Religious Freedom Laws

The great state of Mississippi, with the Confederate flag as a part of its state flag is the latest state to try to pass a “Religious Freedom Law.” Here is a link to a Washington Post article about it. We have been hearing a lot about these kind of laws lately and since this one from ‘Ole Miss’ has been getting quite a bit of press, I thought I would put down some thoughts about it. First off, no one needs a “Religious Freedom Law.” No you don’t. Your religious freedom is written right into the Constitution. You know, that founding document that people are always harping about but never really reading. The very first amendment, ratified on December 15, 1791 says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…(sic).” There it is, big and bold for everyone to see. Nothing more is needed to say that you can have your religious faith. So what is it with these religious freedom laws? Well, I’m going to tell you.

Christians have for the most part, historically believed that homosexuality is forbidden by God. Leviticus 20:13 says that it is. Okay, great. You can have that belief. What does that mean for the Christian? It means don’t do it. Right? Makes sense to me. If I’m a Christian trying to live my life by the Bible then homosexuality is right out. Got it. Now, since our country has progressed into the 21st century and we are slowly leaving ancient beliefs and traditions behind our Supreme Court has seen fit to say that gay marriage is legal. If you read the Constitution you will find that it says that all people have equal protection under the law. This means that if you let some people get married you have to let all people get married. There is no Constitutional reason not to. The Supreme Court is wise. (Remember folks, these are my opinions) Well as you can imagine, and as most of us know, this pissed off a lot of Christians. Because, it seems that many of them are just not happy living their lives the way they want to, they want to make you live that way too. There, I said it!

Marriage is between “one man and one woman.” Genesis 2:24 proves it. Unfortunately it has been my experience that a lot of Christians will quote Bible verses at you because they believe that since you’re an Atheist or Agnostic or whatever you are you won’t know what they are talking about because you’ve never read the Bible. Believe me, I’ve read it. Cover to cover. Twice. And studied it for years. How do you think most Atheists become Atheist? They read to Bible. The unfortunate thing about quoting Bible verses to prove a point is that there are probably ten other verses that say just the opposite. The verse that says that marriage is between one man and one woman is proof of that. There are many other verses that talk about marriage and some of them tell about people having many wives (King David, Jesus’ ancestor) and many concubines. Many Christians I have known believe that it’s okay to do and say anything as long as it’s for the glory of God and you tell him you’re sorry afterward.

And now, about religious freedom laws. Okay they say, let the queers get married. We’ll just keep right on treating them like they’re less than human as we always have but we’ll make it legal. We’ll pass laws that say that our “deeply held religious beliefs” prevent us from treating them like they’re human. Deeply held religious beliefs. Let me tell you about that. Statistics show that the divorce rate in the U.S. is at roughly 50%. Also when asked, Americans claim to be roughly 70% Christians. Now I’m not a genius, but that translates into a lot of Christians getting divorced. And if memory serves, (that is getting sketchier by the day) Jesus never said one word about homosexuality but he had quite a bit to say about divorce. Marital unfaithfulness was the only reason Jesus gave for getting a divorce. And if we are really trying to live our lives by the Bible, adultery is rewarded by being stoned to death. So divorce is really unnecessary. So my “deeply held religious belief” is whatever I say it is at the moment to get me what I want. Not only that but if they really want to live by the Bible, Christians should be trying to pass laws to have gay people killed. Read Leviticus 20:13. It says that for homosexuality you must be put to death. Not “should” but “must.” So why are they fooling around with laws that say they can treat gay people less than human? Why not claim that their deeply held religious beliefs say that they can just kill them?

I’m trying to treat a serious situation with a little humor. I don’t advocate killing anyone. But this is how ridiculous these laws are. As Christians, Jesus told them to love their enemies. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is what they are called to do by their savior. I think they’re failing.



