Conscientious Objection About Wedding Cakes and Flowers is not About Slavery, Lynchings, Segregation or a Refusal of Service

Conscientious objection about wedding cakes and flowers is not the same thing as slavery, lynching, segregation or a refusal to provide service.

It does not rise to the level of a violation of the civil rights of the cake buyers. It is not discrimination.

We are not talking about a refusal to provide service for a class of people. We are talking about businesses who routinely provide services to everyone, including homosexuals. These mom and pop businesses are owned by individuals whose religious beliefs are not only opposed to gay marriage, but that teach that participation in a gay marriage makes them part of the sin of it.

I believe that this last sentence is the real motivation behind the enormous amount of rage and political energy being expended to force what is a small subset of all the bakers, florists and photographers in this country to participate in this specific event. These people do not want to participate in gay weddings because they believe gay marriage is sinful. That fact, and not the entirely bogus claim of discrimination, is what lies behind the furor.

This is not about discrimination, which is clearly not happening. It is about a need for approval and acceptance, which is not a legal construct.

The question of linking discrimination to service by businesses only occurs when a class of people are routinely refused service because they are of that class of people. The mis-used analogy of the African American civil rights struggle actually demonstrates why these shop owners are not discriminating and why there is no legal discrimination happening in this instance.

African Americans were refused all service at what were labeled “white only” establishments. They could not drink at “white” drinking fountains or even sit at the counter in a “white” drug store. They had to live in “colored” neighborhoods, and attend “colored” schools. This was enforced both by legal penalty and tolerated mob violence, including lynchings which were attended by large crowds of people and ignored by the police.

On the other hand, the bakers, florists and photographers who do not want to participate in gay weddings routinely provide services to homosexual people in every other instance. There is no attempt or desire on their part to refuse service to any group of people. In fact, at least one of the people engaging in these lawsuits was a regular customer of the establishment prior to filling suit.

These businesses are not refusing service based on anyone’s sexual preference. They just don’t want to participate in one specific type of event, and the reason they don’t want to is their religious beliefs which have been honored and respected since the beginning of this nation.

This is not discrimination. This is an exercise of what should be an individual’s freedom of religion.

The true discrimination here is the attack on individual’s right of conscience and religious freedom in an attempt to coerce them to violate their conscience in order to provide flowers, photography services and food for a private event. There is no question that this refusal does not deny the homosexuals in question access to these services. They are available at any number of other similar businesses. There is not and never has been any attempt to deny service to homosexuals. This is not about a class of people. It is about a specific type of event.

What these activists are literally making a federal case about is wedding cakes and flowers. The business people they are attacking provide services to everyone, including homosexuals, in every other instance except gay weddings. To label this discrimination in the Constitutional sense and call it “hate” is ridiculous.

I believe that the real issue is forcing other people, specifically religious people, to provide homosexuals with a sense of social acceptance. I actually understand that longing and sympathize with it. However, the fact is that these florists, photographers and bakers are not practicing discrimination in any sane legal sense.

They are, rather, being harassed, threatened, verbally abused, legally bullied and, yes, discriminated against themselves. The aggression and “hate” appears to be on the side of the people who are attacking them.

Conflating the question of whether or not a few business owners — who routinely and without question provide homosexuals with services otherwise — ask for the freedom to not participate in a single event which violates their religious beliefs, with the horrible suffering of African Americans under Jim Crow laws is equally ridiculous. It cheapens the African American experience in this country.

It is a fact that homosexuals have suffered violence in the form of gay baiting in the relatively recent past. I have had friends who were beaten up, simply because they were gay. I understand that this scars and damages people, including people who are not themselves subjected to this violence, but who must live in fear of it.

As a woman who has lived all her life with omnipresent and socially tolerated random violence against women, I understand this quite well. American women today are told not to go out at night, to always travel in groups to avoid attack. Movies, television and the internet make a lot of money selling violence against women as prurient entertainment.

Powerful movie directors who rape young girls are defended and lionized by that same industry. Young women are told to avoid drinking from open containers at parties to avoid being drugged and gang raped. We operate shelters for women who are subjected to beatings and violence so they can flee their homes in order to avoid being killed.

The desire of a few mom and pop business owners to ply their trade without being forced by law to provide services for one specific type of event that violates their religious beliefs is not gay bating. It is also not discrimination.

In this case, the discriminatory shoe is on the other foot.

The New Zeitgeist: A Majority of Americans Now Favor Gay Marriage

BroadandNarrowWay

According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, support for gay marriage by the American public has jumped from 21% in 2003 to 53% today.

The poll results show that 53% of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, with 44% of Americans opposed. Among those who feel strongly about the issue, 22% strongly favor legalizing same-sex marriage, while 20% strongly oppose it.

Sixty-four percent of Democrats favor legalizing gay marriage, while only 34% of Republicans favor it. Sixty-two percent of Republicans actively oppose gay marriage. Fifty-seven percent of Independents favor it.

Based on comments I’m seeing on Facebook and elsewhere, I would say that this poll is behind the curve and that the public sensibility is moving so rapidly toward acceptance of gay marriage that the figure is higher than this. From my vantage point, it appears that the numbers are growing exponentially every day.

