YOU, ARCHBISHOP, HAVE NO RIGHT TO ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE LAWS REGARDING THINGS THAT WILL INFLUENCE MY LIFE
Recently, New York’s Roman Catholics celebrated the installation of their new Archbishop, Timothy Dolan. Dolan, an outspoken preacher, if ever there was one, replaced Cardinal Edward Egan who chose to retire. I have a message for the good Archbishop, which may surprise you. However, if you read further, I am sure you will get the message and fully understand my position.
Archbishop Dolan, I fully support you in your statements to your flock expressing your positions on abortion and gay marriage. You have every right to ask devout members of your faith to take the stances you espouse on those issues.
However, here is where we differ.
I am not a devout Roman Catholic. In fact, I am not any kind of Catholic or, for that matter, Christian. I also live in a Republic, not in a theocracy. You, Archbishop, have no right to make an attempt to change the laws regarding things that will influence my life or the lives of my friends who do not support your rather narrow belief system.
That does not say that you cannot speak out on these issues. It just says that your demands that others follow your beliefs are un American.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
This country was founded by people who understood that the rights of minorities should not be impinged upon by the majority. Yes, I know that they didn’t include their African slaves in their beliefs, but that is something that was based on the culture of their era. It was wrong, and it is something that our country has been trying to rectify since the time of Lincoln.
Yet, as far as religion is concerned, the founders were very clear that faith is a highly personal matter. In fact, when we are told by people on the right that this country was founded as a Christian nation, we are being told a lie. This country was founded with the specific dictum that it would not have state sponsored religion. Yet, Republicans, and some conservative Democrats, have constantly tried to push religion down our throats. They use faith based initiatives as an excuse to glom government funds for their proselytizing. They arrange to have parking spaces reserved in front of their houses of worship, and they expect non-believers to close their business on their religious holy days.
As far as the two issues at hand go, here are some important differences between the Archbishop and many, if not most, Americans.
The Archbishop believes life begins at conception. I don’t. A zygote is not life. It is simply a bunch of random cells that managed to come together and gestate. They become life when they become viable. To me, that is when they are outside of the mother’s body as living breathing beings. Until that moment, they are still not life. Now, others feel that once a fetus is able to sustain life on its own, even if it has not been born, it has become life. I can deal with that. But, come on! The morning after pill isn’t killing a living breathing being. It is just expelling a zygote that has barely begun to develop.
On the issue of gay marriage, the Archbishop and I also disagree. First, the notion of the “sanctity” of marriage is completely ridiculous. Marriage as an institution originated to assure the rights of heirs to their parents’ fortunes. Today, it remains the same. Otherwise, the government would not be issuing marriage licenses prior to the ceremony and marriage certificates afterwards. At the end of weddings, we hear the official performing the ceremony, whether a priest, a rabbi or a judge, using the term, “by the power invested upon me by the State of (fill in the blank)” for a very good reason. In the end, it is the state that controls marriage and the rules pertaining to marriage, not the religious institution. The churches and synagogues may be sanctifying the ceremony as a method of keeping their believers in line, but it is the government that is making it legal. And that is not sanctification. That is the law.
And so, if Archbishop Dolan or any of the other myriad of holy folks from the various religious sects that abound in our country want to tell their adherents that it is wrong for gay people to marry, that’s OK with me. But to have the temerity to tell others who do not follow their dictates that they should be denied the right of marriage is unacceptable. And to try and influence the government to deny that right to others is, as I said earlier, un American.
I repeat I am not a Christian. I am also not an Orthodox Jew. I believe that the Bible may have been inspired by God, but it was definitely written by man. It was created at a time when man’s culture was far different from the culture that exists in today’s world.
Only the most delusional among us could actually believe that the deity sat down with quill and parchment and wrote down the words of the Torah. Only those so enchanted by the words of their religious leaders would adhere strictly to the 613 commandments that appear in the Five Books of Moses. Would they stone sinners? If not, then would they not be violating God’s commandments? Well, yeah, they would.
So, why, you may ask, do I support Archbishop Dolan’s right to tell his congregants not to have abortions or participate in gay marriages? I support him because, unlike the Archbishop, I believe in what America is supposed to be. I believe that we can only have freedom if we grant freedom to others. If we tell Archbishop Dolan and others that they cannot speak their minds, then others will impose the same rules on us, much in the manner that New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, attempted to silence protestors during the Republican National Convention, last year. If we want freedom, then we must assume that freedom should be given to all, even those with unpopular or false points of view.
Bu, Archbishop, and all those other bishops, ministers, priests and rabbis who are trying to impose their points of view on the world at large, speak to your congregations. Leave the rest of us alone.
Thank you very much!
HENRY A. HONIG