Depends on Whose Sacred Cow is Gored

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In the wake of Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita, Greg Sisk, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, guestblogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, has been presenting "a series of thoughts about why traditionalist Christian (specifically Catholic and Baptist) claimants in religious liberty cases now appear to be the disfavored parties in court." Today he has a summary post of sorts, including an assessment of the heated reactions this claim has received. Sisk believes that

typical claims by Catholics and Baptists–seeking exemption from anti-discrimination rules, licensing and regulatory requirements, etc.–were a shot right across the bow of the liberal ship of state. Critics retort that these anti-discrimination or regulatory provisions advance compelling public interests that admit to no exception. I respond that they are conflating the merits–and thus the scope of religious liberty–with ideological or cultural preferences. And 'round we go.
……
My vision of religious liberty denies presumptive power to any political agenda, of left or right, over claims of religious conscience. I expect that religious liberty claims by people of all faiths should receive a particularized judicial consideration and not be submerged beneath political platitudes about either "law and order" or "the equal opportunity society." An insistence upon subordinating religious conscience to rigid dictates of the state, in the name of some general policy goal, is the antithesis of religious liberty.

Here is a .pdf of the very long Ohio State Law Journal article presenting Sisk's data.

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  1. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the cases filed by Baptists and Catholics tend not to have much to do with individuals’ religious actions, but with those of the government.

    Who, exactly, is ignoring the merits of the cases in this analysis?

  2. joe, this isn’t about the ten commandments. This is about when government regulation requires people to do things that are against their religion.

    Now, I don’t know near enough to say that “traditionalist” religious claims are being treated less favorably than others, but the issue here isn’t the establishment of religion (even in the current, overbroad reading of that phrase), but rather its free exercise.

  3. At a very abstract level, this issue is extremely problematic. Exemptions from laws based on ‘religious beliefs’ is simply way too amorphous and undefinable. What constitutes a ‘religious belief’? Are the ‘beliefs’ of Christians more “valid” than those who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster? If The Flying Spaghetti Monster tells me that I must shoot up heroin 3 days/week, does that ‘belief’ trump law? And if not, then how can any religious exemptions be justified, without first stating that some

  4. Fuck, this comment engine is GARBAGE. I didn’t type that! I proofread my statement. It was fine. GRR. Let’s try again:

    At a very abstract level, this issue is extremely problematic. Exemptions from laws based on ‘religious beliefs’ is simply way too amorphous and undefinable. What constitutes a ‘religious belief’? Are the ‘beliefs’ of Christians more “valid” than those who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster? If The Flying Spaghetti Monster tells me that I must shoot up heroin 3 days/week, does that ‘belief’ trump law? And if not, then how can any religious exemptions be justified, without first stating that some religious beliefs are more valid than others. And that’s a dangerous subject for government to start making declarations upon.

    As for antidiscrimination laws, well, aside from the obvious objections laid out in my previous paragraph, I don’t see antidiscrimination laws as valid in the first place, at least in the private sector. However, as soon as a church takes taxpayer dollars, it should have to adhere to any and all laws and restrictions that apply to any other organization in their position.

  5. However, as soon as a church takes taxpayer dollars, it should have to adhere to any and all laws and restrictions that apply to any other organization in their position.

    My thoughts exactly!

  6. Yes, and I think “being exempt from property and sales taxes” — as if “being a church” were ipso facto charitable work — should count as taking taxpayer dollars. It’s subsidizing your church at the expense of us working schmoes.

    BTW: http://www.kmov.com/topstories/stories/030206ccklrKmovreligionbill.7d361c3f.html

    “Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state’s official “majority” religion.

    House Concurrent Resolution 13 has is pending in the state legislature.

    Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday.

    Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing and email campaign to stop the resolution.

    The resolution would recognize “a Christian god,” and it would not protect minority religions, but “protect the majority’s right to express their religious beliefs.

    The resolution also recognizes that, “a greater power exists,” and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, “justified recognition.”

    State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

    KMOV also contacted Gov. Matt Blunt’s office to see where he stands on the resolution, but he has yet to respond.”

