“Religious Liberty” Cannot Work the Way Some Want to Use It.

“Religious liberty” as defined by some some in the religious community is like the tragedy of the commons.  The tragedy of the commons happened in Europe when a community’s grazing area was owned in common.

With free grazing, each farmer did a private calculation.  “It doesn’t cost me anything to add a few cows to my herd.”  The tragedy happened when everyone added to their herd and all cattle went hungry.

Today, conservatives point to the tragedy when the topic of welfare comes up.  No one will want to work if they can receive money without it, they say.

Liberals point to it when referring to business tax breaks.  Each business will want a tax break until no one pays taxes.

Private firms, like Hobby Lobby, use the Religious Liberty to argue it is against the owner’s religious tenets to provide the same benefits to same sex couples it provides heterosexual couples.  Other owners do not believe in birth control and want to avoid including it in their employees health insurance.

Somewhere else will be a apartment management firm that does not want to rent to mixed race couples.  Another will not like Muslims, and so on.

Some of these religious liberty issues are “commons” issues.   They take from the commonly owned pool of standards, money or benefits and want to use it up for themselves.

There are two things in the U. S. we have reached a consensus about, equal opportunity and a level playing field.  Religious liberty messes with both.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/09/AR2009040904063.html

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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30 Responses to “Religious Liberty” Cannot Work the Way Some Want to Use It.

  1. Brad says:

    The thing that’s always dangerous about religion is the tie to an almighty God. Religion can hide behind God and always use it as their trump card for just about anything. How can you question anything the religious community does when they are connected to God? Probably the scariest thing I hear is when people talk about how their gun rights are “God given”. If they are God given, nobody can question it. If they are merely “man-given” (which they in fact are), then it’s debatable.

    That’s how right wingers work. Anything they want to keep untouchable they just proclaim it to be “God-given”.

    • For says:

      Another favorite choice is to refer to beliefs as “sincerely held.” No matter how anti-gay or anti- (fill in the blank) the position may be, theists believe that “sincerely-held” beliefs are somehow immune from criticism or accusations of bigotry. And if you dare criticize those beliefs, the theist will accuse you of being bigoted and intolerant of “differing opinions.”

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        For 3:07 Thanks for the first time post.

        Yes, “sincerely held” was the language used in North Dakota’s religious liberty restoration ammendment. It was defeated thank goodness. If ever there were two words that could mean anything, it’s those two.

      • entech says:

        Something claimed to be “God given” and an opinion said the be “sincerely held” does not imply any validity to either of them.

        Even if they are held to be related in in some way it does not cause either of them true; or even believable.

        correlation does not imply causation.

        • entech says:

          PS. Null hypothesis. Unproven. Yes neither are proven.

          • Brad says:

            True, but it doesn’t matter in the political world. All these politicians have to do is use their “God given” or “sincerely held” catchphrases to get the sheeple to vote for them or support their cause.

          • entech says:

            True, truth and validity are not part of politics or religion. The arguments come from whatever is convenient to the cause, the proponents must convince themselves that what they says is true to avoid the pain of cognitive dissonance, but many don’t care and just lie anyway.

  2. Avatar of realist realist says:

    Good topic. I think that many very religious people in our history have understood very well that they can not impose their own views on others and have chosen to live apart from society. Hutterites, Mennonites, and even Mormons have recognized that they can not put their values to work in an open society. Our country lets people do that if they adhere to basic human rights and the law in their jurisdictions.

    What is new is this expectation that if I believe, for example, women should stay at home with their children, then I should be able to hire only men at my factory. Or if I believe contraception is immoral, I should be able to take my employees medical insurance contribution and buy insurance for that employee that does not conform to the norm for insurance coverage. I should be able to force women to bear children when virtually the entire developed world allows women the freedom to choose when they have a child. I should be able to insist on Christian prayers in public schools.

    The new Bishop assigned to North Dakota recently had a press event and the first words out of his mouth were to praise the legislators for promoting right wing religion from the state house. Every indication is that he will continue to use his position to advocate politically in violation of his tax exempt status.

    This is nuts. We need to work to get theocrats and non-thinking radical right wingers out of their seats and elect some people who understand the importance of the separation of church and state.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      realist 1:12 “The new Bishop assigned to N. D. recently had a press conference and the first words out of his mouth were to praise legistalatiors for promoting right wing religion from the state house…This is nuts.”

      Well said. It seems to me all guys applying for these Bishop positions must have to take a pledge, “I promise to put Catholic tenets into law, impose our views in politics at every occasion and assume we are right and all who do not agree are wrong.”

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Realist; Your; “Every indication is that he will continue to use his position to advocate politically in violation of his tax exempt status”. I’m not so sure about your position. It is my understanding that to violate tax exempt status is to publically, and/or corporately promote, and campagne for or against a candidate for office. By law, issues are not considered a violation.

