Friday, February 17, 2012


Oh, the fun that comes out of Washington. Now we have one side wanting to make contraception use a statutory right, and the other side screaming that to do so will infringe on their First Amendment religious liberties. It was that claim, "Religious Liberties," that made me sit up and take notice.

Without going into the entire dust up (if you need more information use the damn internet for something other than tweeting) I keep wondering what would happen if the offended religion were one other than Catholic Christianity. You know, like Islam. Would the defenders of faith based scofflawism be just as outraged if the law in question was similar to the French law against wearing a Burka in public? Or what if the defendant in a murder case case claimed that "honor killings" are part of their religious beliefs? Would that be okay? Or even, as I heard from one talking head, that Quakers could object to their taxes being used to fight wars. How far do we what to push this?

As will be no surprise to anyone who has read this blog, I come down on the side of the common good of society being more important than the particular beliefs of any particular religion. That may seem extreme or even anti-religious, but when one considers that their are over 250 different Christian sects in the U.S.A., not to mention the non-Christian religions and of course the non-religious, it seems to me that any other position can only lead to arguments like we are having now.

This puts me in mind of a similar, although not nearly as important as contraception, place where the beliefs of the few are imposed on the many. I'm referring to the good old fashioned "Blue Laws."  You know, the reason that you can't go out to breakfast on a Sunday in, say, North Carolina and order a Bloody Mary before noon. Or run into the grocery store to pick up a six pack Sunday morning in West Virginia. Most of these have been declared unconstitutional or are at least not enforced (much) but the buying booze on Sunday ones seem to have a lot of staying power.

I have been directly impacted by the NC version, and not because I'm a drunk looking to start early on a Sunday. No, The Queen of the Frontier and I owned a restaurant in the beach resort town of Kitty Hawk, NC and we were faced with this every Sunday morning. In comes a car load of happy tourists from some far away land, like New York, looking for a nice beach brunch with a morning cocktail and wham, I have to explain that "I'm sorry but I can't sell you $40 worth of drinks to go with your table full of Eggs Benedict because it's only 11:00 am." Trust me, that does not win friends and repeat customers.

My take on this was always that, if the preachers wanted to make sure that their flock didn't come to church drunk that they, the preachers, should have a chat with their wayward lambs. Why burden me, my staff and most importantly, my customers, with the problem. We don't see Rabbis marching outside of pork BBQ joints claiming that they should close their doors do we? Of course, this was not an argument that was going to go very far in the American south, but it does illuminate the problem.

If you, or your religion, doesn't like the use of birth control fine. Enforce that belief system on your believers. But leave the rest of us alone, please. Because any law that favors one belief system over another, like the blue laws, violates my First Amendment rights. And the great thing about our great country is, my rights are just as important as yours. Let's all defend them equally, shall we. 

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