Tag Archives: religious freedom

In Which the Uncommonhousewife Becomes an Activist

Occupy Someplace or Other?  Definitely not.

Boycott Apple, Disney, Whole Foods, or the target of the day?  Please.

Nope.  I attended, and indeed dragged my children to our local Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally last Friday.  Maybe you heard of it.  After all, over 140 cities across the country held one.  Hopefully, the rally near you drew a bigger crowd than the 150 or so people who appeared with me.  (A note to the rally organizers: Lots of passionate supporters cannot leave work to attend a rally during business hours–even if it occurs during “lunchtime.”)  The small group did merit an itty bitty mention in the local newspaper.  The article referred to those of us in attendance as “activists”  and “protesters.”   Really?!  We First Amendment lovers are lumped into the same category with anarchist G7 protesters and the 99% grunge crowd?

So, there were rousing speeches, clever signs, some song and some prayer.  We even got the protection of a couple of city police officers on Segways.  The crowd was made up of young, old, and folks in between.  A Google search about the rallies produces articles from plenty of major news outlets: a surprise considering how the media largely ignores the annual March for Life, which draws hundreds of thousands each year.

In spite of the attention and the positive experience of gathering with like-minded people over a fundamental cause, I feel less energized and less optimistic than ever that this issue will be resolved justly.  With “American Idol” and March Madness on their minds, most Americans just can’t be bothered to consider whether their Constitutional freedoms are being stolen.  But along with that laziness and indifference, there is a strong current of Catholic hatred that makes any real discussion about the issue of religious freedom essentially impossible.  Just feast your eyes on some of these comments attached to the report of my local rally:

What they want is 2 billion Catholics in the world. More Catholics means more money and power for the church. To have a major religious organization with over a billion adherents worldwide eschew birth control is a travesty. What do they want, 1 person per square yard? Will that make the Pope and his Cardinals happy? OK, now lets house and feed that population. Luckily, most Catholics ignore the church’s stand on birth control. But what kind of religion is that? Give me a Unitarian anytime.

Since the Catholic Church in particular has failed to keep its female members from using hormonal contraceptives, church leaders are now pressuring government institutions to keep birth control pills as inaccessible as possible. That is exactly a violation of the separation of church and state, and anyone who values liberty should be outraged.

Things get really ugly when you look at the comments on the rally coverage for the Washington Post.

Before you Catholics think you can dictate the laws of the land, there is that little matter of harboring pervert child molesting priests.  Turn them all over for civil prosecution and you might have some credibility instead of being above the law.

Extreme Catholics need to grow up and realize that we are living in the real world, not a theoretical hair splitting world.  This is an instance in which Jesus would have said “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s” rather than raise a stink to get exactly what he wanted.  The Church and the members should be out “loving thye neighbor” instead of indulging in self-pity.

This article is full of lies.  The Roman Catholic Church and other religious organizations that seek to deny women control of their bodies are doing everything they can to deny women their legal and moral right to determine when and if they want to be a parent.  Because they know that direct attacks have been largely unsuccessful, they are trying to control women by making it impossible for them to find providers of reproductive health services.

At best, it seems that the dumb masses of America think this is all about sex and birth control.  At worst, the haters can use this very public stand by the Catholic Church against the Obama administration’s policy as a chance to rehash every evil ever perpetrated by a Catholic.

There is a lot of work to be done.  One of the most important tasks may be convincing whoever turns out to be the GOP nominee in the presidential election that  it can’t just be about the economy, that there are cherished liberties at stake.

1 Comment

Filed under life in America, Uncategorized

Religious Freedom…Where??

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, 1982:

Article 36. Religious freedom

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.

No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.

And yet, we know how freedom of religion plays out in Communist China.  According to a 2010 US State Department report:

The Department of State, the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and the U.S. consulates general … consistently urged the government to expand the scope of religious freedom in keeping with the rights codified in the constitution and internationally recognized norms…

The constitution protects religious freedom for all citizens but, in practice, the government generally enforced laws, administrative orders, and other policies that restrict religious freedom. Religious groups were vulnerable to action by local officials who often regulate through administrative orders.

The Constitution of the USSR, Article 52:

 Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda.

We know the reality of religious freedom in the Soviet Union, though, don’t we?  In fact, we even held Congressional hearings (find transcripts here) addressing religious persecution in the USSR, and we heard testimony such as this:

Religious groups do not have the status of independent public organizations under Soviet law…The law is structured to prevent the clergy or hierarchy from exercising effective control over church affairs. At the same time, it allows state officials to manipulate church activities and policies…

It is in this context that the Soviet attitude toward religion can be readily understood. To the extent to which religion can serve the ruling class it will be used. To the extent to which it interferes with the objectives of the ruling class it will be suppressed.  In today’s  Soviet Union these persons (the common people) may engage in religious observance as long as that is done in a place authorized by the government, at a time authorized by the government, and in a format authorized by the government.

The Constitution of the United States, Amendment 1:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

So how did we, the great bastion of freedom, the “shining city on a hill,”  get to this point:

The Department of Health and Human Services’ new rule requires almost all employers to provide insurance plans that cover sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacient drugs. Its religious exemption will not cover most Catholic institutions like health systems, universities, and charities.

The announcement prompted a strong outcry from religious schools, hospitals and charitable organizations, as well as Catholic individuals running secular businesses, who say that the requirement would force them to violate their religious beliefs.

However, despite the storm of protest, the Obama administration has refused to broaden the exemption to the mandate.

Just asking…

Leave a comment

Filed under faith