A personal and theological perspective on things good, bad, and indifferent

September 3rd, 2011

A Good Church

If anyone is looking for a good church in Rockland County, NY or northern Bergen County, NJ, I’d like to point you to New Hope Christian Church. I have been preaching as pulpit supply there since late last summer (2010).

New Hope is an evangelical church. More specifically, it is a PCA Presbyterian church, so Reformed theology is central in our preaching, teaching, and informs all our worship.

We are one of Rockland County’s historic churches, and there is a substantial article on Wikipedia that tells all about our history.

Our church services are held on Sunday mornings at 11 o’clock. Come to worship, and bring your friends and family.

March 8th, 2010

Internet Access Isn’t a Fundamental Human Right

BBC News reports the results of a worldwide poll (conducted on behalf of the BBC World Service): according to almost everyone, internet access is a fundamental human right.

Don’t these people know what a human right is? It’s not just something you happen to like or enjoy. Or is watching American Idol also a basic human right, together with ski vacations and ice cream?

It’s also not just something convenient. Or are dishwashers, electric razors, and cell phones also fundamental human rights?

The secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, says that “the right to communicate cannot be ignored.” How did internet access suddenly become equated with a so-called right to communicate?

The BBC report tells us that “countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.” If we’re talking about human rights, we’re not talking about rights that are particular to citizens of one country or another. There is such a thing as a legal right that is particular to one country or one kind of person. Ancient Roman citizens had the legal right not to be crucified. Slaves had no such right. People on trial in the U.S. have the legal right not to incriminate themselves. No claim is made that people in Mongolia have such a right. It’s not a human right but a legal one.

There is so much confusion evident in this BBC report that I wonder how much of it is due to poor survey design incorrect interpretation or reporting of the results, or just plain shallowness by the respondents. Let me help shed some light: when we’re talking about human rights, we’re really talking about human obligations and duties. If someone else has a human right, then I have a moral obligation and duty to that person, and so do you, to protect and preserve whatever it is he has a right to. If to life, then I must not take the person’s life and must do all I can to protect it. If to religion, then I must not try to coerce a person to believe something or to act in a way that would violate his genuine religious scruples, and I must defend a person’s right to hold his religious beliefs and act according to their dictates.

If you believe internet access is a fundamental human right, then you should by all means act immediately to fulfill your own personal obligation to give internet access to anyone who doesn’t have it. Have fun!