Sunday, August 26, 2012

Christianist wailing about religious liberty

One of the truly amazing things that has happened in recent years is the ability of Christian fundamentalists (Protestant as well as Roman Catholics) to turn history on its head and to twist common sense and rationality so that the former becomes nonsense and the latter turns into irrationality.

There's been much ado over the past four years as to how religious liberty is being compromised in this country.  Usually, the culprit for this state of affairs is President Obama and his administration.  Blame is laid at the feet of a president who, ironically, is not only a Christian but who, upon his election, continued the Bush program of government gifting to religious organizations doing charitable work, much to the dismay of many progressives.

The fact that Obama is a Christian seems to elude most Christian fundamentalists.  They have come to believe the stories promoted by the Christian Republican Party and its media cohort, FAUX News, which have, over and over again, either implied or stated directly that President Obama is a Muslim.

Case in point:  James Tonkowich, a columnist for, published an article on August 15 titled "Religious Liberty Compromised."  His thesis was that "we are losing religious liberty in this country."  And he wonders why the Roman church is so involved in the fight to preserve religious liberty while his "evangelical" friends are more passive and lethargic.

Aha!  The answer is found in history.  Mr. Tonkowich, in one of the most tortured historical distortions I've ever read, blesses the Roman autocratic authoritarians for fighting for religious liberty during the French Revolution and in Mexico and in Eastern Europe under the Commies, and China, and Cuba, and Vietnam.  He even bewails the treatment of the Roman church during the Spanish Civil War.

This is just plain nonsense!  In every instance since its inception, the Roman church has demanded control of whatever territory it found itself in.  And what they couldn't control outright, they threatened their way into the driver's seat.  And in every instance where the Roman church had control, it demanded absolute and total subservience upon pain of death.  Those who dared oppose the Roman church, from emperor to peasant, were tortured and slaughtered.  The history of the Roman church is written in blood!   

It is no surprise then, that when countries found themselves freed from the shackles of the Roman authorities, they often sought retribution.  And quite often that retribution turned into a bloody shambles.

But the Roman church was never, ever about religious freedom.  Whenever and wherever the church was in control there was NO religious freedom.  And that's true of other Christian sects.  In England, those who disagreed with the Anglican church were denied religious freedom.  In Sweden, Lutheranism was the only recognized Christian cult until 1948!  If the Roman church had its way, it would take over the government and enforce its Law upon all inhabitants in the U.S.  Many dominionist Christians are working hard to do that very thing, but they would institute their version of religious law.

Mr. Tonkowich would have us believe that France and Mexico and Spain and Cuba, etc., were bastions of religious liberty before the "bad" guys took over and tossed the church out of the public sphere.  But that's not what happened.  In every instance where the church's influence was negated, it was because when the church had the power, the people lost their freedom.  And invariably, when the church didn't rule directly, it aligned itself with those who did rule directly and thereby ruled indirectly with the same result- people lost their freedom!

What's the problem in this country?  How is religious liberty being curtailed?  Why are we "losing our religious liberty"?

The fact is religious liberty is NOT being curtailed.  We are NOT in danger of "losing our religious liberty"!  And the notion that this is actually happening is an example of common sense being turned into nonsense and rationality into irrationality!

The Religious Right wants control.  The Christianist fundamentalists along with the Romans want political power; enough power to demand that their particular form of religion be the "accepted" form and be allowed special access to the public sphere!  Two issues have become especially significant in this religious liberty nonsense:  Abortion and contraception.  (But there are many others, ranging from prayer in public schools, to placing copies of the Ten Commandments on courthouse walls, to the teaching of Creationism, to banning stem-cell research, etc.)

Who would think?  We fought these battles years ago.  We won.  But these religious nutcases won't go away and tend to their own business.  Thus Tonkowich dares talk about "Liberty of worship" which he claims has been substituted by the Obama administration for "religious liberty" and that in France "it meant (and still means) private religious practice with absolutely no public profession of faith."

Then he gets to the nitty-gritty.  He's pissed off, along with the authoritarian, dictatorial, autocratic Roman bishops, because Obama's healthcare law tells religious organizations they must "provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion drugs as part of employee health insurance regardless [of] religious convictions," and this, says Tonkowich, "is an assault on religious freedom."

I don't think so!  The law merely says that if you are operating a business or running an organization you cannot deny these things to your employees (via their health insurance) merely because it offends your particular religious sense or nonsense.  In other words, it's no skin off your nose, and the fact that you want to be able to deny these things to your employees is actually a blatant attempt to impose your religious beliefs on other human beings, which is a no-no in this country.

Tonkowich then raises the issue of gay marriage (you knew this was coming, right?).  "Legal experts," he claims, "... agree on this:  if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, those who oppose it will find their religious liberty taken away."

Nonsense?  Irrational?  Of course.  It's the opposite.  If you are able, because of your religious conviction, to deny the right of two human beings to marry, then you're the one who is taking away religious liberty or liberty in general!

I oppose the right of Republicans to gather in convention because what they do there violates my religious beliefs.  They vote on budgets that will decimate Medicare and Social Security and increase funding for making war.

Are the Republicans taking away my religious liberty?

Of course not.  You can say all kinds of bad things about them most of which would be true but their nastiness does not destroy my religious liberty.

What it all boils down to, again, is that the religious right (Protestant and Catholic) insist that they have a right to impose their beliefs on the people of these United States.  They do not!  In both of these instances - the health care thing and the gay marriage thing - it's the religious right that would deny freedom to others!

In the name of their god, of course!

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