Monday, July 20, 2015

The Falsity of the New “Religious Freedom” Arguments

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One now hears a endless drumbeat for the Christofascists and their sycophants about the need to protect "religious freedom" - which in reality translates to mean special rights for far right Christians and special exemptions from the laws that govern the rest of the citizenry.  The falsity of the justification for such "religious freedom" laws is akin to the far right's blather about protecting "biblical marriage" which they allege to mean "one man and one woman" even though a reading of the Bible shows that that was never the biblical model of marriage.  A piece in Salon looks at the lies behind the Christofascist narrative.  Here are column excerpts:
Pope John Paul II famously declared, back in 2003, that “God’s authentic plan for the family as a community of life [is] founded on marriage, in other words, on the stable and faithful union of a man and a woman, bound to each other by a bond which is publicly manifested and recognized.”

Reading this, one wonders, had the pope been skipping out on his Bible-study sessions? At least as far as biblical marriage goes, he got it all wrong.

I would like to arrange a biblical marriage for myself.  That is, a flat-out, no-holds-barred “traditional” marriage purely and distinctly in accordance with hallowed biblical criteria. Of course, I plan to follow Genesis 2:24 and “cleave” unto my wife. I’m supposed to become “of one flesh” with her. But note that contrary to Pope John Paul’s statement, the Bible doesn’t anywhere say I can have only one wife. Just after the above-cited verse, we read in Genesis 4:19 about Lamech, who took two wives. The patriarch Abraham – the founding father of three world religions — had two, and King Solomon had 700. So I’m going to marry as many times as I like, and “cleave” unto each one in turn, depending on the night of the week.

I also plan on following the examples laid down in the Good Book and helping myself to the sexual favors of our domestic help, which I will not, however, enslave, as Leviticus 25:44-46 allows.  

If any of my proliferating wives dare rebuke me, I’ll thunder words from Ephesians 5:22-33 at them. They must, that verse says, submit unto me “as unto the Lord” Himself.  And if they should behave foolishly, I intend to beat them, as is stipulated in Proverbs 10:12-31.

In behaving this way, it might seem as though I’m breaking a raft of laws, state and federal. I may well be, but I don’t care! Doing otherwise would “burden my religion.” I’m obeying a “higher law” – the one decreed by the Almighty Himself. I can quote the Holy Scripture chapter and verse to prove it.

[M]arriage as the ancient Israelites conceived it, and as demonstrated throughout the Bible’s rapine-replete rants, sagas of savagery and mind-deadening genealogical longueurs, has precious little to do with what faith-derived custom and Western history A.D. have bequeathed to us: the “traditional” matrimony between one man and one woman. We can be thankful for that. Those discriminating against same-sex couples, alleging a RFRA-type “burden” to their religion, and planning, if necessary, to present a RFRA-based defense, should beware: the sainted scripture they plan on adducing in court consists of “wild and disorderly compositions” (to quote Thomas Paine) so larded with evidence contrary to their case that they should not stand a chance of prevailing, at least before a rational judge in a fair court.

[I]t should shock no one that for some of the faith-addled, the SCOTUS ruling settled nothing at all. A county circuit clerk in Mississippi protested that her “final authority is the Bible” and that “the Supreme Court’s decision violates my core values as a Christian.” She quit, rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Clerks in three Kentuckian counties have also refused to give marriage licenses to gays, even though the governor of that state has stated that he would obey the law.

Longtime ultra-conservative Roman Catholic pundit Pat Buchanan . . . predicted an “era of civil disobedience . . . A more accurate description would be “a collective temper tantrum thrown by faith-deranged folks who didn’t get their way in court.” In any case, the “disobedience,” such as it is, has remained limited to the red states and shows no sign of spreading significantly farther afield (though it may well prove tenacious). Time and progress are against these flat-earther holdouts. With opposition to same-sex marriage religious in origin, and religion declining across the country, they will find themselves ever more isolated.

Obeying or flouting the law as established by Obergefell v. Hodges is not, as Buchanan has it, a matter of “conscience” but of self-interest. 

It’s time we recognized “civil disobedience” against same-sex marriage for what it is: mean-spirited bullying, an attempt to forcibly impose vicious old superstitious notions of right and wrong on people wanting to do nothing more than enjoy the equality before the law provided for in the Constitution. No matter what Jesus said, the “kingdom” of these reactionary zealots is very much “of this world;” they aim not merely to practice their religion as protected by the First Amendment, but to coerce others into living by its bizarre dictates.  

We have disproved the voodoo “knowledge” religion preaches about cosmogony, and can safely ditch its “moral” certitudes, too, in favor of solutions arrived at through reason, discussion and consensus.   Meanwhile, faith-deranged tantrum-mongers will fume and foam at the mouth, at least for a time. Their best plan of action may well be an active retreat from the rest of us, . . .

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