Freedom of religion was intended to guarantee freedom from governmental persecution because of private beliefs. Today, that freedom has been twisted and perverted into instead creating persecution against individuals, backed up by governmental force. It is time to abolish it as archaic and obsolete, and let the modern freedoms of opinion and speech take its place.
The recent case in the reactionary United States, where the corporation Hobby Lobby was allowed to deny healthcare to its (female) employees based on a reactionary superstitious idea that such healthcare for women should not exist at all, shows how freedom of religion is now used to create governmentally-enforced persecution and oppression, rather than freedom from such persecution and oppression.
In the Middle Ages, a different religion from the king and queen was no different from a subversive political opinion was no different from terrorism, and would get you tortured and killed. After a few centuries of that, “freedom of religion” was established to cement in stone that the government couldn’t persecute you for privately held opinions.
Today, the government doesn’t persecute you no matter whether you are praying for salvation to our All-Seing Allfather Odin on his majestic eight-legged steed, or to His Holy Noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You may even believe that the Earth was created by your invisible friend or that the moon is made of fine cheese, all without persecution from the government. This is covered by freedom of opinion.
Further, freedom of speech makes sure that you have the right to express whatever strange beliefs you hold in whatever form you like (but not on any platform you like or with any audience you like, which is a common misconception: you can’t force anybody to listen to you, nor force anybody else to carry or repeat your expression).
The rights to hold any belief you like and to tell others about that belief are fully covered by the freedoms of opinion and speech. They have completely superseded the original freedom of religion.
You have the complete freedom to believe that the moon is made of Emmenthaler Cheese (freedom of opinion) without being persecuted by the government. You also have the full right to argue with your neighbor, who believes the moon is made of Gouda Cheese instead, about this (freedom of speech), without governmental persecution for doing so.
Your right to hold this belief, however, does absolutely not entitle you to re-label Emmenthaler cheeses at your local supermarket, where you work, as “Authentic Holy Moon Cheese”, and to call in the government to enforce this opinion of yours against your employer’s business. This is how “freedom of religion” is being abused today, and much worse:
- The abovementioned case where an employer denies healthcare to female employees, using governmental force to back that denial up
- Employees who refuse to shake hands with female customers (yes, these exist)
- Abortion nurses who refuse to perform abortions “for beliefs”, including when lives are at risk
- People who refuse to work with X (lotteries, pork, hot dogs, whatever) because of “beliefs” and demand to stay on unemployment benefits instead (note: refusing a job offer while on unemployment insurance normally ends your right to further unemployment benefits)
- Refusal to follow hygiene procedures in food/healthcare because of “beliefs”
- Teachers who refuse to allow students (citizens!) to critically examine the information they’ve been given
- Parents who do the same to their children (also citizens!)
- …and don’t get me started on infant/toddler genital mutilation, male and female alike. Your right to believe whatever crazyfuckery you want will never, ever, extend to any insane right to cut into the flesh of another citizen and deliberately remove functional tissue, regardless of DNA similarity.
- …the list goes on.
Freedom of religion was intended to allow you to believe whatever you wanted. It was never intended to legitimize people behaving like assholes against fellow humans and claiming they have a governmentally-backed right to behave like assholes without consequences, because of some weird opinion they hold.
In particular, freedom of religion was never intended to exempt somebody from the law.
Freedom of Religion is used to persecute individuals once again, using governmental threat of force to back up such persecution. It is time to abolish it in name and concept, and instead let the Freedoms of Opinion and Speech carry on its original intention.