Questionable Motives

December 21, 2009

The Catholic Church: is there anything it will not steal?

Filed under: cancer,Catholic Church,prayer — tildeb @ 4:45 pm

AAP

Terminal illness such as cancer can be cured by prayer, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia says.

But Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell admits such cures, like the miracle attributed to Mary MacKillop, is obviously rare.

“Yes obviously (cancer can be cured by prayer),” Cardinal Pell told ABC Television on Monday.

“And there are quite a number of examples in the books.”

Cardinal Pell says that won’t give sick people a false sense of security because they realise cure by prayer is a “very long shot”.

The Vatican has recognised Mother Mary’s role in the healing a woman with inoperable cancer during the mid 1990s after she prayed to Mother Mary.

It is the second miracle attributed to Mary MacKillop, who is set to become the nation’s first Saint, 100 years after her death.

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Oh really? Prayer? This is big news indeed… but wait. Who is this woman whose throat cancer was cured by prayer? Her name is Angela Szczepanski, and she writes,

My chemotherapy treatments started July 13, l995. Within one week of my first treatment, I could talk, eat, work and smile. I knew everything would be fine.

Maybe it’s just me not being properly awe struck by a catholic archbishop’s assertion as if it must therefore be fact, but doesn’t this quote by Angela sound suspiciously like a medical intervention? Might it, rather than prayer, be the actual cure? Apparently not, because the cancer returned in spite of Angela’s certainty that she was cured.

The chemotherapy didn’t seem to do much good so, along with radiotherapy, the doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant.

Again, this sounds to me – dullard that I am in the face of claims of supernatural miracles – like another medical intervention. And this time, it seems to have worked, although Angela attributes her survival to the faith exhibited by a devout dentist.

What appears miraculous to me is the gullibility of people who want to attribute effect to a preferred cause, especially a supernatural cause. Although that cause may indeed be true, it seems to me to be more prudent, more HONEST, to first attribute the probable effect to medical procedures that have been shown to have efficacy rather than be so willing to dismiss what is for what might be.

Would Angela have survived her cancer if all she did was pray? There is an awful lot of evidence to suggest that prayer alone does not cure medical conditions (although it may drive away certain mythical demonic possessions according to very biased sources like the catholic church who graduates several hundred ‘highly trained’ exorcists a year). Angela’s story in no way, shape, or form, offers any counter evidence whatsoever to the fact that prayer alone heals nothing.

What bothers me the most about this story is how quickly the archbishop – supposedly an educated person with critical if somewhat rusty faculties at his disposal – is so quick to state with false certainty that prayer heals cancer. That’s a bald-faced lie and he knows it, but hey, what’s another theft of truth in service of his god?

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19 Comments »

  1. I’m sorry about your cancer and that you feel the way you do. But please, before being so critical of the church, do some research. There have been many cases and not only in the Catholic church where people have been terminally ill, had treatments and were still dieing but through prayer – GOD chose to allow them to be healed. There is no other explanation but a miracle. Let’s face it, when it’s our time to move on, it’s our time and there’s nothing anyone can do or all medical treatments would work on everyone. The church teaches and not just the Catholic church, they all teach that prayer can heal if that is what God wants for that person. The church also teaches that we are to seek medical help, it is necessary. So, sure the medical treatments can help but only if that is what God chooses for the person. It is all up to God in the end. Being positive, prayerful and full of hope can really help heal! The Cardinal even says that prayer is a long shot. He does not say that prayer works no matter what. God bless you!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 21, 2009 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  2. I don’t doubt you are sincere in your beliefs, but your beliefs are just that: beliefs that may or may not be justified. A strongly held belief does not increase the truth value of that belief. To increase the truth value of a belief – to make it a justified belief – you need evidence that is causal… that this belief causes that result. Your statement that there are many such cases where prayer alone caused healing is probably not true even though you believe otherwise. There are probably better explanations – more likely causes – for the healing you attribute to prayer than simply the unjustified belief that you assert made it so.

    And as for attributing this supposed healing to god is an assertion you make without a shred of evidence to back it up. That is called an unjustified belief no matter how strongly your favour it to be true. If there were any solid evidence to turn that unjustified belief into a justified one, you and the rest of the faithful would be touting it from the church steeple. But the sad fact of the matter is that there is no such evidence. There is no causal evidence that shows any causal effect that prayer heals. There is, however, very good evidence that reliance on prayer in spite or in place of proper medical care causes harm. In addition there’s a good study that links a slightly higher incidence of infection and complication for cardiac patients who know people are praying for them. I know; go figure.

    Goddidit is never a meaningful answer; it is the substitution code used by the faithful to actually mean “I don’t know but I’m going to pretend that I do.” I agree with you that being positive and hopeful is a good approach to healing, but belief in the healing aspect of prayer remains unjustified.

    Comment by tildeb — December 21, 2009 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  3. Wow! I don’t know what to say except, there is proof for God, Jesus is real, HISTORICAL,FACTUAL proof of Jesus. People prayed and healed, Jesus healed them as well. Did you ever believe in God? Or did this happen after your sickness? I will find books written on the healing power of prayer – Doctors – secular doctors believe it works as well. You have seriously never heard of miracles and how people have been healed of terminal illness? I wish that you would search for hopeful good news instead of all of the negativity you are putting out there.

