Last Straw on Cuomo: Public Funds for Faith-Based Initiatives

Posted in Editorials on October 10th, 2014
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This will be brief as evidence that Andrew Cuomo is a Republican who wants a Republican-controlled Senate is a mile high.

Remember back during President George W. Bush’s first term when he teamed up with Senators Rick Santorum and Joe Lieberman to promote faith-based initiatives? We do too.

Remember when Rick Santorum promoted government incentives to promote marriage, because in his view, marriage is the only answer to all of the world’s ills?

We do too. But we were also unsurprised. George W. Bush, Joe Lieberman and Rick Santorum have never been shy about injecting their religious beliefs into public policy.

Most Americans who believe in the importance of the separation of church and state understand the inherent danger in faith-based initiatives. Driving taxpayer funds to religious organizations is fraught with all sorts of concerns, especially when religious groups can be openly hostile and discriminatory toward those with whom they disagree.

So then, why, we must ask, is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo not only endorsing faith-based initiatives, but actually proposing a “State Office of Faith-Based Services”? Well the answer is simple to everyone. Well, maybe everyone except the Working Families Party.

Andrew Cuomo is not a Democrat. Andrew Cuomo is a Republican. And each day, we learn how much of a Republican he is.

He has now proved that by joining the ideological positions of Rick Santorum: One of the most Christian-right members of the Republican Party and a man who is unabashed about wanting to impose his Catholic Doctrine on the people of this country.

New York is a state which provides more social services than most others. Our state has the means to provide for any citizen who seeks out its services. Diverting tax dollars to religious organizations is not necessary, nor prudent. But the proposal to create an office specifically for such initiatives offers true insights into the Governor’s view of the role of government.

Election Day is November 4th. Send a message. Vote third party in the governor’s race.

On My Honor, I Will Try…

Posted in Editorials on August 6th, 2014
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This post is adapted from a service I led at my Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Readings
The Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Romans 12:9-13
Let love be genuine;
hate what is evil,
hold fast to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not lag in zeal,
be ardent in spirit,
serve the Lord
Rejoice in hope,
be patient in suffering,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints;
extend hospitality to strangers.

***

When I was a child I remember hearing about certain things being “on the honors system,” a contest or an exam given to older kids “on their honor.” I asked questions about what this meant, and I developed my own definition of honor. It means to do the right thing, even when no one else was looking. This seemed like a big responsibility. I hoped I would be up to the challenge when my turn came.

In my own life I don’t often hear of honor spoken of much in the way I have defined it – doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, being true to your word and keeping your promises. A quick search of my own Twitter stream and of google news and I see the word being used in two ways – to describe an achievement, “It’s an honor to win this award.” And to talk about something that is almost the anthesis of my meaning – honor killings.

From the website of the NGO – “The Advocates for Human Rights:”

Human Rights Watch defines “honor” crimes as “acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought dishonor upon the family.” According to a report by Dr. Sherifa Zuhar of Women for Women’s Human Rights, killings committed in the name of “honor” may be motivated by “a perceived violation of the social norms of sexuality,” or they may be “crimes of passion, wherein a husband kills his wife whom he or other family members suspect of adultery.” U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Radhika Coomaraswamy has described “honor” killings as one of many practices that “constitute a form of domestic violence but have avoided national and international scrutiny because they are seen as cultural practices that deserve tolerance and respect.

“Motives for crimes committed in the name of “honor” have included: suspicion of adultery, premarital sex, or some other relationship between a woman and a man; being a victim of rape or sexual assault; refusing to enter an arranged marriage; seeking divorce or trying to escape marital violence; and falling in love with someone who is unacceptable to the victim’s family according to The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! Even seemingly minor transgressions have been identified as the reasons for carrying out “honor” killings. In one case, a teenager in Turkey had her throat slit in a town square because someone had dedicated a love ballad to her on the radio. Although the victims are most often women, men and boys may also be targeted for crimes committed in the name of “honor,” usually when they are relatives, alleged partners, or “accomplices” of a female victim according to the Special Rapporteur Asma Jaha, Commission on Human Rights. Similarly, while men and boys are usually the perpetrators, women may be involved in, or supportive of, the commission of these crimes.

