Dr. Tom: Religion in the news …

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Scattered among all the other political happenings over the last week were a number of religion-oriented events, so I offer a few comments on them. This is probably a good place to mention that the opinions expressed here are mine alone. Please don’t blame the Town Crier or its personnel for anything I write.

Did you notice that the president signed something with the intent of overturning the Johnson Amendment? That law, restricting charitable organizations from endorsing or campaigning for a political candidate, was painted as inhibiting free speech.

The thing is, it doesn’t restrict free speech, it just prevents federal tax dollars from being used to elect a particular candidate. Imagine the possibilities. A wealthy person gives millions to a church, anonymously, getting a tax deduction and directly supporting the campaign of a candidate, maybe David Duke. Is that the way our political system is supposed to work? It already favors the wealthy; we don’t need to compound that.

Another thing occurred at Vice President Mike Pence’s Notre Dame graduation speech. A number of students walked out in protest, raising all kinds of questions about respect, free speech, the policies of the Trump administration and so forth. However, I was most concerned about Pence’s remarks supporting Notre Dame’s right to deny contraception coverage to its employees, in effect forcing its religious beliefs on them. Hardly anybody still thinks that contraception is a moral issue but if you do, you are free not to use it. Why is it acceptable for Notre Dame or the Little Sisters of the Poor or Hobby Lobby to make that decision for you?

Every religion, with few exceptions, claims to define reality for all of humanity. Put another way, if you don’t believe in my deity, you don’t achieve salvation. Please stop to consider the ramifications of this. If we have a disagreement it would be helpful to review data and use rational thought to settle it. However, as soon as someone says, “This is what my god wants” then that ends the discussion.

Worse, what value might I have to you if your deity is going to condemn me to everlasting torture anyway? I am sure that was the thinking of the suicide bomber who killed 22 people at the concert in London. If my idea of a deity condemns everyone who doesn’t believe like me, why not rid the world of all those who displease my deity? Although the number of people who resort to such violence is, thankfully, extremely small, how many of us reject others who don’t believe like we do in many small, destructive ways?

If your religion gives you peace and hope and makes you a better person, good for you and all the rest of us. Let others want to be like you, and when they ask, tell them your story. But please, don’t try to force your beliefs on anyone else. Most importantly, don’t expect our government, so wonderfully founded on principles of freedom, to endorse your religious beliefs over those of someone else.

Dr. Kluzak, an Idyllwild resident, is board certified in Anatomic Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also is a freelance photographer for the Town Crier.

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