Can we narrow down who gets rights even further?

English: American politician Tony Perkins.

English: American politician Tony Perkins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tony Perkins states,

I would use that term ‘Christian’ loosely. That title is — let’s talk biblical, here’s the deal, it’s like with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that we worked on in Mississippi and failed in Arizona and other places, here’s a test of what is a true religious freedom, a freedom that’s based on orthodox religious viewpoints. It has to have a track record, it has to come forth from religious orthodoxy.

Note, not only is such a test actually forbidden in the US constitution, but the Founding Fathers who themselves couldn’t qualify stated numerous times the exactly opposite.

By older-than-Tony definitions, he’s not exactly “orthodox” either.., but since he is now defining who gets rights, I guess he can define what orthodoxy is as well.

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You get sick because of germs and physical causes, not because God is angry

I have words to say about this, but they are generally pretty awful and are about 4 letters long each.

Watch the news report too:

NBC10’s Lu Ann Cahn spoke to one member of First Tabernacle Thursday about the church’s beliefs.

“The church believe that people get sick because they’re not doing the right thing,” the man named John said. He refused to give his last name during the interview.

“God promised us that if we do his will, that there’s no infection; all these diseases that you name, would not come to you,” the man explained. John says he believes the congregation is being persecuted for their beliefs.

You say you want freedom of religion, but would you allow this?

Families who attend Faith Tabernacle Congregation in North Philadelphia and First Century Gospel Church in Juniata Park have lost more than two dozen children to illness since 1971, according to non-profit Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. (CHILD, Inc.). Both churches believe in the power of prayer over modern medicine.

I experienced this as a child personally, and then as something of a young adult, when I watched someone die of a cancer that could’ve been prevented.

So, I guess by their count, the world has gotten wonderfully better since the last plague… And why does God hate so many children?

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Most Americans are Concerned About Restrictions in Religious Freedom

Intriguing findings from Barna Group:

Many Americans express significant angst over the state of religious freedom in the U.S. Slightly more than half of adults say they are very (29%) or somewhat (22%) concerned that religious freedom in the U.S. will become more restricted in the next five years. As might be expected, those who are religious are more concerned than those who aren’t—particularly Christians more so than those adherents to other faiths. Practicing Protestants (46% very concerned) are more worried about this prospect than others; yet, 30% of practicing Catholics are also concerned. Barna-defined evangelicals, who meet a series of nine theological criteria, are among the most likely to be concerned about such restrictions (71%).

Not only are most Americans worried about the future of religious freedom, many feel the restraints have already started. One-third of adults believe religious freedoms have grown worse in the last decade. Among practicing Protestants, nearly half (48%) say they perceive freedom of religion to have grown worse in recent years. Three out of five evangelicals (60%) perceive religious freedoms to have grown worse.

….continue

Cargill – ’nuff said

All individuals – both those who express faith in various deities and those choosing to adhere to no religion – should have the freedom to debate, criticize, and yes, joke and satirize all forms of ideology, including economic, political, and yes, religious.

via On Faith, Freedom of Expression, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Statement in Response to the Protests in Egypt and Libya « XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr. Robert R. Cargill.

Maybe not all that needs to be said –  but it is a powerful statement. I have a post on Monday, but… read this now. Comment.

Should all Religious Liberty be protected?

In this country, we are discussing a subject near and dear to revisionist historians – religious liberties. But, should they all be protected? What about the life of the child whose parents do not believe in medicine (I was one of those), but unlike those who catch common colds, this one gets cancer. Can they claim religious liberty?

Or what about the Sikh? Their religion requires them to carry small knifes and wear head coverings. Or Islamic women who wear veils? Americans have a difficult time in trying to protect their religious liberties?

The answer to that question starts with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of religion. Title VII also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate employees’ religious needs as long as the accommodation does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer. For example, under Title VII, if an employer has a policy that requires employees to be clean shaven and a Sikh employee asks to wear a beard in accordance with his religious beliefs, the employer would need to grant permission or show that an exemption would unduly harm the employer’s interests.

Sikh-Americans and Religious Liberty – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

What point do religious liberties need protection and at what point do they need curtailed?