According to Wikipedia, honor killings are also sometimes committed against LGBTQ people.

And so I must make a clarification as to what honor is not. Honor is not patriarchal violence. Honor is not chauvinism. Honor is not even chastity. Violence against women and other people who do not meet ancient codes of sexual purity is in no way honorable.

Honor cannot be bestowed upon a person or taken away by other people. It is a quality describing how a person lives.

There is no group of people who hold a monopoly on honor. In some misogynist corners of the internet, Men’s Rights Advocates are fond of saying that “Honor is a male abstraction. Don’t expect women to understand.” I reject this definition and its limited worldview.

Honor is not pride. When someone cuts me off in traffic and I slam on my horn and yell something not very polite, because of my own bruised ego, I’m not defending my own honor. I’m embarrassing myself in a potentially dangerous way.

The reason I wanted to talk about honor here today began when I was thinking about the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism. I was trying to decipher what meaning they had for me as a whole, and not just as individual precepts. And what I started to conclude was that they are about doing good for the sake of what is good. This fits so neatly with my girlhood definition of honor – doing the right thing when no one is looking. And it reminded me of that promise I made “On my honor, I will try…” I went back and looked up the Girl Scout Law and I was surprised at how it echoes our principles:

to be honest and fair,
to respect myself and others,

    Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

to be friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,

    Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

to use resources wisely,
to make the world a better place

    Respect for the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

I also looked to see what the Bible has to say about honor. There were many passages, but the one I read today echoes the message I’m trying to impart:

[H]old fast to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
outdo one another in showing honor.
….
Contribute to the needs of the saints;
extend hospitality to strangers.

So what does this have to do with how we live our lives day today? How is this concept relevant if it’s not spoken of in this context much anymore? And how does this specifically relate to Unitarian Universalism?
This past May I attended the UU Metro NY district conference, and I went to a workshop called “Getting to the Roots: Our UU Theology of Collaboration” It was led by Rev. Joan Van Becelaere a UU Minister in Ohio, that was described this way:

The Puritan ancestors of the Unitarian side of the UUA were much bolder than we commonly think. They envisioned an association of individual congregations far more collaborative and connected than commonly thought. The vision was actually quite radical. In these times of change in society and the world as well as in our districts and regions, can this collaborative theology at the roots of our organizational DNA help us meet our current challenges and give us a new perspective on what it means to work for the creation of the Beloved Community?

At this workshop, I learned about how many early American congregations were based on covenant. Covenant was and is “the matter and form of the church.” People who were living together in community also vowed to worship together in covenant. And the value of the covenant is the honor of it’s participants. It was their honor to keep their word and do what’s right for the community.

Today we are in covenant with each other in our congregation, and as a congregation with other UU Congregations throughout the country and the world. The value of our covenants is the strength of our honor.

We also see this at the end of our Declaration of Independence. The signers pledged, “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

Honor is the glue that holds us together.

A Quick Reminder On Where The Mass Graves Of Dead Babies Really Are

Posted in Editorials on June 9th, 2014
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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.

In 2013, Christian Radio host Kevin Swanson said

I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

(Hat tip.)

Of course, this is complete and utter bullshit. Hormonal birth control works by stopping a woman from ovulating, and so there can be no fertilization, and there can be no “little tiny fetuses.” But Swanson is not about to let facts get in the way of his dreams of theocracy. “The Pill Kills” was established in 2008 to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut and aims to make hormonal birth control (and possibly all other forms of contraception) illegal in the United States. Swanson’s rhetoric is a prime example of their tactics, gruesome lies made to advance a religious agenda.

But it is not hormonal contraception or a sexually permissive culture that has created mass graves of children, but strict religious sexual morality itself. Hundreds of bodies of children were found in just one Magdalene Laundry – a place where unmarried pregnant women and others accused of sexual sin were forced to live in Ireland until very recently. There may be more mass graves at other laundries that have not been discovered yet.

