Religious Belief Doesn’t Trump Law

United Church of ChristThe United Church of Christ (UCC) has been performing same-sex marriages since 2005. So they decided to pursue a legal challenge to North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages. They are arguing that the state is violating their freedom of religion. That is too delicious not to talk about.

But I think the case is very clear. People’s rights to free expression do not trump laws. The Rastafarians believe very much that they should be allowed to ingest cannabis, but that has never stopped one of them from being imprisoned for that “crime.” So I don’t think that the UCC has a religious right that trumps North Carolina law. Of course, there may be details in the law that would push me in the UCC’s direction. But as it stands, it seems pretty simple.

I am just being consistent here. I also think all of these religious based attacks on Obamacare should have been thrown scornfully out of court at the very beginning. And there are lots of similar cases, like where a Christian pharmacist claims he has the right not to fill prescriptions for birth control pills. The Rastafarians have a far better claim to their drug rights than do hobby stores who want to micromanage their employees’ healthcare coverage.

North Carolina Values Coalition

But given all the time and efforts that conservative Christians have put into destroying Obamacare using such arguments, you would think that they would be in support of the UCC. After all, it is a matter of religious liberty. It shouldn’t matter that it is in the name of a specific policy that they don’t accept. But, of course, it does matter. North Carolina Values Coalition (NCVC) executive director Tami Fitzgerald said in a press release that because a majority of the voters in the state voted for the law, the UCC should have no rights. She then went on to talk about how she was the ultimate arbiter of what Christianity is and that the UCC is just wrong.

Of course, when Hobby Lobby was before the Supreme Court, Fitzgerald was firmly behind it, urging people to Pray for Hobby Lobby. But I’m sure that is not the only bit of hypocrisy that Fitzgerald and the NCVC have in store. Right now it is all about the fact that 61% of the electorate of North Carolina voted to ban same-sex marriage. As soon as the people become in favor of same-sex marriage, she will be using a different argument. And it won’t be long. Last year, the people of North Carolina were against same-sex marriage by a tiny 45%-44% margin.

We’ll see what happens to this case. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if conservative judges find that a same-sex marriage ban did not violate the UCC’s religious rights even while they find hitherto unknown religious rights of hobby stores. Luckily, the same-sex marriage issue will be resolved by the people very soon.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Religious Belief Doesn’t Trump Law

  1. People get confused about what "free expression" means. I have the right to go up to you in a restaurant and say, "pardon me, sir, don’t you agree that Barack Obama is a socialist Muslim Satan?" I don’t have the right to post a sign saying "Obama=Muslim Satan" on your lawn if you don’t want it there.

    This whole reverse-twisty-negative-image-Bizarro discrimination thing that the far right has been pimping for years strikes me as very self aware. Although they never talk about it, their media-rep wizards know full well that the modern far right came back into prominence by resisting desegregation. Without desegregation, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell are handling snakes somewhere in front of eight people. So, to remove that particular stain, they use the language of civil disobedience against discrimination. Ignoring how genuine discrimination is about repressing a group’s ability to participate in social life because of their identity, before they say a damned word. Mind you, these are the same people who claim not to hate Blacks, just the "angry" ones, and who claim not to hate gays, just "why should they shove their lifestyle in my face?" Far-right Christians want the privilege of shoving their lifestyle in your face, and protection from public outrage at doing so. While screaming to the heavens on their airwaves that some school teacher in Peoria who assigns a vaguely rebellious book to students offends common decency.

    This particular persecution complex can never be sated. It’s terrified me for decades. It’s also consummately boring. One thing you can say about animals; they may be cruel, but they appear incapable of self-deception. For all we know a shark is quite pleased with itself when it eats a seal; it doesn’t justify this by imagining the seal to be its equal, but less so. Egotism is less annoying than self-righteousness; this is what makes plutocrats and robber barons so intolerable. Almost as though they’re aware how precarious their superiority is, the reason why they justify it incessantly . . .

  2. @JMF – Well put. What I don’t understand is how conservatives generally can be so clueless about historical narrative. They always say things like, "Of course Jim Crow was wrong!" But 40 years ago, the people they now represent had no problem with Jim Crow. Do they really think that in 40 years the people following them won’t be saying, "Of course gays should be allowed to marry, but those…"?

    I think you are onto something with them secretly knowing. As they say: men don’t constantly worry about their sperm counts. If the rich really thought they deserved what they have, they wouldn’t be justifying it all the time. Of course, they would have to be brainless to think they actually deserved what they have. But humans are amazing at that kind of thing.

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