Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Bob, you have problems with your "argument" at more than one level. First, you assert that the Pentagon has good reason to consult with Mikey Weinstein, who you label as "rhetorically adolesecent" because he is upset "by a problem that appears to be real," but Patrick undermines the mission of MOJ by citing to Breitbart, "of all places" because ....?? Second, you are engaged in a classic argumentum ad hominem against Breitbart and against Patrick for linking to Breitbart rather than engaging Patrick's argument.
Breitbart links to Weinstein's Huffington Post rant ("rant" doesn't do it justice). Weinstein starts: "Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on." Who are these monsters? "[I]ncredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity..." He says that the Southern Poverty Law Center correctly labels the Family Research Council and the American Family Association "hate groups."
He continues: "We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt. Col. Rich for his absolutely correct characterization of anti-gay religious extremist organizations as "hate groups" with no place in today's U.S. military. But we are compelled to venture even further. We MUST vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all."
Bob, please tell us WHY the Pentagon ought to consult with this particular individual who seems so hell bent on demonizing his enemies rather than engaging in reasoned argument. And, could Patrick be right - could it be that there is a developing pattern of government hostility toward Catholics and Evangelical Christians? Bob, is his thesis at least worth considering?
I think we're in serious trouble at MoJ when we are told we can 'read all about' something at Breitbart, of all places. What next - Ann Coulter as news source? Rush Libaugh? 'God help us' indeed. For readers of MoJ who find ill-tempered hysterics over a putative 'widening assault' by '[our] own government' upon 'Christians and Christianity' an unfortunate intrusion into the more measured discussion that used to predominate at this site, I recommend reading beyond Breitbart on the matter to which Patrick refers. A good start is with Ms. Quinn's column to which Breitbart condemningly links, which provides sufficient background to make plain that the military has good reason to consult many people, including this 'Mikey' fellow who so upsets Breitbart and Patrick, on how best to address divisive prosyletizing behavior on the part of self-appointed 'crusaders' in its religiously diverse ranks. There one will find indications both (a) that 'Mikey,' though rhetorically adolescent, is exercised by a problem that appears to be real, and (b) that those who have thus exercised him are not 'Christians' qua Christians, but sundry ersatz and triumphalist 'Christians' of the Fred Phelps variety, whom 'Mikey' distinguishes from Christians generically considered. Any serious effort to quarantine ugliness such as that will be effort well spent.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Sharing the Gospel is now akin to rape. Did you get that? Sharing the Gospel is a version of spiritual rape, and, furthermore, doing so in the Armed Services is "treason," the penalty for which, of course, is death. Or so an official consultant to the Pentagon, Mikey Weinstein, wrote at the Huffington Post. Weinstein has been retained by the Pentagon to assist in preparing a policy on "religious toleration," and there appears to be no vile thing the poor man won't say about Christians. You can read all about it here. You can also read there about how the American people are "dialing it down" as they acquiesce in their own government's widening assault on Christians and Chrisitianty. Not to see a pattern here is, I would suggest, either naive, willful, or stupid. Evil enters the world in more ways than one.
If you think "evil" is too strong a diagnosis of what Weinstein brings to the Pentagon table, here is a sample, in Weinstein's own words, of the mentaility of someone now advising our government on "religious tolerance:"
"If these fundamentalist Christian monsters of human degradation … and tyranny cannot broker or barter your acceptance of their putrid theology, then they crave for your universal silence in the face of their rapacious reign of theocratic terror. Indeed, they ceaselessly lust, ache, and pine for you to do absolutely nothing to thwart their oppression. Comply, my friends, and you become as monstrously savage as are they. I beg you, do not feed these hideous monsters with your stoic lethargy, callousness and neutrality. Do not lubricate the path of their racism, bigotry, and prejudice. Doing so directly threatens the national security of our beautiful nation." (Mikey Weinstein)
God help us.
The mainstream media is now devoting some attention to the trial of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with homicide for cutting the spinal columns of moving and squealing babies born alive during abortion procedures. And, at long last, questions are now being raised about whether such practices along with infanticide attitudes are more prevalent in the abortion industry.
In recent weeks, we've learned about:
* Florida legislative testimony by a Planned Parenthood lobbyist in Florida responding to a question about a baby struggling for life after a botched abortion by saying that the decision should be left to the woman and her physician (here). (Planned Parenthood of Florida later walked back that answer, but remains opposed to legislation directing medical efforts to save the life of a baby born alive during an abortion procedure.)
* An undercover video inside a New York abortion clinic in which a staff member explained that if an aborted baby were still moving after a late-term abortion, the clinic would place "it" in a jar of "solution" and "the solution will make it stop" (here). (The full video shows that an abortion counselor in the clinic said that in the unlikely event the baby was breathing after the procedure, the physician would attempt to save it. The clinic has not explained why a long-time staff member had a very different answer -- and a very disturbing attitude. Nor has the clinc explained why the life of a viable unborn baby should turn on whether it was killed before, during, or after a late-term abortion.)
