The new, inverted meaning for the terms
"religious freedom" and "religious liberty."
Transitioning from: "religious freedom of belief"
to "religious freedom to control,
against, denigrate, and/oroppress others"
of the Golden Rule.
Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs).
A Christmas message:
Being an Atheist is OK.
Being an Atheist and shaming organized religions as silly and not real is not OK.
Belonging to an organized religion is OK.
Being homophobic, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, or an otherwise hateful person in the name of your religion is not OK.
Being a reindeer is OK.
Bullying and excluding another reindeer because he has a shiny red nose is not OK.
A customer's imaginary exchange between a shopper and a supermarket cashier:
In the U.S., state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) typically allow store owners and employees to discriminate on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs. The following imaginary exchange could occur between a customer and cashier at the checkout:
"I'm Catholic, so I won't be able to sell you those condoms. You will have to go to Register 5;
but she is Muslim, so she won't sell you that ham. You will have to go to Register 1;
but she is a Mormon, so she won't sell you those cans of Pepsi. You will have to go to Register 9;
but she's a Jehovah's Witness, so she won't sell you that birthday card. You will have to go to Register 3;
but he's an Atheist, so he won't sell you that Bible. You will have to go to Register 2.
but she's a Southern Baptist, so she won't sell you anything, because of the LGBT ribbon and pro-choice button you are wearing. You will have to go to Register 7.
Fortunately, Register 7 is staffed by a non-religious person who believes in tolerance, equality, and the Golden Rule. He will sell you anything you want because he doesn't hide his bigotry behind religion.
Have a nice day."
Actually, from my personal experience with Atheists, it is very unlikely that one would refuse to sell a Bible. They would might even discount it because they regard it as a work of creative fiction.
The transition from religious freedom of belief to religious freedom to hurt others:
we noticed a radical drift in the definition of both "religious freedom" and its near-synonym "religious liberty:"
The terms changed meaning:
AWAY FROM the historical meaning: the freedom of religious belief, speech, practice, assembly, and proselytizing by believers. At the time, attacks on personal religious freedom typically:
Involved governments or larger faith groups as perpetrators, and
Involved smaller faith groups or individuals as victims.)
IN THE DIRECTION OF the new freedom sought by some faith groups or believers to apply their beliefs in a way that oppresses or denigrates
others, discriminates against them, and/or mounts political campaigns to deny
them equal rights. These attacks typically:
Involve individual believers, faith groups, for-profit companies, or parachurch organizations as perpetrators, and
Religious freedom once referred mostly to the believers' right to express religious ideas and to engage in religious
practices. Now it is becoming mostly
about the freedom for individuals, store owners, or religious groups to take actions that discriminate against others by limiting other people's human rights and freedoms, without the believers incurring negative consequences themselves.
The terms "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" have been turned on their head, and few seem to have noticed.
People who exercise their religious freedom to discriminate rarely consider their actions as violating Jesus' instructions in two Gospels -- Matthew and Luke. Here, he commands his followers to obey what is now called the Golden Rule. It is sometimes expressed:
"Do unto others as we hope they will do unto us in return."
That fundamental moral precept is found in all of the major religions in the world, in many secular belief systems, and in many philosophical writings.
In short, the term religious freedom is rapidly changing from personal beliefs to discriminatory actions, in violation of the Golden Rule. When this new form of religious freedom to discriminate is exercised by store owners who are in business to provide products or services to the general public, they sometimes find themselves in conflict with municipal, state, or federal human rights laws. As a minimum, they are contributing to social unrest, friction, and intolerance.
