Freedom of religion, not ignorance

Dan Almasi, Opinion Editor

Earlier this summer, on June 26, one of the longest overdue laws in United States history was put into effect – the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, and the right to marry was granted to same-sex couples nationwide.

The LGBT community, humanists, and all those in favor of granting the same basic human rights to all people, celebrated the historic decision. This decision would, of course, mean gay couples would be given the right to marry without questioning, conflict, or further adversity, right?

Wrong. Not while there are still bigoted people who believe they’re doing God’s work by proliferating hateful ideals based on dated religious customs.

Earlier this month, on Sept. 3, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples “under God’s authority.”

The Supreme Court swiftly reminded Davis what it means to be an actual “authority” based in reality.

Heck, even the Pope has realized that times are changing, and if Christianity wants to survive, they’ll have to, at the very least, separate themselves from hate groups.

The Pope’s recent statements regarding homosexuality came like a breath of fresh air; “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” said Pope Francis in March of 2014.

Apparently, Kim Davis feels she has better judgment of what God would want than the Pope does.

I believe fully in the right of religious freedom. I also believe that there is a line where religious freedom must be limited, or at least more realistically defined. Religious freedom grants you the right to base your ethical beliefs and moral standards based on whatever religion you choose to follow. It doesn’t grant you the right to limit or affect others’ rights because of your own.

Freedom of speech grants you the right to voice those beliefs. Had Davis told the couple applying for the license that she didn’t believe in what they were doing, that would have been rude, but at least it wouldn’t have been illegal. And I would, even though I disagree with the belief behind it, advocate for Davis’ freedom of speech if for some reason she was jailed for voicing her beliefs.

There are lots of arguments to be made that contextualize how ridiculous Davis’ actions were.

I would like to ask Davis if she would feel a DMV employee, of Muslim descent, has the right to refuse her a license, as in many predominantly Muslim countries, women are not allowed to drive.

I would like to ask Davis if she would feel it’s the right of a Jewish person to work at a restaurant, but refuse their tables’ customers any menu items with pork in them because it’s against Judaism to consume pork.

I would like to ask Davis if she would feel it’s the right of a Buddhist person working at a grocery store or gas station to refuse to sell someone alcohol because the consumption of alcohol is against their religious beliefs.

But, while all those examples are fair points, they’re still beside the point. I would really like to ask Davis what positive effect she had on the lives of others by choosing to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples. Isn’t that what Christianity’s supposed to really be about?

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