09 December 2014

The religion of exclusion

The Christian Right has gone well beyond defending the "right" to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding.  Via Progressive Eruptions comes word of a new law passed by Republicans in Michigan which establishes a "right" of a religious person to refuse to do practically anything for practically anyone their religion objects to, even if it's part of their job.  As the linked article describes it:

The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an [emergency medical technician] to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.....the act is so broad it would let a Catholic high school refuse to hire a Muslim janitor, and a DMV clerk deny a new driver’s license to someone who is divorced.

As I've said before, the most striking thing about laws like this is that the Christian Right's core value, the essence of religious freedom in their view, the hill they've chosen to die on, is the right to exclude -- to refuse service to certain categories of people, to reject them, to stigmatize them, to cast them out.  This is how fundamentalist Christianity, the noisiest and most visible form of Christianity in the United States, is choosing to define and present itself.  This is the face they themselves are putting on their own religion.  It's not atheists like me defining Christianity as a religion whose core is bigotry.  It's Christians who are doing that.

Imagine if, instead, the Christian Right had taken up the case of Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old man arrested in Florida last month for the crime of giving food to homeless people.  Imagine if they were busily and noisily passing "religious freedom acts" all over the country defending the right of people to help the poor if their conscience compels it.  What a different image that would project!  But they aren't doing that (in fact, a judge, not religious politicians, later stayed the law under which Abbott was arrested).  Instead, they're fighting like hell for the right of Christians to refuse to help people.

Is it any wonder that Americans in growing numbers are turning away from religion, especially younger people, when this is the face religion shows them?

Notice that it's not just discrimination against gays that's being defended -- it's discrimination against anyone who fails to conform to the entire Christian taboo system.  Even if you're not gay, are you divorced, or non-Christian, or using birth control, or having a relationship with someone without being married, or a member of a Christian sect which some other Christian sect strongly disapproves of?  If so (or if you're any of a dozen other things), the Christian Right thinks passing laws defending someone else's right to have nothing to do with you is the most important religious-freedom issue in the country right now.

Fundamentalists are already a shrinking minority in the US.  It's only their great influence within the Republican party that gives them as much power as they have.  The day will come when the tables turn against them.  On that day, remember these laws.

10 Comments:

Blogger LadyAtheist said...

The Christian Right strategy is the Southern Strategy in sheep's clothing.

09 December, 2014 05:29  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I've posted a link at P.E. to your blog on this issue.

That a Christianist politician could propose a stupid, anti-human law like this is incredible, and yet the people who are the loudest to accuse President Obama of "shredding the Constitution" are the very ones who are actually engaging in that very act. Is it any wonder that more and more young people are repulsed by this sort of fakery that passes as a "Christlike religon?"

The good news is that these fundamentalist wackos are doing more harm to their cause than any of their perceived enemies--atheists and liberals--could ever imagine.



09 December, 2014 06:01  
Anonymous Ahab said...

Politicians in Kansas are supporting a similar measure.

http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article4336207.html

09 December, 2014 10:22  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Lady A: With all due respect, I honestly disagree. The South is the most religious part of the country, but the problem isn't really geographical. This law was passed in Michigan, and as Ahab points out, another such is looming in Kansas. The issue is that one of our two political parties is dominated by the fundamentalist minority, and when it wins power for whatever reason (as, for example, in the recent low-turnout election), it's going to start doing this stuff.

Shaw: Thanks for the link, and thanks for your post which made me aware of this. In the short term the fanatics will manage to hurt a lot of people, which seems to be their goal, but in the long run it will just make their defeat all the more complete.

Ahab: I can't say I'm surprised. Good to see that there was a lot of public outcry the last time they considered this, though.

09 December, 2014 19:01  
Blogger Woody said...

Indeed, Infidel 753.
Us Atheists, non-religious, agnostics or whatever, we say a lot of demeaning things about religions.
But no matter how well we do it, the very best evidence against them is provided by their own fundamentalists.
Sometimes 'god' writes the jokes for us !!

All the best,
Woody

10 December, 2014 01:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sometimes he does. I would be nice if they were funnier.

10 December, 2014 05:12  
Blogger Thomas Adkins said...

This argument harkens back John Calhoun and his argument to justify the expansion of slavery into the southwestern territories taken from Mexico in 1847 called substantive due process.

Given the history of such shaky arguments as Calhoun's to justify ideologies in this country, it's not surprising that the modern-day xianists have fallen back to this default position that their positions can be justified by expanding the Constitution to fit their biases as long as they have enough money to pay for the best mouthpiece.

Also, too: parts of Michigan are as southern as Alabama and have been since WWII with the influx of white factory workers from the deep south who brought all their racial/religious attitudes with them.

10 December, 2014 09:23  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ugh. I suppose you're right. If parts of Florida and Virginia can become de-Southernized, parts of other states can go the other way.

I once heard Pennsylvania described thus: "It's got Philadelphia at one end and Pittsburgh at the other, and a whole lot of Alabama in between."

10 December, 2014 17:59  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Infidel, even upstate New York can be like that. I was in the Adirondacks this past summer with my kids for a couple of days, and all that was missing to make me feel like I was in Alabama were the accents.

11 December, 2014 09:28  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Some parts of Oregon are almost like that. I think it's more an urban/rural divide than a geographical one.

12 December, 2014 03:16  

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