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 carewiththecure.blogspot.com.

Comments

Vladtheimp

Rev. Cramer's assertions about the Roman Catholic Church are themselves an example of misusing the idea of freedom of religion, and he misstates the Church's stance in a manner that is intentional and shameful. The Church does not oppose anyone having "equal access" to birth control. Every adult already has equal access to those measures. The Church opposes a tyrannical government mandate that the Church, its institutions, and businesses owned by Catholics have to provide free birth control to their employees even though it is contrary to the tenets of the Catholic religion. Any employee of the Church, its hospitals, charities, and member's businesses is free to reach into their own pocket and pay for birth control if they so choose; there is no restriction of access.

The same is true of Christian groups opposing the government providing legal sanction for the marriage of gays and lesbians (does the good Reverend have something against bisexuals and the transgendered by leaving them out)? I'm personally against men marrying gerbils and women marrying wombats - does that mean I am abusing freedom of religion? The Reverend Cramer could include an official right to bless those relationships as well as same sex - I don't care; just don't make me support these aberrations with my tax dollars through government fiat.

I guess it is too much to expect honesty from a liberal who is arguing for socialist ideas and ideals, even if that liberal is a member of the clergy. Shame on you for this intentional corruption of the Church's position to further Obamacare.

Whatareyoutalki...

What does a man marrying a man have to do with a woman marrying a wombat.
A wombat is a non-consenting differing species, not a human being.

I do not believe the mandate set by the federal government for businesses and insurers to provide a standardized measure of care for their employees and customers as a violation of religious freedoms. If you as a business owner and disagree with the government mandate that requires that you provide a health insurance plan that includes birth control, you as a business owner can simply stop doing business within the United States. (As I would assume your proposal would be for the employee to simply find other employment if their employer did not offer a suitable insurance plan that included birth control)

I do not believe standardized care to be an expression of religious belief or political opinion. It's a medical and scientific expression of supporting statistics that birth control is a vital part of a balanced and effect healthcare system.

We gladly accept government mandates that we agree with, but cast away and complain about anything we do not. Let us remember that we are a people ruled by the majority. (elected by the majority)

Is the current (obamacare) system perfect? Hell no!
But it will help us to get to a system that prevents people from loosing their homes because they get cancer or another debilitating disease.

Now bring on the "liberal hate" that I'm sure my opinion expresses.
I'll see you guys on the range, in the woods, and out on the water.

Cheers.

