Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Energized by Birth Control Victory, Catholic Bishops Seek Constitutional Amendment for Leviticus Laws

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Over the past few weeks, Catholic bishops have sparred with President Obama over the contentious issue of religious freedom as symbolized by federal mandates that require health insurance plans to offer free contraception. Obama caved to the pressure and offered a compromise that considers the priorities of all parties -- insurance companies, people seeking birth control and church-sponsored employers who object to the provision of contraceptives on religious grounds. As part of the agreement, faith-based organizations such as hospitals, schools and universities would be exempt from funding the coverage. For employees who request birth control, their insurance providers would issue it without raising premiums. Some Catholic groups have praised the compromise, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to protest that the exemption doesn't go far enough in protecting religious rights. Now, energized by their recent victory, Catholic leaders are planning an aggressive campaign to rally the devout against a long list of government measures they feel intrude on religious liberties. "We want to make it something that will get peoples' attention," said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. With that, the council demanded that Christians be allowed to practice the severe laws outlined in Leviticus without legal repercussions.

Law vs. Legality
Father Preternature, the priest in charge of San Narciso's only Catholic church, called the controversies surrounding Leviticus overblown. "If you read most of the book in context, you're basically looking at simple housekeeping rules," Preternature said. "God gave us life, and all He's really asking in return is that we build Him a nice house, to His weirdly finite specifications, and then feed him. Unfortunately, it turns out God's also a very picky eater."

But human rights groups and civilian law enforcement agencies say a legal pass for punishing Leviticus violators will create an extreme form of vigilante justice. Ren Williams, spokesperson for the San Narciso Police Department, explained that "giving ordinary people permission to kill gays, own slaves, stone uppity kids to death and banish people with acne -- as Utopian as that sounds -- isn't going to bode well in an election year. These pariahs are still impressionable voters, as well as consumers. I'm no economist, but I can't imagine many businesses getting behind this. Except for maybe Chick-fil-A and Lowes."

Preternature admits that some gray areas need to be resolved, but states the council is actively working out the kinks.

Ongoing Clarification of Laws
Before submitting a final proposal to Congress, the council is seeking clarification for certain Leviticus provisions. Preternature equated the process to Supreme Court Justices applying modern and relevant interpretations to the Constitution. "We've still got to iron out some ambiguities, but we're very close," he added. The following topics represent those issues still under debate.

The abomination of homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 is definitive: gay sex is intolerable, probably more so than eating lobster. However, details about which parties should bear the responsibility for executing gays, and the formal manner in which they should be put to death, must be finalized.

The process for dealing with those who violate the Sabbath by working on the weekends poses countless challenges. The council must determine whether they are morally obligated to kill those employees themselves, or if the employers should be forced to carry out the murders. Lingering economic sensitivity surrounds this issue. For example, should decision makers at companies out of compliance with this Law also be stoned to death for maintaining operations on the Sabbath? Will the anticipated loss of life further hobble America's struggling manufacturing sector? Will the Church be able to keep order on Sundays in the absence of doughnuts and coffee? Should we smite bakers and baristas too?

Leviticus 19:27 expressly prohibits haircuts and shaving. Potential violators include employees in companies with strict dress codes, barbers, hair stylists and the manufacturers of grooming products. Who must pay the ultimate price for these desecrations? How should they die?

Leviticus 25:44 restores slavery with the Lord's blessing and puts to rest, once and for all, the silly argument against the sovereignty of state's rights. Under the Law, people may own both male and female slaves so long as they are procured from "neighboring nations." Where uncertainty comes into play is in defining which nations fall in or out of scope. How do existing NAFTA agreements and NATO alliances impact the future slave trade?

Dovetailing the slavery issue is a passage from Exodus that grants parents the right to sell their daughters as property. Given the inevitable blow to employment rates and the economy, this allowance could help struggling families generate income. However, attempting to convert the currencies of 1400 B.C. to the dollar and euro have proven impossible. If a fair market rate can't be calculated, this could be a non-starter.

The final obstacle -- and one that could negatively affect clergy members themselves -- involves Leviticus 21:20, which prevents any person with visible defects or blemishes from approaching the altar of God.

"I myself have liver spots," Father Preternature confessed. "I understand that I will probably be banished from the Church after these Laws go into effect, but it's the price that must be paid. We're going to lose a lot of people in our congregation as well. Looking out at the flock, one sees an ocean of zits, braces, wheelchairs, limps, eyeglasses, flat noses, hearing aids, you name it. All of these lepers and cripples, impure. But God keeps places for us in His heart, if not in His house. I actually sympathize with that attitude. I serve a lot of Irish, Italian, Mexican and Philippine church goers. I'm happy to help them. But like the Lord, I also don't want their grubby hands sullying my home."

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.
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