I am not a person of religion. But I am a believer. I believe that tomorrow at about 6:15 AM the Sun will rise in the East. I believe that people can be good, and I believe in freedom. I believe that those Eighteenth Century, wig-wearing, slave-owning, White guys knew more than just Roman numerals when they composed the documents shaping our country's governance.
The "Founding Fathers" fretted about the balance of power and the protection of citizens' rights. Without the benefit of Microsoft Word, they wrote our constitution, and James Madison, sans Excel, was able to sort and prioritize those rights most in need of protection. Madison brilliantly composed the Bill of Rights, this seminal document consisting of ten amendments delineates those cherished rights. Surely, he must have asked himself, "Where do I start? Which right is paramount? Which right deserves to be numero uno?. "
He somehow reached a decision, and next to Roman numeral one; he wrote,
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The first protected right chosen by Madison was the right to practice one's religion, and prohibiting our government from foisting a specific religion on its people.
Why did Madison choose religious freedom as number I? Was it a divinely inspired decision? Was he fearful of a state sponsored religion? Was religion just so illogical that it needed protection from rational thought? I don't have an answer. Perhaps, I could pray for one.
Religion is unique, because it often relies on an ephemeral, unknowable higher authority, an unchallengeable authority, an authority that can and has been used to abridge human rights.
On March 1, 2012 forty-eight U.S. Senators cast votes in favor of the Blunt Amendment. The amendment was cleverly attached to a popular transportation bill. Note; only via senatorial logic could a bill funding roads and bridges for Peterbilts be merged with a bill protecting the church Peter built. The amendment which blessedly failed (48-51), was an attempt to permit employers to avoid providing any federally mandated healthcare coverage that an employer deemed in conflict with his or her moral beliefs. Specifically, it was designed to allow bosses to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to employees. More importantly, this legislation was probably designed to garner Right Wing Conservative Christian votes by claiming Obama's government was anti-religion.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor before the vote. "If the government is allowed to tell people to buy health care, it won't stop there. I wonder what's next. This isn't about one particular religion -- it's about the right of any American to live out their faith without the government picking and choosing which doctrines they're allowed to follow."
No Mitch, it's about employers having the right to determine the fate of their employees based on the doctrine or specific faith they professe to follow. It’s about permitting one to impose his or her beliefs on the rights of their employees by limiting their life choices.
Mitch, wouldn’t it be more equitable and fair to add "PROVIDED those actions do not impinge on the life and liberty of others?" The supporters of this bill in truth were not concerned with freedom of religion, they were concerned with women having the freedom to use contraception.
This bill failed, and perhaps this will go away. However, if our Senate shifts to the right, and we get a Santorum-like President, the idea that powerful people might use a religious or moral belief as a justification for bypassing laws protecting the average citizen could be possible, and should be terrifying.
I ask the reader to ponder the following:
Should a boss be able to:
- require women to wear burkas
require that girls be circumcised
- avoid controlling pollution because God will take care of things
- refuse to provide health insurance covering blood transfusions or stem cell transplants
- demand people tithe to a specific Church
- insist that employees say a prayer before starting the workday
- demand that children attend a school that teaches creationism
- require men to wear hats
- forbid employees to have lovers of the same sex
- only hire those believing in a specific God
- fire people for taking the Lord's name in vain (whatever the hell that means) after working hours
- forbid people to drive on Saturday or Sunday
- forbid people from voting for legislators in favor of legalizing marijuana
- forbid people from attending pro-choice rallies
- demand that all little boys be circumcised
- refuse to sell to customers of certain religions
- refuse to purchase from suppliers of different faith
Should people in power be able to treat their employees these ways?
Today, many of the above demands can be legally instituted by religious institutions. Some can be done by businesses. Few can be done by publicly funded institutions. On March 1, 2012, we were just two votes from changing that.
Matt Cole March 6, 2012
Matt Cole is a dad, grandpa, former construction executive and middle school science teacher. As an active member of the Chicago Ethical Humanist Society, he cares about people.
Once again, the Obamanable leftists are attempting to destroy religious freedom in their efforts to force taxpayers and the insured public to fund birth control. Thank God there are voices in the wilderness who continue to speak against the moral outrage perpetuated by the prostitutes and sluts. Rush Limbaugh had it right: Those who would force us to subsidize sin must pay. They can do this in a graphic fashion that will benefit us all.
Here’s the principle: God fearing taxpayers and insurance holders should not be made to finance your illicit, protected sex. The simple solution, of course, is to ban birth control. The wanted babies will become part of perfect American families. The unwanted will have a substantial market value among third-world peoples who have always dreamed of having an American-bred baby for fun and profit.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We have to be realistic. Some people will have sex while sinfully seeking to avoid the consequences.
Rush addressed the immorality of placing the burden of financing such behavior on the shoulders of people who have righteous religious scruples. Rush’s solution is brilliant. But it’s a solution that’s ahead of its time, and, unfortunately, has not yet met with the accolade it deserves. Under his visionary plan, the floozy co-eds and other prostitutes who wish to engage in sex-without-consequence must make their sin available for the public to watch.
The commercial possibilities will be endless and profitable for us all, even – though it’s hard for me to utter this word – liberals. After all, a portion of the gains can be used to subsidize birth control, which, for that group of people, is a good thing. Inevitable excess profits can be put into the coffers of SuperPacs so that corporate freedom of speech will be enhanced. A percentage also can be reserved to augment the all-too-meager salaries of right-thinking Supreme Court justices. The wages of sin, thus, will subsidize a just society!
Some people who pretend to be conservative have recoiled at Rush’s calling an outspoken young co-ed named Sandra Fluke, a “slut” and a “prostitute”, and his proposal to film the sexual adventures of this woman and other such so-called females who would engage in sin without consequences. The wide reaction even caused Rush to retreat from his own word adventures. After all, he meant slut in a universal sense, condemning all whores, not as an individual slur on any particular baby killer.
Given the wide condemnation of the porn industry, perhaps such flip-flopping is understandable. We can even forgive Rush’s decision to kowtow to upset advertisers. But we must rise above blind reflex. We must stand on our convictions, not the ever-shifting winds of politics.
We’re not just talking money here. We’re talking religious liberty.
To require God-fearing believers to pay for the birth control that they abhor runs directly counter to vision of our founding fathers, who sought to guarantee everyone’s freedom to practice the religion that they choose to impose upon others. We should not be forced to reach into our purse to pull out a condom!
Under Rush’s plan, this will never happen. The royalties made from marketing the sex videos will pay the costs of the camera work and of enforcing the law requiring undercover videotaping of illicit sexual encounters.
Some naysayers among us might object that Rush’s plan will spawn a new porn industry. How absurd! These movies will be available to us all. Nothing will be hidden. Nothing will be corrupt. We will be free to condemn and spurn these forbidden acts as we watch them. Everyone will learn the lesson!
And no one will have to violate their religious scruples by being forced to finance immorality.
William Lazarus, www.lazaruslegal.com, is an attorney who at times has a whimsical sense of humor and who lives and works in Flossmoor, Illinois.