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The Religious Test for S. 1598 and H.R. 2802

There are many right-wing Christian thinkers in America who support the Republican congressional bills S. 1598 and H.R. 2802, which would allow a government worker to use the power of his or her office to withhold services and legal rights from people, so long as the government worker proclaims that s/he “believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.

This is a test for supporter of these bills.  The test has two questions.

Question 1: Would you support a bill that was otherwise identical but changed the italicized text to “believes or acts in accordance with any religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of two people of the same sex, and that sexual relations are properly reserved to those outside marriage?”        yes        no

Question 2: Would you support a bill that was otherwise identical but changed the italicized text to “believes or acts in accordance with any religious belief or moral conviction at all, including Buddhist beliefs, Unitarian beliefs, Islamic beliefs, Pastafarian beliefs, Humanist beliefs, and Church of Satan beliefs?”      yes       no

If you are a supporter of these bills and your answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then you are at least abiding by the principle in the U.S. Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section 1) of equal protection under law as applies to government workers in this bill.  Unfortunately, you would not be abiding by the equal protection clause of the Constitution as applies to the people subject to the whims of government workers — because those people would be subjected to tests of agreement with the religion of the particular government worker they came across.

  • Agree with the government worker’s religion?  Congratulations, you get your legal rights and your access to government services.
  • Disagree with the government worker’s religion?  You lose.  You don’t get rights, you don’t get government services.

This system rewards religious and moral majorities, punishes religious and moral minorities, and converts the government into an arena in which religions compete to stuff their adherents into government positions so they can impose their provincial religious laws upon various jurisdictions.  This corrupts governments, promotes the emergence of religious migration and balkanization, and is a prelude to religious war.

If you are a supporter of these bills and your answer to either of these questions is “no,” then you fail the equal protection test in all counts because you fail to support the rights of all government workers to discriminate as they choose on the basis of whatever religious or moral convictions they might possess.  As a consolation prize, you pass the theocratic bigot test, seeking to empower government workers to violate the law and discriminate against people under their control, but only when they agree with your particular religion.

Supermajorities of members of the Republican Party in the U.S. Congress have signed on in support of this bill that, through its exclusion of non-right-wing religious beliefs, takes the second path.  Unequal protection under law appears to be a plank in the platform of the Republican Party.

15 thoughts on “The Religious Test for S. 1598 and H.R. 2802”

  1. ella says:

    You are misrepresenting the text and intent of this legislation. For obvious reasons? You mention The Opponent/Satan, who is The Opponent of God. Really?

    1. Jim Cook says:

      No, I’m not, and you saying so doesn’t make it so. Intent is absolutely unobservable. What the bill does matters. This is what the bill explicitly says.

      Will you have the moral courage to answer the questions?

      Question 1: Would you support a bill that was otherwise identical but changed the italicized text to “believes or acts in accordance with any religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of two people of the same sex, and that sexual relations are properly reserved to those outside marriage?” _____yes ______no

      Question 2: Would you support a bill that was otherwise identical but changed the italicized text to “believes or acts in accordance with any religious belief or moral conviction at all, including Buddhist beliefs, Unitarian beliefs, Islamic beliefs, Pastafarian beliefs, Humanist beliefs, and Church of Satan beliefs?” ______yes ______no

      1. Dave says:

        What is curious about this is that your hypothetical questions presuppose a government that must examine the beliefs of a non-profit, religious or otherwise, and approve or disapprove of their mission in order to grant this or that. The bills address:

        a) the private sector
        b) tax issues, primarily non-profit status
        c) status of grants, contracts, etc.

        If you are against the bills in current form then you are insisting that everyone in the private sector accept your definition of marriage or forfeit grants, contracts, non-profit status and so on. One could argue that if the government were to withhold any of these because of a religious belief in (____________) that somehow that is not a violation of religious guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

        My answer to the questions you pose is yes, primarily because the government already recognizes the non-profit status of organizations that believe many of these things. If that status were threatened, then I wouldn’t stand in their way if they sought legal protection.

        1. Dave says:

          Oops. “One could argue” should have been “Could one argue” [?]