At the same time, even faithful Catholics are tossing the concept of religious liberty and individual conscience aside. They are adopting and repeating arguments that not only obviate the issues, but are baseless sloganeering. We have indeed reached a cultural tipping point.

The good thing in this is that it reflects an end to social and civil discrimination against gay people. Unfortunately, it also means that the conflation of the civil rights of gay people with the redefinition of marriage leaves our society with a long-term fight.

Those of us who want homosexuals to be treated as full human beings and at the same time preserve traditional marriage and religious liberty have a long road ahead of us. To be honest, I no longer see the issue of homosexuals being accepted as full people to be a concern in our society. I think that’s a done deal.

What is a question is whether or not Christians have enough identity in Christ to maintain their fealty to basic Christian teachings in what will amount to government-enforced violation of their values and religious freedoms. The DOMA decision did indeed, as I said at the time, tip over the table.

In this sudden flood of changed opinions, even Christians in public leadership positions are tripping over themselves to stand against their brothers and sisters in Christ who do not want to be forced to participate in gay weddings. A good number of these people will recant in the years ahead. Most of those who do will have amnesia and claim they never said the things they’re saying. Others of them will drift further away from supporting their fellow Christians until they end up putting both feet over the fence and standing entirely on the other side.

I remember the sudden movement that accompanied Roe. I’ve seen the lies and sloganeering, the dominance by the press as it put out what was propaganda. I’ve seen Christians recover from this sudden loss of clear thinking, and I’ve seen others become hardened in it and lose themselves to it entirely. The one thing I’m sure of is that there is no way to know who will fall into which camp.

However, the Roe debacle is a faint copy of what is happening with gay marriage.

Nothing in my memory equals the intensity with which the public has been “sold” gay marriage and the hatred of the Church and religious freedom which has gone along with it. This is a new post-Christian zeitgeist in which the dominant powers of the culture are locked on and targeting traditional Christian values and traditional Christians. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have bought into this and are now promoting it themselves.

It is going to be increasingly difficult for anyone to stay true to Christian values in the times ahead, and I am not talking just about gay marriage. We are not dealing with a fixed situation. This is a moving and constantly degrading target.

What began as “If you don’t support gay marriage, then don’t get gay married” has now become “It is discrimination and hate not to provide services for a gay marriage.” I wrote a post a few days ago about the gathering clouds concerning polygamy, and was astonished by the bold and aggressive support for polygamy that commenters voiced. Polygamy is indeed the new gay marriage.

Euthanasia was once supposed to be limited to terminally ill people who were facing imminent death and in irremediable pain. That argument has been broadened to the idea that euthanasia is about choice and should be offered as a storefront service to anyone, at any time, without question.

We are living in an imploding post-Christian culture.

Americans have been sold lies on a number of issues, all of which have their aegis in a diminution of the distinctness and value of the human person.

I know this is a bleak picture. But it is far from hopeless. The worst aspect of what I’ve described is the seduction of many good Christians by this culture. We have the task of re-converting our lost society, and we will have to do it in the face of self-identified Christians who will fight for and support the anti-Christian zeitgeist. This task is complicated by the fact that Christians who follow Christ’s teachings are rapidly becoming the new cultural hate objects.

It seems a contradiction for me to say that the situation is far from hopeless in the same paragraph in which I describe fallen away Christians using their nominal Christian identity to attack Christian values. But it is inevitable that a good many of our fellow Christians will fall prey to this and become voices of destruction within our churches and religious communities.

The important thing to remember is that it will sort itself out in time. Those who stay true will become stronger in their faith and closer to Christ.

I’ve lived this.

Those who follow the culture will lose themselves to their little g gods. Those who follow Christ will become stronger in Him with a deeper and ever-empowering faith. We’ll become bolder, more fearless witnesses for Him personally, and our numbers will grow as we do it.

We’re not going to lose in the long run. The outcome of this battle is already decided.

I’m going to talk more about this in the future. We’ve got a fight ahead of us.

All I’ll say for now is that it is apt that we have come to this pass at the beginning of Lent.

From Public Religion Research Institute:

Executive Summary

Support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percentage points from 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, to 2013. Currently, a majority (53%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, compared to 41% who oppose. In 2003, less than one-third (32%) of Americans supported allowing gay and lesbian people to legally marry, compared to nearly 6-in-10 (59%) who opposed.

Governor Brewer Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill

Governor Jan Brewer

Governor Brewer did what everyone expected and vetoed the religious freedom bill.

You can find a video with her explanation here, if you want to see it. I didn’t bother to look at it because I don’t believe that she’s going to tell the truth and I am not in the mood to hear lies. However, I could be wrong. Decide for yourselves.

A group of legal experts wrote the governor a letter concerning this legislation that answers most of the things which have been said about the bill. You can read it here. I will also put a copy of it below.

SB1062LegalProfsLetter

 

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SB1062LegalProfsLetter4

 

 

Does the Laity Have the Right to Expect Authenticity from Our Priests?