I do a lot of reading, as you may have guessed. I pay attention to many forms of media; newspapers, television, radio, and the internet in all it’s various forms like Facebook, Twitter etc. A common theme that seems to be on the rise today is intolerance. Has intolerance always existed? Of course it has. Is it getting worse in America? I think so. Should people be intolerant? That depends. On what, you ask? My opinion is first of all, just my opinion. My wife and I were talking yesterday about how people come to be who they are. Who you are is a combination of a few different things. How you were raised, the influence of religion, who your friends are, and on and on. Who you are and what you believe is a combination of conscious and unconscious decisions you have made based on all the factors that go together to make you who you are. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements” calls it making agreements with yourself. I have studied Buddhism over the years and two of the things that it teaches are tolerance and not doing harm. Acceptance of other peoples views as valid even if they differ from yours is a part of tolerance. And also a part of “not doing harm.”

Lately the media has been filled with loads of intolerance. Take a look at the Duck Dynasty vs. A&E controversy. A&E suspended Phil Robertson from the TV show because of remarks he made about homosexuality and Jim Crow era Black people. Of course they have since relented and let him back on (he was never off.) You can make up your own mind as to why. 250,000 people signed an online petition supporting Phil and presumably what he said. If Phil Robertson wants to be intolerant of Gays and insensitive to blacks, it first of all shows his ignorance and also shows the power of media. His brand of Christianity is being splashed all over and people are agreeing with him. During the 2013 presidential race people like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum spread their Christian intolerance far and wide. Both claimed to be great Christians and were totally intolerant of any idea that wasn’t there own. I am intolerant of their intolerance. Why is that okay? Because their intolerance harms people.

In the Christian Bible (New International Version) Matthew 34-40, one of the Pharisees asks Jesus “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus first of all says the most important commandment is to love God above all else (my words). He goes on to say, without being asked, “And the second is like it: Love your Neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Right Wing Fundamentalist Christianity (RWFC) has embraced a culture of intolerance. Take the Gay issue for instance. This seems to be the biggest issue facing RWFC’s today. Ministers, politicians, and TV personalities all come out (come out hahaha) against equal rights for gays and preach intolerance towards them. A lot of them it seems, think more about gay sex than gays do. (Phil Robertson, when asked by the GQ interviewer what he thought of as sin immediately said male gay sex, not female, and bestiality. I guess we know what Phil thinks about.) The problem with this intolerance is that it goes against what Jesus taught in the Bible about the most important commandments and about judging. So we need to think about what “Loving your Neighbor as yourself” really means.

How do you love someone as you love yourself. It’s pretty simple. What you desire for yourself you have to desire for others. Do you want your views and beliefs to be considered valid? Do you want people to respect you for who you are and what you believe? Do you want people to take you seriously? Then you should be doing these things for others. Even if you don’t agree with them. If you think you should have equal rights then all people should have them. If you want others to take your religious views seriously then you can’t go around telling others they are wrong when they don’t agree. The Golden Rule, as it’s called, sums it up.

Unfortunately, the intolerance is selective. The RWFC’s have focused on equal rights for Gay people and homosexuality in general. What about divorce? Jesus, never having said a word about homosexuality has a lot to say about divorce. It is estimated that nearly 50% of all marriages in the US will end in divorce. The number of Gay people in the US is a lot lower than 50%. A lot lower. So, how many Christians have been divorced? I don’t have the numbers but it must be significant. Why do RWFC’s concentrate so hard on Gay issues while completely ignoring the divorce issue. It’s intolerance of others and acceptance of self.

I have heard people say they don’t like to hear Somali people speaking their own language because they can’t be understood and yet those same people have talked about their Grandmothers speaking their old Czech or Irish Gaelic dialect with fond memories. If your Grandmother had the right to speak her native language then Somali or Sudanese have the right to speak theirs, it’s just that simple.

There is nothing wrong with having different views. Saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is not a war on Christmas. It’s just a different way of saying something nice. A more inclusive way. Saying “Happy Holidays” includes other people besides Christians. Even if you’re not Christian, Jesus gave some good advice. Treat people the way you want to be treated. How you present yourself to the world is how people see you. If you want to attract people to your way of thinking, being intolerant of theirs is not the way to do it. People will not see your view or take you seriously. They will just see your intolerance.