Words To Live By: Religious Right

By : Rick Claggett
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Rick Claggett

Rick Claggett

Let’s start by clarifying the use of the word right immediately. I’m not referring to the religious right as in the social dictator and presidential doubtful, Mike Huckabee. Or the incoherent speaking marvel that is Sarah Palin.

This column is about the religious right as in the moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way, as defined by Google.

Religion has always fascinated me, and I feel a little background in my experience is warranted here. I think it’s fair to say we, as children, are raised into or out of religion based on the beliefs of whomever is raising us.

A defining moment in middle school changed that course for me.

On this particular evening, my parents took me to see a production at their favorite church in Orlando. I was excited to go since this was also around the time I began to develop my love of theater. I had seen some of the talented work done at this church before and looked forward to a chorus of joyful angels praising the love of God. Unfortunately, that is not what I got.

The curtain rose and the level of my excitement soon followed. There was a party scene on the pulpit-turned-stage. Two young girls were having an ABC Afterschool Special-esque discussion on whether they should drink alcohol.

The blonde girl had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior and chose not to drink. The brunette girl had not accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior, clearly making her the drinker. I point out their hair color simply to distinguish them for the purpose of this story, but I also like to highlight the diversity in this cast. Despite their clear differences, the two girls continue to talk about their plans for the future and pound into the audience the fact that these two girls were closer than Blossom and Six.

When it was time for them to leave the party, tragedy struck. On their way home together the two young ingénue’s got hit by a car, killing them instantly. The blonde girl was the first to notice the glowing light coming from stage left, accompanied by sweet music. She knew her salvation had arrived. The brunette walked towards her best friend in a state of confusion. Their eyes met and the stage went red. Angry sounds of demons rose from the organ as spawns of Satan entered the stage. They grabbed the brunette and began to drag her toward the dark. She was kicking and screaming, crying for her friend.

At that moment, someone walked on stage to explain the brunette was going to hell because she had not accepted Jesus. She then asked if anyone in the audience would like to now declare their love and acceptance for Jesus. My body began to tingle. Was I having a religious breakthrough? Was Patti Lupone entering my body to bring me to my feet on that balcony for a show-stopping performance of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina? Or was I just a kid literally having the hell scared out of him?

In retrospect, it was definitely the latter. I jumped on my seat, raised both hands to the heavens and belted, “I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior!”

I was pulled into a room of other kids that had just pronounced their faith. It didn’t take me long to see that this was a scare tactic, and a successful one at that. I only mention this story to illustrate the beginning of my struggling religious journey.

I could write pages worth of questions and doubts regarding religion, but nowhere in those pages would I question an individual’s right to that religion. That is what religious right is.

It’s the constitutional right to have your own very personal belief or lack thereof. What you do not have the religious right to do is use religion as a discrimination tool against others’ inalienable rights.

Please don’t groan, but I’m about to bring up the “C” word—cake. WatermarkOnline.com has reported that the Oregon based couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding now faces fines up to $150K. Many are upset that the couple will lose their business and that their religious rights are being trampled on.

WatermarkOnline.com has also reported on a new study saying that although Americans favor marriage equality, they also favor a business’ religious freedom to deny services to same-sex couples.

Well I am here to say that is crap. Their religious right is wrong. Plain and simple, it is discrimination.

That is, unless there is another tablet I am not aware of that states”Thou shalt not bake cakes for lesbian weddings!” Is there a missing book in the new testament where Jesus outlines the salvation of denying flowers to LGBT weddings?

There exists a world now where people can hate LGBTs and still abide by the governing anti-discrimination laws of their city, state or county. And don’t worry, church is already exempt from catering to people they don’t want to.

Marriage equality is not about to change that.

Every person in our country has the moral and legal entitlement to their beliefs. They just don’t have the moral or legal entitlement to discriminate against me because I happen to have a different one.

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