Friday, June 26, 2015

A possibly irrelevant point on something from a possibly irrelevant person

Today, the Supreme Court of the USA ruled in favour of gay marriage at a federal level. Not just ' Hey states, it's OK if you want to', but 'No seriously. All of you. Listen up.'

And this makes me happy, obviously, because justice. Full judgment here, and clock that closing para in the Opinion of the Court.

So, some people are cross. Including this guy:

Just going to have a little unpack here, because I'm in a bit of a spin and that's what I do when in a bit of a spin.

Firstly - religious liberty is a concept open to all people. Those of faith, those undecided, and those of no faith. Because 'religious liberty' really means liberty of belief, and the belief that religion should be rejected or discarded is as valid as that it (or a particular one) should be held.

There are many people who don't believe that religion has or should have any place in lawmaking. These - and this may surprise Mr Fischer - include some people of faith.

But even accepting that 'God' is a relevant concept in lawmaking, he's still got problems. The phrasing implies that he is referring to 'God' as a monotheistic concept, so possibly we should strike out the views of any poly/pantheistic believer.

And I'm guessing from the circumstantial evidence that Mr Fischer is a Christian rather than a member of another monotheistic faith with a shared God, so let's also lose believers in eg Judaism and Islam from this.

If we just look at Christians, he's still in something of a tricky position because, well...Quakers, Lutherans, Trinitarians, Methodists - all groups/denominations with (with national variations) positive stances on gay people marrying.

So he's really down to - "My church doesn't like it. I will therefore define 'God' for all churches in my denomination, all denominations in my religion, all religions in monotheism, and in general for everybody, whether they have faith or not".

Or - bref - "I am everybody".

The US Constitution, First Amendment, to recap, says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
It specifically says that 'you are not everyone', religion-wise (no law respecting an establishment of religion). Mr Fischer and his church are free to exercise their religion (and tweet as above, etc). But their free exercise of their religion, as they see it, does not mean that they get to impose their religion, as they see it, on anyone else, whether that means imposing religion in general, or in particular.

Religious liberty is protected. Mr Fischer is under no obligation to marry another man, whether his disinclination to that is religiously motivated or otherwise. He is free to go about his heterosexual business, continue to believe that gay people marrying is wrong, and to tweet that.

He just doesn't get to be everybody.

I mean, imagine if another bunch of people got together, citing 'God', to support a federal ban on bacon (at least three major world religions involved there, I think) - I think I know who'd be one of the first to complain.

If 'everybody' encompasses such a wide range of beliefs, then nobody gets to be everybody. We are all somebody, and we get to decide for ourselves.

My particular love to two dear friends who are getting married this weekend. You are somebodies I love deeply. If you will allow me - que Dieu vous benisse...

And let's finish with a song.