CRAMER: Religious intolerance is on the rise

Most small children learn that many of the first colonists to the United States were pilgrims seeking the freedom to practice their religious views.
May 22, 2013


The Church of England — the mother church of my own denomination, The Episcopal Church — was not only established as the state church, it also explicitly sought to suppress nonconformist and Roman Catholic groups within the country (this is a part of Anglicanism’s history over which we repent, and from which we have turned).

But, still, we teach our children at a young age that some of the first colonists came here because they wanted to practice their religion freely. There is an important nuance to be made here. The Puritans, along with other religious groups arriving in 17th-century America, wanted to practice their religion freely — they did not want freedom of religion.

Most of the early religious groups in the colonies sought to exercise control over their area, passing laws and ordinances based upon their religious belief systems. It wasn’t until the late 18th century, when our Constitution was created, that the ideal of the free exercise of religion began to take root.

As we all know, the ideal of freedom of religion is not universally affirmed.

On Monday, the State Department published the “International Religious Freedom Report” for 2012. This annual report flows from understanding that religious freedom is a basic and universal human right, as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a declaration that “has been the touchstone and the global standard for the protection of human rights around the world since 1948.

The findings of the 2012 report indicate a rise in religious intolerance around the world. Laws that keep individuals from being able to freely choose, practice, change or even reject their religion “remain pervasive.” In particular, discrimination against Jews and Muslims is increasing in several countries.

Anti-Semitic prejudice, including either denying or glorifying the Holocaust, continues throughout the world. In Egypt, for instance, the media itself has participated in Holocaust glorification or denial at different times.

In Venezuela, one of the presidential candidates who was a Catholic was persecuted by the state-run media. They published various anti-Semitic statements about his Jewish ancestry.

At another time, a group gathered in protest to Israel outside a Venezuelan synagogue chanting Anti-Semitic slogans and throwing fireworks. Openly Anti-Semitic political parties have gained seats in parliaments in Europe and violent attacks against Jews in Europe is on the rise.

In Europe and Asia, particularly, rhetoric against Muslim continues to increase. For instance, in Belgium and India, laws and regulations are passed to restrict traditional Islamic clothing. In Burma, a Buddhist majority country, the Muslim minority experiences lethal violence, even having their villages burned to the ground.

Even within Muslim majority countries, the majority sect — whether Shia or Sunni — often persecutes the minority sect.

And the report indicates that the age of Christian persecution and martyrdom is far from over. In the Sudan, credible reports indicate that the authorities destroyed two Christian churches — one an Episcopal church and the other a Catholic church. In Pakistan, a mentally disabled Christian girl was imprisoned on blasphemy charges for more than a month. In Nigeria, Boko Haram extremists killed hundreds of Christians and Muslims.

When Secretary of State John Kerry announced this year’s report, he acknowledged that our own country’s record on religious freedom was not perfect. In particular, I would note that our country’s ideal of freedom of religion continues to be misused by some religious groups as an excuse to prohibit others from a free exercise of their religion.

Roman Catholic leaders seek government support to keep employees from having equal access to birth control. Many Christian groups continue to support laws denying gays and lesbians the right to marry — a restriction on my church’s freedom to exercise our religion, which includes an official rite for blessing same-sex relationships.

And, of course, Anti-Semitic and Anti-Islamic rhetoric has also continued a troubling rise here at home.

The universal value of freedom to practice your religion does not extend to permission for religious groups to restrict others from having that same freedom. People of all faiths, both domestically and around the world, need to continue to promote the ideals of actual religious freedom and tolerance.

The Rev. Jared Cramer serves as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven and as dean of the Lakeshore Deanery of the Diocese of Western Michigan. His reflections on life and ministry can be found at



1. Don't be stupid - Obamacare forces citizens, against their religious beliefs, to pay money to a private corporation (insurers), not a public entity (police). If you walk around naked in front of children, plead your religion to the judge.

2. I'm sorry, I thought we were discussing Constitutional rights, which the Indians didn't have (and by the way, referring to Indians as "Americans" is a new phenomenon (that's why they were called "Indians" for hundreds of years). If you want to practice "Six Spirit" relationships today - have at it, but don't drive or operate heavy machinery.

4. This article illustrates the problem

5. Ah ha - the defense of "But Mom, everyone's doing it!" Maybe if you get all your friends to run around naked in front of children in furtherance of your religion, you can try THAT ONE on the judge.


