This Is Religious Liberty?

This is about an event in Canada.  But, it has implications for the U. S.

The Catholic hierarchy wants to discuss its petty concerns about birth control medicine in health care insurance provided its employees.  This, even though the medicine is needed for other illnesses of women.  Catholics call it “religious liberty”.

When North Dakota’s Catholic bureaucracy, along with some Protestants, gathered signatures and put on the ballot a “religious liberty amendment”, several of us warned about the unintended consequences, public servants who would not do the work assigned them because of religion, landlords who wanted to discriminate and so on.

Backers of the measure said these issues were, “not what was intended”.  Fortunately for our State, the measure was defeated.

The news story from Canada today is about the ability to use religious hang ups to avoid doing tasks others depend on one to do.  A Muslim male barber refused to cut a woman’s hair because it violated a tenet of his faith. He offered to find another barber, the old “separate but equal” gambit of the segregation era.

He said he could only cut hair of women who were members of his family.  Yet, he received a license from the government to perform this service for the public.  If discrimination is allowed because of religion, we will see it in our doctors, lawyers, car mechanics, landlords and teachers.

Hundreds of religions are already practiced.  New ones are being made up everyday.

There will be no end to religious taboos and “religious liberty” issues if we allow them to trump other rights.

38 Responses

      1. entech

        What was I thinking, I thought your post was about government staying out of the faith business all together.
        In the Canadian case I see both as being wrong.

      2. Stan

        By forcing the barber to do someones hair against there religious belief Jon, YOU are defining if it s a reasonable belief or not. Are you really that blind?

        Yes you ARE!

        1. Stan 7:34 “You are defining if it is a reasonable belief or not.”
          WHAT??? No! You need to study your civics book. I’m saying that discrimination based on religious beliefs is still discrimination. Would you support a sign on the window of a restaurant that says, “WE DON’T SERVE BLACK PEOPLE, AGAINST OUR RELIGION”? The sign could say, WE DON”T SERVE WOMEN or HANDICAPPED or CATHOLICS.

          This is country of equal opportunity. Now, you can restrict whomever you want from your house. But, when someone gets a taxpayer supported license to serve the public, they need to do just that. The Catholic and right Protestant still believes in the principle of segregation our country tried to leave behind in the civil rights experience. The strange thing is that Catholics, themselves, were discriminated against when our country was founded. But, now that they have arrived at establishment status, they are ready to throw others under the bus.

        1. entech

          Stan, I think you are changing horses mid-stream, you start with “defining what is a religious belief” and conflate that with “defining whether it is a reasonable belief”. As the religious belief is that of Islam, I would be interested to hear what some of the people that post here think, cutting hair or not is one thing, how about multiple wives or young wives – I seem to remember you having a squeal about that yourself just recently. To be extreme could deciding whose hair to cut eventually lead to whose head to cut, where does it end?
          Think to yourself, if the original topic had not mentioned Catholic and being opposed to the measures they want to take or avoid, I am not up to date on American insurance and health care (we have an entirely different system) which does seem to act like a cattle prod to those for and against, but, the exact issue is irrelevant – in defending your “religious freedom” how far do you want to go in allowing others. Many are incompatible with yours and even inimical in some cases. To what extent can you say, yes but we are right and they are wrong therefore … ; this would really be the beginning of the slippery slope that so many attribute to such things as legal gay unions no matter what you call them.

          I probably disagree with Jon on this issue, there are many aspects of this that are reasonable in themselves, what makes it difficult is that some people are not reasonable, some limitations are needed to permit the flourishing of others, this would require inordinate amounts of ifs and buts in writing and people being reasonable.
          If a given job description involves working with pork products, Jews and Muslims and vegans etc. must accept that it is the circumstance that preclude their employment, not discrimination.
          When my brother-in-law, many years ago, returned from India as a Buddhist, he applied to the Government Welfare Agency for assistance, at this time the agency would always attempt to find work for you before assistance was available, in his application he had stated his beliefs (he was actually on the way to becoming a respected and sought after teacher) and that he would do any work except anything to do with butchery or alcohol. What was going through the mind of the agency guy I can only wonder because the first job offer was at an abattoir – he refused the job, should he have taken it and then said Oh, but it is against my beliefs- I don’t think so. There was a case recently where a young woman showed up for an interview as a thoroughly modern young lady and them came to work in Muslim dress, could she really claim prejudice as she claimed or false pretenses as the employer claimed.
          So I say if some work is against your beliefs, don’t apply for the work, be it a pacifist and an armaments factory, or any industry against which the belief system had a taboo or proscription against. Presumably exemption can be made, Australia has sexual discrimination laws, a certain Tavern had a license that permitted them to be have exclusively homosexual clientele, they demonstrated that there were many occasions when young drunks would go specifically to pick a fight, another case is where a public swimming pool in a largely Muslim district have some sessions that are female only, it is not difficult to be reasonable.

