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June 21st, 2011
Freethought San Marcos: When religion restricts our freedom

Freethought San Marcos: A column

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently revised its policies concerning the care for the seriously ill and dying.  While the bishops’ views about aid in dying for the terminally or seriously ill apply only to Catholic health care institutions, the bishops want their beliefs applied to the entire society.  They clearly state this position in “A Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide” issued on June 16, 2011.  

In their Statement, the U.S. bishops declared suicide “a terrible tragedy, one that a compassionate society should work to prevent.”  Clearly, the bishops believe that the rest of our society should follow their beliefs on this subject.  To underscore the primacy of their position, Cardinal DiNardo, quoted by the Catholic News Service, said the bishops were making a contribution to a “fundamental public debate” based on “our moral tradition and sense of solidarity with people.”

If that is all the bishops are doing, I would have no quarrel with them.  I’m perfectly at ease with the Catholic bishops and cardinals telling their own believers how to behave, but they have no right to press upon non-Catholics the same behaviors and ethical standards that they accept within their religion, based on Catholic theology.  My religious views and theological perspective lead me to conclusions about aid in dying different from those reached by the bishops.

The bishops begin their analysis of aid in dying by promoting their religious dogma concerning “Christ’s redemption and saving grace.”  As one who holds different views, I don’t want our public policy to be based on Catholic theology.  Only people who do not appreciate religious diversity and the freedom of religion would want to impose their religious views on others.  The bishops fit into that category.

In a news conference about the Statement, Cardinal DiNardo makes clear that the bishops want their religious views adopted throughout the US.  The Cardinal said he hoped it would counter the recent “strong resurgence” in activity by the assisted-suicide movement. The Statement asserts, “With expanded funding from wealthy donors, assisted suicide proponents have renewed their aggressive nationwide campaign through legislation, litigation and public advertising, targeting states they see as most susceptible to their message. . . . If they succeed, society will undergo a radical change.”

These remarks are made with no sense of irony.  In both the California aid-in-dying campaign of 1997 and the Washington campaign in 2008, and in the Oregon referenda in 1994 and 1997, the Catholic church spent millions of dollars to defeat propositions that would have clearly expressed the will of the people had they been voted on without interference from the propaganda of any interest group.  [Aid in dying was supported in both Oregon votes and in Washington, but was defeated narrowly in California.]  Polls show regularly that 70% of the population believe that individuals should have the autonomy to decide their own fates if they become terminally ill and are suffering.

But the Catholic bishops want to impose Catholic doctrine on everyone.  They argue that suffering is no cause for concern; it is redemptive because it relates to the suffering of Christ on the cross and, therefore, the public policy of the US must follow Catholic teaching and forbid non-Catholics the right to determine their own fates.

The bishops argue that aid in dying “promotes neither free choice nor compassion.”  That, at least, is not a faith-based argument, though I find that it fails to convince individuals who want to decide their fates that they would not be exercising their own free choice in doing so. And I find it uncompassionate to deny me the right to end my suffering.  In fact, I find such a position cruel to the point of being sadistic.

One of the most specious of all the arguments made by the bishops is their assertion that “people who request death are vulnerable. They need care and protection. To offer them lethal drugs is a victory not for freedom but for the worst form of neglect.”  In fact, the few people who have taken advantage of aid in dying in Oregon have the best of palliative care, emotional support, medical advice, and many opportunities to change their minds.  These people are not vulnerable, isolated, and hopeless.  They have looked realistically at what living in suffering will do to them and their families and have decided to end that suffering at a time and place of their own choosing.

Jay Lee, a letter-writer to the Seattle Times, expressed the bishops’ position clearly when he wrote, “The bishops’ opposition to death with dignity is faith-based, not fact-based.”

Barbara Coombs Lee, president of the aid-in-dying organization Compassion and Choices, explained, “While we respect religious instruction to those of the Catholic faith, we find it unacceptable to impose the teachings of one religion on everyone in a pluralistic society.”  She emphasized that “end-of-life care should follow the patient’s values and beliefs, and good medical practice, but not be restricted against the patient’s will by Catholic Church doctrine.”

Cardinal DiNardo has accused supporters of aid in dying of encouraging terminally ill individuals to end their lives.  On the contrary, aid-in-dying supporters do not advocate death for anyone, but the right for all of us to choose for ourselves when and how we will die based on our own values.  Such supporters typically believe that everyone should have access to the best medical care available.  The Cardinal could better fulfill his religious values by fully supporting universal health care in the US, rather than work to deny a few people their personal autonomy as they near the end of their lives.

