Posted by: minnow | August 8, 2012

Freeing Religious Freedom

I usually arrive to the party late so now that the Chick-fil-A boycott and counter boycott events are behind us I have a few thoughts.  Here are a couple related post I would highly recommend.  I already shared the link to The Chick Fellatio: Stuck in the Craw via FB but if you didn’t see it there here’s another chance.  The second, If You Oppose Gay Marriage What Else Am I Suppose to Call You? is a bit more pointed and actually a response to Rachel Held-Evans’ post which tried to empathize with both sides of the issue.  Both the posts I recommend address what their writers see as the core issue in this controversy and if you give them a read you’ll see the issue isn’t free speech or freedom of religion.

Given that Mr. Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, used corporate funds to support organizations which work to limit the rights of a particular group of people based on their sexual orientation I have to agree with these bloggers.  Neither writer suggests that Mr. Cathy’s right to free speech or freedom of religion should be curtailed.  However, these Bloggers do believe that those who wish to limit the rights of others (rights they themselves enjoy) are wrong and they ought to be exposed so that those who do not support these types of organizations can avoid inadvertently doing so.

Again, I have to agree.

As a pluralistic, democratic, and free society the United States has an obligation to extend equal rights and the protection of those rights to all its citizens.  This protection even includes placing limits on certain types of speech and behavior.  We have laws against liable, slander, and inciting people to riot, all speech related limitations.  We also have laws which restrict specific behavior, even behavior once connected to religious practice, such as polygamy.  These constraints are intended to stop the freedoms of one group or individual from impinging on the freedoms of another group or individual.  Sadly, our government does not always get it right, which is why gay marriage is the civil rights issue of this generation.

Mr. Cathy and Mr. Huckabee, have the “right” to express their opinions.  They and others can argue that our nation was founded on “Christian principles”.  They can try to prove that each of our Founding Fathers had “Christian” affiliations.  (We may even agree with them on those points).  As they have in the past, they can continue to suggest that our government should establish laws based on their interpretation of those principles, such as the Defense of Marriage Act.  BUT, the First Amendment which guarantees us the freedom of speech as well as the free exercise of religion, also assures us that no law shall be made which establishes religion.  In other words, laws which treat all citizens equally, protect the safety and well-being of all the people, and allow individuals to practice their faith unimpeded may “find their roots in religious principle” but not be regarded as the establishment of religion.  On the other hand, laws which are based on one group’s interpretation of religious doctrine and which give priority status or advantage to one group or individual over another cannot be imposed on the masses and be regarded as constitutional.

The Christian right may call me intolerant.  But know at what my intolerance is aimed.  I will not tolerate camouflaging injustice, greed, arrogance, and indifferent neglect as righteousness, favor, godliness, and Judgment. I will not tolerate blaming my God for your fear.  I will not tolerate saddling my God with your bigotry.  And, I will not tolerate labeling my God’s love with your hate!  You may practice your form of Christianity in the privacy of your own homes and houses of worship.  You may even take your voices to the streets and public airways.  But you may not attempt to coerce the free citizens of the United States through the establishment of unjust laws into practicing your religion and expect me to remain silent.

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