Let’s talk about Religious Freedom for a few minutes.
Yesterday I read yet another article that implied that anyone who is not a part of an established religion is not protected by the religious freedom section of the First Amendment. This one was about Kim Davis, the delusional Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses believing both that her understanding of the Bible allows her to refuse to perform her job and that it enables her to pick and choose which laws she will obey. She’s been going through the courts insisting that her “sincerely held” beliefs trump everyone else’s.
I disagree. All choices regarding religion are subject to the religious freedom clause. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” doesn’t mean that if you aren’t in a pew every Sunday (or claiming you are), you’re not in the club. It doesn’t mean that you have to be baptized to have full citizenship with all the rights and privileges that go with it.
There are a lot of people who would want you to believe otherwise. As the Supreme Court’s decision supporting same-sex marriage has sunk in, people like Kim Davis have stood firm in the belief that their interpretation of the Bible overrides anyone else’s and should actually determine the lives of people who don’t agree with her. I don’t know about the religious lives of the same-sex couples Davis has turned away over and over again. Apparently it doesn’t matter. Even if they have a religious affiliation, Davis’s is better. Hers is more righteous. Hers wins, her role as a public servant be damned.
Speaking of public servants whose salaries we pay, how about the Ted Cruzes and the Rick Santorums of the country. They go around thumping their bibles and perpetuating lies to gin up their base. Cruz loves to retell the sad story of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Chief, Kelvin Cochran, who lost his job just for being a Christian – which would be shocking if he wasn’t actually fired for handing his self-published book on Christianity out to his subordinates on the job. Santorum, on the other hand, continues to spew absolute idiocy, repeatedly insisting the President can stand up to the Supreme Court in the same-sex marriage an nullify the decision – like Andrew Jackson did so he could carry out the Indian Removal Act to forcibly relocate the Native Americans of Florida for the benefit of white Americans. Now that was something we can all be proud of.
No. There is no legal hierarchy of faiths and those of faith do not have “special rights” because they choose to believe something that is unprovable and unknowable. Atheists, agnostics, spiritualists all get to sit at the table with the religious zealots like Davis, Cruz and Santorum. I know. Who would want to? That’s not the point. The point is they don’t get anything we don’t.
That’s America. That’s Equality.
And don’t forget the big secret John Oliver revealed on his show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a couple of weeks ago: Anyone can create a government-recognized “church” and “faith” based on almost anything. The bar is so low that in no time at all, he was able to create Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, get a full tax exemption and free rein to raise free money whenever and for however long he wants. That certainly makes religion seem like it deserves to be a “special” category.
Bottom line: Believing in a book and an invisible man in the sky may make you feel special, but in the eyes of the law it doesn’t actually make you special.
That’s America and that’s Religious Freedom.
P.S. You’d think a woman who’s been married four times, has six children who weren’t born during any of those marriages and who only found Jesus four years ago would have opted for a little humility rather climbing on the first high horse she could find.