The Pope, The Church, Continuing the legacy of discrimination

Pope Benedict said on Saturday the Catholic Church could not accept gay marriage and urged young people to root out evil in society and shun a “lukewarm” faith that damages their Church.

The 84-year-old pope ended the third day in his homeland with a rally telling young people, “The world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better. There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression.”

He urged them to root out all forms of evil in society and not to be “lukewarm Christians,” saying that lack of commitment to faith did more damage to their Church than its sworn enemies. Most can agree with vague anti-war/anti-hunger statements. What to put on an “evil” list is another matter.
Unfortunately, gay marriage is near the top on his “evil” list, right beneath gays and lesbians themselves. Pope Benedict continues to provide a layer of justification for violence, harm, and discrimination against gays and lesbians. He blames lukewarm faith for damaging the Church rather than its own mediocre layers of leadership within its ranks, years of official deception before pedophilia in the media and its long opposition to promoting safer sex for its adherents.

The Church is to be admired for its liturgy and mantras of peace, opposing war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression. It reminds the world, like a religious Successories company promoting noble ideas to fight evil and be kind. But, like so many institutions, the devil is in the details.

Pope Benedict regularly makes pronouncements opposing Gay Marriage. He now condones condoms to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases, but only as a last resort, and after two decades of pressure and education from those within the church, from organizations and governments. It was essentially a move to help the Church save face. Brazil, a heavily catholic country, has now purchased millions of condoms to slow the spread of HIV in its country. The Pope is practical, if not prophetic. He still considered wearing a condom a sin, but it is a lesser sin than spreading HIV.

The Catholic of good and evil includes extensive nuances which are exhaustive, dated, and at times – by current independent thought, wrong. Should a conversation about good and evil occur between Pope Benedict and the Supreme Leader of Iran, there would be little in which to argue, except perhaps the prosecution of the sins.

The Pope’s opposition to Gay Marriage is based on scripture narrowly interpreted and history blinding him, rather than with a mind open to God. Research into psychology, physiology, sociology, and other studies have identified in recent decades that homosexuality is not disability or an abnormality. In fact, until the 1600s, the Church never used the term abnormal or unnatural in relation to anything that wasn’t spiritual in nature. It never used the word homosexual until the last century.

Much of the anti-gay angst is based on the ancient story of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a short story in the Bible and the Quran which scholarly leaders use to justify the vilification of gays and lesbians. Scholars of the Bible and Quran insist that these cities were populated only by gay people. This is simply ludicrous.

The Pope could correct this mistake. The story was an indictment of people who were simply wicked, hateful, and inhospitable and should be destroyed. Instead, as with human nature, scholars had to find a scapegoat.

The failure of leadership in the thoughts and context where the Pope fails to grasp God’s intent for those who are gay and lesbian starts in the Genesis (1:27) and ends with a comment from Saint Paul (Galations 3:28). God created us (all of us) in His image. What is his image? Simply, it is Spirit and Truth. And, in the New Testament, if you are Christian, Christ is who’s we are, therefore arguments based on gender, status or bloodline are inconsequential. Therefore to whom you are married is inconsequential, what is of import is that we love.

The actions of the Catholic Church demonstrate an entrenched strategy promoting priestly pedophiles and out of touch statements of belief. Advances in education, research and science continue to correct doctrinal teaching of many of the Catholic edicts of the last 5 centuries. The values of Love, Charity, Peace, and Faith don’t change, but the rules imposed in the interpretation of those values can.

The Pope and the Church supports discrimination against gays and lesbians. The Pope opposes the decriminalization of homosexuality at the UN. He opposes gay marriage. He opposes gays in leadership within his organization. With these values, he provides cover for countries, political leaders, and individuals to persecute or prosecute those who simply were made in God’s image, and found themselves born in the wrong country to express their love.

The Pope could reduce merciless oppression, war and terror tremendously by merely practicing acts of compassion and inclusion. He could reduce oppression by openly including gays and lesbians into the Catholic family. He could travel throughout Africa preaching inclusion, peace and acceptance. He could perform a gay wedding.

I pray for the day when a Pope, dressed in the garb he wears, starts to sing “We are Family”. That would be a day when life truly would get better.

Tea Party Policy Goals Will Lead to Economic Slavery

I have been observing the impact and results of the Tea Party Movement since its development by Fox News, the Kohn brothers, and other neo-conservatives who had lost their positions of power. In 2009, I watched, with curiosity, the passion of everyday families willing to push for a new agenda. I hoped that their public education would win out over the media manipulation of special interests from the most extreme within our country. Their policies of desperation and deficit spending denial could cause a recession within a year.

Tea Party activists believe they are moving into a world where they will have less than their parents. They want to do something drastic to change America’s direction. They know major changes have to occur and that special interests must be curbed. They want to save America. And, they are right. Unfortunately their strategies, goals, and focus – if successful – will only lead to America’s destruction or a return to a distant past we left. They have bought the snake oil salesman’s elixir and have nothing but poison in a bottle.

The calls for major cuts in every area of the government’s budget is welcome. Forcing governmental agencies to review where and how they spend tax dollars is necessary. Reviewing decades old regulations and updating those regulations, upgrading benefit calculations, and curtailing spending should be done. It should be done based on community priorities, updated information, changes in expectations, and national strategy. Simply demanding Cut, Cap And Balance doesn’t provide incentives, change, or development of a concrete conversation for America. Nor does it allow America the flexibility to make creative and inventive solutions that it needs to remain in leadership in the future.

