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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/7/17

Religion & Politics: Twisted Liberty

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Although we're confronted on a regular basis with some variation of the same theme, the following observation is an excellent summary of how religious liberty is being perverted by those adhering to a witch's brew of unverifiable, self-serving nonsense at the expense of their own faithful followers as well as the rest of us.

It really needs to stop....

On March 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court took up Zubik v. Burwell. Supreme Court justices once again heard from those challenging the employer contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. The plaintiffs argue that the law violates their religious freedoms, even though the ACA allows them to avoid actually providing the insurance if they fill out a simple form. Zubik is an example of cynical efforts by extreme conservatives to exploit religion as a smokescreen for policies that discriminate and endanger the rights of Americans everywhere. It is a version of religious freedom that allows certain religious beliefs to trump the rights of others, cause harm, and allow one group to impose their religion on another. This bears little resemblance to the liberty our country's founders intended.
Religious liberty has always been a core American value, enshrined in the First Amendment and central to maintaining the democratic experiment in our perennially diverse society. But contrary to the intent of the country's founders, state legislatures across the country are advancing bills that create harmful, imbalanced religious liberty protections for business owners, government officials, and even private parties opposed to national marriage equality, certain healthcare decisions, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or LGBT, adoption, and more. Conservative congressional lawmakers have pledged their support to the First Amendment Defense Act, or FADA--which would allow marriage equality opponents and those with objections to premarital sex to refuse to follow laws without penalty or intervention from the government. Conservative activists and media figures also continue to advance a 'war on religion' narrative to justify resisting civil rights for LGBT Americans and denying women legally mandated health care--while also regularly questioning whether Muslims and other religious minorities deserve religious liberty protections.
Extreme conservatives cannot and should not have the monopoly on defining religious liberty.

Amen to that!

Silence or acquiescence to these efforts is nothing but a different way of offering support for these efforts. Before that pattern of behavior continues--by either or both sides of these policy contests--more consideration ought to be offered to the consequences if this pattern continues. What Happens Then?

Given the alleged comfort offered and intended by religious devotion, the perverse use of it to condemn, judge, discriminate, and kill seems to be missing the point of the whole Supreme Loving ... Whoever/Whatever. Isn't it worth even a moment's pause to wonder why some of these mandates have supposedly been issued, given the conflict and hatred that results? If that's what they are fighting for, shouldn't an extremist or two take a break and wonder if there might be a different/better way of getting the alarm code and entry into everlasting joy?

If followers are relying on the commands of a Deity perfectly comfortable with the violence, discrimination, lies, threats, and restrictions Its group seeks to impose over others--ignoring the fact that Competing Deities have Their identical Agenda and Their just-as-loyal followers, setting up an absolutely no-win situation--then perhaps we might want to start campaigning soon for a much Better, Wiser, Kinder Supreme Whatever, with a very different set of Rules for us all to abide by.

The current versions suck! If that's what we can expect from the One and Only now, what the hell awaits us in the hereafter?

This path is one with no happy ending: followers relying on nonsense and magic bound to be chagrined when they realize they've wasted so much time, energy, and effort over ... nothing; and opponents raising the ante at every step in order to combat nonsense.

Of course, if these various Deities are drawing great delight from the foolishness expressed on Their behalfs, then we've got even bigger issues to consider....

Are the faithful not smarter than this? If not, can we count on them to figure it out soon?

If they are, then what are they doing, still obeying idiots spreading nonsense as the gospel truths with guaranteed lose-lose as the outcome?

Harming innocent others because your team happens to be full of nitwit leaders counting on none of you to think at all might justify your effort to hit your own intellectual pause button and ponder this. Do the combatants ever allow themselves to wonder To what end?

How long and how many others must be harmed by the condemnations and judgments and criticisms and denials offered by those on the Religious Right in their pointless quest to achieve an unattainable, imaginary objective created out of thin air to appease those unwilling to think for themselves, and too fearful to discover that their own capabilities are more than enough to get them through life much more peacefully? Fighting for unverifiable and meaningless objectives having no basis whatsoever in fact merits at least a moment's worth of contemplation, doesn't it?

We do have facts for a reason.... Might be worth giving them a try for a while. That hard work will pay off much more handsomely than the hard work followers are putting in to pursue nonsense and add countless more victims to the God Wars. By now, the faithful ought to be at least a bit more rational than their efforts suggest.

Win-win is not the worst outcome, after all.

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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