Westboro Supreme Court mis-rule

SUMMARY: This isn’t Free Speech, it’s freedom of politico-(pseudo-)religious gang-persecution organized on a national basis against random mourners (as such) uninvolved in the grievances supposedly being protested by Funeral Invasion.


Mob pseudo-religious persecution of mourners’ Free Exercise of Religion — the Baptists’ “speech” is usually not on-point, but irrelevant to the life and death circumstances of the decedent at funerals they INVADE — is just like the mob persecution of Christians in Turkey, long winked at by a supposedly-secularist State.  It violates the civil rights of decedents and their grieving survivors.  Only an unholy alliance between the Court’s fellow-fundamentalists and its (this time) misguided “liberals” would rule that the civil rights of off-topic, political, media-hog, worship-invaders trump Freedom of Religion.

Yes, all defenses of Westboro defend their protests as political, though they are veiled in religion.  If (Westboro) politics now trumps (everybody else’s) religion, maybe the rest of the Religious Right IS right, that religious freedom is being flushed down the toilet with the politicization of everything — IRONICALLY, BY THEM!

Another way of approaching it is that the Religious Right, a vast well-organized group, may now abuse its “rights” to violate the rights of usually-tiny groups of mourners anywhere in the country — not unlike the invasive, disgusting, terroristic tactics of Operation “Rescue” abortion-clinic protesters and their incited gunmen / bombers / racketeers / conspirators.  If the Bill of Rights is about anything, it’s about protecting the rights of the oppressed — not only those oppressed by governments or officials, but by their fellow human beings in this country generally, especially by groups bigger than them.  Look for other hate groups to go back to the Courts now for vindication against explicit civil rights legislation — the Ku Klux Klan, “sovereign citizens,” (neo?)Nazis, self-appointed “militias” and border guards, “Dot Busters,” ‘crosshairs’ assassins, the whole sorry, scary lot of them.  What will the lawless Scalia/Roberts Court say then?  Cross-burnings and lynchings are OK again?  Literacy tests and poll taxes for voting?  Forced segregation of public schools?  ‘The disabled or mentally ill, gay or “different,” should be neither seen nor heard’?  Torching Catholic churches?  Slavery?  Human females as their males’ property?  State-Established religions again?  Swastikas scrawled on synagogues’ outside walls are OK because they don’t violate the “privacy” of the interior of the building??!!  It seems the Court liberals, including two Jewish women and a “wise Latina,” have been tricked into signing on to the rollback of the whole 20th century, if not worse.  (And Clarence Thomas? Nevermind!!!)

Ironically, this unholy alliance represents the difference between Classical Liberalism, in all its forms, and Classical Conservatism, ie, progressive conservatism … the former represented by the whole near-unanimous Court Westboro majority, the latter represented by most Americans’ gut-reaction to Westboro’s atrocities, and this ruling, more bad law, ie, incorrect law, from the Republican Courts and Party.

Learn about the ascendant hate groups and domestic terrorists from the  Southern Poverty Law Center, and support the SPLC.

And how did this case become merely about “privacy and emotional distress“?  The mourners’ lawyers should be disbarred for incompetence!  Were they law students?!  Was this one of those volunteer, workshop, law school projects they do???


Furthermore, does the ruling consider that funeral “privacy” only applies inside a building-of-worship, funeral parlor, chapel, mausoleum, etc.?  What about processions outdoors, burials, cemeteries, motorcades, even the going TO the funeral by the mourners — Some Protestant services even sacralize this with a “Gathering for Worship” recitation or song.  What about Neopagans, adherents of Indigenous religions, or other “outdoorsy” faiths, which might not often even USE a building with a real “indoors” component?  Obviously outdoor portions of a funeral share the vicinity with the neighbors, if any, of the funeral sites, so that’s presumed within Free Exercise.  I’m not sure being attacked, verbally assaulted, or finding yourselves involuntarily amid a political demonstration, controversy, or riot, especially one featuring offensive language, IS presumed within Free Exercise, except during times of Persecution of your freely-chosen (or -retained) religion … something the Court seems to endorse today, even its Fundies!  (Appropriate, I suppose, since their fellow Repugs drove the President out of the church of his choice, then complained he wasn’t Christian enough!  “I played you a tune but you did not dance, I sang you a dirge but you did not wail….”)

I’m willing to consider that baptisms/circumcisions, funerals, and weddings aren’t the same as routine religious services which might be invaded by hecklers urging you to change your religion.  I’m not sure though!  When I was a Quaker in the 1990s I admired George Fox and his Friends’ doing so in 17th-century Anglican and other Protestants’ “meetinghouses.”  Maybe they would’ve really converted  England if they’d just waited till after services, and stumped outside the buildings as the faithful were leaving!  But IIUC these Baptists aren’t recruiting, merely advocating for their ethical or political positions.  And often their protests seem aimed not at anyone present, except the newsmedia.  That’s just rude … Supremely rude.

