Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Religious Freedom

Oh Religion, you little scamp...!  It seems like only yesterday you were nailing Jesus to a cross, and torturing/executing nonbelievers during the Spanish Inquisition.  And now you've moved up to suicide bombers and picketing funerals.  My how you've grown...

But it seems you've found even more trouble for yourself!  As I write this (right this?), the governor of my home state of Indiana, has joined in a long history of stupid decisions in the name of religion.  Governor Mike Pence recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law, stating that a business has a legal right to refuse service to someone based on their beliefs.  You can read the bill here.

Their concern was, they didn't want any business owner to feel forced to do business with someone that went against their religious beliefs.  In other words, a shop owner can refuse service if "something" about that customer goes against their religion.  For example, if a Christian business hates/disagrees with a gay lifestyle, or a Jewish shop owner doesn't want to serve Christians, or an atheist is annoyed by ANY religion, they are legally allowed to refuse service.

In a real world example, I have a friend who is Japanese.  For the last couple years, she has finally been able to visit the US, and really enjoys her time here.  She will return soon, and we plan to visit my hometown in Indiana.  The "problem" is, she is Buddhist.  What happens if a shop owner decided he doesn't like "her kind"?  It would be a very embarrassing, sad day for us to be refused service when she has always been very kind to everyone she meets, and a disgusting example of America for her to see.

Other than very clearly promoting intolerance, my first thought is: Are you so successful with your business you can afford to turn away paying customers?  ...And their friends who you might offend with your actions?

But according to Governor Mike Pence, this is a good thing!  Hey, at least nobody has to sit in the back of a bus, or drink from a separate drinking fountain.  Let's get the Governor's side of the story:

Future reference to all politicians:  If you can NOT answer a direct question that has been asked repeatedly, you quickly lose any respect we might have had for you.  How many times can you try to deflect a question??  Do you think we are all so stupid? 

So, let's start putting this into perspective by reminding everyone why America was colonized:  Religious freedom.  Now, I'm no super genius, but one of the few things I remember from my school days, is this country worked very hard to kill the natives and take over, so they wouldn't have to hide their religious beliefs.  In fact, if you read your Constitution, FREEDOM OF ALL RELIGION IS GUARANTEED!  So why are you making laws regarding religion??

The concept of separation between church and state has always been a bit vague.  But many have felt it is important that those streams should never cross, (to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson).  I think the government has plenty of things to keep them busy, so they really have no reason to start creating religious based laws.  Common sense says, that sounds like a dangerous idea that is asking to create more intolerance and hate.  Is that something we really need in this country?

I have friends that are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist and even Satanist.  I get along with all of them.  Do you know why?  Because none of us are arrogant jackasses trying to shove our beliefs down each others throat!  Live by example, not by force.

I don't have any Muslim friends, but it's only because I don't know any.  But I can tell you, if you take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and do some research, MOST religions (including Islam) want peace!  There are always exceptions of course (i.e. Taliban, Westboro Baptist church, Spanish Inquisition).  But if you spend time getting to know each other, you'll find most people are not so bad.

I recently wrote a bullying rant (read it here), where I talked about being picked on in school, because everyone decided I was gay, (spoiler - I could never be gay, cause I think women are hot... some more than others).  But I was still abused because I was different.  I was the little guy without a girlfriend, and not into sports.  So from personal experience, I can tell you, nobody needs to live a life persecuted like that.  If your religion is against that person's lifestyle, let God judge them!  It's not your job to make them miserable!  Because if you really think God put you here on earth to make everyone fit into your perfect vision of the world, you've got some serious problems.  Get it through your head, you can't change everyone!  So why not accept them?

And all you judgmental Christians... didn't you notice in your Bible all the parts dedicated to loving your neighbors, and forgiveness, and NOT judging or throwing the first stone.  Where does the Bible teach you to be so hateful?? 

Do you want to start quoting Bible verses that say horrible things about homosexuality?  That's fine... I can give you many verses about all the things YOU are doing wrong in your life and how YOU are not perfect either.  There are so many things in our modern society that have changed drastically since the Bible was written.  For example, I recently found many chapters endorsing slavery.  You can't pick and choose the parts of the Bible you want to honor, and ignore.  There are a lot of good lessons in that book, and some that are a few thousand years outdated.

For the record, I am not against religion.  For some people, the right religion is very beneficial, and I do respect that.  Even Recovery programs elude to accepting a "higher power" to help them change their life for the better, and that's great!  I'm just disgusted with the mentality of "I'm right and you're wrong, and if you can't accept my views, you're a stupid piece of crap in my eyes".

But the biggest issue... if you need a law to give you permission to be intolerant and bigoted, then get the f#@k out of this country!  America is a "melting pot" of different types of people from all over the world.  If you can't accept someone different than you living in this country, then you have zero concept of what the "UNITED" states is about.

I sincerely hope this law gets changed and becomes a sad footnote in history by the time I post this.  It's 2015, don't you think it's time we all grow up and start accepting each other? 

Now I seriously need to write about something nerdy,

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