19 July 2017 at 7:40:23 AM
The history of this nation is littered with countless instances of people committing reprehensible acts of injustice under the pretense of “living out their faith.” It was people “living out their faith” who hanged nineteen women convicted of witchcraft in New England in the late seventeenth century. It was people “living out their faith” who enshrined the practice of slavery in this nation’s Constitution. It was people “living out their faith” who refused to grant women’s suffrage until 1920. It was people “living out their faith” who put John Scopes on trial for teaching evolution in a public school. It was people “living out their faith” who perpetuated Jim Crow with intimidation and violence. It was people “living out their faith” who imposed laws against contraception until 1965. It was people “living out their faith” who enforced anti-miscegenation laws until 1967. It was people “living out their faith” who criminalized homosexual activity until 2003. It is people “living out their faith” who still deny women access to reproductive health care. Now, despite the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-imposed bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, people are invoking religious belief as an excuse for discriminating against same-sex couples....
As Jefferson observed, some religious beliefs are harmless. If people want to believe in a divine being or a blissful afterlife, they should be free to do so. However, a religious belief that limits the freedom or liberty of others should never enjoy government sanction. Although religious beliefs can sometimes be harmless, religious bigotry never is. The free exercise of religion is guaranteed by the First Amendment, but it never warrants the infliction of harm upon others.
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