MR. WILLIAMS

I hear ya! We happen to live in an area, I'd use "Community" however I don't see very much "Common-unity" here unless you belong to the same church, Bible study group, or weekly Kym-by-ah holding hands prayer-chanting-singing choir. As I was saying, we live in an area where kids are told to "respect their elders" and I have never figured that one out nor have I ever accepted that theoretical quagmire of the "Right way to raise a child" concept. Yes, as I was saying, we live in an area where most of the people I grew up with teach their children on the same concepts and idea's we were raised on, which is, the "Law of the home" where you must do everything you are told to do by your parents because they pay the bills and are providing you with a home (shelter) food, clothing, as well as what Religion you will attend until you are at least 18 years old, and you should respect them because they are your elders and know what's best for you whether you realize it or not. And, if you don't like these rules, they they'll ship you to Military or Boarding school to knock some sense into your thick headed skull. When I was growing up, which I still am, even though the Law of the home rules were clearly laid out to me and reinforced to me on at very least a weekly basis, there was something inside of me that just wouldn't accept their plan on how to raise me. It wasn't evil and I didn't want to hurt my parents feelings, but I felt that they somehow either didn't know how I really felt even though I would try to explain to them what I was feeling, or they just didn't care how I felt or maybe even though what I expressed may have rung true to them, it was an area of feelings they weren't familiar with and instead of taking a chance of going into uncharted territory to try to understand, it was just plain easier to fall back on the good ole stand by of their parents raised them in this manner and what was good for them was damn well going to be good enough for me. Every once in awhile my dad's best friend in growing up and throughout his entire life would tell me stories of the things they did together when they were kids and teens and a lot of it was down right criminal, yes criminal but they wrote it off as just being wild and crazy kids. I had never done anything even close to being over the line as my dad did in his youth, yet somehow he compartmentalized that part of his life as if he'd never done anything wrong. Well, it just didn't stop in my parents generation, because most of the kids I hung out with did wild and crazy things crossing the line at times and by the time they grew older into marriage and kids all of a sudden they became "Puritan's" as well. I was requested by a couple of those friends not to divulge anything about what they did in their teenage years and they told me that they now saw the light and Jesus had saved them and they were training their kids while they were young, "the right way to live" and reading the Bible to them and making them go to Sunday School classes at Church and as soon as they were old enough for school, enrolling them into a private Christian school. Well, one of my friends had a daughter that he and his wife were very concerned about because at 13 she wanted to get her ears pierced and also said she had a boy friend. They were beside themselves on what to do with her to make her right and she was nothing like her older sister by 2 years who had never disobeyed them, went to church with them every Sunday and was involved in several different Christian school groups and did not have a boy friend. Unfortunately the younger sister was really put through the ringer by her parents forcing their will on her to the extreme and it really backfired on the parents. I will say this, that my friend, her dad when we was in High School he drank and to be fair everyone I knew in High School drank and went to parties almost every weekend and he had a couple of girl friends and if either of his daughters did what he did in High School dating, he would probably have gone ballistic. He had a girlfriend when he was 20 she was 16 and you can write the rest of that story, however they did end up getting married right after she graduated from High School and still are. If you're still reading this I hope you get my point. It's not so much about what did or didn't happen, it's the "Hypocrisy" and treating children as "lesser persons" almost like children don't know anything or understand anything and only Adults know what's best, which is the biggest bunch of Bull that's been handed down generation after generation for time immemorial. As soon a Human Being is born they are as much of a person as the oldest human being and to be treated as something lesser is a travesty. No matter what a persons age, they should be treated with the same respect as everyone else and if this one thing were done, this world would be a much better place to live.

Wingmaster

Its not about treating children as "lesser persons", its because with age comes the real wisdom of why you shouldn't have done those "wild and crazy things" Kids certainly are learning the ways of the world but certainly need guidance, rules and discipline to finish growing into productive, happy adults.

Trial and error is part of growing up and learning. Kids given the proper prospective on life AND the opportunity to use their own judgement based on solid parenting will also learn from their own experience and mesh with what their parents have said and taught.

Its ok, be a parent and a society with rules and restrictions. Its also wise to teach children that every action has a reaction. If that doesn't start young enough, the child will suffer. If the parent does not discipline wrong behavior, the child will suffer. If the parent is too restrictive the child will rebel and suffer.

The book on parenting has a lot of pages missing or that are blank because thank god we are all different. We write those pages together, child and parent. Without respect both ways it will be a tough road, without one playing their role, mentor and student, it will be a tough road. I would have lost a lot of respect for my parents had they not pushed back on my youthful exuberance from time to time. I never once thought of myself as a lesser person because I was pushed back! Must come from good parenting!

Lanivan

Apparently, the Archdiocese of New York and the nation's leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Dolan, who has been spearheading the Catholic opposition to Obamacare, have been paying for coverage of birth control and sterilization for thousands of employees for over a decade.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/2...

Highlander

THomas Jefferson coined the "wall of separation between the church and the state" so that immigrants would be free to worship without having gov't interference. So, Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Buddists, & episcopals all have the right to worship their sacred book and beliefs how they wish.

This also means that these same people have no right to make one religion the "official" practice of the USA (according to the 1st amendment). People who have different beliefs (or no beliefs) should not be required to practice others' beliefs.

Christianity and the Church has had a history of tyrannical practices too. While in the 90's, it was in vogue to wear "WWJD". These days many "christians" (little "c' intended) have prostituted Christianity for their convenience, by selecting "specific verses" from the Bible and using the literal meaning out of context, and ignoring other contrary verses to hurt others. It's really too bad.

Both the gov't and church have had their issues with tyrnanny. Both have used each other for their own benefit, which is why the "wall of separation" must remain.

THE USA is a nation of laws. If the law says "liberty and justice for all" and espouses "equality", then we must insure that all in the USA are treated equally- including gays, people of color, the religious and agnostics. And to compare gay marriage to marrying a gerbil lack logic and is absolutely juvenile.

