Our Constitution granted each and every one of us the freedom to believe or not believe as we decide. That protection applies to all of us. When one group has decided by some form of spiritual osmosis that their version of the unverifiable and occasionally insane has been decreed to be the new Law, and thus their political mission is to ensure that is so, then it is up to the rest of us to put that crazy back where it belongs: away from public influence.
OPTING-OUT OF TRUTH
‘Religious liberty’ is used as a catch-all for opting out of legislative acts and judicial rulings that favor progressive policies that conservatives don’t like. It’s a term they can rally behind as way to protect what they characterize as a way of life and a set of values. Those fighting under the ‘religious liberty’ banner want to extend religious protections outside the realm of religious institutions (like churches) and into normally secular contexts. By tying it to economic and business concerns, they can pick up constituents who care about dollars and cents, rather than making it about a culture war they’ve already lost.
Recognize their Christian Right beliefs and values are under attack—thus posing a serious danger to their beliefs and identity—rather than contemplating the possibility of being open-minded enough to consider differing views/beliefs, fear drives these fundamentalists to just dig their heels in all the more. Their choice to fight that much harder to arm-twist others into going along with their way of doing things is—surprise!—not that thrilling an idea.
The aim clearly is not to share any “Good News.” It’s much more an effort to keep the bad news about reality and the perversity of their beliefs at bay. Why not just let their Deity of Choice fight these otherwise unwinnable battles instead?
A common argument put forth by those on the Right comes courtesy of this essay:
The left and its sympathizers have put forward two main arguments [I’ll discuss the first here].
The first is simply that Christian opposition to gay marriage and abortion is backward, bigoted, and offensive. I agree in regarding these views as backward. Providing services to a gay wedding or providing insurance coverage for contraceptives doesn’t violate my principles. But like I said, the test of tolerance isn’t how you treat the people you agree with. It’s recognizing the freedom of people who don’t share your values and principles.
That’s what’s disturbing about the current campaign: that it is built around a refusal to accept those who don’t share the values and principles of the secular left. It’s not merely a refusal to accept their liberty. It’s a refusal to accept their very existence.
There is a crude majoritarian triumphalism to this argument. The attitude is: we won the culture war, our views are now the accepted norm, and so they must become the rule for everybody. You have no right to resist, no right even to retreat into your own private sphere and ask to be left alone. We must reach into that private sphere and require your active endorsement of the new social consensus.
Shouldn’t “the test of tolerance” this author relies upon in support of his position apply equally to those who believe that their expressions of intimacy and love should be their business and only theirs? What’s tolerant about the Christian Right’s insistence that those private behaviors are actually their business also? Giving primacy to their religious beliefs—founded as they are on a set of criteria curiously incapable of verification—is justified … how, exactly? Why should the intolerance and narrow-minded bigotry of the Christian Right outweigh the beliefs of those who simply wish to keep their private lives private?
TOLERANCE OR PARANOIA?
Allowing fear and paranoia as sufficient reasons to discriminate is a convenient tactic. Honorable? Not so much….
Where has it been shown that members of the LGTBQ community are requiring others to accept their beliefs? Buying a cake is suddenly a mandate obliging we heterosexuals to go over to their side? That’s big news!
And what’s this “refusal to accept their very existence” nonsense? Asking a commercial enterprise to treat LGTQB customers equally is suddenly fraught with the possibility of an all-encompassing rejection of an employee for failing to do so? Why don’t these same extremists extend their deep moral concerns to patrons who might cheat their business partners, or assault women, or abuse children, or beat their spouses, or drive drunk, or lie, or…?
Might there be just a slight hint of hypocrisy in the statement that those refusing service based on the shaky foundation of their religious liberty thus have “no right even to retreat into [their] own private sphere and ask to be left alone” when that is precisely what they are demanding of those they are attempting to discriminate against? WTF?!
A merchant selling a bouquet of flowers to someone they are certain is gay now means they are endorsing the “gay lifestyle”? Seriously? If they sell to a man who beats his wife or sexually abuses his children, is that a similar endorsement of the “abuser” lifestyle? That’s not a moral issue?
You have to know a lot nowadays to stake out an intelligent, defendable position on many issues. But you don’t have to know anything to insist you’re right, no matter what. Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find. It’s also a dead give-away that the person doesn’t know why he believes what he believes.
Observations like these cause me no small amount of consternation, wondering what kind of Deity would insist that ignorance and fear are the foundations upon which followers must direct their lives. A corollary of mine is to conclude that if there is any type of God, It must endlessly debate what It did wrong in creating such mindlessly doctrinaire believers, all unwilling to consider the distinct possibility that the pursuit of more awareness, more enlightenment, more appreciation for Life’s endless possibilities, more compassion, more understanding, more wisdom, and more of almost any other measure of a progressive civilization is precisely what each and every one of us should be doing instead.
~ My Photo: Cape Ann, MA Sunrise © 05.19.16
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In 2014, I published an eBook entitled Life Will Answer. It’s an exploration of life, religion, and the tenuous connection one has with the other—at least as has been defined to date by the various theologies of past and present-day believers.
I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. I am at best a casual observer of some religion-based behaviors, but given that I have also authored a book discussing those matters, perhaps that makes me more than a casual observer.
A fundamental point of the book is that Life has been established to honor and answer the choices each and all of us make—whatever they are and however they may be judged by the standards and guidelines we as a society have established. I do not accept the notion that there is a God or another Deity of choice offering wildly arbitrary thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs, or that this Deity has edicts we’re free to abide by or not (although if we don’t there will be hell to pay).
I wrote that book on the premise that there is more to this life than the narrow-minded, conflicting, and occasionally dangerous notions various religions offer. Given the large number of them each claiming passionate followers, it’s absurd for any collection of humans to insist that their Deity assures them It is the One and Only. Countless Peers and their own loyal adherents take issue with that.
Every day we are witness to the absurdities—and too often, the atrocities—committed in the name of some Deity or another by adherents convinced that they and they alone are privy to the guidance and dictates of that One and Only. There is little room, if any, for reason, logic, or rational thought. The absence of an intelligent component guiding their beliefs and conduct—replaced as it as by fears and justifications untethered from reality—carries its own set of consequences.
Are we really to believe that we’re all commanded or obliged to above all else obey and honor and worship one Supreme Being [among many]? How stultifying! This Magnificence is so needy and weak that It needs us to do things to satisfy It? Hello!? How did It manage to survive all those billions of years without us?!
Magical thinking is not a shield to the inevitable harm which results when irrational and mindless behaviors collide with reason and fact. We have some choices to make, and a future to concern ourselves with.
Re-establishing this blog is my own contribution to wiser problem-solving than what seems to be the norm. Too many are in position where their delusions carry heavy and needless consequences to all of us.