Friday, February 15, 2013

Discriminating against Christians

From TPM, here's an Illinois Republican arguing that allowing gay marriage discriminates against people who want to discriminate against them.

Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter's Facebook page:
To redefine marriage is discriminatory towards those who hold the sincerely held religious belief that it is a sacred institution between a man & a woman.

I'm reminded of L. Sprague de Camp's 1939 story, Lest Darkness Fall. It's a classic alternate history science fiction tale of a man who suddenly finds himself transported to 6th Century Rome, a man who single-handedly tries to prevent the coming Dark Ages.

How is this pertinent? Several times in the book, local Christians complain that they're being discriminated against because they're not allowed to persecute other Christian sects. It's just not fair!

I remember thinking that was funny, and clever, but I never realized I'd be hearing the same thing in the 21st Century - especially not from an elected political leader in America! (Of course, at my most pessimistic, I never imagined today's Republican Party.)

But I must admit that McCarter has a point. When we eliminated slavery, we discriminated against people who had the sincerely held religious belief that owning people was part of God's plan. Make no mistake, those people knew their Bible, and it was abundantly clear that God approved of slavery.

When we let women vote, we discriminated against people who had the sincerely held religious belief that women should remain subservient to men. Again, they pointed to the Bible to oppose women's suffrage. Doesn't letting women vote discriminate against them?

(Here's Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1897: "In the early days of woman-suffrage agitation, I saw that the greatest obstacle we had to overcome was the bible. It was hurled at us on every side.")

When we legalized interracial marriage, we discriminated against people who had the sincerely held religious belief that the races should not mix. Heck, polls show that a large proportion of Southern Republicans still think that interracial marriage should be illegal. (They don't just say they wouldn't marry someone of another race, or even that it's wrong, but that it should be illegal.)

And you can bet that those people point to their sincerely held religious beliefs, too. After all, the South is very definitely part of the Bible Belt in America. So aren't we discriminating against them when we don't allow them to discriminate against other people?

You know, we could use this argument for pretty much... anything, couldn't we? You can't let other people have civil rights, because doing so will discriminate against the bigots who want to keep persecuting those people. And yes, it's invariably because of "sincerely held religious beliefs."

I laughed at this in Lest Darkness Fall, but I thought it was just fiction. How little I knew, huh? Today's Republican Party really is stranger than fiction.

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