I’m against religious freedom

The very phrase “religious freedom” is as off-putting as “free speech zone”. The moment you add a condition to freedom, you’re limiting freedom; not expanding it. When you say you’re creating zones where you can have free speech, the implication is you’re not respecting free speech elsewhere. It’s the same with religious freedom. Can I just have straight-up unconditional freedom, please?

It’s not because I love other men that the Indiana RFRA offends me. It’s because I love freedom. Might someone at some point try to use the act to defend themselves from litigation based on anti-LGBT discrimination? Probably, and good for them. I don’t like those people but I don’t need the government to protect me from them. All I ask is that governments don’t discriminate by respecting their rights in a manner that they won’t extend to me. The problem isn’t the cases when it will work to defend freedoms. The problem is the cases when it won’t, and those will be many.

What’s patently absurd about “religious” freedom is the idea of giving any weight whatsoever to religion as a justification for any practice that wouldn’t otherwise be socially acceptable behavior. What the Hell qualifies a belief as religious anyway? I’m leery of any law with such vague terminology. Societies should either allow a certain action or choice by everyone or by no one. Religion should not figure into the matter at all. I personally think it’s child abuse to cut off a piece of your baby right after it’s born. That some would defend child abuse because it’s a common religious practice boggles my mind.

Are we going to allow murder? What if someone’s religion calls for human sacrifice? That’s an extreme analogy to make a point. I’m not suggesting Indiana will allow murder because of this law. In fact the problem lies in the opposite extreme. It seems highly likely they won’t interpret the law nearly broadly enough.

Let’s be honest. The Indiana law was passed by social conservatives who want to reward behaviors they approve of and discourage behaviors they don’t approve of. What counts as a religion or a religious belief? Government agents will ultimately control that definition. Do you think their motivation was really to protect a nearly endless and broad array of religious beliefs held by millions of different people? People who are expecting it to strongly favor traditional beliefs over progressive ones are not being unreasonable. It will be selectively applied by government agents in an arbitrary manner. Groups who have long-standing religious practices which are arbitrarily respected as more valid by state agents will gain favor. Those same state agents will likely fail to defend beliefs based on contrived newly-manufactured religions trying to exploit a loophole in hopes of having the valid choices of individuals respected. Do you think this will allow you to make up a new religion that allows you to ignore stupid laws? If so, you have a lot of faith in governments that is not supported by the evidence. Liberty lovers who actually see this law as an expansion of liberty, or even as a loophole for achieving some degree of libertarian utopia are seriously deluded.

Perhaps I would like my choices to be based on science, common sense, maybe a rational interpretation of objective reality based on all the available information. Shouldn’t the basis of my reasoning and beliefs be just as valid as, for instance, ancient fables written by scientifically ignorant, socially and geographically isolated sheep-herders who died long before we figured out the Earth was round and revolved around the sun?

I shouldn’t need a religious reason to defend my choices. Such laws are about creating special rights for people who have traditional belief systems. Religious freedom laws are created so governments can discriminate against people who’s beliefs and choices they don’t approve of; not so they can respect a broader variety of beliefs. This is blatant discrimination and favoritism by governments wrapped up in the appealing rhetoric of liberty. Stop passing religious freedom restoration acts and just pass a freedom restoration act.

Disclaimer: The date of this post is a coincidence. In case it’s not quite clear, this is sincere and not an April Fool’s joke.


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