Religion

Religion in the Public Sphere Makes a God-Awful Mess

Of theology, trigger warnings, and tolerance

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In the 213 years since Jefferson wrote of the First Amendment's 'high and impregnable' wall between church and state in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, debate regarding private faith and the public sphere has waxed and waned. Get ready for some more waxing.

In recent days, Muslims won two victories, one major and one minor. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city schools will close to observe the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. To the north, officials at McGill University in Montreal signified their openness to a request by Muslim students for women-only hours at the school gym. If McGill approves the request, it will follow the lead of Harvard, which created women-only hours at one of its gyms several years ago.

Given that schools in New York and across the country shut down for Christmas, it seems nearly impossible to argue in any principled way that Muslim holidays should receive less recognition, or none at all. (Nor is it easy to understand why anyone would want to.) Governmental holidays for one faith's observances but not another's is blatant religious discrimination.

Yet closing schools for Eid has met resistance in, for example, Montgomery County, Md. — a well-off, well-educated and heavily Democratic suburb of D.C. where 'celebrate diversity' bumper stickers are, if not legally required, certainly de rigeur. Last year, Montgomery erased all mention of religious holidays rather than include any Islamic ones.

New York still could face a logistical quandary. De Blasio also has promised to close schools on the Lunar New Year (which falls in late January or early February) for the benefit of Asian-Americans. Some Indian-Americans want schools to close around the Hindu Festival of Diwali (which falls in late October or early November). Throw in Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, some snow days, the Buddhist celebration of Vesak and maybe something for New York's Wiccan community, and pretty soon New York won't have many school days left.

***

Closing college gyms to men opens a different can of worms. Five years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Christian student groups, at least those at public universities, cannot limit eligibility for leadership only to Christians and heterosexuals; gay and non-Christian students must be eligible, too. Since then, Christian groups, their opponents and their defenders at both public and private institutions have tussled over membership and recognition rules.

Imposing women-only hours at the school gym would seem to fly in the face of equal-treatment precepts requiring the acceptance of all comers. Then again, most college sports are segregated by gender. So are fraternities and sororities.

Colleges and universities have long capitulated to identity politics in residential life by creating segregated dorms, 'ethnic-themed' houses, and similar arrangements for various subgroups within the student body. This might have reached its logical terminus at Wesleyan University, which maintains a residence called Open House. According to the university, 'Open House is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities.' Probably not a safe space for devout Muslims from Harvard or McGill, though.

A few hours at the gym qualify as a minor accommodation. But suppose Hasidic Jewish students ask for gender-segregated buses. Or classrooms. Single-sex instruction is coming back into vogue for pedagogical reasons, but should it return for the sake of religious scruples? Suppose some religious students somewhere demand an end to Gay Pride week. That might seem far-fetched, but then so does a university residence for people who like their sex with ropes and whips.

***

Yet even as schools become more open about sexual variance among the students, they are growing more Victorian in the classroom. Many have instituted 'trigger warnings' to give sensitive students notice of potentially upsetting material. Jeannie Suk, a law professor at Harvard, writes that 'a dozen new teachers of criminal law at multiple institutions have told me that they are not including rape law in their courses, arguing that it's not worth the risk of complaints of discomfort by students.'

If institutions censor content for some reasons, why not others? Oxford University Press is now warning writers not to mention bacon, pork or pigs in their works, to avoid offending Muslim or Jewish readers. No word yet on whether it will ban references to birth control to avoid offending the pope.

Hobby Lobby, however, is free — as a private organization should be — to refrain from paying for its employees' contraception. The Boy Scouts are free to reject gays as Scoutmasters, gay-rights groups are free to exclude Christian or Muslim fundamentalists from their ranks, churches are free to exclude nonbelievers, and Curves is free to market itself as a women-only health club chain.

