Thursday, February 27, 2014

If You Like The Religious Freedom Restoration Act Better Fight For It

Last mights veto a bill that did amendments to the the AZ version of the RFRA was maddening on how the AZ bill was characterized. How the media just went along with this is infuriating

See The veto, coverage, and misrepresentation of AZ 1062 by Law Prof Rick Garnett.

There is much more hostility to RFRA law bills than they were in the past. Major voices are even muttering what was unthinkable a couple of years ago.  That  isthe Federal RFRA should be eliminated !

Much of the hostility about the RFRA comes down because its viewed as a threat to the march of " positive liberty " . See the Hobby Law like cases where there is much sound and fury by many.

Expect more of this.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Respecting Now Dead Snake Handling Preacher Jamie Coots

The death of a rather famous snake handling preacher has been in the news. I find my self in sort of the same position as this writer in having some awe and respect as to him . See THEY WILL TAKE UP SERPENTS via First Thoughts.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Animal Rights Used As Pretext To Run Over Religious Liberty ?

Robert Delahunty's , Associate Professor at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota , has a rather disturbing article about events in Denmark . See Animal Rights Trump Religious Rights

Things likes this seem to be a growing trend in part of Europe and its seem such things as " animal rights " are being used as a pretext to run over religious liberty. I do agree with him that Americans should contact the Danish Embassy and lodge a complaint.

Hobby Lobby And Inmate Religious Liberty Rights

Ann Althouse highlighted a interesting case  that is being considered to Supreme Court Review. See "[W]atching his hair fall to the floor during a mandated haircut in prison led him to feel that 'most of me was laying on the floor.'" . This of course deals with the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act .

I left this comment :

I think personally this dispute is pretty easy under the 3 prong test. The Indian wins.

 Its interesting to see how this case and the legislative history of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ( Hobby Lobby ) are related. The language between Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the RFRA are similar. 

In fact in one brief that is in front of the Court as to Hobby Lobby the legislative debate of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized act is used to help illuminate what the RFRA means. 

Both had a coalition of conservatives , evangelicals, liberals , ACLU types that joined with the respective administration to overturn a Fed Court opinion. 

 In the Hobby Lobby cases there is a segment that wants the entire RFRA declared Unconst ! See recent NYT Op - Ed. It needs to be remembered such logic on the RFRA would have dire results on people protected under the law mentioned here. Including but not limited to Prisoners .

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Louisiana Catholic Bishop on Sports Illustrated and Our Porn Problem

I am a general fan of Southern Baptist Russell Moore whose columns have engaged me on various spiritual , political , and social levels. One column that still sticks in my minds was What’s at Stake with Internet Pornography . He said in part :

There’s a situation in counseling I come across all too often: a couple will typically tell me first about how stressful their lives are. Maybe he’s lost his job. Perhaps she’s working two. Maybe their children are rowdy or the house is chaotic. But usually, if we talk long enough about their fracturing marriage, there is a sense that something else is afoot. The couple will tell me about how their sex life is near extinction. The man, she’ll tell me, is an emotional wraith, dead to intimacy with his wife. The woman will be frustrated, with what seems to him to be a wild mixture of rage and humiliation. They just don’t know what’s wrong, but they know a Christian marriage isn’t supposed to feel like this.

 It’s at this point that I interrupt the discussion, look at the man, and ask, “So how long has the porn been going on?” The couple will look at each other, and then look at me, with a kind of fearful incredulity that communicates the question, “How do you know?” For a few minutes, they seek to reorient themselves to this exposure, wondering, I suppose, if I’m an Old Testament prophet or a New Age psychic. But I’m not either. One doesn’t have to be to sense the spirit of this age. In our time, pornography is the destroying angel of (especially male) Eros, and it’s time the Church faced the horror of this truth.

Which brings us to an occasion where I can talk about my  little Diocese in the Sticks that is led by a very competent Shepherd. See Louisiana Catholic Bishop Compares Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to Child Abuse, Sex Trade

I guess some reaction will be oh there goes Catholic Bishops obsessed about sex again what about the poor the unemployed etc. For those that say that they don't know Bishop Duca very well who in his tenure has brought Catholic Charities to the Diocese and has done a good bit to upgrade our immigration related services..

Bishop Duca uses this as an lead in to the problem of porn addiction.

Porn is a problem no one wants to talk about though study after study shows its a serious problem. This is seen everywhere among Christians.  It is rare I see a column from LGBT Christian activist on the problem of gay porn. It is rare I see the cool Christian progressives talk about it. It is rare that I see the " conservative " Orthodox Christians talk about it.  Why is that ? Because I expect a good many Christians that want to serve God are dealing with this addiction and often fall and fail in trying to overcome it.

It is a tricky problem. It is very vogue to throw out the word hypocrite and Pharisee in today's world.  Thus people that are dealing with a serious sin / addiction like Porn but have a mission to comment on other matters just keep the subject off the table. It is a very lonely place when dealing with this problem.