TableauGoodShepherd

I’m evidently somewhat different from the average pew-sitting Catholic.

I don’t want my pastor to confirm me in my sins.

I want my pastor to tell me the truth about my spiritual condition and to lead me in the Way that leads to eternal life. I don’t go to church to validate myself, my sins or my choices in life. I go to church to grow closer to the Lord and to learn how to follow Jesus.

When I ask a Catholic priest for instruction on moral issues, I am not asking him for his personal prejudices or his individual neurosis. I want him to give me the straight truth about what the Church teaches so that I will be better able to evaluate what I should do and how I should live.

In short, I rely on the priests I go to for help to be authentic in their Catholicity and to tell me the truth.

I trust them to not use their position and power to lead me in ways that are sinful, belligerent to the Church, or that will allow me to commit grave sins against myself, other people, or my God.

So far in my Catholic life, this trust has been well-rewarded. I have had priests who always told me the truth of Church teaching, even when it made them personally uncomfortable and when I argued back and gave them a hard time about it.

Every person who lives brings themselves to the altar. They bring their own story, their own sins, their own desires for validation of their sins and an easy out from the narrow way of truly following Christ. There are no exceptions to this. Jesus told us that the Way of following Him was hard, and it is.

I, for one, would have loved to have been told that abortion in the case of rape is alright. I’ve seen what rape does to women and girls. I know how desperate and terrified a woman who’s been raped feels when she learns she is pregnant from that rape. I understand the price of choosing life in the face of this crime against her humanity.

If I had been given my druthers, I would also have loved to hear my pastor say that it’s ok to be all in for gay marriage. It would have been wonderful for me to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder on this with the friend I loved. I will grieve the loss of him in my life all my days.

It cost me dearly to accept that I was wrong about these things. It costs me almost every single day of my life.

But if my priest had lied to me, and given me his pastoral permission to do these things, he would have done me a great disservice. Also, I believe that part of my sin would also have been on his soul.

I do not begin to know how God deals with priests who throw away their priesthood to mislead the people who trust them; people they are supposed to shepherd.

But I can say from personal experience that the remorse you feel later for misleading people is a terrible sorrow. I would also add that you can’t often undo it once it’s done. I have gone to people I misled and told them I was wrong, that I regretted everything I had done. I could not change them. I could not unconvince them of the sinful things I had convinced them to believe earlier.

Priests who throw away their priesthood to preach and teach that which is contrary to the Gospels are the most piteous of creatures.

I believe that the laity has a right to expect authenticity from the men who pastor us. I believe we have a right to know that they will not mislead us and tell us our sins are not sins and that we should go and sin even more. I believe that we have a right to be able to trust that they will tell us the truth and teach us the Gospel without their personal prevarications and politically correct longings getting into it.

A case in point is the fallen Catholic school in Seattle that I wrote about earlier. Students at this school walked out because the school dismissed a member of the staff who had gotten “married” to his same-sex partner. There was a lot of carrying on, and ultimately, the school backed down about another staff member.

A priest from the Seattle area recently wrote an opinion piece for America magazine which accidentally illustrates the abysmal Catholic leadership that went into this tragedy of a failed Catholic school. I am sure that he’s very popular with the gay rights people. I would imagine that he’s viewed as a hero by his many friends in those circles.

He is also evidently a priest who many unsuspecting Catholics have chosen to follow. Again, I’m sure that these people feel they have the best pastor in the world, affirming them as he does in placing the teachings of the world ahead of the teachings of the Church. I would imagine that he’s a legendary folk hero in certain circles.

But from my viewpoint, he is inauthentic as a priest. He is not teaching what the Church teaches. In fact, he is using his collar to give gravitas to his personal teachings that the Church is wrong. He is leading people away from the light and into the darkness of popular piety without actual fealty. He is teaching them to turn their back on the real God and become their own little g gods.

I hate and detest singling out one person for the misbehavior of many. I am quite sure that there are a plethora of people in the Church who are responsible for the mess that is this school and for other fallen Catholic individuals and institutions around this country.

But I feel that someone, somewhere, has to point out that the Catholic laity has a right to expect authenticity from their priests. I don’t know anything about Canon law, but if this is not Canonical, it should be. We, as the people of God, have the right not to be deliberately misled by our shepherds.

The Limits of Tolerance

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What happens when people think evil is good and the devil is beautiful?

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Let’s Rebuild the City: Lecrae Shares His Testimony

Lecrae found Christ, but only gave himself to the Lord half way.

Jesus told us you can not serve two masters.

Lecrae gave his life over to Christ completely after a terrible automobile accident. The rest is rap.

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Money Talks. And Democracy Walks. Arizona Style.

MONEY

I don’t know how accurate this is, but it does seem likely to be true.

NBC News is reporting that Governor Brewer will veto the religious freedom bill passed by the legislature this week. According to that same source, the governor does not want to jeopardize Arizona’s economic future.

Three Arizona senators who had voted for the bill re-read it in the light of all that reflected green and asked the governor to veto.

Everyone, it seems, was just confused originally and now they’ve seen the light.

Uh-huh.

It doesn’t matter if this was a good bill or not. It doesn’t even matter what the issue is.

Money talks. And democracy walks.

That’s the real story here.

From NewsMax:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will veto a controversial bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the grounds of their religious conviction, NBC News is reporting via Twitter.

Brewer has been under intense pressure from business groups and political leaders to diffuse the situation and veto the legislation which they fear will draw unnecessary attention to Arizona a year before it hosts the next Super Bowl and following economic losses on controversial immigration stances.

At the same time, three GOP state senators who initially ratified the measure have written to Brewer, a Republican, asking her to reject Senate Bill 1062, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

Son of God to Open in Theaters February 28

04teaching

I’m going. Are you?

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For more information, go here.

Will Arizona Let the Money Do the Talking?

Governor Jan Brewer

The money men have lined up in what appears to be a concerted effort to make sure that gay couples can force every baker in the state of Arizona to provide them with wedding cakes.

This burning wedding cake issue, which has been likened to the Jim Crow segregation and lynchings that once plagued African Americans, has brought corporate interests from coast to coast into the argument. They are speaking with one voice, and that voice is demanding a veto of the religious freedom bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature.

Two Republican senators who voted for the bill have seen the dollar sign and are now asking Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

I have not read this legislation. I’ve been busy with legislation on which I am going to actually have to vote. But I can tell you from experience that the various chambers of commerce and money people tend to talk to Republican legislators who step out of line like they were dogs who fetched when they should have sicced. I don’t doubt for a minute that this is what changed the senators’ hearts and minds on this issue.

Even Newt Gingrich has chimed in, calling for the governor to veto the bill.

The power of money on the legislative process can be breathtaking.

Governor Brewer has until Friday to make a decision.

From Bloomberg Business Week:

Companies from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) to American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL:US)called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill allowing businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure that opponents say is meant to allow discrimination against gays.

The measure passed last week prompted tourists to cancel reservations and companies to say they would locate elsewhere if it became law. The bill threatens to reverse an economic recovery in a state among those hardest hit by the housing crash, opponents said, and to cement a reputation fostered by a 2010 anti-immigration law and a fight in the 1990s over celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday.

After residents and businesses protested the bill over the weekend, three Republican senators who voted for the measure changed their minds and asked Brewer to veto it. NBC News reported today that three people close to the governor said she is likely to do that. Brewer wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far,” Doug Parker, chief executive officer of Fort Worth, Texas-based American, wrote in a letter to Brewer yesterday. He said that it has the potential to reduce the desire of companies to relocate in the state and to repel convention business.

Getting Real: The Marriage Protection Amendment

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Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

 

Election time is just around the corner.

That means that you will be getting a lot of attention from the people who speak for you in government.

Don’t waste it.

When candidates hold coffees or teas; when they have their town halls or come to your door, make the effort to go and then to talk to them.  Let them know that you’ll be watching what they do if they are elected. Do not assume that because a candidate is with one party or the other that you know how they will vote and what they will do.

Both Rs and Ds will lie to you about where they stand on issues. Both Rs and Ds will defy their party and vote in ways that matter to them.

Ask these candidates, flat out, how they will vote on questions concerning the life of the unborn, violence against women and euthanasia. Then, follow that up with a new one. Ask them if they will vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment.

The Marriage Protection Amendment is a proposed Constitutional Amendment authored by Rep Tim Huelskamp, (R-Kan). Representative Huelskamp introduced the amendment last July.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who is head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ marriage defense efforts, recently sent a letter to Congressman Heulskamp, voicing his support for the proposed amendment.

I agree with the Archbishop that a Constitutional Amendment is the only way to approach this issue. If the Supreme Court had allowed DOMA to stand, the question could and would have been resolved legislatively. But they did not do that, which leaves us with this as our only way to proceed.

In his letter, Cardinal Cordileone said,

Your proposed Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is, therefore, a needed remedy. The amendment would secure in law throughout the country the basic truth known to reason that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Preserving this elemental truth is necessary for the good of society at large and for the good of children who deserve the love of both a mother and a father, neither of whom is expendable. Indeed, marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union. Federal court opinions that essentially redefine marriage to be merely a state recognized arrangement of intimate adult relationships ignore the truth about marriage, which deserves the highest protection in law.

I am, therefore, very pleased to support the Marriage Protection Amendment and urge your colleagues to join H. J. Res. 51 as cosponsors. Thank you for introducing in the House of Representatives this needed resolution to amend the U.S. Constitution. 

Make no mistake about it, amending the Constitution is difficult. We have before us not just the political work of passing and ratifying an amendment, but the much more important work of converting our culture.

One reason that the abortion fight has created bitterness and has taken so long is that pro life people have concentrated more on the politics than conversion.

Conversion must begin with us. By that I am referring to our own sexual behaviors, divorces and indifferent child rearing.

I’ve said repeatedly that the first and most important thing we must do — emphasis must do — is protect our own children from the corrosive effects of this post-Christian society in which we now live.

We need to protect our children, and at the same time be unafraid to go forward and speak the truth ourselves. For far too long, adults have protected themselves and thrown their children into the front lines of our trash culture. We have to reverse that, and we need to do it immediately.

