Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Challenge To The "Religious" Right

A short piece in Cheers and Jeers on DailyKos highlights a speech by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Union for Reform Judaism. The Rabbi takes offense with those who lay claim to a sole path to righteousness.

It's humbling to remember that there may be more than one path to Heaven. It is incumbent on each of us to remember that there is more than one way to get through this life.

When I hear some members of the "Religious" Right condemning others for not being Christian enough I hear the voice of the Pharisee, "Thank you, Lord, that I am not like that awful sinner." They forget that we are all sinners, trying to find our way through this world. We'll all do better if we help each other.

I have more than my share of the questions. I have very few of the answers. I'm learning to listen but there seems to be an awful lot of noise that makes them hard to pick out.

TheRabbi cut through a lot of the noise in this speech.

"We are particularly offended by the suggestion that the opposite of the
Religious Right is the voice of atheism. We are appalled when "people of
faith" is used in such a way that it excludes us, as well as most Jews,
Catholics, and Muslims. What could be more bigoted than to claim that you
have a
monopoly on God and that anyone who disagrees with you is not a
person of faith?
So we ask our neighbors on the Religious Right to take
note: We are
religious Jews, gathered in Houston to study, pray, and commit
ourselves to God.
And yes, we are generally liberal in our politics. But our
liberalism flows directly from our religious commitments. And we worry that you
don't understand what this means, or what it means for anyone to be a liberal
religious believer.

What it means is this: that we bring a measure of humility to our
religious belief. We study religious texts day and night, but we have no direct
lines to heaven and we aren't always sure that we know God's will.

It means believing that religion involves concern for the poor
the needy, and giving a fair shake to all. When people talk about God
yet ignore justice, it just feels downright wrong to us. When they
themselves in religion and forget mercy, it strikes us as blasphemy.

It means that "family values" require providing health care to every
child and that
God cares about the 12 million children without health
insurance. It means
valuing a child with diabetes over a frozen embryo in a
fertility clinic, and
seeing the teaching of science as a primary social
And it means reserving the right for each person to prayerfully make
decisions for herself about when she dies.

It also means believing in legal protection for gay couples. We
understand those who believe that the Bible opposes gay marriage, even though we
read that text in a very different way. But we cannot understand why any two
people who make a lifelong commitment to each other should be denied legal
guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society.
We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things
that he did was ban gay organizations.
And today, we cannot feel anything
but rage when we hear about gay men and
women, some on the front lines,
being hounded out of our armed services.
Yes, we can disagree about gay
marriage. But there is no excuse for
hateful rhetoric that fuels the
hellfires of anti-gay bigotry.

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