Which leads me to this to rather mind blowing column by a Catholic group that wonder if the Bishops are wasting their time on an upcoming Pastoral on Porn and the Family. The fact that the poster for this group is writing for a group that proclaims itself  to " amplify the voices of a younger generation and provide insight and analysis on the issues that matter to this generation " is even more troubling. 

The fact is for most Catholic men ( and women ) the only counseling they get on their porn addiction is 5 minutes in the confessional. Porn addiction  like AA groups are rare in Catholic Dioceses which lead Catholisc to have to find some program in an Evangelical Church that in the big scheme of things are even rare there. I am sort of Debbie Downer on American Bishop Pastorals since it seems few people read them and just pull them out when they want to cherry pick a point. However if this pastoral can lead some Bishops to get programs in their Diocese to really deal with this problem well God love them.

We need to quit being in denial. People are hurting and lives are being affected. So while people can debate what role SI has in all this I hope people get Bishop Duca's bigger point.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Does White Privilege Exist ? You Bet !

During the recent Duck Dynasty episode one of the main character said some things about racial relations in his youth that had many people scratching their heads. It is too bad in the internet social media damning culture an opportunity was lost for the most part to discuss that.

On one level I sort of get what I think Phil Robertson was trying to talk about .See In Praise Of Phil Robertson’s American Wilderness .

Some of what I THINK Robertson was trying to get at I have seen discussed by  many black people of his generation.

I also get that Phil Robertson like all of us at a certain age start having a good bit of confirmation bias about the good ole days. Add to this there appears to be some real wounds dealing with class and economics as to Phil Robertson. that no doubt really play a part. In fact I think that play a huge role in many of us thinking any concept of white privilege is a myth.

Those complex issues got swept aside and in this overly political world yet another opportunity was lost to talk about issues from both a Christian and secular actor point of view.

It does not help matters that SOME  that bring up the issue of " white privilege " are causing more damage than good. Instead of a opportunity for discussion it is used as a hammer  of raw power. Sit down shut up as it were your views are not valid .

This gets more troublesome when the issue of white , Christian , or religious , or male , or heterosexual ( the list seems never ending ) is used to try to blacklist as illegitimate a wide variety of political, social , and indeed economic theory  or views. To be blunt some use the invocation of " x " privilege to take a lot off the table of discourse and possible solutions,.

It fact what is perhaps the most troubling is often  invocation of the " x " privilege argument by is causing some major damage to civil rights protections , due process protections  ,  and First Amendment protections and values.

Still it exist and Christians have a special responsibility to deal with it. We should not  let abuses of the complaints about " privilege " blind us to the fact that in many cases it exists.

Which brings me to an excellent post by Anthony Bradley an African American Professor at Kings College  and who blogs at the Action Inst. See his post No Racial Reconciliation Without Intersectionality and Privilege

I think Prof Bradley hits some points right on  and I think especially as people of Faith  we need to look at them.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Reminder To LGBT Leadership Of Importance of the First Amendment In Their History

One of the extreme ironies of American Catholic history happened in Colonial Maryland. Maryland was established in part to give a great degree of religious toleration to Catholics . Many dissident Protestants came to Maryland to take advantage of this state of affairs. Soon however the welcoming that these Catholics gave was turned on its head as these same folks played a part in disenfranchising Catholic Civil Rights in Maryland to a great degree.

 This dire situation can be seen by the distress of the Father of Charles Carroll of Carrollton . Charles Carroll of Carrollton of course was a Catholic Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Charles Carroll of Annapolis was perhaps the richest man in Colonial America at the time and had great influence. However the fact that Colonial Assembly would have to exempt him from various anti Catholic laws each year really started to grate on him. It was of such distress to him that he wrote his son studying abroad that he wanted to give up everything and start up again in what is now Arkansas. His son having faith in what he viewed as the unique emerging American experience that has happening in this British Possession happily for all of us opposed this move.

 Jonathan Rauch , who is Jewish and Gay ,  had an interesting post yesterday called The unknown Supreme Court decision that changed everything for gays .It is an example of how First Amendment rights of speech and association played a role in giving cvil rights to those that have various degrees of same sex attraction.

As they often say history repeats itself and those that benefited from Civil Rights gains then use their influence to deny others. The college campus is ground zero in this as can be seen just last week in the State of Colorado .

I say leadership of LGBT because I am not convinced how many actual LGBT folks are on board with all this. Just like I am not sure that many are fully on board by making those have objections to gay marriage have to service gay wedding ceremonies which also has compelled speech issues.

Anyway I thought a interesting article by Mr Rauch.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mark Silk Says Pro Lifers Should Support Contraception Mandate - A Response

Prof Mark Silk has a column up at Religion News Service called Anti-abortion movement should support contraception mandate.

He says in part :

 But Catholics consider abortion a far greater evil than contraception. And most other religious opponents of the mandate think contraception is just fine, at least for married women. So if there’s strong empirical evidence that contraception use reduces abortion, why fight the mandate all the way to the Supreme Court? Isn’t the anti-abortion cause worth a little religious liberty?

First Prof Silk just bypasses the fact that a part of the dispute is that many think a few of the drugs and procedures mandated actually cause a termination of a life. However lets skip that rather glaring omission.

Has Prof Silk been listening to the legal  arguments for the HHS contraception mandate recently ? The arguments being an employer has no  right to make choices as to private matters involving a woman's reproductive health for instance. That a employee's religious liberty is being interfered with by of the employers religious views. In essence some wish to make a  business a state actor.

No matter what you think about the Affordable Care Act ,  aka Obamacare , there is no doubt that what it did was very novel in many ways as a matter of law . This has implications here.

As Law Prof Josh Blackman recently stated in his post Is Hobby Lobby Imposing its Religious Beliefs on Its Employers?

But nowhere did I see any mention of a really important fact–the state action doctrine! All of these cases involve laws passed by the government that burdens religion. Here, we are talking about the actions of Hobby Lobby, a private corporation, that owes absolutely zero constitutional duty to the religious beliefs of its employees. Zip. None. They have to comply with any applicable nondiscrimination laws, and cannot discriminate against employees based on their religion, and must make reasonable accommodations for religion. But this does not translate to some sort of constitutional protection against establishing a religion in a craft store.
Another point not mentioned in this debate is that no one is forced to work for Hobby Lobby. If the package of benefits (and that’s what we are talking about) at Hobby Lobby is so insufficient, the employees are free to work anywhere else. In contrast, of course, one cannot avoid the long arm of the government if you do not like its policies (other than foot voting).
What’s lurking underneath this column is a point made several times at Balkinzation. That the ACA changed everything! That we have a new “baseline.” Now healthcare is not merely some fringe benefit, but a legal right. And to deny employees this right is so significant. Specifically, as Joey Fishkin argued, in the “post-ACA world,” Hobby Lobby is “acting partly on behalf of the federal government.”
You see what happened there? This logic makes the WaPo argument work. Hobby Lobby is not some mere private actor, but is in essence a cog in the federal machinery that guarantees healthcare to anyone. Employees should no longer treat health insurance as some sort of benefit, but now must demand it–and the employers’ religious liberty should not stand in that way.
I see strong parallels to arguments concerning the ability of religious employers to terminate non-religious employees for religious reasons. Though, employment in that context is not (yet) viewed as some sort of right that the employer must offer. (In many countries in Europe, this is the prevailing wisdom).
The significance of Hobby Lobby, I have come to realize, goes far beyond RFRA or birth control pills. Instead, the ruling would either legitimize or challenge the consolidation of the relationship between the individual, the employer, and the state, under the auspices of the ACA, in a way we have not yet seen.
That I think is very correct. Be sure to his follow up post here on the vast implications of creating a Private Establishment Clause . Despite Prof Silk assertions  we are dealing with more than just " a little " religious liberty that could be lost .

The legal and political winds of abortion politics are very much in flux.  The Pro Life movement correctly understands that if a certain precedent is set in the HHS contraception mandate cases it could very well open up the door to employers having to pay for abortions. That I don't think is an absurd slippery slope argument when we consider many of the LEGAL  arguments for the HHS contraception mandate that are being made now.

The real fear the anti abortion movement is what happens after the HHS Contraception mandate. I think its very reasonable the forces of " reproductive justice " will seek both legal and political means to expand this mandate to abortion.

Last but not least Prof Silk ends his piece with this little parting shot.

You’ve got to think that it’s not just the termination of fetal life that concerns those opposed to abortion rights. It’s anything that gives freer rein to women’s libidos. Like Mike Huckabee said.

We shall let pass that Prof Silk is not really giving the Huckabee quote in context.

 However it should be noted that the majority of non Catholic plaintiffs in these suits have no problem covering most forms of birth control. In fact Hobby Lobby covered and still has no objection to most forms of FDA approved birth control. The fact is public opinion polls shows a vast number of people have huge reservations about the HHS Contraception mandate. No doubt a vast number of these people and families that have objections  have used or currently use birth control.

While Prof Silks parting shot is a great one liner  it is not very illuminating of reality.

Vatican Releases Pope Francis 2014 Lenten Message

HERE IS THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION. Nice message by our Pontiff .

Monday, February 3, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

SNAP Wants Religious Freedom Restoration Act Declared Unconstitutional !

SNAP of course is the organization that advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse . They filed a friend of the court brief that was joined by similar orgs as well as the Freedom from Religion Foundation..

See Bold challenge to a law on religion .

Indeed I find it a bold move to advocate that an important piece of civil rights legislation that passed by huge majorities  should be overturned. I will try to read the brief later today.

So We Can't Say Vagina Anymore ?

It is so hard to keep up nowadays about what is off limits. Saying vagina who knew ?

Ann Althouse has Online feminism is full of "essays by people who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in it — not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists."