Religious Freedom Flowchart

Let’s say you’re going about your day, wanting to do some religious activity. Then someone tells you not to do it, and you feel it may have something to do with your religion. Have no fear, the following flowchart is here to assist!

1. Does your intended action break a rule?
If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.
2. Is the rule governing your intended action a sound rule that applies to you and the circumstances?
If yes, go to 4. If no, go to 5.
3. You are being wrongly stopped. Is the person preventing you doing so due to your religion? If yes, go to 6. If no, go to 7.
4. The rule exists for good reason. You should heed the advice of the person warning you.
5. You want to break the rules, but the rules are bad. The rules need to be corrected, and then you can proceed with your activity.
6. You have religious freedom, and the legal rights, to proceed with your activity.
7. You have the legal rights to proceed with your activity.

Generally, if something is safe enough to be legalized for the religious of a particular religion, then it should be safe enough to be legalized for everybody. To do any less would be to discriminate against people of all other faiths. If “because my bible says so” is not an acceptable legal excuse to discriminate in a secular society, then “because your bible doesn’t say so” should not be an acceptable a legal excuse either.

To restrict an exemption to a particular faith would be foolhardy anyway, interpretations and denominations are numerous and the only usable measure of whether someone is religious is for them to self-identify. A world where people have to claim to be religious to access a drug or a hat-wearing ID photo is just plain silly.

If it is legal for a religious person to wear religious clothing in license photos as long as their features remain identifiable, then it should be legal for all to wear what they please in such photos as long as they remain identifiable.

USA Today reports that in 1990, the test for a law was “whether the law was religiously neutral and generally applicable”which seems pretty fair.

However, in 1993 Bill Clinton signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” requiring governments to show “compelling interest”” in prohibiting the religious from doing illegal things. This is ridiculous. The article from USA Today then brings up a specific case in 2006 where a particular religious sect was allowed to use an illegal hallucinogen.

Okay. Requiring the government to show compelling interest when establishing new laws that restrict people, in itself is not such a bad thing. But the question I have to ask is, why sign a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”? More specifically, why NOT a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act“?

Religion blinds people. We could have done so much more for our freedoms. We come so close to doing smart things, but we never quite get there for the dumbest reasons.

Allowing people to wear certain headgear in their license photos? Sure, why not? But no, we are puritanical cunts who want the idiots posing for their photo ID to look proper. It took the fear of offending terrorists, the ACLU representing a person who may or may not genuinely believe in a satirical religion, and the presumed threat of religious riots and cutting off trade with our Saudi oil masters for us to allow some “hat, scarf, or habit”, and even then the crux was only if you believed in MAGICAL BULLSHIT or PRETENTIOUS FUCKERY.

FUCK YOU. Discriminatory pieces of shit. You finally figured out certain garments can be safely allowed in a photo ID and the person would still be plenty identifiable, but somehow you couldn’t make the connection that hey, whether or not a person is identifiable in a ID photo while wearing an unobscuring garment has NOTHING to do with the the type of  garment or the beliefs in their brain. Is my vastly superior intellect going to somehow amplify the obscuring effect of a miniature hat and scramble the photons or melt the lens?

The big thing these days is Cannabis legalization. While it is being legalized in many states, in Indiana it took religious freedom arguments from the “Church of Cannabis” before it was legalized but for religious use only. What, is there some physical property of Cannabis that means it can only be safely handled by some fun-loving twats exploiting ridiculous interpretations of our constitution?

FUCK YOU. Either Cannabis is safe enough for the public, or it is a controlled substance requiring the appropriate safeguards (ie. expertise, not belief), or it is plain illegal. What kind of shit society we are, where “harmless” is simply not good enough an argument to legalize a substance, where “faith” and a 12 line made-up guideline trumps “Reason” as the ultimate justification, where if you want to consume a safe drug you have to announce your deeply held belief in a bullshit dogma created just so you could arbitrarily gain access to something that should otherwise be less restricted than alcohol.

We see our religious rights at risk, and we value our religious rights so we came up with pretty neat ideas, like “compelling interest” to protect it. We just couldn’t quite make the leap and protect the rest of our rights as well. (and to those who say “but compelling interest is already in our law-making process”, to which I respond: oh is it, then why the fuck would we need a compelling interest rule in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect religious freedoms? Isn’t that a bit redundant?)

I’ve said this, and I’ll say it again. The sole meaning of Religious Freedom is to protect you from persecution based on your religion. The only way to know your religion is based on your own proclamations. Religious Freedom prevents discrimination against religions – in this sense. It prevents a person who identifies as a Muslim to be imprisoned for identifying as Muslim. That is why it is part of the first amendment alongside free speech.

In a perfectly sane world, your right to religious activities such as ingesting hallucinogens or wearing dumb garments in legal ID photos would not be protected by religious freedom laws, but by government overreach laws that limits its interference in civil liberties solely to what is objectively necessary to restrict, in the first place.


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