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Religious Liberty?

  1. profile image0
    Sooner28posted 3 years ago

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/opini … ef=opinion

    Douthat is honest; he acknowledges that gay marriage is going to eventually be legal nationwide, the only question being "the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose."

    What does he mean by the "settlements"?  He offers two possibilities.  One is whether  "the unwilling photographer or caterer would be treated like the proprietor of a segregated lunch counter, and face fines or lose his business — which is the intent of recent legal actions against a wedding photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington State, and a baker in Colorado."

    The other possibility, the one Douthat claims Andrew Sullivan shares: "...religious conservatives would essentially be left to promote their view of wedlock within their own institutions, as a kind of dissenting subculture emphasizing gender differences and procreation, while the wider culture declares that love and commitment are enough to make a marriage. And where conflicts arise — in a case where, say, a Mormon caterer or a Catholic photographer objected to working at a same-sex wedding — gay rights supporters would heed the advice of gay marriage’s intellectual progenitor, Andrew Sullivan, and let the dissenters opt out 'in the name of their freedom — and ours.' "

    I want to first point out something I am guilty of.  In defending same-sex marriage, I have often used the defense that "it won't have any impact on you at all."  I concede now that this is probably not going to be the case.  The law doesn't allow discrimination of protected classes, and gay people will soon be part of the protected (whether it be indirectly re-interpreting current law or passing a new law).  I concede a lack of imagination on my part.  Homosexuality would also need to be included as part of sex-education, which certain conservative parents would obviously object to.  Gay marriage doesn't necessarily have to affect conservatives (say a school that offers two different types of sex ed and a state that allows discrimination based on sexual orientation).

    The next question is whether there is some kind of nebulous "religious liberty" that could justify a business discriminating against homosexual patrons or parents insisting on a separate sex-ed curriculum.  The question all hinges on what exactly is meant by "religious liberty," which cannot be defined as a person being allowed in any circumstance to practice their religion.

    To me, religious liberty cannot extend beyond one's own individual life or small group of like-minded supporters.  If your actions require collective action with people who don't share your religion, then your religious beliefs don't get special protection (based on the establishment clause restricting laws based on religion).  So, an ultra conservative Muslim who doesn't think women should show any part of their bodies but their faces and hands should not be allowed to discriminate against women who don't dress the way he wants them to.  He has entered the public square, and thus has to play by the collective rules (laws) that cannot be based on religion (establishment clause), which only justify a business turning someone away who is a disturbance or doesn't pay their tab.  The same justification would go for the sex-ed curriculum.  Parents who object can homeschool or send their kids to a private school.

    There are two ways I see of getting around this.  The first is to change the establishment clause of the first amendment so that laws can be based on religion.  Then, there would be no argument except whether including religion in policy would be wise, vs. now where it shouldn't legally be considered at all.  The second option is to find a reason that a business owner should be able to discriminate based on their religious beliefs, but for a secular purpose (libertarian justifications probably would come in here).

    But most people are not libertarians.  The libertarian position is more consistent within itself (though it would allow a business to discriminate for any reason, whether that be if a patron is a race, gender, religion an owner doesn't like).  Conservatives are not libertarians, and if they try to be, they become absurdly inconsistent.  Many conservatives do believe that businesses should not be able to discriminate against a person for race or religion, whether in hiring or providing a service.  They just make a special case because of a particular prejudice against homosexuals and try to cloak it in religious liberty, which, as I have shown, is no justification for discrimination against patrons one doesn't agree with.  Mormons who believed African Americans were cursed by God could use their religion to justify discrimination and then claim "religious liberty," which most conservatives wouldn't accept.

    So, to summarize my two arguments.  The first is that religious liberty cannot be a justification for action when one engages in the public sphere.  Religious people can make their own rules WITHIN their communities (as long as those rules don't include actions like child sacrifice), but if they want to do business with the outer community, their religion can't be a basis for their policies.  The second argument is that conservatives who use the "religious liberty" argument are being inconsistent and opportunistic and should remedy that inconsistency by opposing laws that allow businesses to discriminate against patrons for being gay.   

    On a side note, I want to offer a quick argument in favor of gay marriage. 

    1.  The first amendment establishment clause prohibits laws that's sole justification is some religion.

    2.  Laws prohibiting gay marriage derive their sole justification from some religion.

    3.  Therefore, the first amendment establishment clause prohibits laws prohibiting gay marriage.

    What say you?

    1. profile image54
      tbHistorianposted 3 years agoin reply to this


      1. profile image0
        Sooner28posted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Secular law.

    2. Ericdierker profile image56
      Ericdierkerposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      How sad these angry people trying to divide. From the religious right to the gay extremists. I love my neighbor. Is he or she better than me? I do not give a good God damn. They are my neighbor. This is not a complicated notion. I love you. My God may have a funny beard or might have walked the earth as a heathen. But I know that I love you.
      There is no middle ground there. I fall short, but I do not fall deaf. I hear the word and the word is love.

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image81
        Kathryn L Hillposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks for getting out a sword and slicing through that knot!

    3. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      With you right up to the last.  The arguments against gay marriage most often heard are that:
      1) it will destroy the "sanctity" of marriage, whatever that means.
      2) it will encourage homosexuality in our children
      3) it is disgusting and "against nature", again whatever that means.

      Nowhere here is religion mentioned, although all of those are merely the exposed and visible excuses coming from religion.  The problem is that the religious have become smart enough not to say it is against god's will, to spin it in such a way that god is left out.  Religious freedom is thus theoretically not a problem even though it is only the radical right that says this kind of nonsense.

      Other than that small problem, a well thought out treatise.  I particularly appreciate the paragraph on religious freedom; that is probably the best definition I've seen yet.  The religious won't like it as it means they cannot force their religious views on anyone else, but it is nonetheless a good definition.

      1. profile image0
        Sooner28posted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Yeah true.  But those arguments are terribly weak.  Empirically, no studies back them up, nor does the personal experience of anyone who knows a gay couple, so I don't believe these are the REAL reasons (except the sanctity one, which is based on a religious belief that God "ordained" marriage to be between one man and one woman).

        Maybe that's my skepticism though.

  2. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago

    How does it really affect people, that they cannot deny service to someone due to their gender, race, religion or sexuality?

    Am I really meant to care?  I find that I don't.  If providing a secular service offends them, I guess they are in the wrong business.

  3. tirelesstraveler profile image80
    tirelesstravelerposted 3 years ago
    1. profile image0
      Sooner28posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I didn't even know about this example!  It's a great illustration though.

  4. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago

    People can put on a shirt. Asking them to put on white skin or a straight brain is going too far.

    I am sure the same was said when people were asked to provide cakes and dresses for mixed race weddings or Jewish weddings.  No sympathy then, none now. You make the cakes and dresses, you aren't personally responsible for (or even involved with) who the person is choosing to be with.

    1. profile image0
      Sooner28posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I don't either.  That's why I provided an argument for why I don't think they should be complaining.