151 years ago today, the Army of the Potomac under the command of Major General George Meade, narrowly thwarted total annihilation at the hands of Robert E. Lee and his First Corp commander, James Longstreet, in the hills outside a small Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg. If Meade’s flanks had collapsed under relentless pressure, and consequently if the Union army had been defeated on July 2, 1863, it’s very likely a treaty would’ve been signed and the Confederacy legitimized, preserving slavery in North America perhaps into the 20th Century — slavery, by the way, which was widely justified as both an economic necessity and a religious freedom, endorsed, they said, by divine providence.
Today, following the unjust Supreme Court decision in the Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores case, a group of religious leaders, usually friendly to the Obama administration, delivered a letter to the White House respectfully requesting a similar Hobby Lobby-style dispensation from a forthcoming executive order regarding LGBT anti-discrimination. The as-of-yet unreleased executive order would ban federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of “sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Why the objection? Divine providence, of course. Religious beliefs.
We’re not even a week out from the Court’s decision, and already religious groups are attempting to wiggle through this newly created loophole, which will surely expand to include all kinds negative consequences for equality, not to mention other unknown and “untoward effects,” as Justice Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion.
How far will this go? Religious freedom, as with free speech and other constitutional rights aren’t intended to be across-the-board, absolute freedoms. There are, indeed, limits. In terms of religious freedom, equal protection and civil rights ought to take precedent over narrow-mindedness and discrimination in the name of the Bible — or the Qoran.
Clearly, religious groups will line up in earnest for special leeway when it comes to any laws which they believe the Bible opposes. The conservative justices have allowed for an ambiguous, cryptic book with numerous differing translations, to take precedent over equality and the law. How can one group be granted the biblically-justified means to circumvent the government, and another group disallowed?
Knowing the insanity of the last five years with regards to the current president’s background and birth certificate, and knowing how discrimination in the name of religion is next on the docket, it wouldn’t surprise me if this verse from 1 Timothy were exploited as a means of opposing the first female president:
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
How soon after Hillary Clinton is (potentially) inaugurated will her leadership be questioned based the biblical mandate of Timothy? By the way, Timothy also endorses slavery, as does Leviticus, Exodus, Corinthians, Luke and Ephesians.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the Bible requires Christians to pay taxes. Just saying.