Sunday 12 May 2024

Religious Freedom: Or the freedom to do whatever you want?

This morning, several articles talked about Justice Alito giving a commencement address at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, a Catholic institution in which he warned of the danger to the freedom of religion.

Support for freedom of speech is declining dangerously. -Justice Alito

When you venture out into the world, you may well find yourself in a job or a community or a social setting when you will be pressured to endorse ideas you don’t believe or to abandon core beliefs. It will be up to you to stand firm. -Justice Alito
But the New York Times journalist Adam Liptak added this telling point:

In other settings, Justice Alito has given a specific example, complaining that people
opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds are sometimes treated as bigots.

-The New York Times, May 11/2024

I had a curious take on this message as exemplified by a meme:

If your religion requires you to hate a group of people because of their beliefs, you need a new religion.

Over and over again, I see these debates framed by freedom. I can't help feeling this so-called freedom is the freedom to interpret religion according to one's own prejudices including homophobia. In researching just what the Bible does say about certain issues, it becomes clear that if you start from a premise, whatever that premise may be, pro-gay, anti-gay, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, etc., you are going to find supporting passages. The Bible seems to be filled with anything and everything, a smorgasbord of ideas sometimes contradictory.

Aside: I don't look at the Bible as the word of God per se. It is the word of man talking about God. The Bible consists of the writings of men (and women?) trying to communicate what (they think) God said or meant. And therein lies the rub.

"On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD.
Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death."
-Exodus 35:2

The topic of this particular Biblical passage was amusingly covered by the fictional President Barlett. (The West Wing- Bible Lesson, YouTube 3:42) What's important is that the Bible does clearly state working on the Sabbath is forbidden and yet, today, we are all okay with it. You can cover the Sunday shift at your local fast food restaurant and not be put to death. Obviously, our interpretation of the Bible changes with time.

Alito complains about the religious being treated as bigots. Is he fighting for the freedom to be a bigot? Should the freedom to cancel another group not be cancelled? Are these so-called religious grounds nothing more than someone's misinterpretation of Biblical teachings passed onto them by family, friends, and the culture they live in?

I ran across a website, QChristian.Org, which delves into the question of Christianity and LGBTQ. They give an interesting quote:

“For Jews, the Bible is a problem to be solved; for Christians it is a message to be proclaimed.” -noted Jewish biblical scholar, Jon Levenson

I've heard it said that Christians evangelicals are the Christian Taliban: they're right and everybody else is wrong. On the one hand, God is so far beyond us, He is unknowable. And yet, these people claim to know God and to know precisely what He wants. Do I have to point out the contradiction?

Final Word
Hate, hate, hate! Jesus said to love one another, but there is certainly a lot of hate. I remain flabbergasted by what is done in the name of the Lord.

My faith is equal to your facts. I have the right to religious freedom and the right to believe what I want. I'm sure Justice Alito thinks he's focusing on a loss of freedom in the United States without realizing that the freedom he seeks is the freedom to take away the freedom of others. Republicans, conservatives, and Christian Evangelicals are not content to believe what they believe. Like the Taliban, they want to force their beliefs on everybody else. As I said, they're right, and the rest of us are wrong. And they don't see the contradiction of not putting the Sunday McDonald's shift to death because on Sunday, they all want their Happy Meals.


Wikipedia: Samuel Alito
Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. OMRI (b 1950) is an American jurist who serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was nominated to the high court by President George W. Bush on October 31, 2005, and has served on it since January 31, 2006. ... He has called himself a "practical originalist" and has been described as one of the Court's "most conservative justices".

What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality? - Human Rights Campaign
At the heart of the claim that the Bible is clear "that homosexuality is forbidden by God" is poor biblical scholarship and a cultural bias read into the Bible.

Is being gay a sin? - Forefront Church
When one thinks of church LGBTQIA inclusion they immediately go to the clobber passages. There are seven passages in the Bible that are commonly read as prohibiting same sex intercourse. These are the passages that are used to justify exclusion of the LGBTQIA community from the kingdom of God. When studied in context they can also be used as justification for same sex relationships and full inclusion in the kingdom of God.

Amy-Jill Levine: How to read the Bible’s “clobber passages” on homosexuality - Outreach, an LGBTQ Catholic resource
People arguing against churches being fully inclusive cite what are typically called the “clobber passages”: Genesis 19:1-38; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:25-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and Jude 6-7. A few also cite Genesis 1-2.

Crash-course in Bible history: How the Bible came to be - Baptist News Global
You probably never thought to ask, or never thought you were allowed to ask: How did the Bible come to be? Of course, there must have been humans remembering the stories and writing them down, and at some point in time, someone had to place them all together in an orderly fashion. How did that happen?


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Friday 10 May 2024

My Divorce: 14 years later

This year, I crossed a milestone: I've now been divorced longer than I was married.

I started this blog in 2010 and wrote about my divorce among other things. However, my blogging slowly petered out for other things in life. But lately, a fellow blogger, also divorced, wrote on Facebook about her parents and how they managed to stay together over the years despite the obstacles. The tone of her posting was one of admiration and what I interpreted as regrets about her failed marriage.

I commented by telling a story. My father was one of three boys, all born around 1920. Each of those men married and stayed married until death. Collectively, they had seven children, all born around 1950. Each of those seven children are divorced. Four remarried and have stayed married, one has been living with the same person for over twelve years, one lived for over ten years with a partner and is in the process of breaking up, and I remain single. I mention all this as the comparison between the first half of the 20th century and the second half.

It would seem social mores have changed. Divorce is more acceptable. But this question could be asked: Are people more prone to give up than to stick with it? For the longest time, the divorce rate was considered 50%. However, in re-reading several expert articles, it would seem that rate has always been lower and quite variable across groups based on education, income, and ethnicity.

