Distorting Religion to Serve Abortion Rights

 

How many times have you seen the leaders of religions distorting the tenets of a religion to serve a political cause? Of course, they would never say their claims are political, but in the case of abortion, one Jewish community in Florida has decided that they can misrepresent Judaism to serve a greater cause: women’s rights and abortion. (I guess G-d’s laws don’t figure into a “greater cause.”) When I see any religious leaders choosing to meet a woke agenda, I am deeply disappointed and saddened to see the abuse of their positions of power, and the rabbi of L’Dor Va-Dor is no exception.

So what do we know about this congregation and Florida law:

A synagogue in Florida filed a lawsuit this week to challenge the state over a new law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks. Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks. Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach claims the new law, which has been signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and is set to take effect on July 1, violates the religious freedom rights of Jews.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court, claims that the act ‘prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.’

The lawsuit also argues that religious minorities in Florida will be harmed and that the law will threaten Jews ‘by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews.’

The explanation of “violating privacy rights” is nothing new in the discussion of abortion, but I have no idea which other religions are being imposed upon Jews.

You probably realize, however, that this congregation doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of recognized division of Judaism:

Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor, which doesn’t belong to any denomination, defines itself as ‘an all-inclusive, universal, and rational approach to Judaism’ and ‘honors tradition, respects science, and celebrates spirituality.’

This mishmash of a description seems to be an effort to cover the “woke agenda,” but I have no idea which traditions they are referring to.

It is important to state that Judaism does not ban abortion, but allows it in extreme cases:

Therefore, traditional Jewish law holds that the preborn child has a right to life just as strong as the mother’s ― except when he or she poses an imminent danger to her life. The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of America, Rabbi Marvin S. Antelman, clearly stated the position of Jewish law on abortion when he said:

All major religions have their parochial and their universal aspects, and the problem of abortion is not a parochial one.  It is of universal morality, and it is neither a Catholic problem, nor a Jewish problem, nor a Protestant problem.  It involves the killing of a human being, an act forbidden by universal commandment.

Needless to say, committing abortion is a profoundly serious action.

But I want to return to Rabbi Barry and his Boca Raton/Boynton Beach congregation, and their misguided and distorted interpretation of Jewish law. We benefit from understanding the observance of halacha or Jewish law and its relationship to opting for abortion to understand the problem.

The issue is whether Jews can selectively choose to observe Jewish law and still have credibility in demanding that they expect others to do the same. For example, I can choose to observe the Jewish laws of keeping kosher, but if I choose not to work on the Sabbath, is it a legitimate demand or expectation for my employer to accept my decision? From my perspective, it is not.

The reason the selective observance of Jewish law is an issue is described in some detail here. This statement, however, gets to the crux of the matter:

This background brings us to the precise claims put forward by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor. The complaint is somewhat jumbled, but buried in the pleading is a religious claim: Jewish women have some sort of religious obligation to obtain an abortion if the pregnancy threatens their health. This argument is premised on halacha, which, again, Reform Jews tend not to view as binding. So here is the crux of this post: if virtually every other facet of halacha is not binding on members of this congregation, how could it be that this one teaching on abortion is binding–so binding, that a state’s prohibition of that teaching actually substantially burdens the free exercise of religion?

The confusion of the synagogue’s claims gets even worse:

Stated differently, if a person’s religious beliefs view halacha as non-binding–that is, the person is not required to take a certain action to comply with the halacha–it is difficult to claim that a government prohibition of that action is itself a substantial burden of religion. And if a person treats 99.9% of halacha as non-binding–including far more deeply-rooted rules governing Kosher slaughter and sabbath observance–yet deems as binding the interpretation of halacha that affects abortion, I think the person’s sincerity can be challenged. To be precise, this person may sincerely believe that her religion allows–and perhaps even encourages–an abortion in such cases, but does not sincerely believe that religion compels this action such that the prohibition substantially burdens her exercise.

Professor Sherry Kolb brought even more clarity to the discussion:

If one wanted to have a chance of prevailing on a “religious abortion” claim, one would have to assert that one’s religion requires one to have an abortion rather than that it merely allows one to have one. If one’s religion requires an abortion, then the state law that prohibits abortion would plainly interfere with one’s ability to practice one’s religion. But when would anyone’s religion require an abortion?

