Category Archives: Religion

Gay Marriage

I suppose it is unavoidable now because the Supreme Court is set to hear two cases this week that may ultimately pivot history and decide the fate of gay marriage in our nation. Tuesday and Wednesday the highest court in the land will hear arguments for the famous–or infamous, depending on your point of view–California Proposition 8 defining marriage between a man and a woman, and the Defense of Marriage Act stating that a homosexual union in one state need not be recognized by another.

I have avoided writing about gay marriage for as long as possible simply because of the ferocious passion on each side of the debate. I have no problem taking a stand in the face of vehement opposition, that is actually why I started writing. The problem is that both proponents of and opponents to gay marriage believe they are on a righteous quest, and, like jihadists do, they will settle for nothing less than complete and utter annihilation of their enemies. It is impossible to have a civil discussion about gay marriage with either side—disagreeing means you are insane. But with the hearings this week so many friends and readers have asked what if think of gay marriage, so I guess it is time to attempt a civil discussion.

So what do I think about gay marriage? It doesn’t matter. The lines of right and wrong intersect with gay marriage. To some, homosexuality is wrong, and a sin, and therefore gay marriage must never be considered. To others it is wrong to privileges or rights away from real people because of sexual orientation. This is exactly why the Constitution does not legislate right or wrong; they are fluid concepts relative to the perspective of the citizen. Slavery used to be viewed as right, as did burning witches, stoning adulterers, and abandoning babies with birth defects.

The argument against gay marriage is desperate at best. Most people who oppose gay marriage do so holding the belief that homosexuality is a sin. This argument lacks integrity because sins are decided by God, not the government. Is being married a sin? Most people would say no. So if marriage is not a sin, than two gay people being married is not a sin. It is being gay, not getting married that is a sin. Marriage does not make homosexuality any more of a sin than it otherwise is. So opposing gay marriage on those grounds is frivolous.

Many others say gay marriage poses a threat to traditional values, to which I ask, what are traditional values? If traditional values are a mother, father, kids, dog, minivan and church on Sunday than 2013 is a much bigger threat to traditional values than gay marriage. Divorce is not just common, it is practically expected. Single parent households are normal, and the statistics on children raised in these single parent homes are frightening. Most couples live together without being married, even if they are married later on. I find it very ironic that open marriages, swinging, and one night stands apparently pose less of a threat to traditional values than people who actually want to get married. Is a lasting, loving marriage between two men or two women really more destructive to the institution of marriage than Kim Kardashian? It seems gay people are the only ones fighting for marriage.

But Gay marriage is much more than just religious morality versus human rights. Marriage itself is recognized by the government not for religious reasons, but for civil reasons. A married couple expectedly will raise a family–a function any government has a vested interest in because of is necessity for a nation to survive–therefore, a married couple is given special tax consideration. They are allowed to file jointly, and their income bracket is raised. Because it is biologically impossible for two people of the same sex to conceive a child it is a valid question to ask whether or not gay marriage ought to be recognized by the government on basis of equality. Oddly ironic to argue against gay marriage using equality, I know, but it is clearly inequality to grant the same civil consideration to homosexual couples given that they cannot grow the population. This would be similar to granting every citizen the same consideration members of the military receive despite the fact they do not defend our country.

A predictable rebuttal to this would be that gay couples can always adopt, and, any special tax consideration given to adopting heterosexual couples would also need to be given to homosexual couples, but adopting does not grow the population. In regards to adoption I have heard many people say children raised by a gay couple face developmental hindrances, and so this should not be allowed. The science is still out on the subject; it is not yet clear if or what hindrances children might consistently face. Then again, would it be any worse than a single parent household? If marriage were simply just a name on a paper then the gay marriage issue may be as simple as a state’s vote–the way the 10th Amendment tells us to decide these issues.

Either way, the question is not what is right or wrong, but what is legal, and what is Constitutional. That is what the Supreme Court will consider this week. Proposition 8 was overturned (meaning marriage could not be defined as being between a man and a woman) by a federal judge on the basis of discrimination. Whether or not it is ruled discriminatory may well hinge on the arguments already made. Does or does not the 10th Amendment provides the freedom for citizens to decide such matters?

