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Moyers writes: "The president did something agile and wise the other day. And something quite important to the health of our politics. He reached up and snuffed out what some folks wanted to make into a cosmic battle between good and evil."

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: Robin Holland)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: Robin Holland)

Freedom Of and From Religion

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Copmpany

17 February 12


he president did something agile and wise the other day. And something quite important to the health of our politics. He reached up and snuffed out what some folks wanted to make into a cosmic battle between good and evil. No, said the president, we're not going to turn the argument over contraception into Armageddon, this is an honest difference between Americans, and I'll not see it escalated into a holy war. So instead of the government requiring Catholic hospitals and other faith-based institutions to provide employees with health coverage involving contraceptives, the insurance companies will offer that coverage, and offer it free.

The Catholic bishops had cast the president's intended policy as an infringement on their religious freedom; they hold birth control to be a mortal sin, and were incensed that the government might coerce them to treat it otherwise. The president in effect said: No quarrel there; no one's going to force you to violate your doctrine. But Catholics are also Americans, and if an individual Catholic worker wants coverage, she should have access to it - just like any other American citizen. Under the new plan, she will. She can go directly to the insurer, and the religious institution is off the hook.

When the president announced his new plan, the bishops were caught flat-footed. It was so ... so reasonable. In fact, leaders of several large, Catholic organizations have now said yes to the idea. But the bishops have since regrouped, and are now opposing any mandate to provide contraceptives even if their institutions are not required to pay for them. And for their own reasons, Republican leaders in Congress have weighed in on the bishops' side. They're demanding, and will get, a vote in the Senate.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, says:

The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. This is about freedom of religion. It's right there in the First Amendment. You can't miss it, right there in the very First Amendment to our Constitution. And the government doesn't get to decide for religious people what their religious beliefs are. They get to decide that.

But here's what Republicans don't get, or won't tell you. And what Obama manifestly does get. First, the war's already lost: 98 percent of Catholic women of child-bearing age have used contraceptives. Second, on many major issues, the bishops are on Obama's side - not least on extending unemployment benefits, which they call "a moral obligation." Truth to tell, on economic issues, the bishops are often to the left of some leading Democrats, even if both sides are loathe to admit it. Furthermore - and shhh, don't repeat this, even if the president already has - the Catholic Church funded Obama's first community organizing, back in Chicago.

Ah, politics.

So the battle over contraception no longer seems apocalyptic. No heavenly hosts pitted against the forces of Satan. It's a political brawl, not a crusade of believers or infidels. The president skillfully negotiated the line between respect for the religious sphere and protection of the spiritual dignity and freedom of individuals. If you had listened carefully to the speech Barack Obama made in 2009 at the University of Notre Dame, you could have seen it coming:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem-cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships might be relieved. The question then is, "How do we work through these conflicts?

We Americans have wrestled with that question from the beginning. Some of our forebearers feared the church would corrupt the state. Others feared the state would corrupt the church. It's been a real tug-of-war, sometimes quite ugly. Churches and religious zealots did get punitive laws passed against what they said were moral and religious evils: blasphemy, breaking the Sabbath, alcohol, gambling, books, movies, plays ... and yes, contraception. But churches also fought to end slavery, help workers organize and pass progressive laws. Of course, government had its favorites at times;  for much of our history, it privileged the Protestant majority. And in my lifetime alone, it's gone back and forth on how to apply the First Amendment to ever- changing circumstances among people so different from each other. The Supreme Court, for example, first denied, then affirmed, the right of the children of Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse, on religious grounds, to salute the flag.

So here we are once again, arguing over how to honor religious liberty without it becoming the liberty to impose on others moral beliefs they don't share. Our practical solution is the one Barack Obama embraced the other day: protect freedom of religion - and  freedom from religion. Can't get more American than that.

