Creep of the Week: So-Called Religious Freedom


By D'Anne Witkowski

Dear Religious Freedom: Fuck off.

Actually, that should say "so-called religious freedom" (or "so-called religious liberty") since I happen to like living in a country that allows its citizens to choose to worship whatever imaginary friend they want, or to choose not to have any imaginary friends at all. The problem, of course, is that in America "religious freedom" is code for Christian dominance. Under this guise we've seen policy enacted and court decisions handed down that make it easier to discriminate against gays and lesbians. But it doesn't stop there: women, Muslims, even the poor are fair game.

When conservatives cry that there's a war on religious liberty in this country, they're only partially right. There is a war, to be sure, but the attacks are coming from the religious side, not against it. You have to be willfully ignorant to believe that Christians have it rough in America.

Unfortunately, many Christian conservatives can't tell the difference between not having any power and not having all the power.

Gays and lesbians, of course, present a real problem for people who want the right to discriminate and who feel that such a right is granted by God. For so long it was totally cool to just tell a homo, "You make Jesus puke" and then refuse to, say, give them a job or rent them an apartment or make them a wedding cake. But that's getting harder to do legally. And so these folks are losing their shit.

This is on shining display in Kansas where legislators are scrambling to build a wall of "religious freedom" around the kingdom of Jesusland. Seeing that courts across the country are ruling in favor of marriage equality, these lawmakers want to protect themselves from the inevitable law allowing same-sex couples in Kansas to say, "I do." And, no doubt, opening the door for absolutely fabulous Wizard of Oz-themed wedding receptions.

Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, told the Associated Press that "the writing is pretty much on the wall" when it comes to the inevitability of marriage equality. And that makes him ascared.

"We think the need for the Legislature to protect people's religious freedom is more urgent than ever," he said.

Interestingly, Kansas, which has had an anti-gay marriage ban since 2005, has a Republican-dominated legislature, and they still weren't able to push a so-called religious freedom bill through this year that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to icky gay people. Because Jesus. You may recall that a similar bill was deemed too extreme for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer earlier this year.

But have no fear. Brave Kansas legislators plan to bring the bill back up again because conservative Christians (and, let's be clear, that's really the only religion that counts to these folks) can have legal protection from the big bad gays once gays actually get legal protections of their own.

Kansas probably won't be the last state to try to stonewall LGBT equality. And who knows? When the "turn the gays away" bill comes up again maybe it will actually pass this time. Or maybe it won't. But one thing is for sure: desperate times call for desperate measures. And these are desperate times for bigots who want to cloak themselves in religion in order to discriminate against LGBT people.


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