Archive for the ‘Morals and Law’ Category

Republicans vs. Religious Liberty

July 14, 2017

Christianity, Islam, Judaism and most other religions require followers to practice hospitality to others, especially to refugees, “the least of these” as Jesus expressed it. However, politicians who claim to believe in limited governmental power also claim the unlimited power to deny religious liberty to believers who attempt to practice their religion in addition to proclaiming it.

Naomi is the Answer

June 12, 2017

Many people believe the Bible is a book of answers. If so, is there an answer to our troubled nation? There are many rules in the Jewish Bible regarding hospitality to the stranger, the foreigner, the other. There are many references to the sins of Sodom and all are about inhospitality to outsiders. In the Christian Bible (Matt. 25:43) Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in.” Therefore, you are doomed to the same eternity as Satan and his angels.
However, those scriptures have shallow roots and few seeds. Maybe a story would be more fruitful.
Because of famine, a Judean family moves to Moab as economic refugees. Does God have an attitude toward Moab? Yes. According to a Psalmist, “Moab will be my chamber pot,” God declared, because they were inhospitable to the Hebrews. (Ps. 60:8) In Moab, Naomi and her husband raise two sons who marry Moabite women. That is a violation of the Mosaic law that forbids Jews allowing sons or daughters to marry outsiders (Deut. 7:3)
In time Naomi’s husband and her two sons die. Naomi decides to return to Judea and tells her daughters-in-law to return to the homes of their mothers. Women had few choices in those days.
One of the widows returns to her mother’s home hoping to be invited in. The other, Ruth, tells Naomi, “Your people will be my people.” Ruth was not an economic refugee. She was trying to keep the family together. Nevertheless, to be politically correct Naomi should have said, “No. My people are exceptional people and you cannot be one of us.” (Gen. 17:7)
Ruth also said, “Your God will be my God.” To be religiously correct, Naomi should have said, “No. No Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God.” (Neh. 13:1) Because Naomi was not politically or religiously correct, Naomi and Ruth return to Judea where Ruth meets Boaz, a relative of Naomi. Boaz was not politically or religiously correct either and the rest is a love story with a religious and cultural convert becoming an ancestor of King David, the glory of Israel, and Jesus the Savior of Christians.
Although the story is set in the time of the Judges, many Christian scholars tend to believe the Books of Ruth and Jonah were written in reaction to the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah that chronicle the return of the Judeans from Babylonian captivity. When they saw the desolation of Jerusalem, they vowed to make Judea great again.                                 First order of business: National Security. Rebuild the wall.
Second order of business: Tribal Cleansing. Ezra called for an assembly in Jerusalem.          Those who did not assemble would lose their property and be exiled. Those who did assemble were told they must separate from those unclean. (Ezra 10: 7-11) To be religiously correct, the returning captives rejected their wives, some of them likely pregnant, and their children. The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to the wives and children but we know. We read it in the newspaper every day.
Perhaps Naomi’s way was the better way, the way our nation should go.

Pro Life Pretenders

January 27, 2017

Charles Camosy, Professor of Ethics in Fordham’s Theology Department, chided Sister Simone Campbell, spokesman for “Nuns on the Bus”, for calling “Pro-Life” proponents “Pro-Birth”. Once a baby is born it’s abandoned to the mercy of air, water, food and environment polluters and other merchants that put profit before life..

According to Reuters (7-14-05) Unborn US babies “are soaking in a stew of chemicals,” including mercury, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group based on tests of umbilical cord blood that reflects what the mother passes to the baby through the placenta. That stew of 287 chemicals includes 180 that cause cancer in humans, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. A Government Accountability Office report said the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the powers it needs to fully regulate toxic chemicals. “Pro-Life Pretenders” is the more accurate name for those want to weaken or eliminate the EPA.

