Archives for posts with tag: religion

I have a confession to make. Though I am a Catholic, I am also a Libertarian. This is a conflict with regards to the whole issue of gay marriage.

As Catholics go, I’m not very good at it. I don’t go to Mass or Reconciliation as often as I should. There are some viewpoints the Church holds with which I disagree. I don’t have a problem with the priesthood being for men only, I understand why that is so and I don’t feel that the role of women is diminished in any way because they can’t serve in persona Christi. I feel that the Church did not respond well to the sex abuse scandal but that they have come very far to right that wrong. I think that marriage in the eyes of God is that between a man and a woman.

I don’t agree that letting two men get married is going to destroy the institution of marriage.

What is a Libertarian, exactly? Here are a few good quotations that will help answer that.

“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives, and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.” – from the Preamble to the Libertarian Party Platform
“Libertarians believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom from government – on all issues at all times… A libertarian is someone who thinks you should be free to live your life as you want to live it, not as [the President of the United States] thinks you should – who believes you should raise your children by your values, not those of some far-off bureaucrat who’s using your child as a pawn to create some brave new world – who thinks that, because you’re the one who gets up every day and goes to work, you should be free to keep every dollar you earn, to spend it, save it, give it away as you think best.”Harry Browne (1933-2006);1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate and author of Liberty A-Z: 872 Libertarian Soundbites You Can Use Right Now! 

So I have no issue if the government, insurance company or state wants to recognize that two people who both happen to be male (or female) want to enter into a contract where all their worldly goods are combined. That means they get taxed like a married couple, have to go through all the normal legal paperwork involved in being a couple and go through divorce proceedings like everyone else. The government’s role should be strictly limited, but I can see the value of a government having some record that these two women (or men) have both agreed to the deal and all that it entails. I don’t see why the tax system needs to differentiate, why not just all file individually at a flat rate?

Divorce lawyers are probably planning how to spend all those bonus fees, now another segment of the population can get married and then divorced. On a side note, I would be interested to see the divorce rate among homosexual couples vs heterosexual couples 5 years from now.
But this is a two way street, as I have said before. Gay couples can now live the way they choose so now they have to let others do the same. This means that people can object to the marriage and refuse to condone it by participating.

Yes, that means that bakers and wedding planners should be allowed to say no to a gay couple. Maybe people don’t realize it, but privately held businesses say no to customers all the time. Maybe it’s because they are asking for something that can’t be done or sometimes the business says no because the customer is being rude. I’ve worked in retail environments where I said no because I knew that the person’s request was impossible. I suggested alternatives, even going so far as to refer them to someone else. The bakers and wedding planners can do the same. “I’m sorry, but I don’t work with those kind of events, let me refer you to Baker #2 who will be happy to help you.”

Now, capitalism will rule here. People will either shun or flock to a business that posts this policy. But that is their choice again. I know people who never eat at Chik-Fil-A or shop at Hobby Lobby and I know people who go out of their way to patronize those places. I know people who go where the food is good and the prices are right and don’t give a damn about politics. So the baker or wedding planner my lose money but they should be subjected to a lawsuit. If the discrimination reaches the levels of the Jim Crow laws, government should step in. We don’t need to repeat that. But I don’t think we’re there. The hate isn’t institutionalized to the point where we have signs the say “Straights Only” on the water fountains.

Churches should not be forced to perform the ceremony if it violates their beliefs. Why would a gay couple want to be married in a church that does not reflect any of their values? Catholics get the bad rap on this one, but that is not the only church which is against performing same sex couple marriage ceremonies.

Freedom for everyone! Including the ones who don’t believe whatever the media says is right and wrong.

I fear that ruling is going to create a whole host of lawsuits from the minority militant group who want to “create some brave new world” (Harry Browne) where only one view is tolerated. Already people who disagree with this ruling are keeping silent rather than be seen as a bigot.

