Thursday, May 06, 2010

Freedom Lovers do not Discriminate on Irrational Bases

In a perfect world, as I envision it, no person would be hated or discriminated against on account of race, gender, age, disability, national origin, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. I embrace non-uniformity and non-conformity. I love freedom, and a truly free society is bound to be diverse. In my freedom loving value system, it is immoral to deprive anyone of the means to earn a livelihood, housing, and access to public facilities on the basis of the categories or attributes I have listed. One may loathe Baptists and all that they stand for, but one ought not to treat Baptists differently in employment, housing or access to commerce that is generally open to the public.

The religious beliefs of Baptists, however misguided one may consider them, do not do anyone other than possibly the believers any harm, and the performance of Baptist rituals is generally not a nuisance. Behavior by Baptists which is predicated on or justified by Baptist religious beliefs is for the most part peaceful. To interfere with a Baptist's exercise of his religion where that exercise is harmless and does not infringe on the rights of others would be arrogant, immoral and uncivilized. Of course, one may choose not to associate with Baptists socially as long as one does not undermine their livelihood, shelter or ability to trade in the open market.

Despite their misguided protestations to the contrary, Baptists did not choose their irrational beliefs about the supernatural any more than they chose their race or sexual orientation. Although it may be argued that Baptists can choose not to express their beliefs or practice their religion, what purpose would be served by requiring them to deny their identity and suppress their true selves? Inasmuch as they do no harm and their happiness is increased by professing and practicing their religion openly and freely, it is incumbent on freedom lovers to avoid interfering with them. In fact, a true spirit of freedom requires affirmation of the Baptist in his faith.

Some may argue that their own religious views differ from those of the Baptists and that their faith requires them to despise Baptists, perhaps even kill them. Shouldn't those persons be entitled to practice their religion freely and to express their hatred of Baptists in any manner they choose? There are limits to the privileges conferred on the faithful in the freedom loving value system. If religion leads one to harm others, perhaps by discriminating against them, then it becomes a legitimate basis for complaint and discrimination against those who harbor the harmful belief. Clothing wrongdoing in religious garb does not exempt it from punishment.

Some may argue that their own happiness is diminished by the existence of Baptists and the open practice of their religion because they have a subjective preference for a world that is Baptist-free. Those with such preferences must subordinate them to the more important principle of love of freedom. It is not merely one's own freedom that one loves but the freedom of everyone.

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