Lisa's Rants and Raves
I have a question that perhaps you might answer for me. Am I in the final stages of thawing after a long cryogenic freeze? Did I just awaken in a foreign country? I guess those are two question and yes, I shall elaborate until you, well, you know the drill.
The reason for my total confusion is due to the recent hoopla surrounding the signing of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, (RFRA).
I cannot imagine that there is one person among the living who has not heard of the uproar, of epic proportions, associated with such shenanigans. Therefore, I am going to astound you by NOT dissecting details concerning that piece of legislation. I am going to have to assume that you have all had access to this planet, modern conveniences and all, in the past week, give or take.
It will not surprise you to discover that I might have a slightly different take on the whole saga. I do, however, share the same concerns about the language in the Indiana RFRA in that I am certain that it could lead to discrimination, under the guise of “strong religious convictions.” Just typing the words “discrimination” along with “strong religious convictions” is pretty sad but that's where we find ourselves today.
Just do some quick research about those who attended the bill signing gig for the real agenda. I will leave that to you so that I can press on like a wild woman.
I am very curious as to why RFRAs are needed at any level of government. Correct me if I'm wrong but, isn't the free exercise of religion protected under the First Amendment? Also, isn't there something about equal protection under the law?
When pressed, the governor of Indiana could not offer an example as to why this particular piece of bizarre legislation was needed. He did not indicate in any manner that religious freedom had been attacked in his state. Hmm, something doesn't smell right and I'm not referring to the fact that I do need a shower. (You won't believe this but I literally just got up from this chair and took a shower.)
I'm very surprised to find that so many folks think that they are being persecuted due to their religious beliefs. Are they living in the US of A or in some kind of alternate reality? Clearly, I do not think that religion needs any extra shelter or strengthening via RFRA statutes.
Having a super duper religious conviction is fine and dandy as long as “it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg,” to partially quote Thomas Jefferson. (Notes on Virginia, 1792.)
This is where things get a touch sticky because some, with said convictions, have picked pockets and/or broken legs in the process, metaphorically speaking, of course.
For example, a non religious person, or, say, a Christian with views that might differ from his/her Christian Congressman, could end up suffering. Allow me to elaborate, like you have a choice.
Congressman A is against a particular issue, say, stem cell research, due to his “strong”personal beliefs. Senator B might hold fervent religious views that prevent certain citizens from having the same rights as the rest of us. Medical advances have oft' stalled all in the face of BELIEFS over science. Do you see where I am going here?
I use Christians as examples because that is the society in which we live. I'm certain that many of the faithful are appalled by the name they get due to others who have differing and extreme views. Also, I would imagine that many branches of Christianity do not want to be lumped in with, or ruled by, laws of a different Jesus based faith.
Contrary to what you might think of this piece and my tone, I am absolutely a firm advocate for religious freedom. I value the First Amendment to the max. People can believe whatever they want as long as it doesn't hurt other citizens. Individuals may also come to the conclusion that there are no gods and it simply matters not, nor should it.
Where the lines become confused, blurry and all those other overly used cliches, is when laws like RFRA give extra considerations to religions than would be given to a non-theist, for example, in a court of law.
I realize that the original signing, on the federal level, might have been done with all good intentions. It was never meant to do much more than protect very small religious minorities. However, it has, over a period of time, morphed into something else, entirely.
This became blatantly clear after, several years ago, the Supreme Court decided that the legal definition of “person” could include for profit corporations. That had not a thing to do with religion but it will here in a minute. Then, a while later, a very large corporation pulled the RFRA card, so to speak, in an effort to get around a portion of Obama Care concerning birth control. This would have been the Hobby Lobby Case.
I won't get into the whole health care deal at this time as I cannot digress that much and that is another column altogether. I am also counting on you to look into some of this jazz on your own.
So, because of the closely held religious beliefs of the Hobby Lobby FOR PROFIT large business, they did not have to include, in the health care coverage, what THEY considered to be abortifacients, (drugs that will cause miscarriage).
Here is a quote from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote for the majority: “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients...” Clearly, the emphasis is mine.
Do you get it? The decision was not based on scientific evidence at all but rather on the beliefs of a person, or speaking literally, a large business with closely held beliefs.
More than ten real, live, medically based institutions signed on to state that the drugs, methods, whatever, in play were NOT abortifacients. That mattered not to the majority on the Court because, evidently, belief trumps science.
In closing I must say that there are many wonderful people of all faiths, and of no faiths, in this great land of ours. I am not bashing religion, rather, I am pointing out how a belief system is often times elevated to a higher status in a legal and in an everyday way, so to speak.
Certainly religious liberties are not at risk here in the United States of America. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, etc., have the freedom to do as they please, within reason, of course, in their places of worship, in their homes and in their lives. That is why I pose the question of why RFRA laws are needed at all. There are foundations and various organizations pushing for a full repeal of the Federal RFRA. So, I'm not so alone in my crazed “closely held personal belief” when I say that this seems rather fishy to me.
I now partially borrow from Roseanne, of “Horsin' Around” fame. I leave you with the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson.
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”
(Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802)