The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses
Religious Nonsense & The law
I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.
- Muhammad Ali
Jesus Christ Superstore
Super Saving Souls
This week religion has jammed its hefty portion of silly into the ways of reality. Again. Why not? Humans are proficient at propping up fantasy to avoid obeying the law. Lord knows I do.
Firstly, we have the Supreme Court case of Sebelius v Hobby Lobby or some company against the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, claims that it not only sells knick knacks but stands for Christian values and therefore refuses to adhere to the ACA mandate that it provide contraception to its employees as part of its health plan.
Although I admire this craziness, it has no grounds. Religious freedom is not a free pass to discriminate or ignore laws. This was the point of obliterating the egregious Jim Crow horror show which originated in churches in the South and was propagated by Christian organizations like the Klu Klux Klan. It expanded to owners of diners, hotels, gas station etc, all of whom decided that they did not care for civil rights because it jibed with their interpretation of Christian ethics.
The other proposed opposition to the law is contentious objector status, which was broached during President Barack Obama’s visit to the Vatican this week.
This bit of fluff theater was a nifty time to bring up three very political notions expressed by the popular Pope Francis over the past year. One is income inequality, a biggie in the First Century Jesus movement but mostly ignored by the preponderance of Christians worldwide, especially in this country. Two was the call for tolerance of all gender, creed, race and sexual orientation. The last one had many conservatives in the Vatican running for cover assuring the intolerant across the globe that the Holy Church still has their back. And finally, the aforementioned conscientious objector option for those who adhere to church dogma that preaches contraceptive use is equal to abortion and should be banned.
Whew, a lot to get to, so let’s start with conscientious objector.
Claiming conscientious objector status was famously tried in the Supreme Court in 1971 when boxing champion and social activist, Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted by the United States Army during the Viet Nam War on religious grounds. However, although the court ruled in Ali’s favor it did not cite his “conscientious objector” defense, but rather that the United States government had failed to properly specify why Ali's application had been denied, thereby requiring the conviction to be overturned. In other words, it was an easy unanimous vote due to a technicality, and quite frankly because popular opinion had swung significantly in Ali’s defense due to the abject disaster that was the Viet Nam War, which had heightened considerably since the time Ali was stripped of his title and banned from boxing in 1968.
You see, unlike Hobby Lobby, Ali manned up and took the unfair stripping of his title and languished for years to stand by his principles. He broke the law and paid the price, something this company is trying to avoid.
Hey, no more a sympathetic companion could Hobby Lobby find than this space, but on the grounds that they can pick and choose what laws they want to obey is not realistic, not to mention its lawyer began opening arguments trying to conflate a corporation with the rights of an individual under the constitution. The Civil Rights Act is enough precedent to halt Hobby Lobby denying health care coverage to its workers, specifically women, who have several health-related reasons for needing contraception beyond sexual activity.
But there is no need to bring up religion and sex in the same sentence in this or any lifetime.
Shit, there are plenty of religions that believe blood transfusions are against protocol, others cite the evil of surgery, and still others believe photographs steal your soul and leeches are the way to go. But forget religion. That’s small potatoes. Can you imagine if some giant chemical concern decides it wants to break even more laws than it currently does? You think your drinking water is poisoned now?
Now the idea of income equality is a cute aside, but for the Catholic Church it is a joke. It may be a noble cause espoused by Jesus, who was by for all intents and purposes an egalitarian, which is a fancy philosophical term for socialist, but have you seen the friggin’ Vatican? Bling on bling piled on bling. It’s like Ted Nugent preaching gun control. Please.
When the Vatican strips its jewels and gold and sells it to feed the poor, I’m on board.
Quick question: What Would Jesus Do? Short Answer: Strip the Vatican bare and give everything to the poor.
Never mind the marriage equality thing. No one is asking the Christians to be gung ho, and no one should care. Using religion to discriminate is as old and as dirt. We’ll leave this one alone.
Finally, the most appalling aspect of the week is that Barack Obama met with the leaders of an organization that has perpetuated a century-plus of unchecked and unprosecuted pedophilia; more to the point aided and abetted these acts by shamelessly covering up. A more disgusting display by a president is hard to imagine. Who wants their tax dollars going to this immoral sham?
Come to think of it, maybe it would be a boon if Hobby Lobby won this case, pushing religion into the public sector, then we can start taxing religious freeloaders and get on with the 21st century.
© James Campion April 2014
It takes a lot of guts to do what you do. (THEOLOGY OF SCIENCE – Issue: 2/26/14) Not sure what purpose it serves, other than to prod and poke (mostly fun) and confront. It is always an enjoyable read, this Reality Check. I have been a fan for a few years and this “space” as you like to call it never disappoints. It forces me to think, gives me pause or angers me in some way. And I think that’s a good thing.