* A Washington, D.C. abortionist who was caught on tape saying that, in the unlikely event that a baby was born alive, "we would do nothing to help it" (here). (This abortionist also pulled back a little on his candid taped remarks to assure reporters that he would call 9-1-1 but take no extraordinary efforts to save the baby. He also provided no explanation for why death of the same baby outside the womb should be treated any differently than terminating it first inside the womb.)
A broader group of individuals is now asking questions about the culture of infanticide perpetuated by the abortion industry, including the efforts by Planned Parenthood and its allies, supported by its presidential patron Barack Obama, to vociferously oppose legislation prohibiting late-term abortion, to require medical efforts to save the lives of babies born alive in abortion clinics, or to ensure that full information about the development of the fetus is provided to women coming to abortion clinics.
Melinda Henneberg, writing in the Washington Post, is not opposed to all abortions and would not fall comfortably into the pro-life camp. But she too is asking tough questions about the abortion culture and wants to at least draw the line at infanticide. Here are a few excerpts (the full article is here):
While in campaign mode, Obama purported to respect diverse views on the abortion issue. But I detected no such sensitivity in his Friday remarks at Planned Parenthood, where he spoke of “those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.”
Abortion, he means, though that word wasn’t in his talk.
Though I do not support a “personhood” amendment, neither am I okay with the Orwellian dodge that it’s not a baby unless and until we say it’s a baby. And I continue to hope that someday, Americans will look back on the twin moral blind spots of infanticide and capital punishment – yes, even for terrorists – and wonder what we were thinking.
But part of the answer, surely, is that we’ve tried not to do a lot of thinking when doing so would prove uncomfortable. Part of the answer, I believe, is right there in what that Bronx clinic worker said to the undercover activist: “I don’t know why you want to know all this; just do it.”
Like Hildegard of Bingen, St. Catherine of Siena (whose feast day we celebrate today) always attracts the attention of feminists. Christopher Check, in a nice little article about her genius in Crisis, explains why:
It is not so difficult to understand why feminists wish to claim the patronage of Saint Catherine. After all, a version of her life might go something like this: At seven years of age a girl determines never to marry. When at age 12, she is pressured by her parents to submit to an arranged marriage, she defiantly cuts off her hair and neglects her appearance. Later, the young woman develops quite a following in her town. Men and women alike seek her counsel. Soon she is bringing influence to bear in political circles unknown to women. She arbitrates family feuds. She brokers peace within and between the city-states of Tuscany. Bankers, generals, princes, dukes, kings, and queens, as well as scholars and abbots seek her counsel. Her admonitions inspire the pope to restore the papacy to Rome. She writes one of the greatest works of medieval literature. She accomplishes all of this in 33 years. When, six centuries later, she is at last declared a doctor of the Roman Catholic Church she is only the second woman at the time to receive the honor. A real glass-ceiling breaker, Catherine made it big in a man’s world.
It's a very interesting article, though I do wish Check hadn't so essentialized all of us Catholic "feminists."
John Locke drafted a constitution for the Carolinas in 1669, entitled, "The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina." His draft was never ratified, but here are some provisions relating to "churches" which may be of some interest, in light of the resurgence of scholarship involving the liberty of the church:
Ninety-seven. But since the natives of that place, who will be concerned in our plantation, are utterly strangers to Christianity, whose idolatry, ignorance, or mistake gives us no right to expel or use them ill; and those who remove from other parts to plant there will unavoidably be of different opinions concerning matters of religion, the liberty whereof they will expect to have allowed them, and it will not be reasonable for us, on this account, to keep them out, that civil peace may be maintained amidst diversity of opinions, and our agreement and compact with all men may be duly and faithfully observed; the violation whereof, upon what presence soever, cannot be without great offence to Almighty God, and great scandal to the true religion which we profess; and also that Jews, heathens, and other dissenters from the purity of Christian religion may not be scared and kept at a distance from it, but, by having an opportunity of acquainting themselves with the truth and reasonableness of its doctrines, and the peaceableness and inoffensiveness of its professors, may, by good usage and persuasion, and all those convincing methods of gentleness and meekness, suitable to the rules and design of the gospel, be won ever to embrace and unfeignedly receive the truth; therefore, any seven or more persons agreeing in any religion, shall constitute a church or profession, to which they shall give some name, to distinguish it from others.
One hundred. In the terms of communion of every church or profession, these following shall be three; without which no agreement or assembly of men, upon presence of religion, shall be accounted a church or profession within these rules:
1st. "That there is a God."
