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Religious freedom at stake in this election, but not in the way evangelicals think

Voters cast shadows as they wait in a line at a polling station open into the evening as early voting for the 2016 general elections begins in Durham, North Carolina, on October 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jonathan Drake/File Photo *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-FIKED-OPED, originally transmitted on Nov. 3, 2016.
Voters cast shadows as they wait in a line at a polling station open into the evening as early voting for the 2016 general elections begins in Durham, North Carolina, on October 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jonathan Drake/File Photo *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-FIKED-OPED, originally transmitted on Nov. 3, 2016.

Voters cast shadows as they wait in line at a polling station open into the evening as early voting for the 2016 general elections begins in Durham, N.C., on Oct. 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jonathan Drake/File Photo *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-FIKED-OPED, originally transmitted on Nov. 3, 2016.

(RNS) When evangelical Christians cast their votes for president, we must remember that religious freedom is at stake.

Sadly, many evangelicals have been misled to believe religious freedom means “keeping Christ in Christmas” during the holiday season. The reality is far more dire: Presidential candidate Donald Trump is singling out and advocating a system of persecution of a religious minority.

As Christians, we would never sit back and allow a government to tell its citizens how they should pray or whether they belong in our country based on faith alone. We cannot allow fear and bigotry to determine this election; we must maintain religious freedom as the core of our nation’s values.

I have had a great privilege and honor to work around the globe to promote international religious freedom. I have traveled to many countries where religious freedom is nonexistent or greatly threatened. I’ve spoken out firmly as an evangelical who wants to be rooted in the original meaning of the word gospel, which means “good news,” and for this reason I am grateful to call the United States my home.

America was founded on religious pluralism and equality, and it is this principle that allows me to share the “good news” with my neighbor. Trump’s attempt to undermine our religious freedom protections will only hurt our ability as American evangelicals to advocate for religious freedom around the world. How can we argue for Christians’ religious freedoms in Muslim-majority nations if our own country bans an entire faith?

I have thought a lot in this election year about what Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric means for evangelical Christians. Evangelicals are followers of Christ who put a high authority on Scripture. We listen when Scripture tells us how to interact with our neighbors. As Leviticus 19:33-34 dictates: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

For too long, this election cycle has demonized citizens who are Muslim. We must learn from our religious teachings: Violence begets violence, and hate begets hate. We need more love and less fear, and we must vote with our hearts and our minds, not with the parts of ourselves that look to others with suspicion over love.

American evangelicals don’t have to look far for a positive example of how to engage our neighbors who are Muslim. Just days after 9/11, President George W. Bush visited a mosque. He addressed the American people with these reassuring words: “America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. … And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”

Bush’s leadership after 9/11 showing solidarity with Americans who are Muslim is one of the things that I admire most about him.

Trump and his spokespeople seek to use terrorism and fear to make us turn against one another. They argue that it is “better to be safe than sorry,” which assumes outright bigotry somehow makes us safer.

To be clear: We must prioritize our safety and security. Our nation must address terrorism based on evidence, rather than singling out an entire group of people based on their religion. It’s not just the moral thing to do; it’s also what strengthens our nation’s security.

This year, our votes can be a referendum for what we, as evangelicals, will stand for. America is rooted in our ability to come together, united of all faiths, in support of a dream that all Americans will be able to worship without fear of violence or persecution.

Let’s remember the words of President Bush during his mosque visit. “This is a great country,” he said. “It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth.” I hope my fellow evangelicals will remember the way religious freedom is really on the ballot.

(Deborah Fikes is a former board member of the National Association of Evangelicals and former adviser to the World Evangelical Alliance. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and board member of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and she holds a graduate degree in international law from Oxford University. )

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  • “As Christians, we would never sit back and allow a government to tell
    its citizens how they should pray or whether they belong in our country
    based on faith alone. ”

    It is unspoken among many Evangelicals that “its citizens” only means themselves and not anyone of other faiths. Evangelicals are more likely to be ones imperiling religious liberty than upholding it.

    They are behind constant attacks on the establishment clause. How often are Evangelical government officials found illegally abusing government apparatus to support their faith? How often do we hear the fiction of America being a “(Fundamentalist) Christian Nation”? Implying (but always too afraid to say outright in mixed company) that all other faiths and sects must be subservient to their beliefs. Or even more pernicious, that “separation of church and state” is a myth as opposed to codified in the Establishment Clause.

    This is the same group which gladly attacks free exercise of religion of any group besides themselves. Attacking the construction of houses of worship, military chaplains, or even official acknowledgement of holidays of other faiths.

    Added to the mix is the boneheaded idea that one’s Christian faith makes them above the law/entitles them to attack others. There was no expression of free exercise of religion in preventing people their rightful access to government services they are entitled to, nor in discrimination in providing goods/services in open commerce.

  • Why would Christians celebrate Xmas with all it’s pagan connections and roots. So much for worshiping God in truth.

    “it’s just a little bad.”

    OK, here’s some soup. Eat it up. It only has a little bit of poop in it.

  • Regarding this volatile issue that some (but certainly not all) Christians raise as the very heart of America’s spiritual, moral, and political future, “religious liberty versus civil rights”:

    I believe that, like the human heart, this issue has two halves, each with two parts:

    (1) Christians living their lives according to their beliefs;
    (2) Americans coexisting with Americans;

    (3) Others living their lives according to their beliefs;
    (4) Americans coexisting with Americans.

