long fight, probably a generational fight. But we will win in the long run. Of that I have no doubt.

To read the decision, go here.

“An Unrelated Gestational Carrier.” The Real Handmaid’s Tale

 

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Margaret Atwood wrote a gripping novel back in 1985 called The Handmaid’s Tale.

The main character, Offred, is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America.

Handmaids are walking wombs, child bearers for elite couples. Offred services the Commander and his wife Serena Joy, who is a former gospel singer and advocate for “traditional values.”

Every month in her fertile period, Offred is required to have impersonal, wordless sex with the Commander while Serena sits by, holding her hands. The Republic of Gilead is what America has become after the takeover of our nation by the theocrats. Offred, as a former adulteress and the daughter of a feminist, is consigned to the role of Handmaid in this ugly new world.

The Handmaid’s tale was an obvious allegorical critique of the rising influence of the newly-politicized Christian conservatives of that era. It was aimed, in particular, at the pro life/pro family movement. It was also a powerful work of fiction by a talented writer.

Flash forward 30 years, and it appears that the Handmaid’s tale was not so much allegory as it was prophecy, once removed. Women today are being reduced to their bodily functions and used as breeders and most of our society seems to be in support of it. Babies are created to be sold and then they actually are marketed and sold, on-line and through international outlets.

America, which has been termed the “Wild West” of commercialized reproduction, has become a magnet for baby-buyers the world over.

In addition, women are kept in what amounts to baby farms in certain third world countries and used for breeders. The babies are then sold overseas in what, in India alone, is a $2.3 billion dollar industry.

That’s the prophecy part of The Handmaid’s Tale. Women have indeed been reduced to breeders, their human rights held forfeit to rapacious industrialized medicine that operates without conscience. In addition, babies, as well as women, are reduced to chattel in this market as they are created and then sold and bought like any other manufactured product.

The once-removed part of The Handmaid Tale’s prophetic prescience lies in who is committing and promoting this crime against humanity. It is not, as Margaret Atwood wrote, the evil “traditional values” people and Gospel singers who are designing babies for sale by harvesting women’s ovaries, and then using women as wombs to carry these babies which are then sold for astronomical amounts on the open market.

The culprits here are corporatist medicine, wealthy elites and homosexuals who are willing to destroy the basic human rights of women and children to feed the fantasy that they are not what they happen, in fact, to be. Homosexual couples are two men or two women, or for that matter, several men or several women, whose sexual activity takes place between other people of their own sex. Their sexual activity can not create life.

Anyone who condemns this wholesale degradation of half the human race alongside the bartering and selling of human beings, is immediately labeled a religious fanatic, a homophobe, uncaring, cruel and indifferent to the longing for a family that same sex couples experience. There is a phrase to describe this intellectually dishonest bullying: The phrase is emotional blackmail.

Let’s take the debate about those accusations — at least as far as I’m concerned — off the table right now.

If standing for the human rights of women and children,

if opposing the buying and selling of people,

if the speaking against the creation of human beings for commerce,

if opposing the crass reduction of half the human race to their body parts in a manner that not only degrades them as human beings but endangers their health and lives,

means that I’m a homophobe or a religious fanatic, then so be it. If that’s what religious fanaticism and homophobia stands for, every person with a conscience should be a homophobe and a religious fanatic.

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Misogyny is so rife in our society that people who dare to speak out against this violation of the human rights of women and children are subjected to death threats, as well as labeled bigots.

Meanwhile, the media churns out puffy little pieces extolling the virtues of buying and selling women and babies. Consider, as a for-instance, a recent article from The Daily Mail. This article informs us that “For two first-time fathers, the fact that their son, Milo, was born during World Pride was just the icing on the cake.”

The article goes on to tell us that the woman who birthed this baby is “an unnamed gestational carrier.” It concludes with the soppy statement that “love has no color nor gender nor sexual preference. Love is unconditional.”

Uh-huh. According to one article I read, it costs around $160,000 to purchase a baby created by using women as breeders. The article is a couple of years old, so it’s probably higher now. I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but that is soooo conditional. It also has nothing to do with love. It is about exploitation and reducing human beings to chattel. It is The Handmaid’s Tale, come to life.

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The Handmaid’s Tale as allegory. 


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The Handmaid’s Tale in real life.

 

America has become the go-to place for people wanting to buy designer babies. As a recent New York Times article put it, “the market for children crosses national borders.”

In the Wild West of using reproductive technologies to create, sell and buy people, it appears that the market is totally laissez faire. In this case, it’s the seller who should beware.

Consider, for instance, the case of The View co-host Sheri Shepherd. According to a recent LifeNews article, Ms Shepherd and her soon-to-be-former husband joined the growing group of high-profile celebrities who have purchased their babies rather than give birth to them themselves. Now that her marriage is on the fritz, Ms Shepherd has decided that she wants nothing to do with the baby whose creation she purchased.

I would assume that Ms Shepherd and her husband paid in advance, so the important considerations are covered.

Right?

I mean, it’s not like we’re creating, selling and buying people. 

FRC Action and Oklahoma Family Policy Council Launches Radio Ad Campaign Urging Support for Legislation Stopping Payments for Human Egg Harvesting

I can attest from personal experience as a legislator that the practice of commercialized harvesting of young women’s bodies for eggs is protected with the full force of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, as well as the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. I can also attest that some pro life groups avoid the issue for fear of putting Republican legislators on the hot seat by forcing them to chose between their pro life commitments and these special interest groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union has also come out in support of commercial egg harvesting, on the laughable grounds that laws that forbid doctors to use large payments as inducements to young girls to undergo egg harvesting are somehow a violation of “women’s rights.” I imagine the ACLU would carry a lot of clout in some states, but in Oklahoma, their opposition was of no importance to the outcome of the legislation.

The practice of paying young women large sums of money to have their ovaries harvested,

the practice of paying women large sums of money to carry babies and then forfeit them,

the practice of creating designer babies for the purpose of selling them

should be illegal.

Any doctor who does this should lose their license to practice medicine and be subject to civil lawsuits without limit. Any medical facility that allows this on its premises should lose its license to continue as a licensed medical facility and also be subject to lawsuits without limit.

If people want to do this without pay, that should be treated differently. I do not approve of it, but it is not the obvious and egregious violation of the human rights of women and children that commercialized, industrialized egg harvesting and surrogacy are. It should be heavily regulated with stiff safeguards for the rights of women and the babies.

Among other things, women should have the right to change their minds about giving the baby away. Also, anyone who contracts for a baby — and remember, I am talking about private, unpaid arrangements, not wholesale industrialized baby manufacturing and selling — should be subject to the same requirements as adoption, including home inspections, parental fitness and a waiting period with site visits before the adoption is finalized. The process should be an adoption. Not buying a child.

Children should have the right to know who their biological parents are and a cause of action against the doctors, medical facilities and others involved in their creation.

The health and welfare of women who are involved in being surrogates or donating eggs, and also the health and welfare of the babies, should be the first consideration under the law. The law should require under severe penalty that the doctor consider the woman’s health first and not just use them to make as many eggs as possible.

I want to emphasize again that I am only talking about entirely voluntary, non-paid situations in which women are not compensated for undergoing egg harvesting and or surrogacy and the babies are not sold.

Commercial selling and buying of women’s bodies to harvest for eggs or for use as surrogates should be illegal. Creating babies to sell or buy should also be illegal. 

Soppy claims about how happy it makes people to be able to buy and sell other human beings and violate their inherent human rights have no place in this discussion.

The Egg Donor Center

The doctors and medical facilities should receive no monies except for customary and normal remuneration for these activities as a medical procedure. There should never be advertising for the creation, buying and selling of human beings, or the exploitation of a whole class of human beings.

People who contract for the creation of a child should be obligated to provide life-long care for that child and for any injury resulting to the woman or women who provide eggs or wombs as a result of their donor or surrogacy status. By life long, I mean if the woman is infertile (a common complication of egg harvesting) or gets cancer as a result of the massive doses of hormones, even if it’s 20 years later, they have to pay.

The obligation to provide for the care of the child should be life-long, regardless of the any birth defects or other problems. It should include an irrevocable share in the contractee’s estate.

I want to emphasize that these ideas for regulation only apply to voluntary, non-paid situations. The buying and selling of human beings, as well as the use of women as farm animals and breeders for money should be absolutely and completely illegal. It is anathema that our society has fallen so low that we have to debate this. 

We need to shut down the commercial baby creating/selling/buying industry that exploits and dehumanizes women and reduces babies to chattel. 

