Friday, November 20, 2009

Upping the Ante: Civil Disobedience or Discrimination?

A piece-of-shite article from the New York Times today reports that:

Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

“We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says.

The document will be released today at the Washington Press Club.

They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

They say they also want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than their elders. They say they want to remind them that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues.

“We argue that there is a hierarchy of issues,” said Charles Colson, a prominent evangelical who founded Prison Fellowship after serving time in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. “A lot of the younger evangelicals say they’re all alike. We’re hoping to educate them that these are the three most important issues.”

The document says, “We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide andeuthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”

Ira C. Lupu, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, said it was “fear-mongering” to suggest that religious institutions would be forced to do any of those things. He said they are protected by the First Amendment, and by conscience clauses that allow medical professionals and hospitals to opt out of performing certain procedures, and religious exemptions written into same-sex marriage bills.

The most likely points of controversy, he said, could involve religious groups that provide social services to the public. Such organizations could be obligated to provide social services to gay people or provide spousal benefits to married gay employees.

Mr. George, the legal scholar at Princeton University, argued that the conscience clauses and religious exemptions were insufficient, saying, “The dangers to religious liberty are very real.”


I call the report shite because it does what most media do with religion stories, it uses the language of the church out of deference and fails to address the deeper issues like civil rights and patients' rights. The writer fails to call discrimination what it is and fails to interview those who oppose what the document stands for.

The Catholic church operates 1 in 5 hospital beds in this country, imposing it's doctrine on 20% of the US population. With 50% federal funding, the USCCB dictates what care communities should receive. These religious entities are now united in the fight to oppose gay rights, patients' rights, and medical research. On the whole, they are working to impose their faith system on the public. And the Democrats have brought them into the party in the search for common ground and to make a broader party. Yet the first amendment is erroneously used like a shield to deflect any criticism of religious injustice. And the Times colludes in the legitimizing of such hate, discrimination and erosion of individual rights.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Nora Miller said...

Excellent coverage, otherspoon. It seems to me that at some point, we, the American people, have the right to say "okay, if you want to be exempt from all the laws we pass, then you can be 'exempt' from your tax-exempt status too." Either they work within the system, or they are outside it. I object to religious institutions getting it both ways!

November 20, 2009 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger L A Neumann said...

Thanks for reading, Nora. What angers me the most is the allowance given these self-righteous groups, for the sake of contrived ideas about tradition, patriarchy, the good of all mankind, so they can take public funds and impose their laws above state laws.

I keep hoping that discriminated groups - women, minorities, the elderly, gays - will join forces to oppose such discrimination. And yet these groups continue to work in their own silos. Against a state-sanctioned and funded, unified force.

November 20, 2009 at 6:30 AM  

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