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.
THE LIMITS OF HYPOCRISY
Asking businesspeople to provide services to LGBTQ people or allowing people to use bathrooms that match their gender identity does not impose a substantial burden on religion. People can still believe anything they want about LGBTQ people. People can still worship as they want, preach against homosexuality, and engage in heterosexual behavior guided by the dictates of their faith. Respecting the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people is not a substantial burden on religion. The state also has a compelling interest in non-discrimination, civil rights, and equal treatment, and anti-discrimination laws do not have a religious intent, but they do serve primarily secular purposes.
The slew of legislative attempts to restrict the rights of those in the LGBTQ community continue to represent the most shameful, ignorant, and narrow-minded attitudes of those who are often the very same voices bragging about their patriotism and our nation’s exceptionalism.
All of these approaches are being promoted by a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people. These organizations are part of a larger infrastructure of colleges and law schools, think tanks, media outlets, and advocacy groups that has been built over the last few decades. They work together to promote the false and destructive idea that legal equality for LGBT Americans is incompatible with religious freedom for those who oppose it — just as early civil rights opponents claimed that eliminating enforced racial segregation was an attack on southern white Christians’ religious beliefs.
KEEPING CONFLICT ALIVE & WELL
As a legal and political tactic, Tea Party politicians and conservative church leaders have high hopes for their ‘religious freedom’ push. What they want broadly is a set of cultural and legal agreements that elevate religious beliefs above human rights laws and civic obligations. They hope that securing sacrosanct religious rights for individuals and institutions will let them roll back rights for queers and women. They further hope that playing the religious freedom card will guarantee them access to government contracts and let them proselytize on the public dime.
It’s a simple issue which simple-minded others have perverted for their own narrow-minded aims to enforce beliefs having no basis in reality! Quite the strategy! It certainly keeps the faithful duly agitated and distracted, so there is that benefit. Isn’t it worth asking: Who is benefiting, and who is not?
Christians assert with absolute conviction and certainty that their God is The One. They are no different than Muslims who insist that their “Allah” is The One. Start your engines and let the wars begin! Hello! (Your “Duh!” Moment is waiting on Line Three.)
Far-Right religious extremists remain engaged in perpetual hostilities of one sort or another, among them the endless conflicts in the Middle East and the cultural battles here. Vicious and asinine commentary following the Orlando, FL [gay] nightclub massacre from fringe extremists preaching to their faithful certainly spike the temperature of those disinclined to wonder.
These and so many more similar problems and conflicts mankind has created and promoted on behalf of their Preferred Deities continue their steady march backwards, yet not One of Them—presumably benevolent and a bit above our basest and worst instincts—sees fit to point out the harm and nonsense perpetuated on their behalfs?
Nobody is asking their wedding vendor to celebrate their wedding. This is the canard at the foundation of this debate: that gays and lesbians want people who disapprove of their nuptials to join in the celebration of them. Literally not one person is asking anyone to celebrate or affirm something in which they don’t believe. In fact, the only people who are demanding affirmation are the conservatives who believe a business owner should be able to segregate public services because they think their religion mandates it. They are demanding that the rest of us affirm their bad theology and codify it in the law.
For a group of people who claim that they just want to be left alone, these Christian vendors seem to have a strange compulsion to insert themselves where they have not been invited. I think it’s the same-sex couples who need to be left alone. Since when does ordering a cake or a flower arrangement give someone the right to intrude into a customer’s life in the way these Christian vendors want to? They seem to think because a same-sex couple had the misfortune of walking into the wrong bakery that they are compelled to accept without complaint being on the receiving end of judgment, humiliation, and discrimination.
Opponents [of these anti-LGTBQ legislative efforts] are asking for one simple thing: that business owners provide same-sex couples the same service that they provide to every other person who walks through the door. This is not a radical proposition. Nobody wants nor needs the ‘affirmation’ of their baker for their wedding, or anything else. Unless the wedding vendor—or the National Review—received an invitation to the wedding, they should assume they have not been asked to ‘celebrate’ anything.
It’s not that difficult to understand, for one. It’s also not that difficult to understand the ignorance and fear which motivates these ugly legislative efforts.
In the context of religious beliefs, if this perversion of facts and principles supposedly urged by the “Son of Man”—assuming there are any facts or justifications in the first instance—is on the Okay List of one’s chosen Deity, perhaps that Deity needs to re-assess the meaning and purpose of Its role as a supposedly superior, All-Knowing Entity.
It’s not doing Itself any favors as things stand now….
~ My Photo: View From The el Conquistador Resort, Puerto Rico © 02.26.16
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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.