    The Gospels are reliable historical documents that we must apply certain criteria to. The first question we must ask is, “Do they present direct eye witness testimonies?” The second to be addressed is, “Were they written within living memory of the events that they describe and therefore subject to verification by others who witnessed these events?” When was the book written? For the third we now ask, “Do they contain fabulous, legendary or mythical material?” The fourth is, “Are they corroborated at significant points by external, independent testimonies from people not involved with the writers or their goals and beliefs?”
    To conclude, “Would the authors have wished to deceive?” Did they have something to gain personally by distorting the truth?” These are questions that people should look hard at and find the answers.
    The answers to prove the gospels are reliable historical documents are as follows: First, from the earliest times, the Gospels have been attributed to two Apostles who knew Jesus better than any other men, St. Matthew and St. John. St. Mark was an intimate friend of St. Peter and St. Luke a close friend to St. Paul and they were the authors of the other two gospels.
    Secondly, the closer the book is to the actual events, the more likely it is to be reliable. Next, it is important to remember that fables, legends, and myths tell of magic and the Gospels tell us of the many miracles God worked. Fourthly, in his book, The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus wrote about Jesus, His miracles and His death and resurrection even though he was a non-believer.
    Lastly, the authors of the Gospels clearly gained nothing since all except John were martyred.

    I will look for some books or articles on miracle healings and let you know. You must believe though! God bless you!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 22, 2009 @ 2:00 am | Reply

  4. Well, 4, how about we slow this down and start with just your very first point: you say that there is proof for god as if this were a fact beyond questioning. But question it I do.

    When we talk about proof, there are many kinds. I am going to assume (correct me if I am wrong) that you are talking about evidence. I favour scientific evidence. I favour this kind because it is as close to objective as we can make it. It is subject to testing, is repeatable, can be falsified, and is explanatory. For example, if I pass electricity through water, I will always get oxygen and hydrogen no matter where I am geographically, no matter what faith I profess, no matter what culture I am from, no matter what language I speak, no matter what race I claim, no matter what gender I am, no matter what my sexual preferences may be, I will always get the same testable, repeatable, falsifiable results that explain the chemical nature of water: two parts hydrogen for every part oxygen. This is not my chemistry or Argentinian chemistry but just plain old chemistry, and it fits the model we use in our technologies that explains chemical bonding with the framework of atomic theory. Very useful and reliable stuff.

    Is there evidence that reveals this critter you call god? I suspect you will tell me about personal experiences and revelations – yours and others – that are attributed to god being real and making his presence known, but examples still that do not actually do so in any kind of objective way. It will be testimony that is not testable, not repeatable, not falsifiable. Although testimony is considered evidence, it is the weakest possible kind because we as a species have a tendency to attribute causation rather than provide objective evidence for it. We come fine tuned to attribute patterns even where none exist, probably because to err on the side of caution when the long grass rustles provided us with an evolutionary advantage. I will then probably raise the point that surely an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent critter could do a better job of making his wishes known to all than leaving a slight impression of a possible face in someone’s toast, or a whispered voice in some starving dessert nomad’s ear two millennia ago, or some other such remark. You will then say he can’t reveal himself because we have to be able to exercise free will, and I will respond that there’s nothing free in the choice between either believing or spending eternity in perpetual suffering (that’s the kind of love New Testament believers forget to properly attribute to Jesus), and so on. What will not be forthcoming is actual evidence, I suspect. Please, prove me wrong.

    You continue to urge me to do ‘research’, as if my previous efforts have been somewhat lacking in this regard because I do not share your religious belief in some god. It may surprise you to learn that it was because of my ‘research’ that led me to the honest opinion that I don’t know if there is a god and you don’t either. I know I do tend to lean heavily towards what is probably true, probably accurate, probably correct, and this tendency has led me to doubt dubious claims unless there is evidence to support them. That’s why I post so often on this site about all kinds of unjustified beliefs and not just religious. Granted, religious belief causes the most havoc on the dignity and human rights of real people, so I do tend to focus more on this kind than the others. As for my own beliefs, I would like to think that I follow the evidence. The more evidence to justify a belief, the better… and the better the evidence is informed, the higher the probability that a belief claim has merit in truth value.

    I come well equipped to deal with the natural world; I do not come equipped – nor do you – to deal with the supernatural. None of my senses nor mind can make any coherent meaning from claims made on behalf of some supernatural reality accessible only by putting aside one’s critical faculties and diving into a false certainty of faith, with calls that I must remain so ‘open-minded’ to succeed that my brains fall out. That kind of slavish belief that insults one’s intellectual integrity honours nothing but willful ignorance, and the world has far too much of that without me having to add my two bits to this needless and lazy burden it places on humanity.

    You claim that I must believe in the healing power of religious belief, I presume. I must do no such thing. I will trust, however, in the advancements we make in knowledge, knowing that while incomplete, our collective knowledge is slowly prying open the secrets of the universe and what we find is truly awe-inspiring and more than enough of a marvel to remove any need to insert some convoluted belief set to make room for a supernatural creative critter mostly concerned about being worshiped properly (the first four commandments? Come on… even I can do a better job than that, and me just an insignificant 1/6500000000 of the human population and probably in the bottom half of those with real wisdom to give. How about exchanging one of the top four along the lines of Be Nice? Too complex for us homo sapiens do you think? How about Buggering Children is Bad. Too difficult to grasp for those consecutive bishops in the Irish catholic dioceses? And the Thou Shall Not Kill one? Did we really need this one spelled out for us? Really? Without this commandment, do you honestly think we would run around slaying people because we thought it was the RIGHT thing to do? What a truly bizarre and telling assumption. But I digress…).

