Sunday, April 15, 2012

A "Religious Freedom Amendment"? Are You Effing Kidding me?

The Fundie Xtian busybodies, it seems, never give it a rest. It's bad enough they're concocting yet another "Personhood Amendment" to put on the ballot this November, which would make it a felony to harm a fertilized egg (zygote) and possibly allow a pregant woman to be prosecuted for manslaughter if she's careless and miscarries.

Now these miscreants, fueled by Colorado Springs biggest pests - Focus on the Family - want to put a "Religious Freedom amendment" on the ballot too. Why? The fact is it is totally redundant!

For the past 136 years, the Colorado state constitution has provided us with Article II, Section 4 which states:

"The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever hereafter be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his opinions concerning religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or affirmations, excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the good order, peace or safety of the state. No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination against his consent. Nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship."

That sounds pretty good and fair to me, as it even allows those of us who are diehard atheists to refuse to be driven into religious rituals or hogwash. And while we can't dispense with oaths or affirmations, we can elect to choose versions (say if sworn in to give testimony) that aren't god-based or biblically - based.

But it seems the above isn't enough for the Focus morons. Their text, for their proposed amendment, reads as follows (from the petitions they're circulating):

1) Government may not burden a person's or religious organization's freedom of religion.

2) A person or religious organization's right to act or refusal to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling interest in infringing upon the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.

3) A burden includes indirect burdens such a withholding of one or more benefits, assessing one or more penalties, exclusion from one or more government programs, and/or exclusion from one or more government facilities."

What is immediately evident, is a thinly-disguised attempt to relieve a certain segment of the religious from Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, namely the part that permits artificial contraception to be made available to women of child-bearing age. So, in other words, all the references in this amendment to "burden" refer to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its provision for artificial contraception to be paid for by any public actors - including religious institutions. (Of which Focus is one)

In the case of (3) the Focus bunch also wants the amendment to protect it from having its tax protected status revoked in the case of any non-compliance. Well, they actually ought to have had that status revoked long ago, for political meddling. (They have always distributed political voting cards at election time, in defiance of proscriptions not to do so).

Apart from that, there are broader implications. For example, if members of the Santeria religion live behind me and are commanded to slay chickens the week before and after each full Moon, and leave the blood drippings on assorted neighbors' doorsteps - then no one can stop them! Even imposing a zoning ordinance would be interpreted as a "burden" inflicted on the poor little Santerian.

Similarly, if a family of Christian Scientists suddenly comes down with Bird flu and refuses to take any meds for it, then we'd have no comeback. They'd regard any imposition of meds or treatments as interference and subjecting them to a "burden".

Do we really need this farce of an amendment? Not at all. Which is one reason it'll go down in flames come November just like the recycled Personhood bunkum.

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