I had thought that there was nothing left about the Catholic Church that could shock me or make me any more angry than I already am. But I was wrong. When I first heard this story, I thought there must be some mistake. Was there an outbreak of disease that killed these children? This is not the Catholicism I was taught. I was taught that God loves everyone, and to follow the teachings of Jesus that we should be forgiving and treat each other with kindness and mercy. But there was no forgiveness for the women sent to the Magdalene Laundries and no mercy for their children. There was no disease that plagued the Magdalene laundries. These innocent children were starved and neglected to death to uphold the sexual morality of the Catholic Church. The institution that preaches redemption through the blood of Christ did not act on that conviction. The Church acted with cruelty and spite, killing those most vulnerable to its whims. I am forced to conclude they do not believe what they say at all.

Freedom of Speech Means Freedom to Be an Asshole

Posted in Editorials on May 18th, 2014
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From the text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech

I am a firm supporter of the right to free speech and free expression. These rights are essential to other rights – political advocacy, religious freedom, artistic expression, academic freedom and the right to advocate for social change. I am so thankful to live in the United States where I have this right, and I hold it dear.

Not everyone who has these rights uses them for a good or useful purpose. The costs of free speech are high. When I was a clinic escort, I witnessed protesters who would harass patients and doctors. I find this morally abhorrent, and while I do support the FACE Act and other measures to prevent people from forming human chains around clinics, I also recognize that much of what these protesters do is and should be protected speech.

This weekend I attended the Women in Secularism conference sponsored by the Center for Inquiry. One of the speakers, Taslima Nasrin spoke about the harms of religion to women. Nasrin was exiled from her home country of Bangladesh for criticizing Islam. Others have been jailed or murdered by vigilantes for doing the same.

In her speech, Nasrin said,

“Without the right to offend, freedom of expression cannot exist.”

Mary Johnson tweeted this quote, and I retweeted it. Then this happened (conversation edited for clarity, see my twitter stream for unabridged conversation):

So, to sum up, according to Carl Nyberg, we can’t criticize Islam because of American imperialism, and we can’t be supporters of free speech unless we spend every waking moment trying to get Chelsea Manning out of prison.

I agree that there is racist and xenophobic sentiment underlying some critiques of Islam. But that doesn’t mean that it’s above question. Taken to its logical conclusion, Nyberg’s argument means that until we eliminate antisemitism in the United States, no one can speak up about the sexual abuse of children in Hasidic communities. I reject this entirely.

I don’t think that people should be bigoted or even unnecessarily mean to each other. I’m a huge supporter of social justice, civility, Wheaton’s Law, and plain old cheerfulness. But I believe these things must come from within and not be imposed by a government. The right to free speech includes the right to be an nasty and cruel abortion clinic protester, to voice islamaphobic opinions, and to tell me that I want to “shit on other religions without being criticized.” As Taslima Nasrin said,

“Without the right to offend, freedom of expression cannot exist.”

Things That Are Probably More Troubling Than Black Mass

Posted in Editorials on May 8th, 2014
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Adam called my attention to the outrage of Catholics over plans for a group at Harvard to perform a Black Mass. Being offensive for the sake of being offensive can range from being a waste of time to hurtful harassment. But from what I understand, this will take place in a contained space indoors, and no one who does not want to be there will have to be there, so it seems to fall into the former category.

Amid uninformed people calling this “hate speech,” what’s most bizarre to me is Calah Alexander of “Barefoot and Pregnant” calling it:

one of the most troubling things I’ve heard about in a long time.

Although I am no longer Catholic, I find the concept of a Black Mass distasteful – because I think that trolling in general is distasteful. Much of my moral foundation was formed in the Catholic Church, and I think the reason the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism resonate so soundly with me is because of my early education in the Sermon on the Mount. And that’s why Calah’s statement puzzles me so. In the context of all bad things in recent memory, a bunch of jerks chanting “Hail Satan, We’re So Edgy, LOL” is “the most troubling?” I don’t know what Calah would call “a long time” but here’s a list of things, in no particular order, I would hope that most people would find more troubling than a Black Mass, that have occurred so far in 2014:

