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In various reaches of right-wing punditry, we've seen lately the enthusiastic defense of the first amendment. These people aren't necessarily protecting freedom of speech; rather, they are forcefully asserting the strength and importance of another part of the amendment - the free exercise clause. According to many of these pundits, freedom of religion is one of the oldest and greatest rights. In defense of Hobby Lobby, Mike Huckabee said:

"They are having to fight in court for the most basic American rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech," wrote Huckabee. "The Obama administration insists that companies like Hobby Lobby bow their knees to the God of government health care mandates, even when those mandates are a clear and direct contradiction to their personal beliefs of faith."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during a anti-abortion rally at Lafayette Park in Washington, Sunday,  Jan. 22,  2012. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Franklin Graham - he of the shameless nepotism charlatan contingent - had this to say:
When America’s leaders actively promote and legislate immorality, restrict the religious freedoms that our country was founded on, and are openly hostile to men and women of faith, then I believe we are ripe for God’s judgment.
Pope Benedict XVI also finds room for a scowling brow on the issue of religious freedom. His words, which apparently carry tremendous weight in the Catholic Church, were:
Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society

These men are adept at re-creating their own favorable versions of history, so it comes as no surprise that they've been able and willing to contort the truth to craft an effective narrative. Freedom of religion does have a long history in America, though that history is not nearly as unfettered as these men would have you think. With the way they've reacted to things like the birth control provisions of the Affordable Care Act, you would think that this was the first time the government had ever tried to make businesses act against their religious directives. In reality, the government has required business and individuals to abide by contradictory civil and criminal law for what amounts to most of this country's history.

Take the Mormons, for instance, whose practice of polygamy was disfavored so much that the United States wouldn't admit Utah as a state until it did away with multiple wife takership. What about followers of the Old Testament who would have wanted to stone their children for a small indiscretion, or other followers of that text that might have wanted to inflict death on their friends and family for any number of perceived misdeeds? The law upholds old debts and requires individuals to pay them, even though Christianity and Judaism espouse the Jubilee doctrine - a recurring period where all debts are forgiven and all prisoners are freed.

You don't have to be a Biblical scholar or a seasoned lawmaker to know that there are many times when the law requires a person to do something counter to what his or her religious book my teach. The law also proscribes certain actions that the books might require. It is the nature of religion-neutral governing, as the conflicting nature of all the world's religions makes creating a structurally fair system a virtual impossibility.

Though unfettered religious freedom does not have a long history in the United States, religious freedom arguments in favor of toxic policy do. We have seen this song and dance many times before, and in those instances, government beat back the calls of those people who claimed to hear God's demands.

Back when white human beings thought it was perfectly acceptable to own black human beings, several strains of justification rose through the muck. When the pro-slavery crowd was not busy talking about how much money it would lose, it was talking about, among other things, the right of slave owners to keep their chattel because of Jesus and stuff.

Jefferson Davis was one of the originators of the freedom of religion argument, and he used it at will as a political tool in the fight for human ownership rights. Arguing for the inherent right of people to own slaves, he said:

"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts."
Reverend Richard Furman of South Carolina added a touch of ordained credibility that Mike Huckabee might appreciate. Arguing for the right of men to own men as an expression of religious freedom, he said:
"The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example."
U.S. Senator James Henry Hammond might have been our slave-age Rick Santorum. He had no problem arguing for the right of men to act in accordance with Biblical law without the interference from a pesky government:
"The doom of Ham has been branded on the form and features of his African descendants. The hand of fate has united his color and destiny. Man cannot separate what God hath joined."
Fast forward quickly to the fight for women's suffrage, when those uppity ladies decided they were tired of being second-class citizens. You might not be surprised to learn that many people argued against women's suffrage under the auspices of religious freedom. Writing of the women's rights movements, an editorialist for the New York Herald used the same sort of demagoguery that many popular fundamentalist pundits use today:
"The new dispensation of Lucretia Mott and the philosophers, proposes:

1. To dispense with Christianity and the Bible. After an experiment of nineteen centuries, they declare the system to be a humbug.

2. To abolish the existing political and social system of society as part of the false machinery of the age.

3. To put all races, sexes and colors upon a footing of perfect equality. The convention having proved by phrenology and biology that, the sexes are equal in point of intellect, and that color is a mere difference of complexion, it is proposed to abolish the only distinction of sex by a universal adoption of breeches.


