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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Reelout: Out In the Night

The movie Out in the Night is the story of a posse of black lesbians who get assaulted in the New York city streets after rejecting a man’s advances. They end up stabbing the man in self defence, and are antagonized by the legal system. The four women are Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill and Patreese Johnson. They become known as the New Jersey Four, and the events are blown out of proportion by the media. This film follows their attempts to navigate the court system, rebuild their lives, and the struggles of the lawyers who take their case. It makes many comments of racial prejudice, toxic masculinity, and male entitlement.

Attending this festival was a wild experience from start to finish. I got the feeling that is was a safe space. As a queer girl from a small town with racist parents, getting to be in an environment where i can be as gay and feminist as i want to be is a rare treat. I had a fabulous time. I went with my friends with queers on campus, and we sat in the back and made fun of straight boys while reapplying our lipstick. 10/10 would recommend.

in conclusion, it was a lovely movie and I would see it again.