“Religious freedom” has become the favored rhetorical device of the Religious Right over the past year. While the most notable example is the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, North Carolina has made its own efforts to put this dubious principle into practice.
When same-sex marriage was legalized last October, there was the push to exempt magistrates from issuing licenses for same-sex couples. On March 26, a version of a bill similar to the one passed in Indiana has been proposed in the North Carolina House.
Gov. Pat McCrory, in a rare moment of sanity, has opposed the bill, according to WRAL.
As frustrating as moves like these are, they are ultimately signs of recognition that the Religious Right understands it is losing. More than half the country recognizes same-sex marriage, and a Supreme Court decision later this year will likely take care of the remaining states.
Still, the current situation with these religious freedom laws perfectly exemplifies the problems with the Religious Right and conservative Christianity.
A main goal of the Religious Right for decades has been the imposition of its own brand of religiosity on society. Yet, the emphasis they have chosen in pursuing that goal is strange to me.
In the process of campaigning for a Christian nation, there are a number of things they could emphasize, like caring for the poor, for instance.
The Religious Right in this country has clearly not chosen that direction. Instead, they decided to appeal to that which is worst in people, the fear, hatred and prejudice.
The current situation with gay rights is a perfect example. Though they do not state so explicitly, a major motive behind these religious freedom bills is to allow religious people to discriminate against gay people.
Why is this issue so important? Why is this “sin” so special? Would the business owners who would refuse services to gay couples also inquire as to whether or not their patrons had stolen or lied?
An example of this came up in a CNN interview with a Georgia florist who said she would not serve gay couples. The woman did not, however, have a problem serving adulterers.
The reason that the issue of gay rights is so emphasized is that its good for awakening the prejudice that many people have toward gays.
Like demented Jiminy Crickets, the Religious Right has used the moral deference many people give to religion to encourage the worst, most base instincts in believers.
Many Americans are aware of how warped this view of the world and are turning against it. While the movement is failing on its major goals, the emergence of this brand of religious freedom laws reveals how absurd this entire movement is.
Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.
COLUMN: Kevin Griffin, Opinion Writer
CARTOON: Emily Howard, Cartoonist