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Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Indiana Governor Mike Pence

Almost as early as God created the heavens and the earth (or the Book of Genesis and the Garden of Eden), He created Sodom and Gomorrah. Obviously, Sodomites have been around for a very long time!

Since biblical times, Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with sinners and sex. (Sodomy: sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation; practiced by both hetero and homo sexual people.)

Sodomy, not to be compared or confused with the seven deadly sins (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride), has nonetheless morphed most recently - judging by utterances of religious conservatives - into an eighth, God-hated-deadly-sin, practiced by homosexuals (only?).

21st Century solution? According to Huntington Beach lawyer Matt McLaughlin, that would be his proposed California ballot initiative, the Sodomite Suppression Act, which states, “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head, or by any other convenient method.”

California Assembly member Susan Eggman, a member of the LGBT Legislative Caucus, responded, “This initiative is ridiculous and if it were to appear on the ballot, California voters would undoubtedly reject it. However, LGBT people continue to be the targets of violence, here and around the world, and we have a responsibility to fight calls for more violence directed against them, whatever their form.”

Lawyer McLaughlin has been incommunicado since presenting his Biblically entitled initiative and paying the $200 filing fee. Not surprisingly, more than a decade ago, he drafted an initiative that would have allowed public school teachers in California to use the Bible as a textbook.

Does Mr. McLaughlin feel Biblically inspired?

If so, he’s not alone.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was recently demoted by Pope Francis for his extreme conservative views, is speaking out again, telling an interviewer that “gay couples and divorced and remarried Catholics who are trying to live good and faithful lives are still like the person who murders someone and yet is kind to other people.”

“If you are living publicly in a state of mortal sin there isn’t any good act that you can perform that justifies that situation: the person remains in grave sin,” Burke said in an interview with LifeSiteNews, a U.S.-based web service. Burke, who was interviewed in Rome, opined, “To give the impression that somehow there’s something good about living in a state of grave sin, is simply contrary to what the Church has always and everywhere taught.”

Earlier this year, this Prince of the Church also blamed gay clergy for the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, saying priests “who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity were the ones who molested children.”

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Fact: It is pedophiles who molest children - boys and girls. Earlier this year, Burke blamed the introduction of altar girls more than 20 years ago for the decline in vocations to the church’s all-male priesthood. Hmmm? Does he view these young girls as fresh targets for priestly pedophiles? Well, Cardinal Burke, should the church get rid of the girls or get rid of the pedophiles?

Is it any surprise, then, that Attorney McLaughlin feels it’s quite okay to write an initiative to kill gay people when a member of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is making pronouncements that being gay is tantamount to being a murderer and child molester?

Is it any surprise, then, that Attorney McLaughlin feels it’s quite okay to write an initiative to kill gay people when a member of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church - that long-standing bastion of Christ’s inclusive message of love and acceptance (not) - is making pronouncements that being gay is tantamount to being a murderer and child molester?

Adding to the number of states who have found that the religious teachings of some of their constituents must be safeguarded by state law, is Indiana, led by Governor Mike Pence. Pence recently signed legislation - the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) - which would allow businesses and individuals to refuse services based on religious beliefs. The main thrust: religious folk who have been taught that Jesus does not love or accept LGBT folk - just as they are - and thus, they should not be forced to be of service to gay people.

The faithful might agree that this type of issue is within the scope of religious teachings and Biblical study. But, not all would say that what the church teaches and what the Bible says, should become civil law. Surely, religious folk can find many instances of Jesus sitting down with all people, affirming loving everyone, i.e., “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” And, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

Agreeing with this view of Jesus, Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which is headquartered in Indiana, said, “As a Christian church, we are particularly sensitive to the values of the One we follow — one who sat at table with people from all walks of life, and loved them all.” Minister Watkins sent a letter to Governor Pence stating, “Purportedly a matter of religious freedom, we find RFRA contrary to the values of our faith — as well as to our national and Hoosier values,”

Watkins also wrote that her denomination, which has made Indianapolis its headquarters for nearly a century, is considering pulling its 2017 General Assembly out of Indiana because of RFRA.

Businesses are also responding to Governor Pence.

Gen Con, the world’s largest gaming convention, which brings an estimated $50 million to the state each year, has also threatened to find another place to hold their events.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement that his organization, which hosted the men’s basketball Final Four in Indianapolis, is “especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees” and that it will examine how Indiana’s RFRA could impact future NCAA events in Indiana.

Apple's Tim Cook, one of the most prominent openly gay American CEOs, joined other tech chief executives, including Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff, in blasting the RFRA. Tweeted Cook, “Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana's new law and calling on Arkansas Gov. to veto the similar #HB1228.” And, “Around the world, we strive to treat every customer the same — regardless of where they come from, how they worship or who they love.”

carl matthes

Whassup religion? Are you the roots of hate, killing and mistrust? Or, the roots of love, acceptance and understanding?

Carl Matthes