Archive for freedom of religion

Kate Kelly: She actually is history!


kate kellyImage via

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When the June 2014 story broke of Kate Kelly, I immediately thought of Anne Hutchinson.  Kelly, is a long-time Morman and human rights lawyer.  She is fighting for equality in the Church (what a concept!) and the founder of Ordained Woman which is a group of gals who want to preach in their own (Mormon) church. Kelly was convicted of apostasy (the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief), and ex-communicated.

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Anne Hutchinson was convicted of heresy (an opinion or belief that contradicts established religious teachings) and sedition (actions or words intended to provoke or incite rebellion against government authority) and was banished!  And she, like Kate Kelly, was ex-communicated from her Church. But this was back in 1634.  HER crime?  Preaching to women and challenging "church doctrines".

Twilight Zone music here…

Ms. Hutchinson, nurse, bible teacher, midwife and all around multi-tasking Mama, was not your average, quiet, submissive housewife and mother of the Colonial period. No.  She was the Mother of The First Amendment.  Via Cornell:

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.  It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.  

Pregnant with her fifteenth child and forty-six years old, Anne Hutchinson STOOD before a panel of male judges who said to her:

"Mrs Hutchinson, you are called here as one of those that have troubled the peace of the commonwealth and the churches here; you are known to be a woman that hath had a great share in the promoting and divulging of those opinions that are the cause of this trouble."

Kate Kelly was told - also by a panel of male judges- the following (via NBC):

"The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others.  In order to be considered for readmission to the Church, you will need to demonstrate over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the Church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood."

Kate Kelly heard this from her church the same week the Supreme Court struck down the McCullen v. Coakley law that created a buffer zone around abortion clinics. SCOTUS said the "pro-life" peeps' First Amendment rights were being violated. Free speech, right to protest, oy veh. I wonder if any of Supreme Court judges have seen the documentary "After Tiller".

How could SCOTUS mistake free speech for harassment?  And of course, THEY are enjoying THEIR buffer zone around THEIR building. Via the NY Times:

“Many women have abortions because they feel they have no other option or because they are pressured by a boyfriend or parent,” said Eleanor McCullen, a plaintiff in the case, McCullen v. Coakley, No. 12-1168. “Today’s ruling means I can offer loving help to a woman who wants it, and neither of us will go to jail for the discussion.”


So Kate Kelly was ex-communicated for basically "trying to persuade other church members..."  and Anne Hutchinson was banished for having a "belief different from the establishment" but the "pro-lifers" are allowed to"persuade - HARASS -  women who have a belief DIFFERENT than theirs??

As  Radio Or Not's Nicole Sandler says all too regularly: "It's Opposite World".


Has God Joined Elvis And Left The Building?


Rev Frank Schaefer

Well, leave it to the United Methodists. A crisis in the church arises and they take immediate action. Well, immediate's a relative term. Six years can seem like an eternity or a snap of the fingers, in biblical terms. And this story is about biblical issues, so let's stick with immediate. But it's a crisis of faith, family and public opinion that converge right now. Did Rev. Frank Schaefer violate his faith when he officiated at his son’s same-sex wedding?

Six years ago, the Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., officiated his gay son's same-sex wedding in a private ceremony in Massachusetts. That legal action in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts led to a trial that concluded yesterday by the United Methodist Church. This serious matter was adjudicated by the church after one of the reverend's own flock filed a complaint.

Yesterday the trial ended with a verdict. The rare jury of 13 Methodist pastors had found Schaefer guilty on two charges: “conducting a ceremony that celebrates same-sex unions” and “disobedience to order and discipline of the Methodist Church.”


Testifying in his own defense, the 51-year-old pastor said he decided to break church rules out of love for his son. He said he might have lost what he called his 'ritual purity' by disobeying the Methodist Book of Discipline, but that he felt he was obeying God's command to minister to everyone.

'I love the United Methodist Church. I've been a minister for almost 20 years and there are so many good things about the United Methodist Church except for that one rule,' said Schaefer.

So Methodists don't condone homosexuality. They take the words of Christ to minster to everyone yet create their own book of rules and disciplines to limit the Lord's teachings.Words of mortal men are seeming given more weight over those credited to Christ, the Savior to the modern day Methodists.

"Just quote Jesus when it serves your fears and bigotry," seems to be their holy mantra.

Evidently the current thinking of the Methodist Church is that the bible only sets up commandments for some people, not others. The do unto others as you'd have them do unto you doctrine doesn't apply here. What's next for them? No Asians? Or Blacks? Or converted Jews? Or what about short people? We all know what heathens they are. Incorrigible.

That fact is religions that discriminate on any level, risk being called a true religion. This trial  is a huge slap in the face of the United Methodist Church. And it's shameful when one of it's ministers, a Reverend, has to chose religious dogma -- really only an interpretation of those -- over family. Is Christ the son of God? Is Tim Schaefer the son of Rev. Frank Schaefer? Are we not all made in the image of our maker? Christ broke rules when he felt it necessary -- can't Reverend Schaefer be allowed to do the same?

What this boils down to is literalism versus scripture.

Schaefer is the first among five Methodist ministers to be accused by church officials over the past year of possibly violating church doctrine on gay rights. The other four could also face church trials. The cases, which are being closely watched by advocates on both sides, represent perhaps the biggest flare-up in recent years in mainline Protestantism over the issue of homosexuality. At 8.3 million members, Methodists are the second-largest group of Protestants in the United States.

