Monday, December 8, 2014

Religious freedom update

The "religious freedom" meme is more likely a "religious privilege" demand. Here are some news updates that make that point:

News from Kennesaw, GA
[I]n Kennesaw, Georgia, this week, there was a battle over the real deal - the right of a group to worship. Unfortunately, though not unpredictably, "religious freedom", the genuine First Amendment kind, lost out to Christian privilege.... 
There is a small but devoted Muslim community in the Kennesaw area, but no nearby mosque in which to gather. So the Muslims asked the city council for permission to rent space in a local strip mall where they could hold daily prayers and Friday devotions. The group told the council that they planned to use the store only until they found a permanent location that would accommodate the group.

What they needed from the council was a minor zoning exception, something that had been granted to other religious groups in the past. The Marietta Daily Journal reported that the council voted unanimously just last July to allow the Redeemed Christian Fellowship Church to use a a similar retail space. But the Muslims' request set off an intense public debate in Kennesaw, unmistakably flavored with xenophobic sentiment. ...

For two weeks the debate raged, but in the end, religious freedom lost. As demonstrators protested outside with signs that read “Ban Islam” and “Islam wants no peace!”, the council, without discussion, voted down the measure - but the rejection was not unanimous. One council member stood up for the Constitution, for genuine religious freedom, and for the Muslims in her community.
The Councilwoman who voted for the Muslims has been getting death threats.

This seems so blatantly against the law that I'm sure it won't survive a court challenge.  But I'd be worried some of those Good Christians would bomb the mosque.  

Then there's Michigan which is trying to pass a Religious Freedom act.
Like the federal RFRA, Michigan’s bill protects people from laws that substantially burden their sincerely held religious beliefs, unless the government can prove that the offending law serves a compelling interest and accomplishes that goal using the least restrictive means possible. ....While Bolger insists the bill is meant to protect, say, the Muslim butcher who wants to prepare food in line with halal practices, or the Jewish mother who doesn’t want an autopsy performed on her son, civil liberties advocates warn it could be used as a defense for the landlord who wants to evict a gay tenant, or the pharmacist who doesn’t want to provide birth control, all because of sincerely held religious beliefs. ...In another instance, opponents foresee the bill being cited as a legal defense in domestic violence cases....
“What RFRA will do is give businesses and landlords the opportunity to contest everything in court, and force individuals who are now able to live discrimination-free lives to demonstrate that the government has a compelling interest in making those landlords act in a nondiscriminatory fashion,” said Tucker. “Even if that individual prevails, he will have spent a lot of time and money, and may be out of a job or out of a home while he’s waiting.”
Such bills are a response to LGBT equality:  the conservatives want the right to discriminate.  But what happens when straight white conservative Christians are the ones discriminated against?  For example, a devout Muslim emergency room doctor could refuse to treat a woman. A Christian fundamentalist who believes in male headship could refuse to promote a female employee.  And a white supremacist could argue that his white-identity Christianity allows him to refuse service to blacks.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I realize that everyone is probably really busy this time of year, but just wanted to extend my personal "Happy Holidays!" (Advent/Hannukah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Yule/New Year), and invite anyone in the Greater Sacramento CA area to my parish, St Michael's Carmichael, this Sunday 12/21 5PM for "Lessons & Carols" (Yours Truly will be singing w/ the choir, tra-la!). Loaded Baked Potato Supper to follow, Mmmm!