baltimoresun.com

« Evangelicals join Jews against circumcision ban | Main | Pawlenty leads GOP hopefuls in evangelical poll »

June 10, 2011

Poling: Plus ça change ...

The Rev. Jason Poling is Pastor of New Hope Community Church in Pikesville.

The good citizens of San Francisco have managed to tear themselves away from a crippling state budget crisis long enough to place a ballot measure outlawing circumcision. Being represented by Nancy Pelosi would unbalance me, too, so I don't want to be too judgmental.

Nah, I do.

What is at stake here is nothing less than the choice between the French and American visions of the social good. Liberté or liberty, sometimes the choice is clear. In San Francisco it couldn't be any clearer.

Our revolutions took place within a stone's throw of one another, chronologically. But while the French sought to institute a creedal secularism, we set out a constitutional vision of church protected from state, and vice versa. Our experiment was a lot less bloody, and a lot more successful.

Fast forward to today and in France Muslim girls are prohibited from covering their heads in school. This approach reflects an understanding of secularism as a militant opposition to religion, a strict requirement of conformity to prescribed standards however much said conformity might violate the consciences of citizens.

When our founding fathers pointed us toward a novus ordo seclorum, they had in mind a worldliness that allowed a variety of religious movements to express themselves in virtually any way that wouldn't impinge upon others. So while we don't allow the recreational use of peyote our society allows it as an expression of Native American religious observance. We'll make you take off the veil for your driver's license picture, but we'll let you wear it in class. And we'll allow you to raise your children according to the dictates of your religion, unless doing so presents an imminent threat to the child's physical health.

How is this definition adjudicated? With care, and with great respect -- at least in this country -- for the deeply held religious convictions of the people involved. If there's no overwhelming medical reason to oppose a practice, we're going to defer to the scruples of our fellow citizens. We do so in part because we would want them to do the same to us; we do so in part because most of us have a hard enough time making difficult decisions for ourselves, let alone for others. But mostly we do so because to be American is to be free to exercise, or not, our religious beliefs, and to have that free exercise protected against the prejudices of our neighbors.

The anti-Semitism of the anti-circumcision movement is impossible to miss, but even if we were able to cleanse the "intactivists" of that taint we would still be right to choose the American rather than the French version of religious freedom. Here we're as concerned about freedom for religion as we are about freedom from it.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 7:45 AM | | Comments (19)
        

Comments

Thank you for this piece advocating true religious freedom. Let each practice his/her religion in a way that is dearest to the heart without imposing personal opinions on others.

To borrow a quote from Littel. It looks like the nonreligious our want to use the coercive power of the state to force their beliefs on others.

You don't get it. Bobby only thinks that use of the power of the state is a bad thing when it goes against his political views and hate for religion. If it promotes his views it's ok.

Having been away for more than two weeks fishing in Ontario, Labrador and a few of my local favorite streams, it is gratifying to see that this forum went flat. With no action since my last post , I guess I can say that I am the driving force behind comment generation , even when I am not even here. Even this current thread has to respond to posts I've yet to make to get more than one comment. What would you silly delusional superstitionists do without me? Without me, your chauvinistic hate driven need for self validation of ideas that cannot stand on their own merits, fails to fulfill your need for martyrdom that makes people look at you as being noble, rather than shallow ignorant fools you really represent.

Right now, you defend the rights of other more retrograde religions to wear identifying clothing that the extreme Evangelicals are trying to whip up enthusiasm for a war of extermination against. Religion is false and religion is evil. History is replete with examples of why we should shed ourselves of this compost heap of festering hate, before it kills us all.

Littel there weren’t any signs of hate on this forum until you returned from your fishing expedition to spread it along with your egotistical view of your own worth and what you provide this forum. As always your views on religion are based on nothing but your opinions supported by absolutely nothing which you seem to feel are somehow significant in some way. I guess you will likely respond that since I took the time to respond that validates your egotistical view. All I can say is I hope you fish better than you make your points here.

Bobbie welcome back. How was the fishing expedition? Do you catch and cook or catch and release? The two posts the second being mine are based on a statement you've made countless times. Your misleading propaganda is pretty repetitive in nature when it attacking religion or anything not out in far left field.

You have quite an ego there. Self confidence certainly isn’t a problem for you. I’d of been just as happy if you’d stayed in Canada and fished. I don’t see where you provide anything useful on the forum. Well maybe an example of what an intolerant, angry, left wing extremist sounds like.

All it takes, evidently, is to challenge any aspect of delusional belief to trigger the accusations of hatred from absolutist believers. I suppose that is what you have to resort to, due to the lack of any ability to factually back, or substantiate the ridiculousness of what you believe.

Littel those accusations of hate are based on your own intolerant, ridiculing and posts. No one commits more personal attacks then you, Since you can't factually back your own absolutists views either theologically or politically to comment on others is rather hypocritical on your part.

So far the only challenge you've made is your usual claim of lack of proof for God. A claim that is based on you being the judge of what would be acceptable proof thereby making any attempt at such a discussion a complete waste of time.

So far you've yet to make a completely logical arguement to support your own views.

(Clay) Anonymous - You seem to be continually operating under the idea that I must somehow prove that the ridiculous pile of drek you believe is not true. I make no positive claims, no deities, no wild suppositions about the nature of the universe (other than to note that it is there and we have no idea yet how it came to be).

What I do say is that if you are going to insist that there exists a creature whose nature you claim to know, and that its desires should be forced on the rest of us (abortion ban for one), that the burden of proof is clearly on your head. If you are going to force the will of this nebulous creature on us all, then you better be prepared to cough it up so that we will all know under whose heel we must exist. Short of that, you can go take a flying leap. I will not live by rules that have been forged by squeezing society through the narrow tight sphincter of religious intolerance.