1) I was making an absurd statement with the hopes that you would see how silly your argument is. So lets get to the heart of the mater. It's standardized medicine for the country as a whole. Are you against Obamacare forcing insurance companies to cover blood transfusions? I think the Jehovah's Witnesses might have an issue with you! And blood transfusions along with birth control are vital parts of a successful healthcare system.

2. They are more American than you sir, and they have been here for thousands of years as opposed to your hundreds. And the argument is still valid! Gay marriage has been in this land longer than you, your god, or your religion!

3. Good read, thanks!

4. Um, that was not a defensive statement, that was an observation. I'm not one to condone lying at any level or any reason. I don't believe either the republicans or democrats are capable of existing without the spins and lies they spew daily. If not for the lies, people would see them for what they really are. Empty suits with no solid answers or solutions. (for the majority, not minority)


1. Obamacare is hardly standardized medicine for the country as a whole. "Obamacare falls far short of its promise for universal coverage. Since day one, it’s been clear that Obamacare will not achieve universal coverage, and every time CBO revisits the law, the numbers show just that. In March 2010, when the law passed, CBO predicted that there would be 22 million people still without insurance in 2019. In March 2012, the estimate increased to 27 million in 2022. Now, the number has once again increased—to 30 million. So Obamacare leaves just as many people uninsured as it covers." Even if it were, I would prefer to trust my own doctor rather than some consensus of bureaucrats who are more likely to be Ivy League lawyers and accountants than actual physicians. Forcing insurance companies to cover blood transfusions would not require Jehovas Witnesses to bring their child for one. And you equate blood transfusions with abortions by choice? No wonder we disagree.

2. The were not Americans until America came into existence - they were indigenous peoples. And, many of them are getting screwed by Obamacare.

3. You're welcome.

4. If that was your intention, my bad.


1. Obamacare brings us closer to universal coverage more than anything we've had in the past. I wont pretend that it's a great system. It's chock full of holes. But it's a step in the right direction. And how exactly did we go from birth control to abortions. (and no they are not the same)

2. Americans are people who live on the land mass that is known as America. We live in the United States of America. So my point is still valid, they were and are "American". Oh and your notion of Obamacare hurting native "Americans" I direct you to:

3. No need to dwell on this one anymore.

4. Cheers


I think this is becoming tiresome for both of us - now I'm killing time until family arrives, so:

Who ever decreed that "universal coverage" is a good thing? Ask the folks in Britain and Canada; we HAD a system that required hospitals to care for every citizen in need, but that wasn't good enough for the statists - they had to take control so they could fix things for all of us, like Medicare (broke) Medicaid (broke), Social Security (broke), Post Office (broke). And if you don't understand that Obamacare requires the employer to subsidize abortions, I guess there's no reason to pretend we understand Obamacare - Sandra Fluck notwithstanding.

Until this country became the United States of America, Indians were not "Americans" just like until the Communists took over Burma, folks who lived there were not Myanmerians.

I read your link, but am not convinced that one "Molin Malicay, director of the Sonoma County INDIAN Health Project clinic" (emphasis mine) is more qualified than the tribal leaders I gave you to determine how Obamacare impacts the formerly indigenous peoples of our Constitutional Republic.

Hope you celebrate and enjoy our American holiday! (No snark intended)


While you and What seem to be vying for the most Creatively Creepy honors with all this crazy talk, I am compelled to press on with a few points.

1. I don't know when birth control and the Catholic Church turned into a discussion on abortion, but back to the original point - Obamacare offers options. It does not force anyone to do anything. Of course, your subsidizing argument is silly - I'm not keen on the idea of my tax dollars or high insurance premiums subsidizing people seeking treatment for serious illnesses due to years of smoking, but that's the breaks. And speaking of abortion, you must know that Obamacare does not in any way transfer any tax dollars to the abortion process.

2. I didn't deny anything. You were the one to introduce the goofy stuff, not me.

3. This comment is most distressing - and the most telling. After many hours of hearings, testimony, witnesses, investigations, the reviewing of videos, there has not been one shred of evidence of a cover-up or of anyone lying. Within hours of the attack, Obama spoke of it as an "act of terror". An American made anti-moslem video was broadcast on 9/11 which triggered violence all across the region, including Benghazi. Some day you must share your obviously inside classified information that drives you to what seems to be a chronically faulty conclusion based on what we know after all the investigations.

4. More Obama Dronegate hyperbole. I suppose you would have preferred he not gone after Al Qaeda. Or started another preemptive war with the entire Mideast.