*     *     *     *

Apparently, Rabbi Barry Silver thinks that his woke agenda and that of his congregants legitimizes his manipulation of Jewish law. Unfortunately, his actions can influence the perceptions of Jews and non-Jews regarding Judaism and its many communities. I’m also saddened to know that Jewish leaders are not the only ones who choose to distort their religions in order to meet their political agendas.

Whenever possible, we need to protest these illegitimate claims and speak the truth. I anticipate that as some states determine their approach to prohibiting or legalizing abortion, some religious leaders will weigh in.

Count on it.

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Interesting new approach from the Left. Make a “religious” claim about the “right” to abortion. Sounds like they’re worshiping Ba’al or Moloch.

    But, I think part of the problem is the definition of terms. “Abortion” has come to mean the intentional killing of a baby, whatever its gestational age. It’s the mother’s desire to have a dead baby that is the point of “abortion.” 

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s what the Jewish law means by permitting the termination of a pregnancy when the mother is in “imminent danger” of dying. I suspect it’s much like the Catholic position, which never permits the intentional killing of an innocent. When a mother’s life must be saved pre-viability of the baby, the baby’s death is incidental to the procedure to save her, not the whole point of it.

    • #1
  2. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Susan. We must try to prepare for every tactic the Left will use in this fight. The “religious” exemption from morality is a particularly wicked one.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    When a mother’s life must be saved pre-viability of the baby, the baby’s death is incidental to the procedure to save her, not the whole point of it.

    I think you are correct, WC. I know from @iwe that the law is complex, but your explanation makes sense to me. Maybe he will weigh in. 

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn: You probably realize, however, that this congregation doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of recognized division of Judaism

    This raises an interesting question (attention, Rico-lawyers!):

    What test (if any) do governments (Federal, state, or local) use to determine if a religion really is a religion, or just a group of people with an agenda trying to forward it.  Can governments do so (prevent the free exercise thereof)?

    • #4
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Susan. We must try to prepare for every tactic the Left will use in this fight. The “religious” exemption from morality is a particularly wicked one.

    And, btw, I believe (like Dennis Prager) that this tactic is a direct violation of the commandment to refrain from taking the Lord’s name in vain. Committing evil in the name of the Lord (one’s religious faith) is an abomination. This is why I suspect people who do such things (in my church, too) don’t really believe they’ll be held to account by a just God. They’re practical atheists, if not actual ones.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: You probably realize, however, that this congregation doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of recognized division of Judaism

    This raises an interesting question (attention, Rico-lawyers!):

    What test (if any) do governments (Federal, state, or local) use to determine if a religion really is a religion, or just a group of people with an agenda trying to forward it. Can governments do so (prevent the free exercise thereof)?

    Great question, Stad. I did find a description of the requirements https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-constitutes-a-church-under-federal-laws but a group doesn’t have to meet all the requirements. It could get messy . . . 

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    And, btw, I believe (like Dennis Prager) that this tactic is a direct violation of the commandment to refrain from taking the Lord’s name in vain. Committing evil in the name of the Lord (one’s religious faith) is an abomination. This is why I suspect people who do such things (in my church, too) don’t really believe they’ll be held to account by a just God. They’re practical atheists, if not actual ones.

    Fascinating. I suspect that if they are taking these steps, they aren’t terribly concerned with committing evil. But maybe I exaggerate . . . 

    • #7
  8. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Perhaps someone could ask the good Rabbi whether or not he will be so ardent a defender of “religious freedom” when the suit is being pressed by a local Imam, and the issue at hand is the religious freedom of Muslims to persecute Jews as per their holy tradition.

    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    When a mother’s life must be saved pre-viability of the baby, the baby’s death is incidental to the procedure to save her, not the whole point of it.

    I think you are correct, WC. I know from @ iwe that the law is complex, but your explanation makes sense to me. Maybe he will weigh in.

    This is precisely correct, WC!

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    iWe (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    When a mother’s life must be saved pre-viability of the baby, the baby’s death is incidental to the procedure to save her, not the whole point of it.

    I think you are correct, WC. I know from @ iwe that the law is complex, but your explanation makes sense to me. Maybe he will weigh in.

    This is precisely correct, WC!

    Phew! Thanks, @iwe!

