What exactly is "religious freedom?" Did Obama violate it?
How is it defined?
I write this Hub inspired by the recent debate about religious institutions, like hospitals or schools, and whether or not they should provide contraceptives to their employees. This has been seen not as a debate on the morality of contraceptives (if that were not outrageous enough) but on religious freedom! These institutions claimed that their rights were being violated by being forced to provide something they do no morally support. This has been called, by the eloquent and intelligent Rick Perry, a "War on Faith!" I spent a little time in forums on this subject (and learned ANY time in a forum is TOO MUCH time) to see what the opinion was. No one was arguing much about contraceptives, but on religion. So what does religious freedom mean?
This is from the U.S. Department of State:
"The International Religious Freedom Act defines five violations of religious freedom:
Arbitrary prohibitions on, restrictions of, or punishment for: (i) assembling for peaceful religious activities such as worship, preaching, and prayer, including arbitrary registration requirements; (ii) speaking freely about one's religious beliefs; (iii) changing one's religious beliefs and affiliation; (iv) possession and distribution of religious literature, including Bibles and other sacred texts; (v) raising one's children in the religious teachings and practices of one's choice."
So does incorporating contraceptives in mandatory health care provisions violate any institution's religious freedom? Here's what it does not do: 1. Prevent religious assemble 2. Prevent freedom of speech 3. Prevent changing one's religion 4. Prevent possessing religious literature and 5. Prevent raising one's children religiously.
The argument that may come next will contain the following notion, in all probability: "Well it is against some employers religion to provide or support the provision of contraceptives! Therefore, their religious freedom is being oppressed!" If that is the case, let's look at a hypothetical.
Who doesn't love hypotheticals?
What if it was against my religion to be taxed? Would taxation be a violation of my religious freedom? Or, for a more realistic (but just as absurd) example, what if it were against my religion to work for so many hours straight, as I must take breaks for prayer every so often. Does my employer protesting to this constitute a violation of my religious freedom? Some people think so.
Instead of actually debating the topic of contraception itself, which is not much of a debate, to begin, it seems that the words "religious freedom" are thrown about in such a careless way. Why do we have to throw superstition into the mix? Freedom should be protected, certainly, but to what extent should we allow people to act crazy under the guise of "religious freedom?"