War on Religion? Give Me A Break!

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of hearing right wing extremists spouting that any effort for equality is a war on religion. Here are a two cases in point that drive me crazy. Texas State Representative Louie Gohmert believes that the Employee Non-Discrimination Act clearly proves Obama’s war on religion and opponents of The Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) believe that forcing private organizations that use state funds to pay for employee birth control is another sign of Obama’s war on religion.

Let’s look at these for what they really are. The ENDA is a proposed bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. We currently have laws that prevent discrimination hiring practices against race, faith, gender, or physical handicap. What this shows is that this nation, over time, came to realize that discrimination in any form was unjust. In fact, 26 states currently have some form of state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

To claim that the ENDA is proof of an attack against religion is absurd. The ENDA promises equal protection under law for every citizen in the nation. How could that goal possibly be connected to a war on religion? Isn’t religion, in theory anyway, supposed to come to the defense of those being mistreated? Not according to people like Representative Gohmert from Texas. But then again Gohmert isn’t really trying to defend his religious principles; he’s advocating bigotry against gay and transgendered people.

As for private organizations being forced to pay for employee birth control thanks to “Obamacare,” they too have it wrong. Churches are exempt from this, as they should be, but church sponsored organizations that utilize government money are not. Just like every other citizen and public organization that accepts money from the government, they too must follow the law. The government isn’t forcing people to use contraceptives, even though a majority of people including Catholics do. In fact, “28 states already impose such requirements,” which shows that this, once again, isn’t indicative of Obama’s war on religion.

There is a war in America, but it isn’t a war against religion. It’s a right wing extremist war against homosexuals and those who don’t prescribe to their views with hatred and prejudice at its very core. I just wish they would call it what it is. Though the Westboro Baptist Church is filled with a bunch of loons, at least they don’t hide their hatred. They are upfront about it. I can respect that more than politicians using the veil of religion to mask their bigotry.

If you want to hate me or someone else, then just hate. You’re free to do so in this country, but you’re not free to deny me or anyone else in this country equal protection under the law, and whether some people want to admit it or not, The Constitution of the United States of America proclaims we are all created equal.

Catholic Priest in Minnesota Argues For Gay Marriage

This past Sunday, Father Bob Pierson spoke to Catholics in Minnesota about why Catholics could vote no to the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment.

Father Pierson eloquently debunks common ecclesiastical beliefs on gay marriage.

He points out that the Catholic Church does NOT recognize civil marriage at all. Catholics who enter into marriages outside the church do not exist according to canonical law, whether they are gay or straight unions. Therefore, the Catholic Church, and any other church, should have no say what civil marriages a government recognizes. He further points out that reliable studies, not those sanctioned by bias, disprove that children are negatively affected by gay marriage. According to Pierson, love is love, regardless if parents are of same or opposite sex. And, finally, Pierson acknowledges that if gay marriage is recognized by the government, then the Catholic Church will have to follow government mandates on social services laws, if government money is used for those services. Neither the Catholic Church nor any other church or organization has any right to be excluded from government laws when government money is used. As he astutely states, that would lead to discrimination everywhere.

Father Pierson even uses words spoken in 1967 from “young theologian” Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict. Pierson said, “Our holy father taught in 1967 that we must obey our own conscience, even if it puts us at odds with the Pope. I doubt that he knew that he was going to be Pope when he said that.”

To me, Father Pierson represents the kind of man the Catholic Church needs as a leader, someone who not only understands canonical law, but who doesn’t believe any religion has a right to “force its teachings on others outside the fold.”

Here’s the video if you’d like to watch it.

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(Story via Towleroad)

Santorum: Obama is a “Phony” Christian

Just when I think Rick Santorum can’t possibly seem any more like scum and any less like a viable presidential candidate, he opens his mouth and spews even more vitriol and idiocy.

According to ABC News, at a recent speaking engagement to a Tea Party group in Pennsylvania, Santorum had this to say about President Obama:

The ‘president’s agenda’ is ‘not about you… It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your job…It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology…Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology.’”

Obviously, Santorum is trying to garner votes through false information and fear. Obama is a Christian, and even if he wasn’t, would it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the President must be a Christian. Our country has no national religion and “claims” to believe in the separation of the Church and the State. Therefore, the President’s religion shouldn’t be a factor, yet it always seems to be!

And Santorum knows how to play to that. He calls his opposition un-Christian and, by proxy, anti-American. Do we really want someone like this to even have a shot at the presidency?

Of course, representatives from Santorum’s camp understand how counter-productive his statement was and are now attempting damage control as you can see in the following statement:

‘The President says he’s a Christian and Rick believes that and has even said so publicly many times,’ National Communications Director Hogan Gidley said in a statement. ‘Rick was talking about the President’s belief in the secular theology of government — and how believing that theology is dangerous because government theology teaches that it’s perfectly fine (to) take away our individual God-given rights and freedoms. Our founders wrote the Constitution to protect our individual rights and freedoms, but it’s clear that President Obama believes the government should control your life. Rick Santorum believes in the Constitution and will always fight to protect our freedoms.’”

What I learn from this is that Santorum (and his camp) doesn’t want the government to run our lives; they want religious government, which would be what Santorum would bring to The White House, to run our lives.

That isn’t the nation our forefathers wanted. They had first-hand knowledge of the fate of the people when religion and government ruled as one. Do we really want that? Santorum does.

New Hampshire Considers Legalizing Discrimination

While we had good news come out of New Jersey about marriage equality, another Northeastern state provides us with some idiotic legislation. New Hampshire’s House Judiciary Committee is currently considering a bill that will “allow businesses that oppose marriage equality to deny services to same-sex couples based on their ‘conscience’ or religious beliefs. It also protects them from any civil claim of action for doing so,” as reported by ThinkProgress.

The wording of the bill is apparently so generic that businesses could discriminate against any couple whose marriage doesn’t follow the beliefs of the business owners. If you’re a straight interracial couple and you happen to unknowingly seek the services of a White Supremacist, then that Neo-Nazi skin head would have the right to kick you out of his shop and you would have no legal recourse.

I can’t believe this is how politicians in New Hampshire are wasting their time. In order to protect conservative extremists’ right to hate on gays, they are willing to sanction state-wide discrimination against multiple sections of society. This is the same state whose Republican dominated politicians want to repeal marriage equality even though the citizens of the state support it.

It seems that New Hampshire needs to clean house.

Perry Hates Obama Speaking for Gay Rights Worldwide

Earlier today, President Obama issued a memorandum calling for nations to help promote “the fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide,” as reported by ThinkProgress. The President even spoke before the United Nations where he expressed that he was “deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”

Naturally, Perry took arms against this plea for basic human rights across the planet.

Perry had this to say about Obama’s call for human rights:

This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop… [and] This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong…President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”

I didn’t realize American values and basic human rights were two different things because according to Perry they are. Whether Perry or any other uber conservative wants to admit it or not, this country was founded on basic human rights. Those rights were fought for and were why we ultimately separated from Britain. We wanted to right to be who we were, to worship as we pleased, to live freely without unjust representation and taxation, and to live in a land for the people and by the people.

Perry (and many others) falsely believe that their Christian beliefs are the be-all and-end-all. Well, that’s just not the way it is. I’m a Christian, but I don’t force my Christianity on anyone else. I also don’t expect every single person to believe as I do much less support gay rights. Everyone has their beliefs. But just because I’m not straight nor Muslim doesn’t mean I don’t think straight Muslims have inalienable rights in this country (or the world) either.

Persecuting people for any reason should never be tolerated, and this is something President Obama is taking a stand on. While I for one would like Obama to take a stronger stand on gay rights in America, I’m still pleased he made this statement for the world wide community.

If Perry had his way, though, persecuting people who aren’t Christian or follow his set of morality would be A-OK.

Love in Action Movie Trailer

Director Morgan Jon Fox is set to release a documentary titled Love in Action in March 2012. This movie follows the life of a young gay man sent to Love In Action, a Christian based ex-gay therapy “ministry.”

The parents’ decision to send their son off to be brainwashed (rightfully) sparks controversy in their town.

You may remember Love in Action (the ex-gay group, not the movie) from a previous post on John Smid, former director of Love in Action, who recently came out of the closet himself. Smid appears in the documentary spouting his support for ex-gay conversion. The fact that he is now out and proud adds validity to the film maker’s vision.

Here’s the trailer for the movie. I know I plan on watching it when it is released.

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(video via Joe.My.God)

Archbishop Dolan Promotes Gay Discrimination

Awhile back, I posted about Archbishop Patrick Dolan who commented that gay marriage would lead to a conflict between church and state. In a recent proclamation, the good shephard made a decree (as reported by ThinkProgress) that prohibited “any Church personnel or property from being utilized for same-sex marriage ceremonies under penalty of ‘canonical sanctions,’ calling  [New York's] new marriage equality ‘irreconcilable with the nature and the definition of marriage as established by Divine law.’”

