The Slippery Slope to Sharia Law

No, this is not going to be another one of those Islamaphobic rants about how Sharia law is coming to a theater near you any day now. On the contrary, this will be a Judeo-christian-phobic rant about double standards and where the real threat of religious domination comes from.

Recently, the Supreme Court announced in a unanimous decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC that a religious institution could discriminate in its hiring practices without repercussions. This supposedly falls under freedom of religion. The case involves a woman who took a medical leave from a Lutheran school due to a diagnosis of narcolepsy. Upon returning from leave she was told her job had been taken and there was no further work for her. When she threatened to sue, she was fired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took on her case as a violation of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protections.

I have no problem with the case being adjudicated solely on the basis of the legitimacy of the ADA claim. What I find disturbing is that the religious affiliation of the school had any impact whatsoever on the case. According to an article in the Washington Post:

Richard W. Garnett, director of Notre Dame Law School’s Program in Church, State, and Society, said the ruling is the court’s most important decision on religious freedom in decades.

“The government doesn’t get to second-guess religious communities’ decisions about who should be their teachers, leaders and ministers,” he said.

via Supreme Court: Discrimination laws do not protect certain religious group workers – The Washington Post.

So religion gets to operate outside the law? Is that what we are supposed to believe? It worked so well in the Catholic church where their brand of internal justice ruined the lives of countless children molested by “teachers, leaders and ministers” who happened to be  pedophiles.

When exactly do we apply this hands-off standard for religion? Why is polygamy not a protected practice within the Mormon church? Why did they have to renounce the practice to maintain their tax exempt status? Perhaps the Roberts Court would like to re-adjudicate that decision? Based on Hosanna-Tabor, if I were a Mormon minister I would most certainly float a test case reestablishing polygamy as legitimate within the church. The Court has established that our government has no right to extend its legal standards to religious institutions, at least so long as they are Christian.

So, the next time you hear some paranoid rant about how we need to protect America from Sharia law, just think about Hosanna-Tabor. We are already on the slippery slope to religious practice trumping American law.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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All Hail Lawrence O’Donnell

When I heard Mitt Romney refer to the “faith of my fathers” in his recent “Kennedy speech”, I cringed. I watched various political pundits applaud Romney’s attempt at duplicating Kennedy’s much more eloquent clarification of his religious priorities. Then finally a breath of common sense fresh air (albeit a mighty gust) came from Lawrence O’Donnell on “The McLaughlin Group.” O’Donnell dared to comment on the gorilla in the room, namely some truly wicked aspects of “traditional” Mormonism.

Had Romney stated, “I am a practitioner of modern Mormonism, a religion that has recently attempted to abandon its previously detestable precepts concerning African-Americans”, then I would have little to say against him. But Romney chose to embrace the “faith of my fathers” and to explicitly refuse to “disavow one or another of its precepts”. He went on to say that “each religion has its own history” which is not a basis for criticism. Excuse me? It is the HISTORY of Mitt’s religion that makes it so odious. Romney went on to say that we Americans share a “religious heritage” with a common commitment to “equality of human kind”. However, Mitt’s religious heritage identifies Blacks as inferior, as folks who sinned in the world before this one, and hence are paying for it on Earth with dark skin and various deserved disadvantages.

Even if one could overlook the ethical deficiencies in the history of Mormonism, how does one get past Romney’s utter disdain for non-believers? “We are a nation under God”, he declared. Sorry, Mitt, not everyone believes that! “Liberty is a gift of God”, he says. Again, sorry Mitt but one can very clearly believe in liberty and at the same time believe that God is a fairy tale. “We welcome our nation’s symphony of faith”, says Romney thinking that he is being inclusive. Are all the agnostics and atheists’ “instruments” being muted in that symphony? Where exactly do they fit in?

In John Kennedy’s shorter and much more effective speech of 1960, he made only one “defense” of Catholicism when he said, “But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith–nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.” This wisely, was his only bow to those who felt he might be selling out on his fellow Catholics. The rest of his speech emphasized the importance of the separation of church and state. In stark contrast, Romney warned of the “religion of secularism” and seemed oblivious to the constitutional prohibition against the government promoting one set of beliefs over another. Kennedy said, “Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice” [emphasis added by me]. For Romney, those who choose not to attend are ripe for condemnation. To hear Romney’s view of our nation, agnostics and atheists are unamerican.

So, three cheers for Lawrence O’Donnell! Could his comments be construed as a rant? Probably. Did he lack a bit of decorum? I suppose so. But with our country on the verge of becoming a christian theocracy, some ranting might be just what we need right now.

Respectfully,
Rutherford