Legalizing religious tyranny
by: John Tyrrell
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In the wake of the increasing legalization of same-sex marriage, politicians in several states in the US have introduced so-called "religious liberty" and "religious freedom" laws. The intent of these laws is to allow government employees to refuse to do their jobs - specifically issue marriage licenses and officiate over civil marriages if the marriage is against the employee's religious beliefs.
In other words, the intent of the law is to permit government employees the religious liberty - the religious freedom - to stuff their religious-based bigotry down the throats of the taxpayers who pay their salaries.
In other words - we have a very Orwellian use of the words freedom and liberty.
I'd already intended to write an article that such laws could have unintended consequences because the law would allow government employees involved in the marriage process to refuse to do their jobs for any religious excuse - not just opposition to same-sex relationships. But I found such an outcome had already occurred.
Last May, a marriage officiant in Virginia refused to marry a heterosexual couple because they did not believe in God. One was agnostic and the other an atheist - and the officiant, registered to perform civil marriages used his religious freedom to refuse to do his job - to deny the religious freedom of the couple it was his job to serve.
Perhaps some people are not familiar for one of the major reasons for civil marriage ceremonies - it is to perform marriages that churches have the religious freedom to refuse to perform.
Churches refuse to perform marriages for any number of valid (to them) religious reasons:
- one or both are divorced
- different denominations
- different religions
- a parent does not approve even though the couple are both of legal age to make their own decision
- couple are of different races (yes - such bigoted churches exist)
- couple are too closely related by religious rules, but not so in law
- one or both are non-believers
- same sex couples
Civil marriages let these people get married legally even if a church won't oblige. Any and/or all those types of legal marriages listed above could be subject to arbitrary refusal of a civil marriage if these so-called religious freedom / religious liberty laws actually get approved.
Civil marriages without religious restrictions are an example of religious freedom and religious liberty in practice. Because religion is not being imposed on people.
Allowing people involved in the civil marriage process to bring their religion to work is not freedom or liberty - it is religious tyranny.
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