Freedom of Religion

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At the risk of intimidation, fear of hateful posts and threats of violence…. I’m going to go ahead and say it. I have a concern regarding same-sex marriage being promoted as a constitutional right.  My concern has nothing to do with my personal beliefs about same-sex marriage. I simply feel strongly that every American needs to understand the legal argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Our founding forefathers courageously fought for our freedom of religion. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law, that among other things, impedes the free exercise of religion. 

Whether you are for or against same-sex marriage, many Americans think, “Live and let live.”  But from a legal standpoint, the U.S. Supreme Court is not being asked to create a world where we live and let live without interference with each other. It’s actually quite the opposite. 

The Supreme Court is being asked to create a civil right for all Americans (me, you, and your neighbors too) to enter into a same-sex marriage if we choose to do so and to recognize that such a choice will forever be protected by the U.S. Constitution; and such a constitutional right shall not be violated. 

But you can’t stop there. You must think through the implications of such a constitutional right. All civil rights must be upheld and protected at ALL costs. In fact, to speak against such a right, is legally deemed hate speech. 

Wikipedia: “In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite… prejudicial action against or by a PROTECTED individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a PROTECTED individual or group.”

Think about what makes up hate speech today. One example is the horrific hateful propaganda of a white supremisct or a distasteful joke about the disabled; disgusting and hateful thoughts and activities directed towards individuals or groups PROTECTED by the constitution. 

So here is the crux of my concern. If same-sex marriage is deemed a constitutional right, then ANY religion or written religious authority (like a bible), that promotes marriage between a man and a woman or that identifies same-sex marriage as a sin condemned by their God, will be deemed to promote hate speech. Religions, books and persons whose God deems marriage to be between a man and woman will be in the same bucket as a vocal white supremisct.

In fact, if you promote such ideals in your home with your children, you will be encouraging hateful sentiments contrary to a civil right. Telling your child that marriage should be between a man and a woman will be no different than teaching them to draw a swaticka and hate Jewish people. 

Or what about children adopted by same-sex married couples who experience confusion in their circumstances and want to express this as they age?  Such expressions will be discouraged and identified as hateful, therefore they will suppress their own personal experience out of fear for how they will be viewed. 

When a pastor, priest, elder, or bishop of any religion does not want to marry a same-sex couple because it violates his or her religious practice….  Or a religious baker doesn’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex couple…. He or she can be sued, penalized, and possibly even criminalized if they choose to honor their religious principles. 

And what will our public education system promote? Chapter 1: promotion of integration of African Americans and the courage of all those that contributed to steps of creating equality amongst the races (And let me reiterate, I greatly honor and respect those before me that made such strides).  Chapter 2: the creation of a civil right for same-sex couples and praise for those that forced churches and certain religious individuals to abandon their hateful beliefs about traditional marriage to embrace same-sex marriage. THINK about what this message teaches your children about you, your religion, and your God, if in deed your religion promotes a traditional marriage between a man and a woman. 

Let’s be very clear here. Creating a civil right to same-sex marriage directly rubs up against the free practice of some religions. 

Perhaps you believe anyone who is against same-sex marriage is hateful (not true, but that’s another writing for another day), but for others, it’s been engrained in their religion for 1000’s of years or perhaps since creation. You might say, “Well, then it’s time to make a change to some religions.” But what about the tantamount protection of the free practice of religion? What about creating a country that allows us to love one another and live next to one another without forcing our beliefs on one another? And can’t we like each other even if we don’t approve of some of the things other people do?

Don’t get me wrong, no one should incite violence or openly threaten anyone for living a lifestyle contrary to their religion (never, ever, should this happen). But one should not be forced to abandon a fundamental principle of their religion because of someone else’s marital desires. Let’s not “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Every American (me, you, and your neighbors too) should be able to freely practice their religion without intimidation or fear or interference or penalty. 

At the end of the day, whether one supports same-sex marriage or whether one believes same-sex marriage is a sin under their religion, everyone needs to understand, the same-sex marriage request before the Supreme Court is NOT a “live and let live” request. This is about promoting same-sex marriage at the expense of suppressing the freedom of some people freely practicing their religion. 

If opening the door to same-sex marriage requires closing the door on freedom of religion regarding the sanctity of marriage, then the request as presented should be denied. 

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3 thoughts on “Freedom of Religion

  1. Graeme Mulvaney

    See, I don’t care if your ‘God’ does not like me, what I do care about is you using that as an excuse not to like me.

    I’m a nice guy, I work hard, I look after people in my community, I give generously to charity and I have a great cat – but I am really well read and hard to argue against, I’m moody, I work too hard and I like getting my own way – some people think I am a cocky asshole and they don’t like me for it, which is fine, I don’t care if you don’t like me for who I am.

    What really hurts is that you would condemn me for hanging out with the one person (I don’t have a sexual preference and I’ve been with a lot of people) who can always bring a smile to my face, who gives my life purpose and who makes me want to be a better person.

    I don’t understand why you would put me in a category and judge me for it – without taking the time to get to know me first.

    I’m agnostic, I’ve read enough theology, mythology, physics and philosophy to have arrived at a point where I’m happy to believe it’s likely that at least no religions are correct – and as a humanist I like the idea that they all are.

    So given that in your religion, we are ultimately judged by ‘God’ for our actions on Earth and one of his commandments was to ‘love thy neighbour’ – why do you see me and my fiancé as such a threat?