          In the Canadian case, if they were licensed to operate a public facility, they should be obliged to serve the public – if they want to limit that service they must make it clear – in this case that they only cut men’s hair. This would have given the woman the advice before entering and would have avoided embarrassment, if she had knowingly pursued the point, then it would be her causing the embarrassment. We do not know the full circumstances, were they rude and derogatory to her, was she deliberately provocative?
          Where I live there are Kosher and Halal butcher shops you would not go in looking for a leg of ham (although I do go for a leg of goat, delicious).

  1. Wanna B Sure

    “Provocative” An interesting word. A practice used on all sides. Sometimes creating a battle when one isn’t warranted. Recently some fundamentalists have challenged the IRS outright on the subject of “free speech”, tied to IRS tax codes on non-profits, regarding support of specific candidates. (The issues are a different matter. and according to my understanding “issues” are freely open to discussion. Even though, probably innapropriate and divisive when one considers “The Great Comission”.) Some of Jon’s topics could easily be considered provocative. I am reminded of (I can’t remember his name, from New Zealand?) “Bananna boy”, who confronts strangers on the street, asking them if they ever had sex with another they weren’t married to, or stolen a pencil, and if they had, he tries to make them agree that they are a whore and a theif. Provocative. I find him extraordinarily offensive. What his approach does is demand submission (to him). He does more harm than good. He may have some followers, but I suspect they agreed with him even before he came on the scene. Pure pietism at it’s worst. He and those like him are the message AND the messenger, with no humility and a big ego. The result is that Christianity in general is tainted in the public’s eye, even when there is no association with him and his kind. There is much of this on TV. Unfortunately, many of the non-faith segment don’t seem to, or can’t make the distinction, and in turn become “provocative”, and antagonistic. Everyone needs to sit back and and hit reset.

    1. Wanna 2:16 “The result is that Christianity in general is tainted in the public’s eye…”

      Good point. I like to your reference to the preachers using the pulpit as campaign central, in spite of their having applied for and received a tax exempt status the excludes participation in partisan politics. The issue is complicated by black southern churches where, historically, the church was the only place black people could express themselves and, thus, became the place to do politics. That day for blacks surely has passed, however, and they, too, should steer clear.

      I’ve said before, I think denominations who do not use their standing to advocate political candidates or parties would do well to express their displeasure more strongly at those denominations who do. It will not work to ask the media politely to do it for them. The media loves anything that projects emotion. Politically motivated religion is perfect for them. Hands off religion is not.

      Today, the local story going viral about the Preist/Bishop who would not confirm a boy who posted in favor of gay marriage on FaceBook is a good example. It projects the perfect combination of politics and religion. I would guess there are few priests in the U. S. who would do what this dufus did. But, folks will believe it is the norm.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Jon; Your ; …”would do well to express their displeasure more strongly at those denominations who do.” They do ! Believe me, they do! ! ! A large part of the problem is that they generally won’t listen. It is a tough nut to crack, and pietism is at the heart. You hear me mention it here quite often. You just don’t hear it because it isn’t newsworthy. I think you must agree that I have just as hard on them as I have been on you. Remember the “errors” I have pointed out to them? Then there are dialogues between us and those denominations going on behind the scene that you are not aware of. Both institutional, and individually. As I have said before, “I am an equal opportunity pisser offer.” Has it helped? probably not, but your claim is unfounded.

      2. Wanna B Sure

        Jon; And for you to make that accusation is quite frankly………….offensive. You know not of which you speak.

