The Point Washington Update - April 2015
In this issue:
Excerpted from "Physician-Assisted Suicide Corrupts the Practice of Medicine," Heritage Foundation Issue Brief by Ryan T. Anderson, PhD, April 20, 2015 - The heart of medicine is healing. Doctors cannot heal by assisting patients to kill themselves or by killing them. They rightly seek to eliminate disease and alleviate pain and suffering. They may not, however, seek to eliminate the patient. Allowing doctors to assist in killing threatens to fundamentally corrupt the defining goal of the profession of medicine.
Physician-assisted suicide will not only corrupt the professionals who practice medicine, but also affect patients because it threatens to fundamentally distort the doctor–patient relationship, greatly reducing patients’ trust of doctors and doctors’ undivided commitment to the healing of their patients.
Our laws shape our culture, and our culture shapes our beliefs, which in turn shape our behaviors. The laws governing medical treatments will shape the way that doctors behave and thus shape the doctor–patient relationship.
Physician-assisted suicide will create perverse incentives for insurance providers and the financing of health care. Assisting in suicide will often be a more “cost-effective” measure from the perspective of the bottom line than is actually caring for patients. In fact, some advocates of PAS and euthanasia make the case on the basis of saving money.
Instead of helping people to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence. We should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill.
Video Commentary by Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke University School of Medicine Farr A. Curlin, MD: "The question that arises is, 'Why is [the Hippocratic oath prohibition on physician-assisted suicide] there?' Why is that something that physicians, with tremendous consistency, over 2,000+ years, have continued to affirm and profess? A commitment to never participate in assisted suicide is essential for the possibility of doctors continuing to care well for patients who are dying."
If your state is included on this list of states considering assisted suicide, join with CMDA and others in your state to protect your patients and the medical profession. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpted from "The Shifting Definition of Religious Freedom," Breakpoint commentary by Eric Metaxas, April 13, 2015 - Just this month, we watched a family-owned pizzeria close its doors after its owners received hate mail and death threats from around the country. Their offense? Giving the wrong answer to a question about whether they'd cater a gay wedding.
But gay columnist Frank Bruni recently took it to the next level in the New York Times, writing that it's time Christians get with the program and “take homosexuality off the sin list.” The lived experience of same-sex couples ought to trump what he calls the “scattered passages of ancient texts” condemning his lifestyle. Wow.
As for freedom of religion, Bruni suggests a new definition: “freeing ... religious people from prejudices that they ... can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.”
Writing at National Review, Yuval Levin says what we're witnessing isn't so much the suppression of free exercise of religion as it is the establishment of a new national religion; the religion of secular liberalism. And dissenters must be forced to worship at its altar and affirm its creed of anything-goes sexuality.
Given the likely outcome of this summer's Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage, Rod Dreher asks what will it be like to be a Christian in our brave, new society—and what will become of orthodox Christianity now that the price of professing it could be our credibility and livelihoods.
Friends, the fight for religious liberty is far from over. And as John Stonestreet and I have been saying again and again, it’s time for the Church to wake up, to pray, and to publicly defend our religious rights and our brothers and sisters under assault for their beliefs.
CMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody, MEd: “Beyond the significant public policy battle over what marriage means, social issues agitators both inside and outside the church are advancing arguments that try to pry Christians off of our moral foundation, the Scriptures. New York Times commentator Frank Bruni suggests that ‘the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.’ Clearly Bruni has little understanding or respect for the divine inspiration, authority, unity, integrity and timelessness of the Scriptures that many of us trust with our lives both here and for eternity.
“Even some within the church are making similar arguments. These arguments seem to boil down to the notions that Bible writers injected personal bias and that science had not yet enlightened the early church. Therefore, Scriptures prohibiting and condemning homosexual behavior (and by extension, it would seem, Scriptures prohibiting any sex outside of marriage) can be thrown out like potshards from an ignorant, ancient culture.
“The trouble is that in the pursuit of social activism, these views undermine Scripture in order to reinterpret Scripture, leaving no real Scriptures at all. For if Bible writers did not actually write God-breathed words but instead injected their own personal bias, why would we elevate the Bible over, say, the Aeneid, or the works of Shakespeare, or the New York Times?
“If today's claims of science trump millennia of biblical truths, why would anyone persist in believing in the miracles described in the Bible or in anything supernatural at all? Following this train of thought, Jesus' virgin birth, healings, miracles, resurrection and promised return become a bunch of bunk to be debunked by science and social activists. Jesus Himself becomes suspect, since He unwaveringly treated Scripture as divinely inspired and authoritative. (What can we expect from an unschooled Galilean?)