    With these four perspectives in mind, I suggest four ways of considering the issue:

    (1) Equality

    Is it our Christian privilege to direct the marital, medical, and legal acts of strangers? Which commands, from which scriptures, must we follow, and which may we ignore? Must we stone to death our children when they rebel against us? Must women and minorities submit to men and majorities? Are we morally obligated to feed, clothe, shelter, teach, employ, care for, and protect the hungry, naked, homeless, uneducated, jobless, disabled, and vulnerable? Are foreigners ours to attack and enslave, and their property ours to take? Is it okay to work on the Sabbath, and when does that day begin and end? May anyone ever drink alcohol, or eat shellfish? Is faith more important than mercy? When we offend others’ spiritual/existential values, is that as profane as when they offend ours? Is it virtuous to claim offense for what others do in their private lives?

    I believe that the difference between fact and faith is boundaries. One pastoral policy my devout Christian parents taught me was deference to other people’s personal, spiritual, existential boundaries. What lies within is private; open-minded queries may be answered at the owner’s discretion, but unsolicited commentary is strictly forbidden. Faith, fundamentally, is subject to personal boundaries. Contradictory claims presume inequality, advocate trespass, and sanction cruelty; they blaspheme others’ beliefs.

    I believe in coexistence — not just morally, but as a matter of civilization and existence as human people rather than as human killers. Thus, I believe that the Golden Rule includes respecting other people’s personal boundaries (including their private and proprietary beliefs, rights, and equality), as we would have others respect our own.

    And I believe that, as Americans, we must “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”. I believe these wise words, and others (see Romans 13:1-7), eloquently address the legitimate interest that the U.S. government has in ensuring not only our existence as Americans, but our coexistence and equal rights as Americans. This is precisely why the U.S. government has established laws to protect us — all of us — from the very real harms that Americans constantly try to inflict upon other Americans.

    We endlessly seek to subordinate and otherwise mistreat our neighbors over so-called “issues” involving races, religions, sexes, spouses, ages, abilities, classes, or cultures, when the real issue isn’t about any of those things at all. The real issue is how we perceive ourselves vis-à-vis total strangers. The problem isn’t with “Them”. It’s with “Us”, and our own stubborn refusal to acknowledge the truth: There is no “Us”; there is no “Them”; and we are not enemies. We are people; we are Americans; and we are equals.

    (2) Respect

    There was a time when many Christians believed they were supposed to invade, convert, shun, torture, or kill all other-believers. And so they did.

    They invaded other-believers’ private lives, homes, workplaces, and houses of worship. They cursed other-believers and desecrated their beliefs. They denied them them food, shelter, work, and humanity. They developed methods and devices to inflict physical pain upon other-believers’ bodies. And they put other-believers to death in the cruelest and most terrifying ways they could imagine.

    But, soon, Christians realized that the killing part was wrong, immoral, sinful. And so they changed their ways.

    Eventually, they realized that the torturing part was also wrong, immoral, sinful. And so they changed their ways.

    Later, almost all Christians realized that the shunning part was also wrong, immoral, sinful. And so almost all Christians changed their ways.

    More recently, a solid majority of them have realized that the converting part is also wrong, immoral, sinful. And so a solid majority of them have changed their ways.

    Today, most Christians realize that invading other-believers’ private lives and imposing Christian beliefs upon them is also wrong, immoral, sinful — as well as irrational and impossible, since Christians don’t agree even amongst themselves what Christian beliefs are. And so most of them have changed their ways.

    And in today’s America, most people, regardless of beliefs, respect other people, their personal boundaries, and their cherished private beliefs. They realize that respect is not something to be demanded. It is something to be shared.

    (3) Empathy

    Have you, yourself, ever tried “choosing” a sexuality that’s different from what’s normal for you? Have you ever been successful at it? Completely? Permanently? Honestly?

    (I specify “you, yourself” because what you may have heard a very few people say about choosing their sexuality is just that — unverifiable hearsay — and I trust that you realize how and why people are motivated to say whatever is socially, professionally, and religiously acceptable when it comes to disclosing their sexuality.)

    If you can’t deliberately, completely, permanently, honesty choose another sexuality, you should understand that others’ sexualities are as inherent and immutable as yours.

    And if, upon understanding this, you maintain that it’s not the people, but their actions that matter, and so they should not be able to marry the loves of their lives — Why? Because of your sacred beliefs? What of their sacred beliefs? Religious liberty, indeed.

    Do you believe your personal life and private acts should be subject to their approval? Do you believe they deserve say-so over your life, your rights, your freedoms, your body, your bedroom, your spouse? Do you think it’s okay for strangers to hold you to the religious beliefs, requirements, and restrictions that they have freely chosen for themselves?

    Do you think other people should respect your beliefs? If so, don’t you think you should respect theirs?

    (4) Familiarity

    Do you believe familiarity breeds contempt? Or do you believe familiarity breeds solutions? Do you believe it’s okay to make up stories about strangers, and to claim to know a stranger’s character, or what that stranger has done or is planning to do? Or do you believe that lying is wrong, and that telling lies about strangers is immoral?

    I question the morality of treating some people worse than others (e.g., by disparaging their stated or putative personal beliefs, speaking out against their supposed private lives, or denying them rightful public services and accommodations), based merely upon your human, imperfect, incomplete knowledge of — and unverifiable conclusions about — those people, their circumstances, their beliefs and values, their unknown and unknowable private lives, even what your God may be doing with them — or with you, for that matter (e.g., testing your humility, compassion, mercy, recognition of your inability and unworthiness to judge people you don’t even know, and realization of the folly and harm in treating others according to what you presume to “know” about them).

    These are critical concerns, how you treat others; and, as your Bible says, you will ultimately have to justify how you treated “the least of these” to your God.

    Where is the Christianity in confidently condemning strangers? What is Christlike about not even bothering to meet them, to sit down with them, to get to know them? How is it Christian to claim to comprehend their nature, their needs, their capabilities, their contributions? Does Christ teach that elitist ignorance demonstrates moral superiority?