But for the Cardinal, everything is about his religious beliefs.  He said, “Compassion isn’t to say, ‘Here’s a pill.’  It’s to show people the ways we can assist you, up until the time the Lord calls you.”  For those with a different religious or theological position, the Cardinal could not care less.  He wants to force his Catholic position on everyone.

Of course, what happens in both Oregon and Washington is not to give a person “a pill,” but to engage in an elaborate set of protocols that can allow a dying and suffering person to receive a prescription that they can fill when and if they decide to end their life.  Only about 25% of people in Oregon who get such a prescription use it to end their life.  About 80% of those who begin the elaborate aid-in-dying process never complete it.  Many find that having the ability to do so gives them great comfort.  But that’s the sort of comfort the Catholic bishops will never understand.

© Lamar W. Hankins, Freethought San Marcos

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29 thoughts on “Freethought San Marcos: When religion restricts our freedom

  1. I live in Houston; I am fairly frequently in Fredericksburg. I am a member of St Anne’s Catholic Church in River Oaks, within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and a practicing Catholic. For what is it is worth, and I do have some little influence, especially political influence, I support the positions the Cardinal is taking in the name of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about the abomination of assisted suicide, to which I am myself unalterably opposed. I do not have sufficient influence to eliminate you, during one of my visits to Fredericksburg, but I would if I could. I do NOT agree that I must be nice but you can say anything you wish about the Catholic Church; I have however made a clean and clear statement of my sentiments and the measures I would be willing to endorse to carry them out. As Priests, the Bishops cannot be quite so ruthlessly cold blooded about the latter as I am; but, as you well know from Church history, laymen are often called upon by Almighty God to do for the Church the dirty work she is forbidden. As it stands, the Republican Party is sufficiently dominant in Texas that I am highly hopeful you will fail politically in your efforts.

  2. Do I agree with Catholic doctrines as public policy? No, but lets not ignore the fact that Hollywood and the “Media”, has pushed immorality, and ignorance to the point of public policy, by creating a facade of implied, and false majority opinion, on all subjects. Where is the “Hollywood/Media” health care institutions? let them assist suicide there, oh wait they have that, it’s called prime time programming, they kill the brain first.

  3. Is Mason Page being serious? Condemning assisted suicide but advocating “eliminating” those that disagree with them?

    Hypocrisy and religion all too often go hand in hand, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise.

  4. First, I do not disagree that someone in pain, being fully informed of their condition and prognosis and hope, or lack thereof, of recovery should be allowed to do with THEIR life as they wish. It is, in fact, their body and they can end it or not. It is also recommended that people create an advanced directive telling those around them their wishes should they be incapacitated.

    Second, I am religious but not Catholic. The beingness of the person is the spirit and it continues on, as it has before and will into the future. To get wrapped up and overly protective or concerned with a single frail human body is shortsighted and overlooking thousands of years (going back much further than Catholicism) of religious tenet that the spirit of man is not a “one-life” being.

    However, to title this article “religion restricts our freedom” is as similarly close-minded as the criticized bishops. Likely it was an editorial decision to generate “controversy” since religion in general has, for eons, kept man’s hopes alive. Imperfect to be sure. But to lump all religion into one headline, and to see comments saying religion should be dismissed whole cloth, are likewise absurd.

  5. I very sincerely appreciate Mr. Hankins article! I too, am willing to let a catholic do whatever a catholic wants to do. However, when they attempt to restrict my freedom of choice, and that of my children and grandchildren, I must protest.

    To Mason Page, all catholics, or any other people who adhere to a relegious calling reading this: I will make MY own choice about MY life. Live your life as you see fit, and I’ll leave you alone.

    Is that so hard ?

  6. Ref David June 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm—

    David should NOT be surprised, although opposing might have been more appropriate than eliminating, given the limited means at Mason’s disposal—the eliminating would only come later if the political climate developed favorably and would involve means far beyond those now available and well beyond what the Church would publicly condone. More candidly, such a political climate would tolerate, perhaps without openly admitting, such elimination. The eliminated would simply disappear without explanation, never to be heard from again; as though they had never been, but with no one with any idea what has become of them. Perhaps they would live out the rest of their lives in detention, where the Church would have the opportunity to save their immortal souls.

