That's Not Freedom

President Trump has announced that he will rescind the ACA mandate that companies provide birth control in the health care package for their employees, regardless of the employer's desire to do so. He has done so under the banner of "religious freedom." And so we find ourselves, once again, in a battle we will never back away from.

Here is some background on this and other "religious freedom" policies from the Trump administration.

As an organization that works to uphold values, regardless of party, MainStream will sometimes find supporters who have differing views. But once you get at the core of an issue, we find common ground. When it comes to freedom, we have always been on the side of respecting the rights, beliefs, and freedoms of all individuals. The Robert H. Meneilly Award, given every year at our Stand Up, Speak Out dinner, celebrates individuals who demonstrate this respect, and the courage to stand up and speak out to defend it.

It is quite simple. Freedom is not the right to do whatever you want. It is, actually, the right to be free of the requirements of others.

Our country's founding is an event many who tout "religious freedom" hold up as their shining example of freedom won through sacrifice. And it certainly is. But those revolutionaries were fighting for the freedom to escape the yoke of a dictator, to practice their own religions, to be fairly represented in government. They did not fight to impose their own religion, dictates, or capricious laws on their new countrymen.

When a company refuses to provide birth control as a covered item in their healthcare package, they impose their belief system on their employees. When a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription intended for a use that violates his beliefs, he is imposing his belief on his customers. When a school holds a moment of prayer before an assembly of the entire student body, it imposes a religious morality on its students.

Those employees, customers, and students have the right to be free of these impositions. They have the right to practice their own beliefs.

But, we are often asked, aren't we telling those companies, pharmacists, and schools that they cannot practice their religions freely? Of course not. They are free to practice their religions, even in public, so long as they do not require others to practice it with them. There are some disingenuous arguments about whether employees are "required" to work at a company if they don't like the religious morality, or whether customers should just go to a different pharmacist, but this is a burden we are not required to bear in a free society. 

Instead, we are a nation of laws, for exactly the purpose of determining what freedoms every citizen can enjoy. When laws diminish our freedoms, as when African-Americans were legal slaves, when women were unable to vote, when employers could fire employees for their religious practices, then we change those laws. Religious morality, even if it is of the majority, has no place in law. Not in this country. Not in this Constitution.

MainStream was founded to protect the separation of church and state, and we will always stand up for the rights, beliefs, and freedoms of all individuals.

Get informed, get involved, make a difference. Do more than vote.

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