Freedom of Religion vs. Civil Rights

My mother is a very devout Christian. She makes sure to go to church every Sunday, abstain from evils such as alcohol and rap music, and has read the entire bible cover to cover. Being religious comes with a lot of rules. Raised catholic, most of my rules came from the bible. Most of them are nice rules, such as “love your neighbor” and “help the less fortunate”, but some of them are pretty nasty.  Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God.

Hebrews 13:4 condemns those who practice premarital sex. These laws are probably pretty familiar to you. Living in a Christian-centric society, a lot of these rules became socially accepted. People who break these laws are discriminated against, persecuted, abused, and even killed. A lot of the people who enforce these laws the strongest are religious. Their religion says that these people who have broken the rules deserve to be punished. Since we have freedom of religion, does that mean they have the right to discriminate? Doesn’t that overlap with our right to be treated fairly? Whose rights are more important?

Fox Detroit wrote an interesting story about the clash of freedoms. A doctor refused to provide service to a family with two mothers because her religion denounces homosexuality. Legally, a doctor can’t turn away a patient based on their sexuality, but they can refuse treatment if said treatment goes against their religious or moral beliefs. So far the doctor hasn’t been prosecuted, but has faced some negative feedback from many people.

This story reminded me of an incident which occurred at a Colorado bakery last year. Two soon to be husbands tried to order a cake for their wedding, but were denied due to the store owner’s religious views. Denial of services due to race, gender, or sexual orientation is prohibited under Colorado state law, and the couple defeated the store in court.

While the bible frowns upon abortion, homosexuality, sexual freedom and divorce, those aren’t the only rules it has for humankind. Other taboos include wearing clothing of two different types of fabric, working on Sundays, Planting more than one kind of seed in a field, and eating shellfish. In fact, the bible mentions shrimp as an abomination 4 more times than homosexuality. Why don’t I see hordes of angry suburban white families protesting red lobster with signs condemning the evils of seafood?

People pick and choose what parts of religion are convenient for them. While they’re busy labeling a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality a “whore”, they’ve forgotten to love one another as Jesus would love them. After all, Jesus used to hang around with hobos, tax collectors, and prostitutes because they were the ones who needed guidance most. In conclusion, while religion can be a tool for spreading peace and love, it unfortunately can also be used as a shield for one’s own personal prejudices.

Works cited:

The Holy Bible, Containing the Old Testament and the New. Oxford: U of Oxford: Printed by John Baskett, 1719. Print.
Grieson, Paula. “Court Rules Bakery Illegally Discriminated Against Gay Couple.”    ACLU. Colorado Rights Blog, 06 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby&gt;

MyFOXDetroit.com Staff. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” Fox 2 News Headlines. Fox News, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. <http://aclu-co.org/court-cases/masterpiece-cakeshop/&gt;

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4 thoughts on “Freedom of Religion vs. Civil Rights

  1. Hey SpaceBabe66. Great job. Although you did the same topic as someone else you looked at it from a different angle which I thought was really well done. I think it was really important the way you pointed out that people try to associate with aspects of religion that are convenient to them because I’m sure more people do this than they would like to admit. I am not an expert on Christianity but do you think that there are still many religious people who don’t accept homosexuality or do you think American society is moving towards progress?
    Really loved your blog!

    Like

  2. Spacebabe666,

    I really enjoyed the argument you decided to make! It is quite clear that people do sometimes pick and choose which rules to follow in their respective religions based on convince and prejudice. I found your Red Lobster example both humorous and thought provoking! Have you noticed a rise in acceptance of minority groups by religious people in recent years, especially under the new papacy of Pope Francis? Or do you think there exists just more of the same intolerance from many religious people? It is also interesting to note America’s (somewhat confusing) legal system. As the FOX article points out, there are no federal, or Michigan state laws that protect same-sex couples from discrimination. However, as you noted, those laws clearly exist within Colorado state. Do you think it is acceptable to hold people to different standards within the same country?

    Great blog! I’m looking forward to your next one!

    Like

  3. Spacebabe666, once again you provide a very entertaining read! I loved reading your blog, especially since someone else also did this topic, because you both presented different but really interesting views. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that people pick and choose what to practice, and that that can lead to prejudices. However, I wonder if at the same time, that’s a good thing? Like you said with that hilarious Red Lobster analogy, people don’t protest eating shellfish, because that rule seems unreasonable to them, and in the same vein, some religious people don’t think homosexuality is a sin because they think the times have changed and their interpretation of their religion should too. What do you think?

    Like

  4. Hi Spacebabe666,

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post. It is very thought provoking – especially the part where you assert that religion is often used as a shield for prejudice. It made me think about the hypocrisy in the killing of ‘sinners’; if I am correct, the bible also lists murder as a sin. What factors, then, do you think influence this kind of picking and choosing? Which biblical ideas are reinforced by our media, and how?

    You also brought up the question “whose rights are more important?” in reference to religious freedom and those abused by religious folks. It’s interesting to me how people seem to have been able to essentially ‘cheat’ certain laws thanks to religious freedom. In your post, you describe religion as a ‘shield’ for justifying prejudice – do you also think, then, that it has been used as shield-like protection from the law? What is the appropriate amount of religious freedom, and at what point does church begin to blend with state?

    Overall you did a great job at handling the subject, and I appreciated the integration of humor and personal experience. Thank you for your post and I look forward to the next one!

    Like

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