At the time citizens of our country were vociferously fighting an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero, This Week on ABC held a town hall meeting to discuss the controversy. The wife of the religious leader who would head the Islamic Center kept assuring everyone there was no Muslim movement to inflict their religion on American citizens. Their goals were, according to her, benign.
A Muslim radical who was among the long-distance participants begged to differ. After dressing her down for not being a proper Muslim woman -- she was in American clothing -- he proceeded to announce his expectations that some day the Muslim flag would be flying over the White House.
Now this, folks, is an extreme example of why our forefathers saw fit to include a separation of church and state in our Sixth Article and First Ammendment of our Constitution. Many Americans, including some of our current lawmakers, forget that though it may feel good when the controling powers hold the same religious beliefs as yours, it would be quite oppressive if the "wrong" religion was in charge.
Most of us don't want the Talliban and Al Quaeda alive and well and running Washington, D. C. Neither do we want a minority religious right making life unbearable for us all.
Few of us have encountered any basic religious sect, denomination or even individual church that doesn't proclaim that they have the one and only "right" answer. We've all been guilty of religious arrogance whether we are fundamental Christians, Jews, Muslims, Budhists, Hindus, Agnostics or even Atheists. None of us want anyone else telling us what to believe and, in this country, we have a Constitutional right not to have to live by someone else's religious rules.
Interestingly enough, the very party that claims not to believe in Federal Control and interference is the same "Family Values" party that wants to tell everyone else who they can marry, whether they can choose if they want to have an unplanned baby and whether or not they are sluts and prostitutes just because they want their birth control pills paid for, too.
Perhaps all of us should question why payment for birth control pills got written into the insurance program in the first place. Possibly it is part of the preventive care approach which is said to be an important part of the plan. Whatever the reason, if one group of employees gets to have it, all should get to have it. Maybe at this point we need to question why Catholic universities and hospitals are hiring non-Catholic employees. If everyone that works in these institutions is Catholic, one might say that they are used to the heavy hand of a male Pope who has no experience with being pregnant, staying up all night with a screaming baby or, for that matter, making a husband's minimum wage job stretch enough to feed seven or nine kids. We won't even discuss clothing, sheltering and educating a mob. But then, Rick Santorum has so-informed us that it is snobbery to want all American children (except his, of course) to have a chance at a college education.
Now, abortion is a more complicated matter. This author does not believe that she could ever choose to have an abortion. But this author was never faced with an unwanted or untimely pregnancy. She does believe, however, in a woman's right to choose. She is concerned for the health and sanity of the stay-at-home mother with nine children who never gets to see her husband because he works two to three jobs. This is the same woman who has to count out cookies to make sure each child gets an equal amount. Then, one of the half dozen or so times a year she has recreational sex with her husband, the rhythm method doesn't work. She knows full well that nine other children will suffer if the tenth is born. She knows her husband will have to get another job -- or else she will have to work -- and where will she find forty more hours a week.
There are those who proclaim she should have the baby and adopt it out. Have they ever been pregnant? Do they know the wear and tear it makes on the body? Have they ever had to search the depths of their energy to find strength to waddle up the street and collect a child from a play date? Would they really be able to carry a child full term and pass it off to someone else? Probably not, and if they could, they would probably experience a giant, aching emotional hole the rest of their lives.
And, ah, stem cell research -- a much trickier matter yet. The use of cells from placentas, one's own body or unborn fetuses to develop cures for living, breathing children and adults. Either way one goes, one is making life and death choices -- one is playing god. Which is the most unethical decision? Is it harvesting frozen embryos that will never be born anyway in order to save lives of those already here? Or is it denying a remarkable living, breathing child a cure from a heinous disease or perhaps a permanent annihilation of cancer or Parkinson's? What if it is your child?
But never fear. The radical, religious right is here to tell us all what we should do. They have the answers for everyone. They know best. And they accuse someone else of snobbery? God, please spare us all.
Sandra Louise Hough, B. S. in Journalism, SIU-Carbondale, M. A. in Educational Research and Psychology, All But Dissertation, School Psychology, KU, Lawrence, KS
Publications include Changes, a novel, and Food for the Soul: A Book of Devotional Essays, both published in 2004 by Jamie Carr Publishing. firstname.lastname@example.org