I think the world is improved anytime two people can find the person they love and get to live their lives with them. We don’t need to see more of people acting out of hate. But we achieve that by realizing that there are multiple viewpoints and sometimes you just need to agree to disagree.
It is wrong to deny housing, a job, equal opportunities for education, loans, or access to medical care to any person. All humans deserve to treated with dignity, but a baker can politely decline to do business without removing that dignity.

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Ah, this is a tough one.

Does a business have the right to deny service if giving that service will violate one of the basic tenets of their religion?

The freedom to practice one’s religion was so important it was mentioned specifically in the Constitution. This document is not the complete list of all our God-given rights, but it does enumerate the ones the were so important that the framers felt they needed to be spelled out very specifically.

In most cases, they did it because of events in the history of this country where those rights were compromised. Why was the 2nd Amendment written? Because the British soldiers sought to disarm the rebellious colonists. This does not belittle those rights in our modern age, in fact it should make them more important. Learn from the past and don’t allow the government to restrict rights given by our Creator.

But back to the 1st Amendment, the relevant part of which I quoted in the title.

On one hand, the right to live your faith is guaranteed. The government has no right to prohibit me from exercising the tenets of my religion. This has been upheld multiple times. Pharmacists cannot be compelled to give the morning after pill and cause an abortion if that violates their religious beliefs. They do need to find another who will provide the medication. Amish don’t have to send their kids to school past a certain grade. Home schoolers don’t get charged with truancy. Parochial schools can pray and follow any rituals as required by their faith.

But I guess that right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.

If I have a private business, I can choose who I choose to serve. Businesses do refuse to serve customers all the time. I know of one instance where a customer was asked not to come back because they basically only did business to complain and then get the goods for free. A printer or a baker can refuse to create something which is hateful, racist or bigoted.

But they can’t refuse to create a cake for a gay couple.

Now we get into the Equal Protection Clause or 14th Amendment. This Amendment led to many of the civil rights decisions.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Is getting a cake from your favorite baker a privilege? Could the baker refer the customer to another baker in town of equal talent and skill just like the pharmacist?

It isn’t the popular opinion, but I think that religious freedom is going to win this one. I would never advocate discriminating in hiring practices based on color, creed or religion. In most business settings, these things are irrelevant. The only time I can see any of them being a factor is hiring for a church or parochial school. Employers want to hire for a good fit, hiring a liberal-minded atheist to teach catechism in a Catholic school could be a problem.

When you are an artist, you create from your heart and faith is part of that. Giving the product of that heart to a thing you find sinful should be a call you can make.

But I can see both sides of the issue. It’s a tough call. The space between that fist and that nose is pretty slim. The Libertarian would say that the business is a private individual and the government has no rights to tell them what to do. We as citizens can boycott the business, but they can’t be prosecuted. Would restaurants still be segregated if that were the case? In some cases, I think they might be.

Tough call, and it requires some thought.

(NB: This was originally posted in December of 2011 and caused some consternation among a couple of my acquaintances. One in particular ranted against commercialism and spoke about teaching her child the spirit of Christmas (despite being a declared atheist). Then she spoke about how many presents her child got from Santa. My goal is not to isolate any other acquaintances, but to get you to think a little. If you don’t celebrate Christmas as your holiday, I still wish you the peace and joy that is the heart of that Mass for Christ.)

Some people who are not Christian or at least not followers of any established “organized religion” sometimes get annoyed at us with our insistence to “Keep Christ in Christmas!”

They mock us as we have magnets on our cars or buttons on our winter coats as we happily wish a “Merry Christmas!” to all the poor retail folks who are banned from saying those words by Corporate Order. They seek to ban nativities in the public plaza, and stop any government agency from posting Christmas symbols. They never seem to make such a fuss over the Menorah.

Well, Merry Christmas to you too!

I know some of the arguments:

  1.  Christ was not born in December; he was born in the spring, so we are celebrating the season at the wrong time.
  2. The traditions of Christmas are derived from pagan customs so the holiday as it is celebrated now is not really Christian.
  3. Christmas is cultural holiday now, and belongs to everybody.

I will take those one at a time.

