I never thought I would feel the need to write in favour of the Office of Religious Freedom. I took my religious freedom for granted. I took my right to express my beliefs on particular subjects as inalienable as the right of others to express their opinions.
Over the years I have noticed a certain lack of research, data, citations, and facts underpinning many opinions expressed. There seems to be a great deal of emotion, and personal feeling behind the plethora of comments, especially those made about religion, on social media, many anonymously.
I recently wrote about assisted-suicide. I am against it. I received more than 300 comments many of them wishing me a terrible, slow death, full of pain and suffering. Comments filled with CAPITAL LETTERS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!
I am a Chaplain. It seems that the readers know all about me from that title. They released their ad hominem venom with delight. I was told that I believe in an unforgiving God who wants everyone to suffer. I was tried and found guilty of being hateful. I was told that basing morality on religion is wrong because it is phoney morality, without reason.
At no time did I mention my religious affiliation, nor did I mention God, but the comments show a real deep-seated animosity for Christians. No punches pulled.
It is said that dentists have a high incidence of suicide because of the hate people have toward them (fear of pain) but after what I read, dentists can move over and make room for the hatred shown to those who say they believe in God, especially Christians.
The culture is changing. We are losing civility. And tolerance is bandied about, but it only goes so far. It is no longer extended to Christians. There is an attitude, today, amongst too many, that it is not only acceptable but de rigeur to write demeaning, denigrating, disrespectful comments about those of us who believe in God. There is an air of entitlement toward anonymous vicious vitriol online without so much as a moment of thought regarding our beliefs, our right to those beliefs and our right to express those beliefs in the public square.
It is assumed that if one believes in God, there is a lack of intelligence, that one cannot believe and have a background in science, philosophy, economics, medicine, the arts. We have "Stone Age mental processes that force 10-year-old girls to carry babies born of rape." I wonder if these people ever heard of Hillel, St. Augustine, Maimonides, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Marc Chagall and Elie Wiesel.
Too many today have no understanding of the connection between ethical monotheism and Western culture; the concepts of equality, freedom, free-will, intrinsic value, social justice. That is sad. But that lack of knowledge does not give them pause when it comes to writing about those of us who do believe, with phrases like "Religion poisons everything; Religion ruins everything, even death; Your 2,000-year-old superstition has no place in medical decisions (Chaplains are frequently consulted by the medical staff); Pastors are judgemental. That's what they do."
There is a thread running through their missives that if you believe in God you must be crazy. And that is what I was told: "You were clearly suffering from mental illness and continue to do so as evidenced by your belief in the supernatural." The salient point here is that I do live with a mental illness and have written a great deal about that. Double whammy of insensitivity. A two for one insult, sent into the blogosphere. Never let facts get in the way of opinion.
Lionel Tiger, author of God's Brain, 2010, wrote that religion can satisfy the most basic yearnings of human beings; which might explain why 80 per cent of the world's adults are part of some religious system. As Dr. Tiger said, "You can't have a viable society in which 80% of adults are morons." The brain recognizes a problem and religion tells someone what to do about it. The two systems work in harmony. Religion, the sacredness of its traditions and rituals and symbols can create what Dr. Tiger refers to as "brainsoothing." Participating in a religious service, people "are in a place and involved in a moment they respect and trust, one from which they leave wiser and better human beings."
The comments articulated would never have passed muster by the Politically Correct had they been aimed at gays, lesbians, visible minorities, the mentally and physically challenged. I wonder what the comments would have been if I had been a gay activist or a feminist expressing the same views. Thank God Canada has as an ambassador of religious freedom. He might want to start his mission, here, in Canada, to protect the rights of Christians.
Aubrey "Drake" Graham was born to an African American father and a Jewish Canadian mother. Before he was breaking hearts and topping charts, the Young Money star attended a Jewish day school and had a Bar Mitzvah. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
After a 1954 car accident that almost took his life, Sammy Davis Jr. went to a hospital in California and began studying Judaism. He later converted to Judaism, <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,826061,00.html" target="_hplink">telling TIME magazine</a> "Talk about handicap--I'm a one-eyed Negro Jew."
Rashida Jones has an African-American father (music mogul Quincy Jones) and an Ashkenazi Jewish mother (<em>Mod Squad</em> beauty Peggy Lipton) Growing up, she <a href="http://www.ajlmagazine.com/content/012007/rashidajones.html" target="_hplink">attended a Hebrew School</a> before being accepted to Harvard University.
After his mother informed him of his own family's Jewish heritage, Amar'e Stoudemire, traveled to Israel to learn more about his culture. While the specifics of his Jewish lineage remain unknown, the Knicks power forward has embraced his roots and even has a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/02/is-amare-stoudemire-jewis_n_667712.html" target="_hplink">Star of David tattooed on his hand</a>.
Jamal Michael Barrow, better known by his stage name Shyne, stepped into the spotlight as a rapper with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records. While serving a ten-year prison sentence for attempted murder, Shyne <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxFz5CzSjRg" target="_hplink">changed his name to Moses Michael Levi</a> to reflect his grandmother's Jewish heritage and practice Judaism.
Lauren London, an actress and model, was born in Los Angeles to an African American mother and Jewish father. She is most known for her roles in ATL and her parts on 90210 and Entourage.
Born in New York City in May 1964, Lenny Kravitz has an African American mother and a Jewish father. He has won several "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" Grammy Awards.
Tracee Ellis Ross was born in Los Angeles to African-American singer/actress Diana Ross and Jewish music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein. Her big break came in 2000 when Ross landed the role of Joan Carol Clayton on the sitcom series "Girlfriends." She currently plays the wife of Malcolm Jamal Warner in the BET sitcom "Reed Between The Lines."
Lisa Bonet is an actress best known for playing Denise Huxtale on the NBC sitcom "The Cosby Show." She was born in San Francisco, to an African American father, Allen Bonet, and a Jewish mother, Arlene Litman.
British musician Craig David's maternal grandfather <a href="http://website.thejc.com/home.aspx?AId=57854&ATypeId=1&search=true2&srchstr=loftus&srchtxt=0&srchhead=1&srchauthor=0&srchsandp=0&scsrch=0" target="_hplink">was an Orthodox Jew</a> and his maternal grandmother converted to Judaism.