Wednesday, February 26, 2014
From Arizona, Rev. Elizabeth Rambikur of First United Methodist Church Tucson responds to SB 1062 and HB 2153--the law that permits businesses to discriminate against gay patrons:
Our call as human beings, made in the image of God, is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Jesus reminds those who would strive for the title of Christian that the second commandment is, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:38). The teachings of Jesus remind us that there is no law greater than the love of God and the love of ones neighbor as the self. It is here that all law — whether perceived as given by God or written by human beings - must begin.
In the most basic way Arizona SB 1062 and HB 2153 prohibit the full practice of Christianity because the fundamental teaching of love by Jesus Christ is violated when we practice discrimination against others. The United Methodist Church has shaped its discipline and faith practices through the crucible of the human rights movements of the last 231 years, as we have moved beyond slavery, beyond discrimination against women, past discrimination based on race, and beyond the denial of access to differently abled people. There is no question that the practice of discrimination is a violation of our faith as Christians....
And Michael Sean Winters wrote an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter:
...those who support this Arizona law must be challenged to explain why the “Selma analogy” is not apt....[M[any people in this vast country have sincerely held religious beliefs that are destructive of what I like to call the commonhealth of the nation, specifically the moral health of the nation. Bishops, of all people, should be aware of this.
How much stronger the Arizona bishops statement would be if they had coupled their support for the law with a clear statement that no Catholic businessman or businesswoman should claim warrant in the Gospels or the teachings of the Church for discriminating against gays. Instead, once again, we have aligned our preaching of the Gospel with a political agenda that is championed by hateful bigots.
And the essay concludes with what I think is a great rhetorical question:
And, then we wonder why young people want nothing to do with us? When bishops gather to bemoan the secularization of our society, they should start by looking in the mirror. If the face of Christianity is an angry hotelier who wants to place a “straights only” sign outside his inn, then we have no one but ourselves to blame for the decline of Christian faith.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Religionists deserve to practice their faiths, and the Constitution protects their right to do so. If there ever comes a day when state authorities will prohibit Christian fundamentalists from congregating in their churches and their homes for worship service, I will proudly be the first liberal to fight such encroachment against their religious rights.
On the other hand, no religious group has the constitutional authority to enact hate against another group. The Arizona bill permits private businesses to refuse services to gay consumers. These business owners, I am sure, are good people, people who are responsible citizens in their neighborhoods.
And that's what worries me. The thugs and the bullies and homophobic murderers are partly inspired by the legitimized hatred from the good citizens, from the store owners, from the legislators, and from the governors.
Senator John McCain has excoriated Russia for its homophobia; I hope that good man also shows the same courage in his own home state.
Arizona..... don't sell out your humanity.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
From my colleague, Will Huhn, Associate Director of the Constsitutional Law Center at Akron, one of four national centers established by Congress.
In the name of defending religious freedom, the Kansas House recently adopted a statute that would authorize any person or business to refuse service, employment, or employment benefits to same-sex couples. Is it constitutional?
[N]otice that the protection extends to "sincerely held religious beliefs ... regarding sex or gender." Not sexual orientation, but "sex or gender." It is difficult to believe that this law was written to justify gender discrimination, but that is how it is written. In fact, the word "sex" is also ambiguous. Is the law speaking of "sex roles" or "sexual acts"? Is it meant to protect "sincere religious beliefs" regarding the proper roles of men and women or proper and improper modes of consensual sexual conduct? ....
If the qualifying phrase relates solely to "employment benefits" then the scope of the law is very broad indeed, permitting gender discrimination across the board by individuals and private businesses in terms of whom they serve and whom they employ, so long as the person or business holds a "sincere religious belief" that persons of that gender are not supposed to engage in certain conduct or have certain privileges.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The story from the Hindu Times:
The death of an ailing woman student at a Saudi university has stirred controversy on social media after an ambulance was denied access under the conservative Muslim kingdom's segregation laws. Amna Bawazeer, 24, died of a heart attack in the compound of the social sciences faculty of Riyadh's King Saud University.
Local media said medics in an ambulance were denied access because they were not accompanied by a "mahram", a legal guardian or male member of her family.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Caroline Mala Corbin at U of Miami has uploaded Corporate Religious Liberty: Why Corporations Are Not Entitled to Religious Exemptions. A longer version is available here. The abstract reads:
One of the main questions before the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius is whether large for-profit corporations are entitled to religious exemptions under the Free Exercise Clause or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In particular, the plaintiffs seek religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “contraception mandate.”
