Monday, 11 March 2013

Faith versus Religion

In what must be one of the most offensive and un-Christian attacks by Christian fundamentalists on homosexuals and transsexuals while claiming to defend their Christian faith is described in the following article carried by the National Catholic Register 3/11/2013 under the  headline ‘Diocese fears recent revisions will compromise religious freedom by forcing acceptance of homosexual behavior’.  

Christian fundamentalist, seem to fear the so called loss of ‘religious freedom’ whenever they feel challenged about their false beliefs. They now suggest that homosexuals and transsexuals are an impediment to their faith and thereby threatens their freedom of religion. Since faith is a gift from God one would think these individuals should at least realize what Jesus promised his followers in John 10:28.  No nothing can take away God’s gift of faith.

As the article by  Canadian freelance writer Steve Weatherbe states “Christian critics, including the Diocese of Phoenix, fear the code can be used to force churches  and private businesses to hire homosexuals, to let transsexuals use either the men’s or women’s washrooms and to justify punitive fines against businesses that make homosexuals or transgendered feel “unwelcome.”

This is not the first time Bishop J. Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ has tried to muddy the religious waters.  In the spring of 2010 he excommunicated a Catholic nun for  her role in allowing an abortion to take place at the local hospital when it was considered necessary to save the life of a critically ill mother of four.

There is no question that the waters of Religious Freedom have been muddied over the last few years.  In the Catholic world the topic is being bandied about by those who feel threatened by the idea of same-sex attraction or marriage, the bullying of homosexual students, and frequent but patently false accusations from homophobes connecting sexual abuse by homosexual priests as being responsible for the sexual abuse scandal in the Church.      

Religious Freedom is now frequently used to garner political points or statements rather than  a means of ensuring the freedom to practise one’s religion or faith. In the western world Freedom of Religion is guaranteed under each country's individual charter along with the inclusion of 'Separation of Church and State'.  The latter is intended to prevent the State from supporting any one religion or from interfering with it.  At the same time 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.

It seems that an awful lot of Christian fundamentalists prefer to remain in the dark about the real causes of homosexuality (see Homosexuality: real causes ) and their understanding of transgendered individuals.  Perhaps they simply need an excuse to vent their own anger and pain.  However, it is not a license to hurl insults and pain on others who did not choose the cross they bear. To do so, takes away their religious freedom. It does not give religious fundamentalists such as bishop Olmstead the right to condemn them.  Is it not time to thank God for the diversity of his many gifts. Lets each of us discover the God within especially in ALL others.

It took the Roman Catholic Church almost 500 years to accept that the world was not the centre of the universe.  Hopefully it will not take them another 500 years to learn the real causes behind homosexuality and transgender.  
Finally, we need to understand the simple difference between ‘faith’ and ‘religion’.
Faith (Hebrew) aman, be firm, true; Latin fides, trust, confidence.) Faith is a gift from God that allows people to believe and trust in his love and protection.
Religion (Latin religio,) An organisation of people who follow a special set of rules, beliefs and practises in their effort to carry out their duties to their god and other people, e.g. the Christian religion.    

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