    The point is, can you establish beyond your own opinion proof for god? I think that’s a good place to start.

    Comment by tildeb — December 22, 2009 @ 5:01 am | Reply

    • Are you going to tell me that the billions of people in the world, including scientists that believe in God are all wrong? I commented on a lot of this on the abortion discussion we have going and there is also information on my blog about why there is a God. Did you always have doubts? Or were you a believer that was struck with an illness and gave up all hope of a God? Why are you so against the Catholic church? I encourage you to go to newadvent.org and research all that you find crazy and you will see why they teach and believe what they believe. I also require evidence for my beliefs and that is why I came to the conclusion that I have. If there is no God, why are we here – seriously? What would be the purpose of our lives? Do you not agree that if we did follow the ten commandments the world would be an amazing place? The countless, pointless murders that are committed on a daily basis because of hate? wars because of hate and power? If we truly followed the ten commandments which can be rolled into 2 major commandments 1. Love God and 2. Love your neighbor as yourself – none of the evil things in the world would occur. Why would the apostles choose to be martyred if Jesus/God wasn’t real? Jesus was God in human form. We do know he is real and existed on this earth – he came to show people what they had to do to gain salvation because they were getting things wrong. Jesus was prophesied in the OT 100 times and he fulfilled them all in the NT – how is that possible if he is not God? How could he be born in the correct place? live the life they said he would, etc…if he is not real? These documents were written thousands of years apart. Wouldn’t it be safer for you to believe? If you do believe and are wrong there are no consequences – but if you don’t believe and there is a God, you will suffer eternally. Please go to newadvent.org and look up Is there a God – huge article explaining why people don’t believe but why there is a God. Very helpful – I also have another site I found that explains things in an easier format to follow: Everystudent.com Great information. For healing/prayer I believe in miracles by Kathryn Kuhlman, Healed of Cancer by Dodie Osteen, Healing by Wigglesworth Did you ever read about the young girl that is an artistic genius all attributed to God but had never been taught about God??? Akiane? Amazing stuff out there – tons of it. Please just look for proof of God and why people believe what they do, stop looking at the haters out there. There really is no other explanation for this amazing planet, solar system, animals, plants, etc… and how it all works – way too complex!! God bless you!

      Comment by 4amzgkids — December 22, 2009 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

      • I am saying that these folk share an unjustified belief. I am skeptical by training. The notion of a god as presented by so many people has never made sense to me because it is a set of incoherent beliefs.

        The catholic church has stolen and continues to steal everything that makes it what it is. From its dogma to its finances, from its sciences to its morality, the church steals from others, repackages it as its own without doing any of the work to create knowledge and wealth, and sells it anew as a gift of ‘right’ beliefs from god… found by happenstance only through the doors of and allegiance to the mother church, of course.

        The church claims it values truth, yet doesn’t care about what’s true; instead, it promotes superstitious nonsense agreeable to its dogma. It claims its leaders to be infallible, yet takes 400 years of being knowingly wrong before apologizing for the ‘misunderstanding’. It claims to be scientifically literate after stealing from Aristotle and Ptolemy, yet it pretends a cracker undergoes transubstantiation into flesh and wine into blood with the chanting of a few Latin words and the burning of incense. It claims to be respectful of people, but practices misogyny and undermines liberal democratic values by directly interfering in the public domain against equal rights and equal freedoms and democratic government. It claims to be caring and compassionate, but promotes suffering and poverty among its adherents. It claims to want justice and charity for the downtrodden while it dresses its worker bees in robes and satin slippers and lines its edifices in gold. It claims to support human rights but undermines and vilifies the secular law that does so. It is, in short and my opinion, a blight upon humanity and an ongoing meddling institution built on promoting and protecting superstition and ignorance.

        That said, I should point out that I’ve never met a ‘bad’ catholic I didn’t like.

        I am sorry that you feel you require a god to make meaning of your life. I don’t. Nor am I deluded enough to think that any one set of religious beliefs is the cure-all for humanity’s challenges. I think Jesus was a real person and quite a revolutionary in his time. I don’t for a nanosecond believe that he just so happened to fit the Jewish prophesies but that writers attributed their fulfillment upon Jesus after the fact of his life. You think it would be ‘safer’ for me to believe in this one god out of the more than 2000 we have had so far in our occupation of this little world or suffer eternally in some other. I beg to differ: not all religious ‘truths’ can be right when they make counter claims, so the probability of the one you favour is a one in 2000 chance. I think my odds based on not believing yours are ‘safer’, don’t you think? Muk Muk of the Volcano anyone? Is that the right one? So many… and all claim to be the ‘right’ one. And the mention of Osteen makes me want to mess up my own hair… why, I cannot begin to explain. Exploring the physical, chemical, and genetic evidence for evolutionary theory does wonders for beginning the deeply enriching and exciting journey of experiencing amazing discoveries, accompanied by one’s boundless curiosity, about how life has come to be: it’s like repeatedly sipping a refreshing yet bottomless wake-up tonic in the parched world of those who insist the answers are all close by in make believe land.

        As for complex: if you want to experience real complexity, try reading and understanding the works of Thomas Aquinas. I doubt even the full and detailed explanation of evolutionary complexity can hold a candle to the guy’s complex lines of reasoning. I reignite a headache just thinking about them.