Here is a copy of Cardinal Corleone’s letter:

Ltr cordileone defense of marraige act


 

 

And So It Begins: The Push for Polygamy

Newt polygamy

This is a random round-up of opinion pieces pushing polygamy.

It is by no means exhaustive or even representative. It reflects what I’ve seen in casual internet browsing. One article goes back to the time of the last presidential election. The others were written after the DOMA decision.

Events and behaviors form patterns. The pattern for quite some time has been that opinion makers in high-profile media begin what quickly becomes a coordinated political movement with trial balloon pieces such as these. The normalization of polygamy is fully launched with such television shows as Big Love and Sister Wives.

The piece that irks me the most is the one by the so-called feminist who’s calling for polygamy. If she’s a feminist, then George Wallace was a Freedom Rider.

Is this the beginning of a push to redefine marriage to allow polygamy? What do you think?

From CNN:

It’s time to reconsider polygamy

by Mark Goldfeder, cnn.com

December 16th 2013

(CNN) – Polygamy is back in the headlines.Last week, a federal judge in Utah struck down part of the state’s anti-polygamy law as unconstitutional, although he kept the ban on possessing more than one marriage license at a time. Fans of the “Sister Wives” reality TV stars, who filed the suit, are rejoicing in the news.At the other end of the spectrum, TLC debuted its newest docuseries, “Breaking the Faith,” which tells the dark story of women and children trying to escape from the practice.

Another lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice alleges that polygamous clans are secretly running the show in Utah and Arizona townships, manipulating the political process from behind the scenes. And in Texas, the Attorney General’s Office is inchingcloser to seizing a massive polygamous ranch.Across the country, angry citizens are calling for the government to follow its own laws and crack down on polygamy.

Meanwhile, celebrities like Akon and various news outlets encourage people of all ages to reconsider plural marriage.What competing narratives about polygamy in America reveal is that whether or not a white-washed, clean-cut version of plural marriage could in theory legally exist, in practice it does not, and what states like Utah, Arizona and Texas actually have is an unregulated, dangerous and harmful situation, where the strong prey upon the weak and helpless.The time has come to address this discrepancy. When the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor in June, opening the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, it also set the stage for a discussion of plural marriage.DOMA defined marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

While DOMA obviously prohibited same-sex marriage (by requiring that a marital unit consist of a man and a woman), it also enshrined the prohibition against polygamy, by requiring that such a union be between only one man and one woman. Even before Windsor the Supreme Court had declared morals-based legislation invalid, renewing interest in polygamy. But in calling DOMA definitions unconstitutionally restrictive, the court, perhaps unwittingly, also struck down the federal numerical limitation in a marriage, immediately re-opening the possibility of plural marriage at the state level. Activists have taken note, and are only getting louder.

From Psychology Today:

The Three Reasons for Polygamy

by Nigel Barber, psychologytoday.com

October 23rd 2012

Both candidates for the presidency owe their very existence to polygamy (1). President Obama’s father belonged to the polygamous Luo tribe. Mitt Romney’s paternal great grandfathers moved to Mexico to continue the Mormon practice of polygamy then outlawed in the U.S. So the time is ripe to ask what advantages polygamy has over monogamy.

Although plural marriage is banned in developed countries, it is surprisingly common, and popular, elsewhere with 55 percent of women sharing their husbands in Benin and an average of 16 percent of women doing so in less developed nations (2). Polygamy may be detested in developed countries but it is practiced to some degree in most societies studied by anthropologists. What did polygamy do for the Obamas and the Romneys that they could not accomplish with monogamy?

Studies in animal behavior show that polygynous mating systems (i.e., one male mating with several females) have at least three possible advantages.

From Salon:

Legalize Polygamy!

No. I am not kidding.

By Jillian Keenan

Sister-wives Valerie, left, and Vicki serve breakfast to their children in their polygamous house in Herriman, Utah, in this file photo from May 30, 2007. Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to decriminalize it on religious grounds, while at the same time stamping out abuses such as forced marriages of underage brides.

Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reintroduced a tired refrain: Legalized gay marriage could lead to other legal forms of marriage disaster, such as polygamy. Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly, and other social conservatives have made similar claims. It’s hardly a new prediction—we’ve been hearing it for years. Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what’s next? Legalized polygamy?

We can only hope.

Yes, really. While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.

For decades, the prevailing logic has been that polygamy hurts women and children. That makes sense, since in contemporary American practice that is often the case. In many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints   polygamous communities, for example, women and underage girls are forced into polygamous unions against their will. Some boys, who represent the surplus of males, are brutally thrown out of their homes and driven into homelessness and poverty at very young ages. All of these stories are tragic, and the criminals involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (That goes without saying, I hope.)

But legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn’t legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat.

 

 

Book Review: Doing for the Least of These for Lent

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To join the conversation about Mercy in the City, or order a copy, go here

Lent in the legislature is always a problem.