    It is not possible to have a clean society polluted with a reprehensible practice like assisted suicide. Only by first eliminating the pollution and those doing the polluting can a society be cleaned up.

  7. If this upsets you; then I hope you also understand the problem our nation MUST deal with in regard to the religeo/political system of Islam. This action by some catholic bishops pales in comparison to the goals of Islam as stated clearly in the Koran. I hope many other americans are thinking about what can and should be done to root out and eradicate the PRACTICE of Islam. People of all backgrounds are welcome to be in our country; but not to bring in religeous and polital systems diametrically opposed to the constitution of the United States. And if you or others do not understand that Islam is utterly contradictory to the constitution, then you have some reading to do. Do it while you can.

  8. Aid in dying? Nice and cutesy like most liberal dribble in the mainstream media. It’s ASSISTED SUICIDE.

    BTW, the current regime in the White House is the one forcing an agenda down American throats in an unprecedented display.

  9. Ref John June 21, 2011 at 4:71 pm: “Is that so hard?”—

    Yes, that is too hard.

    Suicide has been a taboo within the Judeo-Christian tradition which is the basis for our Civilization, once called Christendom, and so recently secularized. A secular society cannot make right what God has forbidden, inevitably because it is best for the way we live our lives. The Church can oppose an attempt by New Atheists, allied with such groups as the Hemlock Society recently renamed Compassion and Choices, to remove this immemorial prohibition and replace it with an abhorrent practice.

    You may NOT make a choice about YOUR life, not your children nor your grandchildren about theirs, that effects the Public Forum without the Church exercising her duty to try to retain the moral values of the Judeo-Christian tradition by influencing the Public Forum to insist upon you, your children, and your grandchildren retaining those moral values. Once you or your children or your grandchildren have engaged in your own assisted suicide, you will be judged by God. However, society long has prosecuted those who assisted you, your children, or your grandchildren for a forbidden activity; and the Church may and does insist society, even a secular society, continue to do so—and has opposed the legalization of immoral assisted suicide in the states where this forbidden activity has been made legal.

  10. Mason Page you are a classic example of religion gone awry: threatening to take the life of those who disagree; attempting to impose a particular brand of religion on the general public by force (as in Catholic Inquisition in Spain); failing to distinguish the call of Almighty God from voices of the monsters (greed, prejudice, pride, insecurity, revenge, hatred, etc.) that come from the dark side within each of us; and using one narrow form of religion to support a particular political party or agenda (see Hitler). Really, Mr. Page, can you imagine Jesus wanting his disciples to do some dirty work for him like you are suggesting? A careful reading of his life and teachings will lead you in another direction: praying for your enemies; peacemaking; caring for those who suffer and for the poor; seeking justice; walking humbly with God; forgiving; etc. – in other words, be loving to all, including Muslims! Unfortunately it is a road less traveled, but certainly worth your taking and consideration.

  11. Free Thought has become Stale and Illogical Thought. This is just another insipid attempt to characterize ideas based in religious upbringing as somehow ineligible to compete in the public arena.

    Who cares WHERE someone’s ideas are formulated, whether in Sunday School or from watching MTV eight hours a day. Whatever the source, we all bring our ideas together to determine what kind of society we live in. Advocating for a certain position or a certain law is in no way forcing one’s beliefs upon another. There are lobbying groups all over the place pushing for all sorts of laws. Why is this not also condemned by Hankins as forcing beliefs upon others?

    As described by Hankins, the Bishops took a position on a political topic, and then worked to persuade others to vote with their preferred position. Without that advocacy, says Hankins, the “other side” would have rolled to victory in all cases. Brilliant! If only one side can express an opinion, that side has a better chance of winning the public debate! The logic is astounding in its simplicity!

    Seems to me that the “other side” had an equal opportunity to get its message out, but in some cases the voters chose to side with the bishops. Isn’t that the way we do things in the United States?

    Expanding on our two representative individuals previously mentioned, let’s say Terry is 29 years old, still lives with his parents, couldn’t name the current Vice President, and is the one watching MTV eight hours a day. When asked if someone should be allowed to terminate his or her own life in case of terminal illness, Terry responds, “Yeah, whatever.”

    Yet Kay, the regular attendee in Sunday School, feels life should be valued in a decent society. Suicide should not be condoned, although pain should be managed and at some point, no extraordinary measures need be taken to keep someone alive. Natural processes should be allowed to take their course.

