So-Called Christians are Making me Mad

I was subjected to ‘The 700 Club’ because someone had it on at the rec center, and I saw a segment about church goers who might otherwise support the president but are now having reservations because of the gay marriage thing. You folks make me sick.

You want a be good Christian? Vote for the guy who wants to help the jobless make it through hard times. Vote for the party that didn’t present false information in order to justify a war. Vote for the guy who is concerned about the land, the water, the air, and the creatures over which God gave us dominion. Vote for the party that didn’t put the Catholic Worker on a terrorist watchlist because they’re against violence. Vote for the guy who didn’t earn millions putting others out of work, and didn’t hide his money in a foreign bank to avoid rendering taxes to his own nation. Vote for the guy who actually is ‘Concerned About The Very Poor’. Don’t vote against most of your believes just to support a man who is more interested in proving how Christian he is rather than doing the good deeds that Jesus asked us to do.

Of all of the Christian rules to put above the others, this is one of the stupidest. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. And based on what he said about marriage, if we don’t allow gay marriage then we should outlaw adults living with their parents, and outlaw men remaining single. Homosexuality is only forbidden in the Old Testament, not the New, But enforcing Old Testament rules would mean no bacon, no lobster, no work on Saturday, and bringing two doves to temple every month to atone for menstruation.

Does God want us to enforce a two thousand year old set of rules or does God want us to understand the morality and responsibility that he was trying to teach us with those rules? When I was raising my children, I had rules about what we watched on TV, when we ate dinner, who was allowed in the house. I also taught my children to be compassionate and responsible. It was not specific rules that I was trying to teach them. I would be disappointed if my children adhered strictly to old rules; I want them to make their own rules, as long as they do so with compassion and responsibility in mind. Here’s another analogy; imagine a mother leaves with strict instructions not to get water on the new carpet. But then a fire breaks out, and the baby sitter grabs a bucket of water to douse it while the children yell, “No, Mom said ‘No Water’!” God hasn’t sent us a babysitter in a long long time. The circumstances have changed. Perhaps God expects us, by ourselves, to start acting like adults.

To push my idea further, Jesus came and said that the old laws are still in effect, but then he went and changed them, which is why Christians can eat pork and lobster. I’m not Christian, but I believe in the wisdom that Jesus taught. What is meant by not changing the laws while changing them? I say it’s that some laws must be changed for others to remain. God gave Man dominion over the earth and also told us to be fruitful and multiply. But today overpopulation, consumption of resources and pollution are our biggest threats. Perhaps in order to maintain God’s commandment of dominion we must change the rule about men taking wives and producing lots of children.

Whether you agree with my conclusions or not, you cannot legislate all of your beliefs. And you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that either Obama or Romney will let you do so. Pat Robinson said, “you don’t have Jesus running against someone else. You have Obama running against Romney.” In his perverse way, he’s spot on. We have a choice between two men, each of whom will satisfy some of your Christian desires. One will shout to the world what a Christian nation we are with high-profile displays of Christian rule enforcement. The other will help feed the hungry, care for the sick, and try to ensure we don’t destroy the planet over which we have dominion.

I know my choice, but I’m not Christian. You have to make yours. Make the right choice.

Southern Democrats Should Support Marriage Equality, As Should We All.

Here in Southern Virginia, I’m baffled and depressed by the number of Democrats who wax conservative when discussing homosexuality, and cite Jesus as the reason for doing so. But there are plenty of Christian laws that we don’t enforce in this country. In the Bible, Jesus said, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife”. But there is no law against being single, and no law against living with your parents, so why should there be a law against gay marriage?

Those who discriminate against homosexuals do so not because they love God but because discriminating makes them feel superior. The rules that we naturally love are the ones that we can easily follow while others struggle to do so. Those of us who are straight men are not straight because we’re law abiding or disciplined or moral. We’re straight because we like pussy. Does that make us more godly? Closer to Jesus? We share a quality that we share with most roosters, billy goats, and male dogs. I can think of no quality that I share with a billy goat that makes me feel morally superior to people who don’t share that quality. I might if I were a vegetarian.

Discriminating by sexual preference is as abhorrent as discriminating by race. Supporting laws against homosexuality doesn’t make you a good Christian, supporting religious doctrine doesn’t make you a good American, and liking pussy doesn’t make you a good man. All Americans, and especially Democrats, should support the president, support marriage equality, and stand against discrimination.

Why the Bishops are Wrong

Mark Mellman, in the Hill, explains the thin legal footing behind demands for religious exceptions to the requirement to provide full health care coverage for employees.

Does the contraception compromise violate the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment? The right says yes, but every iota of this nation’s constitutional jurisprudence says nonsense.

As the Supreme Court majority wrote in 1990, “We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law … On the contrary, the record of more than a century of free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition.”

Generally, the government goes about its business making laws without worrying about whether certain laws violate certain religious practices. Thus, we outlaw polygamy, despite the fact that some religions call for concurrent marriages. We outlaw peyote without concern that certain practices require it. If it weren’t for a religious objection to contraception coverage, it would be easy.

But there are laws that have religious exceptions, such as the conscientious objector clause for military service. And even before the fuss raised by the Catholic bishops, the health care mandate had such accommodations by allowing exceptions for churches.

Despite the health care law already having exemptions, the right wing and the Catholic leadership were not satisfied. They wanted more institutions to be exempted. So the Obama administration called for another accommodation: Insurance companies shall provide contraception coverage, but religious institutions in a more broadly defined group could be exempted from paying for it. Still not good enough. The bishops argue that since money is fungible, they are still, indirectly, funding contraception coverage.

Allowing exemptions to free people from indirectly supporting practices which violate their beliefs would be a dangerous decision. Imagine people arguing that they should be except from paying taxes because the government uses tax dollars for farm subsidies which aid in raising of hogs, in violation of Jewish, Muslim, and other beliefs. Or imagine conscientious objectors arguing that they shouldn’t have to pay for a war. Indirectly, we all pay for things that we find objectionable.

28 states already have requirements for contraception coverage, including Massachusetts, and this battle for exemptions has already been fought. Michelle Goldberg writes about New York:

Nevertheless, the law passed—it was signed by Republican Gov. George Pataki—with exactly the same sort of exemptions we’re now seeing at the federal level. There’s a conscience clause that applies to Catholic churches, grade schools, and parishes, but not institutions that serve the broader community, such as universities and hospitals. The church sued, but New York’s State Court of Appeals ruled against it; in 2007, the Supreme Court let the ruling stand. Likewise, California’s Supreme Court upheld that state’s version of the mandate.

Precedent has already been set, in some cases by Republicans like Mitt Romney who now try to distance themselves from their own philosophy. If that wasn’t the case, the battles over health care might seem more like legitimate constitutional debates, and less like partisan attempts to create a loss for the Obama administration at any cost.