II. "That God is publicly to be worshipped."
III. "That it is lawful and the duty of every man, being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to truth; and that every church or profession shall, in their terms of communion, set down the external way whereby they witness a truth as in the presence of God, whether it be by laying hands on or kissing the bible, as in the Church of England, or by holding up the hand, or any other sensible way."
Some thoughts on the language about "churches" and what constitutes them:
1. Locke seems to want to be generous for, among other reasons (some religious), the strategic reason of conversion. He recognizes that the many "strangers" to Christianity will expect religious liberty, and maintenance of civic peace demands that they have it, but "by good usage and persuasion" these people are hopefully to be converted. All of this is familiar from the Letter Concerning Toleration (though this document precedes the Letter by 20 years), but what really interested me was the final line of section 97: "therefore, any seven or more persons agreeing in any religion, shall constitute a church or profession, to which they shall give some name, to distinguish it from others." Notice Locke's emphasis on, to use a legal term, numerosity! What constitutes a "church" is in part a numerical characteristic. You cannot be a "church" under Locke's constitution with less than seven members. This numerical feature highlights the sociality of an ecclesial structure. And we continue to struggle with it today (compare, e.g., Psychic Sophie and related controversies).
2. But there are also substantive characteristics that must be satisfied. Belief in God, of course, but notice the public quality of the other two elements! You cannot be a church unless you worship God "publicly." And there must be official rules for that public worship--the church must promulgate rules which "set down the external way" in which church members will witness the truth as they apprehend it. The emphasis on these external, public, ritualistic functions of churches--and therefore, in part, on the public functions that they serve, the 'civil religion' function--is perhaps not quite so common today but it is still present.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
As MOJ readers know, a group of law professors (including Tom Berg and me) have been urging legislators proposing or considering laws that change the legal definition of "marriage" so as to include same-sex couples to take care to accommodate religious freedom in the process. (Go here to see some of the letters.) As we see it, this accommodation should involve more than assurances that clergy will not be required by law to officiate at same-sex couples' wedding ceremonies; it should include, for example, assurances that religious institutions and organizations that oppose the proposed change will not be penalized (e.g., through loss of access to contracting or public forums, or through loss of otherwise available tax treatment) and that such institutions and organizations would not be required to, say, rent out a generally available banquet hall to a same-sex couple celebrating their wedding. And so on.
To be sure, in a jurisdiction that includes same-sex unions in the category of marriage, there will be limits on the extent to which religious objections to that inclusion can and should be accommodated. But, the view expressed in these letters has been that the accommodations should be generous. I know that Michael and some other scholars who support the proposed changes to the legal definition of marriage are also committed to religious-liberty protections. (See, for example, Marc Stern's recent piece in USA Today.) How far, though, can or should such protections extend?
Saturday, April 27, 2013
As MOJ readers know, the Republican Party has stood proudly in opposition to same-sex marriage--more precisely, in opposition to admitting same-sex couples to civil marriage. So this development, reported in today's NYT, is quite interesting:
When the Rhode Island State Senate tallied up the votes against a same-sex marriage bill passed there on Wednesday, something was missing: Republicans.
All five of the chamber’s Republican lawmakers had voted for the bill, stunning opponents and sending the measure to the governor’s desk and almost-certain victory next week.
The vote reflected not only the rapidly shifting tides of public opinion on same-sex marriage, but also the influence of a new Republican advocacy group called the American Unity Fund, which spent weeks helping the state’s gay rights organization cultivate Republican senators.
Now the group is preparing a major push in Washington and in state capitals intended to reshape the Republican Party, by building support for same-sex marriage and bolstering its acceptance among candidates and party activists around the country.
Founded and financed by some of the country’s leading Republican fund-raisers and strategists, the fund expects to raise up to $7 million this year, officials said. The fund’s organizers include Paul E. Singer and Clifford S. Asness, libertarian-leaning New York investors; David Herro, a prominent Chicago money manager; and Seth Klarman, a billionaire Boston philanthropist and hedge fund manager.
“The concept of gay unions fits very well within our framework of individual liberty and our belief that strong families make for a stronger society,” Mr. Singer said in an e-mail. “The institution of marriage is in very bad shape in this country, yet gay and lesbian couples want very much to be a part of it, to live as committed husbands and wives with their children in traditional family units. This should be what we want as conservatives, for people to cherish and respect this model and to want it for themselves.”
The fund is one of several advocacy organizations backed by wealthy Republicans and business leaders to shift their party’s stance in recent months on issues like immigration and same-sex marriage. And the new effort traces a rift between Republican elites and grass-roots voters over a handful of hot-button social issues that one group views as handcuffing the party and the other sees as essential to its identity.
You can read the rest here. Of course, and as the article reports, this development is not without its critics, of whom there are many--including, no doubt, some of you.