‘Sincere Religious Beliefs’ And Lynching

Perhaps I’m just allowing my foul mood over the current state of America’s federal government color my reaction to everything, but I am over demands that laws of general application make exceptions for people acting on the basis of “sincere religious belief.”

If I have a “sincere belief” that my God wants me to offer up my newborn as a sacrifice, should I be exempt from punishment? What if I have a “sincere belief” that paying taxes enables governments’ evil behaviors–can I simply refuse to do so?

If–as I assume–the answer to these and similar questions is:  “hell, no,” why are Americans so solicitous of the “sincere beliefs” of fundamentalists?

The U.S. Senate just unanimously passed a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime—but now the religious right is trying to exclude victims who are targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In remarks that are making national headlines, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group that purports to speak for Christians, says the inclusion of LGBT people is a “camel [getting] in the nose of the tent.”

His argument is absurd, but it could make a difference: Liberty Counsel has helped pioneer bigoted “religious freedom” arguments by representing clients like Kim Davis. Its opposition could be influential among congressional Republicans.

The quoted description is taken from a mainstream Christian religious site, Faithful America, which describes itself as an online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice by (among other things) challenging the “hijacking” of Christianity by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda.

It has been gratifying to see religious voices raised in opposition to the theocratic right, a development that has been gaining ground over the past several years; it would be considerably more gratifying if the courts stopped coddling people who demand that their beliefs be given priority over the rights of citizens whose beliefs differ. Why in the world should the fringe theology of Hobby Lobby’s owners entitle them to refuse coverage of birth control for employees whose beliefs differ?

The courts wouldn’t allow Hobby Lobby or other corporate owners of entirely secular businesses to hire and fire employees based upon their willingness to accept the owners’ religions–why are they so solicitous of the “offense” posed by inclusive health coverage?

It’s likely that even most Republicans in Congress will find Liberty Counsel’s objection to inclusive language in the anti-lynching bill sufficiently outrageous to ignore it, but we make a mistake if we think the Council represents just a few nutcases on the right. Theological justifications for bigotry are more widespread than reasonable people want to believe, and most of these bigots are entirely “sincere.”

If I “sincerely” believe that the God I worship wants “your kind” wiped off the face of the earth, and I act upon that belief, my “sincerity” wouldn’t–and shouldn’t– protect me from the legal consequences of that action.

Fundamentalists to the contrary, religious liberty is not the liberty to impose their version of Christianity on everyone else, or to insist that the law bend to their “sincerity.”


  1. “camel [getting] in the nose of the tent.”
    That is so poorly worded I could barely read the rest of the post.

    Did I miss a chapter, or is it not the “sincerely held” blah blah of extremist Muslims that these same folks use to scare their ilk to keep them in line and to “keep those dollars a’comin’”?

  2. What I don’t get is why the Russians are using Trump and the Republicans for their dirty work when we have all these homegrown 502 (3) (c)s like Liberty Counsel scattered across the country wrecking havoc on American principles and values? Just go to Wikipedia and read what this bunch has been up to.

  3. “Sincere Religious Beliefs’ And Lynching”

    Each denomination of every religion believes it is the one and only true form of their religion and all others are bogus…or infidels. The current government is no exception with their evangelical rule without law; Rev. Pence and soon to be AG William Barr will begin the lynching of America in the true sense of the term.

    Per my Webster’s New College Dictionary: “lynch, to execute without due process of law, esp. to hang, as by a mob”. The current Trump party is a mob and is in effect lynching (executing or killing off) our Rule of Law and bypassing the Constitution without due process. Pence began by passing his personal religion based laws in the state of Indiana and the current body of SCOTUS will uphold him at the federal level when he begins putting his bills before Congress. Democrats are the majority in the House but Trump and McConnell still rule; the lies continue to be accepted as facts and the Senate is the ruling arm of the Legislature.

    “Fundamentalists to the contrary, religious liberty is not the liberty to impose their version of Christianity on everyone else, or to insist that the law bend to their “sincerity.”

    Sheila’s statement above is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” but is meaningless and useless under Trump and McConnell with Pence on the sidelines waiting his turn in the Oval Office.

