I don’t watch the news. I don’t listen to it on the radio. I don’t seek it out on the web. And lately, I haven’t been trolling my Facebook newsfeed, so for quite some time now, I’ve been gratefully unaware of the inhumanity – and often utter stupidity – of humans. If I start regularly catching glimpses or overhearing pieces of something that piques my curiosity, I will intentionally search it out. One of the things that I often search out is anything to do with this nation’s ongoing battle over equality.
So, when I started hearing rumblings about legalized discrimination in Indiana and then began seeing #BoycottIndiana all over the place, I sat up and took notice. First I saw this link to a Wall Street Journal article:
A few moments later, I saw this:
Then I followed the link and read the article in the business section of Huffington Post with the headline that read:
And then I opened my email and found a newsletter from Universal Life Church, the organization through which I have become a licensed minister. It led to this article:
Then I saw a link to this video:
After reading all of those articles, I then watched the whole video, my jaw gaping and my head spinning.
And then, after all that, I sat there silent, feeling as though my heart was breaking.
They are saying this new law in Indiana is in support of the First Amendment:
And they are also saying that this new law in Indiana is merely word-for-word the same law that President Bill Clinton signed into being (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act) back in 1993 – and was later ruled as unconstitutional at a state level and could only be used at a Federal level, but they’re not talking about that.
What they’re also not saying is that First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were put into motion to protect the religious sector’s right to practice their religion.
Over the winter holidays, I began watching the Showtime series, The Tudors, and began to gain an understanding of all that went on in those times. As I watched King Henry VIII, played splendidly by Jonathan Rhys Meyers with equal parts likability and hateability (I know it’s not a word), I was stunned by his giant set of cojones that led him to believe that he was the sovereign leader, which meant, in essence, he was god and therefore all humanity must worship him, or at the very least, worship as he worshipped. This egomaniacal drive led to slaughter of innocents and higher ups in opposing churches, alike. It was tragic to witness and through the process, I gained a deep appreciation for the fight to create a free country – a land where humans could worship as they chose to worship.
In today’s world, however, this “right to worship as they may” and “division of church and state” has become all sorts of convoluted and twisted. People are now using their “right to worship as they may” as a ground of protection from where they can blatantly refuse to serve people they deem to be unworthy of their service – be they of differing skin colors, differing religious backgrounds, and now of differing sexual orientation. And all of this is happening in a country that was established upon the premise that:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
All men are created equal. That is why the United States of America was founded. It was why our founding fathers fought to leave their ancestral lands, sailed across oceans, came into the wilderness, laid down their lives, (let’s not forget that they also uprooted the Natives here, but that is an argument I will address another day), and died to assure their progeny would live in freedom. Of course, over the years, the Declaration of Independence was amended to be more clear, the first being freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceable gatherings, but the core of what that originating document states remains true: ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL.
When people seek support of the government in legalizing their right to not serve another based on prejudicial biases – and they succeed in attaining that support – we have a serious problem in this country. No religion or sector of humanity has the right to prevail over another religion or sector of humanity. As long as one group of people – in this particular instance, I am referring to the religions, mostly Christian-based – cling to the belief that their rights are more important than any other’s rights, and the government supports this view, we have a problem.
The originating documents that founded this country defend a religious group’s right to practice their religion. Inflicting your religious beliefs upon another through acts of violence or refusal of service is not practicing religion. Throughout history, religions have fought and killed for their beliefs. Each religion (that I have encountered) preaches, in one way or another (and even in these words), “We are the only way.” This belief of being “the only way” is divisive and is the root of the problem we have going on in this country. Any time a belief, religious or otherwise, is founded on being “the only way” to do something, it is founded in the ego and the ego will always fight to the death to be right.
We have a problem, people, because we have people of power in our government who are standing up for the legal right to discriminate against certain sectors. This country was founded by illegal immigrants (again, another topic for another day) who saw a vision of ALL persons dwelling free here. Any law that makes it okay to discriminate against and deny service for anyone based on how they look, how they worship, and how they have sex is NOT a law that upholds the belief that all humankind is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
You have a right to practice your religion in the way you see fit. You have the right to worship your god. You have the right to pray publicly. You have the right to attend your churches and synagogues and temples. You have the right to sleep with and marry whom you choose. None of this is my business.
I have the right to my beliefs. I have the right to worship in the way I see fit, and to whom I direct that worship. I have the right to meditate in public, pray in public, and dance to drums in public as a way of worship. I have the right to go to the mountains or to the sanctuary or to the labyrinth or to some remote building or to a tent to seek connection with my Creator. I have the right to sleep with and marry whom I choose. None of this is your business.
Until each person chooses to focus only on what they themselves are doing and stops paying more attention to everyone around them and how they are doing it “wrong” as a means of controlling the other person and forcing them to conform to the “right” way, this country is going to be in gridlock and no progress can be made. Progress is only made when each person is accountable for his or her self and is no longer attempting to control those who are “different.”