The Defense of Marriage Act case will be equally as gripping. Currently states are required to give ‘full faith and credit’ to the legal documents of other states, meaning that if you have a driver’s license in California you can drive to Miami and it will still be valid for spring break. The DOMA essentially states that this does not apply to a same-sex marriage, meaning a gay couple married in Massachusetts can move to Tennessee and the state does not have to recognize that marriage. The question up for debate is whether or not this violates the Constitution, or if a state has the authority to make this choice? One might immediately think “how could it not violate the Constitution to not give full faith and credit to a marriage certificate?”

The clause is written very vaguely, leaving for a lot of room for interpretation. “Public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings” does not really pin anything down. Currently a permit or license for a firearm or concealed weapon is issued in state A, and not valid in state B unless state B specifically lists it as being so. Permits to practice law, medicine, real estate, and insurance are currently not recognized across state lines. If these do not violate the full faith and credit clause why would a marriage certificate? Perhaps a better question is whether or not a state can refuse to acknowledge a heterosexual marriage? If a state can only choose to refuse same-sex marriages than this is clearly a discriminatory practice.

So where will the Supreme Court rule? Given their record I doubt they will overturn a ballot initiative like Proposition 8, especially considering the Constitution, in the 10th Amendment leaves to the decision of the states of the people any issue not delegated or prohibited by the constitution. I expect the Supreme Court will leave it up to each state to decide whether or not to legalize gay marriage. The more interesting question will be whether or not other states must recognize this decision in the DOMA ruling. Might the Supreme Court rule DOMA unconstitutional, thereby forcing one state to recognize another states’ marriage–whether gay or straight? If so, will they rule on how a same-sex marriage is to be treated by the IRS? Will they rule that states have the right to determine their own welfare, as they do with other licenses not recognized nationwide? Perhaps this week will be a perfect example of why Patriotslog feels the Supreme Court is the most powerful body in government.

I hope that in reading this you have realized that gay marriage is not a right or wrong issue. It is not a morality versus human rights issue. Most importantly I hope you understand that what I, or any one person, thinks of gay marriage does not matter. It is not a question of whether or not it is good for society, moral for our culture, or needed for human rights. Individually these may be our greatest concerns, they may be our driving force to oppose or support it, but whether or not it can reasonably be granted or denied on solid legal and constitutional grounds is what will determine the outcome. The Supreme Court is standing at histories’ crossroads. Either way, the controversy is not going away after they make their decision.

 

–Matt Young

25 March 2013

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Is Our Alliance with Israel Worth the Trouble?

                With every day that passes Iran becomes more dangerous. It appears that they are committed to reaching nuclear capacity and developing a weapon of mass destruction. This means that with every passing day Israel and Iran are closer to an armed conflict. Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has voiced his desire to wipe Israel off the map. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has promised Israel will use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and will act alone if necessary. With an armed conflict appearing almost inevitable there is little doubt the United States will join the armed conflict on the side of Israel. There is no question that a nuclear Iran should be considered a threat to America; the real question is this: should America still be fighting in the Israeli corner?

Patriotslog has been considering all the angles to this question for quite some time, and after weighing in all the consequences the evidence suggests it is not worth the trouble. Does Israel even provide a single advantage being our ally? They certainly do not give us any economic advantage, and our involvement with them continuously breeds negativity from the rest of the world. I suspect the most conservative of readers will argue that an alliance with Israel gives us a strategic military position of power in the Middle East. Patriotslog will challenge this idea with the assertion that Israel has become liability, in the policy, influence, economy, and military aspects of our foreign relations.