Figuring out where to draw the lines is not so hard with purely public institutions such as schools: Government must treat everyone equally and show favoritism toward none. And it's not so hard with purely private institutions such as churches, either: Individuals and groups have the right to determine how they will behave (whether they choose correctly is an entirely different matter) but they have no right to determine how others will behave.

Yet many institutions—universities in particular—are neither fully public nor fully private. And when they try to mediate among competing claims and values, the result is usually a god-awful mess.

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  1. Throw in Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, some snow days, the Buddhist celebration of Vesak and maybe something for New York’s Wiccan community, and pretty soon New York won’t have many school days left.

    I’ll be happy to suggest some holy days of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster that should warrant school closings. National Noodle Day, for example.

    1. October 6th. Eat noodles and have fun. The wearing of the Colander is optional at most Pastafarian gatherings.
      From what I have read.

      1. Jah! Pasafari!

    2. The fewer school days New York has, the more its students are likely to learn.

      1. Those are going yto be government holidays im sure as well. So thats a bonus.

    3. I’ll bet that the students like all those holidays.

  2. I thought eliminating government enforced segregation was one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century.

    1. Eliminating government enforced _________ was one of the greatest accomplishments of ______ century.

      Royal Sovereignty; 18th
      Slavery; 19th
      Segregation; 20th
      Prohibition; 20th/21st
      Taxation; 21st
      Licensing; 22nd
      Monopoly on Violence; ??

  3. Just another resounding example of the consequences of government anything; when everyone conrols one thing, nobody controls it.

  4. and pretty soon New York won’t have many school days left.

    Good. Dissolve all state run schooling and send your spawn to private schools.

    This is nothing more than the end result of government doing that which government should take no part in.

    Tenet 2:

    The ONLY legitimate function of government is to protect the rights of individuals.

    Anything beyond that decreases liberty.

  5. Religion in the Public Sphere Makes a God-Awful Mess

    Somehow I get the feeling, the itch, that the solution to this problem is not getting rid of the “Public Sphere” (whatever the FUCK that entails or even means) but always getting rid of people’s religiosity.

    AmIright or amIright? Right? Right?

    1. There are people who seriously believe that people have a right to government services, and that public displays of religion are banned by the Constitution.

      1. Public (if you mean government) displays of religion ARE banned by the Constitution.

        Public (if you mean an individual) displays of religion are protected by the Constitution. You probably know this but most conservatives do not.

        1. Spot the Not:

          (Sorry, Derp, couldn’t help myself)

          Which phrase is NOT in the constitution?

          A. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          OR

          B. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          1. I’ll let it slide.

            This time.

            [narrows gaze]

        2. Public (if you mean government) displays of religion ARE banned by the Constitution.

          Really? Because I missed that part the last time I read it. There’s something in there about laws respecting or prohibiting religion, but nothing about public displays.

          1. You’ve gotta have the super secret special glasses to read that part. You could borrow Shriek’s pair, but they smell like Obama’s ass.

            1. You two now support government displays of religion? Just because I am opposed to such?

              Did you not see “if you mean government” as a qualifier?

              1. Hows bouts private citizen’s displays of religion on public property?

                How would that be Shreeeeek?

                1. If I carried a sign that says ‘Jesus is my buddy savior’ into a national park that should be ignored. If I wanted to fix the sign at the entrance I should be stopped.

                  If it is a courtroom the judge could ask for the sign to be removed.

            2. Religious displays by government don’t bother me unless they want me to worship them. That’s what was meant by “no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Laws represent force. Displaying a cross or a nativity scene is not an act of force. I am not compelled to look at it or worship it. Why should I give a shit, unless I was a spiteful prick who wanted to put a stick in the eye of the people who would appreciate and enjoy such displays?

        3. If you look at the historical context, the First Amendment was created to stop the federal government from establishing a national religion. That’s why it’s called the establishment clause. In fact, many states established their own religion or none at all in line with the First Amendment. it was not until many years later that the Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment applied to state governments in addition to the federal government and even longer after that that it began deciding that any religious display on public property was unconstitutional.