The Lenten season falls at a time of year when the legislative calendar is so full that I feel like I’m being drug by a runaway horse. There’s not much time for more than going to mass and snatches of hurried prayer that don’t connect up to anything resembling a coherent Lenten practice. It’s all about tired, over-stimulated hanging in there. Lent gets washed away in all this busyness.

Every stopover at mass is a sudden downshift to a slower rhythm. It is so different from the break-neck pace of the rest of the day that it jars more than soothes. Prayers at night and in the morning require an act of will; otherwise I’ll daydream through the words as I say them.

My Lent has thus been more a time of confusion than spiritual and moral clarity. In fact, there have been a number of years when I decided that doing the best I could on my job in the face of whatever came was my Lent.

Reading Mercy in the City inspired me to be more intentional about how I do Lent in the legislature. The book’s author, Kerry Weber, is a twenty-something who decided to give up the usual sweets for Lent and then added a resolution to perform each of the Corporal Works of Mercy during Lent, as well.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. Give drink to the thirsty.
  3. Clothe the naked.
  4. Shelter the homeless.
  5. Visit the sick.
  6. Visit the imprisoned.
  7. Bury the dead.

That’s a tall order for a twenty-something with a full-time job and a dating life, but she managed to get it done. Her journey through the seven Works of Mercy is an illuminating read. Miss Weber learned a lot about other people as she handed out food, spent the night at a homeless shelter and visited with prisoners at San Quentin. Instead of just going through the list of Works and checking them off, she made an effort to learn from the people themselves, to see their humanity and their individuality.

This can be difficult. I’ve never done anything like this for Lent, but I have done some of these things at other times in my life. I can tell you that the sick throw up on you, the hungry gripe about the food you serve them and prisoners often go back to their old ways once they are free.

And yet, there is nothing in Jesus’ words equating Himself with these people that gives us the freedom of turning away from them. If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me, He says to us. There isn’t any wiggle room in that statement for an out based on the exterior ugliness of the people you are trying to help. I imagine there were First Century four-flushers and manipulators just as there are today. But Our Lord didn’t say a word about refusing to help people because they can be jerks.

He tells us that whatever we do for them in His name will not be lost. And whenever we turn our backs on the hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, or imprisoned among us, we will be held accountable as if we had turned our backs on Him.

That’s a heavy kind of instruction. It should weigh on our hearts, and not just during Lent. We will be judged by how we treat the “least of these.” All our Amen-saying is for nothing if we don’t help those who can’t help themselves. More to the point, each and every one of us began life as someone who could not help themselves, and if we live long enough, we will be people who can’t help ourselves again. That is the human condition.

The pitiless among us want to solve these problems by killing those who need help. Just pick up the needle or use the vacuum aspirator and be done with them. But Jesus tells us clearly and without equivocation that we are called to something more than that.

The same God Who authored all life, tells us to honor life by caring for one another, especially when it’s not easy and it costs us something.

Mercy in the City is a well-written, entertaining look at one young woman’s attempt to do the seven Corporal Works of Mercy for Lent. If you read it, it will give a lot to think about and may inspire you to do the same thing yourself, which makes it excellent Lenten reading.

The Issue is Murder, and Our Willingness to Allow It

Death panelMy Sabbath rest from this blog came just in time.

I had read too many combox justifications for killing people.

The ones that took the prize were the comments defending the medical murder of an elderly Italian woman. This lady went to Switzerland and paid $14,000 to have herself murdered. She was in good health. Her only complaint was that she was depressed about aging and losing her looks.

How can anyone subscribe to the medical murder of a perfectly healthy woman who was depressed about losing her looks?

It appears that plenty of folks do.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Belgium decided to allow medical murder for anyone, at any age, including babies? The talk then was all about unendurable suffering and how we had to murder children because they they were (1) terminally ill, and (2) in horrible pain?

Well, just a few days later, the death rap was a justification for the need to murder an elderly woman because she’s depressed about her looks, and it’s her choice. 

We were told at the beginning of this euthanasia debate that “mercy killing” or “death with dignity” or whatever you want to call it, was only to alleviate the suffering of people who were terminally ill and in unendurable pain. We put down animals, so the debate went, why not do the same for suffering people?

It now seems clear that those arguments were lies designed to get people to go along so that the liars could move to the next level of killing. As soon as the screw turns one half round and we get the power to kill those we decide are in pain and dying anyway, then the nasty old screw turns again and we are told that people should have the “right” to be killed for being sad, if that’s their choice.

Because now the arguments aren’t about “mercy” or “dignity” anymore, they’re about choice. It’s a person’s “choice” to be murdered, so who are we to argue?

Choice, which should be a beautiful word of freedom, has been perverted into a dark word of death. It’s ironic, but not surprising, to hear these promoters of death for the elderly use the same word that they use to justify killing the unborn.

The same people who come on this blog and argue for killing elderly people because they are depressed, also want to kill those with dementia. They are the same ones who will blast you with arguments based on “choice” in favor of killing the unborn with disabilities or for any other reason whatsoever.

The difference here is in the type and tenor of the arguments. They can’t argue, as they do with abortion, about the use of someone else’s body. It serves no purpose to kill grandma because her granddaughter was raped. So, we argue that it’s really Grandma’s “choice” to be killed.