My thanks to Julie Leininger Pycior, professor of history at Manhattan College, for her insights and counsel on this essay

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the upcoming show “Moyers & Company,” premiering January 2012. More at your social media marketing partner


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+200 # Barbara K 2012-02-17 12:03
Get religion out of our government. There is a reason for a Separation of Church and State -- they don't mix. No one has the right to force their religious beliefs on others, and that is what the Republibaggers are doing. We have a freedom from their religion, as well as a freedom of religion. If we are going to have religion running our government, it is conceivable that in 10-20 years we could be run by a religion we don't want to be run by. We need to make them stop trying to make Taliban women out of us. What next? Burkas?
+121 # maddave 2012-02-17 12:49
Barbara K:

Your wish to "Get religion out of our government" is OK, I suppose, but I'd rather "Get religion out of our pants!"

You wanna' create wild panic? A riot? A stampede?
Just yell the word "Priest" in a room full of Altar Boys.

When they fix their own REAL (sexual) problems, then - maybe -they can work on our IMAGINED problems.
+48 # Barbara K 2012-02-17 13:05
Totally agree with you, Maddave.
+42 # ABen 2012-02-17 21:40
Well said Mr. Moyers! To paraphrase a warning attributed to Sinclair Lewis; when Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and clutching a Bible. Enter Mitch McConnell and the "tools" of the religious right-wing. Yes, let's all follow the GOP back to the Dark Ages when life was so good and personal freedom was rampant. As my students would say "What a crock!"
-2 # dayved_30 2012-02-20 17:28
I agree, but this isn't about religion running our government. This is about a religion running its own hospital and the government telling it, that it WILL give its employees what it says to give them, and if they don't they will tell the insurance the religion is paying to give it free to there employess, even if it breaks there religious beliefs. No one forces you to work for a catholic hospital, and since when is it the catholic churches job to give you contraceptive, free dicounted or otherwise. Seems like if you want the church out of your bed room don't come to it with palm up asking for contraception you can't aford. The catholic church will gladly offer insurance for prenatal and post natal care for any woman, who wants a baby, when they could easly just offer a discount abortiion or contraception,
+137 # LeeBlack 2012-02-17 12:23
I am so tired of every social issue being categorized as a religious issue. Decisions that effect all Americans should be decided on a 'good for the community'.

As a caller into Diane Rehm said this morning, "Some religions forbid alcohol but we continue to allow drinking, suffer drunk driving accidents, spend money on finding drunk drivers."

We cannot consider every religious tenet a reason to formulate laws.