          1. Yes. Congress (and later states/munis via the Incorporation Doctrine) cannot establish a religion – by display/fiat/law/forced prayer, etc.

            Tell the two Peanuts above about the Establishment Clause. You clearly get it.

            1. I’m not quire sure we agree on what establishing a religion entails.

              1. Well courts struggle with that.

                Would a law made to force children in public schools to worship Allah be Constitutional?

                1. Woah! That’s a far stride from the 10 commandments being displayed at a courthouse.

                  1. Same thing as the 10 Commandments. Proselytizing at its finest.

                    What kind of pussy wants to be “commanded” anyway?

                2. Would a group of citizens praying on public land be Constitutional?

                  1. “Would a group of citizens praying on public land be Constitutional?”

                    Of course. As long as they were not given the PA system to do it.

                    1. Then you’d have no problem with a church group using a public school room, after hours, for a prayer meeting?

            2. Or Incorporation for that matter…

            3. Re: Peter Caca,

              Yes. Congress (and later states/munis via the Incorporation Doctrine) cannot establish a religion – by display/fiat/law/forced prayer, etc.

              Peter Caca, Equivocator Maximus

              Displaying is NOT THE SAME AS FORCING, you direct result of the Amerikan Pulbic Skool Seistem Dat Teeches Kudz To Red An Writ.

        4. Re: Peter Caca,

          Public (if you mean government) displays of religion ARE banned by the Constitution.

          “Congress shall make NO law…” does not mean prohibiting displays of religion.

  6. I don’t understand what’s difficult. What makes these matters hard is busy bodies trying to get in the business of religious people because they are somehow offended by their mere existence. If atheists were more secure in their own beliefs, they wouldn’t have to bring down religion to feel validated.

    1. Yes, clearly the atheistic Muslims have a problem with the atheistic Catholics and the atheistic Jews.

      1. That’s not my point. If it weren’t for non religious people viewing this from a non religious angle, there would be no reason to accommodate certain religions for the entire population. You would simply accommodate individuals based on their individual beliefs…this is of course contained to the public sector. The private sector can do whatever it wants…

        1. If that means removing the recognition of ANY religion’s high holy days from public everything, then I’ll agree. Giving pubsec workers and kids attending public schools an allotment of days off that they can use as they see fit seems like a reasonable alternative.

          1. Sure. That’s fair enough. But giving everyone Eid off or Christmas off is retarded, because a lot of people don’t celebrate those holidays.

            1. But giving everyone Eid off or Christmas off is retarded, because a lot of people don’t celebrate those holidays.

              I imagine the teachers, administrators and staff do. It’d be retarded to give days off for the holy days of the Hutu new year when young girls get their clits snipped, because such days are irrelevant to the culture of the people in question.

              If you owned a factory in the US, would you make your workforce, 99.9% of whom celebrate Christmas (religious or not), work in your factory on that day? Or would it somehow not be retarded to give them time off.

        2. You would simply accommodate individuals based on their individual beliefs

          As has been done for Jews for ages. Seems like an obvious solution. Christmas is sort of an anomaly. But everybody likes Christmas and modern Christmas celebrations can be completely secular. It’s not as if Christians get all of their holidays off. Really just Christmas.

          1. My exact point. Seems obvious to me, but apparently it’s a “God-awful mess…”

          2. As has been done for Jews for ages.

            The Jews did a whole lot better when Europeans ended the ages long tradition of exempting them from local laws and subjecting them to unmitigated Rabbinical rule and Talmudic law. I wouldn’t call that tradition an ideal to strive for in a free society…

    2. If atheists were more secure in their own beliefs, they wouldn’t have to bring down religion to feel validated.

      Atheism is more non-belief than belief. The people you’re talking about are anti-religionists. Those people give atheists a bad name.