I propose they are this second largest group of Protestants are demonstrating hate and malice. Rather than convert or accept, they condemn. They are perhaps the real lost wandering tribe as they show no relationship to the God I learned about in Sunday School. He welcomed all. He didn't discriminate. He may have turned water into wine (John 2:1-11), but he didn't curse the water.

water into wine

If someone is gay, bi, lesbian, transsexual it's not their choice. Just like a bird being a bird and not a bear. LGBT is not a choice. It's the maker's selection. So why not accept it?

The leadership must stop cherry picking what to believe to make themselves comfortable. When even Pope Francis, arguably an opposing faith leader, tells his flock that gays are people too, than why does his flock, larger than the Methodists, interpret the bible as a doctrine of love and tolerance -- not exclusion and hate? Where did the Methodists go wrong? Isn't Christ, if you believe in Christianity, the same Christ to all?

So what lies ahead for Pastor Schaefer? The penalty in past similar cases has ranged from a short suspension to defrocking.

We'll see how much the church wants to make an example of this compassionate man. Hopefully for the Methodists, they simply voice that that don't approve of this, and issue a warning. Then it'll be up to Schaefer, father of three other gay children, what he wants to do should any of them express a desire to have the pleasure and privilege of their father officiating over their service.


What is Conscience Creep And How's It Affecting All Of Us?


new wordsDahlia Lithwick in her recent essay for Slate, describes the new term that we should all be aware of:

The problem isn’t conscience clause legislation so much as what we might call conscience creep: a slow but systematic effort to use religious conscience claims to sidestep laws that should apply to everyone. 

Recalibrating who can express a right of conscience (i.e do corporations have a conscience?) and what the limits of that conscience might be, may well be the next front in the religious liberty wars being waged in courts around the country.

So what does that really mean to all of us. We know there are always provisions written into our US laws, specifically the 1973 Church Amendment, that makes exceptions for considering one's religious beliefs in how and to what extent laws affect them.

Recently and with more frequency religious and moral convictions became a catchphrase and explanation for law violations. It can be understandable when used legitimately. But therein lies the rub. Lately right wing organizations, under the guise of religious beliefs, have called upon this clause to stop just about anything that they don't like. The justification is the gray area.

Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, have all applied the church amendment. There it's much more cut an dry as they stand and exist for religious reasons only. But what about colleges, hospitals and prisons? Do they get the same religious protections. They don't deal primarily in an orthodoxy that these laws might violate. And they receive federal funds.

Last year, for instance, a prison guard withheld an abortion pill from a prisoner who’d been raped on the grounds that it violated her personal religious beliefs. And it hasn’t stopped at abortion, birth control, or sterilization, but may include activities like counseling rape victims or teaching AIDS patients about clean needles.

What about with adoption agencies claiming for religious reasons they won't allow a same sex couple to adopt or give a black child to a white family? Here again, the doctrine of religious conscience is being used to circumvent the thrust of the law.

Now this doctrine of religious conscience is moving into corporate headquarters. For cost saving purposes, but under the "excuse" of religious beliefs, companies are determining which laws they want to observe, and which they wish to void. These are not entities that by their identity are religious, but rather their owners are.

It doesn't stop  there. The military. Our military, made up of every race, creed, religion. States have passed laws that ban same sex marriage based on religious dogma. Yet same sex marriages by National Guardsmen/women are acknowledged by the federal government but not by the states. So to get ID cards, medical care, family counseling, other military benefits, the same sex couples must travel to Federal bases. They're denied their rights within the states. And the basis is religious conscience creep, not national security.

military silhouette

This past summer, Republicans in the House tried to amend the National Defense Authorization Act to "protect inappropriate, defamatory, and discriminatory speech and actions" in the military. The amendment broadened a "conscience clause" that protected the right of troops and chaplains to hold anti-gay views so long as they did not actively discriminate against gay service members.

Are corporations, the military, fast food chicken outlets, hospitals, colleges, liquor store chains, burger joints, qualified to get these exemptions. Are corporations people? Do they have a conscience? The Supreme Court will ultimately decide as more and more conscience creep is experienced.

But ask yourself this, where do we draw the line?

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack


"God-- I Love The Guy But The Fan Clubs Freak Me Out"



What happens when you have a debate between an Atheist, and a Christian? You get fireworks, a surprising argument and some wide-eyed discussion. Oh, and believe it or not, lots of laughs.

One of the points brought up by John Fugelsang, representing the Christian point of view, is his own background. He describes his family this way, "my mother was an ex-nun and my father was a Franciscan brother.

I'm the whitest guy in this room but you could say my mother was a Sister and my father was a Brother.

That's religion for you. It makes for some pretty strange bedfellows.

Fugelsang argues that those who hold the bible so dear to themselves would have trouble these days with electing Jesus for public office. After all, he was:

...a socialist. peaceful, radical non-violent revolutionary, hung out with lepers, hookers and crooks, never spoke English, wasn't an American citizen, was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer (Matthew 6:5) never anti-gay, never anti-abortion, never anti-premarital sex, long haired, brown skinned and a Jew.

And that's the Christian making that argument. Does make you pause.

On the Agnostic side, you get Jamie Kilstein who explains his disappointment with creationism by referring to how the majestic beauty of Niagara Falls wasn't part of the God's original plan. Sort of an afterthought.

So for sure you'll be entertained and enlightened with this humorous debate. You don't have to agree or disagree with either side -- but listening to it is fun. At least I hope you find it so.