I think misspent anger is too prevalent these days. People get outraged by every little thing that it fails to have any true relevance. It is good to be challenged by our beliefs and to have to gather up thought to defend them, and for that I am eternally grateful for people like yourself who put it out there, lay it on the line. Right? I mean, where would we be as a society if there were only two sides to opinion, only one black and one white and that’s it?
Apropos to that was your insightful quote at the beginning by Mr. Lenny Bruce, who in many ways paved the way to get real with ideas like religion, customs, accepted fact that was obviously false assertions about the human condition. In this tradition, your deconstruction of the Noah story was well positioned in the piece in the sense that we can only fully embrace the myth in order for it to live and breathe and matter, and sometimes to matter, it dumbs us down a little – little by little – and gives us the balls to sell Creationism as science.
Like you, I could not care how people would like to live their lives and believe and worship how they want, but it gets a little nuts to push this into the mainstream or in the legal arena, in the political arena. It does not belong there and when it gets in, it makes it harder for free thinkers to take those espousing it seriously. Then it gets dangerous when it passes for science and that is how people can rid themselves of the responsibility we have as inhabiters of this planet that we should care for it as mother to us all, instead of heaping the blame on a non-existent devil figure or hope for salivation from an equally as outlandish omnipotent god.
Keep doing what you’re doing. It makes more sense every day.
Easily one of your best columns--particularly the Noah comments--hilarious. But also the observation, which should be oft-repeated: It is interesting that despite overwhelming scientific data there continues to be a debate on whether humans have or will continue to fuck up the environment." There's only a debate because chambers of commerce own politicians and there's the dread--not that profits will end--but that obscene profits may slow down slightly.
Well done. Informative, funny, incredibly relevant.
Who doesn't think humans are fucking up this planet? Michelle Bachmann? Enough with these bible-humping simpletons. It is getting harder and harder to believe with all the technology and science and information at our disposal now that cretins continue to slither through shouting from the slag heap all this crazy shit about no climate change. Where is their proof? Like to see it. Please! I hope they are right, but I fear, and much of the data concludes this, they are painfully wrong.
Once again, we get nothing from Mr. Wise-Ass Campion on how to deal with climate control, just riddles and jokes and a lot of profanity and mockery of faith and tradition. What do you propose we do about this “global warming” or whatever the fascist environmentalists are screaming about to get us to pay more taxes and spend more money on research and to save the whales or whatever shit? We have a serious economic crisis in this country with entitlements and overpopulation and this is what will doom us, not the earth. The earth will be just fine. We’re fucked. And your fucked.
Rob Astorino is a good man, and I am glad you call him friend, but he has no shot to win in NY. (MY FRIEND...THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK? – Issue: 3/12/13)
The state is actually doing all right. Sure taxes are high, but when aren't they? Taxes boom in NJ and they have fat boy in charge. At least Cuomo set up the state exchange for the ACA and it works great. What is Astorino going to do? Close it down? I don’t trust Republicans, not that I have a love for Democrats, but the brand is damaged now. Your friend should run as an Independent and embrace different ideas than the party. How about legalizing pot or at least decriminalizing it! He’s out there saying the opposite, while Cuomo is smartly considering its advantages to our economy. Astorino is just another voice for the right wing. Boring.
Great stuff…I saw Rob on his call in to Michael Kay the other day…It seems like perhaps he just wants to get his name out there …but like he said… " Bucky Dent hi a home run….”
Love it. It think he'll win!
It is odd to hear that you have as close a friend in politics, but then again, having heard Rob on the stump, he has a genuineness about him. He is a good man, and having read your column for so long, it kind of makes sense. Of course I know you guys must have differences in opinion on many issues, but if you, who has a bug up your ass for nearly everyone that comes down the political pike, have such an affinity for him, it only bolsters my high opinion.
Go Astorino for Governor 2016!
What is this sucking up to a Republican candidate? What’s next a book about Dick Cheney’s face-shooting? I am sad.
As far as I can tell Astorino has done a fine job in Westchester as our Country Exec. He has not kowtowed to the usual nonsense and I like that he stands up to the establishment. Many of your reader should get to know this man. I do not have a personal relationship with him, such as yourself, but I know Rob. I know him as not only a decent man, which his opponents (and I am sure the Cuomo machine will try this) continue to want to compromise with wholly false innuendo, but as someone who does his friggin’ job! He does it! He embraces challenge and is not merely another mouthpiece. I’m not even a Republican and I support Rob Astorino. And anyone who doesn't see we need change around here is just not paying enough attention.
Bravo, Campion! Keep yelling from the rooftops! Save New York!
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
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James Campion + Readers Responses
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