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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Religious Freedom



I'm pretty big on 'freedom'. Religion? Not so much. However, my belief in personal freedom overrides my otherwise negative view of religion to the point that I certainly believe such freedom.....as supported by the Constitution.....is a good thing.

Recently Jeff Sessions has issued a memorandum extolling Trump's view that 'religious freedom' extends into areas that have become questionable, namely can one 'discriminate' based on one's religious beliefs? (memorandum)

But before I delve too deeply into this, I have some very serious questions about what 'religious belief' legally means. If there are any Constitutional lawyers out there, please advise!

Question #1: If a person says they believe in a particular religion, are they legally protected only to the degree for which their beliefs actually coincide with the religion? Or more simply.....if someone is going to use a religion to support a position, do they have to be correct in what that religion actually says about it.....or is their belief of what they think it says more important?

Question #2: If a person uses a religious doctrine to support their discrimination towards one thing, are they not obligated to discriminate according to their religion about other things? If not, then doesn't the discrimination become an arbitrary choice and not a true religious expression? In other words, if a person's religion says a, b, & c are wrong and the believer chooses to only discriminate against c, but not a or b, can they still maintain their discrimination is religiously based? Would such arbitrary application of religious dogma prove that the discrimination is personal rather than faith-based?

Question #3: What qualifies as a 'religion' and therefore a religious belief?

I believe before major decisions can be made, these things need to be addressed. In my next post, I will go a little more deeply into this.

7 comments:

  1. There is no room for rational thought in this discussion, since as we all know there is NO rationality in religious belief. It is unfortunate that the courts have ruled in favor of a company's ability to force its owners 'feelings' on their employees lives. But as we know the courts have ruled that companies are people too.

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    1. Welcome, "anonymous". Thanks for your input.....however, one of our rules here is that anonymous have some sort of fake name attached in the body of the post so we know who we are talking to. Thanks.

      I like that you put 'feelings' as the motivator here. That is sort of the point I am trying to make.

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  2. Oh, I think there is plenty of room for rational thought in this area. The framers of the First Amendment were pretty rational people, if not always models of clarity in writing it down.

    I am a Christian by faith, though I'm a pretty critical reader of the Bible and other religious texts and though most of my actual practice is either (a) non-existent; or (b) more Zen or Tantra focused, though I don't really consider that practice to be religious (though their adherents obviously do). I do spend a lot of time reading religious philosophy and history and have since college. But, in terms of how it applies in civic life, I lean very Libertarian, so I tend to see things as: don't ram your religious (or non-religious or anti-religious) views down my throat and I will return the favor. It's one reason I hate guys like Sessions (and because he is stupid) and Rick Santorum who see no tension between claiming to be conservative upholders of the Constitution while having no hesitation in arguing for laws that are 100% based on their religious beliefs, Establishment Clause be damned.

    As for your specific questions, I am unfortunately not a religious scholar. On #1, I think courts won't look at whether a belief is valid and won't interpret church dogma, but will look at whether it is part of a recognized religion and whether it is sincerely held.

    On #2, as Hobbes said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." :-) More seriously, I think a lot of religious discrimination really results from people NOT knowing their religion. The Old Testament does seem to condemn homosexuality, but it is a little vague in context. And, I can't tell that Jesus Christ cared at all about much of anything sexual or family related. I've challenged many a fundamentalist relative to show me a single place where Jesus condemns any sexual practice OR expresses any preference for "family values." If anything it is the opposite. The few times he talks about family it is usually in the context of either blowing off his own or telling someone to leave theirs and follow him. And, there is not a single word anywhere in the Bible about abortion.

    On #3, I really don't know. It's why I do some very Zen-based practices, but I don't see myself as practicing a religion when I do them.

    Also, regarding the above comment, it is true that the owners of companies may enforce their feelings on their employees, but the employees are, btw, doing the same them when saying the "feel" they have a right to certain benefits.

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    1. Sorry, meant to say I am not a constitutional scholar.

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    2. Thanks for your input, Dan. As usual, we aren't too far apart on this, but rather than go into too much detail here, please just read my next post on this.

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  3. As a Christian, I really resent it when people use their religious beliefs, or religion to tell others how they must live their lives.

    Hypocrisy just pisses me off. How can a company in the United States claim to be Christian run, deny a woman access to birth control, and yet, pay full coverage for a man to get Viagra? Is the ability to have an erection for more important than for a woman to prevent an unwanted pregnancy? It just makes no sense to me. Hiding behind one's religion is pure cowardice, and shows the true character of the person with the excuses.

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    1. Thanks, Merry. It seems like the three comments here are all touching on where I am headed in my next post.

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