Archive for RELIGION

New Mexico Must Stand Strong and Allow Physician-Assisted Suicide

It’s one of those topics that can stir a national debate in no time: Should a person have the right to end his life when he’s ready to die? In January, Judge Nan Nash ruled that doctors in New Mexico have the constitutional right to prescribe lethal drugs to help people end their lives. And although it took two months, as expected, Attorney General Gary King has formally appealed the ruling.

Organizations like the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops and Voices for Family Values were outraged over the judge’s ruling, pushing people to “Stand up for life,” citing both moral and religious reasons. Voices for Family Values is dedicated to the protection of human life from the time of conception to the end of natural life. It promotes public policy to protect the unborn child and their mothers. In further support of life, it opposes euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

Voices for Family Values is a Christian organization that claims to promote a biblical worldview in New Mexico. Once again, the far right is making the claim that issues like physician-assisted suicide goes against the teachings of the bible and God’s will.

The Catholic Church believes if a patient chooses to end his own life, no matter how sick or how much pain he’s enduring, this will severely damage his relationship with God because he is interfering with the natural process of death that was God’s will. But how do they know? We have religious leaders and Christian organizations telling us what God wants with no proof to support their statements. This isn’t about what God wants. This is religious zealotry masquerading as morality. This is about controlling society, and sadly it works on the masses.

Would Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, really want his fellow man to suffer? The problem is Christians love to quote the Bible and tell us that through God there is no suffering. They’ll reference verses like Psalm 103:2 — “God is the healer of our diseases;” Psalm 23:4 — “God is our Comfort;” and Romans 8:18 — “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Believe what you want; after all, we live in a country that allows us the freedom to believe in any God we choose, any religion we want or anything else. If you believe in a natural death, then by all means, have your natural death. However, let’s look at the equation through the eyes of critical thinking. Many terminally ill patients don’t want to suffer. They don’t want to go through the excruciating pain and agony — and they shouldn’t have to. Maybe you are against physician-assisted suicide now, but when you’re confined to a wheelchair or a bed, rely on a feeding tube to keep you nourished, can’t speak or move your body and the pain is so overwhelming, you might have a different opinion. If it’s only a matter of days, weeks or months, and there is absolutely no chance for survival and the suffering is so great, the patient should have the option to die peacefully when he’s ready. For animals it’s humane; for humans it’s a capital offense. Where is the logic in that?

Aja Riggs, a cancer patient and plaintiff in the 2012 lawsuit against New Mexico, said, “Most Americans want to die peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones, not die in agony in a hospital. If my cancer returns and I face intolerable suffering, I want the option to cut it short, and to die peacefully at home.”

The question is: Do we control our lives and decide when to end it? Or do we leave that decision to the government, God or anyone else? With an appeal filed, a higher court will have to decide whether doctor-assisted suicide becomes the law in New Mexico.

We need more thinking people to stand up and start pushing back on issues that involve human suffering. We should all be able to live and die on our own terms.

Was Jesus Nothing More Than a Fabrication? Biblical Scholar Says Yes!

Was Jesus Christ really the son of God? It’s probably one of the most heated debates in all of history. On one side, the devout Christians believe strongly in the son of God, and on the other side, the staunch atheists say it’s a made up tale and they’ll tell you that evolution explains how we came about.

Joseph Atwill, a biblical scholar, is getting attention with his theory that he presented in London. He says Christianity was a sophisticated government propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of the Roman Empire, and was invented as a system of mind control to enslave the poor.

At the center of Atwill’s theory is the similarities between the Bible and the ‘War of the Jews’ by Josephus — the only surviving first-person historical account of first-century Judea.

He says, “What seems to have eluded many scholars is that the sequence of events and locations of Jesus ministry are more or less the same as the sequence of events and locations of the military campaign of Emperor Titus Flavius as described by Josephus.”

While some people agree with Atwill, there are plenty of others who don’t. Kyle Beshearswrote an article in the Christian Post outlining six reasons Atwill’s theory is incorrect. Beshears says, “Atwill sees parallels where parallels don’t exist. He gathers a small pile of questionable evidence and heralds it as a mountain of condemnation for Christianity.”

