Wednesday, May 23, 2012

god on our side

This is Rant #5, my response to a post from someone who gave his/her Catholic religion as a reason for his/her position on marriage equality, although s/he did also affirm that s/he is more "accepting" than his/her religion would allow.



Most Catholics, including the Catholic hierarchy, aren't asking our government to outlaw remarriage after divorce, because they have the sense to realize that freedom of religion as guaranteed in our Constitution protects the Catholic church (a minority) equally with other churches that have no problem with divorce. They also have the sense to realize that a large majority of Americans would take it amiss if the Catholic church were to meddle in our civil marriage laws. Yet when marriage equality for gay people is the issue, freedom of (and freedom from) religion go by the wayside.


I also assume that most Catholics do not disrespect or disparage the marriages of their friends or co-workers, Catholic or not, even though those people may have been previously divorced, because another fundamental value of both religious and non-religious people is freedom of conscience.



[The poster suggested having two words with the same meaning, to appease both sides.]


There's that separate but equal thing again. Shall we have two institutions called, say, Marriage A and Marriage B and thereby duplicate every section dealing with civil marriage in every law book, in every statute book, in every legal document, state and federal, in order to appease those who want to keep marriage all for themselves?


And of course Marriage B would only be for the people we exclude from Marriage A. Who's that? Why, gay people, of course. So once again we're offered a seat in the back of the bus. Thanks, I'd rather walk.


The solution is not to "appease" anyone. The solution is to understand one of the basic principles on which this country was founded: the separation of religious doctrine from the workings of government. Our courts, both state and federal, have declared that the majority's dislike or disapproval of a minority group is not a legitimate basis for excluding that group from equal protection of the laws.



[The poster stated that the religious side will never give up.]


Actually I believe they will. I'm seeing books published now from a Christian perspective urging religious people to change their minds. Almost all of them disavow the "clobber passages" in the light of recent scholarship, while others simply ignore those passages, along with passages that command parents to kill their disobedient children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) or passages that declare it an abomination to eat shrimp or lobster (Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:12).


What these books affirm is the duty of Christians to love, and to live according to Christ's example.


It would be interesting to research the progress of American Christian churches after the Civil War as they began to realize that they had been wrong about subjecting so-called "inferior" (please note the double disclaimer) races to slavery. Few of us today would argue that by choosing to accept the full humanity of black people they became less Christian. In fact, most Americans would affirm that they became more Christian, i.e. more in tune with the life Jesus lived and the principles he preached.


I don't know how many religious people have actually read the bible, but I have, the whole thing, more than once, and in my opinion, the bible is on our side.


Catherine M Wilson


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