Iran is a country where laws are based on religion. Is that what we honestly want in our country?
+2 # 2012-02-18 12:01
Well said, LeeBlack!
+68 # tomo 2012-02-17 12:40
Americans have taken God out of religion and replaced him with Greed; and they call their muddle "Jesus." I can imagine Jesus up in heaven perusing the Sermon on the Mount and then looking down on America today and asking "How could they have gotten from this to that?" If we could get the ersatz nonsense we peddle as Christianity out of government, that would of course be a very wholesome thing. But an even more miraculous thing would be if we began living and governing in accord with the Sermon on the Mount.
+64 # Hankster 2012-02-17 12:40
Infringement on their religious freedom,
eh? What about all the "freedoms" their
friggin' priests take with little boys?
They're all hipocrites!
+48 # Doubter 2012-02-17 14:45
These Medieval peacocks (well, Cardinals) belong in the "Dustbin of History" and would have become extinct long ago if they hadn't been allowed to indoctrinate and molest generation after generation of fresh new victims.
Same thing applies to the "Protestants," as they protested against the symptoms instead of the brainwashing, which they took up and gleefully continue to this day.
+77 # kelly 2012-02-17 13:10
Every few years, after a couple of insignificant victories, the Religious Right starts to feel as if they have a mandate and they begin to push their agendas farther and farther. As I recall, when we started this election, it wasn't even supposed to be dealing with social issues. Remember? Jobs, jobs, jobs. Then a few Christian jihadists got a bit lucky with some states' rights cases on abortion and they decided to really push it. They should have learned from the Komen fiasco that it was time to stop. They have now reached their second Schiavvo(sp.?) moment. This time, much like the last, will prove so repulsive to most it will serve as a last nail in this election cycle. When will they learn?
+57 # reiverpacific 2012-02-17 13:15
Don't ever forget that the supreme robed jokers have two members of "Opus Dei" in their ranks (Scalia and his corrupt lap-dog Thomas) and what d'you think THEY put first, their shadowy-power-b roker devotion to the Vatican's declarations from on high or their judicial duties.
And Gawd knows how many more in both houses are likewise affiliated.
O.D. was heavily involved in the recent coup in Honduras and it's now US-pleasing faux-democratic right wing crop of pretenders against the overwhelming will of the people.
I'll call the US a democracy when their senior elected officials and president can be voted into office with having to show some church affiliation, or at least be obliged to have the appearance of one.
No doubt we'll be stuck with such conflicts as the one Mr Moyers points out, for a long time to come and I actually kinda like the way Ob' handled it.
+61 # szq5777 2012-02-17 13:21
First let me say that I am a Christian! Jesus is my savior. He died on the cross for me! But I also believe in the seperation of chruch and state. I want the government out of my church and my church out of my government! I see nothing wrong with contraseption. Religion is a personal matter!
+10 # Regina 2012-02-18 12:51
Unfortunately, it's a political power, manipulating for control of the "sheep." Judge every religion by what its power-wielders do, not merely by what they preach.
+103 # fredboy 2012-02-17 13:27
I taught First Amendment law for 26 years, and Bill knows his stuff. In fact, the First Amendment first guarantees freedom FROM religion, then guarantees freedom OF religion. The historical context of the authors' intent is significant--th ey were attempting to free the colonies from the tyranny and prejudice of a state-imposed religion.
+5 # 2012-02-18 12:25
Fredboy: As an attorney and professsor of constitutional law, can you explain how Rick Santorium, et al, are getting away with their attempt to merge their fundamentalist religious concepts into law? Are the Tea Party candidates, supporters, and followers powerful enough to do this?
+3 # 2012-02-18 18:26
This is a question I hope Fredboy, who taught First Amendment law for 26 years will answer!
+3 # fredboy 2012-02-20 17:39
Sorry I missed your excellent comment. He is obviously pandering to the hyper-fundament alists' highly emotional dream of a "Christian America." While Christianity and all faiths are welcome here, the First Amendment's clearest prohibition bans making any (or several or all) of them "official" faiths. What seems even more disturbing is since this posting he seems to be coming out against the Earth, our sole life support system. That stretches way beyond "faith" and seems to border on the sociopathic. Why would anyone wish to harm their, their children's, and their grandchildren's life support system?
+2 # 2012-02-20 23:11
Thank you, Fredboy. I think Santorum's increasing numbers are bringing out the meglomania in him which often does border on sociopathic behavior. His ideas seem to be coming from a frantic desire to go backward in time coupled with grandiosity and ignorance in regard to the constitution and the role of a leader which he obviously envisions him-self as, and which he views as being a fascist, patriarchal totalitarian jerk. Can he get away with this? BTW: What does he have in mind in regard to harming our Earth? The man was dangerous
when he was in the 4th runner up. Now, that he's in 2nd place, he's rabid!
Thanks, Fredboy
+46 # DrBill 2012-02-17 13:43
Jesus returns to earth and sees the glittering raimants on the "princes" of the Catholic Church and their Pope, looks at the incomparable wealth contained within the walls of the Vatican, watches the arcane rituals and pomp, and says "What the HELL is this!? I leave for a couple of millenia, and this is what you turn things into?"
+79 # DrBill 2012-02-17 13:46
The pledge of allegiance, written in the late 19th century, did not have the words "Under God" in it. That was inserted in the 50s during the McCarthy era, under the intense lobbying of the Catholic Church as a propandistic way to fight "godless" communism.
It's about time that those two words were removed from the pledge and the national motto officially returned to E Pluribus Unum and do away with "In God We Trust" (everyone else pays cash).
+6 # 2012-02-18 12:54
DrBill: Are you aware that most Americans are unaware of this?
Particularly those mesmerized or confused by the Tea Party candidates.
It would be highly appropriate to enlightent voters with this factual information and to inform them of how important it is to our freedom to keep religion and state separate.
+8 # Patriot 2012-02-18 21:57
DrBill, delineates the long prcess by which the Pledge was finally amended; it was nt quite as you described.
However, I happen to agree with you that those words should be removed: Either we have freedom both OF AND FROM religion, or we don't have religious freedom at all.
0 # 2012-02-19 11:28
We need an expert in jurisprudence and constituional law to address this subject in an editorial.
+1 # Regina 2012-02-19 13:25
Ben Franklin said it all: "God helps those who help themselves."
DrBill is right -- it's time we got rid of the miasma of religiosity..
+78 # DPM 2012-02-17 14:06
The Republican party has become morally bankrupt. They really do not care about an issue except that it be the opposite of President Obama. I am not a fan of the president, but to take an opposite stance just because it is opposite is ridiculous and any "right thinking" individual should be ashamed of themselves for supporting that kind of action.
+1 # 2012-02-18 14:50
DPM: It is also "Moral Bankruptcy" for these candidates to move backward in history to a time before we had laws protecting the equality of all citizens. Actually, it is not only immoral but patently absurd to hear these candidates fighting over who is the true authentic conservative & trying to prove it by promising to take away SS & medicare from Seniors, programs providing assistance for the impoverished & needy; labor unions that protect workers, environmental protection and public education programs, safety regulations regarding industrial toxicity, airline travel, & the safety of food & water we ingest daily. Is this the best the Republicans can offer America? Or the worst?