        Comment by tildeb — December 22, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

  5. Please visit godandscience.org there is a heading for atheists and a ton on abortion. They can explain things better than I. I apologize that I have not been able to help you understand things better. I must defend the church though on the items mentioned above – you clearly do not have correct information. Please look into it – the church is on the verge of bankruptcy, all it has is historical and that is the reason they hold onto it – so future generations will have history to see (paintings, gold, etc..) This is the one church where priests live on a modest salary and dedicate their lives to serving others. As for infallibility – none are infallible and the Pope is only infallible on a teaching from the bible – not in his day to day life, etc…they are human beings! Yes, the wafer does turn into flesh and the wine into blood – that is a miracle and one we can never truly understand – there are books, photos, testimonies on this as well where it actually turned to flesh and blood and was tested by scientists, etc…Jesus told us to to eat his flesh and drink his blood which was given up for us!Unfortunately for you to ever understand that, you need to understand God first. It is possible but you must research!! The church does not steal from others – that’s madness! People take from the church and twist it to what they want to believe. Why would any church support liberalism? I’m sure you understand what that is right? That is the right to do what you please – why would that be ok? The church was first so how could they steal from others? Under the same website above you will find a list of well known scientists that had faith in God before they died.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 22, 2009 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks for the link, 4, but it reminds me strongly of university programs light on substance made to look meaty by the weight of useless work. I read a half dozen posts and was so sorely disappointed in the quality of the posts that I was tempted to gnash my teeth, rend my clothing, and wail piteously at the never ending sequences of Bad Thinking that have to go unchallenged.

    But I do know that there is no end to the various cerebral justifications regardless of the cognitive dissonances and rationally incoherent arguments created for the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent loving creator god. What there actually is, in fact, is a complete lack of substantive argument free of dissonance and incoherence or evidence for such a critter that can be repeatedly tested, and falsified. All of this means that there is very little if any meaningful reason upon which to base this entrenched religious belief, and it is upon this so-slight-as-to-be-imaginary branch that you rest so much weight of your life. That’s worrisome but you have the private freedom to do so.

    Let me put it another way also for your private consideration: what compilation of evidence or reasonable argument could be presented to you that would completely change your mind and convince you that your beliefs were false?

    If you cannot figure out how to falsify your beliefs, then they are unjustified in any meaningful and rational sense. What you are left with is mere assertion. Mere assertion is not enough to empower laws that promote your beliefs. Mere assertion is not enough to justify a special place for discussion about any public matter for the belief’s agents. Mere assertion does not elevate one’s claim to a deeper morality. Mere assertion is not the measurement of what is probably true, probably accurate, probably correct. Mere assertion is no basis on which to reduce another individual’s rights and freedoms. Mere assertion is not a legitimate basis upon which to found schools intended for a meaningful education. Mere assertion without evidence or cognitive harmony is neither as good nor bad as any other mere assertion: they are all equal in truth value. That means your assertion that, let’s say, life begins at conception is only as valid as is my claim that mushrooms are intelligent intergalactic agents sent here to spy on broccoli. Without more to inform the assertions, they remain equal in weight and equal in ability to inform whatever further points we make based on this original assertion. In other words, without evidence and reason without incoherence to back up our assertions, both of these claims remain equally meaningless.

    When a public office holder like Nancy Pelosi (sp?) is told by a half dozen representatives that she will have to go to the American Council of RC Bishops to seek its support regarding health care funding to then gain the support of the six, and is told by that reprehensible group to remove any funding for abortion services in exchange for its support, then the RC church has intentionally crossed the divide between church and state to meddle and peddle its beliefs in the public domain. When a bishop has the utter audacity to tell a Kennedy to vote as an agent of his public office against federally funded abortion services or face the private individual religious sanctions as a consequence, then the church has purposefully gone too far. Those actions make the RC church nothing more nor anything less than another business with a lobby group and should promptly have all of its US assets taxed like any other business that funds a lobby group within the borders of the US. That’s just for starters. Next up is meeting federally mandated equality of employment standards like any other business. High time 50% of the clergy was female, don’t you think? And we can’t allow businesses to discriminate on the basis of gender nor sexual preference, don’t forget. I think a preponderance of married clergy would be a big step up in the morals and giving of sexual advice department. Let’s welcome the RC church into the 21st century America as the corporate entity it is and make a few necessary changes. THAT’S what should happen when a church of any denomination crosses the boundary between church and state because THAT is why the founders separated them in the first place: if you want freedom of religion then you had better support freedom from religion in the public square. And that means that a church does not meddle in the policies of the public nor peddle its religious flavour-of-the-month bigotry as a lobby group. The church and all its mere assertions have no place in the public domain without accepting a significant penalty for doing so.

    Why would a church support liberalism?

    ???

    Because it is that liberal secular state that allows the freedom necessary for that church to peacefully exist without state interference.

    Wow. You floored me with that question; I thought it was a fundamental understanding necessary to be a responsible citizen.

    The church was not ‘first’ in anything. It has built its cathedrals on the demolished ruins of the previous temples. It has stolen all the holy days from its pagan ancestors. It has renamed all the holidays. It has incorporated the old rituals to appease the locals. It has recast its dogma to insert Jesus where once lived Mithras. The list does not end. But anyone who has done at least some research beyond the ones approved by the church will soon discover these remarkable coincidences throughout European history and the RC church and at least be a wee bit skeptical that the church was first in all these things. But for that to happen, one must have the desire to explore by one’s self and be open to other possibilities than the original assertion that the truth has already been found and described (or should I say ‘prescribed’?) by that church.

