Home > Politics, Religion > Please, Place Your Liberties Into the Donation Basket

Please, Place Your Liberties Into the Donation Basket

I remember when I was child, loving to put money into the basket at church as it was passed around.  What I would give now to be able to take every single one of those dollar bills back. It wasn’t even my money, but now that I am an adult, just the thought that I played this small roll in the funding of this institution is becoming harder for me to stomach everyday.


I grew up catholic, and went to church on a regular basis. I was baptized, and I made my first communion. It was around the age of 15 that I really started to separate myself from the church. I guess now I am what most people would call an atheist.  However, the word atheist connotes someone who “believes in nothing.” It’s not that I believe in nothing, it’s that I do not believe in anything. I am a non-believer. At least when it comes to the idea of religion and God. There are two things that I passionately believe in. One; that it is an absolute miracle that we are here, on this beautiful planet, and we have been given this gift of life. Whether that gift has been given to us by chance of evolution, or choice of a divine creator, I do not know, nor do I truly even care. The miracle lies in the fact that we are here, not how we got here. The second thing, (which is really an extension of the first one) is that because life is such a miracle, that all life should be treated with respect and kindness. This being said, I am not opposed to religion, and I am not trying to convince you that my beliefs are right, and your beliefs are wrong. My entire family are devote Catholics, and so I know that many people involved with the church are amazing people. My problems are not with the people that attend the Church, my problems are with the Catholic Church itself. My “religious liberties,” as well as many other non-Christian faiths are stepped on everyday in this country. The atheist/agnostic population is growing all the time, and yet there never seems to be a dialogue about our “religious liberties.” Why is that other religions are infringing on our beliefs (or non-beliefs) all of the time?

My first issues with the Catholic church, was when the Christian Churches funded campaigns in the state of Maine against Native American Casinos. It wasn’t even the issue of the casinos that bothered me. I could careless if casinos were in Maine or not. It was the hypocrisy that the churches were using charitable donations and bingo money, of all things, to fund a campaign that had no effect directly on their institution, other than the fact that those churches believed that gambling is a sin.

In later years, it was campaigns fought over gay rights. Christian and Mormon faiths have spent many millions of dollars across this country fighting to prevent people of the same sex the right to marry each other. Millions of dollars that could be spent on feeding the hungry, or building a house, or saving a forest, or curing the sick. Instead this money is being used to step on other people’s “religious liberties.” Let me make this clear,  the church has a right to believe in what they want, however this is a particular issue where I believe they have no right to interfere. A gay couple getting married has nothing to do with these churches. If they want to believe it is wrong, and if they do not want to allow such a thing in their own religion, I say fine. But these Christian churches have no right to actively impose their beliefs onto others that do not associate with that religion, or even those within their church who disagree with that aspect of the church. It is just wrong.  What kind of “religious liberty” does not allow the right of two consenting adults to be treated as any other couple, simply because of that couples sexual orientation? History will prove that the church is on the wrong side of this issue, as it has been so many times before.

These days the republicans and the Christian churches have aligned to fight a mandate that requires health insurance companies to cover contraceptives. The idea that this infringes on the “religious liberty” of the church is a myth. In fact, it is actually the other way around. First of all the mandate does not directly affect the churches. It affects the hospitals and universities owned by the churches. It is simply saying that if you are an employee of these hospitals or universities, and you receive healthcare, you will have the option to receive contraceptive benefits if you choose. Insurance prices will not go up, in fact they may even go down, since the cost of these contraceptives are far cheaper than cost of pregnancies. So the church is not paying into for anything more than it already agreed to pay. So the infringement of “religious liberty” would really be on the employee, if this mandate were overturned. Because any employer should not have the right to tell their employee’s what is right or wrong, or how to use their compensation for the job they are being paid to do. The church needs to look at it, as paying an employee with healthcare credits. As if it is its own monetary device. What those employees do with those credits, is up to the employees. Just like if the church pays its doctors, or nurses, or professors, or whoever, and those employees go and use their pay to go to a strip club, or to buy alcohol. It is the employee’s right to use their job’s compensation in anyway they choose, and the idea that the employer is somehow responsible for how the employee chooses, is absurd. These Churches need to start learning that just because they think something is wrong, that it doesn’t mean they can enforce their beliefs on others.

It goes beyond all of this though. That saddest part of today’s Catholic Church is the amount of money that they have paid to lobby politicians to prevent reform, on statute of limitations laws. It is clear that the church has been scarred by the child abuse scandal, but rather than fix it. Rather than admit mistakes were made, and put time and effort to make sure that those who committed these horribly awful crimes are punished, and that it will not happen again in the future. The Catholic Church does what they have always done with these cases….

Cover them up.

The Catholic Church spent 111,000 dollars in the first 6 months of last year to lobby such a law, and that was just in the state of New York. The same thing is now going on in Pennsylvania. “Religious liberties?” what kind of religion supports the liberty of child molesters over the liberty of their victims?

The Catholic Church has lost its way, but I am not writing this to make the church out to be a demon. I am writing this to point out that the Catholic and Christian churches alike, do not support liberties of other religions, just their own. That the money their supporters donate so often does not go to charity, or to building their communities. Too often that money goes to fight the right of two adults to marry, or an employee’s right to receive birth control with their health insurance, or to make it harder for victims of child abuse to accuse their offenders, and possibly even prevent it from happening again. I am writing this because the churches power does not come from money, and if you ask me, it doesn’t even come from God. It comes from the community that it is built on, and the grand ideas of a man named Jesus Christ. The church can change its way, but it has to be demanded by its followers first. So when that basket gets passed around next Sunday, before you put your dollar in, ask yourself where that dollar might be going to, and where that dollar might be better served.

  1. February 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. Needless to say, this premise is being widely debated among evangelical today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

    It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. In light of your post above and since I speak and teach on this topic, I thought you’d find some of the posts on this site (link below) of particular internet. Feel free to surf the “Archives” page for links to more.

    -Alex Haiken

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