NPR has a piece on the alleged infringement on religious liberty embodied in the Obama administration’s policies on issues like contraception and LGBT rights:[Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative law group, Liberty Counsel] says as rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people make gains, religious conservatives are having to set aside their convictions. A Christian counselor was penalized for refusing to advise gay couples. A court clerk in New York was told to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite religious reservations. A wedding photographer was sued for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding. Staver says these people aren’t trying to impose their religious views on others.
“What people of faith don’t want to do, however, is be forced to participate in something that literally cuts to the very core of their belief.”
[Rob Boston at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State] says of course religious believers want to impose their views on the world — witness the fight against same-sex marriage. But he says under the law, people can’t discriminate based on their religious beliefs, any more than a restaurant owner can cite the Bible in refusing to serve black customers. He says the solution is simple.
“If you don’t want to serve the public, don’t open a business saying you will serve the public.”
What’s happened in the past decade, [Douglas Laycock, a constitutional lawyer who argues cases on behalf of religious groups,] says, is that the culture wars have become a zero sum game. When one side wins, the other loses.
“The conservative religious groups want to take away all the liberty of the pro-choice and gay-rights people, and the pro-choice and gay-rights people want to take away all the liberty of the conservative religious groups,” he says. “Neither side seems interested in the American tradition of ‘live and let live’ and protect the liberty of both sides.”
And Laycock sees little chance of a detente, particularly in an election year.
Here’s the thing: anyone who really believes this could be a simple matter of “live and let live” is either an idiot, a liar, or both.
What are the supposedly conflicting values here? If a religious person, whose job is to provide services to the public, is forced to help a gay person or distribute birth control, they have a crisis of conscience but can otherwise go about their day.
If they can practice their purportedly deeply-held religious convictions, then what happens? A gay couple cannot get legally married. An adult cannot obtain birth control. A pregnant person cannot obtain entirely-legal emergency contraception. This is a bit more than a crisis of conscience, so don’t give me any crap about the two somehow being equivalent.
On one side, we have people trying to live their lives.
On the other side, we have people claiming the “religious liberty” to interfere with those people’s lives. They are free to believe whatever b.s. they want, but if they want to claim that their religion prohibits them from doing their jobs in ways that harm other people, maybe they are in the wrong line of work.
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