Tag Archives: religion

North Carolina wants a State Religion

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Bill of Rights, 09/25/1789

Bill of Rights, 09/25/1789 (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

In the late 1800’s, some Christian groups proposed that the United States create a new state that was only for Christians. This worried feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton who knew traditional Christian values viewed women as second-class citizens – women couldn’t vote, own property, leave unhappy marriages, or do anything without their husband’s permission. Luckily, the Christian State was never created and decades later, women were able to gain equality rights since the United States was created with the idea of separating the church from the government.

On April 1, 2012, North Carolina proposed a bill that would allow an official state religion that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings. The bill was filed on April Fool’s Day, though North Carolina is very serious about this pill. It is back by eleven Republicans and was filed after a lawsuit was filed to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer. The bill’s main sponsors are Carl Ford and Harry Warren and the co-sponsors are Edgar Starnes and Larry Pittman.

The bill reads:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

Past American leaders knew religion should not control the United States. Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers made sure government was split from religion because they knew a country ruled by religion doesn’t allow democracy. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.”  And she is right, look at the Middle East where all the countries are controlled by religion – the poor are uneducated, the leaders use the Quran to kill Christians and Jews, and women are forced to cover their faces and serve their husbands. Now, you may think “that wouldn’t happen here in a majority Christian country” but some strict Christians still believe men are better than women, that other religions should not be practiced, the homosexuals should be punished, and birth control should disappear – even though Jesus preached “love thy neighbor.”

The United States is supposed to be the country in the world that allows all religions, as long as the religions are not violent and the followers still follow the country’s laws. North Carolina choosing religion over government is a danger for all people. Though the bill will not pass since it 100% goes against the U.S. Constitution, the men behind this bill should not be in office if they care more about THEIR religion than about the people that were voted to represent. Instead of wasting time seeking revenge over the fact that they cannot pray at government meetings, they should be creating laws to help the poor and the weak; after all, that’s what Jesus said to do.

 

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Anne Hutchinson: Preached Religious Freedom

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Anne Hutchinson on Trial

Anne Hutchinson on Trial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United States is a melting pot – a place where all races, cultures, and religions live together. Though the U.S. is not perfect, it is still a land of opportunity and freedom, a promise to its civilians stated in the Bill of Rights. Before the Bill of Rights separated Church from the State, some settlements used religion to control the settlers. Immigration to the United States began in the early 1600’s for three main reasons: punishment, job opportunities, and religious freedom. When Anne Hutchinson left England for America, she was expecting a place to practice religion freely. Instead, she would be punished for being a woman discussing religion.

Anne Hutchinson was born in 1591 to Bridget Dryden and clergyman Francis Marbury. Her parents homeschooled her because they realized that women could also be educated, a belief made possible by Queen Elizabeth. England was a place of religious war between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, two churches that were equally corrupt. A group of Christians, called the Puritans, formed in order to “purify”religion. In 1612, Anne married a merchant named William Hutchinson and the couple became followers of minister John Cotton. Being a Puritan, Cotton was forced to leave the country so he followed other Puritans to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1634, the couple and their 15 children sailed to America.

Hutchinson hoped that she would be able to practice religion freely, but when she arrived in Massachusetts, she realized that she would not be able to. The Puritan leaders wanted an utopia where everyone had to follow the strict teachings of the bible. She quickly organized weekly meetings for Boston women to discuss sermons privately in her own house, but her meetings became popular with women and men. Hutchinson believed women could take on roles of religious leadership, a role that went against the Puritan belief that women served their husbands and like Eve, women would lead men to damnation if allowed to form an opinion. She also questioned the orthodox ministers in the colony and believed one had to have faith to get into heaven; this belief went against the Puritan’s who believed every action performed should be for religious reasons. When she was not discussing religion, she was working as a midwife and helping needy women and children. Though Cotton and Hutchinson’s brother-in-law John Wheelwright were both preachers, it was Hutchinson who was viewed as the main threat because she was a woman.

