Evangelical Christians trample my religious freedom by applying their convictions to all in the abortion debate

The abortion debate in America is a contentious one that I have no interest in rehashing here. While I have many thoughts and opinions on the issue, most of them fall outside of the kind of rational discussion I prefer to instigate on my little site dedicated to the wonderful as opposed to the profane.

Something I cannot ignore of late are the actions of multiple states—tellingly, states which tend to be poorer than the U.S. average with a markedly less educated populace—as they defy the moderate will of the majority of American citizens and the affirmed constitutional right of individual Americans to follow their own faiths and consciences with regard to abortion procedures.

Activists at the extreme of both sides pervert this complex and morally fraught issue by ignoring subtleties and braying out absolutes and ultimatums. I reject those dangerous simplifications from both the right and left. Most Americans believe that some abortions should be safe and legal. Less than half of Americans support either a total ban or the complete freedom to terminate any pregnancy.

In particular, as a Jewish woman, I find it offensive that conservative Christians are promoting their religious beliefs in the political arena with a total disregard for the separation of church and state.

This separation, of course, is another freedom guaranteed to each of us by the Constitution.

The actors on these Supreme Court defying laws like to portray themselves as sole legitimate arbiters of God’s will. Upon signing the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in America, Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama issued a statement that she did so because “every life is a sacred gift from God.” Of course, with no exceptions in the Alabama bill for survivors of horrific crimes against girls no matter how young or women whether competent to consent or not who become pregnant, it’s obvious that Governor Ivey feels some lives are more sacred than others, and that it is her place to judge such matters.

Jewish law argues that a mother’s life must be saved at the expense of a fetus if the parent is in danger and the process of childbirth has not yet begun. “[T]he life of those already living comes before the life of those yet to be born.”Jewish law also recognizes the mental health of the mother as a vital factor in making the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Other faiths advise their adherents differently.

It is evangelizing pure and simple for this kind of dictatorial Christian to attempt to subvert my religion with her own when it comes to my family’s medical decision making.

There are suppositions about the moment that “life” begins, but no definitive answers from science yet to trump matters of faith and belief. We may someday know when the spark of animation—or the soul—enters the bundle of cells that grow into living flesh. We do not know now beyond a general range of viability dates for human babies.

From my perspective, it would be wise for people who value unborn lives above those of living women to invest heavily in the technological leap of gestating fetuses outside the womb. If it were possible to “harvest” unwanted pregnancies and nurture them elsewhere, some of the moral quandaries would change if not diminish. Certainly at that point those with the most extreme viewpoints on the subject of abortion could offer to save every unwanted child and assume the costs—financial, social, and emotional—thereof.


Make America civil again

America is in the midst of a crisis. It’s a crisis of uncivil behavior.

Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of Whether you feel undermined by shifting demographics in the United States of America or unhappy with the man who currently occupies the Oval Office, each of us is entitled to an opinion.

The First Amendment specifically protects our right to express these opinions freely. The language is unambiguous, and our democratic republic can never be considered secure where this right is threatened.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

copied from official US government site archives.gov (emphasis mine)

When any individual or group employs harassment and violence against another in an attempt to silence peaceful expression of free speech, the aggressor is the greatest threat to American values and freedom. Continue reading

Vote because it is your civic duty; your freedom depends upon it

Many reasons have been given for “why” each of us should vote. There’s really only one: a representative government cannot exist without input from the people. If we don’t accept our responsibility to speak up at the polls, we’re literally asking for the oligarchy to usurp our agency.

define oligarchydefine agencyUnless you are seeking to overthrow our entire system of government, you need to vote to make our republic work. Even if you are happy with the status quo, you should be expressing your pleasure with a vote for the incumbent(s). If you object to what Washington is doing, complain after you get yourself to the polls to put your opinions in writing!

USA flag - 1The United States isn’t a direct democracy, of course, but a representative one wherein we elect others to do the work of governing on our behalf. Whether you are for or against the size of the current government and its many agencies, your role in the system remains unchanged. You vote as a signal for your representatives to follow.

Failing to vote is really a failure to uphold the American value system as a whole. It suggests that our founders were mistaken when they rebelled against monarchy and taxation without representation. Not voting is a demand that someone else usurp your power; specifically, your right to self-governance.

USA flag flying on pole OhioThis right is the linchpin to what made America great. I’d argue that the ideas that “all men are created equal” and that our leaders are only “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed have been our most valuable export. When only a minority of American citizens exercise the right to vote, we really aren’t acting like a nation of free men and women with any justification for world leadership.

You want to make America great “again”? And I disagree, by the way, with the use of the past tense in that statement!

  • Vote in every election, not just presidential ones every four years, but also for local matters.
  • Vote for what you believe, not against someone or something you’ve decided to unilaterally hate.
  • Use your mind to evaluate the issues; plumb your soul to balance practical realities against thorny moral questions.

I voted Election sticker - 1Vote because you can, and because you owe it to your nation and its continued successes, for yourself, and for every other American besides.

Your freedom depends upon it! Not because someone else is acting to take it, but because you are considering giving it away through inaction.

Let freedom ring; give it your own voice.

And if you couldn’t be bothered to vote when you had the right to do so, don’t even try to engage in political debate with me. I consider you to have abdicated the right for me to hear your opinions by your inaction on Election Day.

