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?


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