The reason this has not happened is due to the political clout of organizations, such as various Chambers of Commerce who see this “industry” as a money maker and to the machinations of the Medical Associations who are entrusted with the power to “regulate” the members of their profession. The social bullying by gay rights organizations and faux feminists who work against women also helps to keep this practice going.

I believe that Medical Associations’ support of what is a massive human rights violation of half the human race, as well as the reduction of human beings to the level of chattel, makes a joke of the claim that they “regulate” the medical profession. If the medical associations will not regulate their own, and if they continue to use their political clout to support this practice, I, for one, think we should take a long hard look at eliminating their power to regulate the medical profession.

I would encourage business owners and physicians who are members of these organizations to get involved. Are your dues being used to support the Wild West of industrial reproductive technology? Are you writing checks that hire lobbyists who work in your name to continue this attack on the human rights of women and babies?

Demand that your professional organizations follow legislative goals that support human dignity, rather than exploit and degrade whole classes of people.

Margaret Atwood wrote a gripping allegorical novel describing the use of women as breeders in a world that was controlled by what she evidently saw as the great satan of her time: Supporters of “traditional values.”

In our time the real Handmaid’s Tale is being promoted by the media and lived out by elites who don’t want to go through having children the old way and homosexuals who want to pretend that their unions are not sterile. The promotion of this clear-cut violation of the human rights of women and babies by commercialized medicine on a mass and international scale is being carried out by a media that focuses on insipid nonsense about “love” and “the right to a child” when, in fact, neither of these things exist in this situation.

It is not love to exploit other human beings for your own selfish ends. A more accurate word for that might be narcissism, with perhaps a dose of sociopathy dropped on top of it. And, just for the record, children are people. No one has a “right” to a child.

I read articles talking about the “ethical questions” raised by the commercial exploitation of women’s bodies and the commercial creation of human beings to sell over the internet, and I wonder seriously if the people writing this have any brains at all.

“Ethical questions?”

Medical tourism corporation surrogate  Google Search

Then I remember. These discussions are not about “ethical questions.” These articles are on the same level as people in the 1930s, debating Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. They are a parsing and an obfuscation designed to confuse and lead people to accept the unacceptable.

Margaret Atwood was a prophet and didn’t know it with her allegory of the reduction of women to breeders and children to chattel. She only got it wrong in her idea as to who would be doing it. People with traditional values are the only ones willing to suffer the abuse necessary to take a stand against this exploitation of women and babies.

The baby creating/selling international market of commercialized, bastardized medicine is a horror show of human rights violations. The irony (but not the surprise) is that the people who like to talk about “rights” the most are the ones who are committing this evil.

 

Book Review: If Daddy is a Cipher, Who is God the Father?

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To join the conversation about How the West Really Lost God, a New Theory of Secularization or to order a copy, go here

How the West Really Lost God, a New Theory of Secularization, is an important book. It’s the kind of book that is bound to provoke discussion. It will be lauded and excoriated.

That’s because it deals with important issues and advances an argument for a new explanation of much-discussed social trends. A lot of people have a social or professional stake in the old-school explanations of why secularism has taken hold in the West. Many social scholars have based their life’s work on the gradualist explanation of secularism.

Social scientist gadflies, such as Dr Richard Dawkins, are attempting to base new socio/political movements at least tangentially on those same explanations. When someone comes along and advances a new theory about what has become a kind of social science cant, the reactions will be strong and varied.

This is exactly what has happened with Mary Eberstadt’s fine book, How the West Really Lost God, a New Theory of Secularization. Ms Eberstadt’s premise is that the rise of secularism is linked to the demise of the family. She does a good job of establishing a historical correlation between these two trends, going back hundreds of years.

The theory she advances in her book is that this is more than a correlation, that the destruction of the family leads directly to a lessening of religious fervor, specifically as it relates to Christianity. In other words, she’s saying that strong families buttress the practice of religion and the loss of family weakens it. She is saying that the loss of family, which began with the industrial revolution, is the primary cause of the rise of secularism.

I am not sure exactly what I think about this. I agree that the correlation between the loss of family and the rise of secularism is there. I also agree that single people go to church less.

I do think she Ms Eberstadt is correct that the loss of family is a real factor in the rise of secularism. But I tend to think that there are economic forces at work here that underlie the loss of family that are probably the true, root, cause. I also think that the two things feed on one another. Declining religion also leads to a decline in family.

