Other People Existing Doesn’t Violate Your Religious Freedom

It’s not an awesome time to be a religious social conservative. To be fair, I bet no time is really that great to be a social conservative because the times, as they say, are always a-changin’, but still. Gay people are everywhere, women are having sex without having children, and kids these days! Don’t even get me started on kids these days! Everything was so much better when white men could dominate everything without question and anyone who thought or felt or acted differently hid in the shadows.

While today’s society isn’t perfect, we’ve certainly come a long way. This week is the 10 year anniversary of the Goodridge decision, which made Massachusetts the first state to allow marriages for same-sex couples. Now we have 17 states plus DC that recognize marriage equality. The gay people have also infiltrated that bastion of unmitigated hyper masculinity: football.

Listen, I don’t care about football. It’s physically impossible for me to hear the phrase “first and goal” and not immediately fall asleep. But I understand that sports is an area where gay men in particular have had a hard time making inroads, so I’m glad to see an openly gay man drafted into the NFL. It feels momentous, even if you couldn’t give a crap what the difference is between a running back and a tight end.

Not everyone is so pleased, however, which is unsurprising. One man, DC lobbyist Jack Burkman, is out to hit the NFL where it hurts. He’s out to organize a boycott of the NFL.

Good luck, man. Where do you think you live? Maybe that DC culture has seeped a bit too much into his brain. Out here, there may be a few people who feel strongly enough to stop watching football games, but I’m unconvinced you would be able to find very many.

So his foolhardy effort to single-handedly take down the biggest sport in the United States is fraught with pitfalls and peril. Let it go, you might say. Let him tire himself out, like a toddler, and we can go about our grown-up business. Not so fast.

This is just one of the latest incidents in a long line of hissy fits over religious freedom. To quote Burkman from The Christian Post, “The NFL, like most of the rest of American business, is about to learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values there will be a terrible financial price to pay.”

Trampling on the Christian community? Please. A gay guy is playing football. I’m sure it’s happened before, the only difference is now you know about it. And, really, is it worse than rapists, animal abusers, and domestic abusers?

More broadly, the existence of other people and their right to live fulfilling lives free of discrimination does not count as “trampl[ing on] the Christian community.” But that doesn’t keep religious social conservatives from trotting out that tired argument every time they have to do something they don’t want to do.

I see it all the time and I think people only take it seriously because golly we have to protect religious freedom! But really, it all boils down to wanting society to stand still in some mythical Good Old Days.

Take the Hobby Lobby case, in which a for-profit business wants to get out of following Obamacare, a law that was passed by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court. But Hobby Lobby argued — with a straight face — that corporations have a right to exercise religious freedom and that somehow providing health coverage that actually covers what their employees need violates that freedom. You know, the same way your employer can keep you from using your paycheck to go out and buy contraception or an abortion yourself if you want or need it. Wait, that’s not right.

Then there is the anti-LGBT contingent in Mississippi, which recently passed a religious freedom law that would allow businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian people on account of the business owner’s religious beliefs. This has prompted some businesses to put “We Don’t Discriminate” stickers in their store windows. Which, when you think about it, makes complete sense. Why on Earth would a business choose to alienate customers? It’s the market at work.

Good for them, though. It’s not every day you see that kind of response to that kind of thing. Bsinesses still have the ability to discriminate if they so choose, but maybe gay-hating isn’t as lucrative as some might have thought.

However, the ability to discriminate at will isn’t enough for some anti-LGBT Christians. You have to let them discriminate and not draw attention to it. The American Family Association is very upset:

Ironically,this sticker represents the very promotion of discrimination…against the freedom of religious convictions.

Businesses that display this sticker believe Christians should be forced, by law, to embrace homosexuality and deny their faith in personal business practices.

I guess it’s just discrimination if you don’t like it. Otherwise, it’s your sincerely held religious belief.

What the NFL boycott, Hobby Lobby and this Mississippi kerfuffle all have in common is breathtaking entitlement. Entitlement to have the way you do things prioritized above everything else. No one is forcing you to personally embrace something you don’t want to. But we live in a society, one that is interconnected and diverse. In a connected and diverse society, we need to treat each other with respect. And no, respect is not automatic deferment to how someone else does things. It does mean that everyone is entitled to be treated with a little basic decency.

The fact that other people exist in the world and have wants and needs does not mean you are being oppressed. Despite what it seems some people think, oppression is not the inability to do whatever you want at any time you want without question. The fact is that oppressed groups are getting out there and living the lives that the majority have taken for granted for a long time. I’m sorry if that makes people uncomfortable, but that’s not a good enough reason to turn back the clock.

Image credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr


Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

What a can of worms this is.

Gina H.
Gina H3 years ago

Liz seems to ignore the fact that xtians DO kill people including GLBTs. She apparently thinks that the "kill the gays" bill in Uganda is a figment of the rest of the world's imagination. She also ignores the hate crimes committed in the US in the name of god. "Much of Africa's anti-homosexuality movement is supported by American evangelicals, the Rev. Kapya Kaoma of Zambia wrote in 2009, who are keen to export the American "culture war" to new ground. Indeed, American evangelical Christians played a role in stirring the anti-homosexual sentiment that culminated in the initial legislation in Uganda." from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-peron/whos-helping-finance-ugandas-kill-the-gays-bill-you-are_b_2229509.html So don't try selling yet another xtian lie to those not deluded like yourself. Funny how these xtian fundies don't want to seem to join their lord in heaven any time soon but are willing to send millions of "heathens" there.

