The cost of doing religion

I tweeted earlier this week that it’s hard not to get angry when people who are anti-choice and anti-women’s health care see my potential death as the cost of doing religion.

We usually talk about the cost of doing business. It’s bad enough when politicians make arguments that treating some people as disposable (the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, etc) is acceptable as “the cost of doing business” to keep the American economy strong and free, yadda yadda yadda.

But it’s absolutely appalling to see religious leaders arguing that they don’t have to take into account the effects of their actions.

Take, for example, the latest statement from the US Catholic bishops. They claim to be the aggrieved party, crying out that if they have to be involved in women’s health care, among other things, then their religious liberty is being taken away.

I wrote about this for Hail Columbia, and I tried to write in such a way as to open room for discussion. But here, let me state my personal position more clearly.

They’re arguing that their right to swing their censer doesn’t end where my religion begins – that it extends all the way inside my body, in fact, and can put my health and life at risk, because their institutions which serve non-religious functions can’t be held to the same standards as everyone else, even when they’re receiving public funds for what they do.

If individuals get hurt in the process, well, that’s just the cost of doing religion. You can’t make Communion wine without crushing some grapes.

And I’m one of the ones who might get caught in the press.

Edited to add: The inimitable Sarah Posner does a great job of debunking the bishops’ arguments by showing how they ignore relevant legal rulings. H/t to Makarios for pointing it out!

I also missed the point that the bishops are not trying to claim “conscientious objector” status – they simply state that the laws are unjust. That’s good; for a minute there I thought we were going to argue over whether since institutions/corporations are people, they have consciences.

Catching up but still speechless

I haven’t been posting much for a variety of reasons. It’s spring break here, in more ways than one, and I’ve needed the rest. But I’ve also been alternately too appalled, too angry, too depressed, too scared, and too speechless to even begin to summarize my reactions to the assaults on basic humanity and women in particular the last few weeks.

Sometimes I hesitate to write about these kinds of things because I worry that my blog won’t be “Pagan enough,” whatever that might mean. I decided to stop worrying about that because this is my Paganism, my Witchcraft. Here, in this body.

One of the things that makes most forms of Paganism different from most forms of monotheism is that Pagans tend to hold pantheistic or panentheistic beliefs and certainly tend to practice in ways that honor and respect the presence of the divine in the physical. I will resist my natural tendency to go all theaological about this, since it would mostly be a diversion from my main point. (For theaology junkies, I’ll get back into it later, promise.)

The point is that a key tenet of my religion is that the divine is present here, now, in me, in my body, in you, in your body, and in everybody. My body is holy, and sacred, and most of all, it’s mine. Mine to live in, not yours.

So for me, protecting women’s rights to their own bodies – pregnant or not, on birth control or not, having sex or not – is an expression of a fundamental value of my religion. It is a practice of my religion.

I recently had a very dear friend express concern over the state of my reproductive health. She rightly acknowledged that it wasn’t her business, and that she was trying to walk a fine line between being loving and caring and not being too intrusive – which she did with a grace and elegance I am in awe of. But she was driven to discuss a personal matter with me because she was genuinely afraid for me, given the trends in US law.

How sick is our world when women express love and look out for each other by discussing how to keep politicians and theocrats from putting their lives on the line?

So as a Witch, I’m going to try to work with my speechlessness; I’m going to go inside, to accept and experience those feelings, and figure out how to bring that back to my work in the real world. And though I may be speechless for now, I will not be silent, nor will I be silenced.