  7. Phil,

    I remember how, for a couple years after 9/11, these people would append “Judeo-” before “Christian” when they went on the culture warpath.

    I guess that was just a phase.

  8. I normally play devils? I mean?.I read the 1rst Amendment ?free-exercise? and establishment clauses more liberally than many here, allowing religion right of way in many cases. But I’m not sure this guy?s point is something id go along with at all. I’m not sure i understand all of it.

    His point about of ?insistence upon subordinating religious conscience to rigid dictates of the state? seems disingenuous to me.

    How *exactly* are the ?rigid dictates of the state? hamstringing Catholics and Baptists again? As opposed to other groups. Whats the specific conflict where they?re being asked to ?subordinate? their conscience?

    MY guess is that, despite the sanctimonious appeal to Liberty here, that the specific citations he?d come up with would fall FAR short of ?subordination?. Like, ?if you want to protest at abortion clinics, you cant throw fetuses at people?. Or, ?no, you cant teach that God made women out of Adam?s spare parts in public Kindergartens?.

    I think this guy using this high minded legal rhetoric to make it sound as though there is something on the order of the French banning headscarves in schools going on? (something BTW I objected to in a big way). I?d like to hear what his specific citations of Free Exercise violations are before I start to take him seriously. I think he’s probably making a big hullaballoo out of nothign.

  9. Phil,

    WOW – this is the first i’ve heard of it in these parts. yikes.

    Yes, and I think “being exempt from property and sales taxes” — as if “being a church” were ipso facto charitable work — should count as taking taxpayer dollars. It’s subsidizing your church at the expense of us working schmoes.

    i couldn’t agree more. exemption=subsidization seems to be a pretty established theory.

  10. What restrictions on religious liberty is this right wing wacko talking about?

    The right to kill someone that says “Happy Holidays”

    The right to teach everyone’s children that we were created by a magical being in the sky

    The right to keep gay people from having any of the same civil rights accorded to other humans

    The right to kill any Muslim, anytime, anywhere

    Those are the religious freedoms that Christians seem to be the most concerned about

  11. Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state’s official “majority” religion.

    EEEEEYAAAAAGH!

    Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday.

    This one didn’t hear about it until just now.

    What the hell…? This isn’t Kansas or Kentucky, folks. Don’t see how “recognition” by the White Marble Mafia* is doing God any favors, either.

    *(Today’s freshly coined epithet for government.)

    State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

    Never heard of this guy, or of Cassville. What’s his game? I’m guessing he’s pandering to somebody back in Hickville, knowing it’s going to be shot down anyway.

  12. Probably, Stevo, but the fact that anyone would even entertain for a millisecond the idea that that’s a proper function of government . . . yikes!

    joe, good one. “You’re on notice, Jews!”

  13. What is it with my Show-me State proposing bills like this? Remember the No-Cold Beer Bill that a sixth-grader proposed? While this bill is one-step away (if that) from making Christianity the “official religion” of Missouri, it is surely an act of pandering, as Stevo noted.

    It’s hard for state reps to make names for themselves, especially when you represent Frog Balls, Missouri, or wherever this guy was from. This is just the rep’s lame attempt at getting his name in the paper, and, in my opinion, not reflective of what any significant portion of us Missourians would want.

  14. Comment by: Scott

    “”Those are the religious freedoms that Christians seem to be the most concerned about””

    Yeah? well, I was saying the same point ? that the claim of victimhood is disingenuous.

    But Scott, this kind of comment is the stuff I get uppity about ? just because a strain of hysterical political Evangelicals goes after these issues you mention DOES NOT mean it?s a ?all Christians want?? thing!! This is what I keep nagging about. It?s not the ?majority? of all Christian denominations at all that?s going after these things ? it?s a minority of a minority, and it doesn?t mean ?Christians? as some theoretical monolithic block are all medieval wingnuts with hairshirts on? which can sometimes be the ?reasoned? opinion of Reason readers. I have to just call this out and say? yes, your point is exactly the issue?up until you describe it as the wants of Christians as a whole.

    JG

  15. State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution

    it all makes sense to me now.