    Check back to your answer about whether you are even able to falsify what you currently believe to be true to see if you are even capable of beginning such a journey of honest inquiry. Are you up to it?

    Comment by tildeb — December 23, 2009 @ 1:17 am | Reply

    • Love the mushroom/broccoli example 🙂 You bring in so many topics at one time in everything here that it is hard to respond to all reasonably. I’m sorry you didn’t find that site worth your time, especially since it was written by someone that was Atheist. There is proof and reason that God is real – the Church as well- historical proof that it is the church founded by Christ. Do you honestly think I and others never questioned things about God and the bad in the world, etc..???It’s not like I woke up one morning and blindly went into anything. I wasn’t even Catholic – I recently became Catholic through research. I challenge you to prove everything you said about the church through them…You must go to the source to see what they really believe and teach – I promise you won’t be let down!Are there some bad eggs in the church – of course, they are everywhere, they are human. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to screen them until something terrible happens. But as for the church teaching truth – there is no question. The Kennedy incident, if he is going to call himself Catholic, he must act like one. You don’t just become Catholic or any other denom for the fun of it, you live it or you can be excommunicated which is right. You have to agree to what the church teaches and if you cannot fully agree, why become Catholic? That’s all they were saying – The church absolutely needs to be involved in political issues, they have to get their opinions out there, the majority in the government are Christians. Yet they do what gains them favor in the public eye or which brings in the money to support their campaigns. As for women as priests, Jesus was a man and the apostles were men – they continue to do what Jesus did. As for priests not being married, that is because Jesus was not married and in order to serve the church family, it would be hard for them to do both – their own (with worries at home) and with the worries and care of their church family. It seems that if you don’t believe in God, you think people are free to do as they please, whatever makes them happy and I’m saying that’s where problems arise. What would your ideal world look like?

      There is a ton of proof out there for the existence of God, as well as historical, factual information. Just look around and you will see it! Please also go to the Catholic church and see what they teach and why…you will better understand these articles/news programs that you see which are mostly taken out of context in order to favor the view of the network/newspaper/magazine. It is unfortunate that we as a society cannot have all of the facts and decide for ourselves. The media has taken over and will only show their views – almost like a dictatorship would be.

      Comment by 4amzgkids — December 23, 2009 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  7. I agree that I write too much. To rein in my exuberance, let me explain as simply as I can why I write what I do.

    I think you have every right to your religious convictions. You have this freedom because the state cannot dictate to you what you will or will not believe. To extend this point and make it personal, imagine if the state told you that you must convert to islam. You would immediately question on what basis the state can over-ride your freedom of religion. Because your constitution disallows any religious test for holding public office, this means that those in position of public trust cannot exercise the power of their public office to establish any such test. Personal religious belief, therefore, is neither a requirement nor a justification for exercising public authority. This has been interpreted to mean (and there are essays by several founding fathers pertaining to exactly this point) that there needs to be a wall of separation between the power of the state and its exercise promoting any one religion over and above another. So although many founding fathers believed in god and/or Jesus as the son of some god in one form or another does not give evidence that christianity is the favoured religion of the state. Quite the opposite; all founding fathers put their signature to this constitutional separation in spite of their personal beliefs. Those who insist that these same founders wanted to create a christian state versus, say, an islamic state or hindu state are simply wrong.; the founders wanted the state to favour NO particular religion. They did want to allow citizens the freedom of religion and to that ends the state has every right to exercise its authority.

    So when you suggest that individuals need to exercise actions on behalf of their personal beliefs, then I agree… with one important caveat: the exercise must be on behalf of that individual. In other words, private believe has the authority of state behind it to be exercised PRIVATELY.

    When you extend your suggestion that individuals need to exercise actions on behalf of the personal beliefs through the exercise of power in their public offices, then you have crossed the wall of separation the founders insisted was necessary for freedom of religion. Those exercise the powers of their public offices to further the goals of this religion or that are in fact undermining the authority the state has given them to protect freedom of religion. Remember, the intention of the founders was to establish no state sanctioned favouritism towards any one religion… and that included their personal ones! They did this to protect your freedom of religion so that when or if people gain public office and wish to promote a religious belief he or she favours that is different from your own, they have no public authority to do so. The same holds true when individuals exercise power of their public offices that favour the one you support!

    If you are committed to protecting the right to religious freedom – and I think you are – then it is your duty as a responsible citizen to inform others why a bishop who holds a public official to exercise that office’s power to promote a private religious belief or face the religious consequences is absolutely wrong. That act by the bishop is treasonous. It is a direct assault on a public official to undermine the constitutional guarantee his office is meant to protect – the freedom of religion – and to break the office holder’s oath to protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic and favour one religion over and above others by abusing the power of that office to do so. What the bishop in particular and the council of American bishops has done is reprehensible because in their desire to promote and influence public policy to favour their religion and the beliefs that empower it, they have intentionally and willfully tried to subvert the power of the people to their own ends by weakening the Constitution. This is a crime and the bishops should be held to account.