Can Obama do any better after his very disappointing first term as president & after betraying our constitutional right to due process?
+52 # Joe6pK 2012-02-17 14:29
It is inconceivable in the year 2012 the gop is still trying to bring back the 7th century foolishness of religious rule over people. If you ever had any doubt Theocracy is not meant for multiple cultured areas or countries just take a gander at the so-called holy lands! This holier them thou attempt at usurping the Constitutional of this land should be met with rage and displacement of all these elected officials and not a scintilla of consideration as it is nothing more then male dominated bigotry very similar to of the Taliban! It certainly has nothing this 66 year old veteran recognizes as being anything that fits in my countries secular democracy. It does advocate for more Warrens for the senate and the house, women who can confront these bigots on equal terms to embarrass and humiliate them with provable facts that destroy their sexists lies, which would be nothing like what they have been doing with their male dominated one-sided acts like this one for so many centuries. Time for the right to be set to one side and finally like corporate personhood rejected as legal or relevant representation of any American positions, just more corporate dogma to cut down women's rights and all workers, it is nothing else! Shame on the whole group of gop small minded congressmen that think their above us all!
+46 # Morris Townson 2012-02-17 14:44
ummmhumm... but what REALLY gets me is that the "Recreation Drug" VIAGRA is covered and is OK under the Chaotic Xtian religion... yep, think about that one...
+35 # humanmancalvin 2012-02-17 14:47
Do not think for one second that the far-right (all republicans today) pols believe word one of this nonsensical non issue. They will use whatever fuel is available to fan the flames that heat their base and to garner votes. The right wing may be ignorant but they are far from stupid. This, like all other super inflated bags'o'crap will be bought by our less educated red-staters and rally them to turn out the vote in 2012.
We ALL must begin now to work doing whatever we can to ensure that President Obama has 4 more years to continue bailing us out of the crater that Bush built.
And a big P.S.: never ever, for absolutely any reason vote republican or fail to support the Democrat(ic)tic ket.
+39 # Sir Real 2012-02-17 15:26
McConnell acts like the President is going to shove a birth control pill down the throat of every American girl over ten years old. What a bunch of authoritarian asshats. What the Republicans don't say is anyone is free to NOT take birth control. Something else McConnell also isn't telling you, just as Mittens Romney has managed to dodge so far is, the Mormon Church declined to take a side in this debate many years ago. They are not against women taking birth control. I'll bet Mitch's insurance covers his viagra. Or maybe it doesn't and that's what's wrong with him.
+39 # stonecutter 2012-02-17 16:16
If McConnell has ever uttered a single cogent word on the floor of the Senate, a word or phrase or sentence that wasn't trite political smack, that had anything to do with actually governing this nation instead of scoring brownie points with the Tea Party and their shadow army of bigots and cretins, I haven't heard it. He is a disgrace to the office he holds, and the sooner he disappears from the scene, the better for the rest of us. Let him start a lobbying firm with Tom Delay; a fitting transition.
+11 # Patriot 2012-02-18 22:03
Second the motion. He and Rand Paul are my Senators -- which means, as far as I can tell, that I have no representation in the Senate! Kentucky is my adopted state, and I like it very much, but Kentuckians keep sending McConnell back to Washington, although he stabs them in the back every change he gets. Makes me wonder....
+6 # 2012-02-19 11:34
They have a petition in Madison, Wisconsin to get Scott Walker out. Why not McConnell?
+42 # GreenBee 2012-02-17 17:37
I have religious objections to dropping bombs on innocent children, civilians as we do whenever we go to war, but I am forced to pay for that every time I pay my taxes. If I have to honor their cherised religious beliefs maybe it's time they honor mine and release me from funding wars? The Republicans and the Catholic Church don't seem to have as much of problem with my religious freedom being violated in this way. Or with the act of war itself and all the innocent babes and fetuses killed in war with anywhere near same fervor they have for the aborting of fetuses.
+15 # tomo 2012-02-17 20:55
As one who was once an active Catholic, I am continually bewildered by how the Catholic Church treats its pacifists. Sometimes they are simply shut down (as "inconvenient to the ROTC program" or the like. Sometimes they are tolerated. Embraced: never!
+21 # Rick Levy 2012-02-17 19:45
"...But churches also fought to end slavery..."