The philosophers of the Tribune have, therefore, published the Worcester platform in the capacity of the official organ of this tremendous reformation. Old things are to be done away with, and all things are to become new. Seward is to be sustained, and [President Millard] Fillmore is only to be tolerated till the advent of the new dispensation, when Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelly, Douglas, Greeley and Sojourner Truth are to rule the roost. Then, and not till then, shall we realise the jubilee of the Devil and his angels."

If this language seems familiar, you have probably read the writings of Mike Huckabee or any number of lackeys who have found their way to the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate groups list. The world coming to an end, the abolition of the existing social system, and the dispensation of Christianity. What horrible event could bring about such radical suffering for the fundamentalist right? Abortion? Birth control? Gay marriage? No - back then, it was the simple right to cast a vote for an adult woman. Teach Huckabee the word "humbug" and you'd have a dead match. Back then, women's suffrage was a bad idea because a society that imposed such a measure would be at odds with God's law, and any society at odds with God's law is engaged in full-on war with the religious liberty of individual Christians.

Catholics joined in the fight against women's rights, and the Catholic Encyclopedia had this to say about the idea of a woman's inherent equality:

"This tendency is not compatible with the standard of nature or the Gospel.... The proclamation of the Rights of Man... bind man to woman as the absolute master."

If today's hucksters were cogent in the 1950s, they might have pursued a course of action to prevent young black kids from going to school with young white kids. A number of influential fundamentalist "thinkers" postulated on the question of segregation, and quite a few of them retreated to their old religious refuge - the de-segregation of schools was against God's wishes, and as a result, it violated the religious freedom of their children to learn math without having to share a room with "separate, but equal" black children.

In November of 1954, Pastor G.T. Gillespie wrote the Christian View on Segregation. His work included a non-apologetic explanation for why God just wouldn't like the "two" races learning from books in the same classroom. He wrote:

"While the Bible contains no clear mandate for or against segregation as between the white and negro races, it does furnish considerable data from which inferences may be drawn in support of the general principle of segregation as an important feature of the Divine purpose and Providence throughout the ages."
Imagine that - a prominent religious figure torturing the unspoken inferences of the Bible to come up with an interpretation to match popular bigoted opinions held by people of his day. This pastor went on to describe some of the ways that God said he didn't like racial integration. Like many of today's religious leaders, he went to extreme and comical lengths to defend his own bigoted stance. According to Pastor Gillespie, the Biblical command to not plant crops of a different kind beside one another is one piece of evidence that God would prefer the two races to learn in different spaces.
Other movements and public policy initiatives throughout history have had supporters who were more than willing to use religious victimhood as a justification for bigotry, oppression, and nefarious ideals. Black people earned the right to vote and other civil rights despite some opposition from would-be claimers of religious freedom. Interracial marriage had loud and obnoxious opponents trumpeting God's will and claiming that any violation of God's will infringed on their right to live in religious freedom. Anti-unionists have hid behind religion along with other proponents of corporate-enforced feudalism.

Mike Huckabee and his ilk are nothing new, and their arguments are nothing novel. When they claim that religious freedom is a long-protected right, they're only partially correct. The United States has a long history of compelling people to act and not act in certain ways despite the loud and continuous objections of people who use religious victimhood as a political tool to engender support that would not otherwise exist. And just like these people have in the past, they will lose with their current efforts to use religious freedom arguments as a sword against the LGBT community and the healthcare mandates.

Originally posted to Coby DuBose on Criminal Injustice, Race, and Poverty on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:15 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Anglican Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hey, I like your diaries (3+ / 0-)

    But what happened to the last one?  I went off to look up the elements of a criminal threat under California law and when I came back, the diary was gone.

  •  WTF is this? (5+ / 0-)
    What about followers of the Old Testament who would have wanted to stone their children for a small indiscretion, or other followers of that text that might have wanted to inflict death on their friends and family for any number of perceived misdeeds?
    Jews you mean?  We've been in the US a loooong time - and we don't have a habit of stoning children or other members of the community for "perceived misdeeds."  

    Once again, Christian misreading is assumed to be the standard other people use... nice way to ruin a good diary.

