Friday, March 22, 2013

Taking liberties with religious liberties

Remember the post where I tore apart a chain email attributed to Ben Stein? Well, I actually sent it out to everyone else that was on the email chain that I received. Surprisingly, one person actually replied. Less surprisingly, they replied with a poorly reasoned and poorly researched argument. You have to give them the fact that they're consistent at least...

This person attempted to argue that people's religious rights are being infringed upon, and that President Obama is doing so worse than anyone. That's quite a strong statement, so you'd expect some examples to back it up. So what was on offer? Oh, only the claim that healthcare law requires religious institutions to cover birth-control; which is contrary to their beliefs. You know, if the healthcare law did this, I might be inclined to agree with him. However, there's just one teeny tiny insignificant point to remember... Religious institutions are exempt from this requirement! Had this email been received around the time when this fact wasn't spread far and wide yet, I could maybe just shrug my shoulders and assume that he just didn't do any research. But that wasn't the case. He makes this argument months after this exemption becoming common knowledge. Because of this I can on;y assume that he's the Faux News type that simply repeats whatever tripe fits with his preconceived notions and refuses to listen to or ignores anything else. Such a sad state of affairs...

I was fully anticipating this person to come back with the 'Hobby Lobby argument', but he instead opted to sulk off into the darkness. But that does raise the question of if Hobby Lobby had a case when they argued that they should also be eligible for the exception. They have very religious owners, and claimed that should mean that they could opt-out of the health care requirements as well. The government decided, and I fell correctly, that they were not eligible. It doesn't matter what the owners believe, since they are not a religious organization. Because of this fact, they must fulfill the healthcare code as prescribed.

I'm sure that some would still try and argue that this violates the owner's beliefs, and it may be true that they feel ill toward birth control. Well, I'd tell them that if they don't like birth control, don't use it. Simple as that! Some would argue that employers should have veto rights for any 'moral reasons'. This is a dangerous idea that would actually serve to trample the rights of others in favor of the employers personal views. What if a company was owned by a Jehovah's Witness? Should they be allowed to project their beliefs and disallow the coverage of a non Jehovah's Wittiness employee's life saving blood transfusion. Should the employers private view actually force an employee to choose to pay for something that should be covered out of pocket, less they die?

No, this argument is not one for protecting the religious rights of the business owner, but a wish for them to be legally permitted to force their beliefs on the entirety of their staff. In my opinion, that would be a much larger cause for concern.

Another case where local Christians were raising a fuss over a claim of  religious liberties being violated was the fight for marriage equality. The complaint was that legalizing same-sex marriages would infringe of their religious rights by forcing churches to marry people against the church's beliefs. Wrong! If the bill actually forced churches to do this, they would actually be correct. Forcing a church to marry a same-sex couple when same-sex unions are against that church's beliefs would be a violation. But there is a very important factor at play here as well. As with the healthcare law, the marriage bill exempted religious institutions from marrying anyone against the will or beliefs of the church. So we again find no violation, and only the will of the religious to impose their beliefs on others.

Then there's the more common examples of Christians crying foul when a painting of Jesus is removed from a school, prayer banner removed, Ten Commandments removed from a court house, or some other blatant church/state violation. It still amazes me that the most populous religion in the USA is always the one claiming oppression. Yet when you actually examine their claims you find the ugly truth. The realization that it's not actually about protecting their rights (which aren't being violated), and actually the unashamed will to force their beliefs on everyone else. In my opinion, that is incredibly selfish and much closer to religious oppression than anything they claim.


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