    Given the importance of these questions, isn’t it far more desirable, defensible, and Christian to err on the side of humility, compassion, and mercy than to risk erring on the side of hubris, contempt, and malice?

    In summary, it seems to me that, when viewed under the clarifying lenses of Equality, Respect, Empathy, and Familiarity, the issue of “religious liberty versus civil rights” reveals itself to be a matter not of religious liberty, but of religious trespass.

    [For further clarification, I highly recommend Chris Boeskool’s excellent article, ” ‘When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression’ “, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-boeskool/when-youre-accustomed-to-privilege_b_9460662.html .
    Mr. Boeskool addresses this most salient aspect of the “religious liberty” issue far better than I can.]

  • Religious freedom is important, and so is human life. As far as I remember, Trump has called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration from the Middle East until we can set up a better way to vet immigrants.

    But if we do not vote for Trump, what is our alternative? A presidential candidate who has no problem with tearing apart little children as they are leaving the safety of their mother’s womb. Despicable.

  • The fears about “late term” abortions are simply scare tactics. No woman decides in the 8th or 9th month to terminate a healthy pregnancy. That is a myth. And “partial birth” abortion was already ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. Ms. Clinton is for women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. Per Guttmacher, only 1.3% of abortions take place after the 24th week. Those are due to fetal incompatibility with life or health of the mother. Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, so how is that stance “pro-life”? How is removing insurance from millions of Americans “pro-life”? How is further taxing the middle class to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy “pro-life?
    Too often, the Republican policies completely disregard children as soon as they are born.

  • Indeed the Evangelical Right uses that as the barometer of all their argument. They can never accept that we humans are mammals, evolved from Apes. I believe the world would be a better place if abortions didn’t occur. HOWEVER, I would advocate birth control education and free access to it overall. And I would NEVER take the away choice from a woman to make that most horrible of all choices. And yes they are “pro-birth”, not pro-life.

  • Regardless of the percentages, regardless of what week, a child is being brutally dismembered either as he or she is leaving the safety of the womb or while he or she is in the safety of the womb.

  • I was once a former debate coach and I taught my students to first define terms so we’re all talking about the exact same thing. “Islamic terrorist” is a small subset of the larger classification of “Muslim.” The terrorist variety are here among us in abundance; the San Bernardino incident has well established that. Even one living peacefully here is perfectly capable of being radicalized by the fiance and wife that he imported from a Muslim country. Ask the relatives of those layed to rest in that horrendous mass killing, if it makes any difference. Their loved ones are just as dead either way!

    I’m not a Trump supporter, but let’s get the Trump message straight and quit piling on because it’s the popular thing to do right now: Trump is for the careful vetting of those coming here from Muslim countries, particularly the hundreds of thousands that Obama and Hilliary Clinton would welcome as refugees. He correctly points out that there is no dependable way for us to confirm or deny their history in their home country, in terms of membership in terrorist, anti-American organizations.

  • Christmas means so many different things to different people. Jewish people have learned to just smile and accept it as a major American cultural season with religious roots, and either participate or quietly go about celebrating Hannukah. That’s religious freedom at it’s best–no poop!

  • Have you ever noticed how the liberal RNS seems fixated on the slightest liberal movement with evangelicals? One might reasonably suspect they have an agenda here. We need to read their stuff that bias in mind, just as we read any of the mainstream media’s stuff!

  • “U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chair Martin R. Castro stated, Our country was founded by those fleeing religious persecution. We must, therefore, always be vigilant to ensure that religion not be used as a pretext to persecute those whose civil rights and civil liberties should be protected.”

    Never mind the backward circular logic of this bureaucrat, substantively this is what you’re up against. If your 2000 year old beliefs butt up against any “self-identified” fad of the day….you’re a bigot, and if you are an Institution accepting Federal Funds, say good bye to them … or at minimum shell out big dollars to attorneys to “defend your religious freedom” .. as I see it. Good luck.

  • I have long agonized over the pros and cons of different ideas on this subject and have settled on a little simple parable as the story goes: A man arrives in New York in the early days, gets off the ship and immediately punches another man in the nose.
    As a policeman accosts him, the man says, “But I thought this was a free country?”
    The policeman wisely replies, “Just don’t forget that your freedom ends where this man’s nose begins.”

  • So, to keep the “Devil at bay” you have to vote for the devil Trump? Yup, that’s “holy roller” logic and hypocrisy in a nut shell. Thanks for making the case for every sensible person of faith to vote Clinton, instead. Because, if we are to ignore personal character flaws, and she has plenty, it comes down to who will be best for business (Clinton), and who will be best for personal freedom (Clinton again). Thanks. I guess I won’t waste my vote on a third-party candidate after all. Thanks for convincing me that I must vote for Clinton instead, just to oppose the nutcases out there.

  • Everyday millions of Muslims in this country lead their daily lives experiencing little or no religious discrimination. They do belong to a religion that has a very violent minority that has and continues to seek to do us harm. Prudent caution is not discrimination.

  • Our country was founded by Godly men who were fighting against the King. It was settled originally by people who were fleeing religious persecution. That was over 150 years earlier.

  • It really is simple. The US was founded as a secular nation. No religion was to be favored by the government. The government was to stay out of religion’s business and vice-versa. Religious actions must be in line with the law, as no one has more priveleges and rights than another. Citizens can use their vote to select officials who agree with their religious principles.

  • “‘When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression’ ” — ” True, but I take everything I read in HuffPo with a grain of salt. I’m all for leaving Muslims alone as long as they live peacefully. What I do have a problem with is the government mandating that a privately held business or a religious institution must fund “healthcare” that they consider immoral. If the government was kept to its proper size, and didn’t permeate so many areas of modern life, this wouldn’t even be an issue. In that sense I see it as much of a freedom of association issue as I do a religious freedom issue.