    And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

    by Mortifyd on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 10:38:45 PM PST

    •  I don't think she means Jews (19+ / 0-)

      She means literalists.  Anyone who would apply those parts of the Old Testament literally even though society generally now considers them archaic .  I highly suspect she is referring to Christians fundamentalists since that is the thrust of the diary. However the same could be said about anyone including Jews who would do the same.  

      If you had bothered to understand the next sentence you would see that she even excludes the "people of The Book" from such literal use.  

      The (civil*) law upholds old debts and requires individuals to pay them, even though Christianity and Judaism espouse the Jubilee doctrine - a recurring period where all debts are forgiven and all prisoners are freed.
      The jubilee isn't a very good example though because I believe it was never really implemented.  Maybe the part about the duty to kill an unruly child would be more appropriate.  For instance, I believe Mike Huckabee is a parent and it's very unlikely that he raised a batch of kids without somebody talking back to him at some time.  That just part of growing up.  Now according to "The Book" Mike is obligated to kill his child.  So did we miss the obituary?    

      *Added by me for clarification.

      A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

      by YellerDog on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:03:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is the same bullshit as the other night (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, aargh, Rogneid, Batya the Toon

        Christianity is assumed to be THE context and reference of the writings of another culture.  Fuck that.

        And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

        by Mortifyd on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:51:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't feel bad (8+ / 0-)

          They cherry-pick the New Testament too. They're equal opportunity in their misinterpretation.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:51:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I really dislike it (0+ / 0-)

            when people who should know better - Kossacks who have been repeatedly told the actual context - prefer to spread misinformation.

            The way to combat cherrypickers is to repeatedly, constantly shove it in their faces how wrong they are.  With the correct information.  Not to just shrug and join in on it.

            And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

            by Mortifyd on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:40:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What? (5+ / 0-)

              "The actual context?"

              Shut up. Just because you know and use religion in its "actual context" does not mean everyone does that. A state representative from Arkansas, JUST THIS FALL, opined that perhaps we should bring back the death penalty for kids who disrespect their parents.

              No one is "joining in on it." You have completely missed the point of this diary, yet trudged down the road acting like you understand what I've written.

              The point is that the "freedom of religion" defense can and has been used repeatedly as an argument against policies that we now understand as making perfectly good sense or perfectly moral sense.

              "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

              by Grizzard on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 03:20:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Calm is hard when you feel attacked (0+ / 0-)

                on a subject with opinions so strongly held.  You've made a really great case in this piece as you have in your other pieces.  I recommend your diaries.  But I do want to point out that you could do yourself a favor if you could take a moment to calm yourself before replying.  You replied:

                ....."Shut up. Just because you know and use religion in its "actual context" does not mean everyone does that. A state representative from Arkansas, JUST THIS FALL, opined that perhaps we should bring back the death penalty for kids who disrespect their parents."....

                If you had only left off the "shut up" part of it.  And maybe even replied that in New York the Orthodox Jews are having problems with protecting their children from within their own community, then it gives more to think about and redirects the reader.

                You are a great talent.  You are young and have a wonderful future.  I understand all of us get frustrated and fly off the handle once in a while, myself included.  I got so sick of the pie wars here some years ago and left the community for that reason.

                Please do not take this as discouragement.  Just the opposite.  I want you to gain readers in number and spread your messages, which always give the reader so much to consider and reflect.  Which is why I so want your responses to be as thoughtful as your diary.  Keep people engaged thoughtfully.

                Wishing you the best life and career and looking forward to more thoughtful diaries from you for the years to come.


            •  Please read again... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The diarist is NOT spreading misinformation about Jews, or anyone else for that matter.

              The point, IMHO, is that the freedom of religion in the first amendment has been abused by some who, to further their own agenda, have cherry-picked what they believe it should mean to forward their own world views.

              In arguing that some of their stances are ridiculous by showing how absurd it would be that any religion could, of their own choosing, decide which U.S. laws were applicable to them is neither denigrating nor insulting.

              Maybe a chill pill wouldn't hurt right about now :-)

              •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

                I even included the following:

                Imagine that - a prominent religious figure torturing the unspoken inferences of the Bible to come up with an interpretation to match popular bigoted opinions held by people of his day.
                I think the above commenter got all pissed a few sentences in and failed to grasp the thrust of the argument.

