Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Short-Sighted Buffoonery of “Religious Freedom Bills”

Image result for religious freedom restoration act

A number of states have recently enacted “religious freedom bills,” with a whole host of unintended consequences.

One of the more glaring unintended consequences is that such laws protect Islamic bigotries, just as much as they do fundamentalist Christian ones.

Under such laws, a Muslim store clerk would be protected from being fired for refusing to sell alcohol to patrons, or refusing to conduct commerce with females, ordering women customers to “get your husband to come in and pay for this.”

YES, Islam is just as much an accepted religion (already protected by the 1st Amendment, from government sanctions) as any other religion...so is Satanism.

Last Thursday, Georgia’s State Legislature provided a bit of comic relief, while denying that “overt discrimination” was the intention of the religious freedom bill, then when protections against discrimination were added to that bill, the House Judiciary Committee quickly and unceremoniously tabled the bill. Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) warned the committee that if the amendment passed and anti-discrimination language was included in the final version of the bill, he would vote no on it, as in his words, "This is the amendment that will gut this bill."

Enough said.

Ironically enough, the offending amendment was proposed by fellow REPUBLICAN Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who stated that he was inundated with calls and emails from constituents concerned about the bill's effects. After several minutes of debate and a call to vote on the amendment, and the committee then voted 9 to 8 to pass the amendment.

That same day, over in Arizona, Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said, "Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday." Yeah, and another good idea would be a return to burning "witches."

I don’t know buckaroos, but to paraphrase Howard Stern, about country music (you can listen to THIS https://www.youtube.com/watch… as you read the rest) ....I don’t know, maybe it’s because I went to College, read a bunch of books and I’ve never had sex with my sister, but I really don’t get any of this religious fundamentalism. Like I've said before, I don't hate religious people, even religious zealots...I just don't get them. I never have...(You can turn off Slim Whitman now, if you'd like).

And for those dolts who keep on insisting that “This is a Christian nation,” Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were non-denominational Deists, who both excoriated the “so-called Christians” of that day. Jefferson published a version of the Bible (still around today; http://www.amazon.com/Jefferson-Bible-Morals-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…), titled "The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," which included ONLY the words of Jesus and NONE of the accounts of his miracles, etc.

Jefferson called modern-day Christians, “Paulists,” and it was very clear that he held them and their strictures in very low regard.

In a correspondence with Ezra Stiles, the Calvinist President of Yale College, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Here is my Creed, I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this ... As for Jesus of Nazareth ... I think the system of Morals and Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw ... but I have ... some Doubts to his Divinity; though' it is a Question I do not dogmatism upon, having never studied it, and think it is needless to busy myself with it now, where I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble." (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/…/benjamin_franklin_a…/1014592)

NOT exactly fundamentalist Christianity, right?

So, anyway, like I said, I don’t much get and definitely DON’T agree with much of this fundamentalist religious fervor going around today, but then again, maybe it’s because I went to College and read a bunch of books and never had sex with my sister and all...but that’s just me.
ADDENDUM: The argument in favor of such laws is that, "All they do is give religious people a guaranteed hearing in which the government must provide an over-arching reason why it is violating those individual's religious principles.”

There are a number of articles like this one (http://thefederalist.com/…/meet-10-americans-helped-by-rel…/), giving examples like the ACLU supporting such RFRAs in cases like that of Adriel Arocha, long-haired Native American kindergartener. In order to enter kindergarten in the Needville, Texas, schools, Adriel Arocha, the son of Kenney Arocha and Michelle Bettenbaugh, was told he’d have to cut his hair. The school had general grooming policies, including that “[b]oys’ hair shall not cover any part of the ear or touch the top of the standard collar in back.” The policy’s stated design is “to teach hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards, and assert authority.”

The parents applied for an exemption but because their religious practices were handed down orally, they couldn’t provide the necessary written documentation of their religious practice. The boy and his parents won their case that the school district had violated Texas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act. OK, I'm unclear as to how such a case SHOULD BE "won" absent that kind of religious documentation. Another problem is that the bar for such standards can be raised or lowered at will. Sorry, I'm NOT a fan.

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