  • So, exactly how many women have you approached and offered to pay for their pregnancies and adopt the child yet to be born?

  • Let’s just put Hillary in the ADX Federal Supermax Prison, while this rapidly deteriorating nation is still alive !!

  • Simple Solution: Don’t Get Pregnant In The First Place.
    And don’t lecture me about rape and incest: the overwhelming
    majority of abortions are because of free-wheeling, irresponsible
    people who fail to plan ahead….and who cannot control their ‘appetites’.

  • This entire essay is based on an outright falsehood, so blatant that it reflects poorly on all of RNS: that Trump would “ban a religion.”

    Trump has never even hinted that he would like to ban Islam, and of course banning a religion is blatantly unconstitutional.

    Trump stated, initially, that we should have a temporary visa ban on incoming Muslims “until we know what’s going on” with the screening process. He then altered this to a temporary ban on people from terrorist-exporting countries, again until screening is improved.

    As San Bernardino and other cases have demonstrated, our “screening” for terrorists is a joke; they literally have a question that says, “Are you a member of a terrorist organization?” and if you check the box “no,” you’re admitted. Ten minutes of internet/social media searching would have raised numerous red flags about the new wife of the San Bernardino killer.

    And I love how liberals always like Republican Presidents and candidates after they’re gone. They’re always held up for comparison with the terrible “bigoted” “extremist” new Republicans. Somehow, when they were in office or actively running, the same people who love them now told us that they were terrible bigoted extremist people.

  • Sure thats’s the problem, it must be it. Good Christian girls like Bristol palinhave their illegitimate babies.

    It just amazes me that a human being sees human babies as a punishment for sin.

  • And because of that they formed a secular country where no religion would have authority and all citizens could worship freely.

  • I don’t see why Muslim cab drivers have to pick up passengers carrying alcohol since it violates their religious beliefs.

    A business has to follow the law. To refuse coverage to their employees who don’t hold those beliefs discriminates against them.

  • Nice try to deflect one crazy notion with another. So, you want to circumvent the very constitution that you claim to believe is divinely given from Heaven? Nice. Once again, such fanaticism does not come from God, but it does come from someone who wanted the job of God. Way to reveal who your real master is. Thank you.

  • “I don’t see why Muslim cab drivers have to pick up passengers carrying alcohol since it violates their religious beliefs.”
    This part of your post is correct. There should be no law requiring Muslim cab drivers to pick up passengers carrying alcohol. Of course, if that violates company policy, and he gets fired over it, then the state should not get involved in that either, nor should he be able to file a successful lawsuit over it. However, if the Muslim cab driver decides to start his own company in which it is company policy that none of his drivers pick up passengers carrying alcohol, that should be also be allowed. Finally, if he goes out of business because too many beer drinkers organize a boycott of that company, I’d be okay with that too.

    “A business has to follow the law. To refuse coverage to their employees who don’t hold those beliefs discriminates against them.”

    No one forced those employees to go to work there. They should be free to find other jobs if they so desire.

    Liberty, it’s a tremendous concept. Too bad most of our elites don’t believe in it.

  • I’m a Right Wing Extremist, and zealot Trump-ist, but then i repeat myself, and also a militant secular Jew

    WHICH candidate will enforce religious Freedom Restoration Act, and allow exceptions of conscience, for cake bakers, and wedding photographers and nuns and county clerks, all of which are harmless, and whose persecution is moral preening and virtue signalling

    as for US Muslims, too bad on them, they are safer in Western godless secular humanism than in their own countries

    The silence of USG under the Manchurian Muslim from Marx-ico, on the slaughter of Yazdi. enslavement of their women, and expulsion of Christians,and of course Jew hared

    is a stench in the nostrils of god and anathema to humanity

    as for US Muslims too bad, they can take their turn on the bad list, everyone else has had a turn

    Catholic bashing is an ancient honorable tradition US (/sarc) , going back to Rum Romanism and rebellion

    The political party that brought us the first US Catholic POTUS, John Kennedy, with all his womanizing ways, now persecutes Catholics with all of its weaponized agencies and with joy glee and gusto and righteousness as though with the zeal of missionaries , or anti-missionaries

    Catholics not Jews are the new canaries int he mine shaft

    Just as a Jew cannot be a Democrat a Catholic cannot be a Democrat

    Muslims of course will hold with Allah

    fie on thee

  • I don’t consider my so called religious beliefs sufficient to interfere in the lives, faiths, families, and personal decisions of others.

  • Exceptions of conscience, or allowance for discrimination on the basis of religious belief for one, particular case?

    It’s very telling that the ONLY place such a right is claimed is when a certain class of so called Christian must treat gay people the same way they treat everyone else. I think a radical Jew such as yourself would be very outraged if Christians directed such behavior at the Christ killing Jews…

    As they have done within my life time. As a Jew, I know this to be true.

    Here’s a compromise for you. Those very few businesses that are so stupid and clueless to demand the right to discriminate MUST post on their website, their store windows, and cash registers exactly whom they will discriminate against, and why.

  • NO, you are complaining about a loss of privilege– the right to enforce your religious beliefs upon people who don’t share them.

    It’s not “healthcare” in quotes, it’s HEALTHCARE. Other people’s families, healthcare, medical decisions, marriages, and faith are simply not within your purview. If you don’t wish to provide health insurance for your employees, don’t. You might find very few people wish to work for you.

