The Kim Davis fiasco continues the pattern of religious conservatives relying on more extreme and desperate measures to retain their image of how the world should work. Ms. Davis would have something of a leg to stand on if she personally refused to serve same-sex couples seeking marriage, but allow others in her office to do so. I can sorta give a pass to an employee who, for personal reasons, does not want to do X, so long as someone else can do the work. But no, it was an all or nothing thing for her. By turning away same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses and not allowing others in her office to issue the license, Ms. Davis imposed her religious will on everyone that works for her, as well as on the citizens she has sworn to serve. That’s bullshit. By Ms. Davis’ reasoning, a Hindu could demand an end to the meat industry. A Jew could demand that no one work on Saturday (the Sabbath). A Muslim could ban all alcohol — of course, this was tried once, at the insistence of Christian (not Islamic)-oriented groups, with disastrous consequences. We could all live on our little religious asteroids and live our own realities, unburdened from those who are different. Such a world, of course, is fantasy.
As I’ve stated before, religious freedom arguments are simply flimsy excuses to justify bigotry. Below is a piece I wrote last year about this whole Christian victimhood phenomenon. Sadly, I don’t see this issue going away any time too soon.
[Ed.: The below was originally posted on April 2, 2014]
Those who use religion as a bludgeon to pummel anyone who fails to follow their dogma are getting desperate. Despite years of proselytizing, society Just Won’t Get It. States continue to grant marriage equality rights. Courts continue to overturn anti same-sex marriage laws. And to make matters worse, the dreaded Affordable Care Act had made the pill even more mainstream that it has been for the past 40-odd years. Something must be done!
Their latest weapon: religious freedom. Just cry Religious Freedom and all of these pesky problems will just go away.
An activist judge is threatening to bring marriage equality to your state? Well, you don’t have to listen to that godless heathen. Just refuse to interact with married gays and lesbians, or all LGBT people, coupled or single. Problem solved! Do you own a company that has to give health care to “all,” even women seeking contraception (aka The Pill), thanks to that dastardly Obamacare? Relax! If it’s against your religious ethic, you don’t have to!
No longer content with preaching the patronizing bromide “love the sinner, hate the sin,” religious conservatives want the laws of the land to protect them from that which they find loathsome: LGBT people. Several states have tried to pass or seriously considered laws making it legal for businesses to refuse service to married gay people, or presumably any and all LGBT people, if they are morally opposed to the existence of such people. You want service? Wear shoes and shirts, but no goddamned gay wedding rings!
This is straight up Jim Crow talk. The genesis of the anti-gay laws and the anti-black Jim Crow laws are clearly different, but the end goal is very much the same: to dehumanize. So whether it be based on one’s race or one’s sexual orientation and identity, these type of laws only seek to hurt those they target, to make them feel less than human, to put and keep them firmly in their place. As I write this, apparently Mississippi has gone over to the dark side and seems poised to enact such heinous legislation.
Similarly absurd are the attacks against the Affordable Care Act and its provisions to provide comprehensive healthcare to women, including contraception. Religious organizations and religious-based non-profit businesses already have an exemption so that they do not have to fund prescriptions for the pill. But that’s not good enough. Now we have non-religious companies owned by religious conservatives also squawking that they should not be required to fund that which they find sinful because doing so would violate their religious freedom. Hobby Lobby has taken this argument all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Hobby Lobby seems obsessed with women and contraception. But I wonder if they morally object to men getting vasectomies or even using condoms? Doubtful. The needs of the penis too often trump the needs of the vagina.
The battle cry Religious Freedom is a mask to hide bigotries. No rational argument can be made to restrict contraception or to halt marriage equality. Indeed, on the latter point court after court has ruled that there exists no compelling argument for the state to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. Having failed at logic, religious conservatives have resorted to faux victimhood. Nothing about women using the pill or gays and lesbians getting married affects their day-to-day lives in anyway. They just don’t like it.
That’s not good enough. Suppose I didn’t like people with naturally red hair. Suppose I disliked people with naturally red hair so much that I found looking at them revolting and repulsive. Does that give me the right to demand laws ordering redheads to dye their hair? Do I get to have a victimhood temper tantrum and declare that my rights as a redhead hater are being trampled by the existence of redheaded people? Of course not. And for the record, I actually like red hair.
But that’s how stupid the religious freedom arguments are. Nobody has the right to point to any book, no matter how holy, and declare that such-and-such a person does not have a right to do X, or worse the right to even exist, and then pass civil laws to reflect that bigotry. That’s what the religious freedom crowd is trying to do. In fact, some of the more determined of them, like the Hobby Lobby group, might be trying to use their money and influence to turn this country into a theocracy, by changing the laws to fit their particular religious dogma.
The US is not a theocracy. There is no state religion. In a country with as many religious and spiritual traditions as this one has, that’s a path we do not want to travel down. Time for the religious conservatives to stop having false victimhood temper tantrums and start learning how to play nice with others. After all, isn’t one of the most important tenets of nearly all the major world religions, Love thy neighbor?
© 2015, gar. All rights reserved.