Freedom of Religion Under Attack (I Wish)

April 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm (Uncategorized)

A few random thoughts then.

First, I’ll admit the post title was intended to be provocative, but really, after the events in Indiana this week, can you blame me?

Indiana passes a law that says if your religion (and by that we mean the Christian religion, try pulling this shit if you’re Muslim and see how far you get), compels you to dislike certain people (let’s start with gays and lesbians and see how that tracks) and you own a business, you can now claim “freedom of religion” for your bigotry and be legally protected.  The Onion got it just about right.

A few days later, after mounting pressure from a number of corporations including Wal-Mart (!) and Apple, along with public outcry, Indiana Governor Mike Pence made amendments which say, actually, we’d like you to be able to legally discriminate, but it looks as if we can’t. Sorry. Still, pretty much every Republican presidential hopeful weighed in on the side of Indiana only to backtrack and agree with the changes a day or two later. Rolling Stone has a good summary here.

It’s genuinely puzzling for me.  Racism is bad. Homophobia is bad. That should be a no-brainer. Yet, if I say, racism is OK because of my (religious) beliefs, that’s OK? Er, no.

I should say here though, that I don’t believe all religious people feel this way, and many are no doubt embarrassed by people trying to use their books to justify this behaviour.  I have no problem reading the Bible as an interesting work of fiction complete with some quite beautiful language and cool use of metaphor. It’s when people interpret it literally and claim it’s good for all time we run into problems. Christians, along with most of the world, used to think that slavery was OK. Not so any more.

Without getting too bogged down in the democratic rights boondoggle (be careful of your friends in this debate), the interesting thing in this situation is how powerful organizations and individuals paint themselves as outsiders under attack. The idea that Christianity is under attack in America is just too surreal for me.

A poll a few years ago asked people for disqualifying factors in voting for a presidential candidate. Sure enough some people said they wouldn’t vote for a Muslim, a homosexual, a woman etc. The biggest dis-qualifier though was if the candidate was an atheist.

That a significant number of powerful people read a book that was written 2,000 years ago as a literal truth for all time is a problem resulting in any number of social difficulties. Still, the rising number of non-believers in the US is cause for hope.

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