(Clay) Anonymous - You seem to be continually operating under the idea that I must somehow prove that the ridiculous pile of drek you believe is not true. I make no positive claims, no deities, no wild suppositions about the nature of the universe (other than to note that it is there and we have no idea yet how it came to be).

What I do say is that if you are going to insist that there exists a creature whose nature you claim to know, and that its desires should be forced on the rest of us (abortion ban for one), that the burden of proof is clearly on your head. If you are going to force the will of this nebulous creature on us all, then you better be prepared to cough it up so that we will all know under whose heel we must exist. Short of that, you can go take a flying leap. I will not live by rules that have been forged by squeezing society through the narrow tight sphincter of religious intolerance.

You better be careful Robert, otherwise Anonymouse may start praying for you just to spite you. They are praying for Hitchens, you know. The poor man has to suffer and be tormented by prayers heaped on his head before his demise. The prayerful will claim that his death came about because he did not believe before they themselves give up their ghosts. I hope you had a great time fishing. Yes, your enemies missed you contrary to their protestations. Nothing like a clearly identifiable enemy to elevate the religious into a trance state. You left an empty space in their religious existences that Jesus couldn't feel. After all they have to love Jesus and love is too boring compared to hate Robert. Yes, you serve your purpose for the religious. You are the substitute for the evils they must fight in their pilgrims' progress. I guess, they propose to tell Jesus when they meet up with the myth, that they deserve an entry into the heavenly abode of their imagination, because they waged valiant war with you.
"Let us in Jesus! We fought Robert tooth and nail even though we were toothless in the losing battle."



R Anon

Littel stating God does not exist is a positive claim. You can try and blow all the smoke around it you like it doesn’t change the fact that you have made a positive statement. If you were taking the agnostic line what you assert would be correct. Since you are well beyond that and go as far ridiculing those who don’t share your view on the subject it requires more than the logical fallacy that since God can’t be proven to you so He doesn’t exist.

There is no burden for me as I’ve never advocated forcing anything on anyone. Belief in God is a choice. Your continued attempt to paint abortion as solely a religious issue is a misrepresentation at best and a bold face lie at worst. Like many pro-abortion advocates you try and paint it as a religious picture to avoid talking about and dealing with the real issue. When does human life begin? It’s easier to try and paint it as you do then address the real issue. Live your life however you wish that is your right. What I won’t accept is you forcing your views to change the way I live or how our society lives. They don’t come anymore religious intolerant than you so I don’t plan on taking any steps backwards to a time when that sort of intolerance was present. Another reason to oppose you forcing your narrow angry view of the world on anyone.

R Anon I can’t help but marvel at your complete ignorance of what Christianity is about. Your willingness to mock what you don’t comprehend reflects far worse on you than anything I could ever say. You, like Littel, foolishly believe somehow you stand on some sort of logical high ground . That somehow you are intellectually superior to us poor deluded Christians. I pity you both because you both really have no clue how illogical and fallacy laden most of your diatribes really are. You have no idea that from a logical perspective you both are empty barrels making a lot of noise. Your most recent posts almost reflects a sort of jealousy or envy. I’m sure you will try and laugh it off and make some sort of ridiculing retort. Lucky for you both this is no battle. The only contest either of you could win would be a name calling one.


R Anon - Don't you find it so cute that delusionalists like (Clay) Anonymous toss the word logic around as if it could be applied to belief in the institutionalized fairy-tales he calls religious truth? I suspect he must be the moderator of this blog (Matthew Hay Brown), which would explain why he is always on the ready to defend it and why, because he has to stoop to ridiculousness to do it, that he does it Anonymously.

Littel it must be quite a shock after believing for so long that your atheism was well grounded in logic to find out it isn’t. I guess that’s why you come off sounding like a child who starts making noise louder and louder to drown out what he doesn’t want to hear. Is that why you resort to misrepresenting what I’ve said? Put me on the defensive rather than deal with the weakness in your own situation.

Maybe you would like to point out when and where I ever said logic applied to my or anyone else’s religious belief? Since you are making the accusation maybe you could provide even the slightest bit of evidence to support it. I do believe what I’ve said on numerous occasions and ways is neither of us can support our beliefs based on logic. Unlike you I just seem to be able to admit that and live with it. Then again considering that leaves you with nothing to stand on I can see why that would be difficult for you.

You also seem to be under the misguided notion that faith needs defending from your illogical, emotional, and ridiculing attacks. You can’t support your claims against my faith so what exactly is there to defend against. Trust me your continued anger laced, hate filled rants do far more damage you. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m not Mr. Brown either. I guess your detective skills aren’t any better than your logic skills. I suppose that’s why lean so heavily on personal attacks and appeals to ridicule. I do feel sorry for you. You are to atheists what Westboro Baptist are to Christians.

So, the good pastor and those supporting him in the name of religious freedom are comfortable at the thought of female circumcision as practiced religiously by some sects of Muslims?

How about circumcising a 11 year old kid, because his parents converted from the Buddhist religion to Judaism?

"allow you to raise your children according to the dictates of your religion, unless doing so presents an imminent threat to the child's physical health."

Marconi did you miss that line when you read the pastors comments. Are there Muslim sects in the US practicing the female circumcision? I'm not that knowledgeable but I don't think its was called for in their holy book. The answer to the Buddhist converting is yes if they have carefully considered it and their is no health risks.

Are you comfortable with a woman terminating the life of an unborn child for no reason other than convenience?

Anonymous I'm not so sure the answer is a cut and dry as you want to make it out to be.

rino actually it is. The constitution guarantees the freedom to practice one's religion.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Religion in the news
Charm City Current
Stay connected