Bad Religion

by David Link on August 25, 2012

The GOP is in a pickle.  You can only finesse extremists for so long.

Republicans are furiously trying to downplay the social issues that are so deeply important to their Christianist base; first because Romney has so firmly come down on so many sides of them, and it’s hard to keep the true believers focused on the right answers he’s given; but even more because the party leaders know that this whole religious thing is ready to collapse.

There are plenty of religious moderates in both parties, and they’re not the problem.  The problem is that the GOP has been actively courting the know-nothings, the ignorant, the crackpots and screwballs who take pride in their shallow thinking and insensitivity.  And now that they have these folks as a critical part of their voting base, they are stuck with loser candidates like Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and others.

The Democrats clearly have their shallow and insensitive interest groups that need hothouse political care, but there is a very big difference.  Labor, environmentalists, women’s groups, etc., are all motivated by narrow self-interest – exactly the kind of self-interest this nation’s founders anticipated and even expected.  No nation or system of government known to them was without factions, and their sensible response was to provide as many checks and balances on those factions as they could reasonably imagine.

They saw religion, though, as a special case.  The founders not only provided for the free exercise of religion, but also the prohibition on government establishment of religion.  That is because of the special factionalism and intensity that religion inspires.  The establishment clause not only protects government, itself, from religious fanaticism, it protects religions from one another, as well.  Any religion that could take hold of the levers of political power could far too easily use it against unbelievers or heretics.  The Puritans fled to this country for exactly that reason.

But there is no establishment clause for political parties, and the GOP has unwisely cultivated conservative religion, in particular, without understanding its inherent political pandemonium.

It is one thing to oppose abortion as a moral matter.  But in the 21st Century, it is something else entirely to take the position that contraception is the same moral issue.  The fine theological gradations necessary are not just inconsistent with American values, they are antithetical to them.  And just as a matter of raw politics, the use of contraception by American women at some point in their life is within the margin of error of being 100%.  The Vatican can get away with taking a position that only a fraction of its followers take seriously; it’s much harder for an American political party to pull that off.

It is that sophistry of the unsophisticated that got Todd Akin where he wound up.  The debate over “legitimate” and “illegitimate” rape is bad enough.  But let’s not forget that he really did say he thinks women’s bodies can make a moral judgment along those lines, and “shut down” the bad pregnancies.  This from a man who represents Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

There is a good, even a respectable debate to be had over abortion, but these folks prevent Republicans from engaging in it.  Party leaders were virtually unanimous in trying to get Akin to leave the race precisely because they do not want to have the debate on these terms.

And that’s also true of same-sex marriage.  The crude, hollow stereotypes that drive the GOP’s anti-gay voters short-circuit any responsible debate over equality, so the GOP prefers to ignore the issue, and cut it off as quickly as possible when it comes up.  Silence isn’t just golden, it’s an imperative.

But as with the relationship between abortion and contraception, there is a growing sense among even voters who instinctually believe that full marriage is wrong that the moral argument is nuanced.  But that sentiment is shut down to cater to the least common denominator thinking of the religious extremists.

As the party censors itself, it simultaneously alienates socially and morally reasonable voices, and makes itself look ridiculous.  That is what Log Cabin exploited with the party’s platform. Yes, they got rolled.  The paper-thin, entirely non-specific language about  how “all Americans” have the right to be treated with “dignity and respect,” is hard to square with the platform’s proposed language calling for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, unless you can respectfully and with dignity deny people equality.

But being in the room makes a difference.  The anti-gay forces had to directly face the people they want to discriminate against, and Log Cabin looked back.

Moreover, the contrast with the Democrats for reasonable Americans is now that much starker.  The GOP was right, strategically if not morally, to want to avoid the social issues in this campaign.  They’re not a winner for the party any more.  But the party fought hard for those conservative religious voters, and got what they wished for.

{ 25 comments }

Jorge August 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

And now that they have these folks as a critical part of their voting base, they are stuck with loser candidates like Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell and others.

I did not realize Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were running again this year.

