Rev. Neal Humphrey has a nice blog on our web site looking at the question of religious freedom in light of the recent Health and Human Services kerfuffel in which a religiously-operated business was told it had to provide birth control, abortion payment and sterilization to its employees even though those things violate that religion’s beliefs.
Freedom of religion, just like freedom of speech or many other freedoms, is generally summarized as “your freedom to swing your arm ends at the point of my nose.” That’s what I was taught, anyway.
Sure, you have the right to live your religion as you choose. Go for it, I shall not protest or hinder you in any way.
But is it fair, is it really being Christ-like, to practice your religion in such as way that being true to your faith allows you to impose your beliefs on me?
If you are part of a religion that sets up a business that has employees, competes in the private sector and in all respects looks like a regular commercial business, telling those employees how to conduct their sex lives strikes me as a bit of a stretch, and telling them how to conduct their medical lives as part of those sex lives, ditto.
And yet we’re seeing more of this. Rev. Humphrey derides “socialistic” medical dictates of the federal government as giving it entry into some church’s business management, but that’s beside the point. All health insurance is socialism, all medical establishments depend on insurance companies to stay alive, there’s no escaping them. Don’t believe me, ask any hospital administrator anywhere how long he’d be in business if the cost of all those $50,000 surgeries they do was born entirely by the sick guy on the table and not shared around to the rest of us.
It’s a question of individual right, not federal control of someone’s religion. One role of the federal government is to protect the rights of the individual against the majority, and it is interesting that we’re now seeing the guarantee of freedom of religion used to take away the rights of other minorities — those who are not of that faith.
People who use religion to determine how they practice medicine are particularly scary. I know one couple whose doctor lied to them about their child having Down Syndrome. Flat out lied so they wouldn’t consider an abortion, and yet did that doctor help with the extra costs that child brought with it?
No. But I bet he went to church and thanked God for the strength to do God’s will.
We seem to be seeing “freedom of religion” morph into “my religious freedom lets me make my religion rule your life,” and I see no good coming from that.
Whether it’s a pharmacist who refuses to fill a prescription or just the Legislature telling the rest of us where and when we can buy beer with dinner, it’s a slippery slope that will ultimately lead to religious oppression of everyone.
My own religion, Roman Catholicism, does not have a good history in this regard. Google “St. Bartholomew’s Day” for an all-too-typical example.