Do religious beliefs trump human rights, or it is the other way around? Three items in this edition of Religion News Briefs touch upon that issue.
The ‘Church’ of Scientology is known for, among other things, its penchant for tearing apart relationships between friends, spouses and family members.
But it is “delighted” that UK Scientologists Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli are getting married in Scientology ‘chapel’ today, after the couple won a five-year legal battle for the right to do so.
The case ended up overturning archaic English marriage laws, and declared Scientology to be a ‘religion’ in the process.
Note, that we put ‘church,’ ‘chapel,’ and ‘religion’ in parenthesis because as former Scientologist Marc Headley attests in this video, Scientology claims to be a ‘religion’ merely for purposes of public relations:
And yes, other than Marc Headley and the anchorman, the BBC reporter here was rather clueless regarding Scientology beliefs.
That said, in the end, whether or not Scientology is a religion, no amount of public relations maneuvering on the part of this movement can hide its snowballing decline.
Religious Freedom vs. Human Rights
In the USA, meanwhile, issues dealing with religious freedom and human rights are married in another case.
The Arizona state legislature passed a bill that allows business owners to refuse service based on personal or religious beliefs. As in the classic example of a bakery owned by Christians who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
In response to the passing of this bill, a pizzeria in Tucson has posted a sign on its front door stating, “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona Legislators.” The sign outside the restaurant says, “Live Free or Die Hungry.”
Jesus was a friend of people whose actions and lifestyle he did not necessarily agree with. He ate with them, in their homes! What could more Christlike that lovingly interacting with people to the best of your ability? When asked what the greatest commandment is,
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That doesn’t say anything about excluding people whose lifestyle you don’t agree with.
What if those bakers had been firemen. Would they have refused to help put out a fire in a home that belong to a homosexual couple?
‘Sister Wives’ Prompts Pro Polygamy Ruling and Debate in Utah
Yet another item on religious beliefs and human rights.
Kody Brown, his four wives, and 17 children are the stars of the reality TV show Sister Wives.
They have also become legal crusaders in the fight against Utah’s anti-polygamy laws.
The state threatened the Browns with prosecution after they flaunted their plural family on national television. That has worked before in Utah’s fight against underage marriage (often forced) within the state’s religious communities.
Utah is home to an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 polygamists, most of whom live in fundamentalist Mormon sects.
It should be noted that most of these polygamous sects do not, as far as researchers or authorities know, engage in underage marriages.
One major exception is the Fundamentalists Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a religious cult whose ‘prophet’ and leader, convicted and jailed pedophile Warren Jeffs had nearly 80 wives, two dozen of them under the age of 17.
One study by the Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society reported that polygamy leads to “greater levels of crime, violence, poverty and gender inequality” and higher rates of “child neglect and abuse.”
“The United Nations has said it’s a violation of human rights and a violation of women’s rights,” said lawyer Marci Hamilton, the Paul R. Verkuil Chair of Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Last December a federal judge declared a key part of Utah’s polygamy law “unconstitutional.”
The judge ruled that the part of Utah’s bigamy law forbidding cohabitation violated the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion.
Religion News in Brief
- Alcoholics Anonymous, without the religion There are some 150 A.A. meetings in the USA appeal to nonreligious people in recovery, including agnostics, atheists, humanists or freethinkers. Noting that the trend “marks a departure from the organization’s traditional emphasis on religion,” the New York Times says the boom in such meetings “represents another manifestation of a more visible and confident humanist movement in the United States.”
- 50 U.S. priests will undergo training to become exorcists: Four decades after the profession gained popular prominence in the gory horror flick “The Exorcist,” the Catholic Church is training a new legion of demon-fighting priests. Our question for Des Moines Register: Why is this article — judging by this story’s URL — in the ‘Sports’ section?
- A positive look at ‘spiritual but not religious’ folks Religious people need to listen to what ‘spiritual but not religious’ folks are saying, rather than ridicule them as “salad bar spiritualists” or eclectic dabblers. So says Linda Mercadante, professor of theology at The Methodist Theological School and author of “Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.” (hardcover | kindle)
- In the Philippines, God’s “appointed son” tries to expand his kingdom Pastor Apollo Quiboloy heads the religious sect Kingdom of Jesus, The Name Above Any Name. He also would like for people to believe that he is ” The Appointed Son of God.” He uses convoluted ‘reasoning’ (if you can call it that) and un-biblical teachings to suggest that Jesus Christ was the ‘appointed son in the Jewish setting,” and that he, Quiboloy, “inherited the Sonship and everything that pertains to the Son here in the Gentile setting.” That nutty teaching alone is enough to mark his religious movement as a cult of Christianity — a movement that while claiming to be Christian is nature is actually outside the boundaries of the Christian faith. Quiboloy’s followers, four million in the Philippines and two million abroad, refer to their movement as a ‘Kingdom Nation.’ And, as the article shows, some of them are up to no good.