    Free Thought says that Kay needs to keep her ideas to herself, while Terry is welcome to advocate for his “fact-based” opinion.

    Compelling, ain’t it?

  12. To Retrocon:

    If you think your version of my column is what I said, you are sadly mistaken. What bothers me about the bishops is their desire to impose their religious views on me and society. They are free to argue for that position, and I am free to oppose such theocracy.

  13. You seem to be saying that engaging in public debate over an issue that is being VOTED ON is AN ATTEMPT TO IMPOSE ONE’S RELIGIOUS VIEWS ON OTHERS if the stance taken on an issue derives from one’s religious beliefs. Yet you, yourself, counter the bishop’s position by stating, “MY RELIGIOUS VIEWS and THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE lead me to conclusions about aid in dying different from those reached by the bishops.” (emphasis added)

    My point is: Why does it matter where our ideas have been formulated? Whatever the source, we are free to bring our ideas into the public discussion on how our society operates, as you say — we’re all free to argue for or in opposition to a position.

    If an issue is voted on, there are likely to be some on the losing side that could say they are being “imposed on” by those of the other side. But that’s the process by which we decide some issues.

  14. Ref Karl June 21, 2011 at 10:38—

    No one is threatening the lives of those who disagree. As a matter of fact the Church is against capital punishment.

    What is advocated, by men of my political persuasion as laymen, NOT the Church, is that the leadership of those who would introduce innovations that are a danger to society must be eliminated by permanently detaining them away from that society, before it can thrive. Assisted suicide is such an innovation, long forbidden in Judeo-Christian societies.

    Likewise the Vatican II Declaration on the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious, “Dignitatis Humanae,” sustained by pronouncements as recent as Pope Benedict XVI’s Message in April to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, “Freedom of Religion a Fundamental Human Right,” endorse religious freedom from government interference. Assisted suicide is certainly NOT an exercise of religion, but of the New Atheism.

    I was, admittedly long ago, trained as a Modern European Historian, with a minor in Political Theory; the Spanish Inquisition was NOT the horror Reformation propaganda painted it as being.

    As the Cardinal Archbishop of Galveston-Houston has pointed out on the national scene, under the present system, Catholicism has the right to have its voice heard in the Public Forum.

    As a practical matter, I expect you are well award of the political power in Texas of the Republican Party, contemporary Evangelical Christians, and Roman Catholics; plus, of the relative weakness and dwindling numbers in the Democratic Party—and Republican contemporary Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics are opposed to the introduction of assisted suicide in Texas. Lacking the political power to prevail in the political arena, hopefully the advocates of this evil will fail to prevail.

    Yes, I can imagine Jesus wanting His disciples to do some of the dirty work for Him. It has been done before: while the Church could not burn at the stake, it turned heretics over to the King of Spain to burn. Some of our Mafia friends today are quite willing to make the enemies of their religion an offer they cannot refuse, well aware that Blessed John Paul the Great could both grow angry with them and benefit, without the guilt of knowing about it, from what the dirty work they did for the Church.

    I lived for a year in Saudi Arabia and am friendly toward Islam, as is the Church, for example see paragraph 3a and b of the Vatican II Declaration on the Revelation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, “Nostra Aetate.”

    What you advocate is NOT Catholicism. It is political liberalism, a secular evil whose party line you are parroting without knowing much else about what you are talking about, parading as implementor of a morality that is NOT Christian. It is NOT for you to tell me how to be a Catholic; rather, I believe what the Catholic Church teaches—and I would add the Saints lived the ideals you enumerate, but I am no saint.

    The United States is approaching a fiscal crisis; what can be accomplished in the ensuing chaos gives hope for a political persuasion as radical as I advocate. Likely the Church will oppose it in public and hopefully go along with it in private. It also has happened, as you so conveniently point out, before

  15. To Todd Giberson:

    Public policy should not be based on any theological perspective. It should be based on the freedoms provided in the Constitution. Those are not derived from theological positions, but from Enlightenment ideas about liberty. I do not want to live under Catholic religious doctrine. Catholics can live their lives as they see fit, but it is not permissible to impose their religious positions on me or you, though you, of course, may choose to follow Catholic doctrine. The Catholics I wrote about are trying to impose their religious doctrines on everyone, which is why it is important to have separation of church and state.

    It is not possible to have a clean society polluted with a reprehensible practice like assisted suicide. Only by first eliminating the pollution and those doing the polluting can a society be cleaned up.


