Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Pastoral Response to the SCOTUS "Hobby Lobby" Decision

"[MCC] affirms that all people are entitled to the rights and resources that equip them to make their own decisions about their bodies, their sexuality, and their well-being, including the inalienable right of women to control their bodies. We call on all levels of government and civil society to honor and respect those rights.from MCC's Statement of Faith on Women's Reproductive Health, Rights, & Justice

Companions on the spiritual journey:

As a faith leader and a parish minister, I stand in solidarity with other people of faith who are outraged by the US Supreme Court's decision on June 30th, 2014 in the "Hobby Lobby" case. The Court ruled that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. This decision, in my view, privileges the religious biases of a company's owners while treading on the rights and freedoms of individuals.

As so many leaders have already stated, this decision opens the door for a series of injustices. If legal medications can be denied because of someone's religious views (other than the one taking the medication), then it is entirely possible that family owned business could refuse to offer medical coverage for blood transfusions, AIDS therapies, vaccinations, psychiatric medications, medical marijuana, or any number of medical procedures because someone other than the recipient of the legal medications objected to them for "religious" reasons. Dogma is rarely life-enhancing and in this instance may prove to be very dangerous.

As a religious progressive, I support the idea that universal health care is a right, not a privilege; and I further affirm the verity that that neither churches nor corporations nor governments own human bodies and women are the ultimate authority when it comes to their own health care and procreative choices.

LBGT people know what it is to be judged, marginalized, and vilified for their consensual, adult relationships and gender identities; in other words, the Queer community knows what it means to have their bodies and their sovereignty over them diminished. As a Queer man I object to the colonization of bodies even (and maybe especially) when it is done in the name of religion.

The consciences, needs, and values of workers were ruled to be secondary to the religious opinions of business owners in the June 30th decision. The values of the powerful and privileged were affirmed while the values of workers of modest means were dismissed, and that is not justice.

It is time that people of faith insist that patriarchy and its wayward children: heteronormativity, racism, nationalism, and misogyny cease to be elevated to the position of religious values. It is time that we speak out more passionately than ever before when we see people being punished for their class, gender identity, sexuality, or procreative choices.

Yours in the spirit of justice-love,

Durrell SIg  

Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral

PS ~ Below are some powerful statement by other faith leaders:

Rev Dr Nancy Wilson, Presiding Elder & Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches: 
"The high court of the United States put all of our freedoms at risk today. Conservatives will now seek to deny a range of civil liberties and religion will be an excuse to discriminate."

A statement from The Religious Institute, led by Unitarian Universalist minister Rev Debra Haffner:
"The Religious Institute decries today's U.S. Supreme Court decision undermining true religious freedom--the right of individuals to make their own moral choices."

Unitarian Universalist president, Rev Peter Morales:
"I am deeply concerned by the growing rights granted to corporations by this decision and others of this Court and our Congress. I am also deeply concerned by the growing use of the religious freedom argument as a tool of discrimination and oppression."

Rev Harry Knox of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:
"The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is dismayed by the Supreme Court's decision...which perverts our nation's historic understanding of religious liberty. As a coalition of denominations and religious organizations, RCRC is gravely concerned about the Court's notion that a for-profit corporation is able to exercise religion."

Dr Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York:
"As a Christian, I believe that God creates human beings individually, and that the mark of our individual blessedness before God is our souls. It is this soul that allows us to be bearers of rights and obligations and rational agents capable of holding religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby would have us believe that corporations, too, have souls. This is not the case. I am horrified by the thought that the owners of Hobby Lobby as Christians think their corporation has a soul, and I'm even more appalled that the Supreme Court agrees."

Bishop Gene Robinson (The Episcopal Church):
"The Jesus I follow always stood with the poor and powerless - and trust me, this struggle is about power. Whether the issue touches women or gays and lesbians, our religion should be about more love, not less; more dignity, not less."

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