“Rejecting this Bible-devaluing approach is not to say that nothing in the Bible is culturally based, but that we must discern between superficial cultural symbols and deep and consistent moral teaching in the Bible. Contrary to the assertions of those who would remake in their own image the Bible's teachings on sexuality, the evidence from Genesis through Revelation is far too compelling, deep and consistent that God clearly designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman in a lifelong relationship uniquely geared to raising children.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has introduced legislation that would shrink religious freedom and marginalize faith-based organizations simply because they view boys as boys and girls as girls based on biology. By inserting "gender" issues into federal program requirements and by leaving the definition of gender open to liberal interpretation, while also leaving out any exemptions for those who view gender biologically and according to faith tenets, this legislation holds the potential to unfairly discriminate against and exclude faith-based organizations from funding. Click here to learn more and to send your senators an editable pre-written message to oppose S 262.
Excerpted from "Christians thrown overboard left to drown by Obama," commentary by Kirsten Powers in USA Today - When a throng of Muslims threw a dozen Christians overboard a migrant ship traveling from Libya to Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi missed the opportunity to label it as such. Standing next to President Obama at their joint news conference Friday, Renzi dismissed it as a one-off event and said, "The problem is not a problem of (a) clash of religions."
As Renzi was questioned about the incident, Obama was mute on the killings. He failed to interject any sense of outrage or even tepid concern for the targeting of Christians for their faith. He just can't seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.
Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as Pew has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing. Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders — including Obama — will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded. The president's mumblings about the atrocities visited upon Christians (usually extracted after public outcry over his silence) are few and far between. And it will be hard to forget his lecturing of Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast about the centuries-old Crusades while Middle Eastern Christians were at that moment being harassed, driven from their homes, tortured and murdered for their faith.
A week and a half after Obama's National Prayer Breakfast speech, 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded for being "people of the cross." Seven of the victims were former students of my friend and hero "Mama" Maggie Gobran, known as the "Mother Theresa of Cairo" for her work with the poorest of the poor. She told me these dear men grew up in rural Upper Egypt and had gone to Libya seeking work to support their families. They died with dignity as they called out to their God, while the cowardly murderers masked their faces.
Rather than hectoring Christians about their ancestors' misdeeds, Obama should honor these men and the countless Middle Eastern Christians persecuted before them.
CMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody, MEd: The president's reticence on the international persecution of Christians, coupled with his administration's policies that threaten domestic religious freedom, is puzzling yet alarmingly consistent.
As the Washington Post reported, the Obama administration waited months before appointing a replacement for Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, a reputedly ineffective ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, a position that should function as the State Department’s religious freedom watchdog. The administration had taken more than two years to appoint Cook, a failure of action that evidenced an extremely low priority on religious freedom.
The U.S. Commission on International Freedom, by contrast, explains that "As Americans, religious freedom reflects who and what we aspire to be as a nation and people. For the vast majority of people across the globe, religion matters: Fully 84 percent of the world’s population identifies with a specific religious group."
Pro-life colleague and Catholic scholar Dr. Robert P. George serves as vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He notes, "Abuses against Christians span the globe. A key reason is the confluence of two factors. First, there are more than 2 billion Christians in the world. Second, according to a Pew Research study, in one-third of all nations, containing 75% of the world's people, governments either perpetrate or tolerate serious religious freedom abuses. A six-year Pew study found that over six years, Christians were harassed in 151 countries, the largest of any group surveyed."
Though our own political leaders may shrink back from responsibly responding to the worldwide persecution of Christians, our persecuted brethren are standing tall as a shining example of courage and faithfulness.
- The Christian Post reports, "A number of the 21 Coptic Christians who were recently shown being beheaded in a horrific video by Islamic State militants in Libya were reportedly whispering the name of Jesus as their heads were being hacked off their bodies."
- Christianity Today reports, "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, arrived in Cairo to offer condolences for the previous martyrs in Libya: 20 Coptic Orthodox Christians and a sub-Saharan African. 'Why has Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?' asked Welby during a public sermon. 'The way these brothers lived and died testified that their faith was trustworthy.'"
As we move on our government to stand up to persecution, may we also personally imitate the trustworthy faithfulness of this great cloud of witnesses.
- Write to your elected officials (simply enter your zip code under "Find your elected officials" on our legislative action website) and urge them to take appropriate and strong legislative, diplomatic and military action to stop the persecution and killings of Christians overseas and to advance religious freedom worldwide and at home.
- Consider serving our brethren overseas, some of whom experience great hardship under governments hostile to Christians, on a Global Health Outreach or Medical Education International trip.
USCIRF 2014 Annual Report