    Does Trump really want to stand before the full Congress, the country and the world and try to report a positive version of the current State Of The Union? Should a religious miracle occur and Trump and Pence would disappear from their lofty positions; Nancy Pelosi would be next in line for the presidency. Right now that sounds like an excellent idea; a miracle I can hope for. Can we “take a knee” on that!

  4. Con men and women generally are hypocrites – it goes with the territory.

    They want the Republicans to use their power to grant them exemptions and special privileges which is no different than the other 100,000 lobbyists in D.C.

    This is why our government is no longer a democratic or a representative republic. If the Adelson’s want special treatment for Jews, they stroke a check and voila.

    I guess you could say, which would bring tears to the eyes of Charles and David Koch, that our government is just another free market. My question is, “Why do we bother voting?”

    Our vote bestows power onto a winning candidate which can then be sold off (prostituted) for monies used to maintain that power.

    It’s not about doing a good job governing for the people. It’s about personal enrichment. It’s about walking the fine line between selling off your power and not stepping on the toes of voters. This requires using excessive amounts of propaganda which our Hollywood media is more than happy to supply as long as the politicians don’t restrict campaign spending.

    Without campaign spending, the newspaper industry would die off once and for all. Without ads from Big Insurance and Big Pharma, the newspaper industry would vanish. #Poof

    And so, the status quo remains. It’s a giant con job and the voters are the marks. The old democrats must be replaced for throwing workers under the bus.

    Neoliberalism corporatized all branches of our government. Instead of holding the private sector accountable, our government is neutered and/or works to enrich the private sector with taxpayer monies. It’s an upward redistribution of wealth.

    We will experience the negative consequences of Neoliberalism for decades. The first order is removing the Kakistocracy in D.C. which won’t be easy but it has already begun.

    The grande ole party is gone forever and has been replaced with the ever-shrinking minorities of white christians. The democratic party must also be replaced because a party owned by Wall Street cannot serve Main Street. Again, what happened to the checks and balances?

    The sooner we replace the existing hegemony the better off Americans will be.

  5. I sincerely believe that the God I worship wants those of us who are sane to lock all of the evangelical extremists into a prison with no windows and no form of communication with the world outside. They can live and rule among themselves and can only force their beliefs on each other. I truly wonder how long it would be before they started killing each other.

  6. It may be true that the rank and file following their leaders are indeed sincere in their beliefs, but I very much doubt that the leaders espousing preferential treatment for themselves are, as well. If it walks like a con and talks like a con, it must be a con.

  7. “Nut jobs with Holy books – will it never end?
    Probably not”

    The thing is, who sets the standards for “nut jobs”? Religion, no matter the sect or denomination, is predicated on………beliefs with NO facts or evidence to support them. None. Some of our founders like Franklin and Paine knew this even back then. As Thomas Paine suggested, churches are there for the strict purpose of controlling minds and making money. As we know, when peoples’ pocket books are threatened, they get very resistant.

    I apologize to all true believers who are good and decent people who actually walk the walk of their dogma that supports the benefits for all mankind. BUT, few churches can just walk that walk and still stay solvent. Why, because they are also caught in the nutcracker of tribalism, cultural and personal bigotry and bias.

    To include religion in the conversation and actualities of governing nations, is to invite MORE conflict, LESS substantive action and MORE bigotry. Anytime some politician starts in about God and such, I grab my wallet.

    Oh, and there are “only” about 40,000 lobbyists in Washington, not 100,000. And I get accused of hyperbole….

  8. “The courts wouldn’t allow Hobby Lobby or other corporate owners of entirely secular businesses to hire and fire employees based upon their willingness to accept the owners’ religions…” DON”T BET ON IT!

    Hobby Lobby and Mardel (affiliated book stores) include mission statements on their corporate websites outlining a dedication to Christian principles.

    Hobby Lobby says it aims to honor the Lord by following biblical principles; establish a work environment that builds character, strengthens individuals and nurtures families and provides a return on its owner’s investment so he can share the Lord’s blessings with its 13,000 employees. Mardel was established “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ,” quoting St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

    No Hobby Lobby or Mardel store is open on Sunday “in order to allow our employees and customers more time for worship and family.” Employees open the stores every day standing in a circle and saying a prayer together.

    Source: Seattle Times and a family member who works there.

    Take religion out of Trump supporters and it would be like a rapidly deflating balloon!