                "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                by Grizzard on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:51:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  "never really implemented"? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mortifyd, Kiterea

        What do you base this on?  The Jubilee is based on the every-seventh-year shmita count, which was definitely implemented historically and still is today.

        It is also a gross misrepresentation, albeit an extremely common one, to characterize the rebellious son as an "unruly child."  "Rebellious" is a poor translation to begin with; "insubordinate" or "anarchist" might be better.  The text is not talking about everyday disobedience or chutzpah; it's talking about a complete rejection of the concept of parental authority, and by extension any authority.

        It is an even worse misrepresentation to say that it is the parent's duty to kill the child.  The parent's duty is to bring the child to the court.  Where the burden of proof is on the accuser -- to the extent where the accused can only be found guilty if two unrelated adult male witnesses give entirely identical testimony about the accused's misdeeds, including testimony stating that the accused was publicly warned of the nature of his misdeed and the nature of the punishment, and that the accused acknowledged the warning and understood it.

        If you just take your kid out and kill him because he mouthed off at you, by Biblical law that is murder.

        •  they don't care about actual context (0+ / 0-)

          just ways to make other people look shitty. sigh

          And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

          by Mortifyd on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:46:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Two unrelated adult MALE witnesses? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not sure that makes it much better.

          Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:56:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Believe me, I have issues with that too. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Boy do I ever.

            But it does make it that much more difficult to wrongly convict the innocent.  Or the guilty, for that matter.

            (Also disqualified as witnesses, incidentally: anybody related to the accused, anybody related to the accuser and/or victim, anybody related to any of the judges, any two witnesses related to each other, usurers, merchants who sell shmita-grown produce, slaves, professional gamblers, the High Priest, and the King of Israel.  I may have forgotten some.)

        •  unlikely they actually forgave debt, freed slaves (0+ / 0-)

          I don't doubt the shmita was and is used.  I simply find it inconceivable that people back then actually would forgive their debtors, free their slaves, etc.  At best, I can imagine them doing it because they were confident that absent any fundamental change to their society, their former debtors would wind up right back in debt and their former slaves would wind up right back in their homes and on their farms for lack of options ... much as former slaves in the South went right back to work for their former masters as tenant farmers and sharecroppers.

          Bronze Age Jews were still only human.

          Something's wrong when the bad guys are the utopian ones.

          by Visceral on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:00:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  you just don't get us, that's not our fault (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Batya the Toon

            You are again looking at things from a modern western perspective - that has zip to do with the actual context of the culture that practices it.  Note that was present tense, not past.

            Debts can be forgiven during shmitah years as well - I had a debt that was forgiven in 5768.  That would be 13 Sept 2007 - 29 Sept 2008 for those of you on the English calendar.  Wasn't a huge amount like a house note or anything - but it was over $1000 and I have been making payments - and the person who released me wasn't wealthy, he could have used the money as much as anyone else.  The importance of shmitah outweighed his desire for payment.  

            The next one is 25 Sept 2014 - 13 Sept 2015.  We just do things our way because they have meaning to us - your modern understanding has no bearing on it.  We are a family, a tribe - it benefits us to have the shmitah, even when it can be a personal pain in the ass.

            And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

            by Mortifyd on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:23:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  If you don't think people would free their slaves (0+ / 0-)

            it might be because you're thinking of slavery as it existed in the US, or even as it existed under the Romans.

            A slave under Judaic law could not be compelled to do any labor other than that which he practiced professionally prior to becoming a slave; could not be mistreated or beaten; and was entitled to the same quality of housing, clothing, and food as the slaveowner enjoyed.  If you as a slaveowner cannot afford two decent-quality beds, the slave gets the good bed and you get the pile of straw, not the other way around.  If you kill your own slave, you are guilty of murder.

            Did people break these laws?  Of course they did, because they were only human, and there are always people who break laws.  But the law gives you an idea what social expectations were.

            (My mother-in-law gave a class a year or two ago about slavery in ancient Israel.  These practices were written about by the Romans, who considered it deeply weird and potentially dangerous.)

    •  i think the diarist is explicitly (8+ / 0-)

      talking about American fundamentalist Christians, who are well known for their cherry-picking of both Old and New Testaments.

      just a little bit bored.

      by terrypinder on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:35:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  then call them on it. constantly (0+ / 0-)

        Don't reinforce the out of context cherry picking by accepting it's validity - hammer home every time you hear and see it that it's just plain wrong.

