Religious Liberty Trampling Other Liberties

Only women who are nuns get religious liberty?

Only women who are nuns get religious liberty?

Some folks try to use their own religious rights to tramp down everyone else’s.

A couple examples:

  • Contraception: Powerful people who don’t believe in birth control refuse to cover contraception thru their organization’s insurance
  • Gay marriage: No cake-baking for gay weddings if you’re against homosexuality

Apparently, religious rights are more important than any other kind.

Religious rights are more important?

Are religious rights really more important than health and autonomy and fulfilling lives?

Men who prefer men must marry women they don’t love, instead. In which case, some women would marry men who aren’t attracted to them, and who don’t want to be with them. Is that good for anyone?

Or, it’s a lot harder for women to get educations and jobs, or escape abusive marriages, without contraception. That harms women’s life chances. (And their children’s.)

Constant pregnancy hurts women’s health, too.

My religious rights over your religious rights

Actually, whenever we try to limit another person’s rights by claiming “religious liberty,” we harm that person’s religious liberty.

Because we “freedom lovers” are trying to force everyone else to follow our religious dictates. They must follow our religion, not their own.

So a nun watches her Jewish grocery clerk discard the pork she had wanted to buy? She moves down to the Hindu checker, but he won’t let her eat any meat at all.

Next, the Muslim… then Mormon… then Seventh-Day Adventist… then Christian Scientist all say, “No booze for you!” And no tea, either!

What’s a nun to do?

I’m thinking about this because of a Supreme Court decision that came down this week.

Since Antonin Scalia’s death, the conservative bloc couldn’t cobble together enough votes to keep women from accessing birth control that their employers or universities don’t like.

Nuns carried placards reading, “Women’s religious rights,” without thinking of any women but themselves (who don’t have sex and don’t need birth control). But the High Court finally told the dueling parties to compromise.

Only the bigots will be free

Besides, shouldn’t religious people sacrifice for their own religion? Instead of asking everyone else to sacrifice for their religion?

If the religious right succeeds, only they will be free.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 20, 2016, in feminism, LGBT+, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. Do you see this as a moral or a legal question?

    • Both.

      It’s a moral question such that one group of people shouldn’t try to trample upon the liberties of others. They expect everyone else to sacrifice for their religion. But they actually believe in theocracy — where everyone is behaving in accordance to their religion. Yet really, people should sacrifice for their own religion, Not ask everyone else to.

      It’s a legal question in that it is going to the courts. And could become the law of the land for everyone to have to bow down to one religion.

      • Theocracy sounds so scary. Can’t believe people would really want that.

      • You would think so. But about half of our Supreme Court are conservative Catholics who are a bit theocratic and who don’t appreciate women’s rights, and seem happy to instill theocratic law to limit women. Justice Kennedy is in-between, so I’m not sure how much of the “compromise” decision might be his doing. He has ruled on both sides on this issue. In fact, I think that Justice Kennedy is motivated more by libertarianism — and not wanting to expand Obamacare — than being against women’s rights. And that libertarian streak is also true of the other conservative justices. The conservative coalition includes religious conservatives, so the conservative justices try to do things to keep them in the fold, too (and they may also be members of that part of the fold). The religious conservatives they represent are definitely theocrats.

      • Lol all those crazy fundamentalist religious people who left Europe to start again in the US. Now you’re stuck with their mentality. So many things happening over there that would not be possible here

      • Lucky you!

        Where are you from, by the way?

      • Ah, thanks!

        I have a friend with a fiancé from Germany. She says that your country is just as scared as (most of) ours of Donald Trump. From polls I’ve seen that about 60% of Americans are afraid of a Donald Trump presidency (hate putting those last three words so close together). But not all of that 60% are committed to Hillary. Hopefully they will keep tabs and make sure that DT doesn’t get in — because he’s NUTS-O!

      • Yeah that’s absolutely true. idk anybody who would support Donald trump over here

      • I think that’s partly because your country has greater economic equality than ours. There is a contingent in the United States that is economically insecure and half of that group is doing two things in response: blame minorities (which a large contingent of the Republican Party does) + support the only Republican who is talking about making things better for the working class — even as his policy proposals favor the rich. But they are low information voters and don’t see that. They also don’t see how crazy Trump is, more broadly. Or don’t care, so long as he keeps paying them lipservice.

      • also we vote for ideas, not for people. Our politicians are usually boring. Nobody cares about them per se. People care about what their parties stand for. I think somebody as loud and annoying as Donald trump would never stand a chance

      • Is that because you have a parliamentary system? You vote for the party and then whoever heads the party heads the government?

      • Kinda, yeah. The most successful party suggests the candidate and since they have the most seats he or she usually gets elected

      • Maybe we need a parliamentary system. Less likely to get crazies for the head of state.

