Why Should Their Religious Beliefs Limit Your Freedom?

Sunrise morning chairs

What if I was vegan? What if I was vegan and you weren't? Let's imagine that both of these things are true for a moment.

Not only are you not vegan, but you enjoy all the foods vegans don't eat. You are happy with the status quo and have no desire to change your diet.

I show up one day and demand that you become vegan. Why? Because of my religious beliefs. Based on these beliefs, I've decided that everybody should be vegan.

How is this going to go over with you? It won't go over very well, will it? Nope. And why should it? Why should my religious beliefs have any bearing on what you eat? After all, these are my beliefs and not yours.

If I want to adopt a vegan diet due to my religious beliefs, I can do so. Expecting you to do the same when you don't share my religious beliefs is ridiculous. We aren't doing anyone any favors by pretending otherwise.

So who do we keep pretending? Tradition? Religious privilege? Fear of social disapproval and an overwhelming desire to fit in?

For some reason, many of us bristle at the idea of someone telling us what we can and cannot eat. We spot the problem right away. We don't share their religious beliefs. Why should what they believe restrict what we can do?

Shouldn't we have similar reactions when they tell us who we can marry? What about when they restrict access to certain medical procedures? Suppose that a woman gets pregnant. She doesn't want a child, but she's expected to give birth because of others' religious beliefs. Does that make any sense?

It doesn't. And yet, they've managed to pass laws to impose their religious beliefs on us. Stop and think about the sort of restrictions others have placed on your freedom. Notice how many of them have something to do with others' religious beliefs. You don't share these beliefs, and yet, they affect you. They affect each of us.

Secularism, or the separation of church and state, if you prefer, ought to prevent this. It doesn't seem to do so in the United States. I don't view that as a failure of secularism. I see it more as our failure to commit to secularism. We can do better.

Image by Joe from Pixabay