Big deal, they also perpetrated and justified slavery for centuries. They shouldn't get a don't get a gold star just for ceasing what they had been a party to all along.
-41 # The Voice of Reason 2012-02-17 19:46
In the 1960s, birth control pills opened the door to recreational sexual activity. But where has the sexual revolution led us: Are we a more enlightened society, or are we simply pandering to base sexual appetites with no plan in mind?
There are those who believe that life is sacred, and further that the act that brings life into being is also sacred. Most others see sex as a right, a rite, an industry, and best enjoyed while intoxicated. Such enlightenment! that can make the emptiness of life seem almost palatable.
+20 # Glen 2012-02-18 07:47
Voice, sex was always recreational, whether folks admit it or not. It is a natural instinct that even religion cannot squash. Trouble is, women always took the brunt of any result of having sex. Contraception gave women the freedom to control any result of sexual activity rather than being the victim.

Lack of education in sexual matters is a very real problem today. Many times it is the religious girls who get pregnant and must learn "the facts of life" from friends, rather than parents.

Life truly is sacred, but most folks are NOT intoxicated while pursuing sexual instincts, thereby forgetting how sacred sex can be. After all, it has traditionally been men who eschewed anything having to do with the sacred, preferring to pursue women, who had no choice.
-11 # The Voice of Reason 2012-02-19 14:19
Sex has become recreational b/c it is so enjoyable. But it is also the building block of human society and is fundamental to human existence. We lose sight of the latter when we cheapen or demean the sex act. Why is moderation so unacceptable, and unbridled pandering so revered?