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Clergy re-victimization of a rape, incest victim?

Beware what kind of chaplain you seek counsel from in our Armed Forces (maybe even anywhere else).  In this disturbing account, a “conservative” “evangelical” Protestant minister seems to say that when a gay woman in the Navy came to him about being raped by a male Sailor, he did two things to her I’ve never heard of in a lifetime of theological study:

  • he supposedly got her to agree, through that bizarre Scholasticism that only his branch of Christianity does so well anymore, to be “married to Jesus” on the spot,* and
  • supposedly he involuntarily, unsolicited, imposed on her an “exorcism” of her homosexuality.

I’m not a lawyer, nor an expert in Clergy Malpractice, and I guess as long as the young woman is satisfied with his treatment of her and its effects in her life, he won’t face that lawsuit, and she’ll join the list of the — for now at least — “ex-gays.”  But his superior officers in the Corps of Chaplains at least, his Denominational Judicatory (if applicable), and/or his therapeutic credentialing body (if applicable), should look into the clerical, religious, and professional ethics of his own claimed behavior towards a woman who was within the military structure, already forced once to submit to heterosexual, male impositions recently therein, and he claims, also a victim of repeated incestuous heterosexual abuse previously.

This isn’t about my opinions concerning “evangelicalism” or demonology, simply what I believe to be — yes, the re-violation of a rape and incest victim by a minister she’d turned to for counsel and not, apparently, for a “wedding,” nor for a “cure” for her lesbianism, about which she had not, by his own account, complained.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this preacher involuntarily “baptized” playmates with water balloons or the garden hose in younger days.

He as much as admits to manipulating her: “And she had to answer ‘well, of course they’re full of the devil'” (emphasis mine).  Now, that one question-and-answer might have legitimate use in a ministry situation such as this, but not to catapult someone in an apparently fragile state into actions of dubious therapeutic, professional, or theological nature.  (I pray he didn’t also take it upon himself to ‘stand in for Jesus’ and “consummate” this “wedding” with her physically.)  Furthermore, he doesn’t tell us about her “renouncing” lesbianism: Did he make it up, lie to “the spirit of lesbianism”??  Or did he consider that the root of the presenting issue, the recent rape, would be legalistically removed if the victim were of an orientation not so disinclined logically, fundamentally, to reject male impositions, ie, straight?  Was it just more “evangelical” Scholasticism?  If so, was that his commission, basically to collaborate in her being ‘raped straight,’ as we’re seeing recently in other parts of the world?

I’m fully aware that Protestantism, today and historically, is full of such pietistic, emotional manipulation, as are certain streams of Catholicism and probably Orthodoxy also.  We’ve all seen the movies, TV dramas, read the books.  But even if we were to simplistically ask “What Would Jesus Do?,” did He ever do so with a woman, a victim of any kind, innocent or guilty?  I could be wrong, but I can’t recall that He did.  Did He ever work Himself and His beneficiary into the kind of frenzy of guilt feelings we’re all too familiar with — in this case turning the victim into the defendant, as she may well have been undergoing in the trial of her assailant already, as often happens in rape trials?

Tragically, many Americans, faced with the 40,000 sects of this land, would be hard-pressed to distinguish between one kind of Protestant chaplain and another.  Furthermore, in chaplaincy situations often clergy of one stripe are theoretically required to do double or even triple duty, serving patients or charges of a diversity of denominations on any given base, ship, or unit; often there aren’t many different chaplains to choose from.  If you’re from a small denomination, you’re at the mercy of whoever got stationed with you — and the Pentagon too is at the mercy of whoever volunteered after ‘having it put upon his heart by the Lord’ to go and do something for/to somebody(ies).

I’m not seriously trained in counseling either.  But I know what not to do, Lord have mercy on me.

A couple more quick points: 

  • Can exorcism ever be voluntary?  Well, someone might have a relatively mild problem — no head spinning, no projectile vomit, etc. — and go to a cleric asking about it, but is that then demonic possession, or maybe something else?  Otherwise, someone else might bring the supposedly-possessed person to the clergyperson, figuratively or literally kicking and screaming.  Neither is reported as happening here.
  • I won’t discuss Orthodoxy’s approach to homosexuality in this post, because I don’t believe it would be constructive or helpful to do so at this time or in this context.
  • In another, less-detailed allusion to this incident, this chaplain claimed that during it the evil one left the woman’s heart and Jesus moved into it, in the context of the “wedding.”  Actually this is said to happen Traditionally, not as such during the Orthodox Mystery of Holy Matrimony, but of Baptism / Chrismation** / Communion.  Orthodox Tradition goes on to say that previously, the evil one acted on you from within, and the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of The Trinity, from without; afterward, the Spirit of God acts on you from within — a position of strength for Him if you will — but the evil one may still act upon you from without — a relatively weaker position for him.
  • It seems this chaplain has become a political figure since late in his military career (sic).  Information about that is available through the linked page and elsewhere.  I’m so concerned about the particulars I’m discussing in this post that I’ll leave out the political angle, as well as his apparent or possible personal issues.