5. So far, there is no evidence the IRS lied to Congress. And there is no evidence the IRS withheld the right to tax exemption based on partisan politics. The IRS pinpointed groups for review, extra scrutiny, and lengthy questionnaires based on selected words in their titles, which is wrong, but so far, there has been nothing that indicates any criminal or illegal actions on the part of the IRS.

With all the tea party hoopla, I found this interesting:

Perhaps there should be less concern about IRS/Obama/Michelle's former boyfriend "lying", and more about the need for tax reform and/or the fact that we are subsidizing many blatantly political groups that can't bear to hear the words "social welfare" let alone be one, but "pretend" so they can protect their Big Money donors.


1. Abortion is the ultimate form of birth control and it is included in the Obamacare mandate for states that do not opt out - most states have not.

3. What I stated was true - the video was never mentioned by CIA or State until fabricated after the fact as the cause for the "spontaneous uprising". The alleged investigation (this regime is big on investigating itself) was a joke - Hillary wasn't even interviewed. Pickering will be testifying soon.

4. What I said was true.

5. Clearly you neither watched the hearings nor have followed the story. Shulman (Bush appointee of a big Democrat donor) claimed he did nothing about the targeting when he learned about it, but he and the rest of IRS hid the fact that they held their own private investigation that confirmed the targeting but withheld it until after the elections.

About your link

Maybe you can explain this: The Internal Revenue Service mishandled tax returns of adoptive families, flagging for further review 90 percent of those who claimed the adoption tax credit for the 2012 filing season. And a report by the federal agency’s Taxpayer Advocate Service also found that nearly 70 percent of adoptive families — more than 35,000 — had at least a partial audit of their tax return. By contrast, just one percent of all returns are audited.
"The IRS's misguided procedures, and its failure to adequately adjust these processes when it learned its approach was seriously flawed, have caused significant economic harm to thousands of families who are selflessly trying to improve the lives of vulnerable children," according to the report:

I never said the IG lied during his testimony - in fact. he was the only one who sounded reasonably intelligent and coherent. His problem was not keeping Congress informed of his audit as he had promised he would.

The End


Your comment, "He is starting to get a little...." - Wing, I've got to hand it to you, when you're good,, you're d**m good - LOL. Otherwise, not so much. Try as they might, so far nothing is sticking (BHO approval ratings still right up there) except they (repubs) look like Wile E. Coyote types on speed.


"As for the ThinkProgress link, "Nonetheless, far-right critics of the birth control measure have shown no signs of ceasing their war against Obamacare, even though a majority of Americans — including Catholics — support eliminating the cost barriers to contraceptive coverage. Right-wing opponents have already blasted the compromise, saying “no amount of revisions will ever render the HHS mandate acceptable".

I surrender on both gay marriage and abortion - I have reached the conclusion I should be supporting your position: my new philosophy:p>

A. Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.

B. Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.

C. Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.

D. In three generations, there will be no liberals/progressives/ Democrats.

I love it when a plan comes together!


Although I realize you are being flip, you might find this new philosophy liberating. But bear in mind, many gay people and those who choose abortion just might happen to be....conservative/Republican/tea partiers! When we come to the crossroads, and are given an opportunity to become more tolerant-religious or otherwise, less bigoted, to better understand, to hate less and love more, we must take that opportunity, for in the end, it is the only thing that matters. Our fathers, and all the other brave soldiers (I'll bet some of those soldiers were/are liberals, progressives/Democrats!) did not serve for the right to be intolerant, hateful, racist, or bigoted. They served to protect our freedoms.

The End.


Another NYTimes article regarding the IRS investigation. Some points being revealed:

1. The number of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status rose by more than 100% beginning in 2009.

2. The applicants were completely free to pursue political or other activities while applying for tax-exempt status. They were never denied the ability to convene, and were totally free to operate while waiting for tax-exempt approval. The application was only to attain tax-exempt status, and as political groups, some quite small with very little revenue to actually be taxed, one must ask: why the need for tax-exempt status for so little revenue, except for the fact that along with tax-exempt status, you are legally not required to reveal the source of your revenue, i.e., donors to your activities.

3. Only about 15% of the total groups flagged were actual conservative groups; 5% were liberal groups. This makes sense given the fact that the number of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status increased so dramatically within a short period of time.

4. The biggest scandal is that ultimately the IRS denied very few applications, when investigations are revealing that the activities of these groups were primarily political, not social welfare.