    In my mind, someone who wishes to subvert the authority of the state to further their own religious agendas at the the expense of your freedom to privately believe in whatever religion you want, have broken their personal covenant with the state. In other words, if people wish to subvert your rights, there should be a penalty. I think stripping such people of their citizenship – a citizenship they are willing to subvert – is an excellent place to start. I think that anyone who supports establishing religious favouritism by the state through all of its public offices are their accomplices.

    Again we cannot have freedom of religion unless all of us have freedom from religion in the public domain.

    Comment by tildeb — December 23, 2009 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  8. For once, I agree :)You are correct that we should have freedom of religion, to choose. However, if someone is going to run for office and make claims that they are Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, etc…then they need to live up to that don’t you agree? They should vote their conscience not what the public wants. That is the bigger issue here. Politicians do what they have to to stay in office – they are not voting their conscience. If you are a Christian – not sure what Muslims, etc..believe about life and abortion, etc..You must live up to it, not do what keeps you in office – do you see what I’m getting at? That’s what the bishops are doing as well. We have freedom of speech in this country as well and they are able to state what they believe – they cannot make anyone do what they believe but they have every right to try. Just like you and I are going back and forth on our beliefs. If we weren’t free to do this, we wouldn’t. We both want our views known, just as the church does. They don’t make anyone do anything, they let people know what is right from a Catholic point of view. So I disagree with that portion – freedom of speech is a constitutional right. Remember that people choose to be a part of religion, it does not choose them and therefore, they are responsible for living up to their faith beliefs.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 23, 2009 @ 8:07 pm | Reply

    • You write we should have freedom of religion, to choose. However, if someone is going to run for office and make claims that they are Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, etc…then they need to live up to that don’t you agree? They should vote their conscience not what the public wants.

      No. I do not agree. You are effectively giving up the very right you think you are exercising: freedom of religion.

      The first point I’ve already discussed is that private religious belief has no place in the public domain. Those who think it does are crossing that wall so well defined by the founders, as I have already explained. That’s bad, by the way.

      And the second point is that holders of public office have a duty – a duty! – to all people of their respective constituencies. A judge has a duty not to his or her religious conscience but to the laws of the land. A politician has a duty to represent ALL of the constituents whether they voted for him or her or not. A military commander has authority and duty from the state to carry out the legal orders of his or her superiors right up to the C-in-C. There is no room in this chain of command or chain of authority for individuals to substitute their private beliefs before carrying out their duties using the authority of the state.

      Look, the local police officer while carrying out the duties of law enforcement is not Bob from down the road who uses the authority of the state to implement laws Bob thinks are appropriate based on Bob’s notion of what rules Bob favours while ignoring laws that Bob doesn’t favour. Law enforcement has nothing to do with Bob the individual. That’s why Bob changes into a uniform to represent that he is no longer Bob from down the road but an officer of the law, empowered by the state to enforce those laws.

      The same is true for military people: they wear the uniform to represent this transition from individual civilian into an agent of a military office called a Commission. That’s why when you join the military, you then become subject to an entirely differ3ent set of laws than you had as a civilian.

      A judge wears a robe of office to represent the same kind of transformation from individual into an agent of the court where the judgments and pronouncements of the law. Individual preferences have no place in the judgments reached.

      Once upon a time, civic councilors, state representative, senators, and the like wore very specific chains that represented the power of their office while doing official business on behalf of the constituency they represented by majority vote. The chains represented the constituency and not only the majority who voted to place the individual into office. It is the public office that carries the power, and it is the public office that has authority. It is NOT, repeat NOT, the individual who has this power but the agent – whomever it may be – who directly represents the interests and duties of that office. Bob as an individual does not hold the power to carry out whatever actions he deems correct when Bob holds a public office and acts as its agent.

      You show a lack of civic understanding by assuming that it is permissible for an individual to usurp the power of a public office for his or her own ends or the ends of those whose majority votes placed that individual into office. It is not permissible. Acting for self while acting as agent is unconstitutional and every single citizen should know this fact. So why don’t they?

      Unfortunately, the voters are poorly educated on this matter and are quite willing to have their votes adulterated to represent favouritism from elected individuals. This practice has effectively whored the American system of government to serve the wishes of the majority, and the majority has bought it hook, line, and sinker. The majority of Americans don’t even realize how they have prostituted their inheritance for the short term benefits offered by individuals who abuse their offices.

      In my opinion, the voters of the United States allow this downward slide to continue. I see blatant examples of political, judicial, and military prostitution – selling the powers of the office to gain favourtism of the few by bribing the majority – which only strengthens the tyranny of the majority over the minority. My evidence lies in how prevalent and popular is the cult of personality we see so clearly from beyond the US border. The fault for this slide into policies that best serve individuals does not reside in the Constitution or Bill of Rights but from the laziness of the populace as a whole too ignorant to realize how much they are sacrificing to serve the individual interests of the few… disguised as always as policies that appeal to ‘popular’ opinion. Popular opinion is to wisdom what the Big Mac is to fine cuisine: it’s the lowest common denominator. For a great nation with a rich history and remarkable political system to stoop to such a morally decrepit state of cultism is a reflection not of the founders but speaks directly to the wisdom of today’s citizens. Today, your country is poor indeed and you are frittering away what has made your country great: not the personalities so highly valued by so many but the maintenance of secular constitutional power in the hands of the people.