 

Does anyone know with absolute certainty that Jesus was the son of the God, much less even existed? I attended a Lutheran Church regularly until I was 17 years old. I studied to be confirmed for three years. I’ve read dozens of books detailing all the major religions, interviewed hundreds of people on this subject, from the faithful to the new atheists. I’ve shared the stage with some of the biggest televangelists in the world, and for the past 24 months, I’ve watched hundreds of hours of video footage from some of the greatest minds in America discussing and debating whether or not God exists. From Christian apologetic Dr. William Lane Craig to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, I’ve read it all, including the Bible a number of times.

After investing all of this time and energy searching for an answer to whether or not God exists, here my conclusion: I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s a God, but here’s the thing: neither do you. And neither do William Lane Craig, Sam Harris, Billy Graham, or Richard Dawkins and Joseph Atwill. And neither does the Pope, who after you remove the robe and skull cap, is just a man. No one knows for sure what happens when you die, and if they tell you they do, hang on to your wallet because the pitch is coming.

The delusion of religion is not whether or not God exists, but in the absolute certainty of knowing the unknowable. The staunch atheist who claims to know God does not exist is as guilty as the far right fundamentalist. Both claim to possess information they don’t have. Does God exist? No one knows, yet billions of otherwise intelligent people claim to know something they cannot prove.

Once a person is educated enough to explain the basic tenets of both evolution and creationism, he or she is capable of making an intelligent, emotion-free decision based on the evidence. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen anytime soon. To find the answer that you truly believe in, I would encourage you to do your research. Don’t listen to what your family members or your friends say, and don’t listen to what your pastor says, either. Pick up the bible, read it from cover to cover and take notes on key points that stand out to you.

If your own critical thinking tells you to believe in the Bible and follow Jesus Christ, then by all means do just that. But if your conclusions point to something very different, then follow your gut instinct and believe what you want to believe.

In the meantime, both Christians, atheists and everyone else will have their eyes on London this weekend. Whether you agree with Joseph Atwill or not, the man is entitled to his opinion and may provide some interesting insights to a debate that has no ending in sight.

 

Pennsylvania Pastor Wrongly Suspended for Officiating Son’s Marriage to Another Man

A United Methodist minister from Pennsylvania has been suspended from the church for 30 days after marrying his gay son to another man. In addition, the Rev. Frank Schaefer was told that he will lose his credentials if he violates any church rules in that time period. But a defiant Schaefer remains unrepentant and refused to promise that he wouldn’t perform more gay unions.

In studying mental toughness training for the last 28 years, I’ve discovered that every one of us has the capacity to be mentally tough. The problem is that most of us don’t know how to access our toughness, and as a result, people who are operating from a weak state of mind are vulnerable to bullies and bigots. That’s why critical thinking demands that the mentally tough stand up for the people who aren’t strong enough to stand up for themselves. And that’s what people like Rev. Schaefer are doing.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer is a hero, yet the church has decided to scold this man for doing the right thing — the same thing that every other church leader in America and around the world should be doing: joining two people who love each other in matrimony regardless of sexual preference.

Rev. Schaefer said, “The church needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation and we have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.”

 

The nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination does accept gay and lesbian members, but it rejects the practice of homosexuality. Is this not akin to allowing blacks to attend school with whites but insisting that they drink from separate water fountains? I guess we can call it “partial bigotry.”

The church is hailed as this great, loving community that welcomes “everybody” to celebrate God — everybody except for gays and lesbians, apparently. What kind of loving community is that? Would Jesus really endorse this kind of behavior? It’s time for the church to stop fighting the LGBT movement. It’s never going to win. It’s hard to blame people who lived during the Dark Ages for not applying their brain power or using their critical thinking skills, but in the 21st century it’s just embarrassing.

Even Pope Francis has shown some acceptance of the LGBT movement quite recently. He said of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” And not long after that he said, “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

 

Schaefer testified that his son had heard hateful messages from the church and the culture around him that told him that he isn’t normal or valid and labeled him a freak. And that’s the crux of the problem right there: Think of all the televangelists and other anti-gay leaders who have driven so many members of the LGBT community into therapy, swallowing anti-depressants and even committing suicide. Religious leaders claim that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and that’s why they are against gay marriage. This is another far-right fabrication. The real reason that they’re against gay marriage is that it would make gay couples equal to straight couples and remove the stigma that has been cast upon homosexuality.

Critical thinking in the case of Rev. Frank Schaefer is simple. The man is a loving father who did the right thing by supporting his son — and after all, a loving parent is the backbone of the Christian faith. Schaefer is also a leader to the gay community. And most importantly, he should be treated as a role model and a refreshing change for the Christian community around the world. Suspending Schaefer is ludicrous; if anything, he’s entitled to a promotion.

