Petulance

Mixing Religion and Politics

The author of this meme neglects to provide any specific examples of government intrusion upon his/her religion, so I took to the Internet in search of supporting evidence.

According to Bishop David O’Connell in an NJ.com opinion piece: the “Health and Human Services mandate forcing nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, including abortifacients and surgical sterilization” constitutes an attack on the liberties of religious objectors. Yet Rev. O’Connell acknowledges in the next paragraph that President Obama extended an exemption to those same objectors, so that their organizations would not be required to cover the hated drugs and procedures, but it’s still not good enough. Apparently, Rev. O’Connell is incensed that the government allows anybody to make choices with which he personally disagrees. The government’s willingness to facilitate differing viewpoints must certainly be a sign of its gradual erosion of religious liberties, right?

But that’s just one person’s opinion. Are there others who think the government’s will is blocking their spiritual path? Oh, you bet.

Paul Roy wrote in The Guardian Liberty Voice that the recent Supreme Court case of Town of Greece v. Galloway was a classic example of religion under attack. The case was passed up from a lower court which had declared that the town of Greece, New York, could not open its legislative sessions with a (predominantly Christian) prayer. Although the case had not been decided when Roy wrote his piece, the SCOTUS eventually voted 5-4 that the town could permit volunteer chaplains to issue a prayer. Naturally, the religious right was ecstatic – they hailed it as a victory for religious liberties – but that hasn’t stopped them from grousing about government intrusion in other arenas.

Erik Stanley writes in speakupmovement.org – a website dedicated to “protecting and promoting” the rights of churches – that Washington state’s acceptance of same-sex marriages poses a threat to religious freedoms. Although the law does not require religious officials to solemnize any particular wedding, according to Stanley, wording in the bill (in Section 7 (PDF)) would require that if any church rents its facilities to non-member heterosexual couples for the purpose of getting hitched, it would be required to rent its facilities to same-sex couples.

While that may sound awfully intrusive – particularly if you’re a religious conservative – keep in mind that an open rental policy exposes the church to a lot of people with whom the church may not agree: atheists, pro-choicers, etc. When you open your doors to the public, you always take that risk. The solution is simple: either accept that your facilities will occasionally be rented for purposes with which you don’t agree, or don’t rent to non-members. Problem solved.

So is the government intruding upon our religious rights? In each of these cases, some layer of the government was trying to make our nation more inclusive, and in each case religious conservatives fought back vociferously. To the maker of this meme: it seems to me that the government isn’t intruding upon your religion. The people are asking you not to impose your religious beliefs upon others, and you are perceiving that as an intrusion. What does that say about your religion; or more directly, what does that say about you?

Catholic Apples and Muslim Oranges

Catholic_Condoms

Oops, did you catch that? That oh-so-subtle attempt to once again tie President Obama to Islam? Sure, the Muslim Obama myth may no longer be something you can mention out loud without drawing the derisive laughter of more rational people, but you can still slip the implication that Obama favors Muslims over Christians into your ill-informed tweets and get away with it.

I’m not going to argue about whether it’s right to require faith-based hospitals to provide health care options which are contrary to their religious beliefs. On the one hand, I do value religious freedom. On the other hand, this is health care we’re talking about. Womens’ reproductive health – and the numerous, often difficult decisions that go along with it – are a vital part of overall health care, no matter how much some lawmakers would like to believe otherwise. Restricting womens’ access to reproductive health care is, in my opinion, just as immoral as forcing Catholic hospitals to provide abortions and condoms.

If this tweet-turned-meme were just making the point that the author doesn’t care very much for the Affordable Care Act and it’s implications for faith-based hospitals, I wouldn’t have much to say about it. But the tweeter completely misses the point by insinuating that the president is some kind of hypocrite. Why? Because, according to the tweeter, Obama wants Catholic institutions to provide access to condoms and abortions (which are a part of womens’ reproductive health care and therefore may fall under the purview of any health care establishment) but he doesn’t force Muslims to sell bacon and alcohol (which definitely are not associated with health care, except to its detriment).

If you cannot see the problem with this comparison, then perhaps you think that a woman’s access to affordable reproductive care is on the same level as a person’s access to booze and bacon. Many people enjoy those things, but nobody’s health will be endangered if they don’t get them…in fact, a lot of people would probably be better off. Please, don’t reduce the issue of womens’ reproductive health care to a farce, no matter how much you hate the idea.

RFID Up!

RFID Mania

You’d think the absolute failure of the 2012 doomsday prophets would have made people less prone to buy into end-of-times nonsense, but you’d be wrong. You’d be very, very wrong.

There was some text accompanying this meme. It started off with a passage from the Revelation about the so-called “Mark of the Beast”, then went on to explain why the Mark of the Beast is totally not just a veiled jab at Roman emperor Nero. According to the delusions of end-of-timers, the Mark of the Beast is (or will be):

a worldwide system that collects and gathers information, and ties it in with personal records of all kinds. This will culminate in a chip, implanted in your body, that will personally connect you to the system. Today you see that information is already being collected when you use your debit card, the loyalty card at the supermarket, your car has computer chips that enable it to function – everything is controlled by a chip that feeds the information to various databases around the world. Even the Internet itself is part of this system.

And all of this is copied and pasted without any hint of irony on Facebook. Facebook. Take a moment to let that sink in.

It’s really hard to write up an argument against the RFID/MotB believers. Like any good conspiracy theorist, they have a response for every counter-argument you might care to make. If Snopes debunks the myth that Obamacare requires RFID implants (which they totally did), the conspiracy nuts will claim that Snopes is in the liberals’ back pocket and that mandatory RFID chips were written into an earlier version of Obamacare, then chopped out for the current version (like here), despite the fact that RFID chips were not mandated by any version of Obamacare, past or present, nor have they ever been. The earlier version of Obamacare, known as HR3200, did try to establish a national registry for all implantable devices. Sure, RFIDs are implantable…but so are pacemakers. The Evil Government was evilly trying to monitor your evil life-saving devices. Revolution!

So, RFID conspiracy nuts have completely abandoned the use of logic and reason in favor of terror and anxiety. No explanation will satisfy them unless it somehow proves that Obama is the son of Santans, because Jesus came riding down on a magical flying unicorn and said so Himself. Oops, I’d better not say that out loud; somebody will surely make it into a meme.