Tag Archive: Free Speech


Supremely Frustrating

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing cases having to do with gay marriage, and because of that it seems almost everybody has lost their minds. It seems like a large portion of the people I know are loudly clamoring that we need to show the supreme court (insert your side of this issue here) RIGHT NOW.

First off, have we forgotten that we don’t want the supreme court to care what the popular opinion is? Have we forgotten that they are supposed to be unbiased judges of the law? Have we forgotten that they must be detached in order to be what we need them to be? I believe firmly that everyone has the right to protest, march, picket, yell, scream, and express their opinion in whatever they want, but don’t mind me while I pray and hope fervently that it doesn’t make the smallest bit of a difference in what the court decides.

We will not know for months what the court’s decision is and endless speculation, vilification of the opposition and fear mongering only creates a hostile climate that drives us farther apart as a nation. The decision will not change the fact that there is a deep divide amongst the people. The opinion of those few justices may effect the practicalities of the law, but it will not end this discussion, nor will it solve this problem.

I support gay marriage as both an issue of equal rights and an issue of freedom of religion, however I will not be doing anything out of the ordinary this week because the supreme court is holding a hearing. Ask me what I believe and why and I will gladly tell you, this week or any other. I’m not saying that the rulings will be unimportant to me or that I don’t have hopes that they will go a certain way, but rather that I care more about being a calm voice for what I hope is sound reason for the long term. I believe that is the only way there will be real change.

So it may seem odd given that I am writing a blog on current events, but I HATE election season. As may be evidenced by my lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, during this time of year every 4 years I find it very difficult to not be outraged by the ever present election coverage. Since I currently live close to Washington DC and in a swing state, the never ending cacophony of election chatter has been like nails on a chalkboard. Honestly the blame game, the mud slinging, and the general effort to misinform voters in order to garner votes makes me want to scream.

This probably came to a head in church this Sunday when I came the closest I have ever come to storming out of a service. Let me preface this by saying that I acknowledge and accept that the church I currently attend is theologically more conservative than I am, and I have come to peace with that. I also believe that churches have a right to endorse a candidate publicly if they so choose as a matter of free speech. I was however unprepared for my church to plaster the message from Billy Graham on the large screens (I attend a megachurch) and ask that we all pray that the country votes for “biblical values” at all levels and for all candidates.

I grew up in a church, family and community that adored Billy Graham, and honestly I still admire the man greatly despite some theological differences; however when he posted the message I linked above in many newspapers I was exceedingly disappointed. First of all Billy Graham has been the “Pastor to Presidents” and part of what allowed this to be true was his ability to be a voice of faith beyond politics. Both of the versions of the add that have gone out have been directly endorsed and seem to usually be funded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and while they don’t directly name a candidate, they are quite clear in their intent.

I also found it quite strange that just before the ad ran the website of the organization removed Mormonism as a “cult” on their website. Let me be clear that I do not see the Church of Later Day Saints as a cult and I would have liked to have seen that particular view changed a long time ago, however doing so in this manner seems to be a form of political pandering.  If standing by your “biblical” values in choosing a candidate is so important why was this view changed to allow for one candidate to no longer be seen as a cultist, while values of “biblical” marriage, Israel and abortion are elevated to special status in the importance of preserving America’s religious integrity.

I do believe that in general there is a candidate that Evangelical Christians will find more appealing theologically, however I do not agree that it is ok to fleece over things that might make the same candidate unappealing in order to make it easier for people to sleep at night. I also find it somewhat reprehensible to insinuate that you are “anti-biblical” and leading our country down an unholy path if you have decided that there are either other factors in your vote, or other ways to interpret particular issues. While the message did not directly imply those things the people who I have heard pushing this message upon others via Facebook and now through church have insinuated that.

