Freedom of Religion Also Means Freedom From Religion
I'll be thrilled to protect your religious liberty as long as you're willing to keep your beliefs to yourself!
Since you can’t swing a dead Randall Road cat without hittin’ one of ‘em, despite 1st Ward aldermanic candidate and occasional Patch contributor Mike Bruno’s previous blogs, it’s time for me to wade in, too.
Of course, we’re talking about those suddenly ubiquitous “Religious Liberty — Live it! Protect it!” bumper stickers depicting a solemn Statue of Liberty ironically hoisting a cross in place of her iconic torch.
And I say “ironic” because that torch is supposed to symbolize enlightenment. As Mike so accurately pointed out, given its meaning and the basis upon which this country was founded, no self-respecting national symbol would ever want to be seen endorsing one religion over another.
It’s unseemly — not to mention unconstitutional.
But while my esteemed blogging colleague tackled this touchy topic from the eminently logical First Amendment freedom of religion perspective, I’m going to take a somewhat more subtle approach. (Don’t laugh!)
Because despite what your history books tell you, the Puritans didn’t come here for freedom of religion, they came here for freedom FROM religion. Of course, as is par for the course, they proceeded to become as bad as their persecutors.
Some 225 odd years later, we seem to have forgotten that our Constitution utterly reeks of surefire means of foiling the tyranny of the majority. In fact, the founders were quite emphatic when they banned any state-sponsored religion. And the fact that most of us don’t get it doesn’t make that stipulation any less self-evident.
There’s a good reason that one tops the list!
Though I will defend St. Peter Church’s right to display those 3,500 annual anti-abortion crosses to my own death, the second the Catholic clergy calls for legislation overturning Roe v. Wade, we have a serious problem.
If they, or any other church, even consider an attempt to statutorily foist their beliefs upon me, not only should the IRS immediately reconsider their 501C3 status, but it completely flies in the face of the First Amendment.
Following that impeccable logic, if you choose to you work for a religious institution, that doesn’t mean you’re forced to follow their rules. And if a religious institution chooses to run a business — for profit or not — it means they must abide by the rules that govern every other business.
If the law of the land states that employee health insurance must cover contraceptives, then that’s exactly what you have to do! You don’t have to like it, but the fact that laws exist which violate my personal principles doesn’t make me an exception nor does it render them any less valid.
What if my religion demands the dismissal of red, eight-sided signs? It doesn’t matter that your staff can work elsewhere — our Constitution isn’t optional.
Now, before you accuse me of heresy (I was raised Catholic), please consider the big picture first, because that portrait contains a subtle irony that most folks choose to ignore.
What if, because they condemn alcohol consumption, a Muslim-owned business insisted on insurance riders that cut out any alcohol-related illnesses? The ensuing uproar would be so intense we’d probably forget about our current lack of Twinkies.
Or what if I came up with a wacky religion (the Scientologists did it!) that declares that blond women are the demon’s spawn and, thus, my business will pay them half of what every other employee makes.
After the EEOC and NOW were finished with me, there’d be nothing left. And don’t laugh, that’s exactly what Mormons said about African-Americans until they got religion!
But here’s the most massive irony (there’s that word again!) of ‘em all. While their legislature relentlessly tries to turn high school science class into a Bible study, in May, the state of Kansas passed a law forbidding any judge from considering Sharia law in their rulings!
Not only does that abject absurdity expose those legislators for the hypocrites they really are, but the First Amendment already covers it. Though religious canon and secular law often intersect, it’s merely coincidental.
I don’t need the Catholic Church to tell me murder ain’t a good thing.
By the very bedrock this country was founded upon, and within the bounds of non-persecution reason, the state will always trumps religion because that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be. If you choose to run a businesses — and a church is a business — then you have to abide by the Affordable Care Act and cover contraceptives.
End of story.
Because if you don’t, then I wouldn’t be crossing Third Street anytime I’m driving down it, because Wardism clearly maintains that traffic laws are the work of devil.
So when I see your Randall Road bumper sticker calling for the protection of religious liberty, not only will I proclaim your right to display it, but I will be more than happy to give you a hearty thumbs up. That self-evident truth means that, like those Puritans before me, I have been liberated from your religious beliefs without exception.