Majority of Christians are Not Hobby Lobbyers

Choices, choices

We know there are millions of “progressive Christians” and more Liberal People of Faith across the country, who see “Religious Liberty” as more than MY RELIGION has the LIBERTY to do Anything we want to and You can’t stop Us!  (Question for these Religiously Correct Folks:  Aren’t YOU the ones who keep sounding the alarm that “Sharia law is coming!”. . .”[Muslim Religious Law] is coming!”. . .??)

Here’s a hopeful and helpful voice from the Reasonably Religious (Think Progress):

But while conservatives would have the American public believe that protecting Hobby Lobby is about protecting all religious people, the reality is that today’s ruling actually hurts people of faith.

Julia K. Stronks, evangelical Christian and political science professor at Whitworth University, teamed up with Jeffrey F. Peipert, a Jewish family-planning physician, to pen an op-ed for Roll Call earlier this month in which they argue that granting Hobby Lobby religious exemption will actually lead to more abortions. They write:

Although the owners of these for-profit corporations oppose the contraceptive requirement because of their pro-life religious beliefs, the requirement they oppose will dramatically reduce abortions. … Imagine a million fewer unintended pregnancies. Imagine healthier babies, moms and families. Imagine up to 800,000 fewer abortions. No matter your faith or political beliefs, our hunch is that we can all agree that fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions would be a blessing.

These voices represent the majority of religious Americans who insist that today’s pro-Hobby Lobby decision isn’t about protecting “religious liberty.” Instead, it’s just a victory for one kind of religion, specifically the (usually conservative) faith of those privileged enough to own and operate massive corporations. That might be good news for the wealthy private business owners like the heads of Hobby Lobby, but for millions of religious Americans sitting in the pews — not to mention thousands working in Hobby Lobby stores — their sacred and constitutional right to religious freedom just became compromised.

Another good reason to support Rational Lobbyists like Americans United.  Truth [and Faith] is not a “Hobby” for these folks.

Safe Escort into Your Church?


I’ve known women who have had to make very difficult medical decisions about serious procedures including abortion.  I’ve supported the choices they make that concern their own bodies, as they make very private decisions with their doctors.

This is why this latest Supreme Court decision is troubling.  

A “safe zone” around clinics (actually ANY clinics at all, any Hospitals at all) is a no-brainer, but I guess that’s the point here:  SCOTUS isn’t seeing the Bigger Picture of what’s Really Going On out here in America.  Like many who don’t see the way the Religious Right is so Wrong about the Secular basis of the country, the judges are giving ammunition to the Holy Warriors to trample the rights of the rest of us, especially the most vulnerable.

I’m a strong supporter of Free Speech, yet if someone’s idea of free speech hinders another person’s Freedom. . .I have some problems with that.

See this TIME piece:  “My Wife’s Abortion vs. Your Free Speech”

So, somewhat serious, I make the following suggestion:

What if  “Choice” supporters used some of the same tactics as “Anti-Choice” protesters?

What if we were to picket at the doors of all the Churches of the Anti-Abortionists?

(you know, just to “counsel” and help educate)

We would show up each Sunday morning, set up our displays with Large Signs and Photos (lots of loving images?).

We would chant and sing as close as possible to every person entering the Church.

Signs would spin off from anti-abortion messages:

“Let Us Counsel YOU to Make a Rational Choice”

“People DO Regret Faith”

“Be PRO-LIFE:  Join Protests Against the Death Penalty, Homelessness, War and Anti-Vaccinationists”


“Judge NOT”

“Simply Doing Unto Others (as You do to Us)”

“You Will Not De-Fetus” (sorry, probably not that one)

“YOU have a RIGHT to CHOOSE CHURCH (But We Think it’s Harmful, especially to Children, Yet we Support Your Right to Choose)”

“STOP!  Don’t Murder Your Mind!”

“Do You Need a Safe Escort Today?”

“We’re Here for “Personal, Caring, Consensual Conversation” (SCOTUS)”

*Now, Here’s the BEST PART of this Action:

It’s all done with model, rational, non-violent behavior (with occasional chanting loud enough to be heard during the worship service).

That would show True “Christian” Behavior, wouldn’t it?

(What Signs or Photos Would YOU Suggest?) 

As with so many things the Christian Crusaders demand for the rest of us, this is another example of showing them what they are doing; mirroring back their actions (taste of their own medicine. . .for Educational Purposes. . .I’m smiling, but it’s true).

