The Grim Calculus of Rights of Conscience

Mar 14 2012 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

“Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would’ve been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. And by the way, I say “this guy”, because I firmly believe, looking at these results, that if there is a God, it has to be a man. No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, I think most reasonable people might agree that he’s at least incompetent, and maybe, just maybe, doesn’t give a shit. Doesn’t give a shit, which I admire in a person, and which would explain a lot of these bad results.” 
― George Carlin

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” 
― George Carlin

I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m tired of writing about religion. Honest to gods, I’m tired of it. But every damn subject you care to name has been religion-ized by the GOP. Honestly: try to think of something. Odds are, some conservative has appealed to scripture – even teacher’s pay, or how employers should treat employees.

Probably, it will turn out that God is against water saving toilets. Surely Jesus had something to say about that.

And completely without surprise is Jesus’ retroactive support for plutocracy. Yes, it turns out the champion of the poor really did have a big ole soft spot for the rich. Guess we’ve been misinterpreting his comment about the difficulties of rich people going to heaven.

I guess it would be unthinkable today for Jesus to  even begin his ministry today without corporate sponsorship. Imagine the Sermon on the Mount, brought to you by Monsanto and its genetically engineered fish and loaves.

Of course, this is all in accord with the tenets of Christian dominionism. You can’t have a rock solid theocracy if you let any facet of life slip through the cracks. Sin is sure to follow. So you apply Christian theology unilaterally, across the board, applying it to every aspect of human life.

By re-framing ever issue as a religious issue, they can then say that when somebody disagrees with them that their religious freedoms are being violated. You see how clever that is? My teacher talked about anthropogenic global warming! He violated my religious beliefs! Oh! Oh! He talked about evolution! He violated my religious beliefs!

Pure science here – climate science and evolution – reduced to matters of belief, as though science is something you can believe in or not. I guess I’ll just choose from now on to not believe it was 80 degrees in March. Never happened. It’s a violation of my religious freedoms to suggest it was anything but average March weather.

But putting on a winter coat in 80-degree March weather is exactly what these religious zealots are doing.

Re-framing issues as religious issues allows them to bring up a little something called “rights of conscience” which allow people to ignore the law when it violates their religious beliefs – such as refusing to offer contraceptives, or the morning after pill to rape victims. Hell, even rape itself as a crime gets bulldozed by the man’s religious right to have sex with his wife.

Trouble is, their so-called religious freedom and their so-called “rights of conscience” don’t take anyone else’s religious freedom or rights of conscience into account. We all have to live our lives through a fundamentalist Christian prism. If your religion says contraception is fine, too bad. Theirs does not. Your religion says abortion is permitted? Too bad, theirs does not. Your religion says sex education is permitted? Too bad, theirs does not. You get raped in the school stairwell? You shouldn’t have been dressed like a slut, Jezebel. You are pregnant because of incest? Too bad. I don’t believe in abortion, therefore you can’t have one!

How does that make sense? I don’t believe so you can’t…

Guess what? You lose, each and every damn time. Because their religious beliefs always and will always triumph yours. That is the consensus they are building, from Utah’s abstinence-only sex ed legislation to Focus on the Family’s Colorado ballot initiative to exclude state government interference from personal or organizational religious belief. Kiss your healthcare goodbye, along with your own rights and freedoms.

Since all these issues are presented purely within a Christian framework and only a Christian’s religion or “rights of conscience” can be violated or even come into play. They have already gone a long way toward presenting secularists and atheists as non-citizens and the world’s second largest religion as a cult without any first amendment rights whatsoever. Pagans and Paganism have been put at the top of the list as again and again we hear about the “paganization” of America as representative of America’s downfall, America’s fall from grace and the path their God set out for it. And history has shown the only thing Christians hate more than Pagans is their fellow Christians who aren’t the “right kind” of Christian. Those Christians who aren’t fundamentalist enough are doing Satan’s work – a Republican presidential candidate said so and nobody gainsaid him. Must be true then.

It is easy to see where all this is going.

So while I’d kill to write about something completely religion-free, I can’t imagine what it might be.  Even something as profane as war has become the domain of religion. Conservatives won’t be happy until our soldiers have been turned into crusading Knights Templar and some of them are already acting like it, slaughtering and burning like it was the 11th and not the 21st century. But then I suppose they have the right to act this way – rights of conscience and all. When individual beliefs trump the law of the land and the rights of your fellow citizens, it can only end badly, because their rights become our chains.

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