  • “NO, you are complaining about a loss of privilege– the right to enforce your religious beliefs upon people who don’t share them.”
    Logically, of course, this statement is a head-scratcher. Since I work as a low level employee for a major corporation I have no input into company policy. I was a branch manager for a previous employer but even then I was in no position to set policy. Since I’m near retirement age I have no desire to get back into management. I’m paid well for my position because of years of experience and technical knowledge, but that is it. I have no “privilege” to “defend”.
    As to the rest of your statement, abortion on demand and specific types of of birth control are not necessary for healthcare, therefore the quotation marks are fully justified. I believe ultimately that having a society that values freedom and liberty consistent with public order is better for all of us, not just employers. You obviously have a different view, one shared by the current administration and which will also be shared by the likely incoming Hillary administration. You are correct in part. Employees healthcare decisions should be up to the employee, not the employer. However, the employer should not be forced to pay for “healthcare” he finds morally objectionable.
    “Get out of my bedroom”, “Okay, let me just grab my wallet…” “the wallet stays, bigot” pretty much sums up current left wing thinking on this issue.

  • The Romans not the Jews killed Christ, but, since Christ’s death washed humanity clean, of original sin, with the blood of the lamb (yuck)….

    …if we had not killed Christ, the world would still have original sin

    so next time you see a jew, you thank him/ her/ zhe

    for saving the world

    and remember

    no good deed goes unpunished

    =
    as for your Must, must is quite musty, people will learn soon enough, they already have, thus these test cases

    and the issue was not the legitimacy of such selective (thus far) exceptions, but rather, how this does or might play in the electorate

    and if it is Christians, well so be it

    RFRA and its spawn also show up in zoning issues, for congregations in residential areas

    and RFRA was created to let Native Americans used magic mushrooms in religious ceremonies, before which they were prosecuted for such

  • some serious historical revisionism here, these religious refugees came here to impose their own theocracies, and did so, until we wrote them out of law, 1789

    and thus 1A, to protect society from State religion

    oops

  • You realize birth control fails, right? Most unplanned pregnancy are due to birth control failure. Many of the woman are married and already have a child. Are you donating to Planned Parenthood? Do you agree that free/low cost contraception should be available to anyone? From the Guttmacher Institute:” Fifty-one percent of abortion patients had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant, most commonly condoms (27%) or a hormonal method (17%).[5]

  • Singling out any religious for special treatment and scrutiny by our laws and government is discrimination. Calling it “prudent caution” doesn’t change what it is. People lead their daily lives experiencing little or no religious discrimination up until the point they no longer do.

    Profiling is not law enforcement. Singling out entire groups for government scrutiny is unconscionable. If you love this country, then you protect its values as well. If you don’t then feel free to compromise our freedoms in this place, then the next, then the next. Until we no longer have a country worth keeping.

  • I have to say, most of your posts so far have been unintelligible drivel. But I unequivocally agree that the RFRA needs to be gone and gone quickly.

    The one and only thing Antonin Scalia got right was his decision in Employment Div. v Smith. Therein he said that religious practice exceptions must be limited by laws of general applicability. Of course he would reverse himself in Hobby Lobby. But Smith was his one moment of clarity.

  • Trump would treat Muslims as a group to be be discriminated against in an official capacity. He wanted to institute religious tests for entry visas (which is not only impossible to do but wrong on so many levels). But then changed it when it was clear, it can’t happen and sounded ridiculous. The changed plan isn’t any better since those “terrorist exporting countries” also export things the US depends on such as oil and I-T professionals. The 9/11 terrorists came in on student visas. Student visas are woefully underregulated and Republicans couldn’.

    “they literally have a question that says, “Are you a member of a terrorist organization?”

    No they don’t. Where do you get this nonsense from. The San Bernadino killer was a US citizen. His wife was a nationalized citizen. Trump BS plan would not have done squat there

    “Ten minutes of internet/social media searching would have raised numerous red flags about the new wife of the San Bernardino killer.”

    So the government is in the business of watching everyone’s social media? You jokers don’t even want national-level gun registration data, but suddenly you want every facebook post monitored? LMAO!

  • You are rather ignorant on the issue in general.
    1. The EMPLOYEES are paying for their healthcare.
    Healthcare insurance is compensation for work done. It is as much paid for by the employer and controlled by the employer after payment as the paycheck, i.e. not at all. An employer has no right to control how insurance is used any more than it has a right to control how the paycheck is spent.

    2. Both the public and the insurers demanded contraception and family planning options should be mandatory minimum coverage for insurers. Those objecting to it lost their chance on the legislative floor

    3. Your religious beliefs are not grounds for limiting my actions.. It is not religious freedom to attack the rights of others.

    4. The law is already settled on the matter. Employers who want to play these silly games with their employee’s healthcare can let their employees get their own insurance. If the employers don’t like the idea that their employees use that sort of stuff, tough luck. Its not their business.

  • It is not religious freedom to attack and inconvenience others in service of your faith. We have various labor, employment and anti-discrimination laws to protect the public because running your own company is not license to do anything you want to whomever you want, be them employees or customers. There are limits.

  • “I’m not a Trump supporter, but let’s get the Trump message straight and quit piling on because it’s the popular thing to do right now:”

    You could have fooled me. You are parroting some of the most ridiculous and irrational stuff coming from his camp without commentary.

    You are a Trump’et. Just be honest here.

    “Trump is for the careful vetting of those coming here from Muslim countries, particularly the hundreds of thousands that Obama and Hilliary Clinton would welcome as refugees”

    Trump is an ignorant fool looking to appeal to bigots. ALL refugees are carefully vetted, sometimes over the course of years. It is a vital part of our immigration system. Refugee status confers benefits far greater than most immigration visas, including a green card and path to citizenship. So if you think it is not treated with caution and extreme care, you have no clue what you are talking about.

  • To have abortions? YES! Women should and must be able to kill their fetuses whenever they want, in a medically safe environment, with no legal barriers. You should have zero say in the matter. You don’t like it, tough luck. Unless your womb, its not your business, ever.

