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Religion & Spirituality

Right-Wing Religion's War on America

  • America's Catholic leadership and on the evangelical right claim there's a war on religion. In fact, they are waging a war on individual liberties."
  • Is America on the Verge of Theocracy?
  • Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops?

Rob Boston, AlterNet

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Right-wing religion is waging a war on our civil liberties. (image: unknown)

From a posh residence in the heart of New York City that has been described as a "mini-mansion," Cardinal Timothy Dolan is perhaps the most visible representative of an American church empire of 60 million adherents and vast financial holdings.

Dolan and his fellow clergy move easily through the corridors of political power, courted by big-city mayors, governors and even presidents. In the halls of Congress, they are treated with a deference no secular lobbyist can match.

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Is America on the Verge of Theocracy? Henry A. Giroux, TruthOut.org / Alternet

  • Extremists shape American politics to unabashedly pursue legislative policies that favor the rich and punish the poor.
  • 4 Fundamentalist Ideologies Threatening U.S. Liberty
  • How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops? Adele M. Stan, AlterNet

  • In offering the bishops an "accommodation" they refused to accept on a contraception provision of the new healthcare law, the Obama administration effectively exposed the powerlessness of the bishops when the rest of the church rose to accept the offer.
  • With Catholic leaders and churchgoers turning their backs on the bishops, the men who rule the church are watching their political power wane.
  • What War on Religion?
     

Falling Upward ~ Richard Rohr

Rohr’s first half and second halves of life are spiritual. The second half is about growth.

Reviewed by Angie, The Rest of the Story

At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog by Michele Van Loon. She was introducing a book by Richard Rohr. The title, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life and her remarks in her introduction to the book intrigued me. I first heard of Rohr several years ago from a friend who has quoted or referenced him on several occasions. I have been intending to look into his writings and from the introduction to her series it sounded like this book dealt with themes that have been occupying my thoughts. I bought the book and decided to follow along with her.

When I began the book, I did what I typically do. I gathered my journal, pencils, and the brightly colored sticky tabs (love those). I have been reading and following along with her blog series a chapter at a time. Since I was already tacking the sticky notes here and there and marking portions that resonated with me or were epiphanic and writing them in my journal along with my observations, I decided to blog my way through the book as well.

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Andrew Sullivan: Christianity in Crisis

Christianity has been destroyed by politics, priests, and get-rich evangelists. Ignore them, writes Andrew Sullivan, and embrace Him.

Andrew Sullivan, Newsweek / Daily Beast

Thanks to Evergreene Digest readers Karin Grosscup and Roseann Shaughnessy-Rogers for this contribution.

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

If you go to the second floor of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., you’ll find a small room containing an 18th-century Bible whose pages are full of holes. They are carefully razor-cut empty spaces, so this was not an act of vandalism. It was, rather, a project begun by Thomas Jefferson when he was 77 years old. Painstakingly removing those passages he thought reflected the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, Jefferson literally cut and pasted them into a slimmer, different New Testament, and left behind the remnants (all on display until July 15).

What did he edit out? He told us: “We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus.” He removed what he felt were the “misconceptions” of Jesus’ followers, “expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves.” And it wasn’t hard for him. He described the difference between the real Jesus and the evangelists’ embellishments as “diamonds” in a “dunghill,” glittering as “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” Yes, he was calling vast parts of the Bible religious manure.

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Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics ~ Ross Douthat, described in Simon & Schuster
Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

 

Whose Trial Is It Anyway?

  • Bishop's lawyers attack sexual abuse victims support group.
  • De LaSalle kids have a  few words with archdiocese at marriage talk

Julie Cain, Ms. Magazine

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

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As we’ve been reporting on the Ms. Blog, Kansas City was rocked last fall by the indictment of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report that a priest in his parish had pornographic pictures of children on his computer. Finn managed to avoid any serious punishment; he simply has to regularly report to a prosecutor any suspicious goings-on in his diocese that might relate to sexual abuse.

Meanwhile a lawsuit filed against another accused Kansas City pedophile priest, Fr. Michael Tierney–the fifth such suit against Tierney since 2010–has tried to ensnare just the organization devoted to stopping such abuse, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

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De LaSalle kids have a  few words with archdiocese at marriage talk, Jon Tevlin, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune
When De LaSalle senior Matt Bliss heard rumors that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis planned to hold a mandatory school assembly to talk about marriage, and potentially gay marriage, he remembers thinking, "This is not going to end well." He was right.

 

Where's the Bishops' outrage over poverty?

It saddens me that at a time when so many American families suffer from unemployment and poverty, the leadership of the Catholic Church reserves its loudest voice of moral outrage for issues related to human sexuality. 

James Salt, Catholics United

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Jim Fuller

Over the past few weeks, the Catholic bishops have initiated an unprecedented campaign opposing new health insurance rules that will expand coverage of contraception. Church leaders are angry that Catholic-affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service agencies were not exempted, and, for this reason, are now reading letters in all 19,000 parishes across the country publicly opposing the new rule.

Catholics United understands that contraception use is a sensitive issue for the Catholic Church, but it is hard to stomach this level of outrage when the bishops have been relatively silent on so many pressing issues of our day.  Where was the public outcry over our nation's past use of torture or our involvement in unjust wars?  Why aren't the bishops reading letters at Mass about the moral scandal of unemployment and poverty in America?  

On top of this, many bishops are using misleading statements and unnecessarily heated rhetoric to intensify the conflict.  In order to help set the record straight, Catholics United wants to make sure that you have the facts about the new health care regulations as they relate to contraception:

Churches are exempt from these rules.  The new rules require that institutions that employ and serve non-Catholics, such as hospitals and universities, are required to include contraception coverage in their health insurance plans.  No Catholic church or diocesan office will be affected.

No one is being forced to use contraception against their will.  The new rules simply require that employees have access to these services. Individuals who are opposed to the use of contraception do not have to make use of the coverage.

There will be fewer abortions because of this decision.  Regardless of your beliefs about contraception, everyone should recognize that greater access to prevention services will result in fewer unplanned pregnancies.  Fewer unplanned pregnancies will result in fewer abortions.  And despite many false claims to the contrary, the contraception covered by this rule does not include abortifacients, like RU-486, that induce abortion.

It saddens me that at a time when so many American families suffer from unemployment and poverty, the leadership of the Catholic Church reserves its loudest voice of moral outrage for issues related to human sexuality.  I sincerely hope and pray that our Church leaders can tone down their rhetoric, refocus their priorities, and begin using their powerful voice to address the vast economic insecurities and conflict in the world and honor the rich heritage of Catholic social teaching.

In the coming months, let's hope that both sides of this debate can come together and find a solution that both meets the medical needs of all employees and protects the religious identity of Catholic institutions.

Court Rules Religiously-Based Restrictions in HHS Contracts with Bishops Violate Establishment Clause

  • First Amendment prohibits government favoring a particular religious view.
  • Fear Factor: The Religious Right's Problem With Women
  • Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops?

Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Late yesterday (March 23) a federal court in Massachusetts ruled [PDF] in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a challenge it brought against the Department of Health and Human Services over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. When the ACLU first brought the case in 2009, HHS permitted the USCCB to prohibit the referral of victims of sexual assault to be referred for contraception and abortion services. Although HHS did not renew the USCCB contract last year, the ACLU proceeded with the case "to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused to impose religious restrictions on vulnerable trafficking victims that receive U.S. aid," according to a statement.

Judge Richard Stearns agreed the case was not moot, and in holding that the policy permitting the Bishops to restrict trafficking victims' access to reproductive health services violated the Establishment Clause, noted, "[t]o insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others."

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Fear Factor: The Religious Right's Problem With Women, Dr. Peggy Drexler, Huffington Post

  • What is it about women that the men of deeply conservative religions find so threatening? What runs so deep that it justifies traumatizing an innocent eight-year-old like Naama Margolese in Beit Shemesh?
  • Special Project | The War on Women and the GLBT Community: Week of March 25

Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops? Adele M. Stan, AlterNet

  • In offering the bishops an "accommodation" they refused to accept on a contraception provision of the new healthcare law, the Obama administration effectively exposed the powerlessness of the bishops when the rest of the church rose to accept the offer.
  • With Catholic leaders and churchgoers turning their backs on the bishops, the men who rule the church are watching their political power wane.
  • What War on Religion?
     

Fear Factor: The Religious Right's Problem With Women

  • What is it about women that the men of deeply conservative religions find so threatening? What runs so deep that it justifies traumatizing an innocent eight-year-old like Naama Margolese in Beit Shemesh?
  • Special Project | The War on Women and the GLBT Community: Week of March 25

Dr. Peggy Drexler, Huffington Post

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

The world has seen the terror and confusion on the porcelain face of eight-year-old Naama Margolese, who was insulted and spat on by ultra-Orthodox men as she walked to school in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. The Haredi, to use Israeli term, found her bare arms so immodest that they screamed "whore!"

The video of a very frightened young girl and the furious, arrogant men, who told reporters they were perfectly justified in their actions, has become a flashpoint in what some are calling a struggle for the soul of a country.

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Special Project | The War on Women and the GLBT Community: Week of March 25, David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest
Now, somehow, we’ve come to a decidedly indecent place that, yes, even in an emergency, a corporation’s beliefs are more important than a woman’s life.
7 New Items including:

  • President Obama: Sign the Executive Order Banning Discrimination in GLBT Employment
  • Use Birth Control? You’re Fired!
  • How We're All Paying for Rush Limbaugh to Take Viagra (And Why it Costs a Lot More Than Contraception)
  • Why Evangelicals Don't Care When Rich White Conservatives Defile Marriage
  • The New-Old Southern Strategy Mixes Racism and Sexism for Nasty Results
  • Priest Denies Lesbian Communion at Mother’s Funeral
  • Clobbering "Biblical" Gay Bashing
     

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