(*–Apparently, though, this didn’t make her a nun: Roman Catholic piety used to consider Religious Sisters “married to Christ,” but this preacher says his charge “started dating boys” openly.)

(**–likened to the Western Sacrament of Confirmation)

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Catholic Bishops attack Obama again

Let’s be clear: I deplore Embryonic Stem-Cell research or usage in any way at all except for a good-faith attempt to bring to those embryonic human beings to birth.  This is because, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian who aspires to be a member of Christ, ie, one of His body-parts, I don’t consider endorsing human destruction of unborn humans — even disabled ones (I am Disabled, perhaps from birth or before) — to be in keeping with Christ’s body-parts.*

However, the U.S. Catholic bishops go out of their way to attack the democratically- and Constitutionally-elected Obama Administration in recent news releases on the issue.  They’ve been indignant that we elected him and VP Joe Biden (himself a Catholic), as they made clear at their winter meetings days after the 2008 Elections, televised live on cable.  But as any Civics student could have told them, the Executive Branch of the US Government doesn’t lawfully appropriate money, Congress does.  The Executive Branch does nothing with money that Congress has not authorized.  This is the bishops’ national release; this is from one of their most “conservative” divisions, Pennsylvania.

Their Eminences and Excellencies could be forgiven (if I had the power!) their confusion, after their boy in the White House, George W. Bush, appropriated money without Congressional authorization several times, occasionally with active deceit on the part of the corrupt then-Republican leadership of both Chambers.  (And they wanna come back?!?!?!)  False or cowardly Federal judges or Congressmembers allowed this ACTUAL theft of taxpayers’ money to fly almost completely under the radar.

What do I want?  President Obama and Vice-President Biden are no more nor less a threat to advance abortion or its related horrors than a Congress that hasn’t brought to the floor a Constitutional Amendment to reiterate the protection of unborn Americans in 27 years in the Senate, and EVER in the House, NOT EVEN UNDER REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP!  Instead, Republican alleged “pro-lifers” spend their time and money (and yours) fighting [PDF] real Democratic proposals (and candidates) to eliminate nearly all abortions voluntarily by addressing their causes — showing that they view the lives of Unborn Americans less sacred than their own political power (witness their last-minute, repeated deceptions over [lack of] abortion funding in America’s Healthcare Reform).

What I want is for the bishops and other non-Democratic pro-lifers to understand that specific parties and candidates clearly aren’t how to prevail, but bona fide proposals on the floor of Congress.  Based on that, who’s the REAL pro-life party?  THE DEMOCRATS, AFTER ALL!!!

And what about the bishops’ dioceses’ tax exemptions for targeting Obama/Biden?  After all, a partisan church’s tax exemption is like spending YOUR TAX DOLLARS ON THEIR FAVORED PARTY OR CANDIDATE.  (There are Orthodox Church clergy who could be called on the carpet equally and worse than these. But Catholic bishops tend to have more resources on which to call, and lawyer friends advising them, so they should know better. Orthodox, not so much yet.)

(*–The only exception I can see is, in shorthand, to save the life of the mother: where the best available medical opinion[s] is that continuing the pregnancy will kill her in and of itself, not via suicide or threats thereat, or financial impoverishment [falling through our coarse Social Safety Net], her own mental illness or disability, etc.  Because I don’t believe we can require mothers by law to actually — not metaphorically — lay down their lives for their babies; that must be voluntary.)

PS: I’m not “an anticatholic;” I’m a convert from Catholicism with extensive graduate work in Catholic and other (Western) Christian theological ethics.  I don’t “hate Catholics;” some of my best relatives and old friends are still Catholic.  Just for the record.

Biblical Judges: Chiefs?

So say some Jewish scholarsOne per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel?  Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about?  Some of whom were more noteworthy than most?  (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)

I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!).  Conflating shevet and shofet?  Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?”  We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers….  The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!

Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time!  Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….

It’s a minor semantic point.  The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes.  But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel?  Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe.  “Tribal Sovereignty,” even!  With him, various officials, aides, counselors.  And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth.  And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?!  Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology.  (Even these gentlemen agree today.)  Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture?  Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”

And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.

