01 March 2012

Religion and Politics

It's sticky.

There are some fundamental positions dictated by ones religion that are emphatically not fundamental to someone who doesn't share that faith.

Like wearing a rubber.

Like teaching the person who is most likely to need that rubber both that rubbers exist and when to use them.

Making law requiring that education is a fundamental violation of some people's faith.

A core part of the first amendment is the government cannot impose such violations on us because of freedom of religion.  There is no difference between adopting all of the rules of a religion and just making that religion the state one.

Pay attention here Muslims.

Mohamed is a particularly common ethnic name to someone who isn't a Muslim.  Jesus is a common Hispanic name to a Jew.

Making law that requires adherence to the fundamental principles of one religion is very little different from mandating a state religion.  Legislating morality is an example here.

However, there is nothing in the first amendment that requires that the government not interfere with religion when it is interfering with the rights of others.  The go-to example is you cannot perform human sacrifice.

I always notice that religious freedom and freedom of speech are in the same amendment.

I have a right to worship whom I will.  I have a right to say what I will.  Even if my worship and speech offend you because of your religion (or lack).

You have to leave me alone to my heathen ways!  I must leave you to your piety.  And/or vice-versa.

To impose your values on me you must prove harm.  Real harm.  Physical or financial harm.  The standard is not on merely being offended.  This is the essence of why we have both civil and criminal courts.

Strip clubs are a common example of religious imposition on others.  You betcha there are prohibitions about nudity and lust in many religions.  Without God saying "don't look at the titties" why shouldn't I?  If the "performance artist" is not being forced to dance, why can't she?  Without a religious objection, who is harmed by giving the dancer some money for letting me see her breasts?

This is also capitalism 101.  Goods for services.

Yes, without God there is also no reason for prostitution to be illegal.  Especially since we've pretty much banned the churches from keeping us from having sex without their approval.  As George Carlin said, "Selling is legal.  Fucking is legal.  Why is selling fucking illegal?"

Who is harmed by prostitution where the courtesan is uncoerced and willing?  If she is being forced, that's a whole other kettle of fish I call slavery, at best.

What the United States are is a secular nation.  The Constitution is the supreme law, even God's laws are subservient.  Why is this so?  Because your religion may demand you kill me for my transgressions!  That is forbidden because I have a right to find God (or not) without you forcing me to.  This is also why the government is forbidden to establish a state church.  It prevents them from setting up guillotines to execute the apostates.

Speaking of apostasy; freedom of religion also means that we're free to change our minds and leave.  No matter what God said about it, you have to let us go unharmed.

The Constitution is a framework that allows diverse and opposed people to live among each other in peace.

It's come off its rails from time to time.  If my religion requires my children be unaware of birth control until they are married; it is not the job of The State to step in and teach them.  In fact, it's not really an enumerated power to be educating them at all.

Interestingly for a nation that was founded on some blatantly Christian values and foundations the core idea is espoused most clearly in Wicca.

Do as you will, harm none.

EDIT:  Totally forgot the hat-tip to Joe's post for the inspiration.

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