In the modern day civil rights movement, where does religion fall into place?
Abortion. LGBTQ+ rights. What do these two things have in common? They are two of the most pressing issues in American society and also intersect directly with freedom of religion. Whether it’s a Christian who doesn’t want their tax dollars to fund abortions or a Muslim bakery who don’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, someone’s rights are bound to be treaded on. So how do we address this issue?
I wish it were as simple as putting a few sentences together in a couple of paragraphs and outlining a simple solution but it isn’t. At the end of the day someone is going to be put in a situation where they feel excluded or discriminated against. The key is to figure out a solution where both parties are put under the least unnecessary burdens possible and are still able to practice their religion, sexuality, etc. freely.
Let’s start with the example of a Muslim or Christian bakery denying service to a gay couple: we should allow businesses to deny service based on sexual orientation. Why? In America we’re lucky enough to live in a capitalist society — our choices are seemingly limitless when it comes to products and services. To put it shortly: a business denying service to an individual does not put a major burden on that individual as there’s plenty of other businesses to choose from, while the business owner has no choice and is forced into a moral dilemma.
So what you’re saying is let’s legalize discrimination and let it thrive? Not at all. In today’s progressive society, bakeries that discriminate will be quickly chastised on social media through bad reviews and boycotts. Bakeries and other businesses will be forced to serve to everyone not by law, but on their need to run a successful business.
Now lets touch on an even hotter subject: abortion. Many people have a moral objection to abortion whether it be for personal or religious reasons. Many people also understandably feel it’s immoral not to allow women to have abortions. Luckily for us, the U.S. government has already put in place a reasonable solution: The Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment restricts federal funding from going towards abortions except to save the life of the woman or in cases of rape or incest.
To far right and religious readers you may disagree with the Hyde amendment as it still allows abortions even though they’re under strict circumstances. There’s a simple response to your disagreement. It’s found in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Denying a woman of the termination of a forced pregnancy directly violates her unalienable rights no matter how you look at it. Similarly, a far-left activist may say the denial of any pregnancy termination is a violation of her unalienable rights. While to a degree this is true, we have to remember how the pregnancy was conceived — with the woman using her right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Forcing others to pay for an abortion that violates their religious beliefs is immoral, especially when the pregnancy was completely voluntary, even if unintended.
With the modern civil rights age comes many conflicts between freedom of religion and others. Some of these problems are already solved, some are solving themselves and others solutions are still being searched for. Nonetheless, we need to make sure that everyone’s rights are protected to our fullest ability.