If the United Methodist Church in southeastern Pennsylvania eventually defrocks Rev. Schaefer, it would be a great shame. This is a man who can teach the church and the community real life lessons about love, compassion and doing the right thing.

 

Indiana GOP Candidate Richard Mourdock is Delusional Over Abortion/Pregnancy Statements — Shows No Respect Towards Women

Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said in a debate Tuesday night that pregnancies resulting from rape “are something that God intended to happen,” and the chairman of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm is standing by him.

Mourdock became the second GOP Senate candidate to find himself on the defensive over comments about rape and pregnancy. You may recall that in August, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin said that women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”

It’s absolutely amazing these kinds of statements are coming from people who could potentially be the next leaders of our country – making the important decisions that impact you, me and our future generations.

I’m happy, yet amazed Roe vs. Wade hasn’t been overturned. It’s proof that there are so many people who believe in a woman’s right to choose but are only brave enough to admit it when it’s law. I don’t blame people for being afraid, because taking any social position in America that goes against the religious right can cost you your job, friends, and even family. Religious extremists are a mob you don’t want to cross. At least gangs don’t pretend to exhibit “Christ-like” behavior.

The delusional thinking is that a fetus is a human being. A fetus is only a fetus and it cannot survive without its mother’s body, which makes critical thinking on abortion simple: we own our bodies, and neither the government nor the church has any jurisdiction or say in what we do with it. Once it’s breathing independently outside the mother’s womb it has rights, but until a fetus becomes a human being it is part of its mother’s body.

The problem with people who argue against this is they are thinking through emotion instead of logic. Abortion is a sad but sometimes necessary event, but the mother should be free to choose what happens inside her own body. The fact is that the advent of contraception and legalized abortion has done more to liberate women than any two events in history, and the all-boys clubs of “women should be kept barefoot and pregnant” are none too pleased. Women have been controlled, bullied, and abused by men since the beginning of time, and maintaining control of their reproductive rights is one of the methods men have used to keep them from rising up in the world.

As long as a woman had to be home raising kids, she couldn’t go out into the world and stake her own claim or make her own money. Men not only had a physical strength advantage over women, but they enjoyed absolute monetary power as well. It’s hard to have equal rights with empty pockets, and unplanned pregnancy was the catalyst of inequality.

Birth control and abortion changed all that, and in the past 40 years we have witnessed the greatest emancipation of women in American history. Women now have the power to forge their own destiny, earn unlimited amounts of money, and challenge men for political power. This evolution would never have taken place in America without legalized abortion. Overturning Roe vs. Wade has never been about saving babies. It’s about controlling women, and the religious extremists will continue masking this hidden agenda until they are exposed.

All a critical thinker has to do is read what the Bible says about women, which treats them as the property of men with about the same status as cattle. Here’s what American social activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said about the treatment of women in the Bible: “The Bible teaches that women brought sin and death into the world, that she precipitated the fall of the race, that she was arraigned before the judgment seat of Heaven, tried, condemned and sentenced. Marriage for her was to be a condition of bondage, maternity and a period of suffering and anguish, and in silence and subjection, she was to play the role of a dependent on man’s bounty for all her material wants, and for all the information she might desire.”

It baffles me that any woman of even modest education can embrace a book that demeans them to this degree, yet this is the power of delusional thinking. Fortunately, millions of strong independent women refused to be subjected to the tyranny of ancient religious dogma and puritanical societal norms and are boldly creating their own futures. As women continue to gain more political power, social status and financial equality, they will make America a stronger, more prosperous country. It’s time for our leaders and future leaders from the right to get with the times and treat and support women the way they deserve to be treated.

As always, I look forward to your comments.

 

Steve Siebold CSP

 

 

Richard Dawkins on Religious Metaphors

I attended Professor Richard Dawkins speech this past Friday in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Dawkins was the keynote speaker for the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s annual convention. Watch this short video detailing some of the highlights.   Steve Siebold

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Should a High School Football Coach Be Preaching Christianity to His Players?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is making headlines again

This time targeting the coach at Ridgeland High School in Georgia for allegedly conducting prayers at school football games, sending players to different churches for pre-game meals, using bible verses as motivational tools and placing pressure on players to attend a religious football camp.

Critical thinking agrees with the FFRF and says this is completely uncalled for and inappropriate behavior.