                Recently the government convened an analysis of our situation in the Middle East. The results came in an 82 page report titled “Preparing for a Post Israel Middle East.” Needless to say, in our ideologically divided nation, a report like this emblazons many passions. However, the report uses a lot of logic. Israel has been known to spy on us and intentionally steal intelligence from us. Would we let any other ally get away with that? Israel also participates in many illegal arms transfers; the report continues, “this includes supporting more than 60 ‘front organizations’ and approximately 7500 US officials who do Israel’s bidding and seek to dominate and intimidate the media and agencies of the US government which should no longer be condoned”. Patriotslog currently has a freedom of information act request pending for a copy of this report, but currently we do not have a copy and therefore cannot provide specifics on who or what those front organizations or officials are, or how much influence or detriment they have on our nation. However, the point still stands that Israel is and has been spying on us–their greatest ally–and participating in illegal arms deals. Again, would a real ally do that?

Israel supports, condones, and practices, as a sovereign government, severe racial discrimination. This is not the individual people being racist; this is the government of Israel intentionally discriminating against the Palestinian people. They have forcibly removed scores of thousands of Palestinian people from their homes or businesses to make room for Jewish interests, while allegedly killing hundreds. They discriminate in education, business, and housing. Has there been any other ally of the United States–post-WWII–that has done these things? Israel has supported anti-Palestinian terrorism in the

Israeli terrorist attacks on Gaza

West Bank. How can we support a Jewish terrorist act but deplore an Islamic terrorist act? Israel is pushing with increasing aggressiveness to create a religious state, where Jewish law becomes Israeli law. The United States has opposed creation of Islamic states, how can we support the creation of a Jewish state?

I know some readers are thinking that we do not support those things. Israel is a strategic ally, but we do not have to support their actions. To this I argue, why has no other ally in our modern era done these things? Any ally that has thought of or suggested these things has been scolded by our nation: why does Israel get away with it? Moreover, if we continue our alliance with Israel we are de facto supporters of their actions. It would be virtual suicide for anyone to attack any nation that has strong support from the United States. Israel has become our crazy-super-model girlfriend. She is very difficult for us to deal with, and certainly causes more harm than good to us; but we refuse to break up with her because of her sex appeal. We are losing our friends, our money (billions of dollars in aid to Israel, while our nation is in massive debt), and our credibility for keeping our sexy super model around, but we are afraid of what life might be like should we end the parasitic relationship. Moreover, when a caring individual does step in and try to help, we insist our dazzling beauty is not crazy at all, and deny the fact that she needs counseling. We are de facto enablers of the Israeli policies.

Our support of Israel is tantamount to a six decade blind support of Afghanistan. Imagine the outrage from our public if we supported Hamid Karzai, no matter what he did, for the next 53 years? We would keep spending billions, irritating the world, and losing credibility; and for what? A base closer to Pakistan or China? This does not make sense! Most Americans believe that once we have secured the safety of Afghanistan we need to let them be their own nation, as long as it is not a terrorist nation. Why is this different with Israel? Why can we not see that we deserve better than our blonde bombshell girlfriend? When it comes to national alliances, the girl next door is almost always a better choice.

George Washington, in his farewell address, warned our nation that the two most dangerous things for our nation are radical political parties, and perpetual alliances. Given the evidence, can you think of two things that hurt our nation more? Maybe a little more evidence will help.

In 2004 the Pentagon released a strategic communications report. The conclusion; our problem in the Middle East is not ideological or religious, it is occupational.

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom’, but they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably, Egypt Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.”

They do note hate us because we are American. They hate us because their dictators are our allies, because we have a perennial presence in the Middle East and perpetually stick our nose in their business. We have placed such huge emphasis on keeping Iran from reaching nuclear capabilities, but why? We are now their enemy and this policy makes sense for American security, but has it always been that way? The logical answer is that Iran supports terrorists and provides recruits for violent jihad; yet if you think about it, so does Pakistan. The Haqqani network might be the biggest reason Afghanistan is not yet secured, and Pakistan has had a shaky history with India, very similar to that of Iran and Israel. With Iran, it is our crazy girlfriend that is threatened. We cannot let that happen. Of course we have already gone down this road and we cannot turn back now that Iran also views us as an enemy. I wonder if we had stayed out of their business from the beginning, would it be this way? As little as 25 years ago Americans were welcome in Iran; not any longer.

The report goes on to highlight that the American occupation of the Middle East is the most chaffing irritant to the Islamic people. While many boundaries–race, language, religious sect, culture, and ethnicity–divide the Muslim world, a sense of American oppressiveness unites them.

