Thursday, September 3, 2015

Religious belief and conscience, when used to deprive others, is cultural not sacred.

Conscience is a flawed ground for depriving others.
Religious belief is cultural where it becomes used for superiority, control: the false sacred. 
Conscience gives no carte blanche.

With news of a Kentucky county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses to same gender couples despite law requiring such, and on grounds of her own sincerely held religious belief, the issue becomes how to discern a false sacred and therefore a cultural ground from -- what -- verifiable deity position and naming of enforcers so this clerk is a chosen one to enforce what? Based on what?  Where is the boundary between sacred and culture in religious belief and practice, given wide variations in interpreting same texts so as to benefit one group or another.

Role of rationalism.  Can it be avoided by belief in a plural society. If sacred is merely a matter of belief, how to prioritize competing sacreds with equal fervor in a multi-ethnic society.  Turn to rational bases for the law or rule in issue, may be best alternative to competing claimed and unbending sacreds.

Background, and some clerks electing to withhold state activities from some citizens on one' own religious moral grounds.  Some say, in denying others rights of access that the denier has access to, such as the state of marriage, or abortion, roughly this:
  • "I can deny others these rights that I can enjoy because t is my sincerely held religious belief that a) my religion is right and supreme;  b) my Deity has chosen me and my group to act, as though we were the Deity and to oppose other views and interpretations; and accordingly,  c) I and we may impose our own view of the Deity's rules on others in our own timing and manner and according to our ongoing interpretations, regardless of State or Federal Law. And by the way, we do benefit because we get a status and benefits and rights of choice that others cannot."

 A. Principles evolving:

1.  No sincerely held religious belief shall suffice to deny to another a right that the denier already enjoys, or has access to and elects not to choose.

2.  A sincerely held religious belief, however, may and in many cases already does, undergird seeking rational balancing of interests: in time, place and manner restrictions on that right; but shall not unduly hinder others' rights of enjoyment or access.

3.  Denial of one's own rights to others is thinly veiled cultural and religious supremacism, a drive for automatic status based on attribute, not ideas or contributions on the merits.

4.  A cultural stake in preserving supremacism, or where the denial of rights has that effect, demonstrates that the issue is not religious but a matter of culture. 

B.  Specific resources: 

1.  Sincerely held religious belief, as any other opinion, is easily manipulated as a matter of mere persuasion technique, not necessarily related to merit.  See

2.  Sincerely held religious belief offers no stake in the outcome.  It is only another sincerely held religious belief that leads the believer to think he is chosen by the deity above all others and others' interpretations to speak for the deity.

3.  Sincerely held religious belief, in denying rights to others where the denier has access, is dimly disguised supremacism.  If others had the same favored position, perhaps the denier would find the competition on the merits places him less than first.

4.  Sincerely held religious belief does not justify turning others into vehicles for the status, property (including heirs) and control agendas of others. See  Marge Piercy poem Right to Life and its argument about whose life counts and when on a reasonable in utero spectrum. See Roe v. Wade.

5.  Moral decision-making and role of the genders: See
 Eve's omitted job description

6.  Is marriage cultural or theological? With no marriage in Eden or recorded thereafter, until Jerome mistranslated "woman" as "wife", marriage appears to be cultural: See

* Henri Matisse, The Music, 1910, at The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.  My photo.