      • Yeah. I think that’s true. Parliamentary system has its advantages

      • Moral is a legal question too… I agree with you…

  2. point put across very well.

  3. This is why freedom of religion is meaningless without freedom from religion. You can’t be free to practice your own beliefs without being free from the nonsense of everyone else’s.

  4. Excellent post…
    Being a law student, a sheer feeling of helpless dawn on me…

    • Well, find some good arguments to fight this sort of crazy! 🙂

      • There are argument but the only problem as I see if that, arguments just remain arguments..

        For example, in the state of Kerala, in India, known for a positive sex ratio, with 98% literacy, has been in news because there is a temple where women going through periods are not allowed inside the temple because they were considered impure…

        I mean kettle started campaign ” happy to bleed ” but nothing happened as such..
        It’s so disgusting !!?

      • We tend to see the world from the perspective of the powerful. And Christians are powerful in United States. But there are other ways of seeing. So this whole thing could be argued in other ways.

        On the issue in your country, it’s pretty common throughout the world nowadays to see menstruation as something negative (less so now than in the past in the US). But once upon a time women were valued, And so was menstruation: “Don’t touch a woman because she’s so powerful when she is on her period, she might hurt you!” When patriarchy rose up, women and the things associated them were put down. And menstruation moved from “Powerful” to “Polluted.” Pretty sad. One of my students wrote something on this topic that I will be posting in a bit.

      • Very true, it’s all the conflict between powerful and powerless ..
        Will be looking forward to it .
        Thank you for this note..

  5. Just read your comment above. I’m waiting for the post on menstruation.
    There are so many ways…just so many to hinder women. Sometimes, I really do wonder how tactfully this patriarchy works. But again, we women are also responsible in some ways. I’ve seen so many nagging, greedy, selfish women… sigh.

  6. “My religious rights over your religious rights”
    That title and its consequences is so true… and I wouldn´t have thought of it…but probbaly because I would have just focussed on how religious rights might act agaisnt other rights….

    For example:

    – Being against Contraception based on religious basis might collide with the right to self-determination and over oneself´s body

    – Being against Gay marriage based on religious basis might be, once again the right to self-determination…

    In Argentina Section 19 of the Constitution says that private actions of men that don’t harm the public order or another man can not be judged by authorities….
    (Section 19. – The private actions of men which in no way offend public order or
    morality, nor injure a third party, are only reserved to God and are exempted from the
    authority of judges)…

    The problem here is “what offends public order or morality”… Hence, also what is Morality?.

    An orthodox Catholic from the right wing would probbaly say that Homosexuality does, even if homosexual encounters were practised privately…

    The main issue here is that Faith is Dogma… so it is hard to fight unmovable and transcendent principles using rational fundaments… It is always the same old story… It started a long time ago, during the Middle Age… And probably before then too!…

    Great reading Georgia… sending best wishes. Aquileana 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s pretty much impossible to appeal to the religious fundamentalists. You have to appeal to the rest of the people to put pressure on the government.

  7. The big problem that is also posed with this situation is the separation of church and state, something that is supposed to be federally universal in this country, However, with the majority of conservative politicians in a Republican Congress, the reality of the situation is that their own religious/moral views almost always factor into their voting. This makes it easy for the Catholic/Christians of America to express their ‘superiority’ over those of other religions. Until we have a true separation of church and state, religious freedom will never be a possibility for this country.

    • Yeah, and about half of the Supreme Court is Catholic. I have no problem with Catholics — and Sonia Sotamayor manages to be Catholic without inflicting her religion on everyone else.

  8. Since the dawn of our existence, debate and dispute over varied belief has been commonplace. Just recently, and thankfully, we’ve begun the shift towards disagreeing with reason, rather than fist. Naturally, a sea of arguments from all proponents will unfold, and thus, I sow mine, but a flake in a slurry of debates (cue laughter).

    One counterargument to protesting contraception for ‘religious freedom’ is: opening a new religion that holds any legal belief is incredibly doable (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/start-your-own-church_us_55d24635e4b07addcb43bd60). For instance, you can start one which is offended by contraception not being readily available, then the original protest of ’religious freedom’ is no longer a valid argument altogether (key word, ‘readily’).

    Unfortunately, we did not make the freedom of religion clause in our constitution reversible, as in, freedom from religion (don’t you think the practices of a religion should be contained to its members and its members alone? Does it seem fair to extend an organization’s practices in a way that may negatively impact unsolicited bystanders?)

    All in all, I apologize if I offend anyone, most of the arguments I’ve read against social rights of people in favor of religion don’t add up in one way or another.