In 1635, future governor John Winthrop wrote in his diary that Hutchinson was “ an American Jezebel, who had gone a-whoring from God.” Once he became governor in 1637, all liberal preachers were tried in court or brandished from the colony. Hutchinson was charged with “slandering the ministers” and “troubling the peace of the churches.” Though she had never spoken publicly against the mainstream Puritan ideology, she was sentenced to house arrest at the house of Joseph Weld, a brother of Reverend Thomas Weld. The house was two miles away from Boston, meaning Hutchinson was separated from her children. Her visitors included ministers collecting evidence against her. After four months of house arrest, she was brought back to court in March, 1638 and sentence to leave the town. Hutchinson, her family, and her followers moved to Aquidneck Island (later called Rhode Island) until the Puritans threatened the island. The family moved into Dutch territory, not realizing the tension with the Natives caused by Dutch governor William Kieft’s treason. On September 1642, Mohican Indians attacked Hutchinson’s house, killing her and five of her children. When her enemies found out, they were happy since they believed it was God punishing her.

The Untied States is now a place where one can practice religion freely, but at one time, the government had the power to punish those that disagreed with its views. Hutchinson was deemed a threat not only because she preached religious freedom, but because she was a woman. She worried Winthrop as soon as she moved into the colony so as soon as he became governor, he made it his mission to punish her. Hutchinson is a hero to all Americans, because it was people like her who made it possibly for Americans to live in a country not governed by religion. Meanwhile, the Puritans would go on to hang women in the Salem Witch Trials decades later and be a reminder of why religion should be separated from government.

Sources:

Anne Hutchinson Biography

Anne Hutchinson 

Church of England Rejects Appointing Female Bishop: Female American’s Reaction

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Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Cen...

Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Central Tower. Seen from south. Image assembled from 4 photos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Church of England has been letting women serve as priests since 1994 but on November 20, 2012, it voted against letting women serve as bishops. Though most of the Church supported women serving as bishops, the voting procedure requires a two-thirds majority in each of its three houses (Church Rejects Appointing Female Bishops). The measure easily passed the House of Bishops (44 to 3) and the House of Clergy (148 to 45), but it failed by only six votes in the House of Laity (132 to 74) (Church still won’t allow Female Bishops). The Church of England needs to become more modernized and accept that women are equal to men or else it will not last.

Women are an  important part to the Church of England since female priests account for 1/3 of clergy members (Church Rejects Appointing Female Bishops) and in 2010, for the first time in the history of the Church of England, more women than men (290 women and 273 men) were ordained as priests (New Women Priests than Men). Since the number of women in the Church is only going to increase over the next few years, women will continue to push for equal rights in the Church. If the Church allowed women as bishops, it could move on to more pressing issues, like war and world hunger, but instead it has to deal with ancient sexist rules. Women priests are not the only ones who want equals rights, even men within the Church wish to see female bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury (symbolic leader of the Church of England) Rowan Williams agrees that the Church needs to become modernize in order to survive, “We have, to put it bluntly, a lot of explaining to do. Every day that we fail to resolve this to our satisfaction. . . is a day when our credibility in the public eye is likely to diminish” (Church Rejects Appointing Female Bishops). Already the Church’s population has decreased; in 2010, the Archbishops’ Council showed that less than 2% of Britons attended regular service (Church votes against Women Bishops). Meanwhile, a July 2012 poll showed that 74% of Britons favored the Church of England allowing women bishops, showing that the Church of England is going against the wishes of the English (Church votes against Women Bishops). This vote will not make more English believers but further diminish its popularity. Though the Church of England refuses women bishops, there are female Anglican bishops in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States (Vote Rejecting Women Bishops). The Anglican churches did not experience the wrath of God when they allowed female bishops, showing that it is possible for the Church to change its ways and make female bishops.

One reason that Traditionalists voted against women becoming bishops is because female bishops would hold superiority over men (Church still won’t allow Female Bishops).  As St. Paul wrote, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet. For Adam was formed first and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (New King James Version, Timothy 2:12-14). The Traditionalists wish to follow scripture that was written by men nearly 2,000 years ago, scripture that has been translated over the centuries. Another reason is because Jesus only had male disciples – even though some consider Mary Magdalene to be a disciple since she also stayed with Jesus at the cross when all the other disciples left and she was the first one to see him when he was resurrected – but surely Jesus did not consider her important.

