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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

9 responses to “Bishop Tobin Confuses Anti-Choice for Pro-Life”

  1. jgardner

    “announced his support of homosexual marriage, a concept that is, ultimately, an offense to human life”

    Gay marriage is about as offensive to human life as the heterosexual marriage of infertile people. Please don’t tell me the Bishop will be championing an attack on those people next. Eek, I guess I better not give him any ideas.


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  2. David Vogel

    You come close to making the case that the church should keep quiet in its application of pressure upon elected officials.  In my opinion, it would be better to have the church screaming at the top of its lungs while elected officials, with enough true understanding of separation of church and state, were able to ignore such rants in favor of doing what is best for the population at large.
    In this way, the electorate would at least have the benefit of some rarely-seen transparency.

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  3. Portsmouth Citizen

    @David: I agree with you that I want to live in a country where church leaders are free, as is everyone, to shout their political speech.
    Unfortunately, there are too many in the General Assembly who do not respect the value of separation of church and state. If you’ve listened to the marriage equality hearings over the years you have heard GA members actually say out loud that their religion governs their thinking about gay people. Echoing pastor Martin Niemöller, if their religion condemns gay people to second class status how long will it be before I am their next scapegoat?
    I’m not saying I don’t vote for Catholic politicians. In fact I do. But, Bishop Tobin is responsible for the fact that I even entertain the idea that maybe I should never, ever, vote for a Catholic.


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  4. Walt48

    I must strongly disagree with the comment: “Tobin has every right to publicly cajole or privately persuade legislators to vote as Tobin interprets.” 
    Tobin does not express a personal opinion but speaks as the leader of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island and is so treated by the general public and the media.  As such he is violating the tax exempt status rules for the Diocese of Providence. Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC section
    501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.  Clearly his comments most recently about Rep. Langevin do not meet the requirement of absolute non-participation.  Tobin should shut his mouth or start writing a check to pay the Church’s taxes.

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  5. David Vogel

    @ Portsmouth Citizen:
    We are on precisely the same page — the only difference is that we are discussing each side of what is written there (staying with the textual metaphor).
    Part of the point I am trying to make is that if the church is open with its objectives, then it enables the electorate to make a far better-informed decision by getting elected officials and/or candidates to be similarly open with their own agendas.  In other words, if we have such transparency, then it is incumbent upon the voters to either vote for or against the concept of having the church dictate political policy.  This is exactly how the process is supposed to work and, as mentioned, I think what you also are saying.
    We will need to return to debating points upon which we disagree…. it’s more interesting.  ;-)

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  6. dubnotdubya

    Tobin wrote, “he has proudly announced his support of homosexual marriage, a concept that is, ultimately, an offense to human life.” Hmm. There is no mention of this quote in the article in today’s ProJo. In fact, I read the ProJo article before I read this blog post, and I was thinking to myself while reading it that the bishop was also angry about Langevin now supporting marriage equality but wasn’t saying so. And now I see that he did in fact say so (and added that he sees marriage equality as “an offense to human life.”) That brings up the question of why the ProJo did not mention this part of his statement in their article. Why are they not telling the whole story?

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  7. Barry

    One other problem with religous interference in politics besides tax exemption (perhaps they should have a c3 and c4 structure as many non-profits do) is the asymmetry, they can pontificate but it is politically very hard to argue back as you can easily be seen as attacking their religion itself which is toxic for a political debate.  If a union or industry offical speaks out, it is normal to criticize the union or the industry (think of big oil or hedge funds!) but you cannot realistically do that with church officials.

    The Catholic hierarchy’s attack on birth control shows they are not serious about reducing abortion, or on “life” – they only want to force their religion on all of us. 

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  8. David Vogel

    If you are wasting more than a few seconds of time in reading in anything written by travis rowley, you might consider redirecting your efforts to a more informative activity…. even taking a nap would do it.

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