Moreover, the contrast with the Democrats for reasonable Americans is now that much starker.

The rest of your rambling would have been worth ignoring had you not risked saying something directly.

It was Democratic officeholders who made a choice to use the power of government to punish a business because its CEO expressed an opinion on gay marriage they did not like. This was a textbook violation of the First Amendment prohibition against laws abridging the freedom of speech.

It was the current Democratic administration which made a decision to order the biggest church in the country to pay for contraception for its employees, in violation of its beliefs on contraception and abortion. This, too, was a violation of the free excercise clause of the First Amendment.

It was the Democratic opponent of Massachussets Senator Scott Brown who got exposed for lying about her ethnicity for personal gain.

It was the Vice President who, for reasons I frankly do not understand, made a decision to accuse the Republican party of trying to enslave African Americans.

So, when we talk about reasonableness, let us remember that there is only one party that is policing its own. The other party not only looks the other way, it’s leaders are infringing upon the letter and spirit of our nation’s highest values. For this there is going to be an accounting.

DragonScorpion August 26, 2012 at 6:15 am

“I did not realize Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were running again this year.” ~ Jorge

Not running for office, just running their mouths. Well, at least O’Donnell has been, not sure about Angle. Anyway, both seemed quite beloved by the social authoritarian wing of the GOP, but the masses weren’t down with that.

“It was Democratic officeholders who made a choice to use the power of government to punish a business because its CEO expressed an opinion on gay marriage they did not like.” ~ Jorge

Actually, the reasons cited was concern that the business in question — which has been sued for discrimination in employment — was not forthright in clarifying that it would not discriminate against homosexuals (and pregnant women) in employment. Perhaps it was a red-herring. I certainly would disagree with government officials targeting a business for the idiotic, bigoted beliefs of its owners, but then the anti-gay crowd of the right-wing of the GOP were disparaging gay advocates for merely boycotting them for such.

“It was the current Democratic administration which made a decision to order the biggest church in the country to pay for contraception for its employees, in violation of its beliefs on contraception and abortion.” ~ Jorge

I must have missed that one. It was not the church that is expected to pay for contraceptives, it is the insurance providers of organizations affiliated with the church (some universities, hospitals) which must provide for preventive services including all birth control.

“It was the Democratic opponent of Massachussets Senator Scott Brown who got exposed for lying about her ethnicity for personal gain.” ~ Jorge

What personal gain?

Biden’s comments were reckless. I don’t buy the excuses given. But when it comes to tax policy, yeah, if the Romney/Ryan get their way, the wealthiest among us are likely to see their taxes reduced next to zero, while the middle class will see an increase. And the poor who depend on a safety net… Well, much of that will be phased out. Might not be slavery, but poverty is certainly akin to shackles.

“For this there is going to be an accounting.” ~ Jorge

I hope you aren’t suggesting a Judge Head sort of accounting here… If not, see you in November!

DragonScorpion August 26, 2012 at 6:21 am

“I did not realize Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were running again this year.” ~ Jorge

Not running for office, just running their mouths. Well, at least O’Donnell has been, not sure about Angle. Anyway, both seemed quite beloved by the social authoritarian wing of the GOP, but the masses weren’t down with that.

“It was Democratic officeholders who made a choice to use the power of government to punish a business because its CEO expressed an opinion on gay marriage they did not like.” ~ Jorge

Actually, the reasons cited was concern that the business in question — which has been sued for discrimination in employment — was not forthright in clarifying that it would not discriminate against homosexuals (and pregnant women) in employment. Perhaps it was a red-herring. I certainly would disagree with government officials targeting a business for the idiotic, bigoted beliefs of its owners, but then the anti-gay crowd of the right-wing of the GOP were disparaging gay advocates for merely boycotting them for such.

“It was the current Democratic administration which made a decision to order the biggest church in the country to pay for contraception for its employees, in violation of its beliefs on contraception and abortion.” ~ Jorge

I must have missed that one. It was not the church that is expected to pay for contraceptives, it is the insurance providers of organizations affiliated with the church (some universities, hospitals) which must provide for preventive services including all birth control.

“It was the Democratic opponent of Massachussets Senator Scott Brown who got exposed for lying about her ethnicity for personal gain.” ~ Jorge

What personal gain?

Biden’s comments were reckless. I don’t buy the excuses given. But when it comes to tax policy, yeah, if the Romney/Ryan get their way, the wealthiest among us are likely to see their taxes reduced next to zero, while the middle class will see an increase. And the poor who depend on a safety net… Well, much of that will be phased out. Might not be slavery, but poverty is certainly akin to shackles.

“For this there is going to be an accounting.” ~ Jorge

I hope you aren’t suggesting a Judge Head solution here… If not, see you in November!

Houndentenor August 26, 2012 at 9:53 am

Wait. A few local officials mouthed off about preventing chick-Fil-A from opening franchises in their city. So far no one has done such a thing. It would be wrong, illegal, and most certainly isn’t really going to happen.

1) You ignore that many cities and states have put up roadblocks to companies that have employment nondiscrimination policies against gay people. All of that is wrong, and plenty of gay people have spoken out against the stupid statements made about Chick-Fil-A.

2) Elizabeth Warren never personally gained from claiming that she is part Native American. She never used it to obtain a job, a grant or admission to a school. Harvard used that fact to make their faculty look more diverse. She in no way benefitted.

3) The Catholic Church is no being forced to pay for contraceptives for church employees. The law affects church -affiliated businesses and requires their INSURANCE provider to provide for contraception as a part of comprehensive health care, which it ought to be. In addition, many of those hospitals and other organizations were already providing such insurance and only had a shitfit once the law passed. They obviously didn’t care about it before and are now just using it as a wedge issue. Almost 100% of women will use contraception at some point in their lives. That number includes Catholic women. The church can’t even get it’s own members to go along with it’s contraception ban.

As for Republicans policing their own, that’s hilarious.

Jorge August 27, 2012 at 1:21 am

Actually, the reasons cited was concern that the business in question — which has been sued for discrimination in employment — was not forthright in clarifying that it would not discriminate against homosexuals (and pregnant women) in employment.

That is false. The only reason cited by the Chicago alderman and mayor, the Boston mayor, and the New York City Council speaker was the CEO’s comments about gay marriage. I looked up their motivations several weeks ago; I’ll take you to all the primary sources I know.

The July 25 Chicago Tribune originally reported on Alderman Moreno stating he would block Chick Fil-A from opening a store in his district. He cited Dan Cathy’s “bigoted, homophobic comments” [on same-sex marriage] and “this man’s ignorance”. While he did use the word discrimination, the subject is solely Cathy’s position on same sex marriage. Mayor Emmanuel backs him up, and the only concrete reason he gives is “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.” In fact, Moreno specifically ruled out employment discrimination (and the company anti-gay donations) as his motivation for blocking the restaurant presently. He apparently brought up those concerns in earlier conversations with the restaurant and was assured “they would take no stance on the issue of gay rights and would not discriminate in any fashion at the restaurant”. Thus his sole beef is the CEO’s political opinion.

The letter Boston Mayor Menino wrote to Dan Cathy is also easily accessable on the internet. Dated July 20, it was reported on beginning about July 25. He also talks about “your prejudiced statements”, but his sole beef, based on the letter, is Cathy’s statement that Chick Fil-A opposes same-sex marriage. That’s the sole reason.

Speaker Quinn’s letter asking NYU to evict Chick Fil-A was posted on towleroad.com on July 28. Dated July 28, Quinn reports Cathy “continues to make statements and support causes that are clear messages of extreme intolerance and homophobia and a belief that [LGBT] Americans are less than others and deserve to be treated as such.” Here you can at least argue it was about both his statements on marriage and Chick Fil-A’s support of anti-gay organizations, but it is not even remotely about employment discrimination.

I never looked up which California mayor said what.

