Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blessings of Advent

A video from the Church of England Advent Calendar:


June Butler said...

Every time I see Archbishop Tutu, I just melt. He has such an aura of holiness about him. He's a living saint.

Марко Фризия said...

Abp. Tutu has a core of serenity that I can only aspire to...

IT said...

Marko, we've been thinking about you. Welcome back!


JCF said...

Wot IT said.

dr.primrose said...

Today's Los Angeles Times has a strong editorial against the so-called Manhattan Declaration -- Christian leaders' stance on civil disobedience is dangerous. It says in part:


Last week, a group of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders released a “declaration” reminding fellow believers that "Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required." Then, after a specious invocation of King, the 152 signers hurl this anathema at those who would enact laws protecting abortion or extending the rights of civil (not religious) marriage to same-sex couples:

"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality. . . . We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

Strong words, but also irresponsible and dangerous ones. The strange land described in this statement is one in which a sinister secularist government is determined to force Christians to betray their principles about abortion or the belief that "holy matrimony" is "an institution ordained by God." The idea that same-sex civil marriage will undermine religious marriage is a canard Californians will remember from the campaign for Proposition 8, as is the declaration's complaint that Christian leaders are being prevented from expressing their "religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife."

This sweeping claim is supported by anecdotes of the sort radio talk-show hosts purvey. For example, the declaration says that "a Methodist institution was stripped of its tax-exempt status when it declined, as a matter of religious conscience, to permit a facility it owned and operated to be used for ceremonies blessing homosexual unions." (In 2007, New Jersey did strip a Methodist camp of its tax privileges under a state recreation program because it no longer was open to all.) For other examples, it must search beyond the United States: "In Canada and some European nations, Christian clergy have been prosecuted for preaching biblical norms against the practice of homosexuality."

The impression left is that the legal environment in which churches must operate is reminiscent of the Roman Empire that threw Christians to the lions. Never mind that advocates of same-sex civil marriage and legal abortion have made significant concessions to believers or that religious groups have recourse to courts, which have aggressively protected the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, exempting believers in some cases from having to comply with applicable laws.

This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don't like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men -- even holy men.

June Butler said...

Wow! That is powerful, especially the final paragraph. "...holy men"? I don't know.

The false image of Christianity under siege in the US is tiresome in the extreme, but apparently it never wears thin in the imaginations of the paranoid.