    • Interesting article from the HuffingtonPost. Yeah, it’s too bad that people don’t think about how freedom of religion is sometimes used to put shackles on those who don’t agree with that particular person’s religion.

  9. As a Christian something I never understood was the hate toward gays and women’s birth control rights that seem to be perpetuated by the media and sadly many members of the church. What someone chooses to do with their body and who/what they do in their bedroom has never been of any concern to me. As far as I’m concerned the people who speak out against gays/birth control rights are not prophet’s put on this earth by God. The whole thing seems so backwards to me because as Christians we are taught that we are no better than the person sitting next to us, so everyone should seriously QUIT judging.

  10. When we are talking about religions and thinking from a religious person’s point of view, it is not religion anymore, but “the true way of life”. Personally, I am not a religious person, not quite. But I understand that a person should fight for what he/she believes in.

    But that doesn’t mean that religious protestors have rights to take away others’ rights. Gays have their own ideas and believes on how life should be like, so as people who believed in other religions. Some religions may not be “gay-friendly”, they have the rights to disrespect gays in their community. But gays also have rights not to participate in the whole thing and have rights not to be disrespected in the public.

    But sadly, I guess only a few religious people will agree with me because, again, they view their religion as the “right way to live” and it is expected that these people will apply the rules onto the society. What we can do, not just trying to stop it by law, but also constantly reminding those religious people that this is the public, not their “lalaland”.

  11. I find it ironic how the country that is defined as the cornerstone of the modern democratic country struggles on with violating the rights of privacy and civl rights by invoking bigotry through a conceptual idea that allowed everyone to have the freedom to uphold in a religion in a time when there was time they could not. With the passage of the 14th Amendment, such a debate, especially in regard to discrimination, invoking religious freedom should be a part of the past. However, as history tells us, we tend to be fearful of the unknown, even if the unknown is form a more perfect union.

  12. It’s crazy how easy it is for these people to push their beliefs on other people, especially when they’re not the ones who have to live with the consequences. A prime example of this is the pro-life movement. It’s funny because the people who are against abortion, seem to care so much about this unborn baby and then once the baby is born they probably standby and pat themselves on the back for “saving a precious life” while the person who is forced to have the baby’s life is changed forever and possibly ruined. It also makes me wonder if these people would still even care the same about the baby if they knew the baby were to grow up and be gay, probably not. It’s easy for people to tell others what to do when they haven’t been in the situation themselves or have to suffer the consequences for those things.

  13. I was born in Israel, where most people are Jewish. It was easy being Jewish when the society in which I lived was built with Judaism. When I moved to the United States, I became hyperaware of how my Jewish upbringing differed from the Christian lifestyle. It would not bother me to be surrounded by other cultures — I actually preferred it, it made me into a more open-minded person — but it bugged me how I had to try so hard to be Jewish in the United States. I have to work harder to find kosher food [which almost always means eating vegetarian when I go out, unless I decide to eat non-kosher meat], I had to skip school to observe important holidays while all the Christian kids got days off for their holidays always, and I am surrounded by churches constantly but have to walk 45 minutes to the nearest synagogue (you cannot drive during important holidays, and the most annoying part was these synagogues are often tiny or aren’t synagogues at all, just rented out rooms in hotels, and you can forget about choosing which kind of synagogue you prefer because there aren’t options). And it isn’t like I lived in an area with very few Jews, that was never the case. It became blatantly obvious to me that when politicians speak of religious freedom they mean Christian freedom, especially since these same politicians are often also islamophobic. I find it odd that people are speaking of being oppressed as Christians, it reminds me of when men think they are being oppressed by feminists — they don’t want to acknowledge their privilege. I don’t want this country to be Jewish, but I don’t want it to be Christian either. I think religious neutrality is the best option. Especially since the “religious freedom” argument is often just used to be able to make very misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise problematic political decisions.

    • A friend of mine has a very happy memories of Hanukkah in New York, Where there are many Jews. It was a big change for him to experience that. And now that I think of it, I have friends on the East Coast whose schools celebrate the Jewish holidays.

  14. It’s hard to respect people who push their religious beliefs on other people. I understand that religion is a huge part of most peoples’ lives but, they don’t understand that some people have different religious views and some have none. If someone truly believes that man can only be with woman and vice versa then they should follow that belief. But in no way should they push that onto people who disagree. If practicing religious freedom is the excuse for the restrictions there are on women, marriage, etc., then it quite honestly goes against the argument of “religious freedom”. Laws restricting women from abortions and the gay community from marriage is not religious freedom. It seems that only one can practice religious freedom in this country if they practice the same religion as the majority. Other than that, there is no religious freedom for anyone else who has their own beliefs that go against what the majority believes.

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