Tag Archives: religious freedom

Dear Idiots: Please Stop Making Me Defend The Bigoted Baker

I am pleased that the Supreme Court will be taking the case of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because, he said, they wanted it to be customized, and doing so would offend his faith.  His claim is based on the First Amendment, which prevents the government from making you say what you don’t want to say as much as it prevents the government from stopping you from saying what you want to.

Colorado’s courts denied that Phillips was doing anything but saying that he doesn’t like or respect gays sufficiently to make the exact same cake for them that he would make for non-gays.  I agree with their holding that his actions violated the public accommodations laws. I wrote when this case first reared its frosted head…

“The court’s conclusion  is impossible to rebut. The cake the baker was asked to bake for the gay wedding differed not at all from one he would normally sell a straight couple. In truth, this had nothing to do with expression. He was just refusing to serve a gay couple because of their sexual orientation. Selling them a standard cake would neither constitute, nor would it be recognized as a “message” in support of gay marriage.

The Court agreed that a wedding cake with a customized message celebrating a same-sex marriage as such might implicate First Amendment speech issues, but “we need not reach this issue,” the court said. “We note, again, that Phillips denied Craig’s and Mullins’ request without any discussion regarding the wedding cake’s design or any possible written inscriptions.”

In other words, Phillips was gratuitously and unnecessarily being a cruel jerk. An alleged Christian who is unable to detect the basic Golden Rule application in treating fellow citizens with the minimal level of respect inherent in allowing them to buy a standard wedding cake requiring no “Yay Gay!” or “Charlie and David Forever!” messages in pink frosting deserves no sympathy or quarter from the law. Could the couple have just shrugged and found another bakery? Sure, they could have. Linda Brown could also have just shrugged and found an all-black school to attend, too.

The gay couple are not the villains here. Jack Phillips broke the social contract, as well as the law.”

Now that SCOTUS has decided, by agreeing to review the case,  that he has perhaps a scrawny, shaky legal leg to stand on before thy kick it out from under him, Phillips and his lawyer are taking a premature victory lap, as if making it quite clear that you think gays are second class citizens is something to be proud of (and, sadly, too many still think it is.) Their publicity campaign took them all the way to The View, a wise choice. After all, nothing can make an unethical position seem more persuasive than when it is being attacked by idiots, and idiots of the left-wing persuasion are pretty much what ABC’s “Six Opinionated Female B and C List Celebrities Sitting Around Slamming Conservatives”  daytime show has to offer. (To be fair, the show usually has one even dumber right-wing idiot on hand to make the left-wing idiots seem astute by comparison.) Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Annie Peguero, Defiant Breast-Feeding Mom

Ah, yet another feast from the legal/ethical divide, with seasoning from the minority/majority ethics balancing dilemma, and a side-dish of favored group arrogance and entitlement! The beverage? Why breast milk, of course!

Yum!

Annie Peguero’s 19-month-old baby became unruly during the service at the Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, so she nursed her, right there, in the church. She was quickly asked to move the operation to a private room, but Peguero refused.The church staff told her that it does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because the activity might make members of the congregation uncomfortable.

The mother of two left the church, and soon posted a livestream video on Facebook telling viewers her side of the story and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.

“I want you to know that breast-feeding is normal,” she said.

Is it normal without any cover in a church? That church? Peeing is normal, but I wouldn’t rely on the “normal” categorization take a whiz in a pew. Farting is normal, but if I felt a big one coming, I would excuse myself. Eating is normal, but chowing down on a huge Italian sub during the hymns would be in bad taste. Sex is normal, but…well, you get the idea. Annie doesn’t.

To complicate the matter, breast-feeding is a legally protected right in Virginia thanks to badly written 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be. Dumb law, overly broad, and probably the result of pandering to the mommy lobby while assuming that mothers wouldn’t try to stretch the law to absurd limits. But Virginia also has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02, which says,

No government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Do we really think that churches shouldn’t be allowed to have dress and decorum codes and policies? Continue reading

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Spectacularly Incompetent Candidate Of The Month: Paul Ryan Challenger Paul Nehlen

"This is Paul. Won't you help him? Paul, like millions of other victims across the land, suffers from Constitution Ignorance Syndrome. This dread malady causes its victims to advocate fascist  policies and to sound like idiots in their public statements. But there is hope for Paul, and those like him. Please give, and give generously, To "Educate Paul." a non-profit charity. Your gift is tax-deductible, and you will have made the United States a little less stupid with every penny you contribute to this vital cause."