        2. Jim says:

          If you say YES, then you must be willing to accept the right of a county clerk to refuse to offer any county services to any person within a marriage who has sex while married, and that only people having sex out of wedlock can obtain county services. Further, you must accept that the county clerk refuses to allow any heterosexual marriages to occur in the county. Why, they’re just “exercising their religious freedom.” At least you have the consistency to be willing to see entire counties have all services cut off because some wacko religious nutjob decides one day that his personal deity hates straights and married people. I can’t see how that’s a good society, but at least you’re being consistent by taking that position.

          This law is NOT exclusively about private entities. It just isn’t. The bill includes government employment, government programs, and all points of interaction between the government and citizens. It is a sweeping, radical bill.

          1. Jim Cook says:

            It’s not just me saying that. Rick Santorum in the last presidential debate said “I believe we have to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, which provides that room for government officials and others who do not want to be complicit in what they believe is against their faith.” Government officials. Source: 9/16 debate transcript at http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2015/09/16/cnndebate-transcript-6pm/

          2. Jim Cook says:

            Bobby Jindal concurred with Rick Santorum after Santorum’s remarks, noting that the bill’s purpose was about protecting “elected officials” who want to ignore laws.

          3. Jim Cook says:

            And notably, Republican presidential candidates George Pataki and Lindsey Graham called out Jindal and Santorum on their nonsense.

            Pataki: “There’s a huge difference between an individual standing up and saying I am going to stand for my religious freedom and my religious rights. I applaud that. This is America. You should be able to engage in your religious belief in the way you see fit.
            But when you are an elected official and you take an oath of office to uphold the law, all the laws, you cannot pick and choose or you no longer have a society that depends on the rule of law.”

            Graham noted the 212-year old precedent from Marbury vs. Madison and said that government officials have to obey the law or face the consequences:

            “On the first day in law school we reviewed, it’s called “Marbury v. Madison.” The group in our constitutional democracy that interprets ‘The Constitution’ as to what it means is the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, they have ruled that same-sex marriage bans at the state level violate the Fourteenth Amendment to ‘The United States Constitution’ equal protection clause.
            I don’t agree with it, but that is the law of the land.”

          4. ella says:

            Jim, this law does not concern that case. This law concerns all religious institutions or not that have a moral code, and/or belief in the sanctity of a thousands of years old tradition of marriage. And all of the individuals who are associated with this moral and/or belief code who work and live in this country, whether at McDonald’s or in the National Capital, who have the right to continue living without the persecution of the Federal Government, as it concerns the taxation of them and/or the institutions to which they belong. It has nothing to do with whether or not two men or two women seek to engage in a marital relationship. It does not concern the activities of these people or the institutions, but the peace of mind that they will not be persecuted through the tax system.

          5. ella says:

            Give a link that provides those questions in relation to this issue. As at this point those are simply hypothetical and do not exist in the context of either House or Senate bill.

    2. Jim Cook says:

      There is a Church of Satan, and it is a religion with all the official rights of a Christian church. Would you deny that church its legal rights because you don’t like its content? Yes or no?

      1. ella says:

        Even if the Temple of Satan were considered a ‘church’, it is the antithesis of Christianity and all other religions that worship Elohim, or some say God, or some say Allah etc. It simply is the representation of opposition to that ‘other person’. What unreasonable person would possibly be stupid enough to support their declared sworn enemy? You have lost it. Literally and figuratively. By definition Satan means Opponent, that means in opposition to …. It is not a religion, The Opponent is just that. Be careful what you delve into. Seriously.

        1. Jim Cook says:

          You did not answer my question. It is a registered church. Would you deny that church its legal rights because you don’t like its content? Yes or no?

  2. frank says:

    …where are the black africans marvelous accomplishments . Still waiting for that answer…

  3. ella says:

    I have copied and read both of these pieces of new legislation, that have just been introduced and supported by members of the Senate and House. One was sent to the Ways and Means Committee (House) and one to the Judicial Committee (Senate). All either one, which are identical in intent, so is to guarantee that persons of a moral and/or religious faith that considers marriage to be between man and woman along with “conjugal bliss”, are to be free from persecution by the Federal Government through taxation. Taxation in the form of either losing tax exemption, being required to pay tax penalties, or increased taxes for their beliefs, even if they are government employees. And if anyone tries to do so, then the Federal Government grants it is liable to suit and will pay the defense. Roughly that is all their is to it. It should cause some churches and individuals relief from fear of that particular persecution.

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