    Never mind taking away a persons choice as when he.she should die if you really want to clean up society and eliminate the pollution start by eliminating those pedifile priests that populate the priesthood of your church

    clean up you own house before preachng to others

  17. There is a new John Jay Report out (not to be confused with the flawed 2004 one, from which John Jay learned to correct those flaws) analyzing what has been accomplished in the United States to clean up the Catholic Clerical Abuse Scandal The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 .

    I have found that people who do not much like the Church and are looking for an anti-Catholic reason to attack her are obsessed with this scandal; yet, they have largely ignored this study—other than that the most recurrent criticism, by them of it, is that since the Bishops commissioned it, it must be biased; it is, however, quite objective. Anyone can follow the link above and read it for himself.

    Catholics believe a person does NOT have a choice as to when to die; neither can the government give him that choice—only Almighty God can make that choice. As you realize, since Catholics believe the Church is infallible in moral matters, for Catholics, therefore, a society that legalizes assisted suicide is intolerable.

    When I am in Fredericksburg, I go to Sunday Mass at St Mary’s Church. There are sufficient Catholics in the hill country for our voices to be heard.

    Politically this is a fight between a surgent Republican Party and a receding Democratic Party, which just lost political clout in Travis County due to redistricting of the US Congress. It would appear the proponents of assisted suicide will not prevail in Texas.

  18. Maon Page wrote:

    “Catholics believe a person does NOT have a choice as to when to die; neither can the government give him that choice—only Almighty God can make that choice. As you realize, since Catholics believe the Church is infallible in moral matters, for Catholics, therefore, a society that legalizes assisted suicide is intolerable.”

    REPLY: I do not want government to give me a choice. I want the government to get out of the way of my choice. However, I realize that there is a government (societal) interest in preventing or at least controlling the circumstances surrounding my choice so that others are not free to murder me, so I can accept reasonable government regulation in this area.

    Page: “Politically this is a fight between a surgent Republican Party and a receding Democratic Party, which just lost political clout in Travis County due to redistricting of the US Congress.”

    REPLY: I am neither a Republican, nor a Democrat. I am an independent. I cast my votes across many political lines, so I don’t see this issue in partisan terms. There are Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the issue. This is an issue between theocrats (who want the government to implement religious doctrine) and those of us who believe in a civil society where each individual is free to follow his or her own religious beliefs, but where the government will not require anyone to follow a particular brand of religion. Public policy in a free society should not be based on the religious doctrines of the Passion, Resurrection, and Redemption, or any others, but everyone is free to argue any position, no matter its argument. Religious arguments are unpersuasive to me, however, for reasons beyond the scope of this topic.

  19. Surely, those living in San Marcos are aware: that, during the last Presidential Campaign, which the Democratic candidate, who once long ago would have been a shoo-in in the county, won nationally, Hays County was carried by the Republican, albeit by only a one percent margin; and that, of the forty-three point five percent with a religious affiliation, forty-five percent are Catholic—and twenty-seven percent Southern Baptist. With such demographics, while independent voters, who elect few of their own numbers, are critical in close elections between Democrats and Republicans, it is unrealistic to think Assisted Suicide is going to get much of a hearing.

    All the Bishops have indicated is the time has come for them to be heard when New Atheists are trying to introduce this dangerous innovation under the ruse of religious freedom. The Catholic Church supports religious freedom; but she does not support Assisted Suicide—and the Bishops are in a position to be heard in the Public Forum.

    The operative phrase, revealing motivation, is: “ Religious arguments are unpersuasive to me,”. As a layman with a lifelong interest in the relationship between politics and religion and an interest in eradicating the effects of the Enlightenment, I favor the prospects of the Bishops, in terms of raw power politics, over the New Atheists.

    The minuscule number of New Atheists are currently having a field day in a formerly Protestant Society turned secular, even though a strong majority of Americans still claim to be Christian, meaning they are easily returned to the fold; it remains to be seen how well the New Atheists will do when the fiscal crisis looming over America turns people back toward religion and away from secularism.

    The discussion grows stale with the realization Assisted Suicide is a stillborn issue in Texas.


    I don’t understand your fixation on Texas politics. My audience extends beyond the boundaries of Texas. I regularly get correspondence from people in other states.

    The reason religious arguments fail to win me over is that they are not based on reason, but are based on faith, and sometimes on the most ridiculous assumptions imaginable.

