Welcome to the Emory Valley Chapel

Emory Valley lies on the eastern edge of the city, and the Clinch River runs through it. It's a beautiful spot for a chapel - and here one is. It's the Emory Valley branch of The Universal Church Triumphant
of
The Apathetic Agnostic.

You don't have to be a Secular Humanist to agree with this...

The Hypocrisy of the "Culture of Life"

A Statement by the Council for Secular Humanism

The fundamentalist political ideologues have seized upon the Terri Schiavo case to make a bold, federal play against individual liberties. Once again, they have redefined and misconstrued the issues in the media in order to pursue a religious agenda. That agenda cares not at all about the dignity or quality of an individual life nor of the fundamental liberties we, as Americans and as human beings, are supposed to enjoy. Terry Schiavo expressed her desires when she was a conscious person. The proper venue for discovering her expressed desires was the courts, and the lengthy proceedings gave due process to Ms. Schiavo. The conclusion was that she never intended for her vegetative shell, with no medical possibility of recovery, to be kept "alive" through a feeding tube. The courts ruled that her express wishes, as discovered through numerous witnesses and lengthy hearings, should be respected. Yet this ruling, which is consistent with a respect for individual liberty, and the ability of a person to choose dignity in death, angered and mobilized those who view life as little more than the beating of a heart. Their religious motivations are clear. Their "culture of life" views life as nothing more than a vehicle for "souls," and the complex system of human attributes which make us persons, such as autonomy, creativity, emotions, and other essential elements of humanity, mean nothing. This is why so-called conservatives are supporting federal intervention now in the most personal of decisions. The hypocrisy of this stance couldn’t be more clear.

President Bush recently argued that we must "err on the side of life" whenever possible. This was the argument that some governors, including Illinois Governor George Ryan, have made in suspending death sentences until a full judicial review could be made. This decision was supported by the stark fact that a number of death-penalty cases have been reversed in light of new technology and new evidence, and so, it made sense to err on the side of life by having a full judicial review. In Texas, then Governor Bush never suspended a single capital sentence for further review, even when attorneys for convicts may have slept through some of their proceedings. There, he did not err on the side of life. Has he experienced a sudden change of heart? In the Schiavo case, the courts have reviewed and reviewed, and testimony has been taken, and appeals have been made surpassing the number and thoroughness of even a death-penalty review process. The conclusion has remained the same: Terry Schiavo did not want to have her body kept alive if her mind, that which makes her a person, was dead.

Now, these politically motivated religious ideologues, who wish to push their narrow view of "life" on the populace by act of law, would have you believe that Terry Schiavo is a piece of property, and that despite her wishes, her parents should be given the chance to "take her." Terry Schiavo is not a piece of property. She was a person who expressed her wishes, and neither her husband nor her parents can usurp her role in deciding the course of her death. This is the essence of being a free person, the ability to choose for oneself, and this is the essential justice of the courts’ decisions to respect her wishes, expressed by a free, autonomous, mature person.

The Council for Secular Humanism praises the Florida and federal courts’ rulings to let Terry Schiavo’s decision to die with dignity stand, and we hope that politicians who have interjected themselves into this personal decision, for cynical political gain, will think long and hard about what this means for liberty and justice.

Signed,
Paul Kurtz, Chair, Council for Secular Humanism
David Koepsell, Executive Director, Council for Secular Humanism
Tom Flynn, Editor, Free Inquiry


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