You ignore that many cities and states have put up roadblocks to companies that have employment nondiscrimination policies against gay people.

Which ones, which companies, and when?

The Catholic Church is no being forced to pay for contraceptives for church employees. The law affects church -affiliated businesses…

Are you saying that the Church owns them?

requires their INSURANCE provider

And who do you think pays for the employees to have an insurance provider? Santa Claus? I don’t mind you calling me out for overreaching, but this is not where you are going to win your argument.

Almost 100% of women will use contraception at some point in their lives.

Well, thank you for the irrelevant information on why Obamacare is a complete waste of money and really all about playing “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie” to various social welfare sluts–er, I mean liberal interest groups.

DragonScorpion August 27, 2012 at 6:12 am

RE: Alderman Moreno

I don’t know. He seemed pretty clear to me on the Martin Bashir program…

Jonathan Capehart asks: “You do agree though that … the Chick-fil-A CEO does have a right to express his own viewpoints?”

Alderman Joe Moreno replies: “Absolutely, that’s not what this is about. And I’m not going to allow them to frame it that way. This is about, if that belief system transcends into policies that discriminate against those in the LGBT community. Just recently they put a statement out a day or two after the president made his statements saying that they would no longer have these policies, that they open up to everyone. You know, if that Facebook message is a policy that they’re willing to put into their employee handbook as part of their culture, then I think we’ve made a great stride in Chick-fil-A’s policies and I’d be more open to having them at the table, and having them in my ward and in my community. But prior to that, I was very, very concerned that the belief systems, they were so strong and they used the word ‘we’ so much that that was going to transcend into discriminating against lesbian and gay folks.”

Also when asked about Mayor Menino backing off and Mayor Bloomberg saying it isn’t the government’s business, the Aldermann responded if they’re wrong:

“Well, if they’re talking about it’s none of the government’s business if a company has policies that discriminate against people then I do think they’re wrong. But if they’re talking about, it’s none of the government’s business to try to craft free speech or try to change someone’s belief system, then I think they’re right. And that’s what it’s about for me.”

http://video.app.msn.com/watch/video/alderman-blocking-chick-fil-a-not-a-free-speech-issue/612k4aq

That primary enough a source for you?

Jorge September 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm

That primary enough a source for you?

No. I don’t believe him. He said what he really thought the first time and now he’s backing off and making excuses because he realizes what he said was unpopular. Read the Chicago Tribune article. If the discrimination thing really was his beef, he would have put his foot down and denied them a permit right then and there. He did not, and I rightly called him out on that. He let himself be at least mollified enough by the company’s assurances that they would not discriminate to keep talking with them.

Doug August 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm

What punishment other than ‘talk’ did the government mete out against the CEO you refer to?

No one is forcing the Catholic Church to pay for contraception. The ‘equal access’ business, hospitals, of the church yes, but not the church itself.

Gus August 26, 2012 at 6:01 am

In the 1970′s the churches agreed to make the social programs a separate corporation with many rules and stipulations so they could receive Federal funding. Sadly, they now see that money as a constitutional right. But if you take the money you have to follow the rules made by the government. The Roman Catholic Church suing is a joke and they know it. It was a political and PR move.

Even Scalia has said these separate corporations operate in the public square and are subject to the same employment laws as any other corporation. The only exception is religious teaching positions and employment directly by a church.

Houndentenor August 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

And at this point for the Catholic Church to act as if it has any standing on moral issues is the extreme of absurdity. Dolan, who was caught laundering church funds to avoid paying court-ordered settlements to the church’s many rap victims, will be praying at the RNC this week. He’s a criminal and was only allowed to get away with his crimes because he’s a church official. An executive in a private company doing the same thing would be in prison for a long time to come along with at least half the bishops and a great many priests. Any catholic pretending the church has any moral authority at this point deserves the derisive laughter they receive.

Jorge August 27, 2012 at 1:29 am

But if you take the money you have to follow the rules made by the government.

That is true.

