Sexual Identity and Religion

Arizona was good enough to not sign into law the option to refuse service based on sexual orientation. It seems there are no states that have laws protecting people based on sexual orientation and only 21 that have ordinances about it. Wow. I had kind of always assumed that sexual orientation was protected like race, religion, and sex. It’s really not.

Speaking of religion . . . Part of one’s sexual identity is the ability to own it. Whether that’s being able to rent a hotel room for the night with your same-sex partner or being able to avoid unwanted pregnancy while still expressing yourself sexually, if you are unable to express it, then you are unable to own it. Religion- generally the Abrahamic ones- is often cited for reasons that one cannot or should not have access to safe birth control or be publicly homosexual. What that does is shut down much of the sexual identity of a large percentage of the population.

I am all for religious freedom. I grew up in Pennsylvania, a state created for religious freedom. (For those who don’t know, the Puritans were not about religious freedom, they were about the freedom to be the religious oppressors, so places like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were started as havens for religious deviants. Like the Quakers that founded both.) However, I also grew up in a very, very Christian area so I recognize that if it is unchecked, religion can cause a lot of problems, too. There is a reason that our forefathers separated the churches from the state. When you mix politics and religion, the result is very, very messy.

What that brings me to is Hobby Lobby. I’ve been reluctant to shop there almost since I found them. It started with the sign on the door proclaiming that they’re closed on Sunday to allow for religious observation or some such. If you’re closed on Sunday, it’s not a stretch to guess it’s for religion- Christian religion- so it’s not really necessary to rub our noses in it. Then I found out that they don’t carry Hanukkah items because it goes against their religious values. (It seems they’re trying to take that one back.)

The thing that takes the cake, though, is that they believe that providing birth control to their female employees goes against the religious convictions of the company. That’s right. Their company’s got religion.

Here’s the thing. Obviously, they pride themselves on their Christian values and adherence to them. On an individual level, fine. But a company is not a person. (I’m ignoring the fact that, legally, they are. It’s absurd.) Also, this company is not setting itself up as a Christian company. The Family Christian Stores in town? I would walk into them expecting, well, lots of Christianity. I would not walk into a hobby store expecting it. I would expect them to be secular. Do you want to beat the drum of your religion? Then do it. But do it all the way. Or, just be a hobby store that’s closed on Sundays.

To contrast, there’s a small craft store I do frequent that is owned by someone for whom I think religion is very important. Church and other religious activities have been referenced in conversation, as has the owner’s faith. But it doesn’t rub me the wrong way. Why? Because it is the owner’s faith, not the store’s. It’s closed on Sunday, but the sign just says “closed.” Gatherings there tend to have a Christian tone if religion is brought up at all, but it’s not in any way expressed as “you’re one of us or you can’t be here.”

I suppose this is a long-winded way to say that we need to put our foot down when it comes to the Religious Right trying to base laws on their religion. If the law is that everyone has access to the same healthcare, then they all get it. Including access to safe contraception. If the law is that you serve whoever walks in your shop, then you serve them. If you don’t like it, then bitch about it at church on Sunday- but while they’re in your shop, you serve them. As humans, they deserve that much respect.

I’m still trying to figure out how one might be sure not to serve an undesirable.

“I would like to purchase a box of donuts.”

“That depends- are you a gay?”

Abortion in the News, Again

Rather than doing things like helping us get ready for another fire season or figuring out how to manage the damage the floods have done to our aging infrastructure, our legislature has decided to debate personhood. Again. Because that’s a totally awesome and useful way to spend the time we pay them to serve us.

What I got out of the article was this link found in the comments from a person who is pro-life due to religion. This whole debate drives me crazy, so let’s go ahead and address it. Let’s sit and think about each point the article brings up.

1. Abortion Offends God

I’ve heard this. Children, no matter how they arrive, are a gift from God and should be treasured. Well, if your God is giving gifts via rape and incest or sending gifts when the recipient can’t afford to keep it, it kind of makes him look like a jerk. Just like it’s rude to give a puppy to someone who can’t afford to take it to a vet, it’s rude to give a child to a person who can’t afford to take it to the doctor. On the subject of gods- I think abortion offends your God. You never asked what my God might think of it, did you? (Damn that religious freedom thing.)

2. The Unnoticed War

“By destroying the most basic human bond of all—that between mother and child—abortion dissolves the precious glue that binds our nation together.”

I think this man has never seen the interaction between a mother and an unwanted child. That is what will undo the fabric of society. A woman who chooses to have an abortion will have emotional scars from it. I don’t think anyone has seriously thought otherwise. However, they are all her own. A woman who is forced to bear and raise a child she doesn’t want (for whatever reason) is passing scars onto the child. A child who will have trouble loving. A child who will have trouble making meaningful connections. A child who will scar others as it grows. Also, do we really need the 56 million Americans this “war” has claimed in the last 41 years? Aren’t we having enough trouble employing the ones we’ve got?

3. Life starts at the moment of conception

This is from Other Helpful Facts at the bottom: “The unborn baby’s heart starts beating at 20 days4 and the brain gives off brainwaves at 40 days. If these factors are used by the law to determine death, why can’t they be used to determine life?”

