Thursday, April 2, 2015

RFRA Reflections

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 is finding new applications on the part of religious fundamentalists to advance political and social agendas against abortion, contraceptives, LBGT rights and marriage equality. The Hobby Lobby case (Burwell) seems to have been the whirlwind that is turning into a tornado.  My Facebook life has become an exercise in ironing out twisted logic.

This is from March 30...

Christians are abandoning their faith in record numbers supporting legislation crafted to discriminate against others. I suppose lessons about loving enemies, not throwing the first stone and aiding the Samaritan stranger are being shelved to make hair shirts less irritating. Religious Freedom Restoration Acts for these Christians are like the Confederate Flag to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Like open-carry laws for gun owners, all are symbolic that some lines will never be crossed and anybody who is offended can just get over it.

I dislike the term "culture war" because the word "culture" has no more to do with real culture than the word "war" has to do with real war. Real culture means reaching a level of refinement that rules out attitudes and behaviors degrading others. This reflection is prompted by something from CNN on line. I will leave the link in a comment.  [Here is that link from which the following quote is lifted.]
It all started when World Vision...announced a change to its hiring policy allowing people in same-sex marriages to work in its U.S. offices.
In response, conservative evangelicals rallied, and within 72 hours, more than 10,000 children had lost their financial support from canceled World Vision sponsorships.
...the CEO of World Vision announced the charity would reverse its decision and return to its old policies discriminating against gay and lesbian employees.
It had worked. Using wells and hospitals and child sponsorships as bargaining chips in the culture wars had actually worked. 
And here is the complete post and comments thread.

Christians are abandoning their faith in record numbers supporting legislation crafted to discriminate against others. I...
Posted by John Ballard on Monday, March 30, 2015
This came out in one of the comments threads and I have used it several times elsewhere.

The thought came to me that had this RFRA preceded the Civil Rights Act, it might very well have blocked passage of that legislation. That key section compelling desegregation was opposed by many on religious grounds alone. Millions of white people based their support of segregation on their faith. To them it was a matter of biblical truth that races must be kept apart. They truly believed that integrating people of different races was a violation of God's plan for mankind, and had there been this RFRA at that time they would have been standing on solid legal ground. I know this to be true because my own family was in that camp. I had many long arguments with them about this very point.

Long forgotten now is that the original RFRA signed into federal law by President Clinton was passed to protect certain minority groups, principally Native Americans, for whom the use of hallucinogenic drugs were part of their religious tradition. An interesting spin-off would also be the protection of beards, hair styles and head coverings of Sikhs, Jews and even Muslims. Only recently did opponents of marriage equality, contraceptives and abortion find a fresh, if unintended application for this law.

History has shown how readily people of faith are willing to take up arms when they believe their faith is being attacked, or even disrespected. We need look no further than the Middle East to see military manifestations of various faiths -- including, I might add, a few Christian militias in Nigeria and Syria. And don't forget that Israel was built on a religious foundation that precludes any version of democracy that threatens that basis.

America is not to the point of armed conflict, but that development is not as far-fetched as it seems. The president's slip of the tongue about guns and religion (during his first campaign) was not something he made up. It was based on uncomfortable facts. Defenders of RFRA are literally playing with fire.

Here is a post by Deborah White in which I included that argument. 


Here is another Facebook post and comments thread illustrating how difficult to argue facts when beliefs stand in the way.
The comments thread is a study in incoherent thinking and my vain attempt to overcome it.

RFRA is mostly a red herring.The real challenge is that gays, etc. are not considered a legally "protected class."
Posted by John Ballard on Saturday, April 4, 2015

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