Sunday, June 29, 2008

Religious Liberty, Homogenization and Civil Rights

The American Conservative has a short blurb in its recent edition lamenting California’s judicially imposed recognition of homo marriage. They are concerned about the thorny legal issues that await religious entities who do not recognize gay unions.

The tension between freedom and coercion, however, is a necessity in any regime that empowers the state to punish purveyors of “discrimination.” What we have effectively is a clash of visions and a struggle to define civil rights. Sometimes a civil right is a freedom right or the right of a person to act free from coercion. Such an understanding demands restraint and forbearance on behalf of the state.

Other times and in other contexts civil rights become benefit rights, whereby a person is “entitled” to something from others, who have a corresponding obligation to put their hands up and allow their wallet to be taken. The alleged right of the elderly to tax receipts taken from the mouths of children would be one example.

Civil rights may also be clothed as nondiscrimination rights, whereby others are bound to disregard various characteristics of individuals when they are pursuing employment, housing, education, and public accommodation. For example, an employer or restaurant owner may not discriminate against an applicant or customer on the grounds of race or gender.

Advocates of “civil rights” in the second and third senses actually reduce “civil rights” in the first sense. So for instance an individual’s right to dispose of his private property as he wishes (a freedom right, properly understood) is contravened by the nondiscrimination rights of others. Advocates of nondiscrimination rights and policies therefore empower the state as an agent to level any and all institutions who “discriminate” or want to maintain their own freedom of action or character. Civil rights crusaders, despite their lionization in the press and culture at large, are not interested one wit in individual liberty but wield a doctrinaire egalitarianism designed to create homogenization.

As it pertains to the question of homosexuality, we see that cherished rights to religious liberty likewise are kicked aside and torn asunder by rampaging gangs of bureaucratic thugs. The editors of TAC cite the example of Catholic Charities in Massachusetts. Rather than complying with state law requiring mandating that gays be allowed to adopt children, Catholic Charities simply got out of the adoption business. A Methodist camp in New Jersey lost tax exempt status by refusing to allow its facilities in a lesbian “commitment ceremony.” Meanwhile, the “New Mexico Human Rights Commission” fined a photographer who refused to take snapshots for a lesbian couple on religious grounds.

In short, in the name of tolerance and pluralism Christians are to be deprived their right to shun moral perversion. In so doing it is the pink lobby and its willing accomplices in the organs of cultural power that are legislating their morality in the names of the false gods of pluralism, equality, and tolerance.


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