      1. Fair point

      2. It’s really weird when people spend more than a few minutes talking about something they don’t believe.

        1. It doesn’t take me a few minutes to describe my atheism. “I don’t have faith.” There. I’m done.

        2. I don’t believe in communism, socialism, progressivism, liberalism, collectivism, fascism….

          Yeah, weird that I’d discuss them.

          Just because I don’t believe in them, doesn’t mean I don’t find discussing them interesting.

        3. Was it weird when you spent more than a few minutes disagreeing with a socialist? You don’t believe in socialism do you? What business do you have talking about it?

          1. I know an atheist with a PhD in Religious Studies.

            1. He writes ridiculous tongue-in-cheek articles that are taken seriously by believers, and does presentations about them at academic conferences.

    3. That’s nice, but it has nothing to do with what is in the article which mostly talks about accommodations being made for religious students in public and publicly funded schools.
      There certainly are annoying and obnoxious atheists in the world, but they don’t control much of anything, in the US anyway.

      1. They certainly control Harvard, McGil, etc. And they are definitely the ones saying “well if we have Christmas off, certainly we can’t deny Muslims Eid off!” Instead of taking a common sense approach, the way someone who actually understood religious belief would.

        1. So they should put together an interfaith panel to determine gym attendance rules?

          1. No! That’s the opposite of what I’m saying.

            1. The opposite? You said atheists don’t understand religious beliefs. Then you said people who don’t understand religious beliefs shouldn’t be making decisions about religious observances. Do you even know what point you’re trying to make?

              1. Yes. The issue is that to a non-religious person it is easy to say “Christmas=Eid, therefore if Christmas off for everyone then Eid off for everyone.” A religious person would say “Christmas is important for Christians, Eid is important for Muslims, so let them have their holidays and I’ll have mine.”

        2. Do they? Many non-religious people are not atheists. This seems more like the usual sort of silly multiculturalism you get at places like that, mixed with a fear of being labeled anti-Islam.

          Perhaps there are more atheists out there than I think. But as someone to whom atheism seems pretty obviously the best working hypothesis, I’m often surprised at how few people are.

          1. Maybe non-religious is a better term than atheist. I am not an atheist, so I don’t understand those fine distinctions. Probably in the same way that non-religious people do not fully understand the fine distinctions in religion.

            1. It’s pretty simple. Atheists don’t believe that gods exist. That’s it really. Lots of people who don’t subscribe to any specific religion nevertheless believe that there is some sort of divine force behind things.

              I don’t really get religious faith, but I do know a few things about the beliefs and practice of Christianity, coming from a family full of biblical scholars and ministers.

              1. Real atheists don’t disbelieve that gods exist, they believe that gods don’t exist.

                1. Works out to the same thing as far as I can see. There is no such thing as a god.

                2. I suppose I see the distinction you want to make here. But I still like to phrase it as lack of belief. To me the default position is so obviously that there is no such thing as a divine being that I don’t even want to state it as a positive belief.

                  1. The default answer to most questions is “I don’t know”. Saying I don’t know or even “I doubt it” or “I see no evidence for X” is a lack of belief. Saying “X does not exist” is a positive statement, and a belief.

                    1. As it applies to me anyway, atheism is more a description than a positive belief. There are lots of things that I don’t believe exist. In fact there are infinitely many things that one could posit that I don’t believe. I’m not going to go around having a positive belief about the non-existence of all of those things. Maybe that makes me a bad atheist.

                    2. Saying “X does not exist” is a positive statement, and a belief.

                      Is a fact a belief? Water consists of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Belief or known to be true?

                      How about, “The laws of physics preclude God”, is that a belief?

                    3. “How about, “The laws of physics preclude God”, is that a belief?”

                      If it were true it would be a ‘belief’, much as accepting gravity is a ‘belief’, but I don’t think the laws of physics preclude a god.
                      I think they simply have no need of one.

                    4. The default answer to most questions is “I don’t know”. Saying I don’t know or even “I doubt it” or “I see no evidence for X” is a lack of belief. Saying “X does not exist” is a positive statement, and a belief.

