Secularism as State Religion

My greatest concern for this country involves our drift toward a state religion.

The average American doesn’t know what a state religion is or how it works, but most nations have a particular religious viewpoint that they advocate. For example, across Scandinavia the nations are officially Lutheran. When a person is born in those countries, they are automatically considered a member of that church, unless they petition not to be. A portion of their tax dollars go to support this church.

Even in communist countries which claim to have no religion, they support a state religion, specifically atheism. They do this by teaching it in the schools, promoting it in politics, and oppressing other viewpoints.

Now here in the United States we have a history in regard to state religion. The founders of our nation struggled to decide what religion America would endorse, but with the introduction of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, we determined to have no state religion. At the time, it was an unprecedented decision. We opted for freedom of religion.

But today, just like communist countries actively promote atheism, our country has been actively promoting secularism. This may not be the most accurate word, so let me be very specific in defining the problem. The government has begun a policy of saying that you have freedom of thought, but not of action. You can believe whatever you want, but you cannot act on it when it violates the government agenda.

By acting on it, I am referring both to personal patterns of living and to the proclamation of your beliefs. Proclamation, preaching and teaching, is going to be a part of any religion, but now if you preach the wrong things, you can lose your status as a valid church in this country

If we are really going to be having a government which oversees the activities of churches, we probably should apologize to Russia and China. After all this is the practice these governments have had for generations and a primary reason we have spoken of them as not being free.


Right of Refusal

The right of refusal is the legal ability to refuse to do something which has been requested of you. When a child is told by their parents to go to bed at their appointed bed time, they have no right of refusal. When a military man is commanded by a ranking officer to do his duty, he also has no right of refusal.

When a businessman is asked by a customer to do something he finds offensive, does he have a right of refusal? The most common assumption might be that, yes, he can refuse to do something he finds offensive. But this is not very clear in America today. 

Every person on the planet has a sense of right and wrong. I am not saying everyone’s opinions agree, but every person has an opinion. If a customer asks a shop owner to do something that violates their own personal moral code, whatever that may be, do they have the right of refusal?  Should they have the right of refusal?

Phrasing the question this way I assume most of you are saying, yes, they should. But understand this. When a person is refused there is someone on the other side of the counter who may have some question as to whether they are being treated fairly. Perhaps the shop owner is harboring some prejudice against the type of person that customer is. Maybe that customer is being discriminated against. It feels like the word maybe is killing us.

Let’s pick a few examples:

  1. A man goes to a kosher Jewish deli, and asks them to put bacon on his sandwich.
  2. A woman goes to a gay printer, and demands he prints fliers stating homosexuality is sin.
  3. A baker is asked to bake a wedding cake which is all angel food, he thinks the idea is tacky.
  4. An Islamic man is asked to make a custom ring which has a Star of David on it.
  5. A Christian photographer is asked to shoot a gay wedding, even though he believes it defies the sanctity of marriage.

Do any of these business owners have the right of refusal?  Should they have the right?

Number three is different than the others because it is about personal taste, but the other four are about religious freedom. The question of the day is, when religious freedom encounters the right to be served, which gets the higher priority?

If you answer the same for all four, then congratulations you are consistent. If you said all of them have the right to refusal you chose religious freedom as the higher value. If you said none of them have the right of refusal, then you avoiding all possibility discrimination is more important than religious freedom.

But if you answered 1, 2, 4 and 5 inconsistently, then perhaps you are caught in the trap of discrimination. Namely that some groups deserve rights and privileges others do not have. What you chose reveals either, who you favor, who you disfavor or a combination of both.

Rights in Conflict

The local news this morning is raising a fuss about a new bill in Arizona awaiting the Governor’s decision whether to sign it or veto it. Arizona’s SB1062 as endorsed by the Center for Arizona Policy is an attempt to restore religious freedom in certain cases. You can learn more about the law, and its intents by following the link. But perhaps more importantly you can see a history of how two different rights have come to be in conflict with each other since 1990.

Now I started off by saying they were raising a fuss. I use this term because at no point did they try to explain what the bill will do, or what the specific wording of the bill was. Other stations might have done so, but I would feel better about the press if they had led with this information. Instead they almost exclusively spoke of the possible economic impact. Bad policy is made when all we care about is whether or not it makes money. We should always care more about the right and wrong of issues than its economic impact.

SB1062 is an example of how different rights have come into conflict with each other in America. The trend is religious freedom is losing importance in America. When rights come in conflict with each other it is now the likely loser. Our heritage of religious freedom and diversity is disappearing fast because we are demanding that the individual conscience conform to cultural norms.