Written by SansSensibility
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This meme was shared by one of my Republican friends. Though I often criticize Republican ideology and I consider myself a liberal, I admit that this illustrates one of the issues with liberalism, especially the regressive left. They are quick to criticize discrimination and human right violations when the right is to blame, but turn the other way when this behavior is caused by religious beliefs. I feel that this is due to the fact that they are afraid of being called bigots or even racist for criticizing a religion. I think unfair treatment should be criticized no matter if the ideology behind it is political or religious.
Let me be clear, Islam is a religion and not a race or ethnicity. It is not racist to be critical of Islam. Islam is a religion – just like Christianity – and as a system of beliefs it deserves to be critically analyzed: Especially when those who lead us politically ascribe to a religion and often use those values to create legislation.
This is one of the reasons why separation of church and state is essential in a secular society. One might genuinely agree with the above meme, but do you really want them deciding public policy based on those beliefs? If society is to work together harmoniously then beliefs must be your own, and left at the door, in order for society to make cohesive, constructive choices for everyone.
There is this idea that beliefs should be immune from criticism and that faith is a topic that is untouchable. This is an incredibly dangerous notion. Salman Rushdie famously said, “The moment you say that any idea system is sacred… the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.”
All ideas, and especially the ideas that we glean our very value systems from, deserve careful consideration, exploration and critical analysis. If those values include the religiously protected “right” to persecute people who are different by encouraging and supporting racism, sexism, misogyny, bigotry and condoning violence against them, society has an obligation to condemn those beliefs.
If liberalism intends to maintain its philosophy of liberty, equality and protecting individual freedoms then they need to also recognize that those liberties end with the individual: One has the right be believe and practice whatever they choose, but those beliefs stop with them.
The Religious Reich and Public Policy
What this country really needs is to become far more successful at keeping God out of politics — at the local, state and national levels.
We especially need politicians and their supporters to stop using a deity, the Bible and misguided religious fervor as crutches for blatant and even horrific discrimination against poor people, same-sex couples, women who seek abortions, the LGBT community, immigrants and other minority groups.
In the name of Christ (Mohammad, or Allah in Muslim countries), too many issues have been embraced in recent times. Among them:
- A bogus “religious freedom” bill in Missouri.
- The bigoted bathroom law in effect in North Carolina and being sought in other states.
- Pro-life efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in Missouri, Kansas and elsewhere.
- And the fake welfare reform laws that cut off meager funds that help feed poor men, women and children.
God gets sprinkled into many conversations that are prejudiced against others.
Don Hinkle, director of public policy for the Missouri Baptist Convention, promoted the fortunately stalled Missouri measure that would allow people to discriminate against same-sex couples because of allegedly deeply held religious beliefs.
“We are all equal under the law,” Hinkle said. “But we will not yield our conscience to the government or any manmade group, because God is the only lord of our conscience.”
Sorry, but Hinkle and the rest of us live in a world where ‘man made’ laws exist.
You want to express your religious “conscience”? Go to your church and do so. Plus, not every religious denomination holds the same views as the one Hinkle follows. Is God really picking sides between, say, the Baptists and Episcopalians who are far less judgmental on this issue? Last year, as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon properly ordered state officials to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriages; Pastor LeRoy Glover of the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ stood up and told Nixon and gays in the audience:
“We just can’t do that. It’s not that I hate you. I don’t. But I do have to honor and obey my God.”
Good for you, pastor. Go to your church and condemn homosexuals all you want.
But in the real world, where manmade laws prevail, Nixon had the perfect response: “This is about making sure the people’s rights are protected.” At the same time in Kansas, the oh-so-faithful Gov. Sam Brownback was in full denial mode. He sought to protect state government workers who might claim their religious beliefs wouldn’t let them do their taxpayer-funded jobs in allowing same-sex marriages to occur. Republican hopefuls Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal especially lashed themselves to Christ, God and religion in their presidential bids, all unsuccessful. (Thank you, God?) Cruz at one point defended Kentucky clerk Kim Davis after she had been jailed for her unlawful refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses, saying:
“Praise God that Kim Davis is being released. It was an outrage that she was imprisoned for six days for living according to her Christian faith.”
No, she was imprisoned because she failed to follow ‘man made’ law and do her job.
It’s 2016, and more than ever we need a separation of church and state, and to honor the First Amendment prohibiting a law establishing a religion for this nation. That’s true no matter what Franklin Graham and fervent Christian followers across the political landscape want. If your religion is the lens through which you see the world then at least realize that not everyone sees it as you do. We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to respect each other’s beliefs. I don’t have to embrace sexist, racist or misogynist views because my United States Senator does. He does however has a responsibility to uphold the constitution that holds all our views as protected. He has an obligation to ensure there is no racist, sexist or misogynist legislation. This is the standard I hold our public servants to.
We are all equal under the law. We are all protected under the constitution.