Fortnight for Freedom: Defending Religious Liberty on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

 

We are in the Fortnight for Freedom.

This annual event is sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s purpose is to promote an awareness of the threats to religious liberty in America today, and to encourage Catholics in every walk of life to stand up for our precious freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion is one of the cornerstones in the great American experiment in government of, by and for the people. Without religious freedom, all other freedoms are meaningless.

So.

What one thing can you and I do today, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, to stand for religious liberty?

You are already doing something important by reading this blog post and informing yourself about the issue.

 

For today’s action on behalf religious freedom, I’m going to suggest that we turn our attention overseas, to a part of the world where religious freedom is considered anathema. In particular, I am asking you to contact the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC on behalf of Meriam Ibrahim.

Mrs Ibrahim was sentenced to death for the crime of marrying a Christian. She was 8 months pregnant at the time. The Sudanese court freed her yesterday. She and her family were re-arrested the airport today.

Email, call or write the Sudanese Embassy and tell them that you support Mrs Ibrahim and request that the Sudanese government release both her and her family.

You can contact the Sudanese Embassy by email here.

You can contact the Sudanese Embassy by phone or letter here:

Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave
Washington DC,20008,
Ph: 202.338.8565
Fax: 202.667.2406

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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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For 2,000 Years, Catholics have Risked Their Lives Just to be at Mass

I have nothing to add to this video. Watch it and be blessed.

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If You Want to Read the Commission’s Order to the Colorado Baker, Here It Is

This post concerning the egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of Colorado baker Jack Phillips has garnered quite a few comments.

A number of those comments have contained partial quotes from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s order requiring Mr Phillips to undergo court-ordered brain-washing, ie, “staff training.” The order also included demands that he re-write his business’ policy and file quarterly reports.

Here, for those who are interested, is a photo of the original order in its entirety.

 

 

 

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Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

 

When the roll is called down yonder, we’ll all line up according to our politics.

At least that appears to be the situation regarding the answers to the question of whether or not religious freedom is threatened.

There’s a lot of gas expended on this question, and most of it falls so predictably into political camps that the answers look more like responses to a roll call than genuine thinking.

Liberal Democrats, say no, of course not; only ignorant fools think so. Liberal Protestants, who are also almost entirely liberal Democrats, say no; only bigots who want to cling to their bigotry say yes. Conservative Republicans say yes; only liberal flat-liners who’ve sold this country out doubt it. Conservative Protestants, who are becoming more and more a solidified conservative Republican front, say yes; only weak Christians think otherwise.

Catholics? As the religious group that is Liberal Democrats, Conservative Republicans and every single thing in between, all sitting around the same table, we answer, yes/no/what did you say? and whatever.

So what do I, a decidedly liberal Democrat who is also a decidedly devout Catholic, say?

Before I answer that, I’m going to narrow that question to whether or not religious freedom is threatened in United States of America. I think the answer for much of the rest of the world is so obviously yes that those who doubt it fall into the same intellectual space as holocaust deniers.

Even when I narrow the question to the United States, I am tempted to reply … Duhhhh … Is this a trick question?

Rather than go for the golden one-word/one-off, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding answer, let’s review the obvious, public and undeniable facts.

What did the Supreme Court do this week?

It heard three cases brought before it by people who feel so strongly that their religious freedom is being violated that they are willing to risk their businesses and life’s work to stand against it. These are not rabble rousers. They are stable, quiet, pillars-of-the-community types, who normally eschew both litigation and the spotlight. They are the people who are the foundations of this country.

These people didn’t want to be part of a Supreme Court case. They were backed into this position by an overweening government that is so bent on enforcing an agency regulation that infringes on religious liberty that it is willing to precipitate a Constitutional crisis to do it.

What is happening in court rooms all over this country? We have mom and pop businesspeople — again quiet, apolitical, non-litigious, pillars of the community types — who are being forced to risk their livelihoods rather than violate their religious beliefs. This is happening because of overweening government force.

Not one of these people wanted to do this. Not one of them is the type who loves standing in front of microphones and sounding off. Every single one of them is putting their livelihoods on the line to stand for what they believe against a government that has taken hubris as its operating standard.

According to court testimony by administration attorneys, the fiction that is driving these government attacks on religious liberty is a deliberate narrowing of the First Amendment. Instead of religious freedom that applies to every man, woman and child in this great nation, the Obama Administration is seeking to shoe-horn it into the box of a narrow “freedom of worship.” In other words, keep your faith behind the closed doors of church sanctuaries, or suffer government-mandated penalties.