Here’s why:
  • The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world, boasting more than 1,500 religious bodies and sects. There are nearly 360,000 churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues representing millions of members and an untold number of beliefs and philosophies. The idea of mixing religion with education is therefore ridiculous. America is a melting pot with room for all religions and belief systems, but not under one roof.

 

  • Fundamentalist Christians have damaged their credibility over the past 50 years by proclaiming that the government has “kicked God out of the schools.” The faithful are as free to pray and believe as they have always been without making a public display out of a private, personal process.

 

  • Before the 1962 Supreme Court decision to ban faculty-led school prayer (Engel vs. Vitale), the brainwashing began in kindergarten and continued through high school. Convincing an intelligent, informed high school sophomore born in the information age of a man living inside a whale, a virgin birth, and a dead man coming back to life, is going to be next to impossible—unless you’ve been brainwashing him from infancy. And that’s the real reason the religious have been fighting the Engel vs. Vitale decision for the last 50 years.

 

  • The bottom line is I can’t prove if there is a God, but neither can you, or the highest of religious leaders or a high school football coach, which is why it’s fine to believe what your heart tells you to believe, but it should be kept a private matter.

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Steve Siebold, CSP

Mississippi Church Comes Under Fire For Banning Black Wedding

A Mississippi church that’s been taking the heat for not allowing a black couple to marry in its sanctuary is coming under fire again.

While the church posted an apology on its website, Charles Wilson and Te’Andrea Henderson Wilson, the couple who was forced to relocate their wedding, says they still haven’t received a personal apology from anyone in the church.

Critical thinking says:

This highlights yet again how some people refuse to be accepting of everyone.  For church members in particular, how is this Christ-like behavior?  Every single person who discriminated against this couple should be required to give an in-person and sincere apology, or be banned from the church.

While the pastor involved never discriminated against the couple and still went on to marry them, he should have had the guts as a figure in the community to standup to his congregation and fight for what was right.  Until we standup to this kind of discrimination, it will never stop.

As America continues to become more diverse, we need to continue beating the drum of racial equality and desegregation through education in schools, public service platforms and especially in churches. The more we do, the stronger our country will become.

Does it really matter if you’re black, white, gay or straight?  Educated Americans know regardless of creed, color or sexual orientation, we should be left alone to pursue our own version of the American dream.  Would the average American allow a bully to beat up a little kid? No, but that’s exactly what’s still happening to many minorities.

It’s time we welcome everyone into our culture as equals and allow people to live life on their own terms.

I look forward to your comments.

Steve Siebold

Sex Politics Religion Book

Welcome SPR Blog subscribers from around the world! Please watch this short (1:02) video and I look forward to your comments.

My new book, Sex, Politics Religion: How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America-– is now available. Visit www.SexPoliticsReligion.com for the WARNING on this book and to purchase.

 

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Catholic Church Philly Trial

Still no verdict in the child sex abuse trial of a Roman Catholic monsignor, the highest-ranking U.S. clergyman to stand trial in the church’s wide-ranging pedophilia scandal.

As the world watches and waits for the jury to comeback, critical thinking says:

  • If and fact Monsignor William Lynn, who supervised hundreds of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese for 12 years as secretary of the clergy, is not found guilty on conspiracy and child endangerment, it will be a travesty of justice like never before and will send the message that we the people condone this despicable behavior.
  • The delusional thinking is that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection says, “It’s shocking what a HANDFUL of priest have done.”  Handful?  6,100 priests have been accused of abusing 16,000 teenage boys since 1950 and they call that a handful?
  • The power of the church is unparalleled in both politics and money.  How is it that the Catholic Church can get away with this after all the years and allegations of abuse, yet the late Joe Paterno, former head coach of Penn State, was fired immediately for his “failure of leadership” in the child sex abuse scandal surrounding his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse on young boys?  That kind of punishment should have been implemented in the Catholic Church years ago, instead of the conspiracy of silence which has covered it up.
  • How many more children will be raped and abused by priests before we begin punishing them like the child molesters they are?  The depth and breadth of abuse in the Catholic Church around the world is unbelievable, but until we stand up and start putting these criminals away for good, it’s never going to stop.

The revelations of the past 10 years have effectively wiped out the good deeds of the Catholic Church and demolished its credibility – leaving an open wound on the Body of Christ.

I look forward to your comments.

Steve Siebold