Thursday, March 31, 2005

Amazing Grace

...or, "say AMEN, brother"

Yesterday evening, I was doing some research for my "Talking to the Reptile" series, when I quite by accident ran into an exceptionally relevant sermon on Beliefnet. I urge you to read the entire sermon by Forrest Church, Senior Minister of All Souls Church (Unitarian) in New York City. Not only is it timely, but it takes the evangelical fundamentalists to task on many issues, using the Schiavo debacle as a jumping off point for talking about the "culture of life" that apparently is so near and dear to the fundies.

Here's an excerpt:

...I wish I could add that my compassion--always an elevating sentiment--extends to the politicians who have opportunistically seized upon this family tragedy to trumpet their piety. Jesus warned against public displays of piety. He knew that self-righteous display is the opposite of righteousness before God. Among other things, such displays promote hypocrisy. Today, with respect to our born-again Congress, this hypocrisy is most evident in the ongoing debate over next year's budget. Terri Schiavo's care, and that of others like her, is largely underwritten by Medicaid, even as national funding for health care is being frozen and may soon be slashed.

One can make a moral case against all forms of euthanasia, but to do so responsibly requires a commitment to underwrite the massive costs such a position must entail. As for all the pious political expostulation against starvation, cutting back on food stamps here at home or slicing foreign aid to abate famine abroad rips out untold numbers of feeding tubes. Children daily die in Africa by the hundreds, by the thousands, without fanfare--children not in a vegetative state, who might otherwise have lived a full and active life. While ignoring or rejecting so many other humanitarian pleas, when our legislators take time off from cutting the human services budget to promote a feeding law designed to address the plight of a single human being, they turn President Bush's 'culture of life' mantra into a parody...

I suppose that it's not any surprise to regular ASZ readers that I'm not a church going individual, though I hold my own ersatz spiritual beliefs, as do many of us. And granted, the Unitarian Church is certainly not within the mainstream of organized, holier-than-thou religion. But for Beliefnet to give such a prominent position to a sermon that is clearly miles outside of the mainstream fundamentalism that Beliefnet typically pushes (or at least its core readership espouses) can be termed as one hell of a shift.

Rev. Church hits one out of the park. Has the backlash started?

Update, 9:00AM, 3/31/05 - I'd really like to get some comments from the same "culture of life" fundies who are laying prostrate on the streets of Pinellas Park, Fla. about US Army Capt. Rogelio M. Maynulet. ASZ readers may recall that I blogged about Capt. Maynulet back in September, 2004. He is the Army officer who was caught on camera doing what his defense termed as a "mercy killing" of a wounded, unarmed, Iraqi insurgent.

Yesterday, Capt. Maynulet was convicted of manslaughter, which carries a military prison sentence of up to 10 years. What's maddening is that the same people carrying signs outside of Schiavo's hospice in Florida were (and will be) defending Capt. Maynulet's point blank murder of the Iraqi as a "compassionate response to the suffering" of the wounded man.

The hypocrisy continues apace.