Vasu M.
.3 years ago


The Hindu scriptures say our current age, Kali Yuga, which began in 3102 BC, is one of spiritual darkness. During this time, it's predicted:

Marriage ceases to exist as a holy union—men and women simply live together on the basis of bodily attraction and verbal agreement, and only for sexual pleasure. Women wander from one man to another. The Linga Purana says that in Kali Yuga, young women freely abandon their virginity. Family, clan and caste are all meaningless. (Vishnu Purana 6.1)

During the 1960s and '70s, it looked like marriage was falling to the wayside. There was an episode of Maude from the mid-'70s in which Maude, Walter, Arthur and Vivian are at a train station and decide to hold an impromptu wedding ceremony for Arthur and Vivian.

Maude asks a young man with long hair and a guitar if he'll serenade the couple, and he starts jamming loudly! Maude reacts angrily: "No wonder kids today don't want to get married!" She asks him to play soft, slow music, and he obliges.

But the desire of LGBTs to marry indicates the opposite of what was happening in the '60s and '70s. Marriage is such a popular institution, even LGBTs want to marry!

And the right wing mistakes it for an assault on the institution of marriage!

Bruce G.
Bruce G3 years ago

Dale O;

Good points! One thing I would add to your quote of Timothy M's; "No, he isn't being forced to marry another guy, but he's being forced to participate in the wedding of two guys, which he believes to be immoral."

In point of fact, a baker who bakes a wedding cake for a gay marriage isn't being forced to PARTICIPATE in a wedding he believes to be immoral. He is being forced to sell a cake. That's all. If it really were otherwise, then the owner of a gun store who sold a shotgun to a customer who used it to murder his whole family could be said to have participated in that murder.

What we hear when we listen to these people make reasoned arguments to justify their bigotry is known as reasonable irrationality. The reasoning may sound good and intelligent, but it is based on an irrational assumption. We must always be on guard for this behavior

Dale O.

Ashley h pointed out earlier to Liz C: "Okay, I checked your profile. It says you aren't in the U.S. However, considering the country you live in, I'm pretty sure that Christians are treated just fine."

Not bad at all, no one here is being tossed into the lion's den, unless you happen to be a scientist working for Stephen Harper.

Looks like I missed out on some of the things going on in this thread..."Find somebody else to victimize to get to have your way..."

Odd, I thought I had just left the 'Keeping up on your vaccination thread' behind, where there is some victimology theatre going on there as well.

Muslims are not exactly taking over Canada either.

Dale O.

Then, there is Vasu M, with endless sermonettes from Mount Vasuvius. Yes, Diane L, he was in other threads regaling us about how abortions and wars are 'karma' because of people eating meat. I always thought that war and abortion were complex topics with many causal factors, but I guess if people stop eating meat, there will never be wars or abortions ever again.

Timothy M pontificated: "No, he isn't being forced to marry another guy, but he's being forced to participate in the wedding of two guys, which he believes to be immoral."

Fascinating, but during the days of slavery, the Bible was used by bigots to justify enslaving African Americans.

Interesting to note that the Moderator of the United Church of Canada (the largest Protestant church in the country) is a gay minister and he is married to a gay man and the church marries gay couples.

Vasu M.
.3 years ago

Are we there because it's theologically accurate, or because that a-hole Sarva doesn't want to step down and serve alongside other folks, like Raul and Elaine?

Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

"long before crazy people do, because they have a real life and job to get back to."..........Ummm, I see, Liz. So according to "The Book of Liz", anyone who disagrees with her is a bully and/or crazy? Must be nice up THERE in that rarified air. Liz, BIG CLUE, you aren't the only one who has a real life, nor a job, but judging by your comments, your "life" isn't exactly real, but some kind of fantasy you've invented for yourself.

Ashley heffner
Lady Suki3 years ago

Yes, Liz, you are being bullied simply because so far no one has accepted your, "Christians are wonderful because they don't kill gay people, like Muslims," reasoning.

I know. We should all repent. I guess we need to make sure that all 7 billion people in the world convert immediately to Christianity. But not just any Christianity, your particular interpretation of it! What denomination are you? We all need to be exactly like you. If everyone is Christian, then you won't have to worry about the Muslims and people bashing Christianity.

Yes, everyone else is a pack of hyneas. Only you, and you alone in this chat, know the "truth."

Bruce G.
Bruce G3 years ago

Liz, you need to understand that being criticized is not the same as being bullied. Nobody is brow beating you for stating your position. There may have been a few comments from people who have denigrated you for being Christian, but the majority have simply been critical of your arguments. It seems to me, you are playing the victim because you cannot accept the criticism, or think of yourself in a critical manner. You seem to be insisting you must be right because you are you. The inability to accept criticism of one's ideas, religion, nationality, etc is one of the characteristics of a narcissistic personality.