Freedom of Religion: Step away from my BLT & stop looking at my crotch!
The USA seems to be the only country in the civilized world where the miscomprehension (Is that a word? It is now) of Freedom of Religion still exists. It still exists primordially because religious zealots have successfully mangled logic and reason beyond any possible recognition; But all is not lost. There’s a simple way to explain it to them using something that is almost universally sacred to most of us with European origins: Bacon. Yes, I just said bacon. I’ll even let you choose, you can refer to the British meaty kind, or my favourite which is the fatty Oscar Mayer kind.
Freedom of religion, like most freedoms afforded to citizens of the civilized western world, is an individual freedom. What does that mean? It’s actually very simple. An individual freedom is one I can apply to my own life, not one I can force other people to apply to their lives. If I did, I would be interfering with their right of freedom of religion! In regards to religion, it means each one of us can:
A) Choose a (any) religion freely
B) Choose how often (or not) we participate in religious rituals
C) Follow as many religious regulations (or not) as we choose
D) Change to another religion at any given moment
And here’s where the bacon comes into the story. Orthodox Jews and Muslims have something in common other than fighting over (bad) Middle-Eastern real-estate. Both groups forbid the consumption of bacon. In free countries both groups also have the right to follow their religions. Now, in my eyes, a life without bacon would be a life not worth living, but here’s the great thing, freedom of religion means I don’t have to follow their religion and end up on a ledge contemplating death. They can’t make me follow their religions. I can spend the rest of my life looking forward to bacon with eggs, on salad, in sandwiches- and that wonderful smell!
So here’s what freedom of religion is not:
A) It’s not the right to make other people live by the tenets of your religion
B) It’s not the right to force other people to obey the rules of your scriptures
In practical terms that means:
- It’s not the right of Orthodox Jews & Muslims to forbid me from eating bacon
- It’s not the right of the aforementioned religious groups to force women who are not members of those groups to cover their hair with scarves or wigs
- It’s not the right of Christians to tell people when, how or with whom they should or shouldn’t use their genitalia
- It’s not the right of Christians to tell their fellow citizens how they should or shouldn’t live their individual freedoms
So what’s this rant all about? It’s about freedom. You have the right to choose and follow your religion, and I equally have the right to be a Hitchensian/Dawkinsian Atheist. You have the right to spend your Sundays in church, and I have the right to spend my Saturday nights wearing an I Believe in Evolution t-shirt whilst dancing to I Will Survive in liberal San Francisco, surrounded by my fellow gays (if I so choose). Stop interfering with other people’s individual freedom of religion by trying to impose your beliefs on their lives!!!!