      Comment by tildeb — December 23, 2009 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  9. You are misunderstanding what I am saying…that is often the problem with writing. Everyone gets something different. I agree that we have to live by the laws of the land but didn’t this all start with abortion and rights of citizens? How can you say people cannot vote their conscience? This is with regard to passing bills in the government – there are both sides for example with abortion – those that say it should be permissible and those that don’t. When a bill comes across like the health bill now…with abortion and who pays for that – the tax payers (ridiculous) or not…those that don’t agree with abortion should vote against it because they don’t believe in abortion or that tax payers should pay…they should not vote because the majority in their district believe they should vote for it….this is what happens so they stay in office. I agree that laws must be followed – our constitution is great, we live in the greatest country in the world. Do you understand what I mean now?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 23, 2009 @ 10:59 pm | Reply

  10. Yes, I understand what you mean, but I don’t think you’ve really thought the issue through. Also, this string began with my asserting that the church steals everything, including the efficacy of medical interventions. We are also having a discussion specifically about abortion over at your site, so maybe the lines got a bit crossed.

    I can easily say that our elected officials should not vote their consciences unless the vote is specified as a ‘free’ vote, in which case these officials will have to choose between their consciences and the expressed wishes of their constituents. Having lived in several countries under various forms of government, I know that voting one’s conscience is actually a luxury afforded to few if any politicians. Specifically, any government that uses the party system comes to a decision about how the entire party will vote and then they do so in the various houses of government. It is a difficult skill to master, being asked as a politician to go forth and explain to the press and public why one’s party is going to vote a particular way (when one may not think it is the right thing to do) and support it with reasons that highlight why it is the better decision. That’s the way these systems work. Voting by party lines.

    You raise a very controversial point about voting according to conscience regarding the funding of health care. Why should a politician’s conscience dictate what is and is not legitimate medical funding rather than, say, best medical practices? Why should religious beliefs about a medical issue bear any weight whatsoever? How would like it if your insurance companies funded your health care needs based on what the witch doctors of Muk Muk of the Volcano thought was appropriately moral? You would be rightly outraged. When religion begins to insert itself into the public domain of funding health care, and this insertion carries weight because certain legislators grant it the weight to do so, then we are returning to ignorance-based medicine. Don’t fund blood transfusions! Don’t fund transplants. Don’t fund healtrh care for gays! Don’t fund health pre- and post-natal care for Roman Catholics!

    You didn’t like that last one, did you? Why should your private religious affiliation affect your health care coverage? For the same reason you support not funding the health care of others with whom you disagree on a matter of faith, namely, abortion services. As long as you are willing to let others discriminate against your health care services for your beliefs and think them justified, then you have a legitimate argument to discriminate against others for theirs. But you can’t have it both ways. You cannot discriminate against those patients and doctors who have determined that abortion services are medically justified in their case while exempting your own medical services from the same kind of faith-based measurement and discrimination. And that’s why your elected legislators have no business inserting their sense of personal morality based on their private faith into a non-related area of medical services and funding coverage.

    Comment by tildeb — December 24, 2009 @ 1:23 am | Reply

  11. I understand what you are saying…however, abortion is not like everything else, it is not like a blood transfusion, transplant, care for gays, etc..All of those things save lives. Abortion however is the complete opposite and takes away life. So I have to say they must use their conscience when voting for things that involve life. Just as I don’t agree with the death penalty – it takes life…that’s not up to us mere human beings. There is something much greater out there that gave and continues to give life and I like to call that something GOD. Why as taxpayers should we have to pay for murder? I’m willing to give tax dollars for the other things you mention but not taking a life. It is a very serious moral issue. Life begins at conception because God tells us so in the bible along with medical doctors that will prove it.The life process begins as soon as the egg and the sperm meet. It’s amazing!

    Do you have children?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 24, 2009 @ 2:07 am | Reply

  12. When Does Human Life Begin? This is cut and pasted from the website – not my own work.

    T here is a tremendous consensus in the scientific community about when life begins. This is hardly controversial. If the claim were made that life was discovered on another planet, for example, there are well-defined criteria to which we could refer to conclusively determine whether the claim was accurate. How do scientists distinguish between life and non-life?

    A scientific textbook called “Basics of Biology” gives five characteristics of living things; these five criteria are found in all modern elementary scientific textbooks:

    1. Living things are highly organized.

    2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.

    3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.

    4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.

    5. All living things have an ability to adapt.

    According to this elementary definition of life, life begins at fertilization, when a sperm unites with an oocyte. From this moment, the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species). Non-living things do not do these things. Even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, a distinct, unique life has begun his or her existence inside her.

    Furthermore, that life is unquestionably human. A human being is a member of the species homo sapiens. Human beings are products of conception, which is when a human male sperm unites with a human female oocyte (egg). When humans procreate, they don’t make non-humans like slugs, monkeys, cactuses, bacteria, or any such thing. Emperically-verifiable proof is as close as your nearest abortion clinic: send a sample of an aborted fetus to a laboratory and have them test the DNA to see if its human or not. Genetically, a new human being comes into existence from the earliest moment of conception.

    “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.” Hippocrates, 400 B.C., Greece

    Biologically, from the moment of conception this new human being is not a part of the mother’s body. Since when does a mother’s body have male genitals, two brains, four kidneys? The preborn human being may be dependent upon the mother for nutrition, however, this does not diminish his or her humanity, but proves it. Moreover, dependence upon a parent for survival is not a capital crime.

