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Religous Freedom and Bigotry

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”

LORD BYRON, is regarded as among the greatest of English poets.

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction – to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

GEORGE WASHINGTON, an American founding father, general, and first president of the United States

“I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form.  It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right.  The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

BILLY GRAHAM, an American evangelist, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, and a civil rights advocate

“If your Bible tells you that gay people ought not be married in your church, don’t tell them they can’t be married at city hall. Marriage is a civil rite as well a civil right, and we can’t let religious bigotry close the door to justice to anyone.”

JULIAN BOND, an American social activist, leader of the civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer.

“We have gone a long way toward civilization and religious tolerance, and we have a good example in this country.  Here the many Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church do not seek to destroy one another in physical violence just because they do not interpret every verse of the Bible in exactly the same way.  Here we now have the freedom of all religions, and I hope that never again will we have a repetition of religious bigotry, as we have had in certain periods of our own history.  There is no room for that kind of foolishness here.”

HARRY S. TRUMAN, the 33rd president of the United States, A member of the Democratic Party, served as a United States senator from Missouri from 1935 to 1945 and briefly as the 34th vice president of the United States


The Role of Religious Freedom

Religous Freedom and Bigotry

Religious Freedom and Bigotry are once again rearing their influence in the United States. While one might have dismissed this as being erased from the annals of US history, we are once again facing a zealous attempt to redefine religious freedom to meet the needs of a small group of Christian zealots rather than the whole of the population. While this should not come as a surprise, after all, religious conflict has been the norm for more than 3,000 years in the history of the world. In this post, I look at the current trend in the United States to redefine religious freedom to include the right to discriminate against people with whom one disagrees.

Religious freedom is a fundamental human right that allows individuals to practice their faith without interference from the government or other entities. This principle is enshrined in many countries’ laws and constitutions, and it is meant to promote tolerance and respect for different religious beliefs. However, in practice, the concept of religious freedom can sometimes lead to bigotry in the marketplace.

Religious Freedom and Bigotry: Religious Beliefs in Business

In the marketplace, individuals often bring their religious beliefs into their businesses. This can manifest in various ways, such as refusing to serve customers whose lifestyles or beliefs conflict with the business owner’s religious convictions. For example, a baker refusing to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing religious objections, has sparked controversy and legal battles.

Discrimination and Exclusion: Religious Freedom and Bigotry

While individuals should have the right to practice their religion, it becomes problematic when it leads to discrimination and exclusion in the marketplace. When businesses refuse to serve certain customers based on their religious beliefs or lifestyle choices, it creates a hostile environment and fosters bigotry. This can alienate customers, create division, and perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Two Specific Examples that SCOTUS Got WRONG!

In the evolving landscape of legal interpretation, religious freedom is under scrutiny, especially as recent Supreme Court decisions have showcased a potential for it to pave the way for discrimination inadvertently. Understanding these cases requires a closer examination of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

Religious Freedom and Bigotry: Masterpiece Cakeshop

A case that gained national attention. It involved a baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing religious beliefs. The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the baker was framed as protection for religious freedom. However, the ruling failed to consider the broader implications: the potential misuse of religious convictions as a license for discrimination. The decision set a precedent that could embolden others to justify discriminatory practices under the umbrella of religious liberty.

Religious Freedom and Bigotry: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

 Fulton further complicates this narrative. In this case, the Court sided with a Catholic foster care agency that refused to work with LGBTQ+ couples. The decision, like in Masterpiece Cakeshop, emphasized the importance of religious freedom. Yet, it underscored a concerning trend — the elevation of religious beliefs above anti-discrimination principles. This trajectory risks creating a legal environment where certain individuals, based on their religious convictions, can discriminate against others without accountability.

The Fallout from These and Other SCOTUS Missteps

The misstep in these decisions lies in the failure to strike a delicate balance between preserving religious freedom and safeguarding individual rights. The unintended consequence is a potential unraveling of the fabric of a just and inclusive society. It questions the very essence of equality, justice, and fairness. That, then, allows for the subjugation of one group’s rights under the guise of protecting another’s religious liberties.

The implications of this flawed interpretation of religious freedom extend beyond legal realms, impacting the social fabric of the nation. It signals a departure from the foundational principles of democracy. The principles that prioritize the equal treatment of all citizens, irrespective of their beliefs or identities.

As we grapple with these challenges, it becomes imperative to recalibrate the understanding of religious freedom within the legal framework. Striking a nuanced balance that respects religious beliefs without providing a blank check for discrimination is the key. It requires a thoughtful approach that upholds the values of a harmonious and inclusive society, where everyone’s rights

Engaging in Constructive Dialogue

Instead of using religious freedom as a shield for discriminatory practices, business owners and individuals should engage in constructive dialogue. Understanding and respecting diverse perspectives can lead to a more inclusive marketplace. It is possible to uphold religious freedom while also fostering a welcoming and tolerant environment for all customers and employees. But in today’s climate, I have my doubts that an accommodation can be reached between religious zealots and the rest of the diverse population.

The recent Supreme Court decisions serve as a wake-up call. They spotlight the need for a more nuanced and careful consideration of religious freedom. Thereby ensuring that it remains a force for good without inadvertently becoming a tool for discrimination. The legal landscape must evolve in a way that strengthens the ideals of equality, justice, and fairness. Only when upholding these core principles may we clearly define a democratic society.

Conclusion

In conclusion, religious freedom is a vital right that should be upheld. It should never be weaponized to justify bigotry in the free marketplace. Businesses and individuals must navigate the intersection of religious beliefs and anti-discrimination principles with sensitivity and empathy. By promoting inclusivity and understanding, we can mitigate the negative impact of religious freedom leading to bigotry in the marketplace.

Remember, respect for religious freedom MUST coexist with a commitment to creating an inclusive marketplace. Only then will everyone feel valued and welcomed if our democratic republic is to survive.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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