However, the rules of the government cannot violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. Nor can they treat organizations of certain religious in any disparite manner unless there is a very narrowly tailored and acceptable reason why they do so (the strict scrutiny test).

Because all women already use contraception, there is no urgent need to improve access. In addition, there are many innovative ways the government can ensure women have free access to contraception–for example, the government could pay for it itself.

So when the government goes out of its way to create an unnecessary social program in such a way that it requires one religion to either remove itself from a business or industry or decline millions of dollars in funding, there is no way to avoid the conclusion that it is a capricious and unconstitutional act of religious discrimination.

Gus August 27, 2012 at 3:53 am

The organizations had to be separate entities from the religious organizations in order to receive social program funds and not violate the Constitution in the first place. I think this is a bigger theological problem for Catholics because they don’t want to admit to themselves they are no longer doing the good works, but all taxpayers are.
The days of charity hospitals, etc. are gone. We not longer have the black and white 1940′s film version of Father Flanagan and Sister Mary Margaret tending to the poor and infirm. The religious have been removed for decades. except for some of the managerial positions, and these organizations follow all employment laws. The separate corporations that run these organizations cannot impose their particular dogma on employees anymore than any other non-profit that receives tax dollars.
There is no First Amendment violation because these corporations have not been religious organizations since the 1970′s.

Jorge August 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

The organizations had to be separate entities from the religious organizations in order to receive social program funds and not violate the Constitution in the first place.

Hmm. Wait.

Are you sure? I thought it was simply 1) they cannot perform any religious functions, 2) they cannot discriminate based on religion, and 3) the government aid must be equally available to secular organizations with similar functions. Hence the Bush administration’s faith-based initiatives.

Gus August 29, 2012 at 6:13 am

Jorge: We need to understand how legally separate these large institutions are, even after W’s full employment for the religious act as payback for the Evangelical vote. My alma mater had to separate the seminary from the university in order to qualify for Pell Grants, etc. in the 1970′s. The grounds of the sem are no longer owned by the university but by the national church. The national social service agency had to be separated, including out hospitals.
And think of this scenario. Something untoward happens in the Catholic hospital. Your malpractice lawsuit names the hospital, the diocese and the Bishop. Within 10 minutes of filing there would be a phalanx of lawyers explaining to the court how the diocese and Bishop had no legal responsibility. (If the judge did not throw it out, first)

DragonScorpion August 27, 2012 at 6:32 am

“Nor can they treat organizations of certain religious in any disparite manner unless there is a very narrowly tailored and acceptable reason why they do so (the strict scrutiny test).” ~ Jorge

How is any particular church being treated in a disparate manner? All churches are being treated the same. They don’t have to provide for contraceptives, but some of the so-called non-profit organizations they may be affiliated with, like hospitals and universities, do have to provide for a comprehensive health coverage plan with includes contraceptives. But they’re all treated the same.

A church may not agree with the concept of resuscitation or with cancer treatment medications but that doesn’t mean they get to bypass such procedures or medicines because it conflicts with their beliefs and for government to demand otherwise would be some egregious violation of the 1st amendment.

“In addition, there are many innovative ways the government can ensure women have free access to contraception–for example, the government could pay for it itself.” ~ Jorge

They could, but then that would still be paid for with religious people’s money i.e. tax dollars. No? Religious people pay taxes, too, right? No doubt we’d have to concoct some scheme so they could avoid paying taxes lest it somehow ‘violate’ their 1st amendment rights.

Perhaps then your argument would shift to how terrible it is that the government pays for these things in the first place. Let me guess, it would go something like “[it's] a complete waste of money and really all about playing “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie” to various social welfare sluts–er, I mean liberal interest groups.”

Jorge August 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm

How is any particular church being treated in a disparate manner?

Are you serious? I thought I was very clear in explaining my reasoning.

One church is being forced to pull out of certain industries, or else give up a large portion of their funding. The implicit statement is that the other churches (those that do not oppose contraception) are not–I frankly don’t see how it is not obvious that that is what I am saying. That is what I mean by disparite treatment.