    Never heard of this guy, or of Cassville.

    it’s in klan kountry just west of table rock lake. this is pure pandering plain and simple. i expect this guy to note that only the godless cesspools of the “big cities” kc & stl to be against such a measure.

    i’ve coined a term i call Ozark Creep. it is the phenomenon of backwoods b.s. making its way into the civilized areas of the state and choking off any image of cosmopolitanism our cities may have like kudzu on a sapling. (ex. the Cure Your Homosexuality billboards around town these days)

    FIGHT OZARK CREEP!

  16. While I understand your point about all Christians not being the same as the fundie nutjobs, they are still representative of your religion and you cannot completely distance yourself from their behavior. In much the same way that certain Christians and Republicans treat all gay people as if they are sick freaky pedophiles and all Muslims like they are wearing bombs under their burkas, I have come to view all Christians with a cynicism created by the beliefs and actions of a small number of radicals.

  17. “i’ve coined a term i call Ozark Creep. it is the phenomenon of backwoods b.s. making its way into the civilized areas of the state and choking off any image of cosmopolitanism our cities may have like kudzu on a sapling.”

    It’d be funny if it weren’t so true, downstater. I’d love to hear of some more examples of Ozark Creep. How about, for starters…

    -Not being able to buy cough medicine without a note from mom (thanks rural meth users)

    -this “majority religion” bull jive

    -rural folk bused in to picket outside of The Laramie Project play in St. Louis — holding signs that say “God hates fags” and “AIDS is God’s curse”

    -and worst of all, the mullet phenomenon

  18. Scott,

    Good thing there are no oddballs to put you off libertarians.

  19. Exemption == Subsidy?

    This is insane. The government is abusing its power by taking a huge chunk of your paycheck. It is failing to abuse its power by taking a chunk of money from establishment X.

    The solution to this problem is *NOT* that the government abuse its power equally.

  20. Libertarian oddballs are OK, they are my kind of oddball.

  21. Jaybird,

    for the exemption to equate to a subsidy, then you must recognize the right of the govt. to collect taxes in the first place.

    if you don’t – which it seems you don’t – then your point of view is accurate.

    however, if you don’t think the government is abusing its authority by taxing the population then special exemptions for some and not for others equates to a subsidy – as this is revenue normally due to the government which it has decided to forgo – just as if they cut a check.

  22. GILMORE said:
    This is what I keep nagging about. It?s not the ?majority? of all Christian denominations at all that?s going after these things ? it?s a minority of a minority, and it doesn?t mean ?Christians? as some theoretical monolithic block are all medieval wingnuts with hairshirts on….

    I agree with and understand this sentiment.

    However,
    If it’s really such a minority, why does the majority stay silent and not admonish the radical minority. Very rarely do you see many of non-batshit crazy churches/coalitions standing up and denouncing the minorities as misguided and wrong.

    I understand that the non-fundamentalists aren’t obligated to distance themselves or repudiate all the craziness of certain religious leaders/groups, but at some point, wouldn’t they stop and think that the taint of fundamentalism/craziness is going reflect on them as well?

    Sitting silently by while people that may have some common cause act like moonbats does not seem like a good strategy for differentiating yourself, nor does it command much sympathy for the “we aren’t all like that” argument, esp when the Dobsons and the “God Hates Fags” groups get so much attention.

    If these moderate groups really see themselves as the majority, and feel that they are being improperly and unfairly lumped in with the higher profile batshit crazy groups, maybe some sort of PR effort to remind people that: 1. Not all Christians are insane and want to control every aspect of your lives. and 2. We don’t believe in the version of Christianity these people are selling. — would be a good idea.

  23. News at 11:
    Christian sectarian violence breaks out in the streets of major American cities.

  24. What restrictions on religious liberty is this right wing wacko talking about?

    I can’t speak for this wacko, but many Christians are concerned about issues of religious liberty on the free expression side–nativity scenes, depictions of the ten commandments, praying in public, etc. There’s more to religious freedom than just the establishment clause.

    …other items on the complaint list might include people giving their children abortions without their parents’ knowledge (much less consent), the state teaching fundamentalist children things that directly contradict their parents’ religious teachings, like evolution, etc.

