Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of religion’

Some Thoughts About the Recent Controversy in Indiana

April 6, 2015

There has already been a lot written about the controversy engendered by the recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act here in Indiana and I don’t suppose I have much to say that hasn’t already been said. I am sorry to see my state become a front in the never ending Cultural War and I especially resent the slanders that the progressives have made about Indiana’s bigotry and backwardness. Still the experience has been edifying since the people on the left have once again demonstrated how mendacious, intolerant, ignorant, bullying, and just plain mean they are. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to their antics, but maybe those who have imagined that they could get by by minding their own business will learn better. There are a few random observations I would like to make about the whole situation. Maybe I am not the only person who has noticed these things.

I wonder if the people who have been comparing the RFRA to the Jim Crow laws of the Old South are really aware that Jim Crow did not permit racist business owners to discriminate against Blacks, they required them to discriminate regardless of what they might want. Now, of course, most White businessmen in the Old South were fairly racist and didn’t have much of a problem with segregation, but they didn’t necessarily want to discriminate against Blacks if such discrimination cost them. Owners of public transportation such as railroads didn’t particularly want the added cost of separate accommodations for Whites and Blacks. Owners of hotels and rental property found it burdensome to maintain separate facilities for Blacks and Whites.

What do you suppose would have happened if a business owner decided that due to his religious convictions it was wrong to discriminate against Blacks? Aside from from facing the full force of the law which required discrimination, it is likely that he would have lost most of his White customers. They would have boycotted him. Perhaps there would have been a campaign of intimidation led by the Ku Klux Klan to force him to comply with the local mores or close his business. Now, which side in this debate is using boycotts, intimidation, and ultimately the law to force compliance?

Am I the only one who finds the whole scenario of the gay couple walking into a bakery, florist, or wedding planner’s office, etc, asking them to provide for their “wedding” only to be refused on religious grounds and then suing the business into compliance just a little suspicious? I suspect that the majority of such businesses would have no scruples about taking their money and performing any desired service. Many wouldn’t want to be involved in any controversy. How is it then, that we keep seeing religious business owners getting into trouble? Are Christian owned businesses deliberately being targeted?  What would be the purpose of such a campaign, to provide object lessons for anyone who might not want to go along with the latest PC rules? Should I be fitted for a tin foil hat?

I would like to propose a thought experiment. Let us say there is a preacher, who we will call “Brother Bob”, who has routinely preached against homosexuality in a not very nice way. In fact, let’s say he was only a step above the Westburo Baptist Church. Now, suppose the congregation of Brother Bob’s church wanted to honor him for twenty years of service by throwing a party for him. To make the arrangements for this celebration, they go to a local caterer which happens to be owned by gay man named Jim, who finds Brother Bob’s preaching to be deeply offensive and hurtful. Should Jim be required to cater a party in Brother Bob’s honor even though it will make him feel uncomfortable?

I think that the majority of the tolerant progressives who have opposed the RFRA would say that Jim should not be forced to served Brother Bob since Brother Bob is a bigot and a hater and thus has no rights. They probably wouldn’t state their position in precisely those words, but that would be their position. The small minority who are actually able to think these things through and have some notion of adopting a consistent ideology might say that Jim should not be able to discriminate against Brother Bob regardless of his personal feelings. But why should Jim be forced to provide a service he doesn’t want to? Why should a baker be forced to bake a cake for a gay “wedding” if he doesn’t want to? Why is it so controversial to just let people mind their own business and live and let live?

The people opposed to laws like the RFRA say that they are not, in any way, opposed to religious freedom, just to bigotry. They graciously allow everyone to have their own opinion about religion provided that opinion is kept privately in the home or the church. Any attempt to live by the principles of one’s religion is only tolerated so long as the actions are in accord with progressive values. If the actions are not in accord with their values then they are bigoted and should not be permitted. Isn’t this a little like the old Soviet constitution which granted all sorts of civil rights to Soviet citizens but only so long as the use of those rights were in accord with socialism?

I wonder where all of this is going. I have to say that the hatred and disinformation directed at my state and some of the people who have only given honest answers to reporters is a little discouraging. I really don’t want to live in a country where I have to watch what I say for fear of losing my livelihood, or worse.

Advertisements

Letter to the Editor

February 17, 2012

Speaking of the previous subject, I saw a letter in the Louisville Courier-Journal which illustrates the intellectual confusion that many seem to have on this subject. I don’t honestly know if the writer is being deliberately obtuse or if he really doesn’t get it. Here is an excerpt.

As staunch Americans who believe in the fundamental and individual independence of citizens, my wife and I believe that each individual has the God-given right to practice their own religion according to the dictates of their own conscience.

History tells us that the founding of this great country was powerfully based on the freedom of religion. Remember, too, that the freedom of religion doesn’t just mean the freedom to practice your own religion(s). It also means the freedom from the practices of someone else’s religion.

As a married couple, we decided not to have children. This decision will cost us $38,000 (according to the numbers on birth control put forth by the White House recently, and our own calculations of actual birth control costs).

Religiously influenced legislation against free access to birth control currently being introduced into Congress abrogates our rights to practice our religious beliefs according to our own consciences, by enshrining one group’s religious-based arguments into law. Our religious beliefs do not agree with this attack on the health of women everywhere.

The Catholic Church should no more be allowed to dictate the availability of birth control, than imams should be allowed to dictate criminal case law. Rabbis should not be allowed to ban pork and shellfish to all Americans, nor should Methodists be allowed to ban bourbon from the shelves of every store in America.

But the Catholic Church is not dictating the availability of birth control. The Church simply does not wish to be obliged to violate its own doctrine by government fiat. The writer states that he and his wife believe in religious freedom, yet they would deny the Catholic Church the right to practice its beliefs. The more accurate similes would be an imam forbidden to preach Islam, a rabbi forced to provide ham sandwiches to his synagogue, or the Methodists required to support the local taverns.

I think that people on the Left simply have an immature concept of freedom. They seem to believe that they should be free to do whatever they want, and everyone else should be free to provide them what they want. Freedom for me but not for thee.

 


%d bloggers like this: