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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Religious Freedom vs. Human Rights

Ok guys, I know it's been litttle while, but suprisingly enough, I'm still fighting the good fight here in the bible belt.  Between listening to people spout theories about President Obama, 9-11, flouride in the water, the pecan tree in the front yard dropping a branch on my windshield, and the normal bull that comes and goes in waves, and trying to find a new job, I've been a little swamped.  But I am still looking for new topics to try and either clear the mud or stoke the fire about.

The only thing I've got for you this week is basically a question of a violation of religious beliefs and personal rights.  What I'm talking about is a recent suit  filed by an Oklahoma company called Hobby Lobby.  I don't know if these are nation wide or regional, but it is basically a Wal-Mart for craft supplies.  I'll admit, I've gone in to some of these stores looking for projects or the odd piece of decoration for the house.  Overall, it's not a bad store, and they don't have an overly religious feel to them.  You know what I mean.  That feeling of being expected to say the lords prayer on command or the random urge to beginn speaking in Latin.  It's kinda fun in there, and with a small child that is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and any other type of train, it can be an experience.  Back to the main point.  Much like Chik-filet, Hobby Lobby is run by an extremely religious family.  I have stopped going to said chicken store because they donate a large part of their profits to religious based groups that are completely against my personal beliefs, and honestly, a strike against common sense.  I haven't heard if Hobby Lobby does the same, but they did file a suit against the government because they are now required to include birth control in their insurance for their employees.  They are stating that this is a violation of their religious beliefs.  Now where does it say that they, as in the owners, have to use contraceptives, only offer them to their employees.  Unfortunately, the suit is backed by some fairly powerful people, including Senator Tom "Climate change isn't real, keep burning fossil fuels" Coburn and Rep James Lankford.  Coburn has links to "The Family",  which has caused some problems in a couple of African countries.  I'll try and write about this pretty soon, because these people are a real pain in the ass.  Both of these men are, of course, republicans in Oklahoma, which means they are also christian fundamentalists.  If they aren't, then they act the part on T.V. to keep their numbers up high enough for elections.  The main arguement that the Green family (the owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardels, which I'll talk about in a minute) is using in this suit is that this is a violation of their religious freedom.  No one is stopping them from practicing their religion in any way they want, short of sacrificing for a fruitful harvest.   The law merely states that they should provide contraception through insurance.  It's not like their being told they have to stand at the door and hand birth control pills and condoms to everyone as they leave for the evening.  Some people will say simply to avoid having sex.  (Keep in mind that the fundies are also the ones that say the wife should be submissive to their husbands.)  Some people will say if you want contraceptives provided by your employer, go work some place else.  That is not as simple as it sounds.  If they are single income families, they may not be able to take time to look for another job.  I know the internet is now open 24 hours a day, but not everyone has access to the inter-tubes.  While Hobby Lobby may claim religious discrimination, I think that this may actually constitute a violation of personal rights.  Honestly, it could even be viewed as failure to provide medical care.  Personaly, I feel that they should go ahead and offer the insurance to their workers, and not use it themselves.  Like I've said in the past, I don't really have a problem with a persons religion, unless their trying to cram it down my throat.

A quick note about Mardels here in Oklahoma.  I recently took a job as a middle school science teacher, which is a story in itself.  Matter of fact, it's several stories.  Anyway, my wife and I were needing to get a few things to try and dress up my classroom.  We tried Hobby Lobby, but couldn't find the inspirational and factual posters that you normally see on the walls in most classes in America.  A few of the other teachers kept mentioning going to Mardels, even though it;s a little expensive.  I only knew of the place from some friends that have crosses hanging on their walls.  Mardels was started by Mart Green, son of the founder of Hobby Lobby.  (What kind of name is Mart anyway?)  We figured we should go and see what they have.  Upon arriving at the store, there was a guy selling crosses right outside the door, though he didn't offer any of his wares to us.  The whole way to the door, my wife basically kept telling me to behave, which I'm proud to say I did.  We went in and I had an instant cold chill run up my spine.  Have you ever walked into a room and realized this is not somewhere you whould be at?  I've walked into a house full of gang members complete with guns and pit bulls on chains and didn't get that feeling.  It happened here.  To the right, half of the interior was full of psalms on posters, crosses, jesus fish, bibles, etc.  To the back and left was school decorations and books.  I glanced at some of the books and they were for home schooling.  Fine.  Look closer.  Home schooling teaching creationism as being the only viable science.  Head got hot, vision fuzzy.  Walk away.  Look at posters.  They actually had a pretty nice selection.  One problem I had was that in 8th grade science, you teach physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, and EVOLUTION!  At least by the core standards.  I did find a little about evolution, but I was more concerned with the basics.  The reason for this particular kinda non-sequitor blurb is this is about the only place to find the cheesy feel good posters, anatomy, geolgy, biology, math, history, and other normal items you'll find in any class across the country.  Why the hell is a hardcore christian store nearly the only place to find room supplies for school?  I mean thats kinda like going to an AA meeting and ordering a pint of Guinness.  I actually got nervous  in the store.  I kept waiting for someone with a German Shepard to run to the front and start yelling "THERE ARE UNBELIEVERS IN THE STORE.  EVERYONE STAY CALM AND RECITE THE LORDS PRAYER UNTIL THEY ARE FOUND."  Yeah I know, at times I get weird thoughts, but hey, that just shows I'm normal, right?  Right? 

It's getting late, so I'd better head out.  Until next time, be true to yourself, and help others come to the skeptical light. 

The Skeptical Okie

3 comments:

  1. Hey! Just found your blog...

    I am an Oklahoma science teacher (high school) in central OK...

    I teach Evolutionary Theory...and have worked for the last seven years to get it into the biology class (accomplished three years ago...and improving!) which I don't teach.

    Keep up the good work!

    A comment about Mardels. In my area, they provide cheap lamination ($0.25/ft.) and I laminated several science posters, including one with Darwin and his "tree" diagram from his diary! Neither of the employees helping me said a word, but I suspect this is because they probably had no idea what they were.

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  2. Thanks for the comment, and I hope you keep checking it out. The school I was at actually had a pair of laminators. Granted, it took 15 minutes for the machines to warm up and be ready for use, and it was awfully easy to turn them off by accident and have to restart the whole process, which I found out several times, but that saved a lot of money. I hope you enjoy the blog. It seems the two most popular subjects I've spoken about have been the religious right (reich?) and cryptids, so i may lean that way a bit more. I'm glad to hear that someone has been able to get Evolutionary Theory into a classroom in Oklahoma and hasn't had everyone blow up. How have the students taken it? Keep up the good fight, and let us know how it goes. Thanks again.
    The Skeptical Okie.

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  3. Well, some have completely closed minds, of course...

    And some already accept it.

    Most in the middle have heard for years it is wrong, but don't know anything about it. When I explain that they do not have to "give up God" or become an atheist to accept evolution, they become more willing to listen...

    It doesn't hurt that I try not to insult religion except where religion refuses to yield to reality. I am also willing to discuss it on a knowledgeable basis. I discuss evolutionary ideas throughout the course as part and parcel of biology without extra attention...just matter of fact.

    When it comes to those who challenge the science, I am well versed in the Theory and I know the bible and can quote better than those who wish to confront me on it and will even do so during lessons when it helps make a point. (eg: Thessalonians 5:21 when covering scientific method...even God approves!)

    I teach environmental science, so my subject encompasses sociology, history, and science. I try to put the subject matter in context of society, religion, and culture both past and present.

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