Seeking out the wise, good and honest

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Religious Freedom and Fairness for All

From the Amicus Brief of Major Religious Organizations, Apr 2015

Recognizing a new right to same-sex marriage would harm religious liberty. That harm is avoidable because neither the Constitution nor this Court’s precedents dictates a single definition of marriage for the Nation. Preserving religious liberty is a compelling reason not to give the Fourteenth Amendment a novel reading that would require every State to license and recognize marriage between persons of the same sex. At a minimum, the Court should carefully consider how a ruling mandating same-sex marriage would adversely affect religious liberty.
Also see the news release of the LDS church, "Religious Freedom and Fairness for All"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Apple, Android or Microsoft

Since 2008, in my house, we have bought seven iPod touches. Since Nov 2014 we have bought 4 android phones. It was the first time my wife and I bought smart phones. Our first child ever has decided to pay for his own phone service, because my wife and I have not paid for them. But he was able to do it because it is only $10 a month.

We have only one tablet in our house, it is an iPad. I think we bought it in 2012. Our next tablet/laptop may be a MS Surface 3. It is cheaper than an iPad and the full version of windows.

iDevices will probably never go away, but the times they are a changin’

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Defend What Marriage Used to Mean

A FB friend of mine posted this concerning my opposition to gay marriage.

What is the problem with saying and thinking, I am happy that you are happy. Not everyone in this life is going to choose to live their life in the same manner, that is one of complexities of free agency. I happen to agree that should you choose to reject customers due to their life style then you are in the wrong, unless they are attempting to engage you to commit a crime, sux it up and respect your customers right to choose, should you not wish to practice business as such then build yourself a commune and move there.

This was my response.
 I don't know that I would have the stomach to deny a wedding cake for a gay wedding. In real life, I might just avoid the controversy. I will defend the right of others to do so. 
It is possible to say, "I am happy you are happy" 
And also say to your own conscience and possibly your family or co-workers, "Conjugal marriage is the ideal arrangement to raising healthy, productive, responsible, capable children. Children have an inherit right to be raised by the parents who created them. For their parents to model love towards each others and for them to create an environment of respect, love and growth." 
Just because the ideal does not happen does not mean it does not exist. That it should not be sought. Gay marriage is just another development in the redefinition of marriage over the last half century or so. Birth control has allowed us to more easily separate conjugal relations with conception. That there is a natural relationship between romantic love, marriage, sex and creating and raising children. One of the main reasons for marriage is help create a bond between a man and his offspring. For him to commit to and follow through on continuing to love and support his wife and the children he creates.  
Just because birth control, no fault divorce and now gay marriage are seeking to change marriage to only one component of what marriage used to mean, does not mean that we should not try to remember what it used to mean. That by abandoning some of the crucial components of what marriage used to mean generally, has dramatic consequences for our society.
See also discussingmarriage.org

Here is a FB thread for and against conjugal marriage as the only valid definition of marriage.

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The freakout isn’t about homosexuality per se, it’s about the secular world shoving its idea of sexual morality down the throats of orthodox Christians. If you haven’t read Rod’s piece Sex After Christianity, you really should, and if you haven’t, I think you should be able to connect the dots between the Christian cosmology of sex and the Christian opposition to same-sex marriage as a “condensed symbol” of Christian resistance to secularism writ large. ("Burnt by the Sol", Rod Dreher, Apr 2, 2015)
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Our post-Christian culture, then, is an “anti-culture.” We are compelled by the logic of modernity and the myth of individual freedom to continue tearing away the last vestiges of the old order, convinced that true happiness and harmony will be ours once all limits have been nullified. 
Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen. ("Sex After Christianity: Gay marriage is not just a social revolution but a cosmological one", Rod Dreher, Apr 2, 2015)
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'... Gold told me that church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.” 
His commandment is worthy — and warranted.' 
Not “must be persuaded,” but “must be made.” Compelled. Forced. And not forced to change our behavior, but forced to change what we believe. Because You Must Approve.

...

Can you imagine the outcry if Ross Douthat, an orthodox Catholic colleague of Bruni’s, writing a piece endorsing as “worthy — and warranted” the idea that pro-LGBT Christians and others “must be made to put homosexuality back on the sin list”? I’m a conservative Christian who believes the traditional teaching, and I would find such a coercive statement appalling. But of course nobody on that side seems to have the slightest doubt about their cause, their motives, or their methods. None. In a holy war, there is no room for doubt.

Can you imagine the outcry if the Times published a column saying that Jews or Muslims must be “made” to quit believing a tenet of their religion? If socialists must be “made” to disavow any of their political convictions?

But not when the target is conservative Christians who persist in their heresy. ("Christians ‘Must Be Made’ to Bow", Rod Dreher, Apr 4, 2015)
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A critical mass of families built on such marriages

A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults. (General Conference Apr 2015, D. Todd Christofferson)
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

According to the Dictates of their Consciences

"every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the deity according the dictates of his own conscience"

George Washington, May, 1789, Reply to an Address Sent by the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, "A Documentary History of Religion in America to 1877" p 247, edited by Edwin S. Gaustad, Mark A. Noll, published 2003 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)


"all men within our territories are protected in worshipping the Deity according the dictates of their consciences"

George Washington, May 26, 1789, Reply to an Address Sent by the General Assembly of Prebyterian Churches in the United States, "A Documentary History of Religion in America to 1877" p 247, edited by Edwin S. Gaustad, Mark A. Noll, published 2003 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Similar quotes are here to the Quakers, Catholics, and Jews.

Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights

Tal Kopan at politico.com characterized the 2014 AZ SB 1062 as "a controversial measure allowing businesses to refuse service to gay customers." ("Mitt Romney to Jan Brewer: Veto Arizona bill" Feb 25, 2014)

These are the reasons Governor Jan Brewer gave for vetoing it.

Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated. 
The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. 
After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago. 
To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. 

Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.  
It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.
Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination. 
Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans and Americans. ("SB 1062 – Press Conference", Gov. Jan Brewer, Feb 26, 2014)
It seems that the debate about the Indiana law has turned ugly. Like Jan Brewer also said. There are probably more important issues that should demand our attention, such as balancing the federal budget or how will we fund local education in the most efficient and effective way.

It seems that the real reason that the Indiana law is so controversial is that
Now that gay marriage is increasingly popular, this RFRA has become a signals contest in the culture war. Obviously nobody is obligated to engage in any form of discrimination in Indiana, and I would wager that 99.9 percent of Indiana's businesses will not turn away a single person for being gay.
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It doesn't actually matter that the RFRA won't really lead to some sort of new dark ages against the gays because culture simply has no interest in going there. The important thing is that people position themselves properly to be seen as good people by their peers. ("Indiana’s RFRA—and the Response—Is All About the Signaling", Scott Shackford, Mar 30, 2015)
Here is another article with a pretty good balance in it.
From a libertarian perspective, there’s an easy enough way to resolve the current conflict between demands for religious freedom and equality. It doesn’t fully satisfy either side but it has the virtue of preserving a pluralistic society and minimizing intervention into everyday life.
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Nobody should be forced to do something they don’t want to do, whether it’s bake cakes for gay weddings or decorate cakes with anti-gay slurs. To me, whether a person’s or a business’s decision is based in religion is immaterial. ( "Everybody's Lost Their...", Nick Gillespie, Apr 1, 2015, thedailybeast.com)
This is my favorite
Both sides are partly right. And they are both annoying and self-aggrandizing in their righteousness. Given the paucity of actual cases in play—virtually all news accounts recycle a handful of incidents in a few states—it’s clear that the main function of the current controversy is to make religious conservatives feel even more persecuted than usual and to make secular liberals feel as if they are making a last stand for human decency. As my Reason colleague Scott Shackford puts it, “Indiana’s RFRA—and the response—is all about the signaling.”( "Everybody's Lost Their...", Nick Gillespie, Apr 1, 2015, thedailybeast.com) 

Here is an info-graphic that explains the process of the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA)



I do think that balancing the right not to be wrongfully discriminated against with religious rights is an important goal. I like the recent explanation by the LDS church and their recent success in passing legislation that meets at least some of the goals of both sides.

We need to figure out how to act like sisters and brothers with each other. We need to figure out how not to be on sides. But to be on both sides.


Someone is on your side
Jack, LRRH:
OUR side
Baker, Cinderella:
Our side--
Someone else is not
While we're seeing our side
Jack, LRRH:
Our side..
Baker, Cinderella:
Our side--
All:
Maybe we forgot: they are not alone.
No one is alone.
Cinderella:
Hard to see the light now.
Baker:
Just don't let it go
Both:
Things will come out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side
No one is alone.
(lyrics)

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
--Abraham Lincoln, April 6, 1859 Letter to Henry Pierce et al

Here is a ridiculously long FB thread endlessly debating the Indiana Law. There are some kernels of value there.

Some examples of the erosion of Religious Liberty

"If there are instances of religious schools being denied accreditation because of the religion"

Trinity Western University of Canada was initially denied accreditation.
Clayton Ruby said, "It is just wrong to have a law school approve discrimination in its own structure. That kind of discrimination, which denies some people the right to equality, is fundamentally inconsistent with law and democracy. This alone makes it incompetent to deliver legal education in the public interest."
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/canadian.provinces.block.accreditation.of.christian.law.school.over.homosexuality.views/37222.htm

It, thankfully has been overturned by the courts
http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/01/a-victory-for-religious-freedom-in-canada

Another example is that "Judges in California can no longer be members of the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization’s stance on gay leaders."
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/explaining-religious-freedom-and-lgbt-rights

Here is the reasoning the LDS church gave for filing an amicus brief in the Obergefell v. Hodges case coming before the Supreme Court.

How has the meaning of marriage eroded?

Contraception has increased the disconnect between sex and conception. We now only have children if we want them and it is separate from the joy and pleasure of sex. Contraception has given us new power. It can be used by a wife and husband to carefully consider how many and when to have children. Marriage used to be an agreement to create and raise a new generation. It is less so because of birth control.

No-Fault divorce has increased the amount of divorces. There are many cases where divorce is necessary. I would always want there to be an escape from dangerous marriages. It has been abused by many, though, to sever the marriage because they are no longer in love or are fulfilled.

Gay marriage is another contributor to this erosion of the meaning of conjugal marriage.