My faith means a great deal to me, but so does my freedom to choose how and why I vote. I believe wholeheartedly that you have to view politics and by extension the law separate from your faith. I personally will never vote solely on what candidate has a religion closest to mine. I do however grant that people have a right to vote however they choose. If abortion or gay marriage are issues that are most important to you, then you have the right to vote how your conscience dictates, just please don’t judge my faith by your standards, or expect my vote to mean the same thing that your vote does.

We have a right to be independent free thinkers, I wish elections were celebrations of that rather than the divisive force that they have turned into. Please don’t mind me while I crawl into a hole and hide until this is all over.

EDIT: After reading Mayim Bailik’s blog, her thoughts captured so well what I was thinking right now. To share a quote:

“With the election approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people that Jews (and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and people of all religions) come in all flavors. Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you are politically or socially conservative, and just because you’re an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you’re politically or socially liberal. Humans are very complicated and thank God we are.”

Religion and Tolerance

I have been deeply saddened by some of the comments that I have read responding to the rising tension in so many countries that seems to have been started by one hateful film. Comments from friends, political candidates and the media have all fueled the flames of hate and misunderstanding.

I pray that we can come out of this stronger and show that we will not be dragged into blaming all members of a faith for the actions of a misguided few. I pray that we can prove that those who would paint our nation as hateful and intolerant in order to justify violence are quite decidedly wrong. We must show that we are a nation of tolerance and acceptance for all people who embrace liberty and peace no matter what God they pray to or what building they do it in.

Here are some remarks that Secretary Clinton made that felt were quite appropriate, and that I desperately hope will continue to be true:

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries…Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer…They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue…But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,”

A Somber Anniversary

Yesterday as we mourned the events of 11 years ago on the other side of the world terrorists again took the lives of Americans. While the scope of the attack can in no way be compared to that of the attacks years ago on our own soil, again I find myself shocked and saddened by what the world has come to.

As I read more information about what happened in Libya last night, I find my emotions and thoughts keep getting jumbled. For the time being here are some general thoughts and feelings about it now:

*This was a terrorist act, from extremist groups, the general public and government of Libya seem to be condemning the act. The US should not, and can not focus the anger toward the country nor the general Islamic public who did not have any part in this.

*It is truly tragic that a group of US Diplomats who worked so hard to bring freedom and peace to this country died while serving. Their lives of service should be remembered and honored.

*Our global community and great blessing that the internet can be is a dual edged sword. It is quite amazing and horrifying that a few people could create a video that would cause a ripple effect that would end up causing people who had nothing to do with it to lose their lives.

*Uncle Ben from Spiderman was right, “with great power comes great responsibility”. We now have the ability as individuals with very little investment to reach a global audience, and no standards to which we have to be held.  From the name of a teddy bear, swimsuit models, and even opinion documentaries it appears we are now anything could ignite a culture war. Can we really hold anyone accountable for how someone who has a completely different world view might interpret what they are saying or how they are saying it? Should we ever consider censorship? Should we censor the masses to prevent a few (in some cases arguable insane) people from getting upset to the degree of committing violence?

*Honestly the some of the comments and Facebook statuses I have read today make my head and heart hurt. We should be angry, but we must be careful who we focus that anger on, and how we let it effect the big picture. Hate will breed hate,  but I would like to think that we can rise above some of it. We must learn that we can not respond to ignorant hateful acts like this with more ignorance and hate or the situation will only become worse.

Founding Father

I’m currently dwelling on an few issues that I’ll probably post about shortly, but in the mean time I was drawn to some James Madison quotes that I love. Sometimes I think this man had a clearer picture of the strengths, weaknesses, and current problems of our government than our current politicians.

 

“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes. ”

 

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”

 

“Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience, which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection for which the public faith is pledged by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.”

 

“The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

 

“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad”

 

“Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of every thing; and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press. It has accordingly been decided, by the practice of the states, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigor of those yielding the proper fruits. And can the wisdom of this policy be doubted by any one who reflects that to the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression? ”

 

“Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

 

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

Free Speech

A great quote from one of my favorite movies and an amazing screenwriter:

“You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” – The American President