Saturday, 10 March 2012

Religious Terms

Some topical religious terms which may be helpful to readers of this blog.

Abortion grays: This is a term used to refer to those adults who are not strongly pro-life or pro-choice. They have reservations about abortion but do not wish to see it criminalized. They may well form the majority of adults. They are as opposed to enforced childbirth for every pregnant woman as they are to completely free access to abortion at any stage of pregnancy for any reason.

ABSOLUTISM:  The belief that absolute truths exist in the field of ethics and morality.  Typically, these truths are extracted from a holy text.  The term is analogous with the old concept that a monarchy held the ultimate authority in a state.  This was typically a king who claimed to rule by divine right. The opposite of ABSOLUTISM is RELATiVISM

Concordats: are international treaties with the Vatican that may range from granting little more than diplomatic recognition to a legally binding commitment to observe key aspects of Vatican doctrine and to have taxpayers subsidise the Church. Because the state may be put under pressure to enforce these Vatican policies.

DUALISM: The view that there are only two fundamental principles in the universe, such as good and evil or spirit and matter. They are generally opposites.  Under this concept there are no gray areas and everything is divided into pairs.  Such a belief implies the existence of two equal gods that are in conflict with each other rather than a compassionate and forgiving Creator who meets us where we are not where others would have us be.    

FAITH:  A system of religious belief.  There are many and they conflict with each other, but ultimately a gift from God.

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE:  The question of religious liberty or conscience was one of the hottest contested issues fought during Vatican II between liberals and conservatives. Its intent was to give individuals (People of God) their God given right to claim primacy over Church teachings. The debate ended in the now familiar constitution which reads:

“Deep within their consciences men and women discover a law that they have not laid upon themselves but which they must obey. Its voice, ever calling them to love and to do what is good and to avoid what is evil, tells them inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that. For they have in their hearts a law inscribed by God. Their dignity lies in observing this law, and by it they will be judged . . . By conscience that law is made known in a wonderful way that is fulfilled in love for God and for one's neighbour. Through loyalty to conscience Christians are joined to others in the search for truth and for the right solution to so many moral problems that arise both in the lives of individuals and in social relationships.” - Pastoral Constitution on the Modern World

Today Traditional Catholics are again challenging this ruling from Vatican II especially in such areas as abortion, the use of condoms, homosexuality, contraception, treatment of HIV/aids.  In some extreme cases some Traditional bishops have threatened or applied sanctions on laity who challenged Church teachings by applying  such measures as excommunication or access to communion.  

FREEDOM OF RELIGION:  Individuals in North American and most European countries  are guaranteed a freedom to practise their faith without any interference from the state.  This same right is not however extended to religious institutions when they seek to impose their beliefs onto the rest of the nation – see SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

FUNDAMENTALISTS: Within Christianity, this is a term used since the 1920's to refer to the most religiously conservative groups within Protestant Christianity. Within Judaism, Islam and other religions, the term is used to refer to the extreme conservative wing who Karen Armstrong defines as "embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis" namely the fear that modernity will erode or even eradicate their faith and morality.

HOMOSEXUALITY: In all its forms lesbian, trans-sexual, etc. Human sexuality researchers and therapists have reached a near consensus that homosexuality is a minority sexual orientation, one of three natural, normal orientations, mainly caused by variation in one's hormones. see here. It is unchosen and unchangeable. Many religious conservatives believe that it is an unnatural, abnormal lifestyle, mainly caused by inadequate parenting. Some think it is chosen, and can be changed. Traditional Catholics such as Pope Benedict XVI continue to oppose scientific and medical evidence to the contrary.


RELATIVISM: A philosophical belief that many forms of "truth" -- particularly in the area of morals and ethics are relative and not absolute. That is, it varies from time to time and culture to culture. Antonym: absolutism.

SECULARISM: the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries(see Wikipedia).  Being SECULAR  does not necessarily imply hostility to God or religion, though some use the term this way Martin Luther used to speak of "secular work" as a vocation from God for most Christians
When Pope Benedict XVI speaks of SECULARISM he means anyone who does not belong to the one and only TRUE Church and are therefore not Roman Catholic. Some opponents of church-state separation redefine “secularism” as “state neutrality” to allow their group (among others) to get state funding. Others try to discredit it by confusing “secularism” with “atheism”. But it's a political, rather than a religious doctrine and its purpose is to help level the playing field in order to give a better chance for human rights. See also: TEMPORAL

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE:   In the Western world most countries have adopted the ‘separation of State and church or religion’. While such separation prevents the State from supporting any religion or from interfering with it also obliges religion to leave the public sphere open to all. When both sides respect the boundaries, secularism provides a framework for freedom of conscience, tolerance and democracy. Secularism does not guarantee human rights but it helps make them possible.

