Glenn Northern’s probing reflections on “Why Faith Matters” is a great example of a religious perspective so often overlooked. When it comes to the media and public conversation, the bulk of the attention goes to religious groups that not only think they have all the answers, but also want to impose those answers into the private lives of others. It is refreshing and uplifting to turn to Mr. Northern’s writing as an example of what the conscience of a religious individual looks and sounds like, and why it should be respected.
Opponents of birth control, safe and legal abor- tion, sex education and LGBTQ rights continue to point to their “deeply held religious beliefs” as a pretext to privilege these restrictions over the deeply held reli- gious beliefs of others. Mr. Northern’s essay clearly shows why his faith matters as much as anyone else’s, and that his beliefs deserve all the protections of a pluralistic democracy, such as ours. A long-standing Jewish teaching says, “Words that come from the heart, enter the heart.” Would that
Mr. Northern’s heartfelt expression, as it underscores the importance of honoring personal conscience, touch the hearts of all.
The heartfelt beliefs of the individual should prevail when it comes to sensitive personal matters, like planning a family or deciding who you really love. Your thoughtfully considered personal tenets ought to take priority over those of an outsider, regard- less of how deeply and passionately those outsider beliefs are held. Faithful souls will disagree about moral issues. We all deserve to be protected as we make and live out decisions that guide our private lives.
RABBI DENNIS S. ROSS
Director, Concerned Clergy for Choice