        And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

        by Mortifyd on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:41:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  wrong according to what, though? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Farugia, BYw, Sychotic1

          I've found that someone can make the Bible say and mean whatever they want and can, in their own mind, consider themselves correct about it. I'm not sure how you combat that.

          just a little bit bored.

          by terrypinder on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:00:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  here's the thing (0+ / 0-)

            Jesus - that man Christians are all into - was a JEW. The Torah is the book of the JEWS.  So there was a whole context that Jesus the Jew lived in that modern Christians have no expertise in because they have no CONTEXT.

            Context renders things like "eat shimp - go to hell" laughably stupid.  Context explains why Jews don't stone their kids for being chutzpadik - despite following all those laws in the Torah.  Stop allowing fundamentalists to mark out the playing field.

            You make them doubt their "understanding" by consistently hammering them every single time they bring it up with CONTEXT.  That little worm of "what if they are right about that?" will eat away at them every single time they are bitchslapped with CONTEXT everywhere they go.  Stop letting the idiots run the asylum.  Stop letting the ignorant define the words.  The only last words the willfully stupid should have on the subject is "I don't want to talk about it anymore."

            And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

            by Mortifyd on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:24:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The majority of most major religions have had to (7+ / 0-)

    be dragged kicking and screaming into the future with each major step forward in humanity's progress.  Except for those with the most educated memberships, and even among those there is usually some division, beliefs have had to bow to scientific discovery and invention, the economy, and an increasingly well-rounded education of the citizenry.

    For both authoritarian government and authoritarian religions Orwell's reduction to Ignorance is Strength is a necessity though the means to reach that end may vary somewhat.

    This is an interesting essay and I'll look forward to reading how the discussion progresses tomorrow.  I'd like to say more but I'm barely able to keep my eyes open any longer tonight.

    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

    by blueoasis on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 10:48:14 PM PST

    •  Hardly! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn, Captain Pants

      I think you may have it a little backwards.... The physical and biological sciences, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, music, medicine; the creation of universities,  hospitals, and medical schools; the idea of public education for the masses (even the poor), the abolition of slavery, the humane treatment of animals; standards for sanitation in the slaughter and inspection of meats, etc., etc., etc. -- these have been promoted, nurtured, and disseminated by organized religions for hundreds, even thousands of years.

      All that baloney about the Church punishing Galileo for contending the Earth orbited the Sun, that educated people believed the Earth was flat until Columbus by-golly showed 'em, that nobody had an inkling the Earth was very old until relatively recently, that ancient commoners had to have priests tell them when the solstices occurred -- such garbage ranks alongside George Washington chopping down the cherry tree.

      Just as a starting spot:


      by raincrow on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:20:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I get very fucking tired of these blasphemous (20+ / 0-)

    asswipes with their "ripe for judgment" pronouncements (I say "blasphemous" only to throw it back at them; my God doesn't give a shit about "blasphemy" as best I can tell).

    If the world wasn't "ripe for judgment" during the reign of Hitler, the depredations of the Khans and Timur and Pol Pot, the various hideous butchering, raping genocides that have swept Africa, the atrocities of the Spanish conquistadores in the Western hemisphere, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., SOMEHOW I HAVE A FEELING GOD IS NOT GOING TO RAIN FIRE, PESTILENCE, AND DESTRUCTION ON US because we've made a lot of people happy -- including wedding planners, caterers, tailors, videographers, florists, DJs, and divorce lawyers -- by expanding the civil definition of marriage in a few states, and because women want The Pill.

    I mean fucking REALLY.


    by raincrow on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:45:48 AM PST

    •  Somehow I see a response being... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Because THOSE times were TESTS from God and THIS TIME we shouldn't be celebrating the sins of others by legitimizing them through law!"

      That's the kind of thing I would anticipate if I asked what you're saying in the form of a question to my family/the church I used to attend as a child.

  •  freedom of religion (27+ / 0-)

    Religious activists in the political sphere have one central misconception about the first amendment.  The first amendment  permits freedom to practice religion within the confines of the laws of the nation.  The religious zealots mistake the freedom to practice their religion as the freedom to impose their religion on others.  So if the Catholics oppose gay marriage, they are free not to have gay marriages.  If the Evangelicals oppose miscegenation, they do not need to marry people of other races.  If Orthodox Jews believe eating pork is sinful, they need not eat pork.  And if they want to say that slavery is endorsed by the Bible and should be the law of the land, let them try to enact such laws.  In that sense, they are free to practice their religion.