  9. I have a sincerely held religious belief that my tax dollars should not go to fund private religious schools that teach beliefs that are different from mine, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

  10. As a UU Christian I am absolutely certain that none of the world’s faith traditions have a monopoly on the truth, and that for me, includes us UU’s. I am a lesbian woman, an RN and a licensed mental health counselor and have been helping people regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identification, or whatever for 45 years. Clara Barton is just one of my sheroes. She nursed both union and confederate soldiers. In following her example, I have helped homophobic patients.

    Some people use religion to justify female castration and child brides. Some people use religion to justify their suicide bombings. And some use it to justify hate crimes and oppression. But not all do.

    I don’t think the distance is very far between making racist comments and slavery, denying people in the LBGTQ community the right to marry and killing us, denying women control over our own bodies , supporting unequal pay and allowing men to batter us. No the distance is not very far, my friends, since all oppression begins with our perceptions of and statements about those different from ourselves.

    But as Martin Luther King asserted only love overcomes hatred. I still believe that. And I pray for those who oppress and persecute me because that’s what Jesus asked us to do in the Sermon on the Mount. ( Mind you that love for one’s enemy is not sugary sweet. It often requires prophetic confrontation.)

    Jesus is quoted as saying that there will always be people who are poor. And, what I know, is that there will always be people who are bigoted and people who use religion to justify hateful, violent behavior. All of us need laws to protect us from the fearful, ignorant people who demonstrate bigotry.

    I suppose the courts will have to decide where to draw the line between freedom of religion and bigotry. I can only hope (despite this administration’s appointment of conservative judges) that over time the moral arc of the universe will move forward again for people of color, our LGBTQ community, women, and immigrants.

    And in the meantime, I will have to go on trying to love(though I don’t like them) my neighbors who embrace bigotry.

  11. Liberty and freedom … for all? Or do some assume the boundaries are ordained to the chosen few? Walls …. if only all were made of steel reinforced concrete so that we could see them all more clearly and then we could choose which ones to enter or simply avoid. But I would not feel secure or free living in a nation behind a Wall meant for everyone. Then there is no longer Liberty and freedom … we become a nation divided and imprisoned by irrational fear led by corrupted dictators with no respect for common law.

  12. We hear and read about how Sincere Religious Beliefs should be allowed an exception. How do you test for Sincere Religious Beliefs?? Should we administer a standardized test, multiple choice, true or false questions, fill in the blanks, a composition?? We could set up a task force to determine which religion or sect is the “True Path” to where ever. When you look at this way, you realize how ridiculous Sincere Religious Beliefs really are.

    Our foreign policy has for decades looked the other way as our Middle East “Allies” have imposed the most draconian laws against any religious freedom (or human rights for that matter). Apostasy is punishable by death.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked President Donald Trump to postpone his State of the Union address to the nation — set for Jan. 29 — until the government reopens.

    Pelosi says the partial shutdown is raising concerns about security preparations for the speech. The California Democrat notes that the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security have been without funding for almost four weeks.

    If President Agent Orange insists on giving a State of the Union Address, I would hope the Capitol building is ringed by protestors. I would also like to see the Democrats “take a knee” and not show up. I am sure if the Democrats were a no show, the Reactionary Right Wing press would savage them about a lack of respect for the Office of President. However, President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence have through their constant lies and willful collective punishment of Federal Employees have already degraded the Office of the Presidency.

    I read somewhere that Federal Employees even though they are not being paid are required to work. How can this be happening in “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”???

  13. I’m starting to think that the diplomat George Kennon was right when he said that he felt America would someday have to partition itself into different entities much like the former Yugoslavia.

    How about The American South, The American Mid-Pacific, and The American Mid-Atlantic. It probably will be called THE GREATEST MIGRATION.

  14. I just read an statement – “The single greatest tool of oppression, is Ignorance.” We have in the USA not only ignorance but, willful ignorance.

    The bible thumper’s display a willful ignorance to science when it interferes with their beliefs in young earth. The bible thumper’s must believe in most fantastic super natural happenings to overcome science.

  15. “We hear and read about how Sincere Religious Beliefs should be allowed an exception. How do you test for Sincere Religious Beliefs??”

