What is it about religion? Even in these modern times where we are exposed to a world full of ideas, how can what presents itself as the ultimate force for love bring out the absolute worst hate in people? How could it be that in the state of Indiana there was a law passed, purported to be a protection for religion, yet motivated by a desire to humiliate human beings whose only “sin” is choosing a member of the same gender to love? Under this legislation, religious reasons can be cited as legal justification to discriminate against gays, meaning that the bigot can deny a potential customer professional services, for instance, because he or she objects to the customer’s sex choices.
Indiana has become the latest state to enact a so-called a religious objection statute. Condemnations are pouring in; major business, organizations, individuals and even the NCAA have complained, which is notable because the men’s college basketball tournament is about to conclude March Madness with the Final Four in Indianapolis. None of that stopped Indiana’s pandering political leaders from taking out the Neanderthals’ bitter March anger on those who simply dare to be different. There is a growing volume of demand that the NCAA just relocate to a place where intolerance isn’t, uh, tolerated.
Of course, the religious zealots in the Indiana Midwest don’t compare with the fanatics in the Mideast, which is, and please pardon the technical diplo-speak, going kablooie. When we unravel all of the geopolitical complexities — allies siding with bitter enemies in one country and then waging war against one another in a neighboring nation — there is really just one consistent factor: religion.
Specifically, it’s Sunnis versus Shiites. That’s the biggest reason why Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally even with its disgraceful human-rights record, is facing off against its historical adversary Iran. Each has a supporting cast of other nations in the region and other terror groups, but all line up on two teams. It’s the Sunnis versus the Shiites seeking Islamic dominance. That’s it. Everything else spins off that. Add the complication of Israel’s own biblical justification, and the Mideast becomes a massive explosion that’s been waiting decades to happen. So, in terms of sheer brutality, when compared with those guys, the extremists here in the U.S. of A. aren’t all that extreme.
Perhaps that doesn’t count a West Coast man who is doing his level best to take California’s easy path to the state ballot and put before the voters a proposition called the Sodomite Suppression Act. In part, it reads:
“… the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”
After a year, it would allow any individual to carry out the execution.
Chances are it’ll never be put before the voters, since state officials are trying to block it, and obviously it wouldn’t stand a chance of passing. But let’s be honest, there are millions in this country who want to, in the name of their religion, deny the normal rights of Americans to people whose only “sin” is same-sex whatever.
Less extreme but ugly nonetheless are those who insist that marriage and all the rights attached to it are extended only to those who follow the traditional he-she model. It’s so important to remember that we have religious freedom in this country as long as that freedom doesn’t block someone else’s freedom. It’s not that hard to understand. Still here, and throughout the world, throughout our history, religion is the source of our problems, not the salvation.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.