                      So I’m assuming you don’t believe there is a gang of magical transgender leprechauns dancing on the clouds of Jupiter, right? Or do you ‘not know’ or are ‘unsure’?

                      Therefore you have a positive belief in that and and an unfathomable amount of other things you don’t know you even have a positive belief in. Either that or you don’t know what ‘positive belief’ really is. Before you start lecturing anyone about positive beliefs, google the term ‘burden of proof’.

                    5. ” So I’m assuming you don’t believe there is a gang of magical transgender leprechauns dancing on the clouds of Jupiter, right?”

                      No I don’t. I don’t believe solid objects can stand on clouds, and I’m pretty sure the transgender leprechauns were all killed by Irish mobs centuries ago.

                      ” Therefore you have a positive belief in that and and an unfathomable amount of other things you don’t know you even have a positive belief in.”

                      Absolutely, what’s your point?

                    6. No I don’t. I don’t believe solid objects can stand on clouds, and I’m pretty sure the transgender leprechauns were all killed by Irish mobs centuries ago.

                      I said the magical transgender leprechauns were magical didn’t I? How can you justify your ‘positive belief’ that they aren’t there without negative proof of the same?

                      Absolutely, what’s your point?

                      That that’s not how it works. Saying that god or unicorn farts do not exist is non-belief. It’s a rejection of belief.

                      You’ll notice that the burden of proof rests with the one making the affirmative claim, which is not the atheist as he is by definition simply rejecting someone else’s affirmative claim. Rejection of an affirmative is not an affirmative claim in and of itself.

        3. They certainly control Harvard, McGil, etc. And they are definitely the ones saying “well if we have Christmas off, certainly we can’t deny Muslims Eid off!” Instead of taking a common sense approach, the way someone who actually understood religious belief would.

          No progressives, socialists, fascists and communists control those institutions in academia. Their atheism is nothing more than peripheral. You can’t tell me that libertarian atheists in control of big educational institutions would behave like that.

    4. briannnnn|3.16.15 @ 12:17PM|#
      …”If atheists were more secure in their own beliefs, they wouldn’t have to bring down religion to feel validated.”

      I’ll be kind and presume this is sarc.

      1. There is really no reason for an atheist to bring down religion if he feels secure in his beliefs no more than there is a reason to disprove atheism is you are secure in your religious beliefs.

        1. briannnnn|3.16.15 @ 12:45PM|#
          “There is really no reason for an atheist to bring down religion if he feels secure in his beliefs no more than there is a reason to disprove atheism is you are secure in your religious beliefs.”

          So if I am ‘secure’ in my lack of bleefs, I should not dispute myths presented to me as facts?

          1. Yes. You should not dispute them. Why do you care? I’m Jewish, if someone says to me that Jesus died for my sins, I say ok, and go about my day.

            1. Obese American|3.16.15 @ 1:15PM|#
              “Yes. You should not dispute them. Why do you care? I’m Jewish, if someone says to me that Jesus died for my sins, I say ok, and go about my day.”

              And I’m sure you understand that without religion, there would be no morals, correct?

              1. Exactly right, it’s impossible to formulate some code of right and wrong without a magical deity. Except for Mosses and other assorted goat herders that died some thousands of years ago.

        2. There is really no reason for an atheist to bring down religion if he feels secure in his beliefs no more than there is a reason to disprove atheism is you are secure in your religious beliefs.

          But I have fundamental disagreements with religious people. What they call “theology” I call “mythology”, for example. Potato patatto I know…

          1. Wouldn’t that be potato potato?

            😉

            1. I thought long and hard at how to convey the difference in pronunciation. There’s no good way to do it 🙁

  7. I’ve always thought government was getting into a big mess by recognizing certain holidays.

    They can get away with Christmas because school years are arranged in such a way that there’s a break between semesters which corresponds to the winter holiday.

