Monday, April 06, 2015

It Is A Mixed Up World

The whole idea of religious freedom as it was set down in the Constitution is being turned on its head.
Religious Protection Laws, Once Called Shields, Are Now Seen as Cudgels
New York Times
By Erik Eckholm
March 30, 2015

An informal coalition of liberals and conservatives endorsed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it seemed to protect members of vulnerable religious minorities from punishment for the exercise of their beliefs. The federal legislation was set off by a case in which two followers of the Native American church were fired and denied unemployment benefits because they took part in ceremonies with peyote, an illegal drug.
But over time, court decisions and conservative legal initiatives started to change the meaning of those laws, according to liberal activists. The state laws were not used to protect minorities, these critics say, but to allow some religious groups to undermine the rights of women, gays and lesbians or other groups.
That was the original intent on the Religious Freedom laws like Connecticut’s law, but the laws have morphed in to laws to allow people to hide their bigotry behind the religions. The Supreme Court has a long history of interpreting what the First Amendment means and in the past they have said laws cannot be targeted against any religion. When the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), wanted to be exempt from paying taxes that go for defense the court said that they couldn’t withhold a part of their taxes. When the Amish didn’t want to pay Social Security tax, the court said that they have to pay the tax for their employees but could withhold it for themselves.

Segregation was justified in part because of the bible; the Huffington Post wrote in an article,
Sound familiar? You don't have to look far in American history to find cases of discrimination being defended as "religious freedom." Supporters of slavery, segregation, and interracial marriage bans all invoked Biblical defenses.

In 1946, Mississippi Governor Theodore Bilbo wrote, "[p]urity of race is a gift of God ... And God, in his infinite wisdom, has so ordained it that when man destroys his racial purity, it can never be redeemed."

One of Bilbo's gubernatorial successors added that "the good Lord was the original segregationist."

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court went even further: "[t]he natural law which forbids [racial intermarriage] and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to [the races] different natures."
And now “Religious Freedom” is being used to discriminate against us.

I am old enough to remember watching on the nightly news the civil rights marches of the fifties and white politicians standing in front of their schools holding up the Bible to block integration. Then and now I think that the Bible is being used by conservative politicians to appeal to the conservative voters. It didn’t work then and it won‘t work now.

There is a backlash that is forming that is standing up to these new segregation laws.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Overall public and corporate opinion are against using these laws to discriminate. This is a good sign for future LGBT inclusion into the mainstream.