  25. There’s more to religious freedom than just the establishment clause.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

  26. This is what I keep nagging about. It’s not the “majority” of all Christian denominations at all that?s going after these things…it’s a minority of a minority, and it doesn’t mean “Christians” as some theoretical monolithic block are all medieval wingnuts with hairshirts on

    So where are the Christian groups who are coming out and strongly condemning this? Single individuals or small groups against it don’t prove anything. Until the sects of your religion make their disapproval known, you’ll have to forgive us for assuming that a majority of your co-religionosts tacitly approve of this sort of thing, or at least don’t really care as long as they’re the majority.

  27. nativity scenes, depictions of the ten commandments, praying in public, etc. There’s more to religious freedom than just the establishment clause.

    How does my preventing them from raising an Idol to their god in my courthouse or City Hall prevent them from exercising their religion? People being kept from perfoming their sacrement is a violation of the Establishment Clause. Until Christians start getting busted for something comparable, like serving alcohol to minors, I really don’t want to hear about perecution.

  28. The above was not meant to imply that you, Ken Shultz, necessasarily agree with the point that you made if you were just plaing Devil’s Advocate. Just in case it looked like it did.

  29. Take a look at the First Amendment, Shem. I quoted it above…

    There are two components to Freedom of Religion. While I don’t believe those components always, absolutely, necessarily play out as a zero sum game, it often seems that way. Wouldn’t it seem to be the case that the government was prohibiting the free expression of religion if, say, it banned nativity displays? Isn’t government specifically prohibited from doing that in the First Amendment?

    I suspect we could make inroads with Christians if we, at least, acknowledged that they have civil rights too, and that their rights are threatened by government. I talk to a lot of libertarians who don’t seem to even realize that the free exercise of religion is guarenteed in the First Amendment. They seem to think it’s all about the Establishment Clause. …but it isn’t.

  30. Wouldn’t it seem to be the case that the government was prohibiting the free expression of religion if, say, it banned nativity displays?

    It certainly would. But it hasn’t happened. People can still put up Nativity scenes. Even in public. They just can put them in City Hall. And even if one thinks that they should be able to put them in City Hall, keeping them out still doesn’t even come close to the level of persecution inherent to keeping members of a religion from practicing their sacrement. There’s just no basis for comparision between the two.

    I don’t really understand what your point is. Are you saying that these things are happening, or that we need to hold Christians hands and assure them that they aren’t?

  31. Scott says:

    “While I understand your point about all Christians not being the same as the fundie nutjobs, they are still representative of your religion”

    or Shems

    “…you’ll have to forgive us for assuming that a majority of your co-religionosts tacitly approve of this sort of thing”

    Guys… who said i was Christian? šŸ™‚ Asking you to be reasonable does not mean i’m part of some ‘identity group’.

    I was pointing out that you were tarring a majority of the country based on a tiny extremely vocal fragment of assholes. Am i wrong, or am i just raining on your parade for pointing it out?

    I keep having to point out I’m an ‘secular humanist’ to people, when i dont think that should be necessary to point out the regular religious bigotry that is prevalent.

    religion isnt the problem – the exploitation of religion by fanatics and political opportunists is the problem.

    ChicagoTom Says (and Shem says, “yeah!” to):

    “If it’s really such a minority, why does the majority stay silent and not admonish the radical minority?”

    Answering that here is tough. Karen Armstrong’s “The Battle for God” is an analysis of the history of fundamentalism in the Abrahamic religions throughout history, and particularly in the 20th century. The interaction between orthodox, lay, revivalist, ecstatic, and fundamentalist branches of religions are really complex and hard to generalize about. In the US, with things like the Evangelical megachurches, Amway-style pseudo religious spin-offs, and the growth of Pentacostalism in the country, the infusion of catholic hispanics, etc. the ‘religion’ issue is really more like a political marketing segment than a proper singular theological sect. It’s not about God at all really. It’s about interest groups saying, ‘how can we USE god’.

    read brook’s essay, ‘kicking the secularist habit’… it’s a good quick view of the state of affairs regarding religion in the US.