1. The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which was carrying 239 people.

2. The botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

3. The kidnapping (and probable rape) of hundreds of Nigerian girls by terrorist group Boko Haram.

4. Tornados struck Arkansas in the last week of April killing 35 people.

5. A measles outbreak in the United States infected 129 people.

6. A Chemical Spill in Elk River West Virgina deprived 300,000 people of drinking water for five days.

7. Ivan Lopez went on a shooting spree at the US Army Base in Fort Hood Texas, killing three, and injuring sixteen.

8. A gas explosion in Harlem killed eight people and injured 60.

9. An outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed 155 people.

10. A South Korean ferry sunk, drowning 304 people.

11. A landslide in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of over 2500 people.

Religion’s Optical Illustion

Posted in Editorials, Personal Essays on July 18th, 2013
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Vernal Falls, Yosemite California Image credit: Author

A friend forwarded to me this heartbreaking article about a young man who died of a drug overdose after “ex-gay” “reparative therapy” failed to make him straight.

This sentence jumped out at me:

“And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. “

And it made me angry. Their ignorance and stubbornness and refusal to question their faith until it was too late resulted in the death of their son, although I’m sure that they know that.

I started thinking about what I have touched on before, that putting distance between myself and the church, only makes me angrier about the injustices and evils carried on in its name. And I think I finally understand why. I thought that distance in time, and in emotion and in physical space would calm me, and soothe my conscience. But the farther away that I get, the more damage I see to innocent people.

I imagine myself in a rowboat, pushing off from a small oceanfront cabin, built into the bottom of a hill. And as I row, I see that the hill is in fact a mountain. And no matter how far I row, I can’t see all of it at once. My distance is only serving to emphasize how big it really is. And I can only conceive of the mountain as it is today. I cannot truly imagine the span of it’s history across centuries. I row harder and harder, yet still it grows and grows. If I had a camera, I would not be able to zoom out far enough to capture it with any panoramic lens.

I do not know if it is possible to get so far away that it will appear to shrink.

There’s no going back.

Posted in Editorials on July 9th, 2013
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This post is adapted from a recent service I led at my Unitarian Universalist congregation. I gave the presentation with accompanying powerpoint slides, and have linked to relevant images in this post where appropriate.

The reading I gave before my sermon was from the Book of Genesis 3: 1-7

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman,
“Did God really say,
‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent,
“We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
but God did say,
‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden,
and you must not touch it,
or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,”
the serpent said to the woman.
“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God,
knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye,
and also desirable for gaining wisdom,
she took some and ate it.
She also gave some to her husband,
who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened

February 24, 2013 was Oscar Night. I settled in to watch the Academy Awards with some Chinese takeout and Twitter open on my iPhone. Seth MacFarlane was hosting the show, and I was soon appalled by his inane and sexist humor. No woman was spared, from those who disrobed in movies, to underage actresses he saw as targets for lecherous older movie stars – beat after beat came at the expense of women. Women who were victims of domestic violence or eating disorders, women who were sex workers, women he deemed too beautiful to have anything worthwhile to say, all became subjects of ridicule. I watched the feminists I knew on Twitter go through several stages – denial, then anger, and finally scathing satire.

I tweeted a few snarky comments of my own, and my enjoyment of the evening came more from blowing off steam about this chauvinist retro mess than the paltry excuse for comedy Hollywood was serving up. My mother and my brother didn’t get it. Why couldn’t I just brush it off or ignore how demeaning the humor was? This sermon is an attempt to explain.

Last summer I lead a service about the Unitarian Universalist idea that revelation is not sealed. As UUs we believe that there is no one holy book or source of information that contains all the answers to life’s questions. And in our search for truth and meaning, we have to admit that there is so much that we do not know. This is a huge responsibility. And this is part of what I mean when I say that there’s no going back. There are some things that we can come to know, that we can never not know again. Last summer, I drew a comparison to Eve and The Apple, and still today, I tend to side with Eve. I’d rather know than not know. In fact, later on in the Bible, in Isah 5:20 it is written,

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil

…And yet we were not supossed to know the difference in the first place.

