Commentary on Political, Ethical and Social Issues
[Click on the heading of each topic to go to that article or essay.]
Humanist Perspectives on the Abortion Debate
"Anti-abortion supporters have a right to their views, to abstain from abortion if they believe it is morally wrong, and to try to persuade others of the legitimacy of their position. They do not have a right to force their beliefs on the rest of us, to compel others to act or not act in accordance with their values, or to deprive the rest of us of our right to act in accordance with our beliefs. In a pluralistic society it has to be that way..."
The Sad Strange Story of Samuel Patronus
“Sometime over the years he changed. The change was gradual at first, but he became noticeably worse when he began to hang around with a new gang of friends. He began to act and think like them. That’s when he began to go wrong….”
Celibacy is the Problem
"Celibacy is not a natural or healthy state and if that is a requirement for entering the priesthood it is obvious that the priesthood and orders will have a large contingent of men with unhealthy sexual needs and behaviors—including homosexuality. Social scientists tell us that homosexuality and pedophilia are not related….”
Torture and Ethics: Defusing the Ticking Time Bomb
“That is the concept of civil disobedience, which is based on the premise that an ethical dilemma arises when there is a difference in what the law requires and what the demands of justice (or duty) require, setting up a conflict of values.”
Planned Parenthood is the Wrong Target
“Her statements establish that she is actually anti-abortion, anti-family planning, anti-birth control, anti-contraceptive, anti-family planning, and anti-sex education, the very programs that are necessary to increase the quality of life for our communities, reduce unwanted pregnancies and ultimately reduce the need for many prospective abortions.”
Be Afraid—The Imminent Danger of Socialism
“Most of the right wing protesters who are so against “socialism” as a concept seem quite happy with the reality when they profit from it….”
Homophobic Christians Attack Lutheran Ministers
“It is pretty clear that most Christians believe that homosexuality is an ingrained biological sexual orientation to which moral judgments do not apply. That is certainly true of many Christian denominations, including the Lutherans that are the subject of this article.”
Private Religion and Public Life: Do Obama’s Religious Views Matter
“Pundits have been discussing Barack Obama’s sporadic attendance at church services in the nation’s capital city and his failure to settle on membership in a particular church. Seriously, though, do Obama’s religious views matter to anyone but him?”
Anti-abortion Terrorists and the Absurdity of the Roeder Argument
“In the case of Roeder we are left with his argument that murdering an individual person can be justified if the perpetrator (Roeder) believes (rightly or wrongly) that his action will prevent the future speculative but lawful killing of other persons who do not yet exist. Fortunately the court did not buy into this argument.”
On Good Friday The Church Crucifies Itself!
“This is not an attack on the faithful of the whole world, it is an attack on the unfaithful in the hierarchy and in the Vatican. It is too bad if Vatican officials don’t like the crop that they sowed, but it is their problem and now they have to fix it.”
The Privilege of Paying Taxes
“The question of tax “fairness” is a complicated one and could be answered in different ways depending on what values and assumptions are considered in the discussion but, regardless, the practical effect of lowering taxes on the wealthy inevitably involves shifting more of the burden onto the middle class and the poor. That is not an opinion; it is just a mathematical fact.”
Forgiveness For Priests And Other Child Molesters?
“However the question at hand is whether it is reasonable to talk about “forgiveness” of child molesters, and if it is, under what circumstances is forgiveness reasonable, and what in practical terms does forgiveness mean?...”
Is the United States a Christian Nation? Since When?
"When the political-religious right wants to have the government subsidize some religiously-based project or entity, or promote prayer or Bible-reading in schools or other public places, or undermine science with creationist theories, or put up religious symbols in public places, or legislate morality for our citizenry, they insist that they are justified because the United States is a Christian nation. But is the United States really a Christian nation?..."
Tax Day—Renewing The Case For Fairness
“It sounds on the surface like a good idea, but the Flat Tax approach will not pay the bills without transferring the burden away from the wealthy to the middle class, and that is clearly the primary objective of the flat taxers despite their denials.”
The Unbelievers: Ministers Who Conclude There Is No God
“The loss of faith is not just a desire not to do the job anymore; if that was all it involved, it would require a caeer change and some career counseling. For the minister it is a great deal more than that, it is an admission of personal failure in the struggle for faith, it is an acknowledgment before family, friends and congregation that one has been living a lie, it is a personal loss, almost a death of the spirit. It is a personal tragedy. But perhaps it is a necessary step in order to keep one’s integrity.”
Liberal Disenchantment With Israel's Policies
“Without recognizing the root cause of Palestinian and Muslim anger and frustration and finding a way to resolve those underlying issues it will not be possible to resolve the Arab-Palestinian problem. This is NOT an anti-Israel or pro-Arab conclusion; it is merely a statement of the underlying issues that seem to have become lost in the Israeli attempts to characterize the standoff as Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism.”
The Enigma of the Tea Party
"They appear to be a motley assortment of folks, well meaning in their intentions for the most part, gullible enough to be led astray by the right wing buffoons and rabble-rousers of talk radio and Fox News, foolish and naïve in their public displays and rallys, appallingly ignorant about American history and values, unable to make serious practical political judgments (note their fascination with Sarah Palin), and ultimately dangerous because they foster ignorance and mob rule.”
Conflict of Values: Patriot, Traitor or Scoundrel?
“Most people respect the values of honesty, integrity, loyalty, reliability and patriotism. The issue for the ethically mature person is that values are often in conflict in real world situations and we have to work our way through the conflicts to reach the position that best reflects our core moral values. The conflict of these values creates much of the tension surrounding arguments over the right thing to do in particular situations.”
The National Day of Prayer – A Day of Political Posturing
“Prayer is not necessarily objectionable if not done in public or with public sponsorship but it is probably pointless except as a prelude to action that involves a serious commitment to real Christian (and human) values--working toward peace in Afghanistan and the Middle East [being peacemakers, bring our troops home], feeding the hungry [support the food bank and food kitchens], sheltering the homeless [supporting the homeless shelter, the abused women's shelter, the children's home], healing the sick [funding CHIP, supporting health care for all], etc.”