Guest Blogger

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts Restore Bigotry, Repression

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 31, 2015 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Christianists, Indiana, religion, religious freedom, religious liberty, special rights, theocracy

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Warren J. Blumenfeld is a professor in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

quit_squirming.jpgThe movement gaining support in state houses around this nation, as exemplified through Indiana's new ironically named "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," permits businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans* people -- and members of all other groups they consider nonconformists to their judgments and precepts.

So what can we infer from those religions that justify such discriminatory treatment of other human beings? On what sacred tenets would a baker refuse to bake a confectionery delight, a photographer refuse to preserve joyous moments, a caterer refuse the pleasures of delectable sustenance, a florist refuse the beauties from the garden, a jeweler refuse a band connecting human souls, a realtor refuse showing shelters signifying new chapters in one's book of time, a shop owner refuse selling the common and special objects supporting and enhancing life, a restaurateur refuse anyone a time away from the kitchen, a spiritual advisor refuse to treat one's neighbor as oneself?

More ultimate questions need to be raised as the world spins around, and as people continue to believe their way is the right way, the only way -- and that all others are simple pretenders that could never achieve the truth, the certainty, the correct and right connection with the deity or deities, and as individuals and entire nations have raped, pillaged, enslaved, and exterminated any "other" believing differently.

In reality, all religious doctrine stems from uncertainty and conjecture, from multiple Gods, hybrid Gods and humans -- from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to the burning bush, to the covenant and the parting of the Red Sea, to the immaculate conception and resurrection, to Muhammad's rising to heaven from the rock, to the golden tablets, all beginning with the human creation of God(s).

"Truth" is what the dominant group declares to be the "Truth." "Knowledge" is anything the dominant group defines as "knowledge," though "knowledge" itself is socially constructed and produced.

How many wars are we going to justify in the name of "God," our "God" versus their so-called "false gods"? Someone said to me once that throughout the ages, more people have been killed in the name of religion than all the people who have ever died of all diseases combined. I don't know whether this is actually the case, but I do think it highlights a vital point: we continually reject, oppress, and kill others and are killed by others over concepts that can never be proven.

We must, thus, restore Indiana and other states contemplating similar legislation to a path of understanding and support for people different from ourselves. We must work to rescind Indiana's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" because with it, no one is truly free. It only restores bigotry and repression.

"Quit Squirming" cartoon by artist Mike Ritter of the GA Voice.

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