The true war on religion

(This is a reprint of an editorial I wrote for the Missourian. The original editorial can be found here. The full text of the article is below.)

The war on religion manifests itself in many forms. When pharmacists refuse to sell birth control, they are imposing their religious beliefs on others. When I walk into a store, I should be able to buy anything that the store sells. To illustrate, suppose I decide that I want to buy some beer in a grocery store. When I am checking out, the clerk refuses to sell me the beer because drinking alcohol is against his religion. Both should spark outrage at the seller.

And this shows the true war on religion in the United States — the attempt by some to impose their religious beliefs on everybody else.

This issue often manifests itself in the politics of reproduction. Whenever someone tries to limit access to abortion or impose medically unnecessary rules to restrict abortion, they are attempting to impose their religious beliefs on others. When somebody tries to restrict access to birth control, they are also imposing their religious beliefs on others.

When there is a moral issue, who gets to decide? Some people and religions believe abortion is murder because life begins at conception. Other people and religions believe life begins at birth. Should one group have the right to impose their will on others by outlawing abortions? Or turn the question around: Should one group have the right to force women to have abortions in certain circumstances? In either case, if you allow one, then the other is possible with a change in policy. Abortion could be banned or forced, depending on the group in charge.

The individual’s right to make the decision is asserted when the state is not allowed to prevent or force abortions.

Should there be restrictions on a person’s ability to purchase or use contraception? The 99 percent of women who use birth control at some point in their lives might say no.

When the Republican presidential candidates are pontificating about the war on religion, they are right that there is a war. They are wrong about who is waging it. The candidates are actually waging the war because they are attempting to impose their religious beliefs on others. Preventing unplanned pregnancies is good public policy and will help reduce abortions. It is ironic that these same candidates who are against abortion are supporting a policy that will likely cause abortions to increase.

Preventing gay marriage is another example of some trying to impose their religious belief on others. Marriage by the state is a civil contract that provides for certain benefits and responsibilities between two people. If two men or two women want to enter this contract, they should have that right, just as they would for any other contract. At the same time, if any clergy do not want to perform gay marriages for religious reasons, that should be their right. Religious freedom is preserved, and none are forced to violate their beliefs.

If some are allowed to impose their views on others, where does it end? The choices must be left to the individual, not the state. Otherwise, we will have some imposing their religious beliefs on others. That war must be avoided.

2 thoughts on “The true war on religion

  1. In this Holy War on Religion, of Religion, and by Religion, I SURRENDER! I’ve had ENOUGH! I’m a lover, not a fighter.  Instead… I’m gonna start my OWN religion, and get in on the good stuff: tax exemptions, and lots of taxpayer money to do what I want, in the name of religious liberty. Most definitely! Hey NEWT -wanna join? We’re gonna have open marriages and multiple wives and all SORTS of neat stuff that you’re just gonna love! But don’t you worry your little head Newt : we’ll have no , I repeat, NO nasty stoning of adulterers. None of that stuff. I Promise! As for SANTORUM, he just LOVES to tell other people how to live. He’ll make us a REAL fine preacher-man. In fact, we’ll make him Saint Santorum. AND fix his Google search results! As for Mr. Obama,  obviously, we’ll need to (severely) demonize him, even further. And his dog Toto too. Last but not least: MITT and RON. Hmmm. Hey, just for you two guys: we’ll insist on NO TAXES AT ALL for church members…AND human sacrifice of illegal aliens. Out with their hearts! Televised! Live! Whoooppee! WHAT A COUNTRY!  🙂
    By the way, please don’t mention the REASON that Mitt Romney’s dad was born in Mexico (i.e. The fact that Mitt’s Mormon grand-dad left the United States in the 1880’s. He went to Mexico BECAUSE laws against polygamy were passed in the U.S. ; Being a Mormon back then, Mitt’s grand-dad wanted to keep his multiple wives. Hey, who wouldn’t?) Bottom line: if we follow the “logic” of the people crying crocodile tears about a non-existent “war on religion”, then the U.S. should have allowed polygamy (and who knows what else) just because a particular religion claimed it as their cherished belief. GIVE ME A BREAK!
    Absolutely NO ONE is coming into our Churches or places of worship and trying to tell parishioners what to believe…..or forcing them to use contraception. BUT If the Bishops (and other denominations) want to continue running businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no “faith” at all- THEN they must play by the same rules and rights that other workers have and enjoy…especially if their businesses use our tax dollars (and skip paying taxes) in the process. This is not a “war on religion”. It’s a war on women and men who simply want to plan their families and control their future. Now that’s REAL religious liberty!

  2. really spoke to me on many levels. I completely agree with everything you said in your video. And, after my last relationship, its those very things that I have been working on. I’m not in a relationship at the moment but I am very happy and fulfilled with my life.I feel very certain that when I meet someone who I would like to pursue a relationship with, I will not lose myself, my values, my boundaries in pursuit of a relationship.The biggest difference for me has been spending the energy and time that I used to spend looking to meet/find someone, to spending it on me, building an authentic relationship with myself, getting to know myself and what I want. Thanks for your post Joe, it was great! Sally

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