Once again the US is faced with the conflict over religious freedom and secular law. The forces of institutionalized religion, largely the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, have decided they are above mere secular law. The refusal to pay for a woman’s health insurance by the church is just a minor example of a greater problem. Who decides the law in the US ?
There is no middle ground in this debate. The US is either a secular nation, ruled by laws passed and enacted by a legitimate government authority. OR. The US is a theocracy, ruled by the dictates of self-anointed religious clergy. There is no third option. One or the other must have ultimate authority.
We see theocracies in the middle east. Saudi Arabia is a good example. Look also to Afghanistan, Iran, and perhaps eventually Egypt. People are free to do whatever the ruling elite and the ruling theocrats allow. They have no recourse to challenge or alter the decisions of the theocrats or monarchs. Is this the path the US wishes to follow ? The fundamentalists in the US would answer “YES”.
It is a dangerous game the GOP has played with the religious conservatives and fundamentalists over the last 30 years. By combining a radical, old testament driven theology with modern political propaganda they have severely weakened the democratic ideals of the founding fathers. those founding fathers they idolize and idealize EXCEPT when it comes to the over arching ideal of secular government.
Is the current trend in the new GOP dangerous ? Yes. Religious views must always be protected. Freedom to discuss religious ideas and worship in legal ways is one of the rights guaranteed. No one denies that. But this religious freedom does not mean that religious leaders are ABOVE the law. To accept that is to take the first steps toward theocracy. All people and institutions, secular and religious, are governed by secular law. To have it otherwise is to reduce government to anarchy , or worse, theocracy.
So, my neoConservative friends need to rethink their rhetoric about “freedom of religion”. Without context, it becomes a call for a fundamental theocracy. Something most Americans find repulsive.
Yesterday Rick Santorum’s speech was disrupted by “Occupy Wall Street” protesters. Rick was upset and condemned the protesters for their “intolerance”. No doubt what they did was rude. Just as rude as the Tea Party protesters many disruptions a couple years ago. (Don’t recall if Rick condemned them). And Rick has every right to complain.
Normally I don’t see eye-to-eye with Rick but this is one area in which I must accede to his superior knowledge and expertise. If anyone knows INTOLERANCE it is Rick Santorum. He is the expert.
For years he has attempted to keep a few groups of Americans from enjoying all the legal rights of our society. The epitome of intolerance. Homosexuals should not be allowed to marry…or anything else. Women must be denied the right to privacy as guaranteed by Roe v Wade. In addition, women must be forbidden from using birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortions.
Rick seems to be intolerant of the normal lives of over half the population of the US. He would substitute his very narrow brand of religious fundamentalism for the Constitution and equal protection under the law.
So, Rick, you must be right. You are the reigning expert. If you claim that the Occupy protesters are “intolerant” who are we to argue? You have demonstrated over and over that when it comes to intolerance Rick Santorum has all the qualifications as an expert.
Much controversy surrounds a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full term. Some consider it murder. Others , her right to control her body. I fall in the second camp. Since the unborn fetus is not a baby the decision is simple.
Does a person have the right to control their own body ? Unless there is an obvious and immediate danger to others, the answer is “Yes”. This is especially true when concerning the issue of pregnancy. The woman is the only person who knows whether it is time for a baby. Period. Along with her doctor she is the only one who has the authority to make such a personal decision. While others may disagree with her, they should have no power to alter her choices.
Just as a woman should not be FORCED to abort a fetus if she wants a baby, neither should she be required to use her body to carry a fetus to term if she does not want a baby. To force her is to take away a basic freedom. That idea makes her into nothing more than a breeding animal. That may be the attitude toward women in backward, fundamentalist societies, but it has no place in modern America.
Some of those who oppose a woman’s right to choose often use terms such as “baby killer”. That, of course, is silly. An embryo is not a baby. A fetus is not a baby. A baby is a baby. And trying to distort the language to fit fundamentalist religious beliefs does not alter the scientific facts. You can call an orange a “baby”. You can call a house a “baby”. But the fact is: only a baby is a baby. Everything else is a distortion.