Bobby Jindal and the great ‘War on Religion’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 15-02-2014-05-2008

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Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference.

A question: Do we have to pay attention to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, now that he is no longer the Republican flavor of the month, and seems in no danger of recapturing that shining moment, the moment when he announced to the nation that good government requires not doing anything called “volcano monitoring”?

I ask because he is now on the Invisible War on Religion bandwagon, which is the natural extension of the Invisible War on Christmas bandwagon, and which asserts that all religious freedoms are sacrosanct, but some more sacrosanct and others, and that means that if a hobby supply store has to carry the same health insurance as everybody else in spite of the owner having a little fish sticker on his car then we might as well all pack up and call it a day, because America isn’t America anymore. Also, the gays.

This is the next stage of the assault, and it is only beginning. Today, an overwhelming majority of those who belong to a religious denomination in America – that’s more than half the country – are members of organizations that affirm the traditional definition of marriage. All of those denominations will be targeted in large and small degrees in the coming years.

Will churches in America even be able to remain part of the public square in a time when their views on sin are in direct conflict with the culture, and when expressing those views will be seen as hiding hateful speech behind religious protections?

Just as in Canada, where hate speech laws force courts to discern whether quoting Bible verses amounts to violating “human rights rules,” giving up your rights of religious expression may, as the New Mexico judge put it, be just “the price of citizenship.”

I confess to being a bit stumped as to where the supposed drama is coming from. Preach against the scary other all you want, in your church and on the street corner, but if you operate a recognized business in the public sphere you have to conform to basic employment and anti-discrimination laws. Selling model airplanes isn’t a religious endeavor. Owning a flower shop isn’t either. We’ve now fully accepted that you may not discriminate against black Americans even if you have the “religious belief” that you ought to, and you can’t refuse service to Jewish Americans even though they have not accepted your Lord and Savior, and you still have to let women vote even if you are of the “religious belief” that women ought to be seen and not heard from. We can’t seriously be arguing that a business has the right to, say, refuse propane deliveries to an unmarried couple living in sin because arguing that would be Profoundly Goddamn Stupid, and yet that does seem to be exactly what we are arguing, when it comes to “does a store selling model airplanes need to follow the same employment standards even if the owner has a fish sticker on his car” or “can a flower shop refuse service to someone if they suspect those roses will be used to woo someone of the improper sex.”

The Bobby Jindals of the world can claim religious war all they like, but they’re still arguing for religious exceptions that they would not tolerate for religious groups other than their own. You can’t have a decade-long frothing freakout at the thought that Muslims might want to follow Muslim law in America (Sharia! Creeping!) and then demand explicitly that Christian law be elevated over American law in the next sentence. Well you can, but you’re being obviously insincere.

The only reason anyone is talking about a “War on Religion” is that the same group of people who constantly see themselves under attack from minorities, Muslims, feminists, liberals, the IRS, communists, the National Park Service, and every other thing have convinced themselves of it. Government is always on their doorstep, ready to take their guns and Bibles and make their daughters marry someone they don’t approve of; if they didn’t feel persecuted they wouldn’t have any proper way to pass the time.

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