Vladtheimp

Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" was written in a letter, not ensconced in the Constitution. Jefferson also was a slave holder - does that mean we should follow his inclinations in both respects?

If no people have the right to make one religion the "official" practice of the USA, how can the government mandate the free provision of birth control the "official" practice of the USA, contrary to many religious beliefs? You said "People who have different beliefs (or no beliefs) should not be required to practice others' beliefs." Maybe you should reconsider that in view of the Obama mandate.

If "equality" means ensuring that all in the USA are treated equally, why do you deny equal treatment to pedophiles, polygamists, and those who would marry gerbils and wombats - what part of "equality" don't you understand - to use your own words? And, when you can explain why the reason for marriage being promoted by most societies historically and world wide applies to the transgendered but not to pedophiles and gerbil lovers, maybe I will take your "juvenile" crack seriously.

Highlander

Your logic is embarrassing. Law and religion do not mix- read up on the Inquisition, Ethnic Cleansing, Salem, etc, Slavery was "legal" (while not following the Constitution's spirit)- hence the amendment.

Do two 70 year-old gays/lesbians getting married affect you and hurt you? How about 50% of heterosexuals whose marriages fail? Others marry for conveniences- economic or _______. Do they cheapen "marriage?" What's your fixation with gerbils and wombats? Have you had experience? Should it be your business? Dude, get some help.

Vladtheimp

Does a man marrying a child, a man marrying five women, a man marrying his daughter or first cousin affect and hurt you? By all means, Dude, let cast aside all morals, taboos, and religious beliefs and open up the whole thing - let it all hang out.

Highlander

100-150 years ago you would see a 14 year old marry, a Mormon take 4 wives and have 30 kids, and many married 1st cousins (few ever left their town). Historically, this was legal, a societal norm, etc.

Again- your logic and argument are weak. I wouldn't expect you to see that considering the history of your "opinions" on the Trib. enjoy your gerbils and wombats.

Vladtheimp

Well, you got me there. By ever expanding the meaning of marriage beyond a man and a woman, logically, we may be returning to those halcyon days of yesteryear - 14 year olds marrying, 4+ wives, marrying 1st cousins - almost sounds like the ROP (religion of peace). I'm just saying that when you tear down all societal norms, you can't know what will replace them. Sorry if all that doesn't meet your logical standards.

GH55

Vlad the Impaler is not worth arguing with! He runs with the same pack that would deny "others" disaster relief from FEMA but scream that it is not coming fast enough when it happens to him!
In this case, the very valid and compassionate case of providing a standard of care for health insurance. He has no solution of an alternative, except to complain of tyranny.
Seems fixed on Gerbils and Wombats for some reason.
Most of what the Church stands for, regardless of Episcopal, Catholic, or Muslim, seems to me to be control of the populace.

Wingmaster

So how much money or time have you donated to a disaster gh55? Something tells me you spend most of your time pedaling around being offended by people working hard to make ends meet.

I guarantee in a disaster situation Vlad would make a better neighbor than you as I belief he could be counted on in tough situations without running around feeling sorry for himself or being offended. He lives in a world of action you live in a world of reaction. Before you rant, I wouldn't know him if I passed him on the street but from his many comments in these pages, he is of sound character regardless of your pithy comments to degrade because you cannot compete in the arena if ideals or morals for that matter.

Vladtheimp

Thank you. I think maybe we would recognize each other, and some other commenters on the street as a type - free men (and women)unshackled by political correctness and unburdened by worries about what others may think carry themselves in a certain way, and probably wouldn't be wearing Skinny or Mom jeans.

Lanivan

You almost had me thinking what an astute and socially intuitive person you were, and feeling part of the your "free people" loop, until the skinny jeans part, having just bought a pair.....and of course we're back to the labeling....

Wingmaster

Those should look good with your tye dyed shirt & hippy beads ;-)

Lanivan

There all packed away along with the bell bottoms...will bring them back when skinny jeans are out and the hippie look is "new" again....

pike84

Please stop printing this guys diatribe...

Vladtheimp

Lunch break at the IRS not long enough to complete your thought?

Wingmaster

Pike84 may have been talking about Cramer's diatribe...clarification Pike?

pike84

yup Cramers diatribe sorry for the confusion. IRS was funny though.....