    But Good Friday is a bit harder to justify without accommodating every other religious holiday.

    1. Christmas is mostly a secular holiday at this point anyway. There are much more important Christian holidays (like Good Friday and Easter) that aren’t public holidays. Just leave it how it is and let Jews and Muslims and whoever else has holidays where you aren’t supposed to work have days off as appropriate.

    2. When I was in school, the school closed for Ash Wednesday simply because I lived in an area with a high proportion of Catholics and half the kids were going to be going to Mass instead of school regardless. IIRC, Good Friday was not a high holy day and Mass was not required so the schools did not take the day off. Anybody know what proportion of NYC public school inmates students are Muslim and if this is the same reasoning? (You might be surprised at how segregated urban public schools really are – if not strictly by race, certainly by income which correlates to race since anybody with a spare nickel and a brain cell will bust their ass to get their kids the hell out of the public schools.)

  8. Imposing women-only hours at the school gym would seem to fly in the face of equal-treatment precepts requiring the acceptance of all comers. Then again, most college sports are segregated by gender. So are fraternities and sororities.

    Good. Dissolve all state funded schooling and send your slightly older spawn to private schools.

    This is nothing more than the end result of government doing that which government should take no part in.

    Tenet 2:

    The ONLY legitimate function of government is to protect the rights of individuals.

    Anything beyond that decreases liberty.

  9. If only we could get the cult of environmentalism out of public schools.

    1. The public sphere in general I mean.

  10. it will please the taliban that Harvard Yard is now supposed to be snuff and snus as well as cigarette free.

    Now about those idolaters burning incense in Memorial Church …

    1. As I recall, cigarettes were banned in my high school as well. Of, course, that didn’t stop the rebels from smoking in the boys room. Where have the rebels gone?

      What is required here, is a good old fashioned act of civil disobedience. A snuff/smokeathon in Haaahvahd Yahd.

      1. Maybe next week. In addition to sharia , we’re already closed on account of Saint Patrick’s Day

    2. What? Why would they ban snus? I thought second hand smoke was the basis for public smoking bans. I guess now it’s just out of spite.

    3. First they take your snus, then they come for your lutefisk.

  11. You hit on the key point in the middle of the piece, but it seems like it didn’t go very far

    “Imposing women-only hours at the school gym would seem to fly in the face of equal-treatment precepts requiring the acceptance of all comers”

    I think that there is very much a difference between the historical fights over ‘religion in the public sphere’, which has primarily been over ‘equal access’ and ‘free exercise’ (e.g. allowing nativity scene temporarily displayed on public property, allowing use of school facilities for after-school prayer/group meetings) which did not impose any restrictions or demands on others… and these newer measures seek to have the state enforce religious segregation restrictions ‘during regular, institutional hours’, if temporarily.

    “religion in the public sphere” isn’t the problem by itself…. but rather religious people requiring the state to ‘actively enforce’ their requirements…. as opposed to simply allowing ‘equal access’.

    When institutions have to devote additional resources to meet the demands of a single faith, and exclude others from access in the process, it violates guidelines that have been traditionally used to define the boundaries between ‘endorsement’ and mere tolerance.

    (.e.g. ‘equal access’ requirements typically resulting in the “Christmas panoply” on display, where everyone’s Gods need to fit into a designated spot)

    1. This.

  12. Stop making school attendance mandatory, and the little vermin can take off any day they so choose. Religious or otherwise.

    Ya don’t master the curriculum, you don’t advance.

  13. “they are growing more Victorian in the classroom. Many have instituted ‘trigger warnings’ [etc.]”

    Again with the Victorian-bashing!

    You know what kids were reading in the Victorian era? Treasure Island. That’s right – single motherhood, child raised in a tavern, piracy, violence, Bible-burning, sympathetic portrayal of sea-robber, need I go on?

    Don’t get me started with Grimm’s fairy tales.

    1. You mean where Jew burning was a spectator sport? The Grimms are hilariously non-PC, especially considering that we read and display their fairy tales to 2 year olds.

