Mark Mercer, a Philosophy professor, has a piece in The Ottawa Citizen that’s worth a read.
As a civil libertarian, he argues that “freedom of religion” really isn’t necessary if other liberties are respected. And when we give special privileges to people of faith, we’re “[violating] our equality as citizens.”
Courts have ruled that Sikh boys may wear small daggers, kirpans, to school. Other schoolchildren may not wear small daggers.
Muslim women may be veiled while testifying in court, at least so long as their religious belief is sincere enough, though neither men nor non-Muslims may.
One would have thought that a liberty is for all of us, not just for those who claim special status. The correct civil libertarian position is to insist both that the laws apply to all of us equally and that the laws have no business telling us what to do unless serious harm is in the offing.
From a civil liberties perspective, the thing to do is to ask whether schoolchildren carrying sheathed knives in their clothing pose a serious risk of harm to their classmates or others. If they don’t, then rules against their carrying knives are illegitimate, and any schoolchild who wants to carry one may, whether for religious reasons or not.
It’s not mentioned in the piece, but it’s also disturbing to me that there are religious exemptions in some American states for parents who kill their children because they opted for “faith healing” instead of real medicine when the children were dying.
There’s no reason someone’s religion should serve as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
(Thanks to AxeGrrl for the link!)
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