Simple and cost effective are great starting points for enacting change

I love to argue theory. I stand on my principles often enough that they are constantly dusted with footprints. When it comes to a difficult issues, I think it prudent to begin by looking for the simplest solutions that eliminate the biggest obstacles. I seek to maximize efficiency in decision making.

It’s fairly obvious why there are so few engineers or scientists in Congress. To anyone who has been trained to methodically and logically solve problems or discover the truth, the political process appears positively deranged.

I am much aggrieved by childish Members of Congress throwing down gauntlets to gain media attention and avoid doing their real work. Why did our national healthcare debate during the Obama era begin with talk of murdering the eldery and infirm and the divisive issue of abortion? These are important, huge questions… but also a fairly pathetic political ploy to avoid the meat of the subject.

Is it right that Americans pay more than the rest of the world for poor health outcomes?

A more righteous beginning would be asking: how we can improve the health of the most people affordably, simply, and with minimal government intrusion into our private lives?

Let’s start  by considering the most obviously cost-effective measures that improve quality of life. We have evidence to show which interventions these are! It isn’t a political opinion, but a matter of observed fact.

We might include approaches currently covered in various forms by insurance: teeth cleanings are known to manage bacteria that trigger heart attacks and strokes, plus they spare one’s ability to eat; vaccinations for both children and adults have shown their value in improving lives.

But shouldn’t we also look at wildly effective interventions such as regular exercise? Here is the health-promoting miracle everyone would clamor for if it were a drug, but your insurance won’t consider helping you pay for it today unless you’re obese. Being sedentary diminishes health at any weight; the insurance overlords have decreed that’s not their problem because their business is earning money by taking a cut of medical interventions, not improving health.

Maybe a fair, universal approach could include giving each of us the option earn more health care choices by putting in time working out in a gym? I’d say that gives the patient skin in the game.

Prevention is cheap, but it doesn’t rile up the extremist political base, so we ignore what could be a boon to our entire nation. Straightforward programs like easily accessed routine preventative care and school meals for hungry children tend to be cost effective.

I would argue that health-promoting endeavors serve us all as more Americans live healthy lives of purpose. Too bad there are no immediate headlines in that to reward pandering politicians.

The blessing of complicated politics

I was undertaking a small errand at DS2’s school and in the company of several other class parents when two of them discovered they shared an acquaintance in common. As they offered up little details about the gentleman in question to cement their understanding that they were truly thinking of the same man, one woman said to the other something to the effect of how sad it was that this fellow was still so deluded as to be a gay Republican.

Once again, I found myself in the unhappy place of feeling quite obliged to speak out or risk considering myself unprincipled. I actually dislike political arguments, because I can’t help but take things personally. In this case, I had very little to say about the precise opinion in question, but was compelled to call the speaker out on the matter of dismissing so cavalierly the man’s probable heartfelt, carefully considered, and socially uncomfortable position.

I think I said, “Isn’t it unfortunate that this man may have strong feelings about fiscal policy or how exactly we interpret the Constitution, and because of it people question his commitment to his sexual identity?”

The matter dropped rather quickly, as well it should, being generally inappropriate conversation for mere acquaintances at a school for children below the age of 14, but I’m fairly certain the woman I challenged left thinking less of me.

Returning home and reflecting upon the matter brought me more clarity about the root of why I was so troubled by her comment. Now I saw what had really motivated me to speak.

We live in an age of shallowing opinions; most Americans immerse themselves daily in a soup of media constantly polarizing every issue to black and white in order to sensationalize it and keep the jaded audience coming back for more titillation. Carefully teasing out the subtle strands of a complex situation takes time and energy that few producers—or consumers—of content care to exercise. A really thorough understanding of most issues will reveal at least two sides to the story, and should highlight why someone else may feel a different way, even if one is not, oneself, convinced by an argument.

Thank God for a complicated individual who finds himself straddling multiple worldviews in contrast to a sea of bobbing lemmings with their intellectually lock-stepped politics!

When I moved to a state known for its collectively liberal politics, I thought it would come as a relief after my upbringing and subsequent college experience in states with liberal cities and conservative rural districts. Imagine my surprise in finding it disquieting to be so constantly confronted by assumptions about one’s politics, ballots with no alternative candidates, and rarely even sign-holders from more than one party across the street from my polling place.

My politics have, without a doubt, been affected by my husband’s keen insight, rational discourse, and non-traditional views, but, more than anything, it has been the subtle effect of disagreeing completely on important issues with someone I simultaneously hold in the highest possible regard that has highlighted for me the value of respecting diverse views. Frankly, this is an oft-ignored facet of true diversity; yet another pseudo-acceptance by many people with whom my politics roughly align.

I know with certainty that my husband is a person of such excellence, high moral character, abundant intelligence, and absolute decency… yet I disagree with him on principles that are matters of moral imperative. This was a strain on my conscience when I met him; I had no practice in real tolerance, and I did not yet see what a gift it is to the world for there to be people, regardless of their convictions, who at least have thought long and hard to create them, and hold them faithfully, especially when they can accept the different, but equally hard-earned values of others.

So here’s to the gay Republican! May he hold his principles sacred, do what he thinks is right, and continue to reflect for the rest of his life, and so may it be for every one of us.

Originally posted via iWeb in 2011