        1. Wanna 4:31 I didn’t say YOU have not condemned those inserting politics into the faith. You certainly have condemned it often here.

          I don’t recall seeing any news releases from your denomination, or, like-minded ones condemning this. ChristianPost and other sites post news items sometimes which do not support the site’s editiorial point of view. There is a column once in a while pointing to the folly of this political posturing, but I’ve not seen a full court press against it.

          For example, there was a news item the other day about all the anti marriage break away groups holding a conference and finding common issues to discuss. I don’t remember seeing such a thing involving anti pulpit politics.

          I don’t get the impression you have had experience to this kind of publicity work–forming groups to use as platforms to get into the press, issuing press releases, holding press conferences, replying to press conferences of others, etc. This is what I’m referring to.

          Having said this, I know it is not easy to get denominations, made up of a variety of views and depending on voluntary contributions, to get together on common projects of any kind. I’m just saying it seems like it would serve the cause well if they did so in this case.

          You mentioned the article posted about use of the term “evangelical” recently. I happened to look at the article again this morning. The writer said the term evangelical should not imply old white men. I agree with him the way the word is used today hurts the faith. My point is that the way press coverage works, his academic treatment of the problem will not do anything to reverse it. There has to be energy projected in the response. Such as, “We don’t like the groups that make ‘evangelical’ look like old white men.” If I were interested in preserving the orthodox faith, I would be more aggressive in the response to those who damage it.

          1. Wanna B Sure

            And that’s the way it looks from your side of the hill. Constructive correction does not happen overnight, , nor is it coerced. Your implied methodology would cause even more division. But then again, that would be pleasing to you.

          2. Stan

            Jon. the President has been using the pulpit of churches to further his political goals more then once and when he does he is given a pass. Lets be equal in the condemnation of those practices. Michelle has been in more then one church this last year stumping for her husbands re-election specifically. I have never heard the mention of a single politicians name used from the pulpit but the threat of an IRS audit has been brought up in the Main Stream Press more then once in the last election cycle.

          3. 5:15 “…he is given a pass.”
            I mentioned that black churches should not be centers of politics as they have been. Maybe Obama appears at other churches and give political speeches, I haven’t heard of these.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; You must realize one or two hundred years is a very short time in changes in ecclesiology. The issues you constantly present in argument are really quite recent. (50-60 yr. plus or minus.) Quite often it is generational. The timelines of change are much slower than the metabolism of a hummingbird. You preffer the hummingbird model, which isn’t realistic, or stable.

          5. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Re. “Press releases”; Quiet, deliberate, and confidential is the best and most fruitfull method. Much like a therapist or Doctor, confidentiality is a must in order to help save face, and prevent embarrasment. Agressive confrontation is counter productive. Any other method is doomed to failure in the long run, as the defenses arise, preventing any long term improvement. You’re then worse off than at the start.

          6. Wanna 5:34 “Quiet, deliberate and confidential is the best and most fruitful method.”

            I’m sure there are times when this is true. I know there are times when it is not.

            A current fan of your method is the Barnville MN preist who complained when the kid and his parents went to the press to complain about his being refused for confirmation. The priest is bitter, but they did the right thing. Also, the priests who fiddled with young boys did not like it the press found out–should have been a private matter.

            My experience has been keeping political/religous things out of the press is a receipe for the status quo. Change comes when public people see their names in the press.

          7. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; May I say that you make an assenine assumption and accusation, and connection. You try to insert an entirely different subject into the conversation. Your methodology would be like that of the bananna boy Ray Comfort, and just as offensive, and childish.

          8. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; You have to simply go to your own 5:07, and my response at 5:13 to arrive at the subject matter at hand. Your insertion of the Barnesville matter into the argument is nothing more than a reflection of your desperation to go off topic. Sad, really.

  2. Henry

    Jon: “A Muslim male barber refused to cut a woman’s hair because it violated a tenet of his faith.”

    What woman would insist on a specific Moslem barber to cut her hair to the point of turning him into authorities when he does not comply with her demands? Most women I know are very particular about who cuts their hair and any hint of cloud or something going badly sends them running somewhere else. This story doesn’t make sense, and seems like a situation contrived to effect a story or agenda.

  3. Stan

    Comment from the article says it all.

    Fr. John Morris | Nov 17, 2012 | 7:49pm

    I do not agree with Mr. Mahrouk, but believe that he has a civil right to live according to his religious beliefs even if I disagree with them. It is not as if there were no other barber shops in Toronto. If we are to be a free society, we have to tolerate those with unpopular views, as long as they do no harm to another person. It is religious bigotry for Ms. McGregor to refuse to honor the religious freedom of Mr. Mahrouk. In a muti-cultured society we have to allow some room for people with different views from our own.

  4. entech

    The title of a piece in my local paper’s Comment and debate section:

    Ireland’s moment of truth.
    Savita Halappanavar’s shocking death shows that religious freedom must end when a life is threatened.

    The lady a 31 year old dentist was admitted to hospital in pain. Doctors told her that something internal was broken that she was miscarrying and there was no hope for the baby. The doctors refused to terminate even though there was a miscarriage in progress because “this is a Catholic country”, as a result the woman died of blood poisoning.

    Does the right to religious freedom override another’s right to life?

    1. Wanna B Sure

      This is the same case I mentioned yesterday. Not really as much a religious freedom issue , as much as it is dogmatic abuse with secular consent.

    2. Henry

      We are lead to believe that if she had the abortion earlier, she would have lived. That is unknown. At this point, one side of the story is presented assuming privacy laws. Again, the agenda is being fed, this time with incomplete information.

      1. Henry 10:38 “one side of the story is presented assuming privacy laws.”

        What does “assuming privacy laws” mean? There is a law there that presents an abortion when there is a heart beat. There was a heart beat but the fetus was killing the mother. The mother might have been hit by a car and died, I suppose. But, the cause of her death at the time she died was the pregnancy.

        1. Henry

          Jon: “What does “assuming privacy laws” mean?”

          The hospital is prevented from providing their side of the story due to confidentiality. We hear her husband’s side of the story.

          Therefore, we don’t know whether or not an abortion furnished at the time of admitance would have saved her life. Maybe the abortion procedure itself was botched causing sepsis. We don’t know and likely will not know.

          Meanwhile, an unvetted half-story is publicly being championed to feed an agenda. Period.

      2. entech

        Have you actually checked the story ? You is this your usual dogmatic statement.
        The woman was miscarrying.
        There was no hope of the bay surviving.
        The woman begged for help in speeding the miscarriage that was already happening (termination if you prefer, but the doctors had already said it was terminal)
        So we have a dying child in the womb, the possibility of survival would have been greater if this dead/matter had been removed.
        Blood poisoning was the cause of death.
        Failure to remove the cause of infection caused the blood poisoning.

        She did not go into hospital to have or ask for an abortion, she went in for pain.
        The doctors told her she was having a miscarriage and there was no chance of the baby surviving.
        At this point she starting asking for the termination.

        You say an earlier intervention may not have saved her, I say that if this dying matter in her body had been removed immediately instead of waiting for three days, the chances of one survivor instead of none would have been much greater.

        The doctor objective is supposed to be first do no harm, by waiting three days they abrogated this principle.

        1. Henry

          You seem to know a lot. I don’t know much about this case. However, I am in good company. Very few people on this earth actually know the full story.

          I do know some of the pro-abort crowd are salivating in their delight of “see, I told you so”. That is very clear.

          1. entech

            I checked and read about it. You just blindly find excuses. I have have said before I think that abortion should be safe and legal and very rare – this is one of the very rare cases where it would be totally justified.

          2. Henry

            I can go along with that too. Trying to find what we can agree upon, but if you insist, sure. We have a deep chasm between us, one of your choosing.

            Do you want some water to cool your tongue?

          3. entech

            Probably agree on more than either of us would admit.
            The chasm and who chose it?
            Me because I refuse to give up my self-respect and submit to the ancient writings from the time that man was first trying to work things out.
            You who will insist on seeing the universe through a 6 thousand year old prism, scratched and dented and clouded.

            Summer is coming in here, quite a warm day and I have just been out shopping, before checking the computer I had a large drink of cooling water, so thanks for the thought but I got in first.
            How did you know? clairvoyant among you other talents? (I don’t believe in them either)

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