I shall go still one further. A church is being forced to pull out of certain industries, or else give up a large portion of their funding. Another implicit statement is that the non-church charities are not–that’s really the only other possible interpretation of my statement. That is also disparite treatment.

If you are going to do such a thing for a capricious reason that serves no urgent purpose, then the courts have an obligation to step in and say “No, that is not more important than religious freedom. You cannot create a policy which has such a dire effect on religion if there is any way to accomplish the same end in a less intrusive way.”

But they’re all treated the same.

Straight-only marriage isn’t unconstitutional. Everyone has the same right to marry a person of the opposite sex. Anti-sodomy laws aren’t unconstitutional. They apply to gays and straights alike. Gays are perfectly capable of entering a sexual relationship with someone of the oppose sex instead. They’re all treated the same.

They could, but

Then under the Constitution, they must. Stop making excuses for the government violating the Constitution.

DragonScorpion August 28, 2012 at 7:47 am

“One church is being forced to pull out of certain industries, or else give up a large portion of their funding.” ~ Jorge

First of all, they aren’t being forced into anything, they would be choosing to “pull out” of certain industries. Second, this line of thinking could just as easily excuse a random business owner to deciding he doesn’t believe in paying taxes, or a minimum wage, or respecting FMLA or anti-discrimination policies {I’m related to advocates for this one} any number of legal requirements and as he has no choice to ignore them he’d have to give up his business whereas his neighbor wouldn’t.

An unfair burden? Nope. A necessary legal requirement for businesses. For those that can’t respect it, don’t get into business. Don’t believe in property taxes? Don’t buy a house. Don’t believe in war? Don’t enlist, become a conscientious objector if you get drafted, but you don’t get to opt out of paying for that military in one way or another. And you don’t get to legitimately argue that these are some sort of infringement upon your constitutional rights.

“Anti-sodomy laws aren’t unconstitutional.” ~ Jorge

The Supreme Court disagrees with you. Of course, maybe you thought they were just ‘activist’ in that ruling…

“Straight-only marriage isn’t unconstitutional. Everyone has the same right to marry a person of the opposite sex.” ~ Jorge

Sure, sure. Just like anti-miscegenation laws weren’t unconstitutional because white & black folk all had the same right to marry whoever they wanted, so long as their partner was the same race. Sorry, the Supreme Court rejected that notion, too…

Unlike supposed moral qualms, in this example, we’re not talking about beliefs and we’re not talking about due process or equal protection laws. As I stated before, and you avoided, anyone can invent whatever flimsy excuse they want as to why they shouldn’t have to pay for this or that in your insurance coverage. Where does that end?

Instead, it’s more reasonable to have a standard that applies to all. Same as discrimination in employment. You don’t get a pass because your racist beliefs are particularly strong.

“You cannot create a policy which has such a dire effect on religion if there is any way to accomplish the same end in a less intrusive way.” ~ Jorge

And what less intrusive way would you suggest? You mentioned the government footing the bill. I pointed out that religious people would be footing that bill via taxes which would put us back to where we started. You had no response. Perhaps a new suggestion…?

“Stop making excuses for the government violating the Constitution.” ~ Jorge

In this case, they’re not. At least not on 1st Amendment grounds. Feel free to try another angle.

Jorge August 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

First of all, they aren’t being forced into anything, they would be choosing to “pull out” of certain industries.

I am in complete disagreement with you. A forced “choice” on whether or not to pay for contraception is no choice at all to the Catholic Church.

Second, this line of thinking could just as easily excuse a random business owner to deciding he doesn’t believe in paying taxes

Hmm…..

Noted.

An unfair burden? Nope. A necessary legal requirement for businesses.

I’m not letting this one slide. In a country in which contraception use is alread near-universal, there is absolutely no conceivable justification for even suggesting that the government having any involvement in contraception is even beneficial, let alone desirable. None. The ends are not justified simply because the government says so.