    However, once the people have come together and elected the officials who say slavery is contrary to the principles of our people, miscegenation is a hateful concept, we like to eat pork, and gays should have the right to marry just as do heterosexuals, and those leaders enact legislation concerning those issues, the religious among us are NOT free to impose  the prejudices, bigotry and superstitions of their cults on the rest of us.

  •  The problem that I see is twofold (18+ / 0-)

    1. Essentially, Huckabee, etc, are of the same mindset which argued for segregation, as you point out. These kinds of folks are NOT going away. When they are done with gays, abortion and Obamacare, they're going to find something else to offend their "religious sensibilities". Alternative fuel? Eating your vegetables? Trust me, they'll find it.

    2. Freedom of religion and of conscience is surprisingly easy to practice. My faith and my conscience tells me birth control and abortion are wrong? I don't use either. End of story. Death penalty is wrong? Advocate against it. However, I have no right to tell my employees that they must be against the death penalty to work for me. I have no right to tell others that because I think birth control is wrong that they may not use it. This is what these guys miss. Because it's not about freedom of religion and conscience, it's about coercing other people and forcing them to accept someone else's beliefs. That is tyranny, not freedom.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:28:52 AM PST

    •  Spot on with both points. (5+ / 0-)

      1. Sadly, I think we all know they aren't going away. I just wish they weren't so loud and obnoxious.

      2. I haven't ever understood why granting homosexuals the equal right to marry somehow "infringes" upon the religious rights of others. Some of the short explanations of it that I've seen from old church members (when I was a churchgoer) are along the lines of it shouldn't be condoned/approved of/supported because it's a sin, which struck me as nebulous, but I don't like to get in FB wars. You really have to press a person on this point to get them to admit (if they're reasonable anyway, not frothing at the mouth Fox News/Limbaugh cultists) that really it doesn't do anything to them other than offend their religious point of view. The average person will probably admit to it, but the 'leaders' that are on TV probably never will.

      It boils down to a "mind ya bizniz" response from me. The problem is that the loudest of these guys are conservative evangelicals, which is the kind of church I used to go to. They fundamentally, as evangelicals, believe in spreading the word and "saving" everyone from their sins by converting them to their brand of Christianity. So of course they see this as an assault on their 'rights' as Christians. In reality, we all know equal marriage will have no real effect on an individual Christian's life. They can continue practicing their religion like everyone else in this country does (or doesn't).

      Gays will marry much like all the changes that preceeded equality of marriage and these angry, hateful types trying desperately to hold onto power will find something else to Bible-thump about.

  •  The Bible is an anthology of history, poetry, (7+ / 0-)

    folk tales, pithy sayings, and prophecy; composed over hundreds of years by dozens of people; translated many times; and passed down over almost two millenia. Anyone with time and inclination can find something in it to support any position. The same could be said of the Oxford Anthology of English Poetry.

    •  What you see most is the editors choices (7+ / 0-)

      Elaine Pagels  in Beyond Belief does a great job of describing what can be understood of the early editorial process that excluded what are now called the Gnostic Gospels. The editors liked some stories and disliked others.

      Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

      by Bob Guyer on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:33:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The right wing goes far beyond that. (0+ / 0-)

        They cherry-pick phrases to attack abortion, homosexuality, and various other modern bugaboos. It isn't like it is hard to figure out what the guys writing the OT thought was important: don't play footsie with other gods, watch what you eat, be careful about contact with women, support your clan. Jesus was more concerned with treating other people in the right way. There are some clear summaries of the major points in both testaments- the Ten Commandments and Jesus' sayings. None of these happen to mention the conservatives' issues.

        •  "more concerned"? uh, no. (0+ / 0-)

          Jesus was more concerned with treating other people in the right way when compared to the regular practices of the people of his time, who were largely concerned with an outward show of piety while they neglected the laws  -- listed very clearly in the Hebrew Bible -- regarding treating other people with compassion, kindness, and social responsibility.

          I can quote you the relevant passages if you like, but it will take some time.