      • Avatar of realist realist says:

        We’ll see about that. Many church leaders were very vocal about urging their church members to vote for Romney in the last election. This was done in an overt way, but it was also done with a focus of issues, for example, vote for the person who is anti-abortion. So what you say is correct as far as it goes.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Realist; See my 4:15. I have no controll over those who violate the law. All I can do, and have done is remind them of the inapropriatness of their actions. “As for me and my house”—-.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Realist; I think you may be missing my point. My biggest point/ concern is not so much what religious involvement does to politics, but what political involvement does to the the Gospel. When the Gospel is politicised, the Gospel is lost, and so is the church.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Realist; If certain churches would comply with my concerns, your concerns would be aleviated. We are looking at opposite ends of a yard stick, but still the same yard stick.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            @My 2:00; “When the Gospel is politicised…” This is “Another Gospel”.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Realist; see – Google– About agnosticism/atheism tax exemption vs church political activity.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      I will take this subject a little farther. The particular denomination I am a member of, absolutely refuses anyone or any politician (conservative or liberal), access to the pulpit or the church on political issues. These are divisive and distracts from the Gospel. We have both Democrats and Republicans in our membership. What and how they vote after the leave the church is their business.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Wanna 4:15 re: refuses access to the pulpit for polical purposes

        An admirable policy, indeed. I’m sure it has served your denomination well in the past and will continue to do so.

  3. Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

    I think it would be easier to think clearly about the women’s issues that get tangled up in health insurance if we could find a way to get away from our employer provided system. We don’t like government interfering with private business decisions so lets separate health insurance from employment.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      sea 2:48 “..if we could get away from our employer provided system.”

      Great thought. I’m old enough to remember a time before employer provided health insurance. Another Professor mentioned it was the coming new thing. I remember him saying it was a collection agent for hospitials–a way for them to get paid without having to hound thousands of individual people.

      But, the result has been mixed. My take is care is better in many ways and health science has moved ahead because of the massive amounts of money the system generates. But, it opened the door to health care enemies, politics in general, politics of religion and massive profits for many parties which drain off money from peoples health care.

      There can be no doubt, the system could be organized around something other than employers, but how to do it?

      • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

        I’d heard that the origins of our employer provided system were the wage controls instituted during WWII. Because employers couldn’t compete for the best employees with straight pay they took to compensating them with various benefits, one of which was health care. Basically, the system we have no is an unintended consequence of government interference in the labor market.

        Most of the rest of the world has figured out how to provide health care to their people without employers participating directly in the decisions. Of course there are some people here who aren’t interested in those solutions precisely because they’ve originated somewhere else.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          sea 2:10 “Most of the world has figured out how to provide health care to their people without employers participating directly in the decisions.”

          So true. Our health care system is more costly and less effective than socialized ones. I seems like it would be easy to fix were it not for the religion and political ideology that stands in the way.

  4. Brad says:

    “There can be no doubt, the system could be organized around something other than employers, but how to do it?”

    Single payer universal healthcare seems like the most obvious answer. This would require completely ditching the entire healthcare insurance industry and setting up a single non-profit national insurance system.

    Businesses should be gung-ho about something like this. It would mean completely erasing their single largest labor expense.

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      Single payer is indeed the way to go on this. Maybe someday…..

    • Wolfy32 says:

      Then people have less say and less choices about their health care? What about allow us to have our $1500 a month back or roughly $20,000 a year back for insurance cost, and let us manage it for medical use?

      Get rid of insurance and strictly go with HSAs for everyone. Forced savings.

      You can still pool the money or whatever. It’d be no different than how student loans or large national financial matters are managed now.

      I don’t like the idea of a single national system ? Gives the control to too few people. Makes it easy to be corrupt and becomes uncontrollable.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Wolfy32 3:43 “Gives the control to too few people.”

        A logical extension of “choice” would be to stop all health care licensing. Let anyone put out a sign that says, “Health care here.” I’m sure a lot of people would die, but the cost and accessiabity would be so much better maybe an equal number would be saved. Now, I doubt it would be better, but when one uses the term “private health care system”, no licensing is the ultimate definition.

        I went to a walk-in clinic the other day. I had been in the same place a few weeks before for the same aliment, sinus infection. This second time, I was in there for just a couple of minutes and got the same prescription again. The quick visit cost “the system” $200.00. I would have been confident enough in my own diagnois to have bought the pills myself.

        I had an interesting chat with the doctor on the first visit about the concepts of walk-in clinics. She said she worked in one in Minneapolis for a couple of years that was two small rooms. In one room, patients signed in on a computer. She, the doctor saw them in the second room. There was no receptionist or phone answering, except the doctor. She had to do a little work on the computer for medical insurance, etc. She said with that system, it was $75.00 a visit.

  5. Henry says:

    Jon:“Other owners do not believe in birth control and want to avoid including it in their employees health insurance.”

    Here is some news on how some birth control is handled. I guess this is ok as long as the doctor doesn’t sign a birth certificate creating it as a human.
    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gosnell-trial-witness-baby-abortion-survivor-was-swimming-toilet-trying-get-out

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