“As voted by the Religion Newswriters Association’s members, among the year’s most consequential religion newsmakers were Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Pope Benedict XVI, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and the U.S. bishops. How would you have ranked them? Has their influence been harmful or constructive? What issue or person do you expect to have the biggest impact in the year to come?”
First the positive...I like the choice of Feisal Abdul Rauf. He condemned the attacks of 9/11 which inspired my own son's enlistment and current service in the Marines. He has worked hard to create peace and understanding between the Muslim world and the West. I doubt many Westerners, however, even know who he is. Moreover, I admire a man who speaks the truth. It's hard for an American to hear that we might be responsible for the some of the unrest in the world, "because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA." Tough to own responsibility. But look at our role in Iraq or Afghanistan which are obviously more politically motivated than humanitarian and I see his point.
Now my objections...
Are you kidding me??? We are naming conservative, hostile people as leaders in the faith community? What happened to the separation of church and state in this country anyway? Seems to me that GLBT issues and paganism are prime examples of other people's religious views legislating morality. Indeed, many of our founding fathers were actually what's now known as Unitarian Universalist. How many of these people have attended their Sunday morning services? Religion doesn't even necessarily appear to be a part of their service. Communication, discussion and respect is.
Pope Benedict XVI might do a lot of things right. But until we stop legislating morality and denying the world the choice and education to use birth control, people will continue to die of things like AIDS. Until the Pope and the Catholic Church promote birth control, I cannot see them as a positive influence. At the heart of the issue, for this feminist witch, is the need for women to have control over their own bodies. Otherwise, patriarchy controls them. And don't even get me started on the number of people in other countries we have harmed because we teach abstinence rather than common sense. Certainly handing out condoms may not suit many fundamentalists, but the cost to humanity needs to be evaluated.
Now, we all understand that the Pope has made insensitive and critical comments about Paganism and indigenous faiths...but Glenn Beck believes Pagans don't deserve the same protection under the Constitution as Christians. I have to wonder what he would say about someone like myself who walks a duel path of paganism/Christianity. I get half my rights? Beck incites the world rather than bringing it insight. Having looked over his books and listened to him on cable, his negativistic views are over the top.
Sarah Palin scares the bejesus out of me. She has a knack for surrounding herself with folks who know how to make her look good. Now she is going to have a TV reality show. What a lovely way to get oneself elected to office. Now everyone will feel as if they "know" her and trust her because they saw it on TV. Most of those viewers won't be troubled to look beneath the story to the core; to question, to investigate. Instead, entertainment will become fact. And yes, this means of marketing would scare the bejesus out of me regardless of who was being portrayed in a "reality" show and wants to run for office.
Now my joy...
U.S. Bishops: well, if that includes Gene Robinson, the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination, I'm all about it. He has made it possible for Cameron and I to hold our heads up and attend church. He has made it possible for our priests to support us. While it may well cause a split in the Episcopalian Church, his courage has inspired me. And I'm saddened he has decided to retire in 2013 because of the strain on him and his family due to the worldwide backlash he has faced. Episcopalians again showed their support for same-sex relationships last year by authorizing bishops to bless same-sex unions and by consecrating a lesbian, Assistant Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, since the SC dioces does not support homosexual unions, my own relationship with Cameron cannot be blessed in our own dioces.