In January, I spoke about the “Toolbox of Justice.” Social justice is like a toolbox, feminism, anti-racism and other struggles for human rights are not just political movements but ways to understand the world. We can use the ideas found in these movements both to create change and to recognize injustice in our daily lives. Once we understand that a word or an action is harmful to others, our conscience reminds us not to do it again. While some may remain ignorant about why a certain phrase is offensive, or how systemic injustice hurts people – once you know, there’s no going back – there is no excuse for passivity.

There is evidence for this idea embedded within our bodies.

The basal ganglia is a structure located in the base of our forebrain. Among other things, it is responsible for automaticity – the ability to do things deliberately but without much conscious thought. When people refer to something as “like riding a bike,” they are talking about something that can be controlled by this area of the brain. There are many things we can teach ourselves to do without much thought, walking, typing, knitting, even driving – if you have ever found yourself lost in thought and arriving safely at your destination but a bit startled that you don’t remember every turn on a familiar route, thank your basal ganglia. With even complex tasks, once we learn how to do them, we can never forget.

More abstractly, people have compared understanding the basic tenets of feminism to the 1999 Wachowski Brothers movie “The Matrix” starring Keanu Reaves.

And sometimes it feels that way. It did on Oscar night. I couldn’t ignore Seth Meyers sexist bonanza anymore than I could ignore a fire alarm or not turn around when someone calls my name. I can’t unfeminist myself, and I don’t think I would want to, most of the time.

But what does my experience have to do with anyone else? Just because I can’t go back does that mean that no one else can? I think there’s evidence that this is so.

Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature posits that humanity has gotten less violent over time. Despite the horrors of the twentieth century, which was also the most well documented era in human history, wars in past centuries killed even greater percentages of the population than both World Wars did respectively. Slavery, torture and capital punishment have also declined over time as we have seen an increase in human rights worldwide. Pinker cites the enlightenment, widespread education and social movements like feminism as the cause of this decline in violence and cruelty. There is no reason to think that even though horrific acts still do occur that they are increasing or will increase in the future. Our society is becoming less violent, and signs point to it becoming more peaceful still, with studies of younger generations showing that young people today are less racist and more tolerant than ever before.

In fact, our popular entertainment relies on the fact that harmful and bigoted ideas of the past, are entirely alien to audiences today. This may be a bit too optimistic at times, but that doesn’t stop it from being a commonly used trope.

The movie Pleasantville explored the idea of how two teenagers living in the 1990′s would survive in a 1950′s tv sitcom. The provincial mores of the time were played both for comedy and shock value. However, the filmmakers were aware of the larger implications of this idea.

A more serious endeavor, AMC’s Mad Men plays the sexism, racism and homophobia of a 1960′s advertising agency straight, for dramatic effect. To identify with the female, gay or people of color characters on the show is often a lonely and desperate experience. But there would be little value in the great lengths taken to make the show realistic if our world had not undergone so many changes.

Alternately, the Star Trek television series and movies portray a future without poverty, or bigotry. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of utopia was flawed at times, but he sensed that social progress would only continue to march on into the future.

In real life, there are countless examples of how a small change in progress for human rights lead to bigger and bigger things. The integration of the United States military in 1948 was the first large scale attempt at racial desegregation in the US. Although it was met with resistance by some, it was a large victory for the African American Civil Rights Movement. And it set the stage for efforts to desegregate schools and other institutions. The experiences of white soldiers, serving alongside black soldiers contributed to changing ideas about race in America.

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay city supervisor of San Francisco California, famously encouraged his gay and lesbian friends and supporters to come out of the closet. He said, “Once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared.” He knew what social scientists would later prove statistically – that the number one indicator of a person’s support for the rights of Gender and Sexual Minorities was whether or not they knew an out GLBTQ person. Once someone knows that their family member, their friend, their co-worker or neighbor will face harm and discrimination, it’s enough to change their mind. There’s no going back.