  21. Ref Mr Lamar Hankins June 27, 2011 at 11:16 am—

    I became aware of your column in the “San Marcos Mercury” because you mentioned Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who is chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and who, as you well know, introduced the USCCB Spring Assembly’s first policy statement on Assisted Suicide, “To Live Each Day With Dignity”; the meeting was held in Seattle, Washington having legalized Physician-assisted Suicide, the latest of three States to do so, which practice the policy statement characterizes as “a corruption of the healing arts.”

    My impression is you are a former City Attorney—I extend to you the courtesy of my respect.—in San Marcos and an active atheist; I live in Houston, am fairly often in Fredericksburg, interested in the relationship between religion and politics, and inclined to Defend the Faith.

    All this being in Texas, I looked upon your column and those who support it as delivering a first shot, in Texas, at getting Assisted Suicide legalized; thus, my fixation on Texas politics, which flatly would prevent such a “radical change,” again to quote the policy statement.

    I would hasten to mention that my own radical political views are NOT those of the American Church and, therefore, NOT those of His Eminence, whose political views are NOT a matter of public knowledge. I am a sick old man in no position to influence public policy, though I have endorsed in these comments the elimination of your influence as necessary to the well being of the Nation; I would now add that this is so ONLY if you have sufficient influence as to be regarded as a highly influential figure—small potatoes will wither away unless watered by big rains.

    You are well aware some of the finest thought in human reason has been by Catholic thinkers; the Enlightenment I thinks was a misstep back into paganism. You are well aware Catholics regard faith as superior to reason. You realize your description of deeply held beliefs as the “most ridiculous assumptions imaginable” is but reflection of your own limitations, since more gifted men embrace these assumptions.


    I was City Attorney is San Marcos for 5 1/2 years back in the 1980s, now over 22 years ago. I do not consider that I am a “highly influential figure” anywhere except perhaps in my own home, where I share that title with my spouse of 42 years.

    I agree that “more gifted men embrace these assumptions,” but I would suggest that others of equal gifts also disagree with the same assumptions. I work hard to improve my understandings of all these things. When I managed a legal services office for about 3 1/2 years, my supervisor was a former Jesuit priest, so I am aware of the intellectual acumen available within the Catholic church. I am not a Catholic church basher. In fact, this is the first time I think I have written something directly about the Catholic church. Over the years, I have served on a working committee of the Catholic Diocese in Austin to plan and carry out a conference concerning end-of-life issues (but not including physician aid-in-dying). I do not consider that I am a New Atheist, as you have called me several times. I have made publicly critical remarks about Sam Harris for his narrow views about religion. I am not anti-religion, just anti-bigotry and anti-superstitution.

    About 15 years ago, the first bill to establish a physician aid-in-dying system in Texas was introduced by then-Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, a practicing Catholic, so my column this past week was not the first time this issue has been raised publicly in Texas. To be clear, Gonzalo Barrientos did not introduce the legislation because he necessarily favored it, but he thought the issue should be on the public agenda for discussion.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion, even though some of your comments seemed a bit threatening, particularly the comments about “elimination” for instance. They reminded me of the kinds of messages heard by some of the abortion doctor killers, such as the man who killed Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas in 2009.

  23. Now I’m only 16, I also don’t live in the USA. However being born Catholic and now willingly severed this tie, I have, believe I have, a greater insight into both worlds. How can you truely call suicide an abomination? When you can present a genuine, logical arguement to this and also this, How can the Church support the extention of life as well as shun the shortening of one? When it is accepted that God supposedly wishes for us to live as he intended, ie. doctors are ‘interfering with God’s work’.

  24. After a careful perusal of the comments re. Mr. Hankins article and Mr.Pages response. I have decided to weigh in from a different perspective not yet heard from, one of debate coach and judge. I also will present a view from the perspective as a Native American/Cherokee. Mr. Hankins is the clear hands down winner in the debate category. His positions are fact based, well researched, theologically astute,devoid of personal slurs and subjective diatribe. Mr.Page is well informed about the policies and positions of the Roman Catholic Religion; however as a debater he allows his pride and passion for all things Catholic to totally subvert his positions. Mr. Page has cited his educational background in history and cites events in Roman Catholic history which occur
    in Europe, which is a good point. Mr. Hankins, on the other hand, does not point out his academic background other then listing his former position as an attorney for the city of San Marcos. The breadth and depth of Mr. Hankins knowledge is clearly evident in his positions, whereas Mr. Page choses to rant and rave about the state of politics and religion in Texas and how Mr. Hankins is somehow out of step with reality. Bad move Mason, in a debate.
    Now to the issue of Native Americans. Mr. Page has chosen to completely ignore the effects of Roman Catholic Church policies on Native Americans. His ignorance of the churches practice of enslavement, slaughter-AKA-MURDER, spreading of venereal disease: I could go on, but you get the point, oops, I forgot to mention greed, you know the gold,silver,precious jewels that the infidels were forced to mine and lay at the feet of the caring Christians. Mason, your ignorance of these historic facts completely subvert your claim as a learned historian and your faulty justification of the Inquisition which your church carried out in Europe. Mason, those who would forget their history are domed to commit their mistakes.
    You sir with your perverted positions and not so veiled threats are a fraud.