  14. “Oxford University Press is now warning writers not to mention bacon, pork or pigs in their works, to avoid offending Muslim or Jewish readers. No word yet on whether it will ban references to birth control to avoid offending the pope.”

    As soon as His Holiness starts firebombing publishers, yes.

    1. Does the very mention of pigs or pork products actually offend many Jews or Muslims? They aren’t supposed to eat pork. That doesn’t mean that the very existence of pigs or pork products should be offensive to them. It’s pretty hard to avoid the fact that outside of those religions pork is a very popular meat. I’ve always found the notion that mentioning pigs is somehow offensive to people who keep Kosher or Halal rather bizarre.

      1. I can’t tell in advance what will or won’t be offensive to the “be culturally sensitive or we’ll blow you up” brigade.

  15. ” single motherhood, child raised in a tavern, piracy, violence, Bible-burning, sympathetic portrayal of sea-robber, need I go on?”

    If we’ve already absorbed The Arabian Nights, why all the fuss about ISIS?

  16. “Hobby Lobby, however, is free ? as a private organization should be ? to refrain from paying for its employees’ contraception. The Boy Scouts are free to reject gays as Scoutmasters, gay-rights groups are free to exclude Christian or Muslim fundamentalists from their ranks, churches are free to exclude nonbelievers, and Curves is free to market itself as a women-only health club chain.”

    Well, no, this isn’t true at all. “Reason” keeps making this mistake. Hobby Lobby isn’t free to refuse to hire black people, nor is it free to provide health insurance for Christian employees but not for Jewish ones. And, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be free to decide what kind of health insurance its employees choose to receive as compensation. The Boy Scouts, in turn, aren’t allowed to refuse membership to Hispanics, or left-handed people, or fatties. Religious groups can have a “believers only” policy, but not a “whites only” policy. All of these “private organizations” are corporations, “artificial persons”, whose powers are defined by law, which in turn is determined by “the state”.

    1. Something not being ‘legal’ to do and not having a ‘right’ to do are separate things. But I see that you clearly don’t believe that people have a right to freely associate with their fellow man.

    2. Re: Anal Vanneman,

      Well, no, this isn’t true at all. “Reason” keeps making this mistake. Hobby Lobby isn’t free to refuse to hire black people, nor is it free to provide health insurance for Christian employees but not for Jewish ones.

      Vanneman keeps making the Positivist Fallacy – if the law says, then it is true.

      A company has EVERY RIGHT to refuse to hire a person for whatever reason. It is THAT COMPANY’S MONEY. Just because the State wants to stick a bayonet on people’s ribs for refusing to comply with its edicts does not mean the right does not exist.

      The Boy Scouts, in turn, aren’t allowed to refuse membership to Hispanics, or left-handed people, or fatties.

      And there it is! Anal Vanneman, the great Anal Vanneman with the coolest blog this side of Gillespie’s and Welch’s head, once again equivocates by confusing a right with allowing. It never occurs to this fraudulent intellect that just because a State doesn’t allow something it doesn’t mean one ipso facto does not have the right to do it. I STILL have the right to refuse to accept Hispanics, or left-handed people, or fatties into my scouting group (if I ever create one) and the State would still be in the wrong by committing an act of aggression against my organization.

      But, hey, maybe in Anal’s world, might DOES make right.

    3. Time to kill the state.

  17. Curves is female-only? Hmm. Seems that someone should file suit to force their way in – just as women have done with so many men’s organizations.

  18. Since Jefferson wrote of the First Amendment’s ‘high and impregnable’ wall between church and state in his letter to the Danbury Baptists,

    Jefferson’s letter said no such thing, per the Library of Congress.

    http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html

    This is still an issue, partly because our own side is often also full of shit. All Santorum or Huckabeee have to do is point to Hinkle’s actual words and prove him wrong, and I’ve just shown how easy that is.

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