I opened up FaceBook today to find nearly a dozen screeching Republicans promoting their anti-gay stance in response to Governor Mike Pence’s announcement yesterday that he’ll ask legislators to “clarify” the new Indiana law he passed. The comedy here is that Pence repeatedly said the Indiana law has nothing to do with being anti-gay, and the moment he suggests some legislative attempt will eventually be made to insure the new law isn’t anti-gay, all the New Right conservatives immediately take up verbal arms to protest how the law that isn’t supposed to be anti-gay shouldn’t be clarified to be anti-gay. So, clearly, the law that isn’t about gays really is about gays.
What’s even more alarming is the tone of these anti-gay people which I’ve clipped directly from the top of my newsfeed in FaceBook. Preachers, politicians, some guy who used to have a show on Fox, and “news” reporters, all lined up to become eventual footnotes in the history books.
Now, this all started when a baker was sued for refusing to bake a wedding cake, after she found out the couple was gay. We heard the same arguments then, that everyone is free to do whatever they want in America, including discriminate against people who are doing no harm to them. What is hard to understand is how these people see absolutely no parallel between the words they say today, and those shouted by others in the 1950s against blacks. Or maybe it’s really easy: Stupid people don’t know they’re stupid. And so it goes, that every generation must fight ignorance with knowledge.
I’m guessing the number of cakes the aforementioned baker refused to bake for cheating spouses, racists, child abusers, “fornicaters” (single people having sex), people who eat shellfish or cut their hair around the temples or who have touched the skin of a pig, or all the school bully birthday parties …would add up to a grand total of zero.
I’ll see your “religious objections” and raise you a full religious hypocrisy (which, ironically, was kinda the whole point Jesus tried making, before he became the foundation of all Christendom).
But now, thanks to Gov. Pence and other like him now, these ambiguous laws are being proposed and passed, which are clearly intended to open the door for discrimination based on religious beliefs. While the arguments around “religious freedom” might at first seem to make sense, let’s just be clear about two things here: 1) In America, you do not have absolute religious freedom. As an individual, the government can’t take away your religion, but 2) you are also a member of a society that has always had the right to regulate individuals. If your religion believes in slavery or sacrificing virgins or executing adulterers, but the society in which you live believes it is NOT in their best interest to allow you to exercise your religious beliefs, then society wins. Period.
Now, some of your “strict” Constitutionalists might want to take up an argument over whether rights are absolute. Go ahead. But you have to do more than read the Constitution. You have to understand why it was even written.
- The Constitution declares the people have the right to speak freely to their government. But individual members of society don’t have the right to lie or deceive people. In fact, some of the Founding Fathers sued people for libel and slander (speech), because clearly there’s a difference between being prevented by the government from speaking truth to power, and lying to or about one of your fellow citizens. This was true in the beginning, and it’s true today.
- The Constitution declares the people can protect themselves with arms and militias, but society has always had a right to regulate individuals. There is no Constitutional protection for someone who goes shooting up the neighborhood or threatening his wife every time he gets drunk. If one of the Founding Fathers threatened another in such a manner, they – the very people who wrote the Constitution – would have no problem taking away his arms. Why? Because it’s just plain common sense. The right of the people to protect themselves is not jeopardized by regulation that protects the society from those gun holders who are not law-abiding peaceable citizens.
- People can freely assemble and protest. The government can’t stop that. But individuals can’t block our freeways, risk public safety, or prevent the rest of us from getting where we need to go. We all know this. Because, common sense.
The examples could easily continue, but perhaps let’s save that for a future post on “strict” versus common-sense interpretation of the Constitution. Back to the matter at hand:
So, why shouldn’t religious people be allowed to
discriminate against serve whomever they wish? I mean “it’s nothing like discrimination against blacks in the 1950s” right? Wrong. It’s exactly the same.
The majority of Christians opposed desegregation and inter-racial marriage up until them thar pesky liberals and progressives said ‘enough is enough’ and forced them to accept blacks by law, or face punishment by force of government (also known as “the people” or society).
And remember, those Christians even cited all the parts of the Bible that talk about how different people shouldn’t intermingle, the parts that mention slavery, and an overall interpretation of any possible reference they could find to justify their bigotry against blacks – just as they look for anything to justify their anger, bias, bigotry and even hatred towards gays today.
If you’re operating a business that serves the public, society has the right to tell you who counts as the “public” in our country.
Today, gays must be counted as members of our society. Yesterday, it was blacks. Before that, women. And before that, it was Catholics and Jews. Remember when stores didn’t want to serve people based on their religion? If you don’t, you should — It’s kind of important.
Basically, if you go into business to serve the public, then you must serve the public. If you go into business just to serve “your kind” of Christians, then you’re at odds with the public interest and society.
In the south, people opened businesses catering only to whites, and the preachers and politicians supported them, and the banks only loaned money to white business owners – and all of this resulted in an entire community, town or county – even states – where simply being black prevented you from enjoying your life and liberty and opportunities the same as everyone else. It was in the public interest to tell racist business owners and banks that their right to discriminate ends when they open a public-serving business.
It’s in our public interest today to do the same for these people today who claim religious right to discriminate against yet another in a long list of people who weren’t hurting anyone. Yes, you bigoted discriminatory Christians are reading a different part of the Bible in order to justify your behavior (Leviticus this time, instead of those passages about slavery and mixing different peoples), but you’re still behaving just as poorly as the last generation of religious bigots.
I’m sorry you don’t see the comparison, but that’s why religion and state are separated in this country. You can believe whatever you want. You don’t have to approve someone else’s choices in life, but you must respect them. Otherwise, you’re only proving you don’t really understand God, or Jesus, or freedom at all.
Your behavior also means you need a reminder of what “religious freedom” looked like the last time this happened: