Home / News / Pasadena reverend delivers passionate sermon about the 'war on religion' vs. the 'war on women'
Pasadena reverend delivers passionate sermon about the 'war on religion' vs. the 'war on women'

Pasadena reverend delivers passionate sermon about the 'war on religion' vs. the 'war on women'

Rev. Susan RussellIn an epiphany sermon given by the Rev. Susan Russell at All Saints Church, Pasadena, on Sunday, February 19, 2012, titled "Margaret Mead, The Mountaintop & The War Against Women," the pastor reflected on the church's role in honoring equality and civil rights.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has," Rev. Russell said in her sermon, quoting anthropologist Margaret Mead and reflecting on the church's 20 years of blessing same sex unions.  "What makes change possible is the experience of love," she said, saying that Jesus called all to love one another.

Her sermon was going to be about the season of Lent and how it is to be a season of preparation, but her attention was drawn to the "war on women."

"Oh Lord, not that again," she joked about the war on women, "didn't we do that in the 70s when we were women and you heard us roar?"

The "war on religion" is fictitious, she said, noting:

We grew up to be priests and bishops and doctors and lawyers and secretaries of state and studio heads.  And here we are again, watching our rights be questioned, our choices be challenged, in the name of religious liberty and in response to a fictitious war on religion.

Yes, that again.

Because it is not a "war on religion" when the First Amendment protections are employed to protect both freedom of and freedom from religion.   It is not "war on religion" when it is pointed out that nobody has the right to write their theology into our Constitution. {Applause.} I'm just getting started.

It is not a "war on religion" when the courts recognize that equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment equally protects all Americans, as the 9th Circuit Court did in ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  And it is not a "war on religion" when the White House just says no to efforts to make women's healthcare a sacrificial lamb on the altar of partisan politics by politicizing equal access to insurance for contraception.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

As to the hearings last week about whether female employees' access to contraception coverage threatens religious liberty, she noted the pictures of the hearing:

Perhaps you've seen the pictures, the pictures of the panel of witnesses at the House hearing on Capitol Hill, the table of men — all men — every one of them, men — they've been called to testify about their religious liberty being infringed by women in their employ having direct access to insurance for contraception they are neither being asked to approve of nor to pay for.  A ranking committee member asked the chair to include a female witness.  His request was denied.  The reason given was the hearing was not about birth control, it was about freedom of religion and conscience —  Which begs the question, don't women have consciences?  Don't women have religious freedom, too?

And no matter what the issue is, to bring forth only male voices is nothing less, my brothers and sisters, than systemic sexism incarnate.

And if the issue is religious liberty, the fact that the leadership is so blind to the fact that women do indeed have a voice in protecting our collective religious liberty, it is nothing short of shocking, because the First Amendment guarantees the freedom to exercise religious beliefs to every American.  It does not guarantee the freedom to impose religious beliefs on any American.

Whether the target is health care for women, which is under attack in Virginia, or marriage for same sex couples, which was vetoed on Friday in New Jersey, all Americans suffer collateral damage when the fundamental rights of some Americans become sacrificial lambs on the altar of patriarchal partisan politics.

And yet, never doubt, that a small group of thoughtful, committed people, can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

The mission of the church, she says, is to get off of the mountaintop, to show God's love 24/7 and to follow the high calling of God to transform the human race into the human family.

"Be the change that changes everything," Russell encouraged her parishioners.  "Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world."


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • stan chaz

    I'VE HAD ENOUGH! In this Holy War on Religion, of Religion, and by Religion. I SURRENDER! I’m a lover, not a fighter.  Instead… I’m gonna start my OWN religion, and get in on the good stuff: tax exemptions, and lots of taxpayer money to do what I want, in the name of religious liberty. Most definitely! Hey NEWT -wanna join? We’re gonna have open marriages and multiple wives and all SORTS of neat stuff that you’re just gonna love! But don’t you worry your little head Newt: we’ll have no -I repeat- NO nasty stoning of adulterers. None of that stuff. I Promise! As for SANTORUM, he just LOVES to tell other people how they should live. He’ll make us a REAL fine preacher-man. In fact, we’ll make him Saint Santorum. AND fix his Google search results! As for Mr. Obama,  obviously, we’ll need to (severely) demonize him, even further. And his dog Toto too. Last but not least: MITT and RON. Hmmm. Hey, I know. Just for you two guys: if you join we’ll insist on NO TAXES AT ALL for church members…AND human sacrifice of illegal aliens. Out with their hearts! Televised! Live! Whoooppee! WHAT A COUNTRY!  :-)
    By the way, please don’t mention the REASON that Mitt Romney’s dad was born in Mexico (i.e. The fact that Mitt’s Mormon grand-dad left the United States in the 1880’s. He went to Mexico BECAUSE laws against polygamy were passed in the U.S. ; Being a Mormon back then, Mitt’s grand-dad wanted to keep his multiple wives. Hey, who wouldn’t?) Bottom line: if we follow the “logic” of the people crying crocodile tears about a non-existent “war on religion”, then the U.S. should have allowed polygamy (and who knows what else) just because a particular religion claimed it as their cherished belief. GIVE ME A BREAK!
    Absolutely NO ONE is coming into our Churches or places of worship and trying to tell parishioners what to believe…..or forcing them to use contraception. BUT If the Bishops (and other denominations) want to continue running businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the same rules and rights that other workers have and enjoy…especially if their businesses use our tax dollars (and skip paying taxes) in the process. This is not a “war on religion”. It’s a war on women and men who simply want to plan their families and control their future. Now that’s REAL religious liberty!
    p. s. I come from a religious background. I know that their are MANY good people out there, in various faiths (and outside of those faiths); many good people searching for answers, for community, for a way….in this all-too-harsh world. There's only one thing I can say to you: think for yourself, be yourself, trust yourself. Don't just accept something because it comes from a "voice of authority". That’s why you have a conscience: to choose, not just to follow….

  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    Well that's one good thing about the Episcopal Church, they do fight for equality and sometimes point out the stupid things Fundamngelicals say and do.

  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    Can't seem to edit posts still.

    This is one of the things the Episcopal Church did get right and ironically, it is sermons like this that make wish that there weren't any problems within the Episcopal Church, because I might still be there, despite my disbelief. However, if they are a great ally for fighting equality everyone, despite any other problems they may have which contribute to spiritual abuse. It is something I mentioned in my book, but did not speak on much. Her homily was a good one though, even though I cringed about the Biblical stuff added to it- She was cherry-picking and twisting things to fit her views, just like every other Xian does. I guess if you are going to cherry-pick and twist things, it's best to pick the better verses that support human beings as human beings, if you can twist them in that direction.

  • http://www.pasadenanow.com James Macpherson

    May we please republish your article, complete with byline and links, in the Faith section of "Pasadena Now"? http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/?cat=12

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      Please do. Thanks!

      • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

        Wow! Deborah, I just looked at their site and I must say, I'm impressed. Great job! :)

  • Pingback: The Religious Reich’s Worst Nightmare: Women Rebelling Against Them | God Discussion

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