How long before these killers unmask themselves and reveal that this killing is not for Grandma, but for us? How long before we simply say the truth: Sick people are a lot of trouble. Their care costs money, takes time and isn’t all that much fun.

How long before the arguments about “choice” do the next morph and finally become about how killing grandma and saving all that money we might waste on her could allow granddaughter to go to college? Or, if we did in our child with cancer, think of how much it would spare the other children? Or, why should we let that rich old bat sit on all that money when his or her kids need it to maintain their standard of living?

We are less than a fraction of an inch away from Hitler’s useless eaters argument.

The argument from choice as a justification for medical murder is an obvious ruse when we are talking about depressed people, those with dementia, etc. It is a lie, a deliberate, cold-blooded lie, calculated to inure us to murder so that we are ready to take the next step.

The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it.

Let me repeat that: The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it. 

These legalized killing fields are an ever-moving target of evil. They have no bottom because their arguments are based on something that does not exist: The ability of fallen and utterly selfish human beings to reason their way to moral behavior.

I asked the rhetorical question in an earlier post: Do you have to be a Catechism-believing Catholic to know this is wrong?

It appears the answer is yes, you do — or at the least, a Bible-believing Christian of some denomination.

There seems to be no place at the table of life for unbelievers, for the simple reason that unbelievers are all sitting at the table of death.

If you do not believe in the real God, you inevitably become your own god, and out of that self-deification flows every evil thing imaginable, including such a low regard for human life that no one, anywhere, is safe from the needle, the vacuum, the shot of poison to the heart.

I am a Catholic:

I do not kill the unborn.

I do not kill the elderly.

I do not kill children.

I do not kill the depressed, the lonely, the ugly, the disabled, or the weak.

I don’t even kill murderers on death row.

Catholics build hospitals to treat the sick.

Catholics provide food, legal services, counseling, shelter, clothing and education to those who need them.

And for this we are attacked. The same people who want to kill grandma also want to close our hospitals, corrupt our educational institutions and belittle and shame those of us in the pews for having the temerity to believe that human life is sacred and may not be ended arbitrarily.

But we will not accede to them. Because human life is sacred. Every human being, including these sad, lost unbelievers who want to kill everyone who can’t fight back, is made in the image and likeness of God. We are fallen and we have the capacity to do evil. But we also have the capacity to turn to God, be forgiven and walk in newness of life.

Today, I set before you life and death, God told the ancient Israelites.

I don’t know about the rest of the world. But I chose life.

Every So Often He Does Something I Agree With

Every so often President Obama does something I agree with.

His support of raising the minimum wage is one of those things. I remember reading that Henry Ford paid his workers higher wages than the standard for that time. When asked why, he said that he wanted them to be able to buy his automobiles.

That remark demonstrated a core understanding of what grows markets that seems to elude today’s corporatists.

The theory that we should cut taxes and give benefits to those at the top while we allow wage earners to suffer an endless downward trajectory in earning power is not good economics. Those who make goods and provide services need customers with the money to buy their products. American industry needs American customers to keep this county strong.

The miracle of the American economy is not that it has created a few fantastically wealthy people. The miracle is that it has provided opportunity, a high standard of living and good lives for almost all of us.

Will raising the minimum wage fix our economic woes? No, it won’t. The reason our economy has been basically stagnant for so long is simple: We’ve exported our industrial base and the jobs that go with it.

Raising the minimum wage will not fix this problem. Nothing short of taking government back from corporatist control will put America back where it once was.

However, raising the minimum wage will increase the buying power of many millions of people. That alone will stimulate the economy.

I disagree with trickle down economics. We need jobs and good wages for the people of this country. That will bring wealth for everyone.

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Elderly Woman Pays $14,000 to be Euthanized at Swiss Death Facility

Suicide22n 1 web 580 0

Oriella Cazzanello. Source: Daily News.

I’ve been wondering how much it costs to have someone euthanized. I’ve also been wondering what kind of people perform this “service” of legally murdering others.

I’m still in the dark about the second question, but it appears the answer to the first is $14,000.

That’s what an Italian woman, who, according to reports was in good health, paid a Swiss death facility to put her down in much the same way the Copenhagen Zoo puts down unwanted giraffes. The major difference, so far as I can see, is that they didn’t feed this woman’s body to the lions.

The woman in question, 85-year-old Oriella Cazzanello, hired these fine folks to kill her because she was depressed about aging and upset that she was losing her looks. She vanished from her home in January, evidently without telling her family, who thought she gone on a spa break. When she didn’t show up, her family became worried about her disappearance and started looking.

They learned that Ms Cazzanello had been murdered by lethal injection when the death facility mailed her ashes and the death certificate to her attorney.

It sounds like Ms Cazzanello is another unhappy, well-to-do woman who should have stayed away from Switzerland and its business of dealing death.

My question: Do you really have to be a catechism-following Catholic to see something wrong with this?

From the Daily News:

A perfectly healthy Italian woman paid $14,000 to commit suicide at a Swiss euthanasia clinic because she was “sad about losing her looks.”

