Some things in this world never change. Take bigotry, for example, which has always been around. It is something that is taught—bigots are not born, they are made. To paraphrase Dennis Leary
: [Bigotry] isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.
Bigotry has taken many forms throughout our nation's history. The Irish, Catholics, Italians, African Americans, Native Americans, and homosexuals are just a few of the groups that have felt the sting of bigotry in America. And sadly, that is not even close to being an all-inclusive list. Those who hate have no problem spreading it out to anyone they see as different.
One constant throughout history has been the use of religion to justify bigotry. Religion was used to justify slavery:
In 1835, at the end of two long articles about religion and slavery in the Charleston Mercury, it was said that both the Old and New Testament give permission to hold others as slaves. In the Old Testament, God and the Patriarchs approve. As for the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles show that slavery is permissible. Therefore, slavery, to those who wrote the article, was not an anti-Christian institution. It was just the opposite. Furthermore, they added, it is impious to say slavery is anti-Christian because such a conclusion contradicted God.
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Religion has also been used to justify segregation:
For hundreds of years, the so-called curse of Ham was frequently taught by religious leaders as the source for racial differences, and in more recent times was seized on as a Biblical excuse for segregation and slavery
But really, bigotry knows no color, and religion was used to justify hatred toward Catholics
from Ireland and Germany immigrating to the United States in the mid-19th century:
Some believed that the Catholic Church was the Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelation. In his best-selling book of fiction, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, author Mark Twain indicates his hostility to the Catholic Church. He admitted that he had "...been educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic."
Now don't take this as me saying that all religion is bad. That is certainly not the case. This is about when people cloak their bigotry with the Bible. One would think that by this point in our country's history, society as a whole would see through this facade of religion covering for bigotry, but time and again it continues to happen.
As homosexuality becomes more accepted in society, the religious right has gone back to their usual playbook: religious freedom. In Colorado we have seen a case where a baker refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple based on the baker's religious convictions. The courts found for the happy couple. This, of course, brought about cries that constitutional rights had been trampled on. Of course, it could not just end there. Another bigot in Colorado climbed out of the primordial ooze and approached another Colorado baker and requested ...
... two cakes, both in the shape of Bibles. That wasn't a problem for Marjorie Silva, the bakery’s owner. It was what Jack wanted her to write on the cake: Anti-gay phrases including "God hates gays" and an image of two men holding hands, covered in a big, red "X."
The baker is now facing a civil rights complaint for refusing to decorate the cake with the customer's hateful message.
The Los Angeles Times recently took up both of the above issues in a editorial piece. The conclusion was:
Any rule that requires anti-gay bakers or other businesses to perform work they object to will have to apply equally to their pro-gay counterparts.
I disagree with the Los Angeles Times
. My take on this is really pretty simple: If you are business owner and you refuse service to someone based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality then you are a bigot, and you are in the wrong. If you go into a business and ask them to create something that conveys your bigoted message, and said business owner refuses to provide you with the product you requested, you are a bigot and you are in the wrong, not the business owner.
Neither case is about religious freedom. Both are about a bigot trying to force his or her will on someone else. Bigots can cloak themselves in the Bible as much as they want, but sooner or later people will catch on to their ruse.
No, these cases aren't about religion. They are about people who are afraid that their world is changing and are doing all they can to hold onto it.