My opinion, which is not based on research, but is just my opinion, is that one of the main reasons that a smaller percentage of single people than marrieds go to church in today’s society is because they feel compelled to engage in sexual activities which the church forbids. Notice I said “compelled.” Sex is a powerful, even overwhelming, drive in young people. Young human beings go through a period of years in which their hormones are running so strong that no matter what they’re doing, sex is in their minds somewhere.

However, much of the sexual behavior they engage in today is being pushed on them by adults. Sex education, the media and even their own parents push them toward sexual awareness before they want it and then toward sexual activity before they are ready for it. They are often coerced into sexual activity at a point when they are actually scared of it and would, if allowed to make free choices, much rather just talk and giggle about it for a few years.

They are also forced, by the way adolescent social life is currently constructed, (again by adults) to engage in sexual activity whether they want to or not in order to be one of the group. At that point, their sexuality is no longer their own and it is not so much a response to raging hormones as it is a coerced situation.

Progressive churches often fail to offer a bulwark or any sort against this, while traditional churches, just tell young people to stay pure and not engage in sex outside of marriage. Church does not give kids, even those in intact families, the resources to deal with the cultural landslide of influences pushing them into early sexual activity. What churches do is make them uncomfortable about what they are doing. They are betrayed by progressive churches who are actually part of the problem. They are simply given mandates with no real comprehension of what they are facing or support in facing it from traditional churches. It is easier, once they reach the age where they can decide, just not to go.

Once they are married, they usually find it possible to comply with church sexual teachings and their social group, both at once. The dissonance is removed. They can go to church again.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. All this sexual activity weakens or even destroys the bonds that sex forms between spouses. It contributes to the rise of unwed births, and once people are married, their prior sexual promiscuity makes it easier for them to break their vows.

People aren’t as committed to their husbands and wives because they’ve left too many pieces of themselves with their priors. They find it easy to think of divorce in times of trouble. They also find it easy to engage in extramarital sex. Divorce is just as easy as sex for people like this, and for the same reasons.

The upshot of this is that more and more children grow up in partial families with only one distracted and overwhelmed parent. They may never have seen their father. They may not know who their father is. They may grow up in homes wrecked by divorce with absentee fathers or parents who hate one another and are constantly dragging one another into court over custody and child support.They can’t form families of their own when they grow up because they don’t have any idea what a family is.

This is more than the loss of family. It is the destruction of normal child parent relationships and the introduction of acute insecurity, abandonment and isolation on a primal level into children’s developing years. It leads to partially dismembered adults who cannot form normal permanent relationships or commit to any other person.

Meanwhile, the Church tells them that God is their heavenly father, the church is their home, and heaven is their ultimate home.

The best reaction those metaphors are going to get from children who’ve grown up in one of today’s chaotic, shattered and almost non-existent families, is huh? More likely they will respond with a rejecting anger.

After all, if Daddy is a cipher — or worse — then who is God the Father?

How the West Really Lost God, a New Theory of Secularization is an important book. It dares to break step with the accepted explanations for how we got here. The fact that it also raises questions as well as answers them, is a mark of its relevance to today’s world.

I think anyone interested in discussing why Western Civilization has turned toward an increasingly totalitarian form of secularism should read it.

 

Family: I am Sister Lily’s Granddaughter. Where I’m From, that Counts for a Lot.

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Where I’m From: Daddy worked here.

I don’t remember if I told you this, but my grandmother was a Pentecostal Holiness Preacher.

She had a radio show (this was back in the 1940s and early 50s) that covered several states. She was what they called a “church planter.” She went from place to place, starting churches, getting them up and going, then moving along to the next place. She planted several of the churches in the house district that I represented for 18 years.

I remember back when I was running for office the first time — this was in my anti-God period, when I was pro choice — many of the preachers in that district dedicated their Sunday morning sermons to excoriating me from the pulpit. If they’d stuck with the truth — I was pro choice and pro ERA — they might have beaten me.

But they didn’t.

The attacks got crazy and crazier, as they called me everything but a nice person. I was a communist, a lesbian, a slut, a this and a that, a deez and a doz.