(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)

“Settler” irony: Muslims in Europe

An email purporting to represent a speech given by a Dutch ultranationalist MP, making the rounds, includes the following:

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behavior, ranging from petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus drivers, to small-scale riots. Paris has seen its uprising in the low-income suburbs, the banlieus. I call the perpetrators ‘settlers’. Because that is what they are. They do not come to integrate into our societies; they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam. Therefore, they are settlers.

Ain’t colonial/imperialist blowback a b*tch?  I hear some Mexican Indians (ie, Native Americans) are converting to Islam too.  I don’t celebrate at all … but what goes around does come around.  Is it too late for any other solution besides war or genocide this time?

“Muslim-Americans”

Why do MSM use an expression, Muslim-American (with or without hyphen), as if it’s an ethnic background or something?  We don’t hear about Protestant-Americans or Catholic-Americans or even Orthodox-Americans or Mormon-Americans (though arguably many Mormons, like most Jews, are an ethnic group, not just — or even necessarily — religious).

I think maybe they’re trying to be sensitive, if unknowledgeable.  Remember when NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey came out of the closet as “a gay American”?  I dunno….

The fact is, American Muslims may be immigrants, or born here.  They may be Arab-Americans, Iranian/Persian-Americans, Afghan-Americans, Pakistani-Americans, Turkish-Americans, Kosovar-Americans, Albanian-Americans, Indo-Americans, Bangladeshi-Americans, Indonesian-Americans, Malaysian-Americans, even African-Americans … again, born here, or immigrants.  And lots more.

The plot thickens.  Arab-Americans may be Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Protestant, atheist, Syriac Christian, Sufi, etc. (listed only in the order they occurred to me, without any prejudice … except in favor of the Orthodox!).

It’s like a-whole-nother world!!!  And most of us are clueless….

Real Healthcare Reform: A Medical Mission to *America*

I’ve previously advocated for a religious order of lawyers and inspiring Orthodox Christians to similar kinds of social service/philanthropia(Of course, a religion doesn’t have to be Catholic or Orthodox to do these kinds of things. Do they?)

Well, as I’ve pointed out, one of Catholicism’s great works in its Third World missions and service commitments has been medical.  Yes, the Medical Mission Sisters sang (and apparently still do!), but they and/or their coworkers also did/do alot of stuff we in this country ourselves now go poor paying others to do.  I won’t call most U.S. medical professionals “mercenary” … but among the most-loved Orthodox Saints are the Holy UNmercenary Physicians and Healersanargyroi in Greek, “without silver/money” literally.  Well, not literally, because somebody had to help them pay the farmer, the baker, and the candlestick maker; but it often wasn’t their impoverished, sick patients.  And the Catholics just declared the sainthood of the famous and much-loved Fr. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, who (apparently coincidentally) bore the name of one of the greatest Orthodox Unmercenaries, and went there from his native Belgium to serve the leper colony even without a medical qualification, only to die of the disease himself there years later.  More pointedly, perhaps the other best-known Unmercenary (besides Cosmas and Damian), Panteleimon, was martyred for undercutting his fellow physicians, pagans, on account of his Christianity!  (Talk about a patron saint of Healthcare Reform!)

There are still Catholic Sisters and Brothers doing medical service here, but I’d guess far fewer than in former generations, amid the plummeting numbers of Catholic Religious and priestly vocations in general, and the aging of those who remain.  Today they may have secular lay (in the religious sense) coworkers and collaborators, and lay boards of trustees running Catholic hospitals and such, but as I’ve said previously, you can’t beat Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, for “cost-cutting” measures, and in any case Catholic medical institutions without a doubt, just like Catholic schools, are part of the skyrocketing cost of healthcare (or education, respectively) in this country.  We’re not exactly Third World (mostly, though visit Southern Appalachia, the Deep South, and some key Indian Reservations), but as has been said, we’re not getting our money’s worth either, especially compared to the rest of the so-called Developed World, and even some countries not first thought of under that label.

Obviously the Latin Church’s traditional 3 “Evangelical Counsels,” the vows most members of religious orders take, are of less appeal today than in former times, especially to American Protestants and non-Christians.  But  if Third World service doesn’t appeal to some, maybe service closer to home will.  And as I suggested in both previous articles, even halfway measures approaching “the vows” — for a few years if not for life, maybe married or marrying, in (prudent) shared housing or at home, more-organized and “religified” associates and collaborators, even fundraising to support those who serve — would help economically.

Maybe even spiritually!

([BLEEP!]  We Orthodox better do it before the Latins think of it and stage a comeback!!! 😉 )

But think of it: 1/3 of a billion people, fully 5 percent of humanity, being bled dry by the structural evils* of their healthcare system … the world’s leading economy, whose ups and downs influence the economic downs of the rest of humanity as we see today….  What good, what caritas, what philanthropia could be done for the world even here….

(*–Scroll down to the mention of the Brian Wren lyric … including the warning about how to observe the unquoted rest of that hymn.)

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