Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.
And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.
Unraveling the internal and intellectual knots and snarls from last week's Phoenix City Council meeting has been an extended process that finds me straddled between the millennia. Why, in 2013, are we having a five-hour public debate regarding who is or is not a human being deserving of legal equanimity?
Religious liberty should be affirmed and free from government interference.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..."
In these simple words, our right to freely live and practice our faith is protected. Yet, few people realize the serious threats to our religious freedom and the consequences of those threats.
Efforts by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation are underway to restrict our right to hold to our religious beliefs at work, on a school or university campus, at church, or even when you turn out to vote your values. If successful, these attacks on our religious liberty could greatly restrict our ability to respond to the Great Commission and share the Gospel. At Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), we are committed to protecting the right of every Arizonan to freely live their faith.
As individuals approached the microphone, my eyes wandered around the intriguing historic 1929 Orpheum theatre that was the host environment for this landmark legislation. The theater, with its "celestial ceiling" seemed a fitting place for this debate. The ceiling was lit as though you were enjoying a beautiful night sky in the middle of the desert without any reflections of the light of the city, a bit surreal with the neanderthal comments voiced by individuals claiming a moral high-ground.
First, the "Pledge of Allegiance," originally composed by Francis Bellamy, was written in 1892 and proclaimed "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." In 1954, after being influenced by the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal order of Catholic men, then President Dwight Eisenhower, at the urging of George MacPherson Docherty, Scottish-born American Presbyterian minister, signed a congressional bill to change the pledged to: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
In 1777, Thomas Jefferson, an advocate for separation of church and state drafted theVirginia Statute for Religious Freedom. In the text of the statute, Jefferson stated: "Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry." All of these references support the rights of the individuals -- rights, not the institution or the concept known as religion.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Committed to transforming conflict into collaboration, we feel an obligation to promote a culture in which everyone values fundamental human rights for themselves and others the essence of freedom. To promote a society free from bullying (the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants). We support the right to think and act differently from the majority and be free from religious edicts in our society.
In the 1960s, many religious groups believed in racial segregation; in the 1970s, many believed that persons of different races should not marry; in the 1980s, many believed that women should not have the same rights as men; in the 1990s and into the 21st century, many believed that heterosexuals should be given special privileges, and that gays and lesbians should be denied their rights. We support that everyone should be free to express their beliefs. However, we do challenge religious or other groups that take action to promote racial segregation, to prevent inter-racial marriage, to limit women's rights or to limit equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
More than 20 years ticked by before the full human rights ordinance in the CIty of Phoenix was passed last week. The passage is the relative point of focus. The actions of many came together with a commitment to elevate the human condition, to improve the quality of life for individuals, which, in turn, improves life for the whole. It is life giving - it is energy producing, it elevates the human condition, creating an environment for us all to flourish.
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
We are responsible for our thoughts, and what we think guides our behavior; and our behavior and our actions are representational of what we value. Believing in the fundamental value of individual responsibility, when we subjugate our responsibility to the edicts of a bible, preacher, religion, god, etc, we are left with a society focused on who is to blame. It is imperative we can trace the roots of our fundamental core values for that is the foundation for real security, for our essence, for our prosperity.
in peace -
Share with me your thoughts and insights!
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