Sir, either life begins at conception, or it begins when the brain and heart are running. Pick one. I would also like to point out that it is some time before the fetus can survive outside the womb (21 weeks, according to him). Prior to that, it is not a person. It is a parasite. A person can survive outside of an environment that is perfectly suited to nurture it. This also brings to light the question of miscarriages, or spontaneous abortions. If a woman’s body rejects a fetus at some point, is she guilty of murder? I suppose no more than involuntary manslaughter since she didn’t try it. Almost every woman I know that has had a child has had at least one miscarriage. And you think our jails are full now . . .

4. Mankind must protect life whenever possible

Says the religious group that seems to love war and the death penalty.

5. Abortion is unsafe

“Compared with other medical procedures, the abortion industry is largely unregulated. Although there are no exact statistics for the number of women who die from botched procedures, compiled a list of 347 women killed by legal abortions since 1973.2

Fair enough, it is highly unregulated. Mostly because we can’t all seem to agree that it’s allowed to exist. Note that he didn’t address the number of deaths caused by illegal abortions in places where they can’t get a legal one. Because they do and always have happened whether it’s legal or not. Possibly because without regulation, we can’t track them. To provide a number of my own, between 2006 and 2009 there were 2,689 pregnancy-related deaths in America. It also appears that the likelihood of maternal death is increasing. I wonder how many lives those legal abortions might have saved . . .

6. A biogenetic Tower of Babel

I’m really not sure how cloning is a problem with abortion. Stem cells probably do make things easier, but I’m quite sure we could continue on that path without them.

7. Breaking the abortion cycle

“Abortion is a sin that perpetuates evil. The abortion mentality destroys the family by making it more difficult for new Americans who survive beyond the womb to find the family welded together by the indissoluble bond of marriage solely between a man and a woman. Children need families that will nurture them, guard their innocence and develop their personalities. In particular, all children must find within their homes the Faith that enables them to know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next. As long as the traditional family remains in crisis, we will never sever the power lines that supply the abortion mills. As long as the Faith remains dead in souls, we will never wipe out the moral rot of sexual immorality, which is the contaminated soil where the abortion movement grows and flourishes.”

Holy Mother of Pearl. Really? A woman who’s had an abortion can’t love and nurture other children? An abortion will dissolve a marriage? (Sometimes they do, but sometimes they save them.) Only the sexually immoral ever seek abortions? (Way to victim-blame.) I will bring this up again: your Faith, your God- not mine. I was raised in a happy home where my parents were still married to their first spouse, my innocence was nurtured, and we did not partake in your style of Faith. I was also raised to be pro-choice because I chose to  be, and to embrace my sexuality. The horror!

8. Roe v. Wade: 40 Years of Lies

Yep, more abortions were performed than people were killed in Hitler’s Germany. However, an abortion is performed on a fetus and releases the fully-realized mother from the burden of bearing and raising it. Hitler killed fully-realized humans. There is a difference.

9. Addressing an abortionist

“You were once an enchanting child, as all babies are. Today you are an abortionist, a killer of babies. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent blood of our children that stains your hands and cries out to God? Have you no shame as did our first parents when they sinned against God? Why do you not turn to Him today, seek His forgiveness and His strength never again to murder the innocent? Would you not rather bring children into the world than destroy them? Children you could raise with respect for life to take the place of those you robbed from God?”

Addressing and anti-abortionist: You are the child of a woman, as all children are. Today, you are an oppressor of women, a stealer of choice. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent lives of our women who are given no other worth than that which they bear? Have you no shame for stealing the same choices your mother had? Why do you not turn to her today, to seek her forgiveness, and her strength, and to never presume to take a woman’s choices from her? Would you not rather protect the women of this world than destroy them? Women who will have the knowledge and ability to make the choices that you would rob from them?

10. The slippery slope

“Yesterday it was contraception. Today it’s abortion and same-sex “marriage.” Will it be widespread euthanasia tomorrow? Then what…? Once abortion is universally accepted, what logical arguments will stop euthanasia and other forms of murder and brutality?”

That slope slips both ways. Today it’s rejecting abortion and same-sex marriage. Will it be forcing women back into dresses tomorrow? Then what? Once abortion is rejected, what logical arguments will there be against restraining a woman to keep an unwanted pregnancy? Impregnating lesbians because that’s all they’re good for? Will she have any rights to argue for by then?

I’ve had running through my head “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 20:21. Inserting things that offend your God into government rules is stepping on Caesar’s toes. If this is going to be fought, it must be fought with facts, not faith. 300 women dying in 40 years of abortion is a very weak fact to base your case on.

The other thing that pro-lifers forget, or overlook, is that just because abortion is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s required. We assume that a woman (or, in the case of an under-age pregnancy, her parents) are adults and capable of thinking through serious decisions. If she chooses to have an abortion, she has a safe, regulated way to do so. If it’s not legal, she may choose to have one anyway and won’t have a safe way to do so. However, it is also the woman’s right to choose to keep the child. If her faith, or her conscience, or her heart tell her to keep it, she has that choice.