UU Minister David McClean has spoken about this quotation by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr.:

“The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice”

Reverend McClean said that he believes that this is not just a profound and inspiring statement but something that is literally true – a natural law of the universe. I’m still considering this. Sometimes it feels like ignorance and hatred bog us down as if we were trying to run through deep mud. Sometimes we get distracted and confused that we lose sight of our goals and fight with each other in circles instead of for one another, shoulder to shoulder. But when panning out and looking at ourselves from decades or even centuries past, we can see a pattern. Time and social progress both move in one direction – forward.

I don’t know who will be hosting the next Academy Awards Ceremony. But unless they have a time machine, I’m hopeful that it can only get better.

I’m now a moderator at /r/UUReddit!

Posted in Site News on June 21st, 2013
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The Unitarian Universalism subreddit on Reddit has been sadly neglected. There are often very interesting discussions, but content is sparse and legitimate links and discussions were often caught in the spam filter, never to see the light of day. I asked the moderator if I could help out and was added immediately. Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to ask for it!

You can check it our here.

When Bill Donahue Is Right

Posted in Editorials on May 20th, 2013
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Nicholas Coppola married his husband in October 2012. He is also Catholic and was active in his parish as a lector, a Eucharistic minister who visited ill and housebound Catholics, a member of the consolation ministry, a member of the St. Vincent DePaul society, and a religious educator.

In January, the pastor at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside stripped Coppola of his jobs as a religious education teacher, lector and visitation minister. A top aide to Murphy had conveyed concerns to the parish after the bishop received an anonymous letter pointing out that Coppola wed his partner under New York’s new gay marriage law.

In response, 18,500 people signed a petition on the website of “Faithful America” a progressive Christian organization – asking for Coppola to be reinstated. How did the Diocese of Rockville Centre respond?

The diocese rejected his reinstatement request, saying Coppola was fired because “by marrying under New York State’s same-sex marriage law, he took a public position against church teachings.”

“The Catholic Church recognizes that all persons share equally in the dignity of being human and are entitled to have that human dignity protected,” Diocese spokeman Sean Nolan said in a statement last week. “This does not, however, justify the creation of a new definition for marriage, a term whose traditional meaning is of critical importance to the furtherance of fundamental societal interests.”

Bill Donahue from the Catholic league called the 18,500 people who are loving their neighbor, “bullies.”

The American people respect the autonomy of religious institutions to craft their own rules and regulations, and they do not look kindly on bullying.

Charming.

Here’s the problem. Bill Donahue is wrong that the people who signed the Faithful America petition are bullies. They’re not. They are misguided people who for some reason think that the Catholic Church is a democracy or cares about public opinion. And that’s where I am inclined to agree with him.

The internal affairs of the Catholic Church are not the business of the public, and this includes outside advocacy groups as well as government agencies. Among the internal issues of the Church are employment decisions. Just as it is the right of a yeshiva to insist that its employees abide by Judaic strictures, it is the right of a Catholic school to insist that its employees respect Catholic teachings. Regrettably, GLAAD, Dignity and Faithful America show nothing but contempt for this verity.

I would disagree that Coppola is an “employee.” He’s not, he’s a volunteer. I also have a different view on the “contempt” that GLAAD and Fathful America are acting upon. They are not acting out of malice. I would call it righteous anger. I think that they are right to support Coppola, and to be outraged on his behalf. He did a lot of work for many years for his parish and he was cast aside for no other reason than bigotry based on a deeply flawed religion. But if they think that the Catholic Church can ever, or will ever be changed, they are sorrily mistaken.

Thinking About Labels – “Secular” vs “Atheist”

Posted in Editorials on May 17th, 2013
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Rebecca Goldstein’s talk “The Mattering Map: Religion, Humanism, and Moral Progress” gave me a lot to think about. She touched on “the gender issue,” microaggressions, and the idea of mattering. If you are at all interested in philosophy I recommend you check it out when it’s posted online.

What really caught my attention was when Goldstein described abrahamic monotheism as crediting God with creating both the physical world without and the moral world within.

What if you think it’s only the latter?

This is why I struggle with labels like atheist/theist/agnostic. Secular is a better word. It relegates religion to the private realm. As I have stated before, I truly believe that how we live, how we make decisions, what our values are – matter more than what our theology may be.