  •  Has anyone ever asserted the right to stone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon

    children as part of religious liberty? I think this type of hyperbole does damage to your argument. I don't know of a time in recent history of Western Civilization where this has been an allowable practice - murder without any due process. On the other hand, I believe that some people have quoted "spare the rod spoil the child" in allowing corporal punishment towards children. But like I said, the argument is not a good one, as handing out punishment is not an arbitrary act, but is carried out with due process. I certainly believe that a Jewish Talmudic court would never / virtually never hand out the death penalty in almost any circumstance.
    There is an ocean of difference between allowing birth control and abortion and stoning people to death for various infractions. I am of the personal belief that the freest society that can protect the rights, lives and choices of its members is the best, and we have an innate right to privacy in our personal decisions (certainly not agreed with Justice Scalia). Once money flows into these areas from the public coffers is a difficult state v. religious issue, and a significant minority of the population does not want to see that happen. I think this issue needs to be approached with exactly the same rigor that we approach freedom of speech issues, whether we thing it is foolish or not.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:52:18 AM PST

    •  The right to essentially traffic in the free labor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of children has been asserted -- and even recently been upheld by the courts under the clause of religious freedom:

      And also this:

      •  Hardly the same thing (0+ / 0-)

        as the right to kill your children.

        •  Is Stoning Children That Far Fetched? (0+ / 0-)

          Maybe stoning the elderly is OK?

          Religion is the worst fabrication ever conceived by mankind.

          Religion /= God.

          ego sum ergo ego eram

          by glb3 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:04:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And crazy people citing religion = religion (0+ / 0-)

            in your book, apparently.

            •  Religion Is Whatever One Chooses It To be. (0+ / 0-)

              Crazy people stoning someone based on scriptural interpretation, or crazy people in the pulpit preaching hate based on scriptural interpretation. It's all made up, then assigned to God to give it legitimacy.
              Religion gave this guy cover to hate someone else. Religion came first.

              ego sum ergo ego eram

              by glb3 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:14:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If religion is whatever one chooses it to be (0+ / 0-)

                then why does my choice weigh less with you than his?

                It obviously does, or you wouldn't be talking as though religion and hate are synonymous.

                •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

                  Got yourself in some twisted logic there trying to put words in my mouth. Almost like a religion, but it's your choice...freedom baby!

                  ego sum ergo ego eram

                  by glb3 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:59:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  My Point Is... (0+ / 0-)

                  Hate is a human emotion. Often, religion is used to justify intolerance of others, whether it be cultural, biological, or philisophical.
                  God didn't create religion, humans did...and many conflicting religions, at that. Religious doctrine and rituals are not the answer. Religion is not a precept to a relationship with God.

                  ego sum ergo ego eram

                  by glb3 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:42:36 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Christian reconstructionism. (0+ / 0-)

          Google Gary North and Christian reconstructionism.  The CR movement (founded by Gary North's father in law, Rushdoony) believe that the OT laws (excluding ritual laws) must be followed by Twoo Chwistians - including the execution of certain classes of 'criminals'.  Including disobedient children.

          Gary North advocates stoning as an execution method because it is a cheap method of execution, and stones are easily available.

          Yes, a real gaggle of sick authoritarian bastards.

          Yes, a small movement in terms of numbers, but influental well beyond their numbers - they do have an influence on Dominionists.

          •  Yeegh. That's terrible. (0+ / 0-)

            And somehow I doubt they are requiring a proper Biblical court.

            ... wait, "excluding ritual laws"?  Meaning what?

            •  'ritual laws' (0+ / 0-)

              meaning things the CR types interpret as religious practices in place before Jesus.  In parts of the OT there are a lot of lists of temple-specific practices, and dietary laws, and so forth - those things the CR types no longer believe to be enforced by God.  (In short, because of Jesus they can eat shrimp and wear cotton-poly blends! Yays!)

              The CR types scare me.  Then again, so do Dominionists.

              •  Oh, got it. (How conveeeeenient.) (0+ / 0-)

                Cotton-poly blends are actually okay by the Hebrew Bible; the only forbidden mixed fabric is linen-wool.  Shrimp are still verboten, though.

                I don't know a whole lot about Dominionists, but what I have heard is unnerving.

    •  When scriptural texts are overruled (5+ / 0-)

      by people further down the road of history, it is because their secular humanistic reasoning minds have figured out that the texts are immoral.

