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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

First Amendment Rights: Health Care? Muslim Food?

Category: Religion
Posted: 05/22/15 12:30

by Dave Mindeman

Let me postulate something. First take a look at this:

An Islamic women's 'advocacy group' is DEMANDING a county in Minnesota change its food stamp policies to require a low-price, halal food shelf. The Isuroon Project says there is a 'desperate need' for a culturally specific halal food shelf in the metro area which would cost taxpayers more than $150,000! So far government leaders haven't budged on this issue.

This story was on a conservative site and of course the rhetoric got intense:

In the private market, the food of your choice is always available as grocery stores and markets will always meet consumer demand. But this project is about fending off hunger - a supposedly temporary program to keep people from starving to death. To create a bill for the county to fullfill the needs of their religious beliefs isn't about religious freedom... It is about violating the rights of taxpayers.

Food (pun intended) for thought.

How is a religious request for Muslim food different from a Christian request to make healthcare conform to their beliefs?

First Amendment rights? I'm just asking.
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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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