If you listen to Republicans such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Senate Bill 17 provides relief for those occupational holders who have sincere religious beliefs. Of course, getting past the fact that back in the day Mr. Patrick, when he was the sports director at KHOU in Houston, once painted himself blue on television, is a little bit difficult.
For the rest of us, Senate Bill 17 would allow license holders to discriminate against members of the public whose lifestyles offend their sincerely held religious beliefs.
This bill is aimed specifically at the LGBT community in Texas and it would legalize discrimination on the basis of religious belief. No word on whether a license holder who attends a white nationalist church would be able to refuse service to African-American or Latino customers if it offended his religious beliefs.
It’s no surprise that the sponsor of the bill is from a most rural area of the state around Lubbock. In many ways, once you get too far west of I-35, you enter a land that time forgot.
Once again we see religion used as a justification for discrimination. I’m sure there are those of y’all who will tell me it’s an abuse of religion to use it for hate and discrimination. I would beg to differ.
Religion serves two purposes: first, it serves to justify the existing order as somehow ordained by god; second, it serves to divide the masses so that those in power can maintain their grip on power.
As to the first point, all you have to do is listen to the charlatans standing in the pulpit telling their followers that their suffering is proof of god’s existence and love. The point is to distract the masses from the underlying forces that keep them poor. You feed someone enough of this suffer on earth and live high on the hog in heaven and they will start to believe it. They won’t question the relationship between capital and labor. They will resist scientifically-based arguments regarding the harm we are doing to the planet because they have been sold on the notion that man is the shepherd of the planet and it’s all in god’s hands.
As to the second point, all you have to do is look at the history of war on this planet. Religious difference has long been the justification for bloodshed and it will continue to be. The Catholic church went to war against native peoples in its never-ending quest for gold and material wealth. The protestants led the charge against the native peoples in this country in search of cheap land and resources. Major denominations split in the mid 1800’s over the question of slavery. The Southern Baptist Convention owes its existence to its biblical defense of slavery. And let’s not forget that white churches fought against the end of Jim Crow in the last century. Then there are the white, evangelical churches in the suburbs and rural areas who encouraged their members to vote for a racist man whose on his third marriage and paid off a porn star he was sleeping with.
Now we have companies such as Hobby Lobby who don’t want to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees and justify their refusal with a call to religion. We have bakers who justify their refusal to bake cakes for gay customers on their religious beliefs. And now we will have more service companies in Texas who won’t even try to hide their bigotry as they wave a bible at customers they don’t wish to serve.
This is not a minority misusing religion to serve their own ends – this is the logical outcome for a society whose founders were religious extremists who left England so they would be free to impose their will on others.