Thursday, March 13, 2014

Law, Politics, Religion, and Irony

On Feb. 26th, ArizonaGovernor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill passed by the state legislature that would have authorized discrimination in the provision of services if providing such services offended a religious conviction. Since that time, a host of politicians and political commentators have rushed forward to protect Christians against what is alleged to be discrimination, bullying, and victimization for not allowing them to discriminate, bully and victimize others on the basis of a devout belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Although the irony in such an argument was obvious, I was struck at the time by a more subtle, but equally evident irony found in the inability of another story to generate any similar Christian outrage.

Two days prior to the Arizona legislature's passage of the bill designed to protect Christians from government trampling their fervent beliefs to discriminate against people who are born with qualities deemed to be undesirable in the eyes of the righteous, a 84 year old devout Catholic nun and two equally devout companions were sent to prison by the federal government for practicing their deeply held religious conviction of advocating for peace.  The three activists broke into the federal facility known as the Fort Knox of uranium, where the nation's principal cache of weapons grade material is kept.  Once inside:

At sentencing, one of the activists told the judge, "I was acting upon my God-given obligations as a follower of Jesus Christ." Federal officials acknowledge that they never posed an actual threat to anyone.
So, where is the outrage?  Where are the Michelle Bachmans and the Mike Huckabees and the other self-appointed defenders of religious ideology against tyranny clamoring for justice? 
Acting on deep religious conviction, three advocates for peace harm no one and are sent to prison. They are ignored by the Christian mouthpieces.
A bill that would have authorized the public shaming of persons whose innate traits are deemed undesirable by misguided and irrational religious fervor is vetoed and statements of religious persecution are shouted from every available political pulpit.
The legal lesson in this story is the role of politics in shaping policy. Law is what the government says it is. The government is a political process. We are selling our students short if we do not give them ample opportunity to explore the connection.
No high powered Christian mouthpiece outrage for devoutly religious peace activism:

Irrational, high-volumed Christian outrage for being denied the privilege of lawful discrimination:

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