“They know not what they do,” so to speak.  Or they THINK they do, but not really.  Like their demand for “Religious Freedom” (meaning Christian Freedom), they demand school prayers or town council invocations, bible groups in public schools or commandments in the public square.  As soon as you bring in Someone Else’s prayers, scriptures or commands. . .they cry “Persecution of Christians!”

I’m convinced this large number of self-righteous activists will never learn, will never see that what they do Harms Others, unless and until they are shown How True Harassment Actually Feels.  Just until they learn, until they are sent back to learn the basic message of compassion and love and justice.

Last note:  It seems to me this Focus on the Fetus is, like so much Theology, Faith and Religion, a convenient way to be distracted from Real People with Real Choices in the Real World, right in front of them.

Ouch!  (most anti-choice leaders are men)
Ouch! (most anti-choice leaders are men)


“Great Wars,” Chaplains and Muddling Through

Close listening and communication
A Kind Face
Great Title
She brings Music
Riding alongside


Today marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo.  An act that brought simmering hatreds to the boiling point we call World War One.

The NY Times has an excellent series of articles (see the main map showing the slicing up of Europe AND don’t miss reading the “breaking news” in the Archives from those intense days in 1914).

I still have a huge amount to learn about the “Great Wars” of the 20th Century.  I have major questions about the role of ethnic and religious hatreds that drove the world into these massive conflicts (8.5 million killed in WW1 alone. . .countless casualties, civilian deaths and continuing deaths and injuries of farmers in those killing fields).  And they are still driving us to madness and murder.

For today, I simply call attention to the actions of Chaplains in war.

(It’s not all about worship and prayer and readings and preachings. . .)

I also find some of these Images of Chaplains from WWI fascinating (Google “WW1 Chaplains”).

See the faces. . .imagine the stories.

Secular among Spirituals


I attended an Interfaith event last evening as I’ve done many times.  I know a number of the participants from my years of chaplaincy and nonprofit work in the county.  And (disclaimer) the director is my wife!  The event honored her 10 years with the council and the 30 years this group has been a major nonprofit hub of education and action in Marin.

I sat with a nice couple I’ve known for years.  She is a retired nurse who now works to bring together nonprofits all over the county.  He is a retired physician with a wise and gentle nature.  Both are Presbyterians.  I also sat with a woman from the Church of the Brethren.  Mingling around and sharing a meal, I spoke with a seminary professor, a therapist, several Dominican sisters (I always have to kiss Sister Marion), a Brahma Kumari sister, a tattooed Street Chaplain and his wife, and others I didn’t know anything about but their name.  During part of the presentation I stood by a Gay Police Chaplain who is a Presbyterian Pastor and by a Wiccan Witch in the Pagan community.  We heard young adults from Christian and Unity churches speak about why they are attracted to interfaith work.  Sufi and Catholic women spoke about world needs.  Money was raised for the good work of the council and the next generation of leadership.

As I helped distribute sparkling juice for a toast, I felt comfortable in this crowd of good people who happen to be people of faith.  Some of them know I am a Freethinker and some of them say they are Freethinkers too.  Reflecting once again about the divisive past of Religion, the present potential of Interfaith work and the future of Seculars and Spirituals, I continue to ask hard questions, as we must.  I wonder where this will go in a world still so fractured and fearful with faith.  I wonder sometimes if seculars can, in some way, offer some “salvation,” some healing, for spirituals.  A world beyond faith.  We can certainly learn from each other, identifying what needs to be done in our communities.

It may simply be that, step by step, relationship by relationship, name by name, meal by meal and common action by common action, People simply become People, faith or no faith, regardless of race or nationality or gender or anything.  And there’s a lot, so much, to be done together.

I’m not an idealist (though it may sound like it).  I’m actually a radical pragmatist who has seen what works and what doesn’t.  And I carry some hope. . .realistic hope.  Hope can be wise, since, think about it, what’s the alternative if you have no hope?  Wisdom comes through experience, open reflection and active hope.  The wise way forward seems to have something to do with what was evident last night.  I hope so.

What is the future of Interfaith?  I’m thinking maybe it’s Inter-connection.  “Faith” will take a back seat. . .or at least not be driving!  That’s what I saw last evening.  That’s what I was toasting.  And I have a sense everyone there, faith or no faith, was toasting pretty much the same thing.

Let’s see what we can create.

Greater than the Bible. . .

. . .or Any Other Scripture.