Finally, one Sunday, individual congregants in more than one church just spontaneously, without any coaxing from me, stood up in the middle of these sermons and started yelling at the various preachers. They said that they had known me since I was a baby, and the preacher was a liar.

You see, I was from there. These preachers were not.

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Oklahoma National Stockyards. My mother was a weigh master here. 

I was Sister Lily’s granddaughter. I was Charlie and Bessie’s granddaughter. My Daddy worked at the Stockyards and they all knew him … and his brother. My uncle was in the Masons. They’d gone to school with my mother, me, my sister, my cousins.

That is the power of family.

I don’t mean family connections. I mean the power of identity that comes with being connected by blood to a particular group of people.

Family is identity.

It is also home.

I remember (this post is going to be a series of reminiscences, so get ready) when I told my cousin, my Daddy’s brother’s kid, that I had converted to the Catholic Church. He told me, “It doesn’t matter. Nothing you do matters. I love you.”

When I was anti-God, it didn’t matter.

When I was Oklahoma Director of NARAL, it didn’t matter.

When I met Christ in a profound conversion experience and became a Christian, not one thing changed with my family.

When I started my life as a pro life advocate, it was still the same.

When I was in office, a stay at home mom, now, there was no difference.

My friends dumped me, accused me of “betraying” them for my followership of Christ. In fact, many of my bestest buds turned 180 hard about and began attacking me and lying about me the same way those preachers had done years before. The people who had attacked me and the people who had supported me switched places.

All except for family. Nothing changed with them. Nothing has ever changed. Nothing will ever change.

I remember when another cousin of mine decided to come out to us as gay. He got us together; was hyper tense when he called and told us to be at my aunt’s house at a certain time and date. We were scared. We all thought he was going to tell us he had cancer or something.

When he did his big reveal — I’m gay (sniff) — we were dumbfounded. I mean, was he telling us that he thought we didn’t already know???

Duhhhh.

That’s family.

Families are where people who are for gay marriage and people who are opposed to gay marriage, where drug addicts and tee-totalers, Republican and Democrats, all love one another because, at bottom, they don’t care about that stuff. Not when you’re family.

My same cousin who told me he didn’t care if I was Catholic had been a total male chauvinist pig back in the days when I was an all-out feminist activist. Didn’t matter to either of us. He supported the Viet Nam war, I demonstrated against it. No problem.

Robert Frost said, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Home, in that sense, is family. And family is the people who don’t care about your disgraces and aren’t impressed with your successes. You don’t have to clean up the house before they come. It’s ok if you’re overweight and you’re still welcome to be there even if you’ve just been caught — again as we say in these parts — in bed with either a live boy or a dead girl.

I am well aware that there are families who spend all their time picking each other apart, who compete with one another and criticize one another and who actually are anything but comforting. That’s not my family. My family is the “it doesn’t matter” crowd who just sticks with you, even when they all flat-out know you are wrong.

But even those other sad families, the nit-picking, pretend-perfect families, still usually stick with one another against the outside world.

I could go on and on about family as a social construct or whatever.

But family is both more and less than that. Family is personal. it’s about us as people. It’s who we are, whether we want to be that or not. Divorce is a disaster because it shears family from itself. It atomizes these broad extended tribes of safety into us and them and takes away the only real emotional security to be had from other people in this life.

I can tell you for a fact that friends will throw you away like leftover fish because of your politics, religion or anything else they consider to be the elemental you. There are a few — I had three, now I’m down to two — friends who will stick, even when I go from anti-God to Catholic, from pro choice to pro life — but the rest of them will not.

Friends can become enemies in the time it takes to say Get Out!!

Friends, however much fun they may be, are not family.

And family, if it is torn asunder with betrayals, is not family, either.

The tragedy of our times is that we have atomized and particularized family to the point that many families provide no more loyalty and emotional safety than friendship. Families turn on one another now, too.

When that happens the world is a cold place where the winds of isolation and aloneness howl through people’s lives and warp them into less than who they are meant to be. We become vicious and cowed, like a society of stray dogs. Like those stray dogs, we run in packs and we become dangerous to the order and safety that surrounds us.

Family provides security and safety. It keeps us safe and gives us confidence to go on adventures and take healthy risks, secure in the knowledge that succeed or flop, family is there for us when we want to venture back.