  1.  Yes, there is plenty of evidence that Jesus was born in spring. There were lambs in the fields, constellations, etc. The date of Christmas was decided in the 300s by one authority because the various churches were all on different calendars. The reason for the Mass of Christ (CHRISTmas) still remains the same regardless of what day we celebrate it. The date is like something the Catholic Church calls the “accident” The event we celebrate, the birth of the Savior, is the substance. We as humans need the accident because we live in one plane of time with a past and future and we need dates. God does not; all time is the same to Him. So we could celebrate this Mass anytime of the year, but we choose to do it December 25th. So the fact that He became flesh in spring instead of winter doesn’t mean anything.
  2. When the early Christians were trying to convert the pagans, it was convenient and expedient to adopt the local customs. They banned the midwinter festival at first but people still celebrated, so they created an alternative. So there are a lot of traditional symbols which are really pagan. Red and Green are fertility colors, St. Nick could be interpreted as Odin the all-father. But it really doesn’t matter, see #1.
  3. I like the idea of a holiday we can all have. We all get the day to see family, be nice to each other, stop shooting at each other and just get along for one day. But all those folks who want that day are latching on to a day the Christians chose to celebrate a Christ-centered event. Besides, I wonder how Jews or Muslims feel about Christmas becoming a “cultural holiday” when many aspects of it don’t necessarily celebrate their culture. Doesn’t that make in more non-PC?

I have a proposal.

Christmas is now divided into two holidays. You can celebrate a non-religious, non-Christmas holiday like Festivus. (Stole that one from Seinfeld.) You can have trees, Black Friday shopping, turkey and ham for dinner and all of that. But if you are going to leave Christ out of it, then you can’t use any overtly Christian songs or symbols.

No “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” or “It Came upon a Midnight Clear,” No angels on the tree, no baby Jesus underneath it.

Or you can celebrate Christmas, the real thing. The people who do celebrate the day as a Mass for the birth of Christ get those carols and the lights and the angels and the baby Jesus under the tree.

We still wish you peace and good will. We are still your friends and relatives and we still love you. We still would love to see you at Church, but what you are celebrating is the accident of Christmas; a holiday without substance. If you don’t want to come to Church, that’s OK, come to dinner. Please bring a dish to share.

 And on that note, if you rant against the commercialism of Christmas and say people have lost the meaning of it, and then you fight to get into Walmart at 3am on Thanksgiving you are like the pot calling the kettle black. You have removed Christ from the Mass, not Walmart. You are using that date as a reason to buy toys for your kids. Maybe you shopped locally (Thank you!) but you still did it.

I know that you can have the whole Black Friday shopping event and still keep Christ in Christmas, it’s not impossible. For some that shopping day is a family get together. Don’t go overboard with the shopping thing.

This is America, and we have religious freedom. That means I get to celebrate the Holy Day of Christmas and you get to celebrate your way. Religious tolerance goes both ways, I don’t try to change how my Jewish friends celebrate the holiday.

If you want the right to celebrate it without Him, you have to let me celebrate it my way too. And that includes the “Keep Christ in Christmas” magnet. (http://www.kcnativitysets.com/)

So Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.

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This is the list of WIPs. Not included are things that need to be finished, like the Christmas ornaments I need to sew. Or things I’ve put on hold, not sure if I want to finish them.

It’s a nice even dozen. So then I took a D12 and assigned them a number. I will spend 12 hours on each and hopefully there will be a finish at some point.

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This is number 1. Recognize it? Shiny!

If you don’t you’ll have to wait until my next post or find a geeky friend to explain. And then maybe loan you the DVD.

I’m debating about posting a more seasonal/political rant. It’s a minor rant about Christmas and saying Happy Holidays and atheism. But last time I posted it, a couple people on FB unfriended me.

Well, if you don’t want my opinion, then you shouldn’t ask.

Would any of my 7 (yes, 7!) followers unfollow me, I wonder. Freedom of religion is one of the founding ideas of this country, and I defend the rights of any atheist to be just that. I have no desire to convert anyone. Just wanted to clarify that.

I will ponder as I stitch.