 “Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic–namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is–for Americans–really no more than the extension of American domestic politics and its great game…When Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.”

                Many Muslims see our presence in the Middle East as an extension of our support of Israel. It is us being there, not us being Americans that angers them. Some of the largest Muslim nations in the world–Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nigeria–the United States has stable and often positive relations with. If our identity as a nation was the problem, this would not be the case. The largest problem is our relationship with Israel. Though we may have gone beyond the point of no return with many of the Islamic radicals–now equating America with evil as they do Israel–the majority do not feel this way. The problem is that the longer we stay with our Israeli girlfriend the smaller this majority becomes. A break up now would pull the rug out from under much of the recruiting strategy terrorists now use. It may take a generation, but if our policies that no alienate the Muslim world are abandoned the chances of them abandoning their radicalism will be far greater. There will always be a portion of Islam that will hold to their radical terrorist ideologies, but as long as we are seen as colonialist invaders that portion will continue to grow. Our alliance with Israel serves us no benefit we could not easily find somewhere else. George Washington was right: our alliance with Israel is not worth the trouble.

 

–Matt Young

6 October, 2012

The Radical Extremism of America

                Throughout the entire world of Islam, from Libya to Indonesia there have been protests, some violent, stemming from the anger over an amateur video produced that blasphemes the prophet Muhammad. The State Department ran an ad campaign in Pakistan condemning the video, emphasizing the fact that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the production of the video. Throughout the country people are wondering how this can happen? President Obama has denounced the video, saying that this video is no excuse for extremism.

               Patriotslog sees hypocrisy in our nations denouncing of the radical extremism, and it is time we woke up to our own ideological problems. How can we as a nation expect radical Islamic extremists to suddenly rein in their passions and ideologies when we refuse to do the same? Of course there is a huge difference here; left and right wing extremism has not led to a terrorist attack or been the cause of death to anyone in our country, but the principal still stands. Our extremism is as harmful, or more so, to our nation than the heretics who distort the beauty of true Islam in an attempt to reduce America to a smoldering ash heap. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed because they disagree on a tax code, immigration, gay marriage, or environmental regulations.

                Civility is gone in American politics. Since the age of 24 hour cable propaganda stations, people refuse to look passed the end of their nose, let alone consider there might be something there. If we do not like the way something sounds, we ignore the facts so that we do not have to admit to whatever it is we do not like. Political debate is barred from the work place because we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and presenting anyone with facts that contradict their opinion is now considered harassment. On the rare occasion that someone does engage in an intelligent political discussion–usually on a Sunday talk show–each side goes into the debate having already decided they are right and there is nothing that can change that. We consider Stephanie Cutter, Anne Coulter, Rachel Maddow, and Rush Limbaugh to be experts worthy of our attention. We actually believe they are unbiased enough to represent the truth. If a question would hurt their argument, they simply do not answer it, and refuse to acknowledge it has any relevance or significance. Is that how our nation advances? Blind to counterarguments and reason? Patriotslog maintains that if you cannot challenge your own beliefs for fear of what you may find, your beliefs are not worth having in the first place. If we consider all the arguments both for and against, we will almost always end up with the best conclusion.

Is our chronic fact ignoring any different than the fact ignoring a radical Imam practices in their recruitment of naive and innocent boys to strap explosives to themselves and run into a town square? Of course there is a difference in degree, which is why they become so violent, but it is only a matter of time before our extremism escalates to the level of violence as well. You cannot reason with a terrorist because they too, like a radical political pundit, have made up their mind before the encounter. Is the hate of a terrorist any different than the hate of Roseanne Barr, who thinks people against gay rights deserve cancer? Is our political propaganda, which is designed to make us hate and despise the other party any different than their political propaganda designed to make people hate America and the west? Why do we accept extremism in our world, but not in theirs?