    Its not murder and a fetus is not a child. A child is born. One has to be born to be murdered. But honest assessment of a situation is not in the fetus worship wheelhouse.

  • This post is so incoherent it really does not deserve a reply. But, because you get EVERY single fact wrong, I feel compelled to provide correct information for other readers:

    YES, the U.S. VISA form has you check a box if you are a member of a terrorist organization. Sorry if you don’t like this fact. Do a little research instead of spouting your own made-up ‘facts.’

    YES, proper immigration screening would have caught the San Bernardino terrorist’s wife. She arrived in the U.S. just a few months before the attack, and was a committed jihadist before she arrived. Information available through a few minutes of publicly-available internet searching — the town she was originally from, where she went to school, etc. — would have raised red flags about her being a possible terrorist, which then would have led to further investigation.

    The fact that the 9/11 terrorists came in on student visas is precisely why there need to be better visa screening. I don’t understand your argument.

    As for IT professionals, part of Trump’s platform from the beginning was to cut back on the U.S.’s “importation” of foreign IT professions (the vast majority of whom are NOT Muslims, BTW), who have been directly displacing American workers and who have driven down IT wages significantly.

    As for oil, we import much less than we used to, but I don’t understand what that has to do with anything either.

  • I don’t know where you’ve been, but there are tens of thousands of couples who desperately want to adopt (I know some of them) and numerous organizations who will pay for pregnancy costs and provide extensive assistance.

  • “the U.S. VISA form”

    Which visa? There are several different types. You don’t know what you are talking about. There is no one “visa form”.

    “Information available through a few minutes of publicly-available internet searching — the town she was originally from, where she went to school, etc. — would have raised red flags about her being a possible terrorist, which then would have led to further investigation.”

    So being from a specific country and town automatically creates suspicions? No, it wouldn’t. You are grasping at straws. Plus it would not have been even close to the kind of information which would hold up the green card of he spouse of a US citizen. She came to the country legally, had no criminal record here. Had no record from the government of her home country to speak of. You have no idea how the process works. Btw I have personal experience in what goes into the visa process of a foreign born spouse. My wife became a permanent resident alien long after 9/11 and the reorganization of immigration afterwards.

    “The fact that the 9/11 terrorists came in on student visas is precisely why there need to be better visa screening. I don’t understand your argument.”

    Trump doesn’t talk about those people. But he maligns refugees who are under far more scrutiny. Any pretense he knows what the heck he is talking about is a sham.

    “As for IT professionals, part of Trump’s platform from the beginning was to cut back on the U.S.’s “importation” of foreign IT professions (the vast majority of whom are NOT Muslims, BTW), who have been directly displacing American workers and who have driven down IT wages significantly.”

    LMAO! Do you think Trump wants American workers to earn real wages? Hell No. He wants them working at Mexico level wages here! He has said that much in public!
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2016/11/05/trump-auto-workers-make-too-much-money/?ref_widget=gr_trending&ref_blog=grails&ref_post=atheist

    But is not really the point. The point is Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are considered allies of the US in those areas of the world despite shooting out terrorists abroad like pez dispensers. Trump is not going to change that. For goodness sake, Trump has financial interests in Dubai! Where Islamic State does its banking! Where the economy is run on slave labor!

  • Simpler solution, butt out of the lives of others! The pregnancies of anyone but yourself are 100% none of your business. Your opinions do not entitle you to control the decisions of others.

  • You forget the rights of the child. And you forget the 1st amendment. Yes…I do have say in the matter. Yes…it is my business. And God gives me (and others) the right to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the children.

  • A fetus has no rights greater than its mother. A fetus only exists because of its mother’s will. Therefore it is always subject to it. The first amendment protects your opinion on the subject. But it does not ever make you a party to a woman’s decisions nor grant you the power to intervene in them.

    A fetus is not a baby, it is not the same as a born being. Born beings have independent autonomous existence. Any human being can keep a baby alive, a fetus only lives inside its mother. If a mother wants to terminate her pregnancy, that is her right. Her body is not property of the state, nor yours. Becoming pregnant does not mean she automatically loses all power to make personal decisions as to what goes on in her body.

    Btw there is no Biblical support for the anti-abortion position. Life begins in the Bible, at first breath. Death of a fetus is a violation of the property of the mother, subject to fine.

    Children only refers to the born. A fetus is not the same as a baby or child. Nor are there any honest analogies one can make with a fetus and some other born being. Failure to distinguish between the born and unborn is a major reason to discount most of the hysterical arguments against abortion.

  • 1. Actually almost all company sponsored plans are paid partially (usually over 50%) by the employer.

    2. Employer sponsored insurance plans are typically determined by by negotiations between the insurance company and the employer. If insurance companies “mandate” contraception that should be decided by negotiations between the insurer and the employer. Obamacare unnecessarily interjects government mandates into the process. BTW, a large part of the public is not happy with Obamacare for various reasons.

    3. If I refuse to pay for something you think you should have I’m not “limiting” your actions. Freebies aren’t. or at least shouldn’t be, “rights”.

    4. Someone apparently forgot to tell Hobby Lobby and The Little Sisters of the Poor that the “law is already settled”. Even more importantly someone evidently forgot to tell the Supreme Court:http://hobbylobbycase.com/the-case/the-decision/ However, I’m sure that with your superior knowledge in this area all you need to do is shoot off a short email to the Supreme Court and they will quickly reverse their decision. Who knows, with Scalia out of the picture you may even have a chance.

    One last friendly word of advice. Before you tell someone they are “quite ignorant” about something perhaps you should study more on that subject yourself.