    The people who tick off seculars the most are not so much religionists as people waving God and their rectitude in the face of others as a way of demanding power. it’s little to do with the many millions who quietly practice a faith and have little interest in the private actions of others insofar and they dont get in their face. These people are the vast bulk of this country’s population, it so happens.

    Anyway, i’d also add that many many lay churches and many offical churches speak out against this sort of stuff all the time! To their congregations. You dont hear about that in the media because it’s simply not news. Your view of the situation is pretty much based in a lack of interest in finding out what the deal is. There have been repeated posts on reason here about religious characters signing petitions saying evolution is OK, and free speech mocking god is Ok, etc. Throwing out these comments saying things like, ‘Christians all want X’ are just flat out wrong. I’m appealing for a little more nuancea and insight here, because out of all the elements of the bill of rights that “libertarians” here seem to understand, the free exercise one seems the least appreciated, and religion seems like a keyword for ‘ignorance’, when that simply isnt the case.

    I hope this helps a little

    JG

  32. “Libertarian oddballs are OK, they are my kind of oddball.”

    Comment by: Scott

    Scott, i think you may have there answered your own question about why normal-old Christians dont make too much a fuss about the shithouse crazy ones.

    it’s that they’re much like you.

    JG

  33. I’m not sure this guy?s point is something id go along with at all. I’m not sure i understand all of it.

    I’m with ya Gilmore. For that matter, I never know what the fuck they’re talking about on Volokh. I’m getting the sense that the Volokh conspiracy is like the joke people are afraid to admit they don’t get. Everybody reads it and says how great it is. Seems to have taken on a life of its own. Usually just gives me a headache.

  34. Ken Shultz,

    A creche in a public place is not necessarily unconstitutional. Neither is the Ten Commandments. The Supreme Court has been very clear on this. Ergo, quit being so bloody ignorant.

    However, when the Ten Commandments are used to promote a specific religion (as was the case in Kentucky) we have a problem. Unless religious liberty to you means ramming your religion down my throat.

  35. Gilmore, nice response on the issue of Christian majority vs. radical-fundie minority.
    And Scott, are you really comfortable with the neo-Confederates/dictator sympathizers that inhabit Lewrockwell.com? They are libertarians you know…

    As for the fuss over tax exemption status, if Churches shouldn’t be tax exempt, doesn’t that also mean organizations other tax exempt organizations, like Cato, should have their “parasitic subsidies” taken away because their being favored by government? Also, what about tax resisters? Should we now spit our populist bile at them for not paying their fair share of legalized extortion, oops, I mean taxes.

    It’s an especially silly line of arguement comning from libertarians to argue for enlargening the powers of a government of whom to tax! At least let’s argue to use said tax exempt statuses as a battering ram to lower taxes across the board for fairness, as opposed to asking the government to f’ over Churches, Amnesty Internation, Cato, etc.

  36. >Unless religious liberty to you means ramming your religion down my throat.

    That’s *exactly* what the rabid Christianists think their duty is. Every time I’ve heard of one of them on the news, wailing and gnashing their teeth over how persecuted they are, it *invariably* was the result of somebody telling them to please shut up and leave them alone.
    This is where the “free exercise thereof” portion of the First Amendment can be a problem. What do you do about loons who say, “My faith commands me to proselytize, and to kill those who don’t embrace my God’s message of peace and love”? I seriously doubt that we’re going to make any headway in this issue until moderate religious leaders come together and denounce this crap. As it is, any criticism of these fringe cults is taken as an attack on the actual religion.