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The Jesuits Break Ranks with the Vatican over Birth Control

This was brought out by my friend in Louisiana, the good one and not the one in Hammond who never writes any more:

By stretching the religious liberty strategy to cover the fine points of health care coverage, the campaign devalues the coinage of religious liberty. The fight the bishop’s conference won against the initial mandate was indeed a fight for religious liberty and for that reason won widespread support. The latest phase of the campaign, however, seems intended to bar health care funding for contraception. Catholics legitimately oppose such a policy on moral grounds. But that opposition entails a difference over policy, not an infringement of religious liberty. It does a disservice to the victims of religious persecution everywhere to inflate policy differences into a struggle over religious freedom. Such exaggerated protests likewise show disrespect for the freedom Catholics have enjoyed in the United States, which is a model for the world—and for the church. (read ALL of it here)

My friend has a lot to say about this, and a few other links to others as well.

To be honest, I continue to struggle with my position that this was a wrong move by examining the fact that we simply do not allow all religious liberties to be taken. Sharia Law (although that Judge in Pennsylvania disagrees) is not protected and more than likely will not be protected by the American Justice System. Further, polygamy is out as well. And, Christian fundamentalists who let their children die because they do not believe in modern medicine are held accountable. At what point are religious liberties to be had and at what point are they to be denied?

There is also this bit of news which will more than likely defeat lawsuits based on the HHS decision:

 A multi-year review of 176 Catholic hospitals in seven states found that 48 percent have performed direct female sterilizations. The author of the study, Sandra Hapenney, warns this could undermine Catholic health institutions’ ability to invoke conscience clause protections to opt out of performing sterilizations.

To earn a Ph.D. in Church-State Studies at Baylor University, Hapenney requested data from 1,734 hospitals in California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington. Of these, 176 were Catholic hospitals that offered obstetric services.

By tracking medical codes in hospital records, she discovered nearly half of these institutions had performed female sterilizations.

That amounted to 20,073 sterilizations.

Her faculty advisor, by the way, is Dr. Francis J. Beckwith.

Anyway, there you go. As balanced as I can get it.

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Rep. Issa – Women’s participation in the Contraception debate is not needed

Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

via Democratic Women Boycott Issa’s Contraception Hearing For Preventing Women From Testifying | ThinkProgress.

Yes! Finally, women do not get to speak out on their own issues. Enough of that, I say.

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Thanks Unknown Senator – Cutting the US Budget by ignoring Oppression

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is a small commission that monitors religious freedom. Last month, the House of Representatives voted 391–21 to reauthorize the USCIRF. The Senate, however, has not voted because one anonymous U.S. Senator is blocking a vote. If the Senate fails to act by November 18, the USCIRF will cease to exist.

In the Senate, consideration of legislation often requires unanimous consent. This means that any Senator can block legislation from consideration. The Senate rules allow what is often called a “secret hold.” A Senator can put a hold on a bill by telling his or her party leader that the Senator opposes consideration of a bill. The Senator’s name is not made public. In the case of the USCIRF, there is one Senator placing a hold on the reauthorization bill.

Anonymous Senator Holding Religious Freedom Commission ‘Hostage’ | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

I dunno – but I think that if you are going to block something – anything – you have to put your name to it.

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China’s Theocracy

Gotta love China… but can we say anything to our creditors? Hardly…

Leaders of underground Chinese Protestant churches condemned the government’s persecution of a fellow congregation, while Catholics voted under the watchful eye of security forces for a new government-approved bishop, reports said.

The developments illustrate growing tensions between Communist authorities and increasingly assertive Christian groups whose memberships are growing rapidly.

While China’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Christians are required to worship in churches run by state-controlled groups. However, tens of millions of Christians are believed to worship in unregistered “house” churches which receive varying degrees of harassment.

via AP News: Government-Christian tensions highlighted in China.

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US commission cites Egypt for religious oppression

President George W. Bush and Egyptian Presiden...

Image via Wikipedia

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has added Egypt to its list of the worst violators of religious liberty, citing the nation’s ongoing mistreatment of Coptic Christians and other religious minorities.

“The Egyptian government engaged in and tolerated religious freedom violations both before and after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11,” commission chairman Leonard Leo told reporters on April 28.

“In his waning months, religious-freedom conditions were rapidly deteriorating. And since his departure, we’ve seen nothing to indicate that these conditions have improved.”

The U.S. commission was established by Congress in 1998 to monitor religious freedom issues and make an annual report to Congress and the president.

via For first time, US commission cites Egypt as among worst religious-freedom offenders :: EWTN News.