The biggest problem is not the media, it is you. Each one of you reading this is thinking to yourself: “That is so true. The other political party is so guilty of all those things. They are ruining America. The other political party is almost like the terrorists. How long before the other political party escalates their extremism to violence? They never accept facts, they never show civility, and they care more for their ideology than for the country.” If you are thinking that right now, you, not the other political party, are the problem. Our rigid dichotomy of ideologies that leave no room for gray have left this nation charred black. We are burning ourselves to the ground–doing the work of the terrorists for them. We are enraged by the dysfunction in Congress, but praise our Representatives for refusing to budge. There is nothing wrong with us; it is the other side which never compromises. If we believe this we are as blind and extreme as those protesting outside American Embassies the world over.

We cannot embrace ideological radicalism on the one hand and then condemn religious radicalism on the other. That type of message only perpetuates the anti American propaganda the terrorists advertise to recruits. Extremism from without is not nearly as threatening to our sovereignty as extremism from within. As long as we are radical we cannot ask others to be moderate. How can we expect the protests to stop when those protesting see our own ideological warfare? If we do not return to civility someone will turn to violence because of our political extremism. We can only hope and pray our extremism does not escalate to a civil war.

 

–Matt Young

27, September 2012

Hail to the Chief

President Obama has changed tunes and started singing his re-election song; to Patriotslog, it sounds off key. Until recently, I probably would have voted for President Obama to have a second term; not that I think he is a great President, just that I am not thrilled with any other option we have. Aside from the terrible assault on freedom that is the individual mandate, I did not really have a problem with anything President Obama has done in his first term; until he began his campaign. Though he has excelled in national security, his recent antics have been so outrageous that he no longer has my vote.

OUTSOURCER IN CHIEF: The attacks on Mitt Romney illustrate exactly how desperate the President is to slur his image. Attempt after attempt to pin outsourcing at Bain Capital to Mitt Romney are not only ridiculous, they are pathetic. Mitt Romney took a leave of absence from Bain, and literally fixed the 2002 Winter Olympics. For anyone who is familiar with business–and this makes it appear that President Obama is not–a leave of absence is a standard practice. Mitt Romney retained his title and position at the company, but had no managing influence or day to day control over Bain. Yes they outsourced jobs, but Mitt Romney had nothing to do with that. This is directly parable to a star athlete being injured; they are still part of the team, however they have no influence over the outcome of games. It would be ridiculous for a coach to blame an injured athlete for a loss, yet this is what Obama is trying to do. If you do not follow that logic, then use this logic to reconsider. There are many witnesses and accounts of Mitt Romney working 16 hours a day to turn around the Olympics; it is not only highly unlikely, but nearly impossible that he could have done this while managing Bain at the same time. Moreover, it is not just ironic, but down right hypocritical for the President to claim some moral high ground on the basis of outsourcing. An amateur attempt at research easily reveals that more jobs have been outsourced and lost under President Obama than under nearly any other President–and he has not even served one full term. Read the rest of this entry

The Paterno Statue Needs to Come Down

Joe Paterno was a good man. The Freeh report cannot change that. I refuse to let one dark cloud, even if it is of the blackest kind, define the decades of service and good deeds he has done. Jeopa insisted on his players going to class; his graduation rate was far above that of nearly all division-1 NCAA football programs. Coaches these days rarely have the character Coach Paterno had. I once heard him say if he could not make his ball players better people, then he failed as a coach. He was the longest tenured coach in football, and the most successful up to the day he was fired. Even with all that success he lived in a modest middle class home. His football program gave to the University, rather than the University give him millions of dollars. As a Wildcat I would be elated to see Coach John Calipari live and give the way Joe Paterno did; for all but one event. Read the rest of this entry

Why Jesus would not have been Republican

In political discussions and arguments conservatives often try to claim the moral high ground on issues as if that gives them some kind of political authority. This is done because the “religious right”, as the media has termed them often; believe that as Christians they stand where Jesus stands. In my interactions with conservatives I often hear them frame their political arguments in terms of right and wrong, and sometimes even as wickedness versus righteousness.

