Forgive the deviation from the title subjects of literature, science or the environment.
Tonight I attended a screening of Love Free or Die hosted by the Center for American Progress. The film tells the inspiring story of Bishop Gene Robinson's struggle to be openly gay man in a committed relationship within the Episcopalian church. It's a story about the harmful and negative role a religious institution can play in an individual's life by fostering fear and hatred.
Those were a big part of the reason I lost interest in the church. I thought if the people I was seeing who put themselves forth as good Christians were just that and that God was happy with them . . . well, that wasn't a god I wanted to believe in.
There was a Q&A following the film with the director Macky Alston and Bishop Gene. One audience member asked how it could be that a church that was started because someone didn't like the head of another church telling him who he could and couldn't marry now telling people who they can and can't marry. Another asked about the current hot topic of mandated coverage of contraception by insurance companies. This lead to Bishop Gene making a point that I thought was interesting on the separation of church and state. He said it is typically used to protect the church from interference by the state (I had thought it was the other way around), but with instances like marriage and this insurance/contraception issue. In these cases, he says the church wants to interfere in state issues. For marriage, he says one solution is for clergy to suggest that some members of the church become justices of the peace who have the power to marry and when couples come in asking to be married in a church, he says yes, we can marry you at the back of the church where the civil meets the religious in a civil ceremony and then you can come into the church with a complete service and I will bless your marriage. An interesting solution.
His point was you can't have it both ways -- you can't insist on separation and religious freedom and then insist your religion influence state matters. It is in place to protect both sides. I still can't figure out how having the option of paid contraceptive is a violation of religious beliefs. If you believe it's against god's will or whatever to take a birth control pill, don't. But, if you don't believe that, isn't it great to have that as an option?
Anyway, the purpose for the blog is to spread the word about this inspiring film. They're making it easy for folks to host screenings in their Family & Friends program