Oriella Cazzanello, 85, reportedly took her own life at the right-to-die center in Basel after getting “weighed down by ageing and the inevitable loss of the looks of which she was proud.”

RELATED: NEW MEXICO JUDGE RULES TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS CAN SEEK HELP WITH SUICIDE

The wealthy senior vanished from her home in Arzignano at the end of January, reports the ANSA news agency.

Family members initially thought she’d gone on a spa break.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, but there is a huge amount of controversy over the business.

STEFFEN SCHMIDT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, but there is a huge amount of controversy over the busines

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/italian-woman-pays-14g-commit-suicide-due-losing-article-1.1622200#ixzz2u4HLdFPa

Gov Brewer Won’t Say if She’ll Sign Bill Allowing Business to Refuse Service Based on Religious Beliefs

Governor Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer won’t say if she’ll sign the bill which would allow businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs.

Her only comment was that the bill was “very controversial” and that she “needs to get my hands around it.”

Meanwhile the Arizona Commerce Authority is chiming in against the bill.

The bill puts the Republican governor in a pretty political pickle. It forces her to chose between the Republican Party’s vote-getting base of conservative religious, and its corporate/chamber of commerce money men.

According to an article in USA Today, Governor Brewer has until Friday to decide.

From USA Today:

Arizona’s governor is watching an intense debate from afar over a controversial bill that would allow the use of religious beliefs as a basis for refusing service without fear of lawsuits.

The Arizona Legislature passed Senate Bill 1062 on Thursday and the bill could reach Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk as early as Monday, giving her next week to consider how she will sign or veto it.

The Republican governor, who is attending a conference of governors from across the USA in the nation’s capital, rarely comments on bills before they reach her desk.

She spoke Friday with CNN: “Well, it’s a very controversial piece of legislation. We know that. We know that it’s failed in a lot of states across the country. … I’ve been reading about it on the Internet, and I will make my decision some time before … by next Friday … if I do decide to sign it.

“But it’s very controversial, so I’ve got to get my hands around it,” Brewer said.

Socially conservative groups that oppose gay marriage are promoting the twin bills, SB 1062 and HB 2153. GOP state Sen. Steve Yarbrough created his bill in response to a New Mexico Supreme Court decision against a photographer who refused to take a gay couple’s wedding pictures.

In a letter sent Friday to Brewer’s office, Phoenix area economic officials raise concerns that the bill, which shields businesses from being sued if they deny service based on religious beliefs, could cast a negative light on the state as it prepares to host a number of high-profile events, including next year’s Super Bowl.

Pope Francis and the Pentecostals.

You may have already seen this. My fellow Catholic Patheosi have posted it here, here and here that I know of.

I’m posting here to make sure you have a chance to see it. This video gives us the complete Pentecostal service in which they played the Holy Father’s message. If you have time, watch it all the way through and be blessed.

This is wonderful. The Holy Spirit can do so much when He gets His hands on someone who will do what’s asked of them.

At this time when Christianity is under attack it is so important for us to stand together. God bless our wonderful Pope Francis and our Pentecostal brothers and sister in Christ.

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Swiss Study Indicates Lonely, Unbelieving Women are Most Likely Euthanasia Victims

Grim Reaper

So who pays other people to murder them?

A new study gives us a profile of the typical victim of euthanasia. 

According to the Swiss study, 16% of the people euthanized did not have an underlying medical problem, or at least not one that was recorded on the death certificate. In 84% of the cases, the death certificate did list at least one underlying cause for euthanizing the victim.

A previous study showed that 25% of those who were euthanized did not have a fatal illness. In a number of cases, mood disorders and mental or behavioral disorders were given as the primary underlying reason the people were euthanized.

According to the study, those most likely to request assisted suicide were well-educated women from areas of a higher socio-economic standing. Those who live alone or were divorced were 50% more likely to be euthanized. Nonbelievers were 6 times more likely to seek death than Catholics. 

Maybe we should issue travel advisories warning well-to-do, unhappy atheist women who live alone to stay away from Switzerland. 

From the MailOnline:

Women, highly educated, divorced and rich people are more likely to die from assisted suicide, new research has revealed.


Researchers in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, found that of people helped by right-to-die organisations such as Dignitas, around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. 

They say this indicates that an increasing number of people may simply becoming ‘weary of life’.


 
Of people helped by right-to-die organisations in Switzerland, such as Dignitas (pictured), around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. - suggesting they were 'weary of life'

Of people helped by right-to-die organisations in Switzerland, such as Dignitas (pictured), around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. – suggesting they were ‘weary of life’

 

The research, published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology – that shows assisted suicide is more common in women, the divorced, those living alone, the more educated, those with no religious affiliation, and those from wealthier areas.


A previous study of suicides by two right-to-die organizations showed that 25 per cent of those assisted had no fatal illness, instead citing ‘weariness of life’ as a factor.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2562850/Women-divorcees-atheists-likely-choose-assisted-suicide-nearly-20-saying-simply-weary-life.html#ixzz2tzYs8ZYM 
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