Vladtheimp

Sorry about the IRS crack - I misunderstood.

Lanivan

The troika of religious intolerance, racism, bigotry, and anti-immigrant bias has always been present in most all societies. I disagree, Rev Cramer, that it is on the rise in the US. Religion has been a weapon to discriminate, suppress, even kill, the foreign, the "heretic", or the unbeliever throughout both world and US history. The Puritan fathers who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony in response to the persecution they experienced in England established a theocracy that dissented against religious freedom.

It was our four great early presidents and Founding Fathers - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams - who argued successfully for the secular state, the separation of civil government from religious matters.

Religious intolerance in the US has been present in some form between denominations, Protestants and Catholics, Mormonism in the 1800's, and always the Islamic religion. Essentially, intolerance, racism, and bigotry is used by the status quo against minorities in all facets of society. The great struggles of modern US society - Women's Rights, Civil Rights, Gay Rights - are all manifestations of the battle for exclusivity, power, and control.

The current religious intolerance shown by the Catholic Church and Obamacare (regarding non co-pay availability of birth control) is one example of a tax-exempt, non-profit employer of people of all religions attempting to discriminate against and impose their religious beliefs on their employees in non-religious settings. It's to the Church's credit that they are now supporting Obamacare and allowing their health insurance plans to provide birth control. thehttp://thinkprogress.org/health/...

This is especially important given the fact that results from much research show that almost 100% of all women, and 98% of Catholic women, ages 15-45 who are sexually active, have used birth control at some point, and with the priority to reduce the number of abortions.

The current manifestations of religious intolerance, racism, and bigotry can be seen daily in government among conservatives. They disparage Obamacare, the uninsured (40+ million), the underemployed, the unemployed, the poor, the most vulnerable among us, especially children, by allowing self-interest, Big Money, and the tangible fear that they are now the minority drive them to their actions, never Social Justice.

Some people, even some self-proclaimed Christians, treat their pets, including gerbils and wombats, better than they do gay individuals. Religion as a weapon in marginalizing and limiting freedoms of minorities is nothing new. The sin is the desecration and manipulation of the vision of our Founding Fathers, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, to support religious intolerance, racism, and bigotry.

Vladtheimp

Well, here we go. As an observation, in your first paragraph, you identified 4 boogeymen, not a troika.

Substantively, apart from your citation to left wing ThinkProgress, the Conference of Catholic Bishops rejected the revised Obamacare rules http://www.foxnews.com/politics/...

It is interesting that you consider opposing Obamacare on religious, constitutional, or philosophical grounds as religious intolerance, racism, and bigotry. It is beyond interesting that you still do not recognize that the record numbers of underemployed, unemployed,and poor are a direct result of the failed progressive policies of the current regime.

I guess I can't argue with your observation regarding gays - I don't feed, house, bathe, exercize, or groom my gays. Your last sentence is simply mind=boggling, since it accurately describes the progressive philosophy with respect to our founding documents (note-the Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution-not a separate document).

I hope you are enjoying the current scandal situation as much as you enjoyed that of Nixon. I Imagine you must be twisting yourself in knots to justify the failure to protect Americans in Benghazi and lying about it; spying on the Associated Press (Fox News spying is probably more than acceptable); IRS enforcement based on partisan politics; witnesses pleading the 5th, like the Enron executives; and today, gasp, a ringing endorsement of drone strikes. I find it particularly unfortunate that virtually every player in the IRS lawbreaking is an attorney - now that is embarrassing!

Happy Memorial Day.

Lanivan

I knew the minute I hit the save button after adding, as an afterthought, "bigotry" to further strengthen my comment, that you would pick up on the "desecration" of the troika, but, alas, it was too late. And you did not disappoint....

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".

Regarding your comments on Obamacare, the "failed" progressive policies of the current regime, etc, etc - argumentum ad absurdum

Of course, your facetious response to my observation of the treatment of gays deliberately sidesteps your introduction of gerbils and wombats into a discussion of religious intolerance. I think my observation speaks for itself.

I didn't say the Bill of Rights was a separate document - you inferred that. I was covering my bases.