  • If I refuse to provide a specific service to you I’m not “attacking” you. As for inconveniencing someone, I didn’t realize there was a constitutional right not to be inconvenienced. In fact I haven’t even heard of any city ordinances against inconveniencing someone. Several years ago I ate dinner at an Indian restaurant along with my son and a couple of others. Since my particular brand of Christianity (Roman Catholicism) does not forbid drinking alcohol, as long as it is done in moderation, on occasion I like to have a beer or drink with my dinner. However, it turned out that the owner of the restaurant was Muslim, so they did not serve alcohol in that establishment. The owner inconvenienced me by not serving something I clearly desired to have with my dinner. So I went ahead and ate sans alcohol. End of story. BTW, I enjoyed the dinner anyway.

  • 1. Insurance is still a form of compensation, much like a paycheck (which an employer pays 100% of). As a form of compensation, it is the end user who has the last say on how it can be used. Since insurance requires government regulation by its nature, government set the terms of minimum coverage.

    2. That is never true. Insurance companies have minimum coverage requirements set by law. At no point are required provisions and minimum coverage limits subject to employer choice. Insurance plans are pretty much a set product in this day and age. Obamacare keeps garbage policies off the market and is part of the regulation which is inherent in the insurance industry.

    3. If you refuse to pay for something people are entitled to under the law, you are not exercising your liberties, you are attacking others. Religious exercise is not acting against others, it is acting on one’s own behalf. You do not have a right to force others to abide by your religious beliefs.

    4. You are not current on the issue. Hobby Lobby got neutered by changes in the law which allow companies to opt out on insurance plans and let employees get their own. The Sisters ultimately lost their case. Their argument that letting employees get their own insurance [PAY FOR THEIR OWN CONTRACEPTION] violated religious freedom of the employer was rejected. It got knocked down to the lower courts. The Sisters still had to find an accommodation which protected the employees rights access to contraception.

  • If you refuse to provide a specific service that you are entitled to under the law, those on the receiving end are more than inconvenienced. They are being attacked. Religious belief is not an opt out to rule of law or any obligations one has to the public.

    Moreover, there is zero rational argument against the opt out provisions. Letting people get their own insurance (as the new provisions state) has nothing to do with your religious beliefs. Your beliefs do not dictate what others get to do. You seem to miss that important part.

    More importantly insurance is compensation and one which is protected under a legal veil of privacy which the employers have no say in (HIPAA). Under no circumstances does an employer have any say in how insurance is to be used. Most of the arguments you are using show a basic ignorance as to how health insurance actually works.

    If we are going to use bad analogy, a religious owner of a restaurant can’t use their faith to avoid compliance with health codes. Nor can they refuse a customer because their religion forbids serving those kinds of people. A customer who is inconvenienced in such a way such as eating tainted food or being refused service has grounds for litigation.

    What it all comes down to is, nobody has to be forced to live by the tenets of your faith.

  • Not really. One has to take a far more literal reading that the passage intends or suggests. Less ambiguous are Exodus 21:22-25 and Genesis 2:7,

  • It’s too late right and I’m too tired right now to give a complete answer, but you are correct: Obama did make an end run around the two decisions by executive order. In my opinion that hardly makes it “settled law”. Of course I’m sure the incoming Hillary administration will keep it in place. If Trump wins (unlikely, but not impossible) then it may be subject to change. On a personal level, if Obamacare is meant to keep “garbage” policies off of the market, it certainly isn’t living up to its name, the Affordable Care act. My premiums, and those of my coworkers, have been pretty rapidly increasing since it passed. It is becoming more the “unaffordable” care act for us. Most of the entitlements you seem to be enamored with are of very recent origin.

    Not too many generations ago Jim Crow laws were “settled law” in most of the South. That didn’t make them right, and Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference rightly lead protests against them, and engaged in civil disobedience. It is always amazing to me when modern liberals make an argument that we must “obey the law” regardless. Their forebears didn’t hold to that standard, but perhaps they were made of sterner stuff.

  • Frankly I find the whole opt out to be the best end run around the complete pile of horse dookie which is typified by Hobby Lobby. In essence the employees ARE paying for their own insurance that way. You have no argument from there. The Little Sisters were being ridiculous for political effect. Why should they have ANY concern that employees would be seeking their own insurance?

    ” My premiums, and those of my coworkers, have been pretty rapidly increasing since it passed. It is becoming more the “unaffordable” care act for us”

    And even with insurance, you were paying for things which are now automatically covered. You are also less likely to be bankrupted by a sudden illness or injury. Policies cover more treatments and more people.

    As for analogies between ACA and Jim Crow, it is ridiculous and I am not going to dignify it. It is settled law because there are no reasonable objections to the ACA being put forward in the courts. Nor is anyone else offering a suitable solution to the problem of large numbers of uninsured citizens. Is it the best plan available? No. Single payer would be. But that was unacceptable to too many people beholden to our horrific market based system. So we are stuck with a hybrid one.

  • I am organizing a new religion to protect nurses that have to lift the extremely overweight and diabetic Christian women.

    We will get tax free status and be a real religion. This will give nurses the right to refuse to help Christians, because they are mainly overweight, and are doing two things to the country.

    One – they are breaking the medical system with their higher than average costs, and specialty care and special equipment (how many of you use a Butt Buddy?) that is required for their care. It would be far better for the country if they didn’t exist.

    If you want to save the healthcare system, talk to anyone actually in the trenches doing the real work (nurses) and you will find out obesity and diabetes is fundamentally at the source of it all.

    Two – they are physically hurting nurses because they weigh so much, nurses are hurting their backs everyday across this country lifting the heavy Christian patients. Once again it would be better for the country if they didn’t exist.

    It is morally objectionable to have to help people that are so obese that it physically injures nurses. So, it will be a religious objection to help those people. If you think I am kidding…..I am not.

    Wait until the Hindu doctor you have refuses to treat you because he finds out you eat beef. He could refuse on religious grounds. Think about it.