    Why would you seek to condemn our happiness, surely that isn’t part of god’s grand plan – and even if it was, you could cite the commandment, and leave him to judge us himself – I have slept with a lot of people, believe me he has plenty to work with already.

    The saddest thing in my life is seeing my partner struggle to reconcile his identity (he is definitely gay) with his religion (he is definitely an Anglican) – he is very active in the Cathedral community and often has to choose between what he believes in and who he is – marriage is a hugely important institution for him and despite the passing of the equality act in the UK, he doesn’t consider it a marriage unless his ‘God’ is involved and unfortunately a group of middle class white guys say he’s not interested, so I have to do the best I can for him and give him a hug when it gets him down, although it probably upsets me more that it’s the one thing I came fix for him.

    I’m an agnostic humanist, I’m in a homosexual relationship because I want to be in one and it kills me that people like you perpetuate an environment that makes life so hard for people like my fiancé – a man whose life revolves around a church that reviles him for the way he was born – something that your ‘God’ is responsible for.

    We have never met, but whilst I have no opinion about your relationship, you would find mine abhorrent, basing your decision, not on the anecdotal evidence I’ve given you, but on the writings of a primitive desert tribe from one of the least progressive and tolerant regions on the planet – I hope your God is real and you have a better excuse when you have to explain your behaviour to him.

    • I never said I didn’t like you. In fact, under my religion, I love you. I don’t judge you at all. My God gives us rules and standards, but that’s for him to judge, not me. It’s hard enough taking care of my own family and friends, I can leave it to God to manage everyone else! He commands that I love everyone. Even those that spit in my face. I have a diversity of friends. Many of whom do not share my faith. I too was a declared agnostic for many years. Even an atheist for a few years too. So that does not offend me at all. In fact, I rarely actively evangelize. If someone has a question about how I live my life or where I find my happiness, I will share it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hide who I am. I just don’t force who I am onto others. Having been agnostic, I know that no words can change a person unless they want it for themselves. And in my religion, we are all imperfect and get outside of God’s intended ways for our lives; we call it God’s umbrella in our home. That’s another reason I can’t judge you or anyone else; I would be a hypocrite if I did so. (There is a righteous anger allowed for murderers, child molesters, etc.). So…. I don’t find your life style abhorrent. It’s the way you choose to live. I can love someone and not agree or accept every single aspect of their lives. My parents loved me unconditionally, but I gave them more than enough reasons to pray I would have a change of heart in many areas of my life. At the risk of sounding cliche, I have many GLBT friends. I love them. I don’t believe they are going to hell for their lifestyle and neither does my God. My God has one way to heaven and ALL of our sins are forgiven. People who don’t get into the compassion of my religion are often confused by the word “sin”. Sin does not damn a person to hell; we would all go to hell if that were the case. We should have compassion for someone who has sinned (any sin). Confusion and obstacles and sometimes even brokenness is often followed by sin. Sin is going outside of God’s umbrella, not His love. Crazy things happen when you step out of his protection, but you can always step back in. None of us are perfect. We all have something hanging out of His umbrella from time to time. Although I personally try to stay under it. I lived too many years dancing outside of His umbrella! I like it better under. 🙂 That’s why my religion teaches “always love the sinner, but never accept the sin”. I know that label sounds bad to someone outside of my faith. But if you’re well read, maybe you can give me the benefit of the doubt that a word has a specific meaning within a specific context. Until you take the time to understand the word sin in the context of my religion, it will seem off-putting. I wish you and I could talk because I could explain it better than I typed it. Yes, I do teach my children that God’s rules make life so much easier. I learned that the hard way. I don’t live by His rules out of fear. It will sound crazy to you, but I never felt more free finding Him and learning about Him and His son. I never thought in a million years that biblical concepts would be my freedom. I can only say that it feels unlike any other joy I have ever felt! But that’s for me… In my time…. But no one comes to God or His son before they are ready. So let me reiterate, my argument for freedom of religion is legalistic and has nothing to do with condemning a lifestyle. I never said I hated anyone. I just don’t want a “constitutional right” as it is written before the Supreme Court today (words matter in context) to restrict me from telling my children, “Life is so much harder when you go outside of God’s umbrella.” If a non-traditional marriage is outside of our God’s rules, I’m merely saying, people can live how they want to live (same sex marriage is coming as a legal right no matter what my God thinks), I just pray it doesn’t transform what I have found to make me happy and whole into a category of hate or restricts my ability to share my values with my children. And hopefully you won’t hate me because I am different than you. Perhaps you prefer to think the worst of me because I am a Christian and you label me intolerant. I know in my heart that not to be true. But you may refuse to accept it because of what you believe… After all, you insulted my “tribe”. Who is hating who here? You don’t know me. You don’t know how I live. But if you got passed your stereotypes about my religion, maybe you would drop your anger towards me? We don’t have to like every single aspect of each other, but we can still love each other in our differences. But it took finding God and Jesus to get me to have this kind of heart. I hope that helps. I wish you many blessings. And I have never done this before, but if you want to have a dialogue, I would love to hear your heart and perspective. I was a religious studies minor (academic, not religious) and now I’m a lawyer, so dialogue about diverse concepts and people’s different perspectives are fascinating to me. I just found freedom and joy in an amazing place and I want to pass that onto my children. I think the law needs to be rewritten so I can continue to enjoy my lifestyle freely without restriction as much as anyone else.

    • Ps. I genuinely hope that your fiancé finds peace. And I hope that you don’t hate me simply for my own lifestyle. We have the 10 commandments on our fireplace mantel. Love thy neighbor is definitely a value we teach in our home.

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