A Quaker answers Christian objections to contraception coverage

JISHOU, HUNAN — Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have a long history of conscientious objection and non-violent resistance to laws they feel contradict divine law. Notable examples have included slavery from the early 1700s to 1865 in the USA, war since the 17th century. and conscription in the 20th. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, some conservative Christian employers have objected to the ACA’s mandate that company health care plans should cover contraception and abortions for those employees needing them. Hobby Lobby’s owners, in particular, have taken their objections to the US Supreme Court, saying they should be allowed to essentially be “conscientious objectors” and refuse such coverage. Seems reasonable, right? Well, not quite. As blogger Annalee Flower Horne explains, a CO should not expect life to be so easy. As a Quaker, I believe in Conscience Protection. I believe people should have the right to refuse work that violates their principles. If a draft were called tomorrow, I would wholeheartedly support people’s right not to serve. But if someone serving in the military came to me and said they wanted me to defend their right to refuse military service, but that they also wanted ...

Food for thought

JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve been reading a great book, Liars for Jesus, about the twisting of historical facts (and just plain lying) to support the notion that the USA was intended to be a Christian Nation. I found the following reference especially interesting, so I’m sharing it with you. First there is a quotation from a constitution (which one, I will reveal later), and an explanation by an author. The subjects are religion and public education. SEC. 4. All persons have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship against his consent, and no preference shall be given by-law to any religious society, nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths and affirmations. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the legislature to pass suitable laws to protect ...

Nothing to see here. No Rapture here. Now move along. 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Six pm came and went, and nothing unusual happened, despite Harold Camping’s prophecy of the Rapture today. It is raining, but cats and dogs, not fire and brimstone. No one rose up into Heaven, either. Draw your own conclusions. And enjoy your weekend — maybe it will be rapturous in an entirely different way.

Canary in the cage 14

JISHOU, HUNAN — I hear tell that the Rapture will happen this Saturday. I’m not clear if the prophet, Harold Camping, has worked out the exact time of the event, but since China is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time, I’ll give you a heads up.

As-Salamu Alaykum (السلام عليكم)*

JISHOU, HUNAN — Maybe you heard the news report about a Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt, being bombed by Muslim terrorists recently. Did you know that Alexandria’s Muslim community served as “human shields” to protect Copts during their Christmas services last week? “This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.” Good advice for us in the United States. A photo slideshow is at Ahram Online, an Egyptian news site. —– * Peace be upon you; hello; goodbye — the equivalent in Hebrew is “shalom“

Carnival of the Godless 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — Hello, Carnival readers! Welcome to my little neck of the virtual woods, coming from you live from “Godless” China. I blog here about teaching English as a Second Language, but also about living in the Middle Kingdom, church-state relations, religious hypocrisy, free speech matters relating to students and teachers, science, and pretty much anything else that pops into my head. Please take a look around my space here, in between reading these great submissions to the current edition of Carnival of the Godless. The Postman at “Gone Fishin’: Postcards From God” delivers a heartfelt letter from Gawd to His/Her/Their/Its peeps in “Dear People of the Book.” Gawd has not improved His/Her/Their/Its writing style much in the last 2000 years, since this letter is every bit as confusing and self-contradictory as the Book itself. Perhaps there’s a lesson there for us. (By the way, judging from His/Her/Their/Its blogroll, I think Gawd lives in Kentucky now. This explains a lot about the Bluegrass State’s politics – confusing and self-contradictory. But I digress.) One of Gawd’s best buds was Tomas de Torquemada, the first Inquisitor General of Spain and the last guy you’d invite to your kid’s bar/bat mitzvah. As ...

Rifqa Bary rejects chemo, family reunion

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Rifqa Bary saga continues, but I fear there will be a tragic ending to an already tragic story. Bary, the Christian convert teen who ran away from home last year alleging her Muslim parents would kill her, apparently is rejecting chemotherapy for her uterine cancer, claiming she was cured by a faith healer. She is also rejecting a reunion with her family, whom law enforcement officials say pose no threat to her safety. The teenager became a poster child for the anti-Muslim and/or born-again religious crowd after she ran away from her Columbus home to Orlando, Florida, claiming her parents would kill her because of her conversion to Christianity three years before she fled. She eventually ended up in foster care back in Ohio. In May, the 17-year-old Sri Lankan native was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and has since had three operations. According to news reports, documents filed by her parents in Franklin County Court state that Bary is refusing chemotherapy because she claims she was healed at an event in Youngstown last month. She was allegedly taken there without her parents’ consent, and her parents want the court to force Bary to undergo chemotherapy if ...