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: You probably realize, however, that this congregation doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of recognized division of Judaism

    This raises an interesting question (attention, Rico-lawyers!):

    What test (if any) do governments (Federal, state, or local) use to determine if a religion really is a religion, or just a group of people with an agenda trying to forward it. Can governments do so (prevent the free exercise thereof)?

    Great question, Stad. I did find a description of the requirements https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-constitutes-a-church-under-federal-laws but a group doesn’t have to meet all the requirements. It could get messy . . .

    I suspect that “history” thing is what keeps me from establishing “The Church of Stad” . . .

    • #11
  12. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    I’ve never heard of or seen this “Rabbi” before but I’ll bet I could pick him out of a crowd. 

    He’ll be the one that looks like a pretzel given his logic. 

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bari Weiss had the following video on her substack. This rabbi from Los Angeles oversees a Conservative congregation, and from what I can gather, is very highly regarded. And I disagree with a number of his points, although he tried to qualify a number of them.

     

    • #13
  14. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Congregation complaint:

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22060281-complaint-ldor-va-dor-vs-state-of-florida-final?responsive=1&title=1

    ACLU/Planned Parenthood complaint:

    https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/florida-15-week-abortion-ban-complaint

    • #14
  15. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Vengeance is the Lord’s.   Not sure that I would want to be a religious leader intentionally misstating or misinterpreting the Lord’s will or Lord’s word.    Perhaps they are actually atheists.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Vengeance is the Lord’s. Not sure that I would want to be a religious leader intentionally misstating or misinterpreting the Lord’s will or Lord’s word. Perhaps they are actually atheists.

    I think he actually believes his interpretation is legitimate. He has no clue about the complexity of Jewish law.

    • #16
  17. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    The rabbi appears to be to Judaism what David Koresh was to Seventh-day Adventists. Every religion seems to have religious texts that are quite flexible in the hands of a skilled manipulators. 

    • #17
  18. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Well why not?  I have it under good authority that Joe Biden who believes in abortion up to the age of majority is a good Catholic by the Pope no less so then why not this.  The Left has no issue with twisting law and lying.  Any law, any lie.  

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The rabbi appears to be to Judaism what David Koresh was to Seventh-day Adventists. Every religion seems to have religious texts that are quite flexible in the hands of a skilled manipulators.

    One of his strategies that disturbed me is that we are always called to find the balance between the law and compassion. Unfortunately some people think that when the laws doesn’t appear to be compassionate, we ditch it. Instead we are called ( I think) to embrace both in spite of the paradox, and so many people can’t stand making that choice.

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    A thought just occurred to me regarding the women who become pregnant due to rape or incest. These acts are horrible and unforgiveable. I doubt that the memory of them will ever go away–whether or not the woman carries the baby to term. An abortion will not make the violation any less terrible (and I must add that my comments here are theoretical, not experienced first-hand). But I had a friend tell me that she couldn’t imagine carry a fetus to term if she had been raped. First, we are talking about nine difficult months out of a lifetime. Second, no one can ask the baby if it wants to live or not (and I assume that a life fights for life). If the mother were to choose to go to term and give birth, she can give the baby up for adoption. And she may also decide that it is her child, no matter how it was conceived, and choose to keep it. 

    Life constantly wounds us and challenges us. We have to make choices every day, some big and some small. The key is whether we can make choices out of love or hatred, personal desire or convenience. 

    • #20
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Hard cases make bad law, as the saying goes. Even religious (moral) law. It is never okay for a person to solve her problems by killing an innocent. And it’s not good for her character or her soul to “choose” to do so. I believe abortion is Satan’s false promise of avoiding suffering. Killing innocents is never going to remove the pain of having been raped. 

    I could only listen to about 5 minutes of that rabbi. He said abortion is mandated in Jewish law if the mother’s life is at risk, no matter how viable the baby is? So if a woman develops preeclampsia in the 8th month, it isn’t enough to deliver the baby to protect her life, the doctor has to kill it? 

    Pro-aborts will twist themselves in moral pretzels to avoid the reality of what they advocate — the killing of innocents. 

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Hard cases make bad law, as the saying goes. Even religious (moral) law. It is never okay for a person to solve her problems by killing an innocent. And it’s not good for her character or her soul to “choose” to do so. I believe abortion is Satan’s false promise of avoiding suffering. Killing innocents is never going to remove the pain of having been raped.