  37. GILMORE-Apologies for jumping to conclusions. It was unwaranted. But I think that you’re guilty of exactly the same thing when you make statements like ; Your view of the situation is pretty much based in a lack of interest in finding out what the deal is. My mother was a Minister, and in fact I was training to be a Minister myself for quite a number of years. What wound up driving both of us away was the creeping intolerance that we both saw taking root everywhere. Every year we watched more and more people move into the Church who were less interested in spreading the message of universal love for all humanity and more interested in shaping the Church into a political organ that they could use to promulgate their morality. And this doesn’t get talked about by the Church, for the simple reason that it’s never brought into the Church. Most rightly believe that it doesn’t belong anywhere near the service. The sorts of people starting these lawsuits don’t usually bring these things into the Church, they come up in groups that gather like-minded individuals from within the Church population, who then use the aegis of the Church as defense for their actions. Some do indeed want nothing to do with people who don’t get in their face about differences, but the fact is that these groups are carrying out actions in those people’s name. If they don’t want to be tarred with the same brush, then it’s going to take more than weak protestations to avoid it. I’ve seen too many people who were against these things in public and in favor of them when being candid to just accept anyone’s opinions at face value in this debate.

  38. At least let’s argue to use said tax exempt statuses as a battering ram to lower taxes across the board for fairness

    “Fairness” isn’t going to happen as long as powerful organizations remain exceptions to the law. Let’s use the drug war as an example. As long as Congressmen can get their kids treated deferentially every time one gets busted for possession of the wrong chemicals, the laws won’t get changed. I believe tax reform depends on everyone taking the hit for abusive taxation. If I’m wrong, explain it to me.

  39. Rick H.,

    Come again?!? Are you a libertarian?
    Ok, so I looked at your blog, and I can’t tell what politcial persuasion you are (that can be a very good thing), so I can’t really argue about libertarian principles.
    So, yes, I realize that my libertarian “idealism” may blind me to the hopelessness of a huge reduction taxes, but why argue for the sucky option (everyone takes a hit FOR EQUALITY!) when you can go for the better option (fight for lower taxes FOR FREEDOM!). I can’t believe that I, a Catholic (pretty secular Catholic, but one nonetheless), am arguing for self-interest of lowering taxes against the altruism of everyone sacrificing for the greater good of equality in taxing…

    Furthermore, the long-term consequences of government “trying to be fair” is to create execpetions, qualifications, and myriads of loop-holes for X,Y, and Z interets (remember how Reagan’s tax cuts were supposed to simplify the tax code, where’s the simplicity now?), so the best political option (irregardless of its feasibility) is to reduce government where possible, ie fight for lower taxes across the board.
    And yes, the possibility of slashing taxes to a Harry Browne-level are slight-to-nil-to-hell freezing over, but isn’t fighting for hopeless battles supposed to be what libertarianism is all about?

  40. A creche in a public place is not necessarily unconstitutional. Neither is the Ten Commandments. The Supreme Court has been very clear on this. Ergo, quit being so bloody ignorant.

    I didn’t say it was. I just suggested that prohibiting it probably would be unconstitutional.

    Unless religious liberty to you means ramming your religion down my throat.

    I didn’t say that either.

    I have heard fundamentalists claim that preventing teachers from saying what they really think about evolution, or prohibiting them from praying, is an infringement on free expression. I happen to be on the other side of that debate–I don’t think they should be able to do that for a number of reasons. I won’t, however, pretend that their rights aren’t getting trampled on in those cases. I just happen to think that such trampling is okay in light of the Establishment Clause (hence my use of “zero sum game”).

    I think libertarians should consider making common cause with fundamentalist Christians on issues such as teaching evolution in public schools–when and if the issues comes up. I also think we should consider making common cause with them on parental notification laws. I maintain that fundamentalist Christians have some legitimate civil rights gripes and that libertarians, largely, seem to ignore them for whatever reason.

    …and that was the bigger part of my point, Shem. For goodness sake, many of us libertarians will make common cause with the Klan on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Why does making common cause with Christian fundamentalists seem so inconceivable to so many libertarians?

    P.S. Shem, would you have apologized to GILMORE if he’d said the exact same things and had then come out as a Christian fundamentalist?

  41. I was apologizing for jumping to the conclusion that he was an evangelical Christian, so if it turned out he was then no, probably not.

