Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When Your Religious Liberty Touches the End of My Nose

Since this appeared on The Huffington Post last Thursday, there have been nearly 600 “likes,” 200 “shares” and “tweets,” and 240 comments!

Do you know that the Kentucky county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples has been married four times and allegedly gave birth to twins fathered by another man five months after her first divorce? At best, this is irony, at worst, hypocrisy.

In my book, As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage, I pointed out that a thrice-married Georgia congressman introduced the Defense of Marriage Act and it was signed into law by a philandering president. Irony or hypocrisy?

We live in a representative democracy, not a theocracy. This is neither the Vatican nor an Islamic nation. Nor should we be like Israel, dominated by one religious tradition.

It’s bad enough that our representative democracy, controlled largely by English-only-speaking, privileged, nominally-Christian, straight white males historically and presently has institutionalized many religious regulations and traditions in our legal codes and practices, despite our alleged separation of church and state. (Thank God for the colonial Baptists, who persuaded our federal-government-in-formation to include that principle. Many current Baptists apparently disavow that sentiment.)

What’s next? Civil servants refusing to issue marriage licenses to atheists? To interfaith couples? To interracial couples—oh wait, they tried to do that already, also on religious grounds!

If there is one religious principle I would legislate, if there was one commandment I would like to see engraved over the entrance of every public building, it would be:


That might stay the hands of those who work on Wall Street and in corporate offices, as well as legislators and judges and presidents and other public servants.

That might also prompt restraint among religious leaders and communities, as well as their zealots and extremists.

It might change attitudes toward immigrants seeking a better life, toward the rights of women—including their reproductive choices, toward better integration of those with disabilities, toward all minorities’ hopes of representation (including D.C. residents!), toward the poor and disadvantaged, toward those who are incarcerated.

It might even change our approach to international relations.

This should become our new “gold standard.”

Related post: Religious Liberty

Copyright © 2015 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved. 


  1. Your restraint from rant is very admirable to me. Thank you. I have been going nuts hearing and seeing all this uproar. I often am anxious (as usual) about our young gays seeing all this hoopla debating again and again their right to be who they are. What i don't hear about is the viewpoint that those who engaged in these "debates" is that some who are trying to make it difficult if not impossible for young gays to realize who they really are----are indeed acting out of that tough love parental position of "we don't want to inadvertantly show approval of something we think is detrimental to individuals and society as a whole". They really believe they are acting out of parental love, whether or not they are misguided on that point. My sister is one of those and it breaks my heart that she is so worried in such a way about gays and about me in particular. But, how to engage her seems to elude me. She must want to see it a different way and she does not want to. She fears for gays ---that they are being deceived about God's Will for them. What can i say to that? What i would like to see is acknowledgement that the discussion needs to be adult/adult rather than parent/child (from both sides). ?? Would that help the discussion?? Thanks very much, Chris. I am thankful for your words and your longsuffering and longjoyousness.

  2. There is no way that idea will gain popularity in this world. Who said such a thing? Oh Jesus did, I forgot.

  3. US employers are required to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of their employees within certain limits. In this case Kim Davis chose the wrong way to make her conflict of conscience known, but now, thankfully, an accommodation seems to have been found that respects her belief AND the constitutional rights of others. More info on the Civil Rights Act and 'workplace religious accommodation' is on the EEOC website: