The Absurdity of Religious Exemptions

Whatever happened to this notion about rights in which your right to do something ends when it infringes on another’s rights? You know, like you have a right to drive, but you can’t run over a church group at the park.

Finger wagEvery American should understand that rights are never unlimited, right? It’s why you have the right to free speech, but you don’t have the right to incite a riot or threaten a public official or a neighbor. You have the right to a free trial, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but the police can keep you in jail before your trial, just in case they’re right and you actually did kill those people.

Rights are not unlimited and absolute; not even religious rights. It’s why you can’t take some online course, declare your own religion and stop paying taxes. You can’t claim a religious exemption and sacrifice virgins (assuming you could find one) in a barbecue pit in your backyard. You can’t claim a religious exemption and claim that snorting cocaine or heroin is part of your ritual and be left alone by police.

So, why the hell are we allowing people to get away with anti-social behavior and, worse, why are we allowing them to deny others their rights by claiming a religious exemption for doing so? Why are some people’s rights considered more valuable than others’? In what way does this fit the spirit of the Constitution? And yes, pseudo-Christians, when it comes to protecting rights, the guideline is the secular law and not the goddamn Bible.

The most obvious example of this nonsense is the fact that half the country still believes gay marriage should be illegal. Thankfully, most judges disagree with that, but we have an entire major political party (The Republicans, in case I have to say it) that thinks their disapproval of the “lifestyle” should be sufficient for denying gays their rights because of two lines in Leviticus. And no, this issue isn’t about marriage, or your approval; it’s about rights.US_Constitution_Eagle

See, here’s the thing, fake Christians, gay couples already get married; they have for years. The issue is, the states have been recognizing some marriages and ignoring others based on their approval. And that is arbitrary, by definition. Arbitrary protection of rights is actually against the Constitution. Check out Section 1 of the 14th Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Equal protection of the laws… That means if you and your partner consider yourselves to be married, you are entitled to a marriage license, which offers numerous protections for individuals and couples. And since when does someone else get to approve or disapprove of any marriage and cause it to become null and void, without a legal impediment? The simple answer is, they don’t and shouldn’t.

Then there’s the concept in which, say, a baker who bakes wedding cakes refuses to make one for a same-sex couple, citing his religion as a rationale. So many support the baker in this scenario, but really, under what Constitution does a person operating a public business on a public street just get to arbitrarily decide who he will and will not serve based on his or her religion? What about the customer’s religious belief, which obviously is not against either homosexuality or same-sex marriage? Why is there not at least an equation made, balancing the rights of the store owner to believe whatever nonsense s/he wants to believe against the customer’s? In every like situation, there are two sets of rights to consider, not one. And the baker chose to file for a business license and agreed to make wedding cakes for the people who came through his/her doors. By the same token, the customer – a taxpayer who lives in the community that supports this businessperson’s right to conduct business, no less – also chose that particular bakery to do business with. So why is one person’s freedoms of choice and religion trumped by another’s?

Then, there are the states who offer a “religious exemption” for childhood vaccines. Where the hell does this come from? I mean, if the medical treatment only affects the person in question, no problem. For instance, if your religion says no blood transfusions, and you’re the one who could die as a result, fine. But parents should not be allowed to decide to victimize their children that way. Once the child is old enough to decide what religious nonsense he or she wants to believe, fine; they can refuse their own transfusions. But until then, the child comes before the parents’ narcissism.

However, when it comes to vaccinations, there should be no religious exemption for anyone. None. It’s not just about you, it’s about all of us. If someone comes into the country with Ebola, they should be quarantined, and they’re far less contagious than someone with measles. Only someone with a legitimate medical exemption should ever go without all required vaccinations. And the reason is simple; it’s not just about them; they’re choosing to put everyone at risk. A decade ago, scientists were crowing about the near-eradication of measles, but we now have a dangerous outbreak happening right now, precisely because of a bunch of self-important people have placed their own rights ahead of everyone else’s. And while it’s not the entire reason, a great number of people have done so based on their own claimed “religion,” which is bullshit. Even if you could cite chapter and verse of an ancient religious book, that still doesn’t give you the right to infect the rest of us.

There are also many instances where pharmacists think they can refuse to not fill a prescription for birth control pills and where doctors think they can refuse to treat gay patients, just because they claim a “religious exemption.” And there are many people who support people like this, and claim they have that right. They don’t and they shouldn’t.

This whole “religious exemption” craze is getting out of hand. Everyone has rights, not just religious people. Religions shouldn’t even be exempted from taxation, but that’s another column for another day. They sure as hell shouldn’t be allowed to place their “religious rights” ahead of others for any reason.

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