Religious Objections — Not Just for the Christians Anymore

(Polished and updated (and okay, added to) comments posted on “A is For” and “Your Nightly Need to Know”)

Concerning the Oklahoma rape victim and the denial of emergency contraception due to staff’s “religious objections” — this isn’t just about contraception, folks.

Fifteen years ago, I worked as a nurse’s aide for the geriatric population. On duty one night, a resident kept calling me to complain about various symptoms. I knew that she had not been getting all of her pills because one of the day nurses had told us that she didn’t believe in giving narcotics “for religious reasons”.  I went to the night nurse I was working with and using the desk reference book, pointed out that all of the resident’s symptoms were those of morphine withdrawal, consistent with not getting that pill.

The nurse checked the chart and asked me why it had been allowed to run out and not given as prescribed. I explained the reason and once she got over her shock and anger, she called to get an emergency fill of the prescription.  The minute it arrived, she gave it to the resident–who had been on that medication for over 10 years. You don’t just let someone on narcotics quit cold turkey–and a nurse has no business overriding a doctor’s orders, not even for “religious objections”. If your religion won’t let you do your job, find a new one. (Job, not religion)

The point I’m making here is if contraception can be withheld for religious reasons, what happens if you need a narcotic and your nurse doesn’t think you should have it because it’s against her religion? Or you need a blood transfusion and the doctor doesn’t believe in it?  Where does the line end?  As my husband is fond of saying, take this to its illogical logical end.  We can go back to having babies “the old fashioned way”–no medications, no interventions, only you and the midwife and if you (and the baby) end up dying, oh well, it was God’s plan.  No organ transplants, no internal prostheses (knees, hips, shoulders, etc), no plastic surgery of any kind because that’s just vanity.  The list goes on.

Men, this absolutely involves you as well.  If religion is going to dictate our contraceptive choices, removal of testes for cancer won’t be allowed because that’s (by definition) a form of contraception. Vasectomies? A thing of the past in our glorious New World Order.  Never mind the instances mentioned above which can apply to the males of the nation as well.

Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, the saying goes. I absolutely protect your right to practice any religion you choose–but NOT if it infringes on my right to practice my religion, make medical choices, affects my job and so on. There is an inherent arrogance in the idea that “religious objections” give you the right to choose for me, that your faith somehow imbues you with the knowledge of what is right for me–whether I want it or not.

Let’s expand the concept of “religious objections”.  What if my religion forbids eating beef?  (Hindu)  And suppose I buy a McDonald’s franchise–but only serve chicken products?  And McDonald’s Corporate tries to revoke my franchise license–so I sue.  And to be just, I would win, because it is my religion and my religious objections that let me decide for others.  Let’s say my religion doesn’t allow me to eat pork.  (Jews) I own a food distributorship (like “Schwans”) but refuse to deliver any pig products.  Again, the corporate head office will eventually get involved but also once again, I would sue and win.  What if my religion requires women to cover their heads when outside of the home?  (Muslim)  I own a store in downtown Hometown but refuse admittance to any female who has not modestly covered her hair.  When the local government tries to make me allow anyone in my store, I point to my religious objections and continue to turn away those foul harlots.

I make these examples which might seem unlikely to point out this concern: If the Christian Right wants to hide behind their “religious objections” and use their faith as a reason to override the laws of this land, they need to be aware–and beware–that this will open the door to ALL religions and their own individual “religious objections”.  Our Founding Fathers were very vocal about the separation of church and state and for very good reason.  If there is not that distinct and clear division, whose religion gets to be the religion of the nation?  I hate to be the bearer of an unpleasant fact, but America is NOT a Christian nation.  There are many, many other religions represented in our land, brought from other countries as the people immigrated to a new life here.

The original settlers left “the old country” because of their wish to practice their own religion without interference from the government or the accepted national religion of that country.  We seem to have forgotten that, especially those who are the fundamental Christian Right.  The complaint that there is now some sort of “war” on this extremist group of rabid believers is a childish whining that they aren’t getting their own way.  Anyone who refuses to go along with them must of course be trying to eradicate them–which is pure horse feathers.  Oddly enough, we are still trying to protect their religious rights while preventing them from turning our democracy into a theocracy of their own choosing.

As far as I am concerned, this is not just about “religious objections” but the far more insidious concept that someone with “religious objections” is in a  superior position over anyone else and that this (apparently) gives them the right to deny basic human rights to those who do not agree with them. It’s a condescending attitude, the sheer arrogance of knowing that they are “right”, which then allows them to make decisions for others who are not as “religious” as they are.  There is this idea that having “religious objections” somehow exempts you from the laws of this land, places you above secular authority whenever you want to wave that religious banner.  Even Jesus instructed his followers to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and he himself bowed to the secular government, allowing and accepting both trial and execution by civil law.

This ongoing string of “religious objections” to contraception and female reproductive choices, this war on women is an opening ploy into a Christian theocracy, where other religions could be forbidden and church attendance made mandatory–but only to the church of their choice.  George Orwell’s Big Brother would have nothing on a theocracy’s involvement in each citizen’s life–and making decisions for each of those citizens based on “religious objections”.  This is about the loss of equality, the complete disregard of our basic human rights and the total destruction of freedom for ALL to live their lives based on personal moral choices without exception.

I have “religious objections” to that kind of America.  It’s not the country Thomas Jefferson wrote about in our Constitution, it’s not the country Ben Franklin envisioned when the split from England was being debated in the Continental Congress.  This is not what the suffragettes fought for, what the civil rights movement was all about, what the Fair Pay Act is trying to achieve.  That kind of America is not the land that I love–and served in the military to protect.  And I will still uphold that enlistment oath–“to protect the Constitution…against all enemies, abroad and at home”.  I consider the GOP, especially their extreme Tea Bag Party, to be enemies of the state with their “religious objections” and their war on everything that this country is about.

It’s time to acknowledge that there is a war, to arm yourself with information, be aware of what is going on in our nation and most importantly, register to vote (if you haven’t) and in November, go to the polls and VOTE to protect America from those who would destroy her.

Namaste!

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