  25. Ref H.Davis 29 June 2011 at 10:36—

    Mr Davis’ qualifications as a ‘debate coach and judge’ limit the validity of his declaration, that Mr Hankins is ‘the clear winner in the debate category,’ to his personal assessment. Mr Page would suggest Mr Davis look up where the best international debate team in the world was located in 1971. In the present discussion, if Mr Davis wishes to characterize it as a debate, Mr Page doubts Mr Davis would have considered Mr Page a worthy participant in any debate involving the Catholic Church’s objections to Assisted Suicide.

    Since the debate was over whether the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should ‘weigh in’ against Assisted Suicide, it is therefore appropriate that Mr Page’s ‘pride and passion for all things Catholic’ should be the basis of his arguments.

    Mr Page has a Phi Beta Kappa key which says he is good at history and an Army GT Score of 140 to back it up.

    ‘The state of politics and religion in Texas’ will determine whether there is to be Assisted Suicide in Texas; therefore, to make an issue of it, in Texas, is in step with reality.

    Mr Page is half French and Cherokee, born in Oklahoma. Mr Page is aware of the Trail of Tears. He is also aware, as a Cherokee, that when a culture is confronted with a culture that is technologically thousands of years ahead of it, it is going to suffer; that is the reality. Tribal leaders such as Chief Ross (who had less Cherokee blood than Mr Page) and Mrs. Mankiller have sought to have Cherokees prosper in the post-modern world, as Mr Page does, NOT become professional victims as wards of the government, as Mr Davis would seem to prefer.

    Recent research in Spain has pretty much rehabilitated the Inquisition. If the Inquisition were to be repeated in San Marcos, Mr Davis would also seem ideally located to observe, possibly participate as a victim, in it.

    Likewise, regarding Mr Page’s not so veiled threats, Mr Davis will be in a position to monitor Mr. Hankins’ future; Mr Hankins has mentioned the fate of Dr Tiller.

    Mr Page, who will be in Fredericksburg in August, grants Mr Davis that Mr Page’s perverted positions are indeed a fraud in that he has clearly indicated during this discussion that he neither possesses the means nor intends to carry them out; whether others of a similar mind will eventually have the means and carry them out, remains to be seen by Mr Davis, his children, and his grandchildren.

  26. There is one great irony in the comments of Mason Page over the past 12 days. He is so offended by my view that I should have the freedom to decide when it is time for me to die that he invites other people to kill me for expressing these views. Even when I pointed out that he was encouraging others to kill me for my views in opposition to the Catholic bishops’ views, his only comments were that his threats are “not so veiled,” that he would not be the one to do the killing, but perhaps others who think as he does will be able to kill me for my views regarding physician aid in dying, thus assisting the Catholic church in getting rid of such infidels.

    If this is how the Catholic church works in today’s world–relying on the violent actions of sick minds to eliminate those whose views do not match those of the church–I have been far too mild in my criticism. However, I don’t see the Catholic church in this way, but perhaps I am naive.

  27. Ref Lamar Hankins July 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm—

    No one is advocating killing anyone; the Church disapproves of killing—including the killing of Dr Tiller. What has been suggested is that, should the political climate prove favorable, those who are influential advocates of Assisted Suicide might be incarcerated for life. Signs the political climate might prove favorable are that Time magazine is running a cover story questioning the Constitution; this is something that would have been unthinkable not so long ago—in such a climate of opinion it should not be hard to amend the Constitution, especially if the implications of the Amendment were not understood. As for killing, it will be interesting to see whether, as some are anticipating, anyone will take a shot at the Atheist Banner planned to be flown over Fourth of July events.

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