THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 825, June 14, 2015
Political Power: Too much of every day
life consists of defying it, avoiding
it, or evading it, simply to live.
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
I have written in the past about the many atheists who seem to have an incredibly limited understanding of freedom. Well that seems to be the case once again, with a series of recent incidents that revolve around the idea of religious freedom. The problem seems to stem from the hatred that secularists have of religion, which is so intense that they actually want it eliminated from humanity once and for all. Unfortunately for them that is not going to happen any time soon, so they take their cheap shots whenever they can get them. One of these cheap shots would be to force religious institutions or individuals to violate their principles.
A great example of this was the government mandate that would force Catholic hospitals to provide birth control or the religious owners of Hobby Lobby to provide the Morning-After Pill. Many in the secularist movement applauded these actions as a way of sticking it to the very religious beliefs that they seem to despise. What they don't seem to understand is that while they may not like religion (not really fond of it myself), it is still the natural right of a person to not only believe whatever he wants to believe, but to do it without government interference. From a libertarian stand-point it is morally wrong to initiate force for any reason. From the stand point of anybody who values individual freedom it should be considered appalling to throw a legitimate right under the bus, for the phony right of free birth control or Morning-After Pills.
Then we have the recent debacle with the more combative element of the gay rights movement and the war that they have been waging with bakers, florists and photographers who don't want to participate in gay weddings. Many secularists jump for joy about how the gays are now sticking it to "homophobic" Christian businesses who practice discrimination. There are several reasons why this is wrong. First of all, would it be morally right for me to go to a Jewish deli and demand that they make me a ham sandwich? No, this is not a straw man. It would be unlikely for the deli to refuse service to gentiles, but they would definitely refuse a service that would require them to violate any tenant of their religious beliefs. These Christian owned businesses weren't refusing service to gays in general. They just didn't want to be part of a ceremony that conflicted with their beliefs.
Another problem with this whole scenario is one that L. Neil Smith elegantly pointed out in one of his articles. Forcing an owner of a business to violate his conscience by giving a service that he doesn't believe in is a form of involuntary servitude. I know that the secularists on the left would have conniption fits over this concept, but you can't deny that this is a form of involuntary servitude. So not only would they be throwing freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of association and property rights out the window, but they would also be throwing out the 13th Amendment, which prohibits all forms of involuntary servitude as well.
I think what these anti-theists don't seem to understand is that these bullying tactics may actually hurt the very movement that they claim to support. The gay rights movement has actually seen much success in the recent years and it would be a shame to see it undone by creating resentment of those who don't want acceptance shoved down their throats. Gay rights activist and feminist, Tammy Bruce said that these tactics actually make the gay community out to be a bunch of fascist bullies. This is the very thing that may set the gay rights movement back a few years by creating resentment among those who may tolerate gay people, but may not be ready to embrace their lifestyle.
I was also disappointed with the utter silence of these same anti-theists when Denise Parker, the openly gay mayor of my hometown decided to take it upon herself to demand that certain churches hand over their sermons and emails when they protested a law that would allow a person to use any public restroom depending on whether that person felt like he was a woman trapped in a man's body or a man trapped in a woman's body that day. As tolerant as I am to the LGT community, I could certainly see why people would take issue with this law. I know there are women who sure as hell wouldn't feel comfortable sharing a restroom with some guy who happened to feel like a woman that day. I know that I would feel the same about having some woman come into the men's room because she happens to think that she is one of the guys. I don't even think that this is a religious issue. Regardless, it sure as hell doesn't excuse Parker's Gestapo like tactics towards churches that don't like having bad laws shoved down their throats. At least in this particular incident Parker decided to back down, when she realized that public sentiment wasn't on her side.
This issue actually pissed me off more than all the others that I just mentioned. Why the hell aren't you secularists more pissed off about this? How would you guys feel if you had a fundamentalist Christian mayor that demanded all atheist organizations in the area hand over their emails and minutes from their meetings for protesting a bad law? You would be so furious that you would probably demand his removal and you would be completely right to do so. How would this be any different from what Denise Parker attempted? That's right, it's because Christians are on the wrong side.
I want to point out that I among the secularists who decided long ago that they had no personal use for religion. Unlike many in the movement, I don't have such a blinding hatred of religion that I am willing to compromise legitimate rights just to bring it down. It's not just freedom of religion that is at stake here. It's freedom of association. Freedom of conscience. Freedom of property. Even freedom from involuntary servitude. If you truly value freedom, then you should defend it, no matter what person or organization chooses to exercise it. You are not a true freedom fighter until you have defended the rights of a person or an organization that you may dislike or even despise. You defend freedom, even when it is painful.
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