Denali Range, Alaska (Highland Photos)

This Book converted me

from Faith to Fascination

from The Word to The Wonder

from Bound Belief to Unbounded Beauty

from Spirituality to Simplicity

from the Supernatural to the Super-Natural

from God to Goodness

Have You Read This Book?

Of course you have.  Anyone can and Everyone does.


The Book of Nature

The Greatest Bestseller of All Time. . .free for an unlimited time. . .

Billions of “holy books” are made from killing trees and animals.  Billions of dollars are spent selling the salvation in scriptures.  Is there wisdom in these books?  Of course.  Loving kindness, compassion, justice, ethics. . .we’ve heard this for centuries.  So why not Practice these and let the Books go?!  Unless you are a Bible-Worshipper or belong to a Religion of One Book. . .we no longer need to hear the endless quotes from your special book, your one-channel television.  Maybe it’s time to come out of the cave of flickering shadows.  Take a walk in the natural world, look up at the sun and stars, look out to sea, touch some flowers and trees, listen to the birds and coyotes, breathe some fresh air.  To paraphrase Emerson, Books are wonderful when we are not reading the book of Nature directly, when they are not distracting us, like theology, into some other imagined world.

As Thomas Paine, John Muir, Frances Wright, Walt Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, John Burroughs and many others have said: There is One Big Book to Read and Study and Find Inspiration within:  Nature.

All else is a footnote.


The Lake of Truth Parable from Ramakrishna


Ramakrishna (1836-1886) was a Hindu “saint” and keeper of the temple of the Goddess Kali in Calcutta.  His most famous disciple was Vivekananda who represented the Hindu religion at the first Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893.

Ramakrishna was quite a character:  a heavy meditator who loved the “Divine Mother,” follower of the Gita scriptures, an ascetic, and maybe a bit of a madman (“touched in the head” we might say).  Yet, the collection of his sayings (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) contains some delightful and thought-provoking passages, even for seculars.

I always enjoyed his parables and whimsical wisdom.

I see people who talk about religion constantly quarreling with one another.  Hindus, [Muslims], etc, all quarrel with one another.  They haven’t the intelligence to understand that He who is called Krishna is also Shiva and the Primal Shakti, and that it is He, again, who is called Jesus and Allah. . . .

Truth is one; only It is called by different names. All people are seeking the same Truth; the variance is due to climate, temperament, and name. A lake has many ghats [steps leading down to the water]. From one ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it ‘jal’. From another ghat the [Muslims] take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it ‘water’.  Suppose someone says that the thing is not jal but pani, or that it is not pani but water, or that it is not water but jal.  It would indeed be ridiculous.  But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects, their misunderstandings and quarrels.  This is why people injure and kill one another, and shed blood, in the name of religion.  (quoted in Harvey, The Essential Mystics)

One question I would have for Ramakrishna is,

Why not simply be “devoted” to The Truth?  Why give Truth any other name other than Truth?  If Religions just get us all divided by Naming the Truth using countless inventive “Holy Names” and Personalities, maybe centering on exploring, discovering and teaching Truth itself, would be better than Religion, wouldn’t it?

Somehow I think I might enjoy hearing the story, the parable, the “gospel” he would use in reply.

Related to my earlier post on “owning Allah,” Ramakrishna has this to say,

“So long as a man calls aloud, ‘Allah Ho! Allah Ho! (O God! O God!), be sure that he has not found God,  for he who has found him becomes still.” (Saying 79)

Who Owns Allah?


Update to posting on Beyond God (“Circus Maximus”)

Who owns the copyright on “God”?  You know, “His Name”? (“Her” Name is unthinkable)

You know, the Name “God,” “Krishna,” “Shiva,” “Jesus,” “Yahweh” (sorry, YHVH, no, sorry, Adonai. . .too holy to say it so no copyright necessary), “Allah” and all the rest (Muslim tradition says there are 99 Names of Allah, Buddhism says the same for Buddha)

Who controls these holy, sacred, untouchable, unnameable Names?

Malaysia is letting us know exactly who controls The Name (CNN)

Allah (copyright, his owners) sure seems to need two major things:

Protection (as in these respectably silly cases)

Praise (as in, Allah Akbar!)

(Muhammad needs these too, but that’s another story)

With all due respect, I hope Allah gets what he needs. . .

