It’s been a tough couple weeks for news, from the horrific Germanwings crash, made one of the most terrifying airplane crashes in recent history by its calculated and unpredictable nature, to the deadly terror attack in a Kenyan university just yesterday. On top of that, domestically, we’ve seen attempts to discredit a pretty monumental deal with Iran on the grounds that the Obama administration is behind it, because that’s how effective governing works. But, most egregiously political among it all, is Indiana.
You all surely know the story by now. Governor Mike Pence signed an amended version of the controversial religious freedom bill yesterday, so that particular piece of legislation ought to be dead for good. However, the fact remains that the bill was passed in the first place, and could very well be adopted again under another name in Indiana or another state. The whole thing has its roots in the patently absurd, Fox News-fueled pipe dream that American Christians are somehow a persecuted minority under the dictatorial atheism of Glorious Leader Adolf Obama the First. This rhetoric is a lot more common than you might think (or hope), given that 78.4% of the population, the vast majority of Congress, and every single American President (despite some people claiming the contrary, Catholicism is in fact a Christian denomination) is a Christian of some sort or another. And yet, somehow, the political rhetoric of many Republican leaders is that Christianity is somehow under threat and that the true believers in Christ need to marshal their strength to uphold the faith or whatever.
If anyone reading this is of such a conviction, you are a disgraceful excuse for an American. The First Amendment, need I remind you, guarantees not only freedom of religion, but also protects Americans from a state establishment of religion. In other words, the citizens of the U.S. have a right to protection against governmental imposition of religion or religious values. So go, worship your warped, crude interpretation of Christianity in your church and your home. Practice it, and keep it to yourself. If you somehow think that your religion is against same-sex marriage (which, I must admit is quite the example of cherrypicking, since the Bible is also expressly against the consumption of shellfish, praying in public, shaving/haircuts, and being rich, so it’s strange that gay marriage is the big takeaway you get out of all that), then just don’t fucking marry someone of the same sex. Congratulations on being right with your perception of God, and have a nice day. Your right to believe whatever you want in private does not give you the right to impose your beliefs on others when such beliefs interfere with civil rights. Any attempt to discriminate against other Americans on the grounds of your religion discredits not only your own credibility and moral standing, it also erodes whatever credibility your religion has left, harming the millions of believers who are proud to call themselves Christian but ashamed to be associated with people like you. You have a right to believe in whatever you want, from the Flying Spaghetti Monster to whatever the hell Scientology’s about. You do not have a right to subject others to your beliefs. You also do not have a right to discriminate against people on the grounds of your faith.
When it comes to these religious freedom bills, that’s the real kicker. Fox & Friends will be the first to claim that now that same-sex marriage is becoming legal, Christian shopowners are being discriminated against by being forced to serve wedding of people they disapprove of seeing married. The irony is apparently lost on them, because clearly when someone is denied service based on their sexual orientation, that’s freedom, while when all men and women are served equally, that’s communistic infringement on religious rights. If it weren’t so goddamn depressing, it would almost be humorous.
And that’s what’s so infuriating about “religious freedom,” that a group is claiming the right to discriminate against another in spite of every existing civil rights law, simply because Jibbus said so. And, perhaps more egregious, the Indiana legislature is now claiming that the bill wasn’t intended to discriminate against gay people, which would be easier to believe if this weren’t clearly in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage, if every example given in support of the bill was not that of the evangelical being forced to cater a gay marriage (with or without disgusting Nazi analogies, take your pick), and if you gave less than a half second’s thought to the language of the bill. So while it’s good that RFRA is dead, the sentiment is still alive and well, and anyone as pissed off about this as I am would do well to remember the uproar over Indiana and be prepared to replicate it tenfold for every new state that tries to discard liberty in the name of “freedom.”