Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Freedom of Religion Is and Isn't

So here's a response to yet-another story about a Kentucky County Clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

The First Amendment protects your right as an American to the free exercise of your religion. It does not protect your right to use your religion as an excuse to discriminate against other Americans.

As a priest and pastor, I am protected from being forced to marry anybody. Period. Roman Catholic priests cannot be forced to marry divorced couples. Orthodox Rabbis cannot be forced to marry interfaith couples. NOBODY can be compelled -- against their religion -- to marry anybody. Period.

That protection does NOT extend to carrying out your duties as an agent of the state as a county clerk to issue marriage licenses, drivers licenses or fishing licenses.

What if I'm a Muslim and my understanding of my religion is that women shouldn't drive. Can I refuse to issue drivers' licenses to women? Or if I'm a Hindu and a vegetarian -- can I refuse to issue fishing licenses because killing/eating fish is against my religion?

One More Time:
It's Freedom OF Religion -- as in believe whatever you choose or choose not to believe.
It is not Freedom TO IMPOSE Religion -- as in confuse your theology with our democracy.
Honest to Ethel, people -- Get a grip!

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