    Monotonous; this same comment and questions fits under the argument about passing a Hate Crime bill. A point which could also be made about the founding father’s meaning of the 2nd Amendment; corporations are not people and one person buying a military level weapon is not a militia. All three come under the heading of a conundrum. Or as the King of Siam loved to say, “Is a puzzlement!”

  16. There have always been right wing extremists who, lacking all evidence, believed their thoughts were superior to anyone else’s. But they’ve traditionally been marginalized close to the point of irrelevance until a powerful party came along to preen and prance and pucker when they discovered that irrational people vote as a bloc. Mitch McConnell bears the responsibility for these monsters gaining power. He is more dangerous than the slobbering madman he coddles because he is not clueless. He knows, for example, that he is helping Trump sell America out to the Russians but doesn’t care. He has no more religious beliefs and no more principles and no more love of country than the traitor with whom he collaborates. Yet he is a dictator when it comes to giving permission to the senate to do or not do what he decides is good or bad for his party. He may not kill us individually, but if allowed to remain untouchable, he will certainly degrade or destroy democracy. If that were his long-range plan, he couldn’t be executing any better.

    The morally bankrupt will cling to their vacuousness and bigotry. It’s leaders like McConnell who empower them and who are the truly dangerous that must be dealt with – quickly.

  17. Terry,

    “Mitch McConnell bears the responsibility for these monsters gaining power.”

    Have you ever been to a MONSTER MOVIE, where there was an attempt to stop the monster with the law, words, vote, or blog? You always have to physically stand-up against any monster. You don’t speak truth to a monster unless he is EFFECTIVELY TIED-UP.

  18. ML,

    You pretty much nailed it today about Bible thumping and the facts. The 17th century Bishop Ussher of Ireland was responsible for the “young Earth” idea. He got out his abacus and tried to figure out all the begots and time frames of events mentioned. Thing is, there aren’t any real numbers in the Bible past the 6 days of creation thingy.

    So, naturally, in order to secure the ignorance of their followers, backward-thinking churches latched onto this wildly unprovable thesis in order to debunk scientists, science and all free-thinking. My comments above apply mostly to that lot of institutionalized ignorance organizations. Even Galileo was under house arrest by the church by having the audacity to point out that the Earth actually revolved around the sun. Exploding Biblical myths is still a dangerous business, especially in the moronic corners of our beloved country. These churches are compelled to scare, frighten, lie and deceive in order to keep their house of cards from collapsing and putting all those preachers out of work.

  19. While I believe that the smartest thing that I ever did was to be born when and where I was I can’t think of a time during those 76 years when things were perfect here. There has always been trouble and turmoil and it just moves around to various places and peoples and life is mostly a Whack a Mole game of tamping down the latest outbreak and waiting for the next one.

    These times are no different but now the game has changed primarily in the number of moles facing us and needing whacking. Perhaps the fact that there are now nearly 3 times the people in the world compared to when I was born explains that.

    There’s no question that we can make the world complex. Can we make it more complex than we can survive? Perhaps we can. That’s going to be ugly.

    So our challange is going to be can we get smarter quickly enough? Our pervasive entertainment media offers that possibility but the sponsors who pay for it seem to prefer us addicted to The Batchelor and Dancing with the Stars and the Apprentice.

    Is it possible that they want us stupid?

  20. All of us who are sane need to take this stand: I will not respect or give any special status to any religion or religious status, be it trusting in Jesus, Jehovah, or Mohammed, or believing the world is controlled by a giant polar bear named BoBo who lives on Europa. It’s all delusional fantasy, and we as citizens of the U.S.A. have every right to treat it as such.

  21. John Neal, above, states “Hobby Lobby says it aims to honor the Lord by following biblical principles.” How convenient that Hobby Lobby’s biblical principles are malleable when it comes to buying looted antiquities. When it comes to punishing and subjugating women for having lady parts, however, their “principles” are set in stone.

  22. like i say, to everyone,if you dony like paying taxes,or your religious liberty is at stake, theres plenty of third world nations, where you can shit in a bucket,and walk a dirt path to however you want to make a living.. lets adopt a plan to send them there.

  23. My sincere religious beliefs ( a religion no one but me knows about) says I do not have to share Earth with right wing phony kristians. So I ask, why are they still here?

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