People have opinions. I get that. I have them too, that’s why I blog.
People don’t always agree. I get that too.
People have differing views and ideologies. It’s diversity, I get that. I value that.
Some people feel their opinions, views, and ideologies transcend blatant, empirical, and plainly obvious fact. I don’t get that.
Furthermore, some people use their beliefs as justification for violence, prejudice, and a host of other socially degenerative actions. I can’t stand that.
I originally started this post a little over a week ago as a rant based on one of the many pieces of ultra-conservative nonsense I, out of what can only be described as political masochism, subject myself to researching (e.g. The Manhattan Declaration).
I’m revisiting this post, however, because I’ve once again practiced the art of self-induced exasperation I’ve mastered so well. Here’s the lowdown this time:
A conservative legal group out of Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center (the self-described “Sword and Shield for people of faith), is challenging the recently signed federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
In a nutshell the act, signed into law last October, extends hate crime protection to LGBT individuals. The act simply makes it illegal to attack an LGBT person because of their ‘actual or perceived’ gender/sexual identity/orientation. The same laws apply for members of other minority groups; the concept is nothing new.
The case brought up by the folks at Thomas More call it an effort to ‘eradicate religious beliefs.’
– Pause –
Let’s get one thing straight (no pun intended) right off the bat. I’m not writing about this to go into my thoughts on the prejudicial beliefs of the Evangelical Right – that’s a different discussion.
The point I’m trying to make here isn’t about their specific religious beliefs, but on their blatant and ridiculous ignorance of fact.
– Resume –
The act in no way eradicates, challenges, or even comes close to touching religious freedom. Unless of course you’re still reading from Leviticus, as this law does a pretty good job at prohibiting the stoning of men who lie with men.
And that’s all it prohibits: violence toward LGBT people (read: humans, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and for the biblically-oriented: Image Bearers).
Nothing in the act prohibits the exercise of free speech or religion. Its authors even had enough foresight to go several steps further to ensure (apparently to no avail) that such a misunderstanding would not take place:
(3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.
(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.
The only reason these people could possibly still have a reason for being against this act, as one blogger put it, “is that these four Christians wish to plan for, conspire to commit, or commit an act of violence.”
Conclusion: Either the plaintiffs with Thomas More are in fact hardcore Leviticus devotees, or they managed to get (one can only assume they do in fact possess) law degrees without a working knowledge of the English language. Thankfully for either scenario, the American government is working to eradicate both unjust violence and illiteracy.