Admittedly, the term 'most' is vague, anywhere from close to a majority to upwards of 90%, and the target group is not delineated. So most can be one way or another and both are correct. Most people having sex between 18 to 30 likely have this 'devil may care' approach. How's that?
+6 # 2012-02-19 20:14
Voice of Reason:

"People having sex between 18 to 30 who use a contraceptive devise to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or disease are unlikely to have a "devil may care approach" because they're acting responsibily by using precaution.
+11 # Cambridgemac 2012-02-18 12:09
Quoting The Voice of Reason:
Most others see sex as a right, a rite, an industry, and best enjoyed while intoxicated.

What nonsense. Provide some facts to back up your scurrilous statement. Your projections reveal far more about you than they do about the world.
-5 # The Voice of Reason 2012-02-19 14:07
Quoting Cambridgemac:
Quoting The Voice of Reason:
Most others see sex as a right, a rite, an industry, and best enjoyed while intoxicated.

What nonsense. Provide some facts to back up your scurrilous statement. Your projections reveal far more about you than they do about the world.

Okay, for those who don't get out much, and if you're really serious, there is the sex industry, the night club scene, legalized prostitution, teenage sex attitudes, and this article on birth control pills. Did you really mean 'scurrilous'!? :)
+28 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-02-17 21:22
It was Canadian PM Trudeau in the '70's who said: The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. He was right, too.
+29 # Regina 2012-02-17 21:56
Freedom of and from religion? First get the Council of Bishops out of the process of developing legislation in the American Congress. They have been acting like a subcommittee of every committee concerned with human rights, and there is no legal basis for their inclusion. With their dyed-in-the-woo l patriarchy and misogyny, they are especially odious to any American still free to think. I'm equally opposed to any other sect attempting to insert its theology into our legislative procedures. However, the confluence of the bishops and the Republican war against women is the worst conspiracy we face.
+15 # wullen 2012-02-18 05:36
Let's give these religious zealots a choice. They can have a say in politics and our laws OR they can have tax free status. Not both. It's a no brainer which one they would pick.
+13 # Glen 2012-02-18 07:56
Under Reagan and a bit before, politicians and the church learned to divide and conquer the U.S. population. This recent debate is the perfect example of that method: get citizens stirred up over an emotional issue, become more aggressive in efforts to pass bogus, restrictive laws and get their minds off the military, war, jobs, banks, or whatever else is happening at the time. Get 'em to protest this contraception/a bortion nonsense, so they won't protest the government.

Same ole same ole. It works, of course, but a lot of folks aren't falling for it quite like they might have 20 years ago.
+13 # Windy126 2012-02-18 11:42
I never cease to be amazed at what the GOP tries to shove down our throats. What scares the hell out of me is Rick Santorum.
Remember him? one of the Republicans along with Newt Gringrich who wants Terry Schaivo to be kept "alive" no matter what? The woman was functioning at brain stem level. Her husband just wanted to let her go, as she had discussed with him before she became this way. Her family with the backing of unidentified person or persons wanted her kept alive. Her husband won. An autopsy showed not only was she blind but that her brain had turned to mush. She was totally incapable of ever becoming a functioning human again. This brings up "Death Panels". Which the is government paying for us to legally put into writing our final wishes of what we want to happen to us if we are unable to do so in the future.
This takes the burden off of survivors and caregivers. This has also been blown out of proportion. To say "granny"
will be put to death for convenience of the government is ludicrous.
I agree with Barbara K. NEVER vote Republican . One final note, my 22 year old granddaughter thinks that all girls between the ages of 13 and 25 should be required by law to take birth control. She has seen, at her age, too many young lives ruined by pregnancy. and too many neglected children.
+6 # Doubter 2012-02-18 12:22
How about: "should be offered free pills" instead of "required by law?"
+10 # ericlipps 2012-02-18 15:06
What they want is to have Catholic institutions left free to enforce their religious dictates even on non-Catholic employees while having the federal governemnt continue to dump trainloads of money into them for research and other purposes as it now does. In other words, they want a religious preference. They have a lot of gall dressing that in the First Amendment.