“Dworkin writes with great complexity,” Bork wrote in his 1997 book “The Tempting of America,” “but, in the end, always discovers that the moral philosophy appropriate to the Constitution produces the results that a liberal moral relativist prefers.”

If you are interested in law and morality, I recommend "The Morality of Law" by Lon Fuller, which was required reading back in the day. synopsis


Were you involved with the Bork hearings of 1987? I imagine you would have had a strong kinship with him. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes...

On a related subject....

Why doesn't Congress keep Lon Fuller's book handy and review the list of 8 rules when dreaming up the malarkey they call legislation?


No, I wasn't involved with those hearings - they were way above my pay grade, although I have some great personal stories about Ted Kennedy.

On your New Republic link, of course you note that the Roberts court upheld Obamacare, by declaring the mandate is a tax, no matter how Obama and his sycophants swore it was not.

I believe it is the Progressives that continue to pass legislation that interferes with every citizen and in many cases makes them criminals, or law breakers, for thoughts, speech, and actions that were normal and accepted (and within constitutional rights) before the statists decided differently.

Just for you: "Brothas From Another Motha" and



"Any port will do in a constitutional storm", thus sayeth this article.

The law is Constitutional, the penalty is a penalty, not a tax, and Roberts knew it; the individual mandate passed on narrow grounds through the most expedient way possible. I wonder how the Heritage Foundation and Gov Romney justified it?

Poor Nixon - I thought he was brilliant for his China policy, and his many other ideas. It's brutal how his star has lost even more lustre, being compared with serial liar Obama. My fantasy is that someday you will say something, anything, positive about the man (BHO). I'd settle for Progressives. Being a prudent sort, I'm not placing any bets on it.

I could have lived without the guy spewing about "liberal" GB - really? Now here I thought it was under Conservative Party control right now, the party of Margaret Thatcher! But then again, why bother with facts when you are attempting to making a point in front of the camera. I did enjoy the view of the very nice marina in the background.

Teddy was quite the guy in his youth. Rolling cars under the influence....;-)


I see, an article in a liberal rag trumps the actual language of the Supreme Court finding Obamacare only passes Constitutional muster as an exercise of the constitutional power to tax, and that the mandate is a tax. Please read the article again - he admits it is a tax but just would have preferred Roberts had validated the law based on the Commerce Clause, not the taxing power. THE MANDATE IS A TAX.


OK! Whatever you say! You're the expert!

"The opinion holds that the penalty for violating the individual mandate is not a tax for the purpose of determining whether the Court could rule on its constitutionality before it is enforced (under the Anti-Injunction Act). But, far more important, it holds that the penalty is a tax when assessing its constitutionality".

In a magnanimous spirit of conciliation, I offer this:

Skeptic Trucker

Vladtheimp is wrong about marriage on SO MANY levels.

1st. It is legal to marry a first cousin in more states than it is legal to marry a person of the same sex.

2nd. Many states, under differing circumstances, allow marriage of a minor as young as 12.

Surprising that most of these States are in the bible belt on both points.

3rd. For many centuries it was common for christians and jews to have multiple wives. The bible even encourages it along with concubines(dedicated mistresses)

4th. Marriage is only defined as between a man and a woman by today's religious. Look up the actual meaning. It is union between 2 things by the secular definition. And if you haven't noticed, while polititians may be religious, the government remains secular.

I think that's all your points shot down. Get off your pious high horse before you fall and break your neck.


1. I was not aware of the number of states that permit children below the age of majority to marry, although most require parental consent, judicial consent, or both. Thanks for that information.

2. 20 states permit marriage to 1st cousins including Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont - seems more like the Liberal Belt.

3. Having a mistress is not the same as having a second wife - check with your wife.

4. I looked up the actual definition of marriage - Merriam Webster Dictionary should be an acceptable source: The preferred definition is still "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law." In 2003 it added a secondary definition including same sex unions.

I find it interesting that in discussions regarding homosexual marriage, the "progressives" seem to fall back on the arguments that it was accepted in pagan societies, pre-industrial revolution societies, and non Western societies - suggesting we need to regress to achieve a progressive society.

Thank you for your concerns for my neck - I assure you it still supports my head north of my shoulders, unlike neck's positioning of the heads of some others . . . .

WindChime Vlad and Wing are on their computers too much!!! Disability one complains about that.


Oh my!....


Clever - can't wait for the inevitable follow-on tying it to gerbils and wombats.

This may give you pause:



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