    I could only listen to about 5 minutes of that rabbi. He said abortion is mandated in Jewish law if the mother’s life is at risk, no matter how viable the baby is? So if a woman develops preeclampsia in the 8th month, it isn’t enough to deliver the baby to protect her life, the doctor has to kill it?

    Pro-aborts will twist themselves in moral pretzels to avoid the reality of what they advocate — the killing of innocents.

    Like I said, I disagreed with much he said. I think his knowledge of the law and its implementation is compromised by his politics. And I think that is being generous. I don’t care how well known he is.

    • #22
  23. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):
    Not sure that I would want to be a religious leader intentionally misstating or misinterpreting the Lord’s will or Lord’s word.

    In Dennis Prager’s podcasts on the Ten Commandments, he points out the only sin God will not forgive you for is taking His name in vain.  However, that doesn’t mean cursing.  Taking His name in vain means doing evil in God’s name.  What you say makes me think these leaders will not be forgiven . . .

    • #23
  24. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: You probably realize, however, that this congregation doesn’t fit neatly into any kind of recognized division of Judaism

    This raises an interesting question (attention, Rico-lawyers!):

    What test (if any) do governments (Federal, state, or local) use to determine if a religion really is a religion, or just a group of people with an agenda trying to forward it. Can governments do so (prevent the free exercise thereof)?

    Great question, Stad. I did find a description of the requirements https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-constitutes-a-church-under-federal-laws but a group doesn’t have to meet all the requirements. It could get messy . . .

    I suspect that “history” thing is what keeps me from establishing “The Church of Stad” . . .

    It did not stop L. Ron Hubbard.

    • #24
  25. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    I realize that religion performs some useful functions in opposing abortion – informing and organizing congregants. But abortion is pretty much straight murder and you don’t need to be particularly religious to see that and oppose it for what it is. As far as I can tell, the SC decision didn’t depend on any particular religious argument – because it doesn’t have to.

    I note that the Sierra Club is making some insane argument to the effect that environmental justice is part of reproductive justice. If this is all about religion, can we declare that the federal government has adopted (and is financing) a state religion? Why would these commies feel a need to go so far out of their lane?

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Joker (View Comment):
    note that the Sierra Club is making some insane argument to the effect that environmental justice is part of reproductive justice.

    They will throw anything against the wall to see what sticks. I’m quite sure that many groups will try.

    • #26
  27. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Joker (View Comment):
    But abortion is pretty much straight murder and you don’t need to be particularly religious to see that and oppose it for what it is.

    I appreciate the moral clarity of that statement, but think that many reasonable, compassionate, and humane people will disagree with its universal application. And that, in my opinion, is why we need to be able to talk rationally about it and reach a compromise — or, thanks to the recent Supreme Court sanity, 50 compromises.

    • #27
  28. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Joker (View Comment):
    But abortion is pretty much straight murder and you don’t need to be particularly religious to see that and oppose it for what it is.

    I appreciate the moral clarity of that statement, but think that many reasonable, compassionate, and humane people will disagree with its universal application. And that, in my opinion, is why we need to be able to talk rationally about it and reach a compromise — or, thanks to the recent Supreme Court sanity, 50 compromises.

    How do you compromise with murder? At least one feminist pro-abort is willing to admit it:

    https://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2022/06/25/feminist-writer-abortion-is-killing-and-thats-ok-n2609310

     

    • #28
  29. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Joker (View Comment):
    But abortion is pretty much straight murder and you don’t need to be particularly religious to see that and oppose it for what it is.

    I appreciate the moral clarity of that statement, but think that many reasonable, compassionate, and humane people will disagree with its universal application. And that, in my opinion, is why we need to be able to talk rationally about it and reach a compromise — or, thanks to the recent Supreme Court sanity, 50 compromises.

    How do you compromise with murder?

    That question deserves a long and detailed answer, but I’m driving and so will give only a brief response right now.

    If you are like most of us, you have at least one friend, family member, or loved one who has had an abortion. If so, do you think of that person as a murderer? Or are you comfortable in that person‘s company? Would you trust your children with that person?

    • #29
  30. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Brandon rightly condemned the 19 innocent dead in Uvalde. That’s likely a slow Tuesday afternoon at a Baltimore Planned Parenthood facility, pre Dobbs. There are real people who never get a chance. Just no evil AR’s involved.

    • #30
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