Cutting safety nets for Americans will increase volatility of economic cycles, create larger pools of poverty in America, increase mortality, devastate families barely managing to remain in the Middle Class. Simply capping the growth of some expenses won’t make those expenses disappear, it will simply create a growing “haves and have not” class in America. And, forcing the government to balance the budget without being a party willing to raise income taxes on the most affluent in America reduces America to a third world country in a matter of decades.

Attacking social programs that support the most needy, being uncompromising at the expense of stability, the growing support for a more racist, less diverse agenda, and stronger “might is right” process abhors me.

I applaud the Tea Party focus on the checkbook. Yet, the attack on medicare and social security shows they would sell out their mother if the budget couldn’t afford it. That is immoral. They also tend to forget investment is necessary in any budget or you kill your future. And, the attacks on unions is the ultimate exposure of the tea party. Unions were what assisted in the growth of the great middle class of America. The disgust by which Tea Party leaders have for unions, in and out of government, shows the true distaste for American workers, the middle class and 90% of Americans.

It is clear that the god of the Tea Party is Ann Rand. She may be the Anti-christ many in America have been awaiting. Ann Rand considers employees to be parasites! It is elitism to its darkest capitalistic conclusion. Eric Cantor is her current high priest. Do we want an America based on an ant structure? This belief should not be a part of the American make up. America honors the idea that all people are equal, no matter who they are. No matter their social status or status in business (whether employer or employee). If the Tea Party Agenda moves forward America will be longer be able to be called a society for and by the people when it’s social policy becomes “everyone out for themselves”. To worship “job creators” and despise workers is immoral. It is the reverse of Communism and the most extreme expression of Capitalism. It is a return to slavery.

Stop Calling Immigrants Illegal. Unless you want to be called Traitor to the American Dream.

Written March 27, 2011

Recently, a friend of the family wrote, “I am all for foreigners coming to this country, but they better do it legally. There have been many foreigners in the past who have had to pay a great price to become legal aliens. If we just left anybody in, that makes a mockery of how much the legals had to sacrifice to come here legally…”

For awhile, I was completely confused by the statement. Then I started to unravel it. Without realizing it, this friend of my family had exposed the very war currently being waged within America. While I won’t address my concerns about calling any naturalized citizen a legal alien, instead of an American, there is a bigger issue.

When I was growing up, I watched movies with my parents that included “In the Army” which starred Ronald Reagan. It was a movie showcasing the diversity of America, the power of its communities, its inclusiveness in a dream. It showcased people who served in World War I, and their families serving in World War II. And, the diverse immigrants that were in the movie was dizzying for that time.

In a world where Ronald Reagan has replaced the Statue of Liberty as our most cherished of symbols, America is quickly returning to its glory days before the rise of the populist movement. We have embraced a strategy of lowering taxes on those making billions, while raising the real costs of living for those who are less fortunate. Rising gas prices and food prices continue to erode the bottom 100 million working in America today. Yet, many continue to believe in a failed 30 year strategy of lowering income taxes in hopes the economy will respond and the rich will save America.

Currently the top 400 richest families earned what the bottom 100 million families earned combined. In America, 400 should not equal 100 million. Not by any math. It is easy to understand. Everyone wants to keep what they earn and pay a fair share to maintain this great land. Yet, these two groups have targeted different areas to achieve a greater share for themselves. The 400 families have focused on tax policy and reducing to 35% the national income tax from a top 94% (to help pay for World War II), while the bottom 100 million are clamoring to defend our borders, and shut out those who enter our society at the bottom to keep what little they have.

The poem associated with the Statue of Liberty includes the phrase,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Our policy of immigration led to the great growth of America. People moved here who yearned for freedom. Were there challenges? Yes. Were they discriminated against? Yes.

Yet today, we rebuff them, dehumanize them, and politicians use them as fodder for their political ends. The light of Liberty remains a beacon to all of those who live under the worst of conditions outside of this great country. But, many of those who come to our land are unaware how America has created hurdles to the land of the free.

How can those from other countries, lacking education, yet desiring a better life for their children, know that we can legally impoverish others, force them to access medical assistance via the most expensive sources, and deny them redress if they don’t have financial resources?

America opens its banquet of plenty for every major emergency, but we don’t want transplants. If your home is too dangerous to live in, stay there and fix it. In fact, we’ll send our military to help, even if we helped create the problem. We are the land that coined the phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death”. And, we mean it. If you don’t have liberty where you are, we are fine with the idea that you may be persecuted and die.

It is an unchristian thing we, as a country do. We are proud as Americans for being a beacon of hope, yet, for those who now come to us poor and speaking Spanish, we ask them to return home. I believe America is capable of so much more. Yet, instead, we are more worried about billionaires keeping 2% more off their wealth, rather than feeding the hungry, clothing the sick, comforting the weak, or addressing our infrastructure.

We must stop attacking those who come to America seeking hope, health and a new life. We should develop an immigration policy that includes a process for those who are undocumented that is not punitive or out of reach of those who are poor. The current policy is broken. It is simply a policy of “sorry, go home”.

America faces a shortage in the Social Security Trust Fund, Medicare is hemorrhaging, there are limited resources to address long term care issues for an aging population, and a shrinking workforce. While immigration cannot fix everything (changes in tax policy would be needed), addressing immigration with our South American neighbors could restore the beacon of hope.

America has abundant resources and enough initiative and strength to accommodate those who want to join in the dream. Those who think America is limited in our abilities or would deny them to those who want to join are simply Un-American.