The Buck Stops Religious Freedom Here [Hub Debate]

-Freedom_of_Worship-_-_NARA_-_513537Religious freedom is under attack, but in a way so insidious that it threatens all other rights. Just as then-Senator Lyndon Johnson used the power of the IRS to silence religious institutions on many matters of politics in the ’50s, his ideological descendants are now using the power of the dollar to curtail any and all exercise of religion that conflicts with their preferred public policy. This is a dangerous road to take that limits the freedom of the many to the benefit of a politically select few.

The groundwork for this assault is in the war on corporations. While there is a lot of justifiable concern that concentrations of wealth and power are being used to receive preferential treatment in law and public policy, anti-corporatists are choosing not to fight those overreaches but instead demand that we arbitrarily strip them of being able to exercise any rights that the individuals forming it hold. There is no distinction between a freelance programmer or Microsoft. This dangerous “corporations have no rights” stance would also threaten freedom of the press, themselves corporations. It is especially ironic considering that this movement also decries businesses that only pursue the almighty dollar despite creating very harsh repercussions for deviating from it.

This attitude is manifest in the perverse idea that if someone else isn’t endorsing and/or paying for something you consider a religious practice, your religious liberty is somehow infringed. Even if we assumed that all strongly held beliefs and opinions constitute religious beliefs (hint: they do not), lacking the endorsement or financial support of a third party does not impede your ability to freely believe and exercise that belief. If I made the argument that the religious liberty of the Latter-day Saints was being abridged because the state didn’t provide money to fund seminary buildings, I’d rightly be laughed out of the room. Why would we take it seriously that the religious liberty of any other group is being abridged because their employer isn’t being forced to pay for specific forms of birth control?

The goal of this movement is pretty simple: to use public policy to bankrupt political opponents. Want to work for an employer that has “incorrect” beliefs? We’ll force them out of business. Want to start your own businesses so that you can fully follow the dictates of your conscious? You’ll join them in the bone yard. Ultimately, you’ll either participate in things you find objectionable or be out on the streets. It is an astoundingly illiberal stance to take in what should be a pluralistic society, and it’s time to call it out.

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