Benny's World

Monday, June 01, 2009

Four Freedoms (with Updates)

Yesterday was another terrible day of terrorism at a church. Little did I know when I put up the Sunday Morning Music that within a couple of hours, someone of the right wing persuasion carried out a homicide on a parishioner, this time in Wichita, KS.

The parishioner was not exactly unknown to many; it was Dr. George Tiller, a practitioner in women's health and reproductive rights. His clinic provided termination of pregnancy in its last trimester in order to save the life of a mother who would have died from the complications of birth. As Desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland succinctly penned in her diary about Dr. Tiller's clinic's services:

Tiller was not only serving women in Kansas. Many states, including Iowa, lack any clinic where women with a compelling medical reason can get a late-term abortion. (Contrary to propaganda you may have heard, healthy women with healthy pregnancies can't just walk into Tiller's clinic and get an abortion in the third trimester.) I have no idea where these women will go now.
This is not a bravado moment for the Randall Terry and his ilk at the moment, even he thinks it is. Politically, it serves the moderate wing of GOP (such as the Megan McCain's) poorly. Why?

Let's get back to a term that the GOP likes to use: Freedom. Freedom this, Freedom that. Has to do with Lincoln's fight for freeing the slaves. But they forget what it really means in pragmatic terms.

Remember FDR? The man who led us during the worst economic times? He created Social Security, something the Republicans despise and call an entitlement. FDR also spoke of a different type of entitlement January 1941, when FDR gave a speech to Congress, in which one section is commonly known as the Four Freedoms. Here is the excerpt:

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look
forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression
-- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world
terms, means economic understandings which will secure to
every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants
-- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into
world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments
to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation
will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression
against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

The community that welcomed Dr. Tiller was violated on two of those freedoms. Last evening, I wrote to Lowell Michelson, the senior minister of the Reformation Lutheran Church (site of the murder), via their website:

Dear Pastor Lowell:
Today two of the four freedoms that FDR spoke of nearly 4 decades ago were violated in the sacred ground of your church. I want to commend you and your parishioners for staying strong with the membership of Dr. Tiller and his family of your church, and not being afraid until this terrorist entered your hallowed place of worship. My thoughts are not only with Dr. Tiller's family, but of you and your church. I hope you will reclaim your sacred ground and ensure the community that terrorists are not tolerated and they are to be brought to justice.

In faith, my prayers,

I read this morning that Planned Parenthood and specific other clinics would be guarded by the US Marshals. I hope they lend support to the RFC during the funeral. Too many lunatics will be out protesting and safety is an issue. Thus, what about our freedom to worship without fear? I'm probably more sensitive to this issue because a UU church was terrorized by wingnut who was homophobic. A Baptist minister in Illinois was gunned down during a service earlier this year.

I think those who oppose abortion rights should reconsider that the suspect had been making others afraid because of a document he read last year (the Defensive Action), doing so at a sacred ground to worship the God is terrorism because it is aimed at a community, not just a person. President Obama issued this statement, and I agree wholeheartedly:


I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.

It is important, as Pastor Lowell wrote in his most recent newsletter:

As our world and neighborhoods become increasingly diverse on all fronts, it is imperative that we engage each other with attitudes of hospitality and a willingness to listen in the name of
Jesus. It is hard work, but we cannot retreat to ourselves. We need each other.

Don’t check out – tune in.
Listen – everyone has a story.
Discover what you have in common.

Celebrate how God is at work in others. Recognize that God is at work through you.

Amen, Pastor.

My chalice burns brightly for the church and for the Tiller family as they work through the grief of this murder. And I would imagine the TVUUC is reaching out to the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita to reclaim its freedoms violated in a sacred place.

Update: Pastor Dan at Street Prophets penned an excellent diary, questioning the "Christianity" of anyone who carries out violence against someone.

Update II: The RFC issued a statement this afternoon, very much aligned with what I posted here:

The Reformation Lutheran Church family is shocked and deeply saddened by the violent murder of Dr. George Tiller, a longtime member of our congregation, that occurred in our church home May 31.

Our congregation strives to be a safe place for all people. We deplore the violence that took place within the walls of our church. Further, we reject any notion that violence against another human being is an acceptable way to resolve differences over any issue. We must always strive to engage in peaceful discussion. Our faith calls us to this. Our humanity demands it.

In the wake of this tragic event, our deepest concern is for the family of George Tiller. We ask the community to join us in prayer for them as they face the difficult days ahead. Our hearts ache with them. We also ask that the family's privacy be respected.

Members of Reformation Lutheran Church have been deeply affected by this tragedy. To address their needs, we are assembling a team of crisis intervention specialists.

In this time of uncertainty, we stand firm in the promises of Jesus Christ: forgiveness, hope, love, and new life, even from death. We pray for healing and peace to be restored. We offer our thanks for the many prayers of support from across the country. Your words of encouragement are a blessing to the people of Reformation Lutheran Church and Wichita.

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  • What is truly frightening is that any person would think vigilante/terrorist activities are the solution to any issue one does not agree with or support. Have we learned nothing from Oklahoma City and 9/11?

    It is appalling to read Bill O'Reilly has stood by his prior verbal attacks on the doctor. How can anyone claim to be pro-life and support the taking of any life? It's abhorrent!

    Worse is where will it end if these tactics are deemed acceptable or successful even by fringe groups or individuals? Everyone but especially the pro-lifers MUST denounce this specific individual and these larger tactics clearly and forcefully.

    By Blogger indyvoter, at 9:47 AM  

  • It's very telling that Bill-O sticks by his so called "facts", then contradicts them by saying Dr. Tiller's medical services were all legal in Kansas. Murder is not legal the last time I checked any law books. Bill-O is lucky that he didn't have a defamation suit against him. But I'm glad Olbermann, Maddow, and now the blogsophere are turning up the heat about hate talk, but how to make Fox Noise and some of that ilk to quit getting less attention, thus less profits.

    For now, I join the RFC in wishing the family some hard earned peace and privacy.

    By Blogger benny06, at 10:25 AM  

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