      Jews, Christians and Muslims should finally put down these texts, shelve them in with history/mythology and defrock them of their "divine" auras.

      Until they do on a massive enough scale worldwide, we will continue to see incredible conflict, violence and erosion of democratic values.

    •  Google Gary North, stoning, discipline (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, BYw, Sychotic1

      It is happening today. There are some very sick MFers using religious freedom as snow excuse for torturing women and children. One of my cousins had to be rescued from these people. She is broken to this day.

      "I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role." - Eleanor Roosevelt. I would like to add that I am a happy atheist!

      by Rogneid on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:27:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ya beat me to it! (0+ / 0-)

        I just posted on North and I just see now you beat me to it.  I am sorry to hear about your cousin, I hope she is able to get therapy and find healing.

        •  She is in therapy. (0+ / 0-)

          It's hard to break cult ties though, especially when people think it can't be a cult because it's Christian.

          "I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role." - Eleanor Roosevelt. I would like to add that I am a happy atheist!

          by Rogneid on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:46:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  If one studies the history of religion in the US (6+ / 0-)

    one readily sees that the wall of separation has been so erased over time that you can run several elephants through the holes.

    We are in real danger of losing what's left of our democracy because of religion.

    The only hope I see is in the growing numbers of non-believers in America.  Once the politicians see the political power of the secularists they will hop off the God/Jesus train as fast as they can.

    •  There is also a growing number (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GDbot, Kiterea, ahumbleopinion

      of people who understand how to be spiritual beings, to ascribe to one sort of faith or another without imposing their beliefs on others.

      Thinking of friends who are finally able to marry and have that marriage recognized legally, but want with all their hearts to marry in their church. One said, "Kept the faith, changed churches."

      Thinking of all the people who work to protect the Earth and Creation because they believe in stewardship of these gifts - faith groups that include social justice in all that they do.

      I don't share their faith/beliefs, but have great respect for them and am able find common threads in our spirituality, ways of living, politics.

      I believe that we are politically powerful working together.

  •   The Watchtower Society was so desperate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, Sychotic1

    To keep their practice of shunning members that were Disafellowed  that they hired the ACLU to suceesful argue their case.upholding their right to shun members,      ,   you know how  ironic it is ,the whole US Watchtower leadership   is under criminal indictment in Australia for not reporting chid abuse cases ,they claim they have a biblical right to have  members accused of something  ,have too have two witness against them ,

  •  Hypocrites... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizaveta, blueoasis, Raven in Philly

    What infuriates me is that these guys "freedom of religion" is only valid for THEIR religion.
        Some of these @#*hats are the same people who told us in the Pagan community that this is a majority rule country. It was when we were fighting to honor our fallen servicemembers by having the Wiccan pentacle put on their graves. They said we are a minority belief system so our religious views didn't  enter into it.
      Well, considering that a majority of Americans use or support using birth control, why don't they take their own advice and just shut up?
      Sorry to rant, but I'm so tired of these people ignoring, ridiculing, and mocking what the rest of us do or don't believe then having the utter gall to claim to be persecuted. Let them come walk in my shoes.

    -8.25,-6.77 left libertarian 'Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music' George Carlin

    by Kiterea on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:37:57 AM PST

  •  The Catholic Church has no credibility on (0+ / 0-)

    the issue of religious freedom & never will. They have reluctantly accepted it only since they have lost the military might to enforce their religion upon all within their reach. The inquisitions and crusades, especially the Albigensian crusade bar them forever from pretending to understand, support or give a sit about freedom of religion.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 09:40:19 AM PST

  •  Notice how "religious freedom" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kiterea, ahumbleopinion, Sychotic1

    Means they can force girls and women to risk their health and lives whether they want to or not.

    Not the men, only the girls and women.

    No religious freedom for the girls and women is allowed.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:53:34 AM PST

  •  The State (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is the wall of separation between organized interests and the citizen.

    Jesus died to save you from Yahweh.

    by nolagrl on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:37:58 AM PST

  •  The Church of England was a pretty bad deal (0+ / 0-)

    Just considering the mindset of the founders, the fight between the Church of England and the Catholic Church was still simmering at the time. The founders wanted nothing to do with a state church so they left it up to the people to decide for themselves.

    I don't think the founders were considering any of the Huckabee notions when crafting the Constitution.

    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 01:00:50 PM PST

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