This is an entirely novel claim. It is also without merit. The Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect the religious practices of individuals and churches. They do not, and should not, extend to the for-profit corporate form for at least three reasons. First, corporate religious liberty makes no sense as free exercise is understood to (a) protect an individual’s relationship with the divine and (b) respect the inherent dignity of the individual. Furthermore, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission provides no theoretical foundation for corporate religious liberty: The justifications for extending free speech protection to for-profit corporations do not translate into the free exercise context. Second, there is no precedent for the claim that for-profit corporations are entitled to religious liberty exemptions; on the contrary, precedent points in the other direction. Third, recognizing corporate religious liberty will benefit employers at the expense of their employees, who risk losing protection of the employment laws as well as their own free exercise rights.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
The University of Notre Dame really, really, really wants in on the Hobby Lobby action to block its health insurance company from covering employees' and students' "immoral" contraception. WSJ, Notre Dame Revives Bid for Injunction over Contraception.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The Pope "expressed a desire for women to become more involved in the Catholic Church. Recalling the 'indispensable role' of women in society, Francis said he has been pleased to see women sharing pastoral responsibilities with priests and families, adding he wants women to take on a role that is 'more capillary and incisive' in the Church. In the address, Francis praised women for their "gifts of delicacy,' including a 'special sensitivity and tenderness.'"
"Capillary"? women should be more like small vessels connecthing the ateries and veins of the church??
Friday, January 24, 2014
Or, something like that, according to Rep. Steve Pearce (R--N.M.). Rep. Pearce appears to be a fringe member of the GOP and I have little interest in his views. But rummaging about the archives of the Times, I did find this 1998 statement of beliefs by the Southern Baptist Convention--an organization had almost 16 million members then and counted Bill Clinton and Al Gore among them.
1998. That wasn't too long ago. The statement, paraphrased by the Times, says that the wife ''submit herself graciously'' to her husband's leadership and that a husband should ''provide for, protect and lead his family.''
Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, in a pastoral message on family life four years ago, said marital roles, although different, should be characterized by ''mutual submission'' of a husband and wife to each other.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
From York University in Canada:
After refusing to honour a male student’s request to be separated from his female classmates for religious reasons, a York University professor has found himself at odds with administrators who assert he broke their “obligation to accommodate.”
The student offered this explanation:
“One of the main reasons that I have chosen internet courses to complete my BA is due to my firm religious beliefs, and part of that is the intermingling between men and women,” he wrote, adding “it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women (the majority of my group) to complete some of these tasks.”
Prof. J. Paul Grayson, who teaches said student, responded as follows:
The unusual request immediately troubled the professor. In a 12-page paper documenting the episode, he expressed his worry about becoming an “accessory to sexism” and, in a letter to the campus’ Centre for Human Rights, declared “I doubt that we would sanction a student refusing, for religious reasons, to interact with Blacks in classes even though Biblical justification could be found.”
Saturday, December 14, 2013
A federal district court has ruled in favor of the Sister Wives reality TV show plaintiffs in striking down part of Utah's anti-polygamy law reaching cohabitation. The opinion might have been about gender, as one historic public policy against polygamy has been the protection of women. Instead, the court takes on the elephant in the polygamy room and delves into the racist history of the Supreme Court's prohibiton of polygamy grounded in "orientalism."
It is worth noting the entrenched nature of an orientalist mindset among ruling elites during the time period when Reynolds was decided, an attitude that surely reached Congress and he United States Supreme Court as well. . . .
The practices were therefore objectionable because they were characteristic of "oriental" races including "Asiatic" and "African" peoples, both considered to be morally inferior based on such practices, and civilizationally inferior based on "the patriarchal principle" attributed to their societies, not to mention racially inferior.
The New York Times further analysis of this important case is here.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
I previously posted about the Lutheran Church's efforts to explore gender issues of theology and patriarchy and social justice efforts for sex trafficking and domestic violence. One of the books the scholars behind the curriculum recommend is The Gender Knot.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Apparently, the good justice is irate about Pope Francis's heretical remarks about gay marriage and abortion, and so has set up this committee to replace Pope Francis (or, as a law professor, I should say in deference to Justice Scalia, "Pope" Francis)...... (When asked about his membership in the committee, Justice Thomas remained silent.)
As John notes, the pope’s interview is drawing headlines. And rightly so, for its refreshing and powerful statement of a social gospel. What I’m not sure about yet is what this means for women. In the interview, the pope criticizes the church’s obsession with doctrine and imposition of rules about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. In a little-noticed part of the interview, he says the church needs a deeper “theology of women.” The church, he says “needs the feminine genius” and the full participation of the women’s role. He says that Mary is greater in the church than any bishop or apostle. On the other hand he talks about the distinct feminine element, the caregiving function of women and the bread winner role for men, and women's separate role in the church, sounding more like complimentarianism. Actions though, speak louder than words. Last spring, as Slate reported, the pope endorsed his predecessor’s crackdown on so-called radical feminist nuns (80% of American nuns) for their focus on economic justice and serving the poor rather than the anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage message.