Many dozens of "religious freedom to discriminate and denigrate" bills were filed in many U.S. states. There are too many for us to handle thoroughly. We have elected to select only a few high-profile "freedom to hate and denigrate" bills below:
New York State: 2016-JAN: A "freedom-to-discriminate" court ruling in upstate New York
State found in favor of a married same-sex couple.Part 1Part 2Part 3
Tennessee: 2016-JAN: A state law was passed to allow counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals to refuse service to LGBT people, atheists, divorced people, literally anyone, by simply claiming that it violates their "sincerely held religious beliefs." Signed into law in late April. Part 1Part 2Part 3
North Carolina: 2016: The City of Charlotte amended its human rights law to include protection for the transgender community. The state legislature killed the ordinance, and similar ordinances in other NC cities, with a law that also wipes out protection for persons discriminated against on the basis of their religion, skin color, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. The media focused on the "bathroom" aspects of the bill to the exclusion of other effects. Few noticed. Various court decisions. State law was repealed. (Eleven essays)
British Columbia, Canada:2013-2016-JUN: Religiously motivated discrimination against the LGBT community by the Trinity Western (TWU) law school. Part 1Part 2 Part 3
Washington State: Law requires pharmacies to not discriminate against customers seeking emergency contraception: Part 1Part 2
Mississippi: "Religious freedom to discriminate" bill signed into law and later declared unconstitutional by a federal district court. Part 1Part 2Part 3
Federal bill:FADA (The First Amendment Defense Act): All points of view: Some view it as defending
the freedom of religion; others as defending people's
& denigrate others on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual behavior.
Parts 1 to 5: On 2018-JUN-04, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of Jack Phillips, the baker who had refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The High Court determined that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission infringed on his religious rights in their ruling. The High Court did not rule on the larger question of whether the owners of retail outlets across the U.S. can freely discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs against their own customers. A future case involving a store owner discriminating against customer on religious grounds will be needed to settle that question.
Part 5: During 2017-JUN, a woman asked that Jack Phillips create a custom cake to celebrate the 7th anniversary of her coming out as a transgender woman. Colorado Civil Rights Commission determines that there is probable cause for another charge of discrimination.
"Virtually everyone supports religious liberty, and virtually everyone opposes discrimination. But how do we handle the hard questions that arise when exercises of religious liberty seem to discriminate unjustly? How do we promote the common good while respecting conscience in a diverse society?
This point-counterpoint book brings together leading voices in the culture wars to debate such questions: John Corvino, a longtime LGBT-rights advocate, opposite Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis, prominent young social conservatives.
Many such questions have arisen in response to same-sex marriage: How should we treat county clerks who do not wish to authorize such marriages, for example; or bakers, florists, and photographers who do not wish to provide same-sex wedding services? But the conflicts extend well beyond the LGBT rights arena. How should we treat hospitals, schools, and adoption agencies that can't in conscience follow anti discrimination laws, healthcare mandates, and other regulations? Should corporations ever get exemptions? Should public officials?..."
" In point-counterpoint format, Corvino, Anderson and Girgis explore these questions and more. Although their differences run deep, they tackle them with civility, clarity, and flair. Their debate is an essential contribution to contemporary discussions about why religious liberty matters and what respecting it requires."
The second book takes a stand against the religious freedom to discriminate:
Robert Boston, "Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do"
"Increasingly, conservative religious groups are using religious liberty as a sword to lash out at others. In this forcefully argued defense of the separation of church and state, Robert Boston makes it clear that the religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment is an individual right, the right of personal conscience, not a license allowing religious organizations to discriminate against and control others. The book examines the controversy over birth control, same-sex marriage, religion in public schools, the intersection of faith and politics, and the 'war on Christmas,' among other topics.
Boston concludes with a series of recommendations for resolving clashes between religious liberty claims and individual rights."
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
This was a posting by an reader of an article on Topic.com who identified themselves only as "anneutral." It is dated 2012-FEB-15. The quote was apparently later picked up by others, attributed incorrectly to President Obama, expanded, and "liked" or re-blogged by more than 28,000 other web sites. See: "Rick Santorum Wants to Fight 'The Dangers Of Contraception,' at: http://www.topix.com/ for the original posting.
From the King James Version of the Bible. Other translations differ.