(and don’t forget to compare all the Other God Ownership Societies, a.k.a., Religions, whose Universal, Infinite, All-Powerful Gods also need Protection and Praise.  Hint:  ask for their papers of ownership; and when they say, “Oh No.  We don’t own God.  God owns US!” simply ask to see those papers too; and when they show the Qur’an or Bible or Gita or other scripture simply ask to see the signature that affirms that, and see if a judge will verify.  Then casually ask, Why does your chosen Object of Worship need protection and praise?)

Yes, I’m being very sarcastic with this, but there IS a comic/tragic dimension that invites ridicule.  At the very least these cases of MY God is MINE and not YOURS, Mine is the BIGGEST and BEST God of All, etc, etc, invite. . .no, they demand, question after question after question.  After all, people are dying on Both Sides of the Masks. 

And excuse me for smiling, shaking my head and rolling my eyes at yet another example of the Holy Circus, with its Ringmasters, Obedient Herds and Amused Audience.

The Masks are beautiful though, aren’t they?

Guns, Prayer and a Christian Planet (?)


Marian Wright Edelman wrote this impressive column after giving the commencement address at my alma mater, Seattle Pacific University, a small Christian-based school in my native northwest.

Inspiring Lessons from Seattle Pacific University

I respect her work with children and youth, and the school deserves sympathy for the recent shootings.

I have some questions for my old evangelical school, but I’ll hold those for a minute and let her words take effect.

After commending the students, faculty and admin for the way they handled the violence with faith, forgiveness and prayer, Edelman carries forward with an articulate call with timely questions:

What if the shooter had had an assault weapon? The student security monitor was able to subdue the shooter because he had to stop to reload his shotgun. If he had been armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a large capacity magazine capable of firing more than a few rounds without reloading, the tragedy would almost certainly have grown—as we have seen over and over again in similar attacks. Instead a young man with a brave heart armed only with pepper spray was able to seize available seconds to act with the help of other unarmed bystanders and bring a tragedy to a quick end.

At the same time we must all ask: could this have been prevented from happening at all?. . . .

[Washington State]does not have a universal background check law in place. . . And another critically important concern continues to go unaddressed—the need to ensure timely and appropriate mental health treatment, in the community whenever possible, for children of all ages and for young adults. While steps have been taken in Connecticut and a few other states since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, so much more is needed.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the attack at Seattle Pacific University was the 73rd shooting on a school or college campus in the United States since the tragedy at Sandy Hook. I am so grateful to the Seattle Pacific University community for their witness of strength, forgiveness, and deep faith. Yet I am heartbroken that they and so many other children, youths, and adults walk in fear on a daily basis and keep having to worry about experiencing this at all. Why is our nation saturated with guns— four million in military and law enforcement hands and 310 million in civilian hands? Why are American children and teens 17 times more likely to die from gun violence than their peers in 25 other high-income countries combined? Why is our mental health system still so inadequate to respond to the cries of those needing help? When will we all say enough?

We can and must do better.

I certainly hope we can do better.

So, here are my questions for the students, faculty and admin at SPU:

How will you, with your stated mission to “engage the culture,” work to end violence of any kind in our common culture?

Are you willing to ask these hard questions and address them beyond prayer and faith?

I’m not saying let go of your prayer and faith, but can you face these difficult issues alongside people like Edelman, who are seeking real change, not just “spiritual” change, not only “Christian change” that dreams of a Christian Planet?

I surely hope so.

Most of what I read coming from the school is focused on bringing an Evangelical Christian gospel message to a “secular world” in need of the “grace of God.”  For many of you, perhaps, the mentally ill shooter is evidence of the “evil and godlessness” of the culture you wish to change.

My hope is that the good education you receive at SPU urges you to think deep on these issues, listen to many divergent voices, and work with many of us who live in this society, in this world (Your World; Our World) to do the justice, compassion and human rights work that really makes creative change.  You may believe in another world.  But right now, this one is all we have.

I wish you all very well, through this awful time, this celebration time, and beyond.

A Goddess Does Homework


Alright, I’ll stop for today, but I love these stories of Comic Faith:

Goddess Homework (BBC)

“She’s worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal, who believe she’s a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.”

“The Kumari’s life of prayer also includes homework. When I go back to the current Kumari’s home, her mother allows me to enter her room and watch a private tutoring session.  For the first time, I see her as a normal girl as she sits quietly at her desk, and carefully takes notes.”

I smile and shake my head at the comedy.  Then, I frown and sigh.  Thinking of my own daughter and her innocence.  Then, of these children in Nepal and their lost childhood, in the name of god.