“This is Paul. Won’t you help him? Paul, like millions of other victims across the land, suffers from Constitution Ignorance Syndrome. This dread malady causes its victims to advocate fascist policies and to sound like idiots in their public statements. But there is hope for Paul, and those like him. Please give, and give generously, To Educate Paul a non-profit charity. Your gift is tax-deductible, and you will have made the United States a little less stupid with every penny you contribute to this vital cause.”

This was the guy that Donald Trump was supposedly going to endorse as retribution for Speaker Ryan’s negative comments? It’s comforting, isn’t it, that Trump isn’t that irrational? Ann Coulter is, but Trump isn’t. (At least in this case.)

Paul Nehlen is the arch conservative and certifiable ignoramus who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District’s Republican primary. Interviewed last week on “Chicago’s Morning Answer,” Nehlen said that he wonders why we have any Muslims in the country, and suggested that there should be a public debate about tossing Muslims out of the U.S.

Here’s a partial transcript of the relevant comments Nehlen made to hosts Amy Jacobson and Dan Croft: Continue reading

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Considering the Retrograde Mississippi Freedom of Comment of the Day #2: “Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, This Shouldn’t Be Surprising At All…”

Jesus-Burdens-our-Religious-Freedom

The second Comment of the Day, also on the same post, comes from frequent COTD author Extradimensional Cephalopod. His topic is religious freedom. Here it is…

Human logic is so warped by truisms. Why are we discussing the competition between religious freedom and the principle of respecting others? Once we strip away the artificial distinction between religious beliefs and any other beliefs, everything becomes more obvious.

It makes no sense at all to say that people are free to believe whatever they want but that they should not impose those beliefs on others in public. Society is built on a foundation of mutual beliefs, beliefs about the best obligations we can all impose on ourselves on behalf of each other. Fundamental disagreements or paradigm mismatches about ethics and rights cannot be ignored, because they disrupt the fabric of society itself. (No, gay marriage in itself doesn’t disrupt the fabric of society; the fact that only a small percentage of the population can discuss it respectfully and intelligently indicates the fabric has been looking for an excuse to unravel.)

“Religious freedom” is an excuse to avoid difficult conversations and careful thought, and just sweep the differences under the rug. The only reason that’s possible is because (most) people decided they would prefer to ignore each other rather than kill each other, but that doesn’t make the underlying misunderstandings go away. They show up in politics because the law of the land is the only place where people have no alternative but to deal with each other’s beliefs about right and wrong (or leave the country). If we face our disagreements head on, but with the goal of learning, there is no reason “tolerance” needs to last forever.

I would never tell a person who believes that gay marriage is an offense against a magical energy being that they should keep that belief to themselves, any more than I would ask it of someone who believes that evolution is a more accurate and useful concept than creationism. People who keep beliefs to themselves rarely get the opportunity to learn they’re wrong. Of course, people who never shut up about their beliefs and listen to alternatives never learn either. Ideas should be sent out into the world to stand on their own. Most of them will be torn to shreds, and that’s good. The ideas that don’t survive weren’t useful, at least not by themselves.

There is no way to defend religion as a concept, let alone its exercise, because religion is an arbitrary collection of descriptive and normative beliefs with a lot of people who consider them somehow existentially important. Religion in general cannot be defended ethically or legally, because its beliefs could say literally anything. Any such defense would merely be an excuse to completely ignore skepticism and critical thinking in the name of… somehow being morally superior in a way that critical thinking and skepticism… somehow prevents. However, most (but not all) religions allow critical thinking in ways that don’t threaten their tenets, because the ones that don’t are even more horribly crippled due to their intellectual bankruptcy. Few complain because few know how to think critically, or value the practice.

Continue reading

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Georgia’s Religious Liberty Bill Was An Ethics Abomination, But So Is Letting Corporations Dictate Laws In A Democracy

...and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

…and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

Ethics Abomination I: Georgia’s HB 757

Gov. Nathan Deal  vetoed the controversial  “religious liberty” bill yesterday. Well, good. HB 757 was an ugly, ignorant, unethical  law in many ways, and almost certainly unconstitutional on its face.

It began with outrageous fear-mongering, appealing to right-wing hysteria and ignorance…

[R]eligious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to provide that no individual shall be required to attend the solemnization of a marriage, performance of  rites, or administration of sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion;

Ridiculous. No law, state or national, can require a pastor or minister to perform a wedding, nor could any citizen be required to attend one. These are both unalterable First Amendment no-nos, and any legislator who doesn’t know that is too ignorant to hold office. Laws should not be sops thrown to slobbering mobs, and that’s what this part of the law is—unless it’s proof that Georgia legislature is itself a slobbering mob.

Then the law ends by greasing the wheels for outright anti-LGBT discrimination:

Except as provided by the Constitution of this state or the United States or federal law, no faith based organization shall be required to hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.

A refusal by a faith based organization to hire or retain a person pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section shall not give rise to a civil claim or cause of action against such faith based organization or an employee thereof or result in any state action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against the faith based organization or employee based on such refusal.

You have to really, really hate and fear gay citizens not to reject such a bill. Continue reading

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John Kasich Flunks A Competence Requirement: If You Can’t Think And Communicate Clearly, You Shouldn’t Be President

“We must be more forceful in the battle of ideas. U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate
them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it should focus on four critical targets: the Middle East, China, Iran, and Russia.”

Poor John Kasich. The Ohio governor is by experience, practical political views and demonstrated executive skills among the most qualified and able of all the Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, he is a lazy communicator and a clumsy one, and in a job where words and persuasion matter as much as any other tool of leadership, he repeatedly reveals himself to be untrustworthy. The above passage, from Kasich’s foreign policy speech this week, exemplifies this.

A President cannot say that he wants an agency that will promote Judeo-Christian values, because it will be heard, and fairly so, as an effort to promote some religions over others, something the United States government may not do, and may not even appear to want to do. Worse, Kasich chose the exact moment when his words were guaranteed to be interpreted in the worst light possible by Democrats and the news media, as the nation was immersed in an a debate about screening Syrian refugees that was being elevated to dueling hysterias by both the left and the right. Sure enough, I just heard CNN’s Michael Smerconish compare Kasich’s proposal to ISIS-style forced conversion.

Nice job, John. Continue reading

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OK, Progressive Hypocrites: NOW Do You Agree That The Pope Is Meddling Where He Has No Business Meddling?

Pope Francis2

Pope Francis just threw the weight of the Vatican behind Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee, and other proponents of theocracy….which makes sense, I guess, since he leads one:

Reuters:

Pope Francis said on Monday government officials have a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience...On the flight back to Rome, he was asked if he supported individuals, including government officials, who refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licenses to gays.

“Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,” Francis said.

UPDATE: The full quote:

“I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection… but, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right…. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right… Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It is a human right…It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”

That sly fox did phrase this ambiguously enough that he has plausible deniability: maybe he’s been coached by the Clintons. “Oh, no,” he can say, “I said ‘conscientious objection,’ as in civil disobedience. I didn’t say they had a right to defy the law and still keep their jobs!” Or maybe he was mistranslated, and really said, “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

Let’s all give thank to the Pope for ensuring that more Constitutional dummies will insist that they can defy the laws and discriminate against gay citizens because the Bible tells them so and the Pope said they have a “right.”

Sorry Frankie, but you don’t know what the hell you are talking about, and you need to butt out of U.S. social and policy issues.

There is no human right to treat a human being differently from any other human being because of his or sexual orientation as a representative of the government, no right to defy the law without consequences, and no right for a government employee to refuse to do her job because she, like the Pope, in her infinite non-comprehension of the Constitution, doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, gratitude is due to the Popester* for proving my point about the absurdity of his amateur observations about law, government and policy being treated like divine revelations by the news media and Democrats trying to pick up some polling points on global warming.

Did you notice that he didn’t have the guts to talk to Congress about abortion. That would have upset his claque on the Democratic side. He also waited until he was safely  back home before lining up with the Kim Davis crowd.

Canny.

Cowardly.

*Disrespectful, you say? Absolutely. Guilty as charged! I don’t respect foreign despots who presume to interfere with my country’s politics, laws and culture. I resent them. Neither should any other American citizen. And John Boehner regarded allowing the head of his religion to lobby the Congress his greatest achievement!

 

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