The Religious Rights Laws Will Backfire

It is most funny to watch state legislatures scramble to pass “religious rights” laws – laws that in one way or the other purport to protect the rights of “good Christians” to not have to deal with or countenance that which they find go against their beliefs. They are worded differently in divers states, as legislation usually is, but they are cropping up here and there in so called “conservative states” like Kansas and Arizona and Oregon (wait a minute, I thought Oregon was a liberal state?) – makes no difference where they are frothing forth, for they are not thought through. They are of course couched in very general terms but are perceived as anti-gay. But they don’t mention gayness or Christianity as such – but as near as I can figure from the news reports, only that they give license to anyone to refuse service, goods, accommodations and even so much as a howdy-do to anyone someone deems is going against their religious beliefs.

Of course, gay groups are up in arms, for surely it seems aimed at gay folks and any gay couples which exist. Which is of course, funny in itself for when adults start to actively deny the reality in front of them it doesn’t bode well for anything. After all, the country now “recognizes” gay marriage and gay couples everywhere – by either saying “yes they exist” or “no they can’t.” And when something real is deemed fake by mere words and belief, well, that’s just lunacy. You can argue all day long that your religion says “gay couples don’t exist” but when Ted and Fred stand before you and say they are a couple what are you to do? Go “lalalalala!”? Apparently. Denial is not becoming a rational society. It’s intellectually dishonest and even moronic, but, well, I’ve been a realist for quite some time. I just can’t suspend the reality in front of me because I believe something else.

Then too, the laws don’t seem to say “Christian” in any form – it is merely “strongly held religious belief.” Seemingly of any kind. Any sort of religion of any denomination or sort – and that’s where the problem lies. This is where it will backfire in ways now well unforeseen, except perhaps here on this page. Right now it’s all about “good Christians” trying to preserve some Puritanical “we’re in charge here and only our beliefs count” mentality that perhaps even Cotton Mather couldn’t handle. But let us suppose these proposed laws become actual law. So far it seems this or that House or body or legislator has proposed them. I think, but I’m not sure, that Arizona’s is far enough along to go to the governor. Well, I now live in Phoenix. And so this law will affect me in one way or the other.

Now, Phoenix is the 5th largest city in America. It is very diverse – all liberal gaga diverse. From fundamentalists of Jewish, Muslim and Christian kind to liberal atheists and free wheeling wiccans and pagans and mainline denominations of every kind. A polity of some 4.5 million people has every sort of religious belief one could imagine. And the immigrant groups among the population, though heavily “Hispanic” – that is, Mexican – of course – is also made up of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and who knows who. I’m sure there’s a Sunni and a Shiite, a Sufti and a Dervish mosque here and there. I’m sure all the sorts of Catholics are represented – from Latin mass lovers to agape New Age guitar masses. I’m sure there are Protestants of every sort imaginable. The Mormons are well represented in their various guises from polygamists to ‘we welcome anyone.’ There is no shortage of strongly held religious belief in the great mishmash of this city.

And now what? Well, now each shall have license by law to say “No, we shall not serve you.” “We shall not deign to accede to your existence by letting you have a coke in our establishment.” “No cake for you.” Oh, it’s not heteros against the gays anymore – no, it’ll pit each religion’s heterosexuals against the others. What the “good Christians” think they are doing is preserving the fundamentalist’s right to deny the reality of gay couples and tell them to take a hike.

But what will happen, and one day relatively soon, is that a Christian couple or person will go to do a thing or buy something or engage a plumber – and the Muslim behind the business will say – “For strongly held religious belief I will refuse to serve you.”

And one day soon I’m sure some Catholic of strong belief will refuse to serve a divorced Presbyterian. And perhaps a Mormon who runs a hotel will simply not let heathen Baptists come to stay the night. And so the religious will balkanize the place. And then what?

The litigation will start. The Baptist will take the Muslim to court and say “I was denied a taxi ride.” And the Muslim will say “My strongly held religious beliefs says I can’t let Baptists in my cab.” And interracial couples – not just black and white – but Asian-Hispanic, and European-South American – and who knows what combos wrought by the seething mass of love that is Phoenix will be denied a place at the restaurant run by fundies of this type or another. The endless permutations of people who will start to refuse to deal with each other will burgeon beyond belief. And gay couples, rather hysterically, will be hard to spot among the morass. And indeed, two heterosexual business friends out for dinner while their wives at canasta might well find themselves denied a burger because of perception that the meterosexuals are gay. My my, it will be mirthful as that case goes to court.