The standard argument against all this is either a stubborn sophistry which simply denies the obvious, or an insulting version of the hayseed argument. The hayseed argument goes like this: We sophisticates in the know understand that these hayseeds out in the hustings are deluded fools for thinking that their rights are being violated. We morally superior denizens of right-thinking also know that the hayseeds in the hustings are so blighted morally that their outdated ideas of religious fealty need to be shut down for a greater good that is defined by — you guessed it — us.

The hayseed argument, stupid and arrogant as it is, is actually the driving argument behind all these initiatives against individual freedom. It is the insider’s view of what they think is outsider foolishness for opposing the obviously higher morality and wisdom of their betters.

A slightly different version of the hayseed argument is the moral ingrate argument. It goes something like this: Moral imperatives which have been discovered in the last five years require that the moral ingrates of this country abandon their claims to religious freedom in order to serve the higher morality that we sophisticates have fashioned for ourselves and which we are going to use government force to enforce on everyone else.

The hayseed and moral ingrate arguments often overlap in actual practice. Sometimes they merge. The subtle difference between them is that one appeals to the pretension of moral superiority on the part of those who purvey it, and the other feeds their pretensions of intellectual superiority. Both arguments are at base a pose and a sham that have far more to do with bell-jar/echo-chamber thinking than anything approaching reality.

There is one other argument that surfaces in these discussions. That is the every-kid-in-China argument. This one is familiar to mothers of previous generations who were faced with recalcitrant children who wouldn’t eat their veggies. You know: The every kid in China would love to have that spinach on your plate, so you’d better eat it argument.

Applied to the question of attacks on religious freedom in America today, it goes something like this. Christians in other parts of the world are suffering real persecution. They are being burnt, beheaded, raped, imprisoned and tortured. So how dare you complain about government oppression of your little rights?

The irony is that this particular argument is usually advanced by someone who, in other contexts, does everything they can to deny and minimize the horror of Christian persecution.

I’m going to circle back here and take another look at the original question: Is religious freedom threatened in America today?

The answer is, of course. That’s obvious. The parsing — and that’s all it is — runs along lines of party affiliation and prejudice.

 

Note: This post is my reply to the discussion about Patheos’ Public Square Question: Is Religious Freedom Threatened? 

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Hobby Lobby Founders Discuss the Supreme Court Arguments on the HHS Mandate

 

I’m not going to do a post mortem on the arguments the Supreme Court heard on the Hobby Lobby/HHS Mandate case.

I won’t give you a run-down of which justice twitched, which one pulled his or her earlobe and who coughed. Trying to divine how the Court will rule by studying the questions justices asked and the expressions on their faces has become a kind of sport, like handicapping a horserace. Only it’s not nearly so accurate.

I think we would know just as much about what they’re going to do if we slaughtered a goat and studied its entrails.

Besides, I’m too nervous about this one to do that. The Court hasn’t exactly been a friend to people with traditional Christian values for a long time now. In fact, the Court has made itself the architect of this brave new baby-killing, marriage-is-meaningless world we inhabit. To a great extent the whole social mess is of the Supreme Court’s devising.

But this decision is one of the really big ones. Will we be free after this ruling?

It depends.

On how they rule.

The Court can destroy religious freedom with this ruling. It can also do as it did with the gay marriage ruling last summer and just put out a row of dominoes for others to knock over and destroy it in succeeding months.

What are the chances that the Supreme Court will actually rule in favor of religious freedom?

Will we be free after this ruling?

It depends.

On them.

 

The owners of Hobby Lobby spoke about yesterday’s arguments before the Supreme Court. Here is what they said.

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Join the Religious Freedom Tweet Storm

Standwithhobbylobby

Join tomorrow’s Religious Freedom Tweet Storm.

From Stand Up For Religious Freedom:

Tomorrow is the big day. The Supreme Court will hear the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius cases challenging Obama’s HHS Mandate.

Now more than ever, we need to make people aware of these historic cases and the threat the mandate poses.

You can help by joining in the Tweet Storm for Religious Freedomtomorrow, Tuesday, March 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon eastern time.

Help set the record straight on the Mandate by tweeting during that time and using the hashtag #ReligiousFreedomForAllto draw national attention to our side and the opposition’s hashtag #NotMyBossBusinessto join their conversation and accurately explain the facts of the case.

In addition to tweeting from 9 a.m. to noon eastern time tomorrow, you can also change your avatarto this great “I Stand with Hobby Lobby” graphic, blog about the casesexplaining how the HHS mandate is forcing family businesses to violate their beliefs or face devastating government penalties, and share the newsby linking to positive news coverage on your Facebook and Twitter so that our story spread far and wide.

– See more at: http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/2014/tweetstorm/#sthash.BViEw050.dpuf

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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.

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Governor Brewer Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Money Talks. And Democracy Walks. Arizona Style.

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. 

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