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171



[Get Opera!]

THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 171, April 29, 2002
MINDIN' OTHER PEOPLES' BUSINESS

Religon, Homosexuality and Freedom, Part II:
The Diverse and Conflicting Range of Ethical and Religious Beliefs

by Christopher Lee
clee@saunix.sau.edu

Exclusive to TLE

Mindin' other people's business seems to be high-toned
I got all that I can do just to mind my own
Why don't you mind your own business
(Mind your own business)
If you mind your own business, you'll stay busy all the time.
[Lyrics from Hank Williams song "Mind Your Own Business"]

Many groups espouse vegetarian views on ethical or religious grounds. (Consider the Christian Vegetarian Association). Some consider the pain associated with killing to be immoral. Other consider meats to be harmful to health. Would you allow such groups to ban the serving of meat in public facilities or the existence of clubs such as the Future Farmers of America, that attempt to legitimize the meat-eating lifestyle?

Others maintain that all war is wrong. Mennonites are one such group. Such groups could argue that high school texts which show military campaigns in a positive light promote war and the military glorification lifestyle. They might want to ban groups which they perceive to be pro-military. They would certainly find groups such as junior ROTC to promote the military lifestyle. They might claim that the media glorifies the militarist lifestyle. War heroes are paraded on television. Should the expression of a war lifestyle be denied public expression or the right to use public property because it promotes a lifestyle that others find offensive?

According to some ethical or religious views, there is a natural order ordained by God. God is over men and men are over women. Some would therefore take exception to classes that train women to be business and civic leaders or to the development of clubs that promote women leadership. They might object to sports programs that allow women to do masculine things including the play of physical sports such as basketball. Some would even take exception to men and women going to co-educational schools. Some would argue that a woman should not be employed in the labor force. Clearly the media portrayal of women in power relationships with respect to men is offensive to such groups.

There are religious and ethical groups who find divorce to be an immoral act in many circumstances. Some might deem it immoral in all circumstances. They may well take offense at public school texts that show single divorced women living what is portrayed as an "acceptable" lifestyle. They could take offense at the use of public property such as schools that facilitates divorce such as "big brothers" or "big sisters." They could take offence at the use of school property for adult classes in "coping with divorce." They could object to films or other public media which depicts divorced individuals in a positive light.

There are a number of religious groups who follow the practice of treating the last day of the week as a holy day -- a Sabbath. This includes the Jews, Moslems, Seventh-day Adventist and early Christians. Such groups could well take offense and the very use of public facilities such as school facilities on Saturday. After all, neither they nor their children could participate in such activities as plays, proms, football games and so on. They could also argue that businesses should be closed on Saturday

Many religious groups assert that individuals have an affirmative duty to avoid alcohol or other mind altering drugs. Still others would include coffee or tee. Adherents of such views might want beverages such as coffee or soda pop that contains caffeine removed from school property on the grounds that their tax dollars should not be used to support such an immoral and decedent lifestyle.

Opinions regarding modest dress vary widely. According to the standards of the Amish, Mennonites, or Muslims (to name a few) most women go to school dressed in a manner they consider to be decedent and immoral. Should such groups be allowed to dictate their standards to others? Should they be allowed to insist that women basketball players be dressed from head to toe Muslim style? Should they be allowed to insist that the institution of cheerleaders as it is understood in the United States be totally eliminated?

Conclusion

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [Matthew 7:1-2]

Most of use engage in some activities that are inconsistent with the religious or ethical precepts of at least one other group. Unless we agree to be constrained, these groups have no legitimate power over