    I don’t advocate making common cause with Christian Fundamentalists because I don’t agree with many of the opnions with which they are connected. I don’t have a problem with the teaching of Evolution, I disagree with parental notification laws, and I tend to view Christian Fundamentalists who attemt to further these laws as being a pretty big threat to liberty themselves. Despite this, I’m often told I should swallow my objections in order to make libertarianism more palatable to people who otherwise might agree with it. I can’t do this, because to me it’s like supporting the Klan’s free speech laws when they were still the front-line soldiers in the war to keep segregation viable. Once they get what they want, they’ll dispose of us. I have no desire to become a tool in order to help another group secure power that they’ll use to take away even more liberty. Have we really learned so little from the Republican actions of the past ten years?

  42. I don’t advocate making common cause with Christian Fundamentalists because I don’t agree with many of the opnions with which they are connected.

    How do you feel about freedom of speech and freedom of assembly for the Klan? …are there any other people whose rights we shouldn’t worry about?

    I don’t have a problem with the teaching of Evolution.

    Well you’re not a fundamentalist Christian. Do you only advocate civil rights for groups you happen to be in?

    I disagree with parental notification laws, and I tend to view Christian Fundamentalists who attemt to further these laws as being a pretty big threat to liberty themselves.

    I consider it more than just a threat to liberty when the state, almost uniquely, protects a doctor when he performs this medical procedure on a child without a parent’s knowledge. I wonder how much momentum this practice contributes to the pro-Life movement? What if libertarians became the group that people thought of, fundamentally, when they thought of parental rights?

    Despite this, I’m often told I should swallow my objections in order to make libertarianism more palatable to people who otherwise might agree with it.

    You seem to say this as if libertarianism is fundamentally incompatible with the idea that the state shouldn’t teach children things that contradict the religious convictions of their parents. You seem to say this as if parental notification, and maybe even the Pro-Life movement itself, is fundamentally incompatible with libertarianism. …but it isn’t.

    I can’t do this, because to me it’s like supporting the Klan’s free speech laws when they were still the front-line soldiers in the war to keep segregation viable. Once they get what they want, they’ll dispose of us. I have no desire to become a tool in order to help another group secure power that they’ll use to take away even more liberty.

    I don’t know from what source your libertarianism springs…

    …but I fully support the Klan’s free speech. …and I despise the Klan. I don’t think a burning cross on somebody’s front lawn is free speech–it’s a threat of violence, coercion, that is, and hence unprotected speech, but I support their right to say what they please. I just happen to think what they say is among the most vile, sickening, stupid, ignorant and disgusting things people can say.

    I’m more of a big tent guy than a lot of people, I suppose, and I’m loathe to question another person’s libertarian credentials, but it’s really tempting here. Think about it. If we don’t support the civil rights of people that disagree with us, then we probably shouldn’t complain when other people don’t support our civil rights.

  43. I don’t want to get into a debate about parental notification with you. It’s a very, very sore subject for me. So I won’t.

    I’ll defend their freedom of speech, certainly, but only when it’s threatened. I simply don’t see anyplace where their freedom is threatened. Your support for parental rights, whatever that means, leads you to a different conclusion. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  44. “While I understand your point about all Christians not being the same as the fundie nutjobs, they are still representative of your religion and you cannot completely distance yourself from their behavior. In much the same way that certain Christians and Republicans treat all gay people as if they are sick freaky pedophiles and all Muslims like they are wearing bombs under their burkas, I have come to view all Christians with a cynicism created by the beliefs and actions of a small number of radicals.”

    “Until the sects of your religion make their disapproval known, you’ll have to forgive us for assuming that a majority of your co-religionosts tacitly approve of this sort of thing, or at least don’t really care as long as they’re the majority.”

    What would happen if this same line of reasoning were applied to atheists? The most famous atheists in the world today are probably Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il. What concrete measures are atheists taking to denounce these two, and to make clear that they do not represent the True Tenets of Atheism?

  45. (And if you want to call Castro and Kim “religious,” go ahead, if you think it will help, but I’m referring to the fact that, in accordance with their ideology, they deny the existence of God. Thus, they’re atheists.)

  46. That’s highly specious, Bonar Law. Kim and Castro never make claim to be speaking for a larger community of atheists. The sorts of people we’re discussing regularly claim their authority as a result of their religious beliefs as Christians.

  47. more to the point, “true communists” have often denounced those who did not carry out “true communism.”

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