Then too, down at the pharmacy, a Catholic will refuse to fill the prescription of the Jew. And the Jew will not seat the Muslim. The pagan EMS man might well decide not to give succor in emergency to the Assembly of God member who just the other day made public announcement about the evils of not belonging to their church. Indeed, among the Protestants it might well be open season – sure the Assembly of God will lash out at the Holy Roller Redeemers. Black protestants might refuse service to White protestants not on race – oh so forbidden – but on religion’s hoary tales of “Our God is the Right God!”

And gay folks can join the fun too. For it so happens that many gays are in the service industries – from flowers to cakes to restaurants to hotels, airlines to tour guides – and they might well – And certainly at my strong urging should do, I assure you – refuse service to any cleric in garb. Indeed – under the law a gay man professing a strongly held religious belief might seemingly deny a Catholic priest a seat at Applebees. Oh, it’s a hornet’s nest opening up. Hornets nests are not good, as anyone can tell you.

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I can well imagine a Sunni taxi driver refusing a ride to the hospital for a Shiite mother with a sick child – and Christians and Gays not in the mix at all!

I can imagine all sorts of things that a novelist would be hard pressed to weave into a sordid tale of a society gone to religious war with each other. For instead of religion being private and diverse and oft not thought of at all – anyone may now use it to say “My belief says you are garbage.”

Why, even the illegal immigrant Mexican Catholics might say they don’t have to comply with this or that other law for their Catholic belief precludes them from doing so. Perhaps the Lutherans who run the water tanks for the illegals can use the law to bolster their strongly held religious beliefs to help those escaping Mexico. I can imagine Methodists at the throats of Lutherans even, over who knows what. Why, if a neighbor not like another, religion may now be brought to the fore and Calvinist say “I can’t let the Catholic neighbor have a shrine to Mary in the homeowners association.”

Oh, it’ll make for merry, as such ill thought out laws will do. And all because of “Good Christians” absolute refusal to recognize the reality of gayness. They insist it doesn’t exist, that it is sick and demented (but not covered by the American With Disabilities Act,) and that it should be eradicated from the land. And if more and more states and local jurisdictions pass such laws you will see a balkanization of the land as this and that forlorn group of religious refugees moves among their own kind. It will remind one of the Middle Ages – or even modern Iraq.

 And all because fine up standing decent gay Americans want what Barry Goldwater – long the very conservative senator of this state said: “You don’t have to like it, but gay Americans deserve full constitutional rights including marriage and military service.” Everyone ignored him in 1994, when he said it. And too he said “God forbid if the fundamentalists take hold of the Republican party. And lo they have. Just as die hard socialists have seized the Democratic party. The rational 80% in the middle are bereft of succor on the political stage at this point.

 But back in 1994, nearly everyone, all heterosexuals in gleeful congress, left, right and middle, Democrat and Republican went along with the Fundamentalist desire to have laws against gayness – namely DOMA and DADT – which were enshrined as law for decades – and still linger – and which are being contested in every jurisdiction in the land because the Supreme Court, the President and the Congress – heterosexuals all – still can’t get the gumption up to say “Gay Americans may exercise liberty like everyone else.”

 No, gay American’s liberty is eschewed – denied, denigrated. And mealy mouthed gay groups spout off about “equality” when no one is equal and gay Americans are better. And we’re about the only one who serve everyone – and now, oh, now we too shall have the right, for strongly held religious belief – our own – to not serve a legislator or clergyman in any restaurant in the state. As I said, I wholeheartedly endorse such an action. Let the denied take the gay man to court. Then we can say “you passed a bizarre law giving us this right.” And smile and tell them to take a hike.

 Sad that heterosexuals are really the cause of all social ills in this nation – but are still so fixated and wobbly about their own sexuality and what gay guys do (And they don’t give a damn about the LBT part, I assure you.) Such is the alleged power of gayness. And now the nation will further collapse into small fiefdoms and perhaps the Dark Ages will descend again upon the world. Sad, just so sad.

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