Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Monday, June 04, 2018

“To describe a man’s faith as ‘one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use,’ ” [Kennedy] wrote, “is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere.”

So, okay Justice Kennedy, I suppose I can see a sense in which religious beliefs shouldn't be subjected to criticism from the government, although I'll bet you a nickle that you and I can both come up with examples where we'd agree that free exercise should be limited. Actually, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission came up with a couple that work for me: "Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust....". Don't like those? As I recall the use of certain Schedule I drugs for religious purposes is a problem for some Supreme Court Justices, and if I walked into a religious not-for-profit shouting "Death to the infidels," I don't think my assertion of free exercise would get me very far.

Religion perpetuates ignorance and hatred and has done so throughout history, but hey, as long as folks keep it inside and away from me I'll defend their right to believe pretty much anything anyone wants. But please let's not kid ourselves over what religions are really about: they are self-perpetuating belief systems that are actually proud of the fact that they are utterly unsupported by any evidence, intended to assert social control. The front page of yesterday's Buffalo News had a story in which the Bishop of Buffalo asserts that the diocese isn't hiding any evidence of clerical sexual abuse. Now really, who would believe such a thing, given the evidence, if the person saying it wasn't a bishop? In fact, the history of lies about this issue ought to demolish any credibility the speaker has, and when you add to that the fact that the man's entire career has been spent promoting outright fiction as divine truth is really just the cherry on the top. So why do we believe that the sort of discrimination justified in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is permissible? The Bible is full of examples of persons claiming exemptions from this or that on the grounds of their piety-- and if I recall correctly things usually go badly for those guys. Religion is no excuse for behavior which would otherwise be unacceptable.

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