Friday, March 25, 2011

Still More "Persecuted Christian" Nonsense

I talked about the initial incident with Petals and Promises back here. This post is about the shrieking stupidity coming out of Canada's religious right wingnuts.

Lifesite almost brushes up against an honest bit of journalism, although their biases are clear enough.

Then there is the bunch over at "No Apologies", who seem to have gone quite over the top about the issue.

It all boils down to one basic point - they believe that they should have the right to run a business and enforce their religious beliefs upon their prospective customers.

Consider this doozy of a comment from Tom Bartlett:

The issue is not one of discrimination. Let me take the example of slavery. When slavery was legal, although it clearly contradicted the Christian (and U.S. adopted) value of recognising that all are equal in God’s sight, Christians who deemed slavery to be wrong would hide and help slaves to escape. They would face penalties under the law for taking a stand on principles not held by the state. Abortion is another example. Science establishes that life begins at conception and Christians do not allow for killing an innocent unborn child, so in principle we stand against it and regularly have our views censored, distorted, and having abortion defenders and providers paid for with our taxes while not allowing factual information to be presented in public schools. That is discrimination, but is permitted under law.

You just don't get it, do you? Nobody cares what you say as a Christian. You are absolutely free to believe and behave as you wish - up to, but not including the point where your actions demand that somebody else live by your moral creed. What you have forgotten is that Freedom of Religion is an individual freedom. It does not extend beyond the individual.

I cannot, under Canada's laws, start a business up and hang a shingle out that says "I don't serve ". Whether that group is gays, Christians or any other identifiable group. I can certainly choose to market to any one of those groups as a primary market focus(for example, there's a guy in my home town that calls himself "The Christian Contractor"), but as a business owner, I don't get to say "I won't serve " because they happen to offend my personal sensibilities somehow.

You see, there's an interesting aspect to universal freedoms such as "Freedom of Religion". Not only does it guarantee that any individual is free to believe and practice whatever faith they choose, but it similarly guarantees that others are not subject to those same beliefs being imposed in their lives. Put succinctly, Freedom of Religion includes Freedom FROM Religion.

The argument that one's faith permeates all aspects of life, including business dealings does not excuse an individual from the consequences of projecting their beliefs onto others who do not share that same faith.

Let me be clear about this. If I were to be a practicing member of a faith community that strictly forbade a medical procedure and I voluntarily underwent that procedure, then quite legitimately the members of that same community are within their rights to sanction me somehow. However, if I am NOT a member of that faith community, then they have absolutely NO SAY WHATSOEVER in the matter, and do not have the right to sanction me at all - no matter what they believe.

When it comes to businesses, one might be tempted to question just what steps a business is taking if it is run by a "christianist" who is going to drag their morals out to refuse a customer? Are they, like the "Christian Contractor" I referred to earlier making their faith a clear part of their business? Or do they just yank it out from under the counter when it is convenient? If you want the kind of privilege to tell a customer to PFO after making an agreement to do business, then you better be prepared to make your policies clear up front. (and I don't know too many people who are willing to do business with someone who posts an "I won't serve " sign on the door ... you might find that your market is a lot smaller than you thought at the outset if you were that honest with your customers)

*Note: I have used the term "christianist" here to refer to these people who insist that it is their rights who are infringed upon when they are called out for imposing their beliefs on others in blatantly discriminatory ways. The majority of Christians do not engage in such vile behaviours.

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