Religious Freedom

religious freedom siblings
Something.. something “judge not lest ye be judged” whatever that is.

With the divisiveness of Marriage Equality heating things up in many states, including the ongoing legal protections over discrimination of LGBT citizens in Utah, we’ve come to hear a term or two that sounds more innocent than it is. Religious Freedom, and it’s similar term religious liberty, are defense for those who are not comfortable dealing with gay and lesbian people in the public, hiding behind their concerns or fears under the guise of religious belief.

Basically, both terms are used as legal safeguards for anyone that doesn’t want to marry two people of the same sex or deal with any public issues if they are highly religious government workers. Lawmakers are scrambling to fend off any offending business that some feel violates their religious beliefs. It’s comes across as a ruse for anyone that supports equality and they should be aware of these religious protections and how it can affect their interactions with public servants who might raise the issue.

Embracing Equality

cnn jim debakis utah marriage
Jim Debakis and his partner tie the knot
Original image found at

As I mentioned above, Utah has been trying to find a balance of protecting LGBT residents in housing and employment for well over 7 years now. This week’s final draft of SB296 finds the best merger of LDS behemoth control and Equality Utah’s fight for rights and protections of the growing LGBT population that is just waiting to be passed by both Utah House and Senate and the promised signature by Governor Herbert. This bill needs to and should pass.

It’s not perfect, in the sense of equal treatment on a humanity level. But from an organized religion that struggles with their stance on anything “gay”, there are concessions that were made to help this bill see some type of support for the mostly LDS elected officials that wait for the top tier to give it’s OK so they can give their OK. It’s an odd mess that never really works for anyone that’s not a member of the LDS church or anyone who used to be a member that realized there’s more to life than blindly accepting the teachings of the dominant organized religion in this state.

Back In The Day

race religion
Using religion to promote racism
Original image found at Southern Spaces

In 1954, the US Supreme Court made a unanimous decision to strike down legally-sanctioned racial segregation in the public schools – which applied to 11 southern states at first, before rolling out to the entire nation.

As the above photo shows, Bible verses, in the name of religion, were used in protest to this strike down of racial segregation in the educational system.

race mixing protest
Original image found at Wikipedia

Likewise, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down bans on interracial marriage was rooted in bigotry, sometimes hidden behind a religious belief, but mostly out of fears of how society would become if white and blacks were allowed to marry. The controlling nature of those that wanted to protect their ban on mixed race marriages was hard to understand then, just as it seems illogical today.

Cherry Picking

Fast forward to today where the term religious freedom or religious liberty are used to discriminate or segregate LGBT citizens of this country. Haven’t we learned from our ugly history in this country? Are we always going to see a group of people that are treated as less than 100% human? What kind of people are we that we treat others as lower forms of life? And for those who are religious that believe in what Jesus taught, you are not really embracing that mantra of “love one another” – are you?

But with just a few loosely interpreted bible verses, you get to claim “religious liberty” to enact laws that allow you to refuse service to gay people because it’s against your “sincerely held religious beliefs”. So for those that have the authority to marry others, in the name of “religious freedom”, you get to use that trump card to refuse to marry a couple you don’t feel are 100% human or treated differently alongside other US citizens.

While we are on the subject of cherry picking bible verses and marriages, let’s see how this one works for using “religious freedom” against others. Leviticus 21:13,14 says

“And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.”

How many people remarry in this country? A lot. How many of those that remarry are NOT virgins? A LOT. How many of those who are wanting “religious freedom” to deny gay people the right to a legal marriage are willing to take this bible verse and use it to deny the right to marry a divorced couple? How about a widow? The bible says, “these shall he not take” Pretty fucking clear. Denied.

And about those bible verses that discuss homosexuality? They just so happen to also be in the book of Leviticus. Cherry picking at it’s best. Because if you don’t also use your “religious liberty” to ban divorced non-virgins from marrying, you are a biblical hypocrite.

Different Form of Marriage

I think it’s time we got over our divisive selves in this country and embraced acceptance of humanity. And don’t trot out your “marriage has only been between one man and one woman” That’s a load of crap, especially for anyone that knows the history of the LDS church before the turn of the 20th century [and the continued belief of marriage in the afterlife]. Marriage has evolved with society over hundreds of years and it will continue to evolve. Equal and humane treatment of all people, regardless of race, sex, color, creed, religion and sexual orientation should be the first and foremost priority. You can be religious and have your beliefs, but I don’t buy for a minute that includes refusing to rent to or hire a select group, based on exercising your “religious freedom.” Or refuse to marry anyone, based simply on who they are. Because if that were the case, you’d also need to refuse to rent to or hire anyone divorced or unmarried virgins. And refusing to marry a divorcee or widow.

Religious freedom shouldn’t be about segregating or excluding. It should be about acceptance and embracing humanity, without exceptions.


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