Tag Archive: Religion


Healthcare and Religion

I have many friends on both sides of the political spectrum who are currently blowing up my news feed about the Hobby Lobby decision yesterday. I’ll start by saying I have not had the time to read either the majority or the decent in it’s entirety so I have no intention of debating the legal ramifications of the ruling, because while I do see some worrisome precedent being set I’m not prepared to dig into it yet. This post rather is going to be a few thoughts that I’ve had in response to the reactions I’ve seen in the mainstream and social media.

 

Perhaps it is because I am an increasingly cranky Libertarian but I honestly think both sides are missing the point here. If you want your boss and the government to stay out of your healthcare decisions then we shouldn’t encourage either party in any way to be involved. I do believe that your health is a private matter between your physicians and your family and where applicable God. That said if you expect your boss/company to pay for your healthcare in a subsidized fashion (anything other than a normal wage), you are bringing them into the mix.  If you want the government to provide money for healthcare it is also going to come with regulations and laws as they can not give money without doing so.

 

Adding those extra parties of government and employer into the system of healthcare to allow it to function at an affordable cost erases the possibility of true freedom. It’s the recurring catch 22 of the ever present freedom vs security paradox, in this case the security of having reliable, regulated and affordable healthcare versus your freedom to do whatever you want to do with your own body. It’s a horribly flawed system we have in the US because of that paradox and attempts to fix it are likely going to make it even more messy.

 

Unless we are willing to find a way to make healthcare a completely private industry again, there will be continuing infringements upon our personal liberty in this area.

 

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- Part II

Over the weekend the unrest across the globe has not weakened, and rather continues to grow.  My heart truly breaks as I hear people spout ignorant and hateful words blaming the entire groups of people who have nothing to do with what is going on.

 

I am horrified to see that the ignorance and misplaced hatred quite clearly goes both ways. The violent groups are taking out the anger and hatred caused by a few lunatics and turning it toward the larger east target of the US as a whole. Meanwhile so many people here are taking out their anger and frustration on Islam and the region as a whole.

 

I have no real ideas on how we can stop this vicious cycle, all I know that my thoughts and prayers will continue to hope for peoples hearts and minds to be opened.

 

I found this opinion piece to be quite interesting. Here are some key points that stuck out to me:

“The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.”

“The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.”

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.

From the other side

Last week I posted about my disappointment about the Republican Platform. While I still think on many of the issues that matter to me I side with the Republicans, here are some things from the Democratic Platform that I agree with and that caught my eye as interesting. You can find the whole thing here if you would like to read it, note that the titles will jump you to a more in depth section.

“District of Columbia. Every citizen of the United States is entitled to equal citizenship rights, including the 638,000 residents of the nation’s capital who pay federal taxes without representation. The American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., like the citizens of the 50 states, should have full and equal congressional rights and the right to have the laws and budget of their local government respected without congressional interference.”

Living so close to Washington DC, this issue has become very close to my heart. One of the primary reasons I live in the suburbs rather than in the city itself is that I refuse to not have a representative with full voting rights in the legislature.

“Freedom to Marry. We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”

I would like to point out that I really liked the phrasing of the gay marriage issue, and the freedom of churches to decide how to practice marriage being completely separate from the government.

While at heart I didn’t agree with the particulars of the plank on abortion to be fair I must admit that the Libertarian in me very much appreciated the sentiment in this phrase from it: “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.”

I would also like to mention that these planks that I have pointed out were pretty buried within the platform. From the main page there were no main jumps to them. Rather the main jumps were about the economy, American community, and international affairs. While many of these things I don’t agree with the stance of the Democrats, or their particular solutions to the problems we are facing, I have to applaud the fact that the issues that I think the government has a right and duty to be dealing with were front and center.

Strangely I am starting to think that the party least interested in intruding upon my liberties and personal life is the Democrats at the moment. This leads me to an interesting problem; trying to determine how my vote is really going to effect my liberty. Is big government the lesser of two evils when thinking about personal liberties being stripped away? Is preserving a more conservative fiscal view along with immigration and healthcare more important than allowing the government a say in my personal life? Even if for now the government and I are on the same side, is allowing them any say at all too great a risk to take? Would my liberties really be any safer with one side or the other in power?
For now I’m not sure, hopefully I’ll figure it out by November.

Dissappointed

Disappointment: Sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one’s hopes or expectations.

aka GOP Platform as released at National Convention

I consider myself to be a Christian and while I know that ideologically I am a Libertarian in the past I have voted Republican, last night when I read the GOP’s platform I think that might have changed.

I believe that without a doubt our founding fathers planned this country with a significant Christian influence, but I also believe that they put in significant protections for the church from the government. Now I fear that it is the government that may need protecting from members of the church.

I do not want my government to ever have a say in how I practice my religion, or any part in how I should interpret my faith. I believe that the principle of personal choice, in so far as it causes no harm to others, is one that sets our country apart in greatness.
I do believe wholeheartedly that the issue of gay marriage is closely tied to freedom of religion. I firmly believe that MY church should not be forced to anoint a gay marriage, but also that no one should stop a different church from doing so it it is within their beliefs. Therefore it really upsets me for the GOP to make it their #1 priority in the platform to enforce a religious definition upon a civic function.

I would much prefer marriage be completely left up to churches and have NO government involvement. However I do firmly believe that the government has no place defining which religion’s definition should be used.

Personally I can see no great harm in letting Bob marry David, even if I can see a religious argument against it, but that is just it, the ONLY argument I can see against it is one based in religion.

Still putting aside the fact that I don’t think it should be an issue of importance at all, at very least it is not THE MOST important issue our country faces. The economy, education, and healthcare (issues which I generally tend to side on the R side of the isle) all stand out as issues that are vastly more important than who is eligible for a marriage license.  I guess time will only tell but I’m not so sure I will support a party who doesn’t have priorities that I can support as well.