Lately, I have been seething with frustration about religious people’s failure to accept simple concepts or grasp the idea of individual rights when their religion tells them those concepts and those rights are against their religion.
In his article, “Religious Opponents of Assisted Dying Ignore Earthly Realities,” Dr. David Amies, a member of Dying with Dignity Canada’s (DWD) Physicians Advisory Council, appears to share my frustration. However, he doesn’t appear to be as intolerant of intolerance as I am.
Earlier this month, Dr. Amies attended a forum organized by St Andrew’s Church in Calgary, Alberta on the subject of physician-assisted dying. Dr. Amies sat through a “passionate theological dissertation from the minister on the panel concerning the new law” without screaming out loud in frustration:
She claimed, among many other things, that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate who had suffered grievously on the cross. She implied that if God could suffer unendurable grief and pain then his creation, namely humanity, could do the same. Consequently, the use of human-devised law to escape possible end-of-life suffering was quite unacceptable, nay, even blasphemous. So vehemently did she make her points that she was weeping openly by the time she sat down.
Dr. Amies provides a thoughtful and accurate response to this example of religious hysteria:
Apparently, it did not occur to her that her words made no sense to many in the audience who have no truck with concepts such as God.
Dr. Amies goes on to discuss
one rather poignant moment involving the last questioner, an elderly woman, who asked what was the purpose of her church any longer. After all, it now sanctioned gay marriage, it no longer railed against therapeutic abortion, it ordained women and now seemed likely to support the deliberate shortening of life for suitably qualified individuals by their physicians. She revealed that she had been a devout Christian for all of her adult life and had watched as pillars of doctrine been slowly dismantled. I found the tone of her question, and the way in which she asked it, rather moving.
Yes, the woman has every right to be disappointed; after all, her church has failed to deliver what it promised to do: prevent gay marriage, women on the altar and abortion. Her church has failed her. It’s too bad she didn’t get disillusioned with her church earlier; she would have been able to accept what Dr. Amies calls “earthly realities.”
Dr. Amies ends his column by saying,
Both my wife and I enjoyed our trip for the most part. We found the theological experience a little hard to take.
I’m sure “a little hard to take” is an understatement.