SLIPPERY SLOPE:  In logic and critical thinking, a slippery slope is a logical device, but is usually known under its fallacious form in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any rational argument or demonstrable mechanism for the inevitability of the event in question. A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom. The strength of such an argument depends on the, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process which leads to the significant effect. The fallacious sense of "slippery slope" is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. Modern usage avoids the fallacy by acknowledging the possibility of this middle ground. - Wikipedia

TEMPORAL: Of or relating to the material world; worldly: the temporal possessions of the Church.

THEOCRACY: The opposite of secularism can be found in a theocratic nation which is run under the direct control or of a particular or chosen religious institution. Theocracy exists in many countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It is well known that many of these theocratic nations are found to be responsible for many horrific human abuses. However, that is not to say that a theocratic State could not be run free of such abuses.

Theology VS Mysticism
      Theology: The art of telling stories about the Divine. Also the art of listening to them.
      Mysticism: The art of tasting and feeling in your heart the inner meaning of such stories to the point that they transform you.  

Current high profile topics in the U.S. -- with a religious component:
Of the hundreds of religious topics saturating the news, the following appear to have the highest profile right now. It is interesting that 5 of the 7 topics are related to human sexuality and/or gender. The following seem to be the most important current topics of concern to many faith groups:

Same-sex marriage: What rights and protections should same-sex couples and their children have? Should they be allowed to marry, or be only registered in civil unions, or be allowed only to enter domestic partnerships, or be legally considered "legal strangers" -- merely as roommates? In mid-2013, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially overturned Proposition 8: a California referendum in 2008 that banned same-sex marriages in the state. Marriages are now available to same-sex couples in that state, in 12 other states and in the District of Columbia.
bulletAbortion access: In what situations should informed women be free to choose to have an abortion: all, none, or some? What are the best ways to reduce abortions: by restricting access or by making childbirth more feasible, or by increasing contraceptive usage. Would educating sexually active youth in how to prevent pregnancy and STIs help or hinder?
bulletIslamophobia: This involves fear, anger, hatred, discomfort, and/or discrimination directed against Muslims. Some target the 19 perpetrators of 9/11; some a group of violent radicals within Islam; some against all of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.
bulletReligious freedom:  This term has two very different meanings. In the past it referred to people being free to believe as they wish, assemble with others of the same religious tradition, engage in different religious practices, proselytize freely, etc. However, it is now often used to mean something very different: to use religious freedom to oppress, denigrate, and attack women and minorities -- particularly sexual minorities.
bulletThe fight against the HHS birth control mandate: A recent Health and Human Services mandate requires most employee health insurance policies -- including those used by Catholic hospitals, universities, agencies, etc. -- to offer free access to birth control to the employees.  The church feels that it is their religious right to fight its employees' access to contraception. Many of their Catholic and non-Catholic employees beg to differ. Numerous court cases are being fought. If the mandate survives, then there is likely to be a drastic reduction in unexpected, unwanted pregnancies, and thus a massive drop in the number of abortions.
bullet"Federal Defense of Marriage act (DOMA):" This law originally prevented legally married same-sex couples and their children from obtaining any of the approximately 1,138 federal benefits, protections, and rights that were automatically given as special privileges only to opposite-sex married couples. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 2013-JUN-26 that Section 3 of the law was unconstitutional. Same-sex married couples now have the same rights as opposite-married couples subject to some limitations. This ruling is expected to have a major long term impact on LGBT equality because of the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
bullet"Boy Scouts of America" (BSA): The BSA prohibited LGBT youth and adults from joining, and expelled any such persons when they were discovered within the organization. Delegates to their annual meeting voted to allow LGBT youths to join, but to expell them at age 18. Conservative religious denominations and para church groups are outraged that LGBT youths are allowed to join; some are organizing groups in competition to the BSA.


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