Saturday, February 21, 2009

I want a complete separation of church and state.

A friend asked me to send an anti-abortion letter to President Obama. This is my response:

When I was in the seminary, preparing to be a Catholic priest, we had a discussion concerning the need to baptize a fetus that was naturally aborted by the body and the need to baptize a still born baby. The discussion centered around the question, " when does the soul enter the body?" There was no clear answer in 1965. This is before abortion became a Catholic issue. At that time, the Church had no definitive answer. So the consensus was that the soul did not enter the body until that time that the fetus could live on its own without mechanical help. A few years later, the Church chose conception as the time that the soul entered the body. It was easier to choose that point in time.

A few years ago I was at a car wash, paying the cashier. I started a little conversation about my dad being a Catholic priest. A young man overheard us and came over to talk to me. He told me a very fascinating story. He said that his mother had 2 abortions before he was born. She was considering getting a 3rd abortion. However, in a dream, this young man came to her and told her that this was going to be his 3rd and last time he was going to try to come into this life with her as his mother. Thus, she chose to go to full term and give birth.

I found this story very interesting because it gave an answer, of sorts, to the question we had in the seminary. The soul does not enter the body until it is ready.

I have a great distrust of government passing laws based on religious beliefs. Even if I hold those belief dear to my heart. If we start letting the government pass faith based laws, then we might eventually find our grandchildren praying to Allah, bowing and facing East. Women may be required to cover their heads and give up their jobs. That has already happened in countries that were not Muslim countries that long ago.

The Catholic abortion issue is a belief that the zygote, at conception, has a soul. Women have many natural abortions of the zygote. Should a Catholic female, ask a priest to come to the house and baptize every period she has after having unprotected intercourse, especially if her period is late? If the zygote has a soul, shouldn't a priest be baptizing it?

Now let's move on to legal considerations. If the zygote is a living baby, fully human, we should be able to get tax benefits such as a tax deduction for every time a female has a late period after unprotected sexual intercourse. We should be able to buy life insurance for a zygote. The incidence of natural abortion is high enough that insurance companies would fight tooth and nail to prevent a law that would give human rights to a zygote.

I do not like the idea of abortion. But I do not like the idea of government passing faith based laws even more. There is too much danger in that.

When religious people find that they can not make the non-believers or even their own believers to do or act in the ways that they want them to, they turn to government in an attempt to force everyone to complying with their wishes.

It is a matter of control. Jesus did not tell the Roman soldier, "No, I will not heal the person you are wanting to help, because you believe in Roman gods." Jesus taught us to love unconditionally and to serve everyone equally. He did not go to the political powers and demand that they change their laws to suit his beliefs. He did not tell his followers to change laws to eliminate human rights abuses such as slavery.

I am writing this note to you to tell you why I would never send an anti-abortion letter to a government legislator or policy maker. I do not want to legally require all residents of the US to adhere to my religious beliefs. Nor do I want to be required to adhere to other's religious beliefs. I want a complete separation of church and state.

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