    These laws are nothing but a license to hate and discriminate.

    I fail to see what real problem these laws actually fix.

    If the poor little Christians are so discriminated against and you can’t handle the freedoms of the United States even though you are actually the majority religion (for now), then get out!

    This is the United States, and we strive to treat all equally, not hide behind laws designed to separate us.

    This is not a Christian country it is officially non religious for a very good reason.

    Wait a hundred years when the Muslims are the biggest demographic in the country (it is coming) the Christians will get all of these laws turned against them.

    That is the reason we cannot pass laws with regard to religion, it is in the constitution. These will all lose eventually in the SCOTUS.

    So, why waste everyone’s time and money to pass laws that end up doing barely any good and have the potential for much harm?

    The new Healthcare worker Religious freedom law, which is just a change in wording of Obamacare, will cause great hardship and a real healthcare crisis.

    Also, I am pretty sure that it is against the doctors Hippocratic oath.

    Christians had better be careful what they wish for because they may actually get it.
    Good luck to everyone (really)

  • You are correct. Just like Kim Davis!
    We should all be able to refuse to do anything based on beliefs. Judges, police, doctors, nurses, firefighters, EMT’s etc. should all be able to not help anyone based on their religion.
    I am being sarcastic, unless you cannot tell.
    No, you are wrong once again with your arrogant Christian attitude. Who are you to tell anyone what kind of job to do?
    The Cab driver scenario cited should pick up the person with a case of beer, and Kim Davis should just do her job as well. Perhaps we all need to be little less protectionist, and a little more open to others. I am old enough to remember when the Christians were a stable force for the poor and underprivileged. When did the Trickle down mentality become a Christian value?
    What would Jesus do?
    You should be ashamed.

  • Right, Actually Xmas is a stolen holiday!
    Jesus the normal person (not a god) was “born” in July. If you read the accounts of the birth. They were dressed not for the Northern Hemisphere in Late December.
    Historians have put his birth at more like July. It was originally celebrated in July, but no one seemed to care, so It switched to December because of two things.

    1) The very popular Pagan holiday of Yule was seen as an opportunity to make Jesus more popular.
    2) King Harrods Day, was a also a very popular holiday. The Christians saw this as another way to spread Christianity.

    So, Christmas Dec. 25 is not Jesus’s birthday anyway, it has been stolen, just like all of the stories out of the bible. for about the past two thousand years.

  • More religious Mumbo Jumbo.
    Who cares? Go back to the Holy city where you can practice your nut job hatred with impunity.

  • Do you understand your odds of dying in a terrorist attack is very low.
    Unless you are travelling to Syria or Iraq your risk is extremely low. As a matter of fact terrorist attacks in the USA are at an all time low. Things were much worse in the early 80’s here take a look at the FBI stats:
    http://library.intellectualtakeout.org/library/chart-graph/terrorist-incidents-united-states-1980-2005

    The vast (vast) majority of terror in the US is carried out by non- Muslims – 94%.
    That is right Muslims are only responsible for 6% of domestic terror. The white Christians are more of terrorists than the Muslims. Deal with that reality.
    As a matter of fact Christians and Jews are responsible for more domestic terrorism than any other group.
    Sorry those stubborn facts get in the way of your tired old story.

  • Yes, but there are very few White Christians willing to adopt a black or Arabic inner city baby that has meth withdrawal, or abuse issues. Sorry but abortion is a better option for the mother to chose sometimes especially when she is not emotionally mature enough to have and raise the child.

    You only want the white babies that can grow up to join the KKK.

  • Max, do you have a reading comprehension problem? Please show me were I mention trickle down or, for that matter, economics at all. Also, I didn’t bring up Kim Davis, which is a separate issue as she is a government employee. My point is that what the state can force private citizens to perform, particularly when it violates their religious beliefs, should be severely restricted. That is a point that you, and Spuddie for that matter, seem to have a problem understanding. If an atheist baker for instance, refused to bake a cake for a religious wedding, I’d have no problem with that. It is simply not the state’s business, or at least in a free society it shouldn’t be. Ironically an atheist made the best argument I’ve seen for limiting the state’s powers in cases such as this: http://thefederalist.com/2015/04/02/indiana-shows-the-left-has-no-concept-of-freedom/. I understand that you and Spuddie worship at the altar of an all powerful state. I do not. If that means I have an “arrogant Christian attitude” so be it.

  • “What it all comes down to is, nobody has to be forced to live by the tenets of your faith” Something I haven’t proposed, and don’t propose. Neither should they be forced to live by official secular ideology.

    ” If we are going to use bad analogy, a religious owner of a restaurant can’t use their faith to avoid compliance with health codes. Nor can they refuse a customer because their religion forbids serving those kinds of people. A customer who is inconvenienced in such a way such as eating tainted food or being refused service has grounds for litigation.”

    Yeah, I didn’t mention either of those things, so bringing them up is a non-sequitur. Not following health codes is a public safety issue, the state has a legitimate interest in protecting public health.

  • “As for analogies between ACA and Jim Crow, it is ridiculous and I am not going to dignify it” Yes, if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notions of what is politically correct then of course you don’t need to “dignify it”. BTW, your “settled law” is looking a little less settled these days.

  • My nephew and his wife adopted a black child. Somehow I don’t expect they are training him to join the KKK.

  • “I am being sarcastic, unless you cannot tell.”

    Oh, ha ha ha, look ma, he made a funny!

    A word of friendly advice. If you’re hoping for a career in comedy don’t quit your day job anytime soon.

  • I am a Christian, that’s why I do not celebrate it, or Halloween, or all the other pagan customs.

    2 Corinthians 6: 14 Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? 15 Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Be′li·al? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?

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