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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Religion Is Not An Excuse For Discrimination

Category: Religion
Posted: 03/30/15 11:05

by Dave Mindeman

I have a difficult time with how religious "freedom" is defined in this country. There seems to be a prevailing belief that what I consider a religious tenet allows me to impose my belief on people I interact with.

This Indiana law that allows business owners to deny services to LGBT clients is a means to hide discriminatory actions behind a religious barricade. It is simply wrong and should not stand under our Constitution.

I have the same problem with the Hobby Lobby ruling on health insurance. Can a business owner who operates a public business impose his or her religious beliefs on employees or customers? I can't believe there is any answer other than NO.

A rather extreme case of this has circulated regarding a business owner who called in to a local Indiana radio talk show:

The business owner, who would not give his name or the name of his business, said he had told some LGBT "people" that equipment was broken in his restaurant and he couldn't serve them even though it wasn't and other people were already eating at the tables. "So, yes, I have discriminated," he told RadioNOW 100.9 hosts. The hosts were surprised the owner said he was okay with discriminating.

That must be some pretty strong "religious" convictions that would allow you to lie so that you can discriminate.

Using religion as some kind of excuse to deny servicing people that you find objectionable is hardly a matter of conviction. Businesses provide services period. Providing those services is not some a defacto acceptance of any particular religion or bias or even a person's sexual orientation. It is a business transaction. Businesses transactions dealing with the public aren't a judgment call - it's just business.

When a business owner singles out a particular class of people to withhold those services from, then it cannot be described as anything other than a discriminatory policy. Please leave religion out of it.

The world has used religion as an excuse for some pretty destructive behavior.

It is time we just said....no more.
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The NEW Religious Freedom

Category: Religion
Posted: 07/06/14 22:17

by Dave Mindeman

It is difficult to understand the SCOTUS reasoning on religious freedom. The concept used to mean that each individual could practice their personal faith in whatever way they saw fit.... without interference from others and without being encumbered by the state.

However, the 5 conservative members of the Supreme Court have put together a much broader interpretation that allows an entity (because person does not define it enough) to impose their own religious beliefs on others and is leaning toward the imposition of Christianity as a virtual national religion.

One of the crucial problems in all of this is the idea that a corporation is a person. Corporations can't actually have a religious faith because they are a legal construct - yet the SCOTUS Five not only allows the owners of these corporations (as legal representatives apparently) to transpose their own individual faith into the legal quagmire... they then impose their religious ideas on the employees of the corporation.

Somebody's freedom has been violated here, because you cannot have it both ways with the same protections. In this case, religious "freedom" trumps right to privacy.

George Takei, former Star Trek actor and now gay rights activist, posed an important question. What if a corporate owner was Muslim and wanted to impose Sharia Law on the employees of the corporation? Do you not think that there would be a public outcry of epic proportions?

But that is where we are going.... of course, unless Christianity is going to be enshrined as our new state religion.....which no longer seems out of the question, because interpretation of the Freedom of Religion clause always seems to favor Christian dogma.

The SCOTUS Five are now acting like law makers - not interpreters. They are breaking precedent or manufacturing precedent to suit their political world view. And that world view dates back to the mid-20th century and sometimes further back than that.

Our nation was founded by people who wished to escape religious oppression. To get away from imposed dogma and practice their religion as their own spiritual journey led them. They fled the Church of England and found a new world free of rules, regulations, and old ideas. That is what America was meant to be.

But with the recent rulings, it is clear that a few individuals can now impose their beliefs and rules on a large number of other people. They can impose without suggestion. They can restrict without having to ask. They make rules without majority opinion.

They can operate a business in America and exempt themselves from adhering to the broader freedoms that should be available to all of us.

Pandora's box is open and who knows where it will lead.
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Why Don't We Have Prayer In Public Schools? Its Guys Like This

Category: Religion
Posted: 05/12/14 13:50

by Dave Mindeman

I always get into trouble in regards to separation of church and state. I know a lot of people who are offended by the idea that prayers are prohibited in schools. They arrogantly state that "its not freedom FROM religion, its freedom OF religion".

Well, recently, the Supreme Court upheld the right of legislative bodies to have a prayer to open their meetings. OK, fine - but then you find the heart of the problem with this guy....

"The freedom of religion doesn't mean that every religion has to be heard," said Al Bedrosian, who sits on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. "If we allow everything, where do you draw the line?"

"The real battle is keeping the name of Jesus as Lord," Bedrosian wrote in 2007. "The name Jesus is what makes us a Christian people and a Christian nation. This is why we must continue our heritage as a Christian nation and remove all other gods."

That's what Bedrosian intends to do in his position as county supervisor, saying he would reject any request by any non-Christian adherent to deliver a religious or secular invocation.

"I would say no," Bedrosian said. "That does not infringe on their freedom of religion. The truth is you're trying to infringe on my right, because I don't believe that."


I don't have a problem with prayer in public schools - if you are willing to also allow Muslims to pray, Jews to pray, and Buddhists to meditate.

The key to this is that these are public schools - open to everyone. And the same rights apply to all as well.

If you insist on the idea of prayer in school, then there are plenty of private schools that can accommodate that - but that also means you will have to pay for that individual privilege.

The main reason that public prayer is prohibited in public schools is that there are too many Al Bedrosians out there.
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