According to the Church rules, the vote may not be brought back before the synod during the current term, ending in 2015. “There will be women bishops in my lifetime,” Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu promises (Church still won’t allow Female Bishops). The issue is no longer with just the Church since the Church has 26 places reserved for it in the  House of Lords Chamber and the Synod’s decision means these places are exclusively set aside for men. In England, a petition wishing to have bishops thrown out of the House of Lords after the Church of England voted to retain the ban on women being ordained was created – it reads “We call on the Government to remove the right of the Church of England to have automatic seats in the House of Lords, in line with its commitments to equality and non-discrimination, set out in the Equality Act (2010) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)” (Women Bishops House of Lords Ban). Labour Member of Parliament Chris Bryant said parliament should consider repealing the exemption from equality legislation for churches in order to force them to consecrate female bishops and Tory Member of Parliament Claire Perry said the Synod’s vote was “incomprehensible” given the Queen was the supreme governor of the Church of England (Women Bishops House of Lords Ban). There is even talk that several members of parliament are going to investigate the voting process and see if Parliament can force the Church to allow female bishops – a move that could threaten to separate church from state.

Until this vote, I had no idea that the Church of England did not allow female bishops since the number of religions allowing women to be priests, pastors, bishops, etc. in the United States has been increasing.  Traditionalists need to stop following scripture in the Bible that puts men above women since women have shown to be capable of doing anything men can, including leading a congregations. The bible’s ancient text is based on ideas and culture 2,000 years ago; if the Church does not adapt to modern views, it will not last in modern times. Parliament should get involved with forcing the Church to change its views since the Church is not separate from the government and should also follow the Equality Act set by the government. If the church chooses to live in the past, the government should separate the Church from the government, allowing the Church to focus on fixing its identity problem or watching its popularity drop even further.

Oklahoma Fails to Separate Church from State

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Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma State Capitol (Photo credit: StevenM_61)

On November 16th, a 2,000 pound block describing the Ten Commandments was installed on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Representative Mike Ritze (R) sponsored the “Ten Commandments Monument Display Act” which states that the Ten Commandments found in the Bible are “an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma.” Is he trying to suggest that Oklahoma is controlled by the bible? Because if he is, he did not take high school government since the First Amendment (a law that Oklahoma should actually be following) states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The law clearly states that the government cannot make a law establishing a religion, yet Oklahoma created a religious monument and placed in on government grounds. Also, in the Treaty of Tripoli, sent to the Senate by President John Adams, is written that “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Once again, a founding father points out how the United States is not founded on the Christian religion.

Though the Ten Commandments do have some good laws, like how one should not murder someone else, it also forbids people from believing in other gods. Seeing how this statement is sitting a few feet from the Capitol, it can make other religions feel uneasy, as though Oklahoma may possibly create laws from the Christian religion. As Ryan Kiesel, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, claims that when “legislatures set up a monument that seems to put one faith above others, it creates an environment where some visitors will feel like second-class citizens.” Another problem is what will happen when other religious start creating laws that support their religious laws to be shown at the Capitol grounds also? If the laws pass, a nice Scientology monument may be the next monument to share space on the Capitol grounds.

At the moment, ACLU has not begun to sue Oklahoma for violating the separation of state and government but the Liberty Legal Foundation promises to represent Oklahoma at no cost. The Liberty Legal Foundation also led legal challenges to President Barack Obama’s place of birth – in other words, Oklahoma will be represented by a bunch of crazies. This is just more proof that Oklahoma is wrong to place religious text on government property.

The fact that there was an actual law about this monument also shows how politicians are wasting their time. Instead of actually trying to help the people, they are wasting time and money creating religious monuments. The tax payers did not pay for the monument since it was raised through private donations and the Ritze family; the fact that people were willing to spend $10,000 to put a bunch of ancient laws near the capitol is insulting to Christians. In the bible, it is mentioned how important donating to the less fortunate are, but people actually thought a historical symbol depicting ancient laws from another country were important. That money could have gone to supporting education, helping the homeless, saving the rain forest; but instead, it went to a monument that contains scripture found in every hotel room in the United States.

Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments

Treaty of Tripoli

First Amendment

First Amendment Oklahoma