    “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence.” The “Father of Modern Genetics” Dr. Jerome Lejeune, Univ. of Descarte, Paris

    At the average time when a woman is aware that she is pregnant (the fifth to sixth week after conception), the preborn human being living inside her is metabolizing nutrition, excreting waste, moving, sucking his or her thumb, growing, and doing many other things that non-living things just do not do. As early as 21 days after conception, the baby’s heart has begun to beat his or her own unique blood-type, often different than the mother’s. (Moore & Persaud, The Developing Human, p.310; Nilsson & Hamberger, A Child is Born, p.86; Rugh & Shettles, From Conception to Birth, p.217.) At 40 days after conception, brain waves can be read on an EEG, or an electroencephalogram. (Dr. H. Hamlin, Life or Death by EEG, JAMA, Oct.12, 1964, p.113.)

    “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic

    Medical science already refers to a spontaneous heart rhythm and the presence of brain waves to determine whether someone is alive at the other spectrum of human existence. In simplistic terms, if an organ donor is in an automobile accident and is on life support in a hospital, the physician cannot “pull the plug” and donate the patient’s organs to others unless the patient is “brain dead” and his heart is not beating on its own. If the medical community maintained consistency with this generally-accepted medical definition of human life, then we would condemn every abortion after the time when the average woman discovers she is pregnant. Every abortion, by the generally-accepted standards of medical science, aborts an innocent human life.

    One of the most amazing photographs I have ever seen is of a surgery being performed on a 21 week-old fetus named Samuel Armas. The boy is having surgery performed in utero for his spina bifida. In the photograph, the unconscious boy’s hand is poking through the surgical incision in the uterus and is resting on the finger of the surgeon. You can see the photo at http://www.michaelclancy.com/. The picture paints a thousand words that my mere words cannot match, but allow me to draw attention to the obvious fact that the surgeon is performing surgery on one living human being who is residing in the womb of another living human being.

    “Yeah,” the pro-choice attorney rebuts, “but is it a person?”

    In Roe vs. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun noted, “The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the (Fourteenth) Amendment.”

    According to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, a person is “a human being.” Attempts to render an entire class of human beings as “non-persons” based upon arbitrary qualities such as age and place of residence in order to discriminate against them is immoral and unjust. History is full of infamous examples of governments legalizing the discrimination of an entire class of human beings by rendering them “non-persons.” Jews were rendered “sub-humans” in Germany in the 1940’s and colonial slaveowners bought and sold Africans as “property.” As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court in 1857 ruled that Dred Scott, a black slave, was not a “person” with rights but the “property” of his master. Was the Court wrong then? Of course! The Supreme Court of 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide with its Roe v. Wade decision was just as immoral and unjust. They dehumanized an entire class of human beings in order to legitimize wholesale discrimination against them. Abortion may go down in history as the greatest human rights abuse of all time.

    As our nation’s founding documents make clear, the right to life is God-given and inalienable. The right to live cannot be legitimately usurped by men. No man, no government has the right to deprive one of life or liberty without a trial by jury, regardless of skin color, age, stage of development, level of dependence upon others for survival, or place of residence.

    Abortion results in the death of an innocent human being. It is immoral and unjust when evaluated in the light of the law of the land (our founding documents) and the divine commandment that forbids taking the life of an innocent human being (Exodus 20:13).

    The Association of Pro-Life Physicians

    5063 Dresden Court

    Zanesville, Ohio 43701

    http://www.ProLifePhysicians.org

    Saving lives :: Saving medicine

    The APP :: http://www.ProLifePhysicians.org

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 24, 2009 @ 2:11 am | Reply

    • You are welcome to publish links to articles and other sites when you comment, but please refrain from wholesale cut and pastes. The topic here is about the church making claims properly attributed to medical interventions and a discussion about why it should stay out of the public domain. The topic is not about abortion per se but about the church actively interfering with health care funding as if it has every right to meddle in public policy. I don’t think it does regardless of the specific policy. Posting this article does not address the posted topic but wanders off into one specifically about abortion.

      By the way, is there an association of Anti-Life Physicians?

      Comment by tildeb — December 24, 2009 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  13. Let’s see if we can get back on track for a moment and include abortion.

    You think abortion is always immoral. I get that. I think abortion is a medical procedure. You don’t seem to get that. You think abortion should be illegal. I don’t get that. How can you justify crossing that line and enforcing your morality on others? Why can you not understand that by doing so in this case you are allowing it do be done to you in another? While you are busy reducing the rights of others to suit your morality, you fail to grasp that you are actively undermining your own rights to be reduced in the name of other people’s morality. Before you can be allowed to do that, you must first justify why you think altering your morality into law is justified, which by extension, should explain why it is all right for some religious group or church to seek to use the secular law to impose their religious beliefs disguised as god-sanctioned morality.

    Comment by tildeb — December 24, 2009 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  14. Sorry about pasting in the whole article…we were discussing conscience and voting conscience and mine is about life – that is the point I was trying to make. Life is Life – not a moral or immoral choice. That is why I pasted in when Dr.’s even believe life begins and why. It’s about human rights and dignity which you say you are for. I was trying to prove a point. If you believe life is a choice then you are right – I don’t understand that! This whole thing abut the church interfering has everything to do with the right to life. They have every right to let their opinion be known on everything – freedom of speech. But obviously we are on two different wave lengths here so neither of us can convince the other and that is that. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year- it has been nice talking with you and trying to prove my point:) God bless!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — December 24, 2009 @ 5:51 pm | Reply


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