In his decree, Archbishop Dolan outlined the following restrictions:

1. No member of the clergy (priest or deacon) incardinated or assisting in the Archdiocese of New York, or any person while acting as an employee of the Church, may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of a same-sex marriage, which includes but is not limited to providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privilege for such event. Ecclesiastical solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriages is expressly forbidden by Canon law.

2. No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health, or charitable institutions or benevolent orders, or any place dedicated, consecrated, or used for Catholic worship may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages.”

While his decree isn’t surprising, I find it quite sad.

I’m a firm believer in the separation of the church and state, and I in no way believe that any church should be forced to break their canonical laws. To do so would violate the basic tenets of our Constitution. Every church has the right to their rituals and beliefs, and no government should ever infringe upon that. After all, one of the reasons the Pilgrims came to this country was because their beliefs were being violated by the monarchs in England.

In his quest for new brides, King Henry XIII fractured the Catholic Church and began a long bloody battle between Catholicism and Protestantism, where the only people who suffered were those who didn’t follow the religion of the crown.

Separating church and state was the only way to ensure the safety of the people. No one would have to worry about being oppressed for religious beliefs if those beliefs didn’t match the individual in charge.

With that said, Archbishop Dolan’s decree basically outlines that the church will actively discriminate against homosexuals and those who might disagree with the church’s stance.

It seems to me we are moving in the wrong direction here.

I’m no religious scholar, but I thought Jesus created his church for all–the mighty and the meek, the poor and the down trodden, the saint and the sinner. I don’t recall stories of Jesus decreeing that anyone was not welcome in his church. He reached out to the outcasts, those who were shunned by a polite society and he sought to bring them closer to God through his loving embrace.

Archbishop Dolan’s proclamation does the exact opposite. It pushes away a section of His people, telling them they will not be welcome and they will not receive the blessings of others.

To me, that sounds extremely anti-Christian and actions unbecoming of a truly good shepherd.

In NY and CT: Methodists Support Same Sex Marriage

As reported on Towleroad, Methodist clergy in New York and Connecticut will ignore their church’s stand on same sex marriage and begin performing marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples. The clergy have the backing of many of their congregation, who also stand “in defiance of the denomination’s ban, to support same-sex marriage.”

These individuals defend their stand, as stated on their website Methodists In New Directions (MIND), by quoting from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

King’s astute observations about racial inequality stand true today for inequality for homosexuals, and MIND wholeheartedly agrees:

Yet injustice continues to threaten us, in the United States and in the United Methodist Church.  The recognition of the full humanity, sacred worth, and equal rights of gay and lesbian people is crucial to the civil rights struggle of our time. Gay, lesbian, and straight United Methodist laity and clergy are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  The continuing denial of full access to all the rights and privileges of church membership in the United Methodist Church is causing deep spiritual harm to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and is a threat to us all.

To prove their dedication to true equality, members of MIND made the following declaration:

Pastoral care and the sacraments and rituals of the church are means of grace by which the lives of all Christians are blessed by God. Therefore we, as congregations and as individual laypersons and clergy, declare our commitment to offer such means of grace to all persons on an equal basis. We refuse to discriminate against any of God’s children and pledge to make marriage equality a lived reality within the New York Annual Conference, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.

Afterwards, they then asked all the clergy and laity, who support this pledge to sign the document. To view the full list of signers, click here. (The list is pleasantly long.)

To see such proclamations by church leaders fills me with hope. It’s nice to read that there are church officials who recognize the inequality endorsed by many churches and who are willing to make a stand against prejudice and ignorance, even if it means opposing their own leaders.

People in New York and Connecticut should be proud of their Methodist Church leaders.

 

Movie Trailer: Red State

I recently saw this trailer for Red State, a new movie by Kevin Smith. The story is set in America, where a group of teens are invited over to an older woman’s house for sex. They get far more than they bargain for as they are captured by a hyper-religious cult.

The trailer intrigues me, especially considering I live in America in one of the reddest states of the union. I think most of us can think of a few towns, where we might see this movie taking place.

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God: It Getteth Better

A few days ago, I posted about a new book releasing on November 1, 2011 titled The Last Testament: A Memoir By God written by David Javerbaum. (Click here to read the post, which includes a preview.)

Simon & Schuster, who are publishing the book, released this YouTube video from God who wanted to add his voice to the “It Gets Better Campaign.”

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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