People without family truly are like stray dogs. The packs they form are destructive to the larger world and straight-jacket limiting to those who run in them. No one goes on adventures or takes risks that run against the rules of the pack, because that would result in expulsion. The pack would turn on them and attack them.

That is the source of the crazy viciousness I sometimes see — and delete — in the com box commentary on this blog. It is the cause of the hive mind thinking that is driving our society to the brink of self-destruction. It is the cultural anomie of a society that has torn family from itself and is now running loose and lost in mindless packs.

Family, real family, is the antidote to all that. Family is the most freeing thing possible, because it gives you the safety to try and fail and then try again with the certainty that no matter what happens, you will have a place in this world and you will be loved.

Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in. I’ve never read a better definition of family.

March for Marriage 2014: What I Believe

This video promoting the March for Marriage 2014 deals with the issue of religious freedom as it pertains to the overall issue of supporting traditional marriage.

I have written about these same things many times, including here, here, here and here.

Because of the issues raised in Public Catholic’s com boxes, I want to clarify where I stand.

I support civil and human rights for gay people, including legal provision for gay couples in areas such as inheritance, property and next of kin issues, among others. Gay people are human beings and American citizens. They have every right to engage in electoral politics, petition the courts or use any other legitimate means to achieve their ends, even when I do not agree with those ends.

One area where I disagree  is that I do not support the redefinition of marriage. I also unilaterally oppose the enormous designer-baby, baby-selling, egg harvesting/surrogacy industry. I am not talking about private arrangements between two people that do not involve money.  I have no interest in making that illegal. I would leave it under the same regulations as other medical procedures such as the voluntary donation of organs for transplant.

Egg harvesting and surrogacy for money, on the other hand, is predatory medical malpractice on its face. It should be illegal and doctors who do it should have their licenses to practice medicine permanently revoked. There should also be strong provisions for civil actions — with no limit on judgements — against these doctors. Egg harvesting should — and if it wasn’t for misogyny it would — fall under the same legal definitions and protections as the donation of bodily organs.

In my opinion, Medical Associations that support egg harvesting and surrogacy render any claims they make about protecting the public a sham by that action. Corporatists who support it — and they all seem to — are just being their evil money-is-everything/people-are-nothing selves.

I also am opposed to “tolerance education” the leads to confusion in young children and the infringement of the civil liberties and human rights of those who oppose gay marriage.

I am appalled by the use of bullying, job termination and labeling of those who oppose gay marriage. This is being used as a political tactic and it is destructive to everyone involved, as well as our nation as a whole.

I further believe that the letters from prominent elected officials demanding that Archbishop Cordileone not attend the 2014 March for Marriage were part of a coordinated effort to drive down the numbers of those who attend the march. The use of defamation of those sponsoring the March, as well as the plethora of name-calling that I have seen on this blog has led me to the conclusion that this is an attempt to keep people from attending the March by using intimidation.

If I had the money to go, I would be there. I am determined that I will be there next year, precisely because of this intimidation. I will not be intimidated and bullied in this manner. No one else should allow themselves to be bullied and intimidated like this, either.

I urge everyone who lives within driving distance to go to Washington today — there’s still time to participate in some of the events — and make yourself heard.

You can also donate to the National Organization for Marriage here.  I began monthly donations after Brendan Eich was fired for making a donation to Proposition 8. You can see the receipt for my donation here.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this bullying and name-calling are not intimidating me. They are leading me to a stronger commitment.

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March for Marriage 2014: Be There, or Be Square

I wanted to go, but I didn’t have the money.

You see, I bought a piano and I sine die-d for the last time. That left me without $ and energy, both at once.

But now, I’m wishing I had gone, even if it meant — which it did — breaking the piggy bank.

They need a Democrat there to balance things out. They really do.

What am I talking about?

The 2014 March for Marriage.

You can still go. If you have the coin, or you live on the East Coast, you can take the day off work and go. If it was within driving distance, or even one-shot airline travel distance, I would go ahead and do it.

But I have to change planes and spend a small fortune in travel/hotels to do this. It’s such a safari that next year I’m going to build a whole vacation around it.

But you who live within driving distance, you can go with no sweat. Just throw some baloney sandwiches in the cooler, gas up the car and go.

Because we need you there.

Because marriage matters.

Because we’re at the beginning of this fight, not the end.

Tomorrow.

Washington, DC.

At the headwaters of the fight to re-convert our culture.

Be there.


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