If they really wanted to exempt themselves from federal requirements they find offensive, they'd stop accepting federal support for their hospitals and so forth. Don't hold your breath waiting, though.

Some years ago the fundamentalist Bob Jones University faced a roughly similar problem: it had a decades-old "scripture-base d" policy banning interracial dating, which, it was told,. It would have to give up or lose its tax-exempt status. As usual, money talked and “scripture” went out the window. The bishops, though, demand that the government bend the knee and kiss the ring.
+11 # Texan 4 Peace 2012-02-18 17:17
If the Catholic Bishops consider it to be against their religious principles to offer comprehensive health care, maybe they should get out of the for-profit hospital business. Just sayin'.
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-02-18 20:09
Quoting Texan 4 Peace:
If the Catholic Bishops consider it to be against their religious principles to offer comprehensive health care, maybe they should get out of the for-profit hospital business. Just sayin'.

Good one!
+5 # Patriot 2012-02-18 22:11
Methinks it just might have been the COST of complying with the requirement to provide ANY health insurance that brought up the notion of objecting to the requirment that reproductive health and contraceptives be covered, too. It's not the principle, stoopud, it's the money!
+6 # Robyn 2012-02-18 23:57
It is only when we are free of religion that we will be truly free. Religion, all religion has done nothing but drag humanity backwards. Whether it is Christian dogma, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc, all religions have one thing in common. The need to control. We are now in the 21st century and yet we are still fighting over issues such as health, women's issues that include abortion, rape and contraceptives. The only reason that these remain issues are because of backward thinking people who adhere to a way of thinking that is no longer relevant in modern life. We no longer need god or the myth of a deity in our lives. We are able to control our lives without someone rushing in waving a bible or any religious symbol in order to tell us what to do and how to think. God is a crutch and it is time we accept that and move on.
-3 # wwway 2012-02-19 12:53
Robyn, I can't recall if it was Ben Fanklin or someone else but they said, "When America ceases to be free from religion it will cease to be free for religion."
+1 # stonecutter 2012-02-20 13:20
A few years ago there was a period of sharp public debate, sometime around the implementation of so-called "faith-based initiatives" in the Invisible Bush administration, about the differences between "penitant" and "triumphalist" Christianity as practiced in this country.

Without bogging down this comment in religious dogma, penitant Christianity runs parallel to the Sermon on the Mount in tone and substance; triumphalist Christianity is the traditional retributive, punitive brand of New Testament hellfire and brimstone, aimed at the "God-fearing" simpleton.

We could argue this until the cows come home with the chickens, but the point is that penitance is a good, humane, inclusive vibe, and triumphalism is the antithesis. People who are force-fed the latter brand tend to be stupid, or at least ignorant, bigoted, angry, easily led and manipulated, indifferent to facts or science, and convinced of their moral self-righteousn ess and superiority to others, including Christians who don't see things their way.

On the other side, you've got United Church of Christ, the Sojourners, Episcopalians, who champion racial and ethnic diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance, social justice, equal rights, and so forth. I am not a Christian, but these are my kind of Christians. When Jim Wallis writes something, I'm moved by it, it has a positive impact on my thinking. When Santorum speaks: Mute Button. Where is the penitant Christian candidate?
+7 # Jumpstart 2012-02-19 12:44
If Republican candidates where 'religious" they would have noticed that they have broken the first commandment, "thou shalt no lie". Women issues should be decided by women, they have bore the destruction of this planet by men, wars started by men, the killing of their sons and daughters by war, religions have burned them at the stake, demeaned them to property status, controlled them through denying them rights to their own bodies, and this is what the Republican Party wants to stand for. Mitch McConnell is a disgrace to Kentucky women who have struggled as many others to gain the right to their own destinies, not to be viewed as religious trinkets or property.
This dogma is just a pretense of dismantling our constitution and civil rights and should be looked upon as treason. I don't see many of them waiting in adoption lines for thousands still in foster care or those living in poverty and denied the benefits of the rich and powerful at the top who pass such laws.
+3 # gslusher 2012-02-19 13:07
"But churches also fought to end slavery..."