And just think… about all that money we gave them….

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Presidential Quotes on the Freedom of Religion

By today’s standards, they are all heretics!

“Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” George Washington, Letter, United Baptist Chamber of Virginia May 1789

“The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.” 1797 the treaty of Tripoli, signed by President Washington, and approved by the Senate of the United States

” … I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” Thomas Jefferson, Letter, Danbury Baptist Assn. January 1, 1802

“Almighty God hath created the mind free; all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments of burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in His almighty power to do.” Thomas Jefferson, Acts for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, 1785.

“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, disciplines or exercises.” Jefferson’s Letter to Rev. Mr. Millar, Jan. 23,1808 (Words of Thomas Jefferson, Vol 5, pg 236.)

“I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.” Millard Fillmore (1809-1865) 13th U.S. President (Millard Fillmore, address during the 1856 presidential election; from Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, eds., Great Quotations on Religious Freedom, Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2002, p. 70.)

“Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you whave planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourself with the chains of bondage, and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genious of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tryant who rises among you.” Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Edwardsville, IL, 1858.

“Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President of the United States I recognized no distinction of creeds in my appointments office.” James K. Polk

“Declare church and state forever separate and distinct; but each free within their proper spheres.” Ulysses S. Grant, Seventh annual message, Congress December 7, 1875

“Let us labor for the security of free thought, free speech, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and equal rights and privileges for all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion;…. leave the matter of religious teaching to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contribution. Keep church and state forever separate.” Ulysses S. Grant’s Speech to G. A. R. Veterans, at Des Moines, IA 1875.

“When religion is good, it will take care of itself. When it is not able to take care of itself, and God does not see fit to take care of it, so that it has to appeal to the civil power for support, it is evidence to my mind that its cause is a bad one.” Benjamin Franklin, Statesman, Inventor, Author, Letter to Dr. Price.

“I could not do otherwise without transcending the limits prescribed by the Constitution for the President and without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion nowadays enjoys in this county in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government.” Andrew Jackson, Statement refusing to proclaim a national day of fasting and prayer.

“there is not a shadow of right on the general goverment to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation. I can appeal to my uniform conduct on this subject tha I have warmly supported religious freedom.” James Madison – father of the Constitution

“Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither justice nor freedom can be permanently maintained. Its interests are intrusted to the States and the voluntary action of the people. Whatever help the nation can justly afford should be generously given to aid the States in supporting common schools; but it would be unjust to our people and dangerous to our institutions to apply any portion of the revenues of the nation or of the States to the support of sectarian schools. The separation of Church and State in everything relating to taxation should be absolute.” James A. Garfield, Letter of Acceptance of Nomination for the Presidency July 12, 1880

“I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools.” Theodore Roosevelt, Address, New York, October 12, 1915

“Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practise would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissensions which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization.”

“To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against the liberty of conscience, which is one of the foundations of American life.” – Roosevelt’s letter on religious liberty.

“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish – where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source — no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.” John F. Kennedy

“As I say, not all of Jefferson’s ideas were popular, though most of them were absolutely right.…He was also called an atheist because he didn’t believe in a state church, an official church of the government, and in fact made it clear that he didn’t much like any church at all, though he did admire many, though not all, of the teachings of religion.…And you’ll recall that it was Jefferson, as governor of Virginia, who wrote the Statute of Religious Liberty in 1786, which said that ‘no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship’ but that all people ‘shall be free to profess…their opinion in matters of religion.’ He summed up very bluntly one time his view that no man harmed anyone else in choosing and practicing his own religion, or no religion. ‘It does me no injury,’ he said, ‘for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.’” Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) 33rd U.S. President

“Let it be henceforth proclaimed to the world that man’s conscience was created free; that he is no longer accountable to his fellow man for his religious opinions, being responsible therefore only to his God.” — John Tyler, Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Treasury of Presidential Quotations (1964) p. 38, from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

Last year I was on Pat Robertson’s show, and we discussed our basic Christian faith – for instance, separation of church and state. It’s contrary to my beliefs to try to exalt Christianity as having some sort of preferential status in the United States. That violates the Constitution. I’m not in favor of mandatory prayer in school or of using public funds to finance religious education.” Jimmy Carter, Christianity Today, March 2, 1998