Sure, sure. Just like anti-miscegenation laws weren’t unconstitutional because white & black folk all had the same right to marry whoever they wanted, so long as their partner was the same race. Sorry, the Supreme Court rejected that notion, too…

I WAS BEING SARCASTIC. Your reasoning mirrors that which has been unsuccessfuly used to justify anti-sodomy laws and straight-only marriage laws. Perhaps I should make this more clear: I am calling upon you to either withdraw your flawed reasoning or explain why “this is different.”

Unlike supposed moral qualms, in this example, we’re not talking about beliefs

I see you are in need of some education. The Catholic Church has a longstanding teaching against the use of contraception. It also has a longstanding teaching that abortion is wrong.

This is four or five things in one post you are saying that make no sense at all. I see no further use in talking past you.

Houndentenor August 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm

By your logic, if I work for a Jehovah’s Witness will my insurance not cover blood transfusions and organ transplants?

This is ridiculous. Several Catholic-affiliated businesses were already offering birth control in their health plan and it wasn’t a problem for them until a law said they had to. This isn’t about first amendment rights. It’s about the pretense that the Catholic Church is still a respected moral authority. Since most Catholic women use birth control, it’s obviously not. Add to that bishops that are criminals and the whole thing is a big sick joke.

Jorge August 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm

By your logic, if I work for a Jehovah’s Witness will my insurance not cover blood transfusions and organ transplants?

Not if you work for a Jehovah’s Witness. If you work for a Kingdom Hall. I think that is a very stupid question.

another steve August 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

It is one thing to oppose abortion as a moral matter. But in the 21st Century, it is something else entirely to take the position that contraception is the same moral issue.

This is a straw man — no one with any standing in the GOP is calling for legal limits on contraception. It’s MSNBC hysteria. What they are calling for is not using government to force religiously affiliated employers to provide, at no cost to employees, contraception, and especially abortifacient (abortion-inducing) drugs, as Obamacare mandates.

Infovoyeur August 31, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Hmm, a bit off the talk thread here, but… If the U.S.A. Constitution protects religion but not politics, so to speak, what if a certain religion (just for instance), were not only theological but also a system which includes politics indeed, legal-governmental mandates–which oppose other religions and even the values of the U.S.A.? Hmm, what then? (Can current structures of a nation/state/country, always suffice to competently confront newer or different threats?)…..

Rusty August 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm
Jorge September 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

If the U.S.A. Constitution protects religion but not politics, so to speak, what if a certain religion (just for instance), were not only theological but also a system which includes politics indeed, legal-governmental mandates–which oppose other religions and even the values of the U.S.A.? Hmm, what then? (Can current structures of a nation/state/country, always suffice to competently confront newer or different threats?)…..

Between the Catholic Church, Islam, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Amish, the Quakers, and various other traditionalist and pacifist religions, that is already in play.

The Constitutional protections for religions don’t always decide these questions. For example, you can be excused from participating in the US military if you have a sincere religious objection. I’m not sure where that came from. You can be prosecuted for murdering your wife even if your religion tells you it’s okay–we the people happen not to like murder. But the right to protest at soldiers’ funerals was decided by the constitutional protection of politics, not religion.

Houndentenor September 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Exactly right. 1st Amendment rights wouldn’t cover human sacrifice even if that was part of a religious practice. Does it cover Native American practices of using peyote and other substances? It did cover Episcopaleans and Cathlics using wine during Prohibition. These questions can be complicated. Your right to practice your religion does not give you carte blanche to harm or endanger others. That hasn’t stopped groups from using religion as a shield to prevent prosecution. Sometimes that works, and sometimes not.

Religion flourished in the US precisely because there was no official state religion. Look at any country with a state church. Hardly anyone goes. I’m surprised that those who want to diminish religion in the US haven’t advocated for a state church. It would be the fastest way to turn Americans off religion. Sadly, we have religious extremists who can’t understand that in the long run tearing down the wall between church and state harms them rather than helps them. It’s not the only way in which that crowd is short sighted, but I always find it odd that they can’t see that their current tactics will almost certainly one day be used against them.

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