Uncommon Sense

March 12, 2014

My Religious Freedom vs. Your Religious Freedom

There is a lot going on under the label of “religious freedom” currently, including what could be some landmark Supreme Court cases. But it seems to me that a great many people are trying to drag all kinds of things not really aspects of religious freedom under its banner so as to strengthen their cases. This is wrong and I hope it gets squelched.

The idea of religious freedom in this country is the ability to practice your religion without the interference of the government or, really, other religions. This is extended to include practicing no religion at all. When this country was founded, you will note that religious freedom was not in the Constitution. In fact, religion wasn’t really mentioned. It took an amendment to the Constitution to forbid the federal government from endorsing any religion by giving it special favors, etc. Also forbidden was inhibition of any religion. Originally this meant only the federal government and quite a few states had their own sponsored denominations. Over time the wisdom of this was challenged and people finally came to the point that any state-sponsorship of religion was a bad idea and all of the states complied with this idea of government non-interference and non-support. (The argument the religious bought was “sure it would be nice to have the state collect a tithe for you, but what happens if another religion becomes dominant and takes over that state sponsorship? You are then out in the cold.” Today consider about what would happen if a very small state were to have a large influx of Muslims. Would people be happy having a Muslim state? Would that mean Sharia law could be imposed? Sorry, just trolling for Fox (sic) News viewers.)

Here’s the deal. If the government(s) have a law that effects religions, they must exercise it without prejudice. So, it is entirely appropriate for the federal government to impose a tax upon religious groups. There is no basis for not taxing them that makes any sense. But they cannot tax any such religious group any differently that the others. This is what religious freedom means under the law.

Note that Utah was told it’s petition for statehood would not be accepted by the Congress unless they outlawed polygamy, something promoted by the dominant religion of the state. This was acceptable in that Utah was not yet a state in the “United States” and did not receive full consideration or application of all of the federal laws.

Clergy who commit crimes are not immune to prosecution under the banner of “religious freedom.” They do not have the equivalent of diplomatic immunity to local prosecutions.

But, because there is a culture of “hands off” with regard to religions, various people interpret that in various ways.

A current case before the Supreme Court involves whether or not an employer can be required to provide health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage if that conflicts with the religious convictions of the owners. Churches, per se, are exempted from the requirements of this law, for no good reason other than political expediency, but to exempt everyone who has a “religious conviction” will open up a legal can of worms, a very large can of worms. There is no protection for these people under current “religious freedom” legal doctrine. We’ll have to wait to see if the Supreme Court decides to invent something whacko like its “corporations are people” doctrine.

For those of you who disagree with that last statement, consider this: employers provide their employees with a voucher that enables them to purchase contraceptives, pay for abortions, solicit prostitutes, buy illegal drugs, or drink one’s self into oblivion or with any other manner of vice the employees wish. It is called a paycheck. Once the employer transfers that voucher to the employee, they lose control over what the employee does with the funds it is worth. So, a business that employs even only good Catholics can be required to provide insurance that includes hospitalization, out-patient care, and contraceptive services and not have to worry because no good Catholic would avail themselves of the contraceptive services. Because no person can impose their religious beliefs upon another and neither can the government. That’s the law.


  1. I know our histories are rather different, but i’m always left shaking my head when i compare the public religious experience in Oz to the public religious experience in the States. There is no public religious experience in Oz. It is a private matter. Speaking religion in public (personalities, politicians etc), even among friend, is a serious no-no.


    Comment by john zande — March 12, 2014 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

    • That does it. I’m moving to Australia! we get glassy eyed young people asking if they can give “testimony” to perfect strangers. (Occassionally I will do it out of bordom and then torture the beast about their lack of knowledge of the bible.) we have Fox (sic) news blathering on about the “War on Religion” every night and, of course, there is no such thing. Luckily young people are growing up to be less and less religious. Maybe there is some hope for this country. After all, we are a Christian Nation … not. And those people keep calling us atheists obnoxious!

      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 4:12 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by stephenpruis — March 12, 2014 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

      • Well, our last PM was an outspoken atheist, and not a word was said about it in any arena as far as I’m aware. It certainly didn’t come up in the elections. I would just love her, Gillard, to meet crazy-lady Bachmann. Oh to be a fly on the wall in that meeting 🙂


        Comment by john zande — March 12, 2014 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

        • Agreed. It would make a good List of X … all of the 1:1 meetings between polar opposites that we would like to see. Let’s see … ah, Bill O’Reilly and a real Inner City Thug … in an alley … after midnight and …

          On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 4:54 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by stephenpruis — March 13, 2014 @ 10:23 am | Reply

  2. Words mean things.

    The 1st Amendment is clear that the government may not regulate speech or religion.

    Taxation is regulation.

    Making laws that force people to violate their religious values is government regulation of religion.

    To insure freedom the 16th Amendment giving the government the basic human right to tax citizens must be repealed.

    And a new amendment must be added to the Bill of Rights which limits federal government taxation to no more than 3% of income.


    Comment by silenceofmind — March 13, 2014 @ 10:11 am | Reply

    • Again, you change the topic.

      “Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.” — Rumi

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:11 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by stephenpruis — March 13, 2014 @ 10:16 am | Reply

      • Steven,

        Turning your argument on its head is not changing the subject.

        And suggesting an alternative tax scheme to keep government off our backs is right on topic.


        Comment by silenceofmind — March 13, 2014 @ 10:27 am | Reply

        • And exactly what part of “religious freedom” is an alternative tax scheme”?

          On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by stephenpruis — March 13, 2014 @ 10:35 am | Reply

          • Steve,

            Religious freedom is closely related to freedom of speech.

            That’s why they are both considered in the 1st Amendment.

            America’s labyrinthine tax code is not just in that it is oppressive and favors the strong.

            Being free of an oppressive, unjust government is necessary for freedom of religion and freedom of speech.


            Comment by silenceofmind — March 13, 2014 @ 10:45 am | Reply

            • Now that’s a stretch … but I’ll count it as a “good recovery.”

              On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



              Comment by stephenpruis — March 13, 2014 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  3. Reblogged this on The Muses Guild:THE SANDAL.


    Comment by The Lawgivers Guild — March 14, 2014 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

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