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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

How Secure Are You In Your Religious Beliefs?

Category: Religion
Posted: 03/24/14 15:07, Edited: 03/25/14 13:56

by Dave Mindeman

I often find it amazing that fundamentalist Christians profess to be so sure about their faith - and yet are constantly threatened by everything around them....so much so that they feel the need to attack anything that does not agree 100% with what they profess.

How insecure are you in what you believe? Do you feel the need to object to a TV show (Cosmos) explaining the scientific principle of evolution? If you disagree with it and you feel confident in your disagreement, why should it matter? You don't see scientists objecting to the hours and hours of religious television on Sundays. They don't demand equal time. They and most everyone else is content with the marketplace of ideas. If Christians are confident in what they believe, then competing in that marketplace should be a privilege not a threat.

And why do conservative Christians believe that government health mandates is somehow a threat to their religious freedom? If you have a business that deals with the general populace, how can you expect your religious beliefs should somehow be imposed on everyone? No one is forcing YOU to take up contraception. No one is asking you to change your reproductive choices. But why do you feel it is your right to impose that belief on everyone else involved?

Religious beliefs are a deeply personal choice. For many people, those beliefs evolve (pardon the word choice) over time. But we still have to interact with society. Many Christians believe that how we personally live our life is an example to others - and maybe we can have an effect on other lives in that manner. But expecting to force others to adhere to our own personal beliefs by coercion is simply wrong - on all levels.

What I believe is my business. What you believe is your business. And we live in a country where personal beliefs really do matter. But we also live in a country that Constitutionally prevents religious imposition on everyone. That is a principle and too often, we have many people who believe religious freedom is the imposition of MY beliefs on YOU.

If you are secure about what you believe and you are comfortable that your beliefs comfort and protect you in your life, isn't that enough?
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Company Power To Establish Religion

Category: Religion
Posted: 11/27/13 21:19

by Dave Mindeman

The Supreme Court is going to take a case regarding an employer's health insurance being required to cover contraceptives as part of their plan. The mandate is being challenged on religious freedom grounds.

Although the decisions seems obvious to me, there is no way to predict what THIS court will do with it. However, in order to make the decision, the Supreme Court will have to clarify a number of things. So, let's go into the list.

1. Is coverage of contraception in a health care plan a religious issue?

This is talked about as if it is a given, but why? Birth control pills are essentially hormones, and they have uses other than contraception. A number of women take them for menstrual irregularities, migraine headaches, acne, as well as other more obscure uses. So, first of all, there would have to be a clarification regarding coverage classifications. A blanket rejection of this hormonal therapy would be unfair. And putting a religious connotation on this particular health care therapy is not a universally accepted norm. Not only is the use open to interpretation, but the religious restriction depends on what religion you observe.

2. Are the beliefs of the owner absolute in health care coverage?

An owner of a business can certainly have his or her own personal beliefs, but is being the owner a deciding factor as to allowing the owner to impose those beliefs on everyone who works for the company? If the company accepts government contracts or government aid as part of their receipts it can become even more problematic. Do they not have to adhere to the governmental policies that follow acceptance of taxpayer money? How far can that be taken?

3. What about how far that can be taken?

If religion can be imposed on all employees in regards to their health care, how much more can religion be involved? If the owner thinks same sex marriage is a sin, can that owner refuse to allow spousal coverage for same sex partners in the health care plan? If the owner's religion believes that women "should not have authority over men", can they use that as a pretense for gender discrimination in promotions? Could an owner who is a Jehovah Witness forbid coverage of blood transfusions in a health care plan? There are as many scenarios as there are religions - somewhere there must be a separation of religion from the secular work place. The rights of the individual worker has to rise above an imposition from the beliefs of people who would impose their will because of their position.

4. Is this a violation of the establishment of religion clause?

The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Is it feasible to believe that companies who use religion as the pretense for exempting birth control coverage from a health plan, are they not establishing a "religion" for their company? And because they are basing this on the First Amendment, are they not using the US government to establish that religion? In addition, is the company prohibiting its employees from the free exercise of their beliefs counter to the company owners?

Yes, the government is mandating the coverage - but the mandate is not attached to a religious idea. It is the same way that the government wages war in a non-religious context, even though virtually every religion fundamentally opposes war.


The Supreme Court is wading into deep water with this case. Especially with their tendency to side with political conservatism on such issues. Progressives have little confidence in the 5-4 decision making that this court uses to justify its will on these issues. A change of one justice should not make such a difference in how we interpret law, but that seems to be the case with this very political court.

We shall have to see what type of decision they work out. If they narrow the circumstances, it may not have far reaching effects.

But if they decide to establish a broad precedent which they believe should establish new law for the future, then religion and politics will soon be merging .....to our detriment.
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"Why Millenials Are Leaving The Church"

Category: Religion
Posted: 07/27/13 14:41, Edited: 07/27/13 14:44

by Dave Mindeman

I often find it difficult to articulate the conflicts I feel about religious society. But today I came across an essay, written by a 32 year old woman, who classifies herself as part of the "millenial" generation. She works for change as a religious author. This essay written for CNN speaks volumes and I reprint it here....

Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don't ask me to recite my husband's without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I've never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I'm often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I've finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, "So what you're saying is we need hipper worship bands. ..."

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates - edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here's the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we're not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions - Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. - precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being "cool," and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don't have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can't hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We're not leaving the church because we don't find the cool factor there; we're leaving the church because we don't find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read "ME TOO!" So I don't want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they're looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com.

All I can say to that is...AMEN!
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