When religious freedom becomes a farce

Farce: a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.

FlagWaiverA friend pulled me aside to ask what the hell was going on in Indiana with the bill that apparently opens the door for people to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

Only here’s the challenge my friend wanted to know: Why can’t private businesses choose who they serve or don’t serve? Isn’t it their right in a free market to make that choice?

That shows the confusion most people face over the questions about Indiana Bill 101 (no pun intended) and why it is a farce of dangerous proportions.

The issue of discrimination on basis of religious freedom comes down to a basic Constitutional statement contained in the Establishment Clause, which is described this way by the website Revolutionary War and Beyond.

The Establishment Clause states that Congress shall make no law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause is generally interpreted to mean three things. 1) That the Congress may not establish an official religion or denomination and require people to support it or believe in it. 2) The Congress may not favor in its laws one religion or denomination over another, and 3) Congress may not favor or disfavor believers or unbelievers in any religion or denomination over any other.

And there you have it. According to our nation’s Constitution, the Indiana law does not promote religious freedom as it claims to do. Instead, it imposes one religion’s belief on the citizenry as a whole. And that, my friends, is unconstitutional.

The argument that being “forced to serve gays” is an impingement on religious belief is a farce. Here’s why. Interpretation of the bible is, by definition, a highly selective process. There is no “law” that holds true even from one Christian to the next. There may be creeds and general agreement on the statutes of faith, but even in practice from city to city and town to town, or within a specific synod. the practice of religious faith is both highly varied and highly inconsistent.

And that’s perfectly fine because that is the absolute definition of religious freedom. That’s what’s protected by the United States Constitution.

Yet the Constitution also protects people from having to practice any sort of faith at all. There is no qualifying pledge of religious faith to be a United States citizen. Even the farcical phrase “under God” was jammed into the Pledge of Allegiance late in the game by a bunch of conservative politicians fearful of communist incursion in the minds of youth.

And that’s a farce as well. Which is why the Pledge of Allegiance is kind of a joke these days. Sorry to tell you that folks. It never meant that much in the first place. Kids have always recited the Pledge without any real knowledge or conviction about what it meant. It just makes some adults feel good to hear kids barking about patriotism.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a relatively harmless farce compared to the State of Indiana taking up the banner of religious freedom and turning it into a discriminatory manifesto against a segment of the population that frankly can’t be readily identified by appearance or any other measure. So the law is just mean-spirited by nature. It is an ugliness of attitude that deserves to be shouted down because it is the product of political buffoons who govern by fear and hatred rather than consideration and honesty.

There is no justification for any business to discriminate against customers for any reason. Otherwise, as my friend who raised the question ultimately concluded, “there would be chaos.”

Think about it. If you or anyone you know has to constantly question whether they are accepted by a given business either as a customer, as a potential employee or a vendor, that’s not a “free market” at all. There’s another term for that type of business. It’s called the Good Old Boy network. It leads to cronyism and monopoly. It also leads to corruption as every transaction essentially becomes a secret between those doing the exchange.

Is that the kind of nation our Founders sought to establish? Far from it. Of course our Constitution was not perfect from the start. As a nation we’ve had to emphasize aspects relative to personal freedom. This is especially true relative to matters of equality and discrimination. It’s been only 50 years since Jim Crow laws discriminating against blacks were eradicated. Yet we are still a long ways from equality in many categories of life.

So we’re facing a test with this farcical case in Indiana. We can let buffoons run our country or we can stand up against those who hide because chickenshit claims of religious freedom that amount to discrimination. Because guess what? Your religion is not the law of the land. That’s what radical Muslims want to impose with sharia law.

There’s no difference between what Indiana did and what radical Muslims are trying to do in countries around the world. None at all. Any religion advocating discrimination over equal rights is reduced by its own intolerance to a doctrine of hate. That’s not religious freedom. That’s religious intolerance.

Real Christians ought to know the difference. Jesus was welcoming of all people to the faith. According to the Bible, he spoke nothing at all about homosexuality. Not a word. Most references to homosexuality in the Bible were more about control of appetites rather than loving relationships.

And the Bible certainly said nothing about keeping gay people from buying or selling goods.

It proves that Indiana Bill 101 is a complete and total farce. It was drafted as an act of aggression by fearful, ignorant people in positions of power. Jesus called people like that to account all the time. He branded the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites” for placing law over love in faith.

Those lessons still apply today.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “When religious freedom becomes a farce

  1. AMEN! Both morally and legally. And btw, proponents who say other states have the same law? Well, not exactly. For example, IL religious freedom act protects both gays and straights which IN does not. Plus IL has sexual orientation/identity protection in state Human Rights Act, which usually trumps the religious thing when it comes to things like employment, housing and public accommodation. I want to see a Catholic business owner refuse service to a divorced person; oh, right: you can not tell by looking who is divorced any more than you can tell who is LGBTQ.

  2. Christopher Hitchens stated ever so clearly that religion ruins everything. Just look at what is happening in Israel, then throw in Boko Haram, ISIS and now ignorant nuts in Indiana. They all have one thing in common, religion.
    As far as most Americans knew, everthing was running smoothly in Indiana. Now we hear that some nut or collection of nuts decided that having a tax free church on every corner is not enough. They need to bring religion into the state’s capital and from there into the public arena as well. The fact is in front of them that religion run amuck inevitably leads to murderous conflicts. Shiria law by any other name is still religious driven law.
    How could a governor be ignorant of the fact that this is a democratic republic and not a theocracy? All of those, who are longing for life under a theocratic government, let them go Saudi Arabia or Iran.
    In this country we don’t make decisions about people based upon scriptures. That’s what the constitution is for. I don’t get it. Why is it that GOP folks consistently go out of their way to seeming try and replace the constitution with the bible. I would like to see them use the bible to solve that never ending bible generated mess in the middle east. Do that and then maybe you will gain some bible based credibility. Hitchens tried so hard to tell us.

    • There is a growing body of contention that conservatism of this order is actually hard-wired into people. They literally can’t think any other way about reality. Thus reality is skewed. The take is that facts that don’t support their fears of worldview simply can’t be facts. So you take a guy like Hitchens who actually pulls the cold hard facts into light, and it would seem to make them take notice. Quite the opposite. They double down. That’s the period we’re in right now. They can’t afford to be wrong, so they deny the possibility and legislate their fears into place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s