As an active and practicing Christian this concerns me for two reasons: first, it has been my experience that a large majority of Christians tend to think of the Bible from an American perspective. This is no fault of their own; it is often said culture is the hardest thing to change, and having lived oversees I know there is profound truth in that statement. In order to truly understand Jesus, the Bible must be taken in context. If we only read the Bible for its words and not for its context and meaning then we lose half of its value, and for Christians, half of the message the Lord intended for his believers to have. For example, the statement in Matthew that after discovering her immaculate conception, Joseph, because he was a just man, sought to put Mary away (have her killed) privily. From an American perspective this seems harsh, and his change of heart after being visited by an angel looks as though the Angel had to humble Joseph. This is not the case. The religious elite of the day considered it a moral obligation to put an adulterer to death. The fact that Joseph listened to the angel is not a sign he needed humbled, but a sign of his remarkable faith. He had faith enough to listen to an angel and not to religious elites and the Law of Moses despite the fact this meant they would certainly be social outcasts and face difficulties because of this. Read the rest of this entry

The Reality of the Battle over Contraception

This week the news has been hijacked by the debate over President Obama mandating religious institutions to provide contraception coverage in their healthcare plans. The debate has become increasingly irritating because there are so many more noteworthy things of report this week. The economy is continuing to grow, the United States and Afghanistan have reportedly began talks with the Taliban which could end the war, a new online privacy bill was introduced in the senate, Iran apparently sent war ships to Syria to help their military, and the list can go on. However on top of all of this, the only news we have heard all week is the back and forth battle over mandating contraception coverage. The discussion should have ended last week when President Obama compromised on his politically sensitive mandate, but the intensity has only ramped up. The compromise would have allowed religiously affiliated institutions to be exempt from paying for the contraception, shifting the burden to the insurance companies, where the Obamacare law mandates insurance companies provide contraception anyway; after the debate continued all week long, and polls which showed President Obama was in the politically popular side of the argument, the President has apparently decided there will be no compromise. Religious institutions will not have a choice, and they will provide contraception to women despite their religious objections. Even a comment made as a joke by an aid to Rick Santorum about women practicing abstinence has become a political firestorm. Read the rest of this entry

Why Four Marines Shook the World

Video Contains Content Which May be Disturbing to Some Readers

For the past week the media and the military have each been obsessed with the video which surfaced of four marines apparently urinating on the body of a Taliban soldier killed in action. Millions of American, and hundreds and hundreds of millions of people around the world are enraged by this shocking development. Still, many Americans, and some from other parts of the world as well, dismiss this as nothing of significance and a dramatic overreaction by those demanding reprimands as consequential as court martial. There are logical and understandable reasons for both fields of thought; though it is difficult to say that one side is completely right or wrong in their view. Key elements have been left out of each views understanding, leading to their diametrically polar views. Read the rest of this entry

What the Death of Bin Laden Really Tells Us About Americans

8 May, 2011

Jubilation. Crowds gathered in the street, singing, dancing, and chanting. National pride was at a level not seen in many years. An onlooker could hear chanting and praising, making it easy to see that something extraordinary had just been accomplished. The leader of the raid stood at a podium and announced “justice”.

Unity. Everyone held hands, cheered, laughed and cried together. Members of the same nation, which were separated by their differences only hours before, now came together with an Earth moving event having been accomplished, ready to build a bridge, even if only for one night, between their differences. Read the rest of this entry

The Truth: For Our Nation, Our Children, and Our Future

26 April, 2011

Every morning millions of parents in the United States send their beloved children off to school. When those children come home these caring parents ask what was learned that day at school. Imagine a child coming home from a middle school science class one day, and telling its parents they learned that washing hands was harmful to health. These parents would certainly have to be concerned with the educational integrity of the schools. Even if the child explained that washing hands transmits germs when the sink, soap dispenser and faucet are touched, and also that it weakens the immune system, a parent would still understand that though these may in fact, be true, the benefits of hand washing FAR outweigh these minor consequences. It is therefore my question to ask why parents are not concerned when a child comes home and regurgitates what was taught in a history or social studies class when it is this same case: Small truths that manipulate the real truth. Truth, as the author will be concerned in this paper, is defined as things as they really were, as they really are, and as they really will be. Read the rest of this entry

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