One for Obama’s file 13 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — Now Biblical literalism has spilled over into reading the Constitution literally. A religious group called the Faith and Freedom Institute is complaining because President Barack Obama has used the words “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion.” They sent him a letter. I predict it ends up in the trash. See for yourself: Dear President Obama:   It is with great concern that we have watched your rhetorical shift in terminology, choosing to use the phrase “freedom of worship” rather than “freedom of religion.” We’ve noted your use of that phrase (“freedom of worship”) at the Ft. Hood memorial service in November of 2009, as well as your utilization of the same during speeches in Japan and China.   While some may deem the words “worship” and “religion” to be synonymous, and thus interchangeable, they are most definitely not! The First Amendment of the United States Constitution uses the word “religion” and states unequivocally that Congress cannot prohibit the “free exercise” of said “religion.” Your use of the word “worship” implies that we have freedom ONLY within the confines of structures set aside for religious expression (i.e. churches, synagogues, etc.). This is not only a gross ...

Graduation speeches, prayers and the First Amendment 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — I may seem to pay too much attention to religion in public high school graduation ceremonies, but for me it’s fascinating to see how the courts resolve two apparently conflicting clauses in the First Amendment. On the one hand, the Establishment Clause states the government can neither promote a particular religion nor prevent the free exercise of any religion. On the other hand, the Free Speech clause prevents the government from limiting or banning speech or any other kind of expression, no matter how obnoxious it may be. So, what happens when someone (a public school student, say) wants to talk about God or religion during a graduation ceremony? A public school is, after all, an institution of the government, so one might assume that student would have to rewrite the speech to omit the God stuff. This is exactly what school officials in a Nevada town believed in 2007 when they told Brittany McComb she had to take her witnessing for Jesus out of her valedictory. At first, McComb agreed, but when it came time to deliver her speech, she still referred to Jesus, etc., and school officials literally pulled the plug on her microphone. Dumb. ...

Welcome to the funhouse, part 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Now that I have dispensed with reading 50 essays and diaries, I can come back to this latest attack on intelligence, reason and modern health care. First of all, what the hell (heh heh) is a “gay demon?” I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this concept. Buffy never fought gay demons — I think. Maybe they hadn’t come out before she obliterated them. And those three cute witches, Penelope, Prudy and Patty (or whatever their names were), lived in San Francisco, for chrissakes, and THEY never battled gay demons. For that matter, how can you tell if a demon is gay? They usually have anger-management issues, so asking one is not really a bright idea (unless you’re Hellboy). “Excuse me, Mr Demon, are you gay?” “Argh!” — and in an instant you’re a pile of ash. So this Cindy Jacobs must have nerves of steel to tackle those gay demons. And SuperCindy can take on all kinds of demons that specialize in a lot of naughty things: pornography, addiction, lust, bisexuality, and perversion. I’m trying to picture what these fellas might look like. Jenna Jameson with bright red skin, horns, a forked tail and spikes poking ...

Barys have to discuss differences, but Rifqa won’t meet parents

JISHOU, HUNAN — Child welfare workers in Ohio have recommended that teenage religious runaway Fathima Rifqa Bary and her parents sit down and talk about their religious differences. Trouble is, the girl does not want to see her parents ever again. Rifqa fears her parents will have her killed for converting from Islam to Christianity. Her parents say they will do no such thing. Here is the Associated Press story on this latest chapter in the Bary family drama. There’s some mostly rational discussion at the Volokh Conspiracy. And some mostly unhinged ranting at Free Republic.

Poignant story of one unfortunate family’s Thanksgiving 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Bary family of Columbus, Ohio, had one place setting empty last Thursday, because religious hysteria and rightwing busybodies have interfered with return of their runaway daughter to their care. That’s the tale told by Shayan Elahi, the attorney for Fathima Rifqa Bary’s father, in today’s Orlando Sentinel. Rifqa Bary ran away from her home at age 16, assisted by Christian pastors and Facebook friends who enabled her to take a bus to Orlando, Florida, where she stayed with another Christian pastor and his wife for nearly two weeks before anyone notified child welfare authorities — or her parents — of her location. Fueled by unfounded allegations that Rifqa fled her home to avoid an “honor killing,” a complete “Save Rifqa Bary” movement has blossomed from whole cloth, led by a combination of Christian activists, Muslim-haters, and otherwise well-meaning folk who think they are saving a teenage girl from certain execution. In any other situation, had a teenager been lured away from her home by friends she met on Facebook or while unescorted by her family, assisted in her flight to a different state and housed (illegally) for two weeks, her return home would have been swift ...
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