Some also fought to keep it, as they found it to be the normal order of things. White Protestant churches in the South, even in the 1950s and 1960s, often opposed integration and advances in civil rights.
+4 # Andrea Grazzini 2012-02-19 14:32
As a Catholic American woman, I agree. Obama's choice is reasonable and respectful.

But, I reject all-male (and thus, non-representat ive) hierarchies propagandizing religious liberty in formal taxpayer-funded testimonies at government institutions like Congress.

So, to prevent the spread of Bigot's Disease in "We" the People public spaces, I suggest this:

Prophylactics should be put on before rhetorical ejaculations are made on religious liberty.

And, people of morals must protect our Country from anti-other people contagions.

While Bono and Bill Gates are busy trying to prevent AIDs in Africa (with help from our Churches). And US Military is busy trying to prevent the spread of Muslim bigotry (with help from our Churches.)

We need good men (and women) to employ barrier methods that separate religion from government.

So non-Civil seeds are not spread via State pulpits.

Andrea Morisette Grazzini
-9 # The Voice of Reason 2012-02-19 14:32
Historically, when religious followers strayed far from the teachings of their Messenger, God sent us a new Messenger. And the people rejected His message.

Today is no different. Baha'u'llah has come with a new message and a solution for all of today's problems. He appeared in 1844 and spent 40 years in prison, banishment and exile at the hands of Iranian and Turkish religious and government leaders.

No one is compelled to look into the teachings of the Baha'i Faith; all is voluntary. And the teachings state that they far surpass the combined teachings of Moses, Jesus and Mohammad.

What harm could possible come from investigating this Truth?
+3 # 2012-02-19 20:23
Voice of Reason: No harm in investigating but what does
the Baha'i faith have to do with contraception which is the subject of this Post?
-4 # The Voice of Reason 2012-02-20 15:44
The Teachings of Baha'u'llah will help you unravel the mysteries of life and open before your eyes the door to the eternal reality. Our existence in this physical plane precedes our life in the next world, and it is an opportunity to prepare ourselves for this spiritual journey.

Life in this world depends on procreation of the human society. However, contraception is one factor, combined with the whole sexual revolution / free sex attitude (promiscuous, non-monogamous, premarital), that corrupts social morals and distracts people from their true purpose in life.
+5 # papabob 2012-02-19 15:43
Are these the same guys who, in the name of God and all that was holy, used to burn people at the stake?
+2 # Rockiey57 2012-02-19 17:53
Why would I as a Messianic Jew want the thieves of the catholic church to decided what is "good" for my country when they took so many of the writings out of what we know as the Holy Bible with the pretense that we as the "common" folk were not smart enough to understand what they say in those writings? There are at least 138 books that they removed, and probably more just unfound yet or under the Vatican.
0 # Wilka 2012-02-20 06:34
Damned Eleeeeetist Priests! (((grins!)))
+2 # stonecutter 2012-02-20 06:01
For the guy above evangelizing Baha'i, I heartily recommend Bill Maher's "Religulous".It 's a free country, but this is essentially a political site, not a forum for New Age "enlightenment" . Thanks, anyway.
+1 # Wilka 2012-02-20 06:33
PLEASE! Read The Good News Club by katherine Stewart. THEIR Fundie-xtian religion is today being pushed in 3,500 public elementary schools in OUR country. This is unacceptable, hard to fight, and will create a world where women's rights would be the LEAST of our social problems.

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