But the above Facebook posting made me reflect on my own situation. I'm sure anyone would say the end of something is not good, and divorce being the end of a marriage is not good. But as the hackneyed expression goes, for every door that closes...

It has been so long since my divorce, I can't say I really think about it. When I do think about it, it seems more like a dream, more of a distant memory than something I regret or even miss. My ex-wife and her children, my ex-stepchildren, decided to break all contact with me, and I've respected their decision. Consequently, none of us have to have any reminders of yesterday and can focus on today and tomorrow.

In reflecting on writing this article, it occurred to me that things have happened that never would have happened had I stayed married. That unto itself is regrettable, I suppose. I also suppose that after all this time, this might be an opportunity to expound on my marriage and divorce. However, I'm going to remain faithful to a promise I made at the start of my divorce proceedings: I would never talk about my ex-wife with anybody other than my lawyer and my therapist. Not a single member of my family or my circle of friends has any idea of the details of our break-up. I never wanted to say anything negative about her or risk having anything I said interpreted in a negative light. At one time, I proposed to my wife because she was a wonderful woman. Just because we got a divorce doesn't mean she suddenly stopped being wonderful.

I think it was year eight of my divorce that I had a revelation. If the opportunity ever presented itself, I would want to say or write the following.

Dear Exxxxx,

I want to say two things to you.

Number one: I'm sorry.

I had a personal crisis, and I didn't handle it well. You became collateral damage, and I hurt you. I deeply regret that.

Number two: Thank you.

Because of you, I experienced many things in life I never would have experienced if I had not married you. Being part of a family, setting up a family home, downhill skiing, family vacations, trips to foreign lands, the list goes on and on. You enriched my life, and I thank you for that.

I will end by saying to you what I wrote to your daughters at the end of the divorce proceedings:

I hope you are happy, successful, and end up at peace with yourself and the rest of the world.


I have no idea if I will ever get a chance to say that to my ex-wife. I don't even know if it would be a good idea. However, I did get partial satisfaction. D and his wife introduced me to my ex-wife and were probably surprised if not stunned at our divorce. Since then, D, whom I've known since high school, and I have lunch every year or two, and one of the last times, I recounted to him the above letter. He knows my feelings. Has he ever said anything to my ex? I don't know, but it's probably a topic he would prefer to avoid. Nevertheless, he knows. He may say something. And if I ever drop dead, he may pass on that last message. I'm not mad; I wish my ex the best.

But let me be clear about something. If I could wave a magic wand and go back, I wouldn't.

The person who was right for you at one point in your life, may not be the right person at another point.

I realise now there was nothing my ex-wife and I could have done to have prevented our divorce. I've also come to realise we are, at least I am, better off divorced and single again. I know some may find that a strange thing to say, considering the nostalgia one may have for the past, but I think it's the best option for me. And now, I wouldn't want it any other way.

Final Word
It's over. It's unfortunate, but it's over. But oddly enough, I think it's for the best for both of us. Clear the table, close the door, get a fresh start, and off to new adventures. That still may not be convincing so I'll add this. Since my divorce, I've had a growing number of health issues. Now considering age, somebody could put forward that anybody with age has issues. However, the blessing for my ex-wife is that she doesn't have to deal with those issues. The blessing for me is that I no longer have to continue as if nothing's wrong. It's really a win-win for both of us.

I will never get married again. I suppose this is where one says once was enough, or once bitten twice shy, or some other platitude, but the reality is that I've enjoyed these past years living alone. I'm alone but I'm not lonely. I'm free to do anything I want. I could jokingly add that this is the height of self-centeredness as every day is about me. Ha!

I'm not in a relationship as I've never dated. Considering my health issues, I would say that is good for me and good for any possible partner. Nobody wants to take on the task of taking care of somebody.

Where do I go from here? As I just said, I'm free to do anything I want. I have an opportunity. The question is just what am I going to do with that opportunity?


Is the 50% Divorce Rate a Myth? by Goldberg Jones, Jan 18/2022
One statistic tossed around frequently is that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. The number varies a bit, but the gist is that roughly half of weddings have a corresponding divorce waiting. As ubiquitous as this figure is, many just accept it as fact. But is the legend of the 50% divorce rate real or a myth?

So, has the divorce rate ever been 50%? Nope. Never was. Despite the fact that many hold this wisdom as truth, experts have debunked this figure multiple times over the years.

Divorce: The end of life as we know it: Various postings from my blog about divorce (just my $0.02)

Divorced: It's over. Or is it?
Divorce: Why I'm Better Off Dead
Divorce: Putting People in the Middle
Divorce, Rationalisation and Joseph Mengele
Lack of sex: Not just divorced but fined!
The Psycho Ex Wife: ex bashing taken to the next level
NPD: Diagnosing that @#$%^* bastard
Why did that @#$%^* bastard divorce me?
Men are just a bunch of @#$%^* sex addicts!
Nostalgia, divorce: You can't go home again
If the situation had been reversed...
Father's Day: the rehabilitation of a fallen man
The War of the Divorcées
Funny quotes about marriage (and divorce)
Laura Munson: Save a marriage by doing nothing
Raoul Felder: The Good Divorce
Divorce: Love yourself to love others
Divorce: The first offer is usually the best
Marriage doesn't have to last forever to be good
Divorce mistakes to avoid
Midlife Crisis: Weiner-Davis vs Craig Ferguson
Michele Weiner-Davis: The Divorce Buster
Two-thirds of divorces are filed by women
Tricia Walsh: Let's divorce on YouTube!
Blogging your way through divorce
The Bitter Divorcée
Perils of Divorced Pauline
Postcards From a Peaceful Divorce
Does divorce make us happier?


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter