Why the Hobby Lobby decision is bad for people of faith

FaithFlagsI’ve actually written my responses to all of you folks who participated in Ask Roger Anything this past round. And the rest of you people can STILL ASK.

But I’ve bumped my responses back a couple days to answer Arthur; I even postponed my answer to Arthur’s earlier question, so it’s his own fault. He wrote, in response to this post about the US Supreme Court case regarding a store chain, Hobby Lobby, providing contraceptive care:

I’d really like to see you expand on how YOU see this ruling as bad for people of faith. Do you see this case alone as being bad for religion and/or religious people, or is it the ideology behind it? In either case, what bad effects do you personally expect to see or fear may happen?

The answer is all of the above. Next! OK, I guess I’ll expand on this.
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Methodist church in Oneonta stands for LGBT rights; Karen Oliveto to speak May 17, 18

I was reading the website of the First United Methodist Church in Oneonta, NY. It’s a pretty special place whose motto is: Open Hearts Open Minds Open Doors. It is A Reconciling Congregation, which, in UMC parlance, means to “create full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” I should note that my parents-in-law are member of the churchs.

The congregation did something rather remarkable, especially if you understand church polity. It held a:

Special Church Conference on Sunday, March 16… to discuss a resolution presented to the congregation by the Recon­ciling Ministries team of our church… After two hours of discussion, listening, amendments, voting, and tears, the special session of church conference voted to pass an amended resolution. It reads:

RESOLVED, that First United Methodist Church of Oneonta, New York will withhold 40% of its remaining apportionment from the Upper New York An­nual Conference in 2014 Continue reading

Proposed Arizona legislation supports Sharia law

It’s quite the irony: Arizona was one of the states that had introduced legislation banning Sharia law, which is the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion; this usually understood to refer to Islam in our country.

Yet with the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1062, passed by both houses of the AZ legislature, the legislature may have inadvertently opened the door for Sharia law in the state.
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Note to self: do not talk about religion on Facebook

Twice late last month – once on Christmas eve – I had “conversations” about religion on Facebook. It’s often unsatisfying, because I am a believer in spite of uncertainty, and these folks are usually convinced of their rightness.

Oddly, both ended up involving the Biblical phrase “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s.” Without getting into the whole back-and-forth, one guy insisted that the verses, appearing in all three of the synoptic Gospels (all, except John), meant that we are directed to obey earthly authority, pay taxes, and the like.

My view is more in line that Continue reading

Knocking at Midnight: Martin Luther King, Jr.

I like to look for less familiar text for Martin Luther King’s birthday. Unfortunately, soundbites from his I Have a Dream speech, for instance, have been so torn from its context as to make it unrecognizable.

A Knock at Midnight (found here [PDF]) was delivered on 14 September 1958. It has some Cold War references that I removed, not because there aren’t modern day equivalents, but for clarity, and an attempt at brevity. The text was based on Luke 11:5-6, RSV: “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”? It’s all MLK until the end.

Although this parable is concerned with the power of persistent prayer, it may also serve as a basis for our thought concerning many contemporary problems and the role of the church in grappling with them. It is midnight in the parable; it is also midnight in our world, and the darkness is so deep that we can hardly see which way to turn…

Midnight is the hour when men desperately seek to obey the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not get caught.” Continue reading

NALT Christians

Last month, my friend Dan sent me a link to this nifty page about Christians Openly Supporting LGBT Community In ‘We’re Not All Like That’ Campaign. I wrote back, “This will appear on my blog within the week! Thanks; I had not seen this.” I was particularly taken by Fred Clark’s video, maybe because how he self-identifies.

Obviously I didn’t post anything, and frankly it got lost in my e-mails. Then Arthur wrote about it, and I was going to let it go as a topic. Moreover, while I appreciate the sentiment of NALT, I never like things identified by what they are NOT. Quirky, I know.

But then I saw this story about a tea party leader and former Baptist pastor who is proposing to file a ‘class action lawsuit’ against ‘homosexuality.’ Oy.

So let me share with you Continue reading

Should a Christian say the Pledge of Allegiance?

Growing up in the 1960s in the United States, I started to wonder about the validity of saying the Pledge of Allegiance. That “liberty and justice for all” part seemed a bit, let’s just say, farfetched, with discrimination based on race, gender, economic condition, and so on. It was explained to me, though, that it was not a pledge to what is, but rather what the ideal nation could be. Hmm. Well, OK.

Back in 1940, in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, the Supreme Court “ruled that public schools could compel students—in this case, Jehovah’s Witnesses—to salute the American Flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance despite the students’ religious objections to these practices.” But a mere three years later Continue reading

What a Christian can learn from a Muslim about Jesus, by way of Dostoevsky

I’ve got to read this book!

You may not know the name Reza Aslan, but you might have heard about the controversy about an interview that FOX News religion report Lauren Green did with him about his book Zealot, about the life of Jesus. She questioned how a Muslim could write about Jesus, and he kept repeating his extensive credentials as a religious scholar. The storm over her amateurish piece helped the sales of his book reach #1 on the New York Times best seller list.

More interesting to me was this interview with John Oliver of The Daily Show. Aslan is addressing the Christian POV, though not focused on the Christ aspect of Jesus. Aslan disputes the notion of Jesus Continue reading

For the Bible tells me so

No, these are NOT my positions. Or His.

So this is what happens on a regular basis in the past decade or so. The particulars are almost unimportant, though I’ll give you an example anyway.

1. Someone will say something I think is outrageous, and justify their position by citing Jesus, God and/or the Bible. Current example: Rep. Stephen Fincher’s defense of Congress slashing $4.1 billion + from food stamps over the next 10 years was from the New Testament, specifically 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” As the article notes Continue reading