I don't need to justify anything regarding the current situation. I do think our congressional Republicans had best be careful with the calls for impeachment, the desire to hold hearings ad infinitum, and so on, as even members of their own party are suggesting they better back off, especially as the polls show the citizenry is not buying the 'scandal of the century' hoopla. I should think you'd be pleased that Obama has pledged to cut back drone warfare and the war of terror....

Actually, I was one of the weird ones who liked Nixon, until Watergate, anyway. If you are comparing Nixon/Watergate with this current "troika" of events, well....of course you are.

The same to you - I think we both have fathers who served in WWII to honor, along with all the others.

Wingmaster

Most of the citizens aren't paying attention long enough Lan. The left media is only putting up enough to make the people believe thoses wascally wepubwicans are making problems for our hard vac....I mean, working Pres.

It is actually the supreme leader who should be careful with the snoping around in phone records. He is starting to get a little cocky wee weeing on the press don't ya think? Oh, I know he has no idea what was going on with this and the IRS, Benghazi, Fast n Furious....I actual found something he and I agree on, he knows nothing about what is going on!

Vladtheimp

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

Lanivan

What a great quote - too bad you don't seem to follow it.

You said: "People who have different beliefs (or no beliefs) should not be required to practice others' beliefs." Maybe you should reconsider that in view of the Obama mandate." Really? What other religious beliefs, other than the Catholic Church? And as for the Obama mandate, I was not aware that it forces people to use birth control if they don't choose to. If I'm wrong, please elucidate.

"I'm just saying that when you tear down all societal norms, you can't know what will replace them". I also wasn't aware that all societal norms are in the process of being torn down. Or are you referring to societal changes that you personally don't approve of?

"..the failure to protect Americans in Benghazi and lying about it".. please explain, in the face of no evidence, what "lying" you are referring to.

" a ringing endorsement of drone strikes". Is this another embarrassment on your part? I heard that Obama was pulling back from drone strikes.

And finally, "I find it particularly unfortunate that virtually every player in the IRS lawbreaking is an attorney - now that is embarrassing!" I've not read of any "lawbreaking" being done by the IRS with this current 501(c)(4) attempt by groups to push the envelope to become tax-exempt.

"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit". Noel Coward

Vladtheimp

1. I was quoting Highlander. If Catholics and others consider abortion a sin and contrary to their religious beliefs, they should not be required to subsidize that activity as they are under Obamacare which foists the religion of abortion on them - that is the restriction of their First Amendment freedoms.

2. The discussion was on the norm of marriage being between a man and a woman. If you deny that has been a norm of American society, we truly are talking at cross purposes.

3. The lying was Obama joining with Hillary, and sending Susan Rice on 5 national tv shows, and Art Carney all proclaiming that the terrorist attack on Americans was caused by an obscure YouTube video when that was never mentioned in any of the contemporaneous CIA reports, or even the "talking points" as changed by Hillary's State Department. Part of the reason the investigation is ongoing is no one in the administration has copped to how the video came into the equation.

4. Obama justified the use of drone strikes, even if innocent Americans are killed, as superior to imprisonment in Gitmo.

5. Lying to Congress is illegal. Additionally and notwithstanding the opinion of Michelle's former boyfriend/IRS I.G., I believe discriminating against individuals and groups to delay or deny them tax exempt status for political purposes is illegal. If the law grants a right to tax exemption, withholding that right on the basis of partisan politics, (and religion in some cases) is indeed illegal.

Whatareyoutalki...

1) My religion entitles me to walk around naked on play grounds with small children around. Your laws and ordinances should not apply to me and I should not have to pay taxes to fund police departments to enforce laws that are against my religion. (See how stupid that sounds. Please, don't be stupid!)

2) American society dates back before "New Americans" arrived, back to Native Americans. Native Americans have practiced Two-Spirit-type relationships long before the settlers arrived thus having same sex unions long before your "traditional" norm of what marriage is or might be.

3) I've got nothing to add to this. Barry O and his administration did not handle this well. (and continue to do a poor job of implementing change)

4) Um, can I get source on this please?

5) Lying to congress is indeed illegal, however given the number of lies that grace the halls of our political system and establishments I find it difficult to differentiate one lie from all the others.

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