One of the lies the religious right express from time to time is that they only want freedom of religion. They claim to be victims of a conspiracy to “remove God from the public square.”
Just like secularists, they file cases in courts, and they have won victories that force the state to accommodate their beliefs. This can take the form of providing teachers for and bus service to and from sectarian schools, vouchers to allow parents to send children to sectarian schools, the leaving of the word “God” in the pledge, and allowing the use of a bible verse for the state motto.
However, when a law or rule tries to support religious freedom, the same conservative religious supporters rail against it if the religions wanting protection are not “mainstream” (meaning Christian or Jewish).
Case in point was a case ruled on today by the US Supreme Court.
Cutter Et Al. V. Wilkinson, Director, Ohio Department Of Rehabilitation And Correction, Et Al. was a case involving the application of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) in state prisons.
The prisoners who brought the case claimed that their religious beliefs and practices were not being accommodated by Ohio prison authorities as called for in RLUIPA. The religions of the plaintiffs included a witch and a Satanist.
Ohio claimed that accommodating those prisoners not only would make it harder to maintain order but that the section of RLUIPA was unconstitutional because government would be advancing religion in violation of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled:
Were the Court of Appeals’ view the correct reading of our decisions, all manner of religious accommodations would fall. Congressional permission for members of the military to wear religious apparel while in uniform would fail, see 10 U. S. C. §774, as would accommodations Ohio itself makes. Ohio could not, as it now does, accommodate “traditionally recognized” religions, 221 F. Supp. 2d, at 832: The State provides inmates with chaplains “but not with publicists or political consultants,” and allows “prisoners to assemble for worship, but not for political rallies.”
You see a lot of this religious freedom hypocrisy from the religious right.
There were calls of indignation when it was learned that the US Army held wicca services on a base yet you heard nothing recently when it was learned that cadets at the Air Force Academy were religiously harassed and discriminated against if they weren’t members in the “mainstream religions.”
If there is to be religious accommodation in the public square, than it needs to be fair, and all religions and the non-religious need to have a seat at the table.
AU and AA have released two very different reactions to this ruling. Guess which one I agree with more and win a stuffed animal. 🙂
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