Professor Camosy wants a Catholic religious (sharia) law to become a federal law that favors the “most vulnerable” but denies religious freedom to others. Dr. Camosy believes the most vulnerable in a pregnancy is a zygote (fertilized egg) although more than half of zygotes are not implanted. That 50+ percent would be the most vulnerable of the “vulnerable” because have no possibility of life. Yet, no one. including Camosy, proposes any effort to save them. They receive no religious rites and are treated as body waste without protest. Are they to be favored over a family? The mother loses her life, the children lose their mother and the father loses his wife. The family seems most vulnerable to me.

A nun suggested a federal law requiring a father to donate a kidney in exchange for a kidney for his fetus, baby or child should it require one. That seems a good law. The baby, fetus, child is clearly most vulnerable. Most fathers can live an ordinary life with one kidney and he would have some skin in the law. The law would be less prejudiced if the father were required to donate whatever could be transplanted—heart, lungs, liver, skin. So far, no Pro-Life Pretenders in politics, ethics or religion have made any effort to include the father in protecting the “most vulnerable.”

If it’s about “life” or “most vulnerable” which is more vulnerable, the father or the mother?

Deserting an Illegal War

March 14, 2016

June 28, 2007, The Associated Press reported that America faced a desertion crisis in its military. “Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80% increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003”. A deserter is one who intends to remain absent from the military permanently, or leaves his unit to avoid hazardous duty during times of war. More than 20,000 military personnel have Dropped-From-the-Rolls (deserted) since 9/11.

Also, June 28, 2007, under the banner, “Military makes little effort to punish deserters”, AP reported that “174 troops were court-martialed by the Army last year for desertion—a figure that amounts to just 5% of the 3,301 soldiers who deserted in fiscal year 2006. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey acknowledged that the Army “has been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the combat,” but some deserters are simply allowed to return to their units, while the majority are discharged in non-criminal proceedings on less-than-honorable terms. “The Pentagon does little more than enter deserters’ names into an FBI national criminal database,” the AP reported.

Brandon Hughey, a deserter who moved to Canada, told Scott Pelley (60 Minutes, 12/06/04), “I felt (war) was necessary if (Iraq) did have these weapons, and they could end up in our cities and threaten our safety”. While Hughey was in basic training, he received little outside news, but he did learn that a soldier who obeyed an “order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” (http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/militarylaw1/a/obeyingorders.htm)

After basic, Hughey learned “that they found no weapons of mass destruction. They were beginning to come out and say it’s not likely that we will find any—and the claim that they made about ties to al Qaeda was coming up short, to say the least. It made me angry, because I felt our lives were being thrown away as soldiers.…”

Hughey’s lawyer, Jeffry House told 60 Minutes, “People should have a right to say, ‘I’m not fighting in that war. That’s an illegal war…And anyone who says soldiers should go to jail if they don’t fight in an illegal war is persecuting them. The United States is supposed to comply with treaty obligations like the U.N. Charter, but they don’t”. Making war for regime change is a violation of the Charter. “When the president isn’t complying with the Geneva Accords or with the U.N. Charter, are we saying, ‘Only the soldier who signed up when he was 17—that guy has to strictly comply with contract? The president, he doesn’t have to?’ I don’t think so. I don’t think that is fair.”

Army Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, said he doesn’t object to war and volunteered to go to Afghanistan but considered war on Iraq illegal. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, serving in Iraq would make him party to war crimes. Already low-ranking soldiers at Abu Ghraib who had tortured, abused and degraded POWs had been called “bad apples” by the president, stripped of rank, dishonorably discharged, prosecuted and imprisoned for following orders the president had authorized.

Maj. General Taguba was assigned to investigate the horrors of Abu Ghraib but was not allowed to investigate anyone at a higher rank than himself. He knew immediately that Military Police had not invented the torture and degradation that included rape and sodomy. These prisoners were not suspected terrorists but POWs in a war that permitted no Prisoners of War. After he was ordered to retire Taguba wrote that the rot was not in Abu Ghraib but in the White House.

The Army turned down Lt. Watada’s request to resign and charged him with two counts of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman (for public statements) and one count for Missing Movement (refusing to deploy to Iraq). (Gannett, 8/05/08)

Eric Seitz, Watada’s civilian attorney said, “What the Army has clearly tried to do with these charges (of Conduct Unbecoming) is send out a message to those in the military, that if you criticize the war and if you criticize the decisions that were made to bring the United States into this war, that you, too, could be charged with disloyalty, contemptuous remarks and disrespect for higher officers, and in this case, specifically in this charge, the President.” (Democracy Now, 7/7/06)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson, Chief U.S. Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunals (August 12, 1945) said, “For the first time, four of the most powerful nations have agreed…upon the principle of individual responsibility for the crime of attacking the international peace…And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.”

“In 1953, the Department of Defense adopted the principles of the Nuremberg Code as official policy” of the United States. (Hasting Center Report, March-April 1991)

Over the prosecutor’s objections, Seitz and Watada’s military lawyer, Capt. Mark Kim, called three witnesses to question the legality of the war: University of Illinois Professor of international law Francis Boyle, Former United Nations Undersecretary Denis Halliday, and Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.), who retired from the state department in March 2003, in protest of the coming invasion. All three testified that the war was illegal because it was not authorized by the U.N. Security Council, and that Congress approved the war on the basis of faulty intelligence. Therefore Watada was within his rights to refuse participation in it. (Seattle Post Intelligencer, 8/18/06).

Watada was court-martialed in February 2007, with the case ending in a mistrial when Military Judge John Head ruled that the military justice system could not resolve whether the deployment order was unlawful. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/7/07) After the mistrial, the Obama Justice Department asked the court to drop the case which would require the Justice Department to decide whether the war on Iraq was a war crime. Among the organizations supporting Watada were the ACLU, Iraq Veterans against the War and Veterans for Peace.

“What was approved was basically his request to resign in lieu of a general court-martial for the good of the service,” said spokesman Joseph Piek at Ft. Lewis, Wash., where Watada has been working at a desk job. (LA Times, 9/19/09)

It seems an unfair burden on a young recruit who may be a high school dropout, does not have the information that the chain of command has, and may be under fire to make moral choices in a “preventive” war.

If the military justice system and the Justice Department can’t decide whether the war on Iraq is legal, how can any member of the military who refuses to fight in a war he/she believes is illegal be charged with desertion?

Religious Liberty for Whom?

December 9, 2015

The majority of American women and men have the religious freedom to plan their family as is best for the family without the dictate of a government or a religion. However a Christian employer can trump the religious freedom of Christian employees and discriminate against them by denying free benefits that a secular employer is required to give them. Trumping the religious freedom of others also increases employers’ profits.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have the religious liberty to choose their life-mate free of the dictate of a government or a religion but until very recently have been denied the benefits of such alliances that were indiscriminately given to others. However, some elected officials claim the right to discriminate based on their reading of their Holy Book. The scripture of choice is often Leviticus 20 that describes sexual sins and the punishment of them. Verse 13 requires that if a man lies with a man as with a woman both must be put to death. If a man has sex with his aunt or his sister-in-law the punishment is that they will never have children. How is that punishment possible without abortion or infanticide? (Lev. 20: 20, 21)

Another favorite scripture is the letter to the church of gentile converts in Rome. Romans 1: 18-27, seems to describe those who formerly worshiped fertility gods where sex with a temple priest or priestess was worship. Judah mistook his daughter-in-law for a temple prostitute (priestess) and impregnated her. (Genesis 38) Thus was Tamar in the geneaology of both King David and Jesus. Greek converts would also know of Greek love. (Matt. 1: 3)

The condemnation does not end at verse 27, and the letter did not have chapters or verses. Those came much later. In Paul’s letter equal sins are greed, envy, gossip, slander, strife, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness. Chapter 2:1, states to the reader: “You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

That’s not all. ““Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13: 1, 2) Perhaps those whose morality and politics are based on the Bible should read it.

Cyanide picking of the Bible to choose scriptures that condemn those you wish to injure is a sin. Christianity must not become the last refuge of the bigot.