Author Says Efforts to Defend Religious Freedom A Scam – Christians Haven’t Lost Any Rights
I recently came across an article titled “The Christian Rights ‘Religious Freedom Law’ Scam” by Vanessa Sheridan, writing at the Huffington Post.
This might be one of the worst mischaracterizations of efforts to secure religious freedom through legislative action by anyone I’ve read in recent memory. The article is so full of misstatements and absurd claims that it’s hard to decide if it should be at The Huffington Post or The Onion.
Ms. Sheridan first accuses a small group of people of seeking to pass laws that would legalize open discrimination. She is, presumably, talking about laws like the one recently vetoed by Arizona governor Jan Brewer that would have protected the religious convictions of business owners from forced government violation. But in her words this bill would:
“allow conservative business owners to discriminate openly against certain individuals on the basis of ‘religious freedom.’ In essence, this means that a business owner could arbitrarily refuse service to anyone they choose while claiming that to offer such service would somehow abrogate the business owner’s ‘freedom of religion.’”
This is a poorly worded mischaracterization of the Arizona bill and I can only assume that Ms. Sheridan didn’t actually read the simple, clearly worded bill when it was proposed. Had Ms. Sheridan read the bill she would have realized that there is nothing “arbitrary” about it as it clearly states that religious business owners have a right not to be compelled to violate their convictions under governmental threat.
But the true nature and underlying purpose of Ms. Sheridan’s article came to light when she asserted that there was no ongoing effort to persecute religious people for living according to their religious convictions. Then she attacked anyone that believed otherwise and said efforts to secure religious freedom was nothing more than “thinly disguised efforts by uberconservative Christians (and the politicians they support) to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community and women.”
First of all, how did we get from issues of homosexuality to women? Is Ms. Sheridan claiming that efforts to secure religious liberties are not just homophobic but also misogynistic? The answer to that question is answered when she writes:
“Two things that the Christian right can’t stand are sexual minorities and uppity women who think they’re equal to men…Women and LGBT persons should be very much aware of this…”
Apparently this rant by an out of touch writer is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack against Christian men. I wonder if Ms. Sheridan is prepared to mount a defense for Candace Cameron-Bure after she was attacked in the media for her views on marriage. Cameron-Bure is a successful actress, author, entrepreneur and mother. She said one of the secrets to her lasting marriage is that she practices the biblical principle of submission. Those words made liberals’ heads explode and they immediately attacked her for it. I don’t recall Ms. Sheridan defending this successful woman, but many men, including myself, certainly did.
Let’s be clear, the effort to dismantle long standing religious freedoms and liberties is not only real, it is increasing at an alarming rate. I would ask Ms. Sheridan to talk with Elane Photography and consider whether the religious rights of Elaine Huguenin were violated. While she’s at it she can talk with a baker in Colorado and a florist in Washington that are facing similar lawsuits for living according to their religious convictions.
I can only assume that Ms. Sheridan doesn’t actually have any religious convictions to live by. Perhaps she falls in that “nones” category that doesn’t adhere to any religious association. For her it is easy to stand outside a glass house and throw stones because she doesn’t have to live inside picking up the pieces. But for the millions of Americans that have seen their religious rights taken in recent years the threats are very real.
This is what many simply get wrong about being a committed Christian seeking to live life according to our religious convictions. This is what President Obama gets wrong when he talks about “freedom to worship” rather than freedom of religion. This isn’t about what we do on Sunday inside the walls of our churches. That’s the easy part that everyone agrees is not up for debate. The Founders were clear that our actions inside our houses of worship are sacred and the government has no authority to intervene or interfere in any way.
What may like Ms. Sheridan and President Obama don’t agree with us on is that our ability to live our faith in the public sector is also included in those enshrined laws the Founder’s penned. We believe that prayer is essential to our daily lives and should be allowed at work, in school, and anywhere else. We believe it is morally and ethically wrong for the government to demand our tax dollars be spent to fund the abortion industry. We believe the government has no authority to compel us to violate our religious convictions by creating expressions of speech through photography or flowers celebrating what the Bible calls sin.
Finally Ms. Sheridan uses the scare tactic against religious freedom of equating homosexuality with the civil rights movement of the 60’s. She says:
“Frankly, allowing some sort of ‘religious freedom law’ to be passed would open a Pandora’s box of problems, and it would not end well. If business owners are legally permitted to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people for ‘religious’ reasons, then who’s next? African-Americans? Muslims? Butch women? Effeminate males? Unmarried couples?”
Please! Anyone that truly believes our country will go backwards regarding civil rights for African Americans is beyond out of touch – it’s a fantasy world to even make such a suggestion. And it’s certainly a misdirected attack to claim Christians would favor such actions. Then again this whole diatribe from Ms. Sheridan is little more than rhetoric, scare tactics, and liberal talking points aimed at further diminishing the rights of religious people in the public sector.
The reality is that the rights we enjoyed five, ten, twenty years ago are gone. And further removal of rights will come without a decisive plan to restore lost rights and secure existing rights. To say that liberals and homosexual advocates want to see every person, including Christians, celebrate the gay lifestyle is obvious to anyone paying attention. Yet to do so would violate the religious convictions of nearly every Christian. For that matter, being forced to fund the abortion industry is an egregious violation of religious conscience for Christians and Catholics alike. But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from making it so. Are we making that attack on our religious freedom up as well, Ms. Sheridan?
No one should be forced to violate his or her religious convictions. For those that have no such convictions it is easy to say the current fight to defend religious freedom is fabricated; after all, they’ve not experienced the loss of freedom. For those of us that have watched as our freedoms have been dismantled by an administration that is hostile to everything we believe, it’s a very real battle to preserve what our Founder’s intended.
Before Ms. Sheridan makes such nonsensical claims again I would invite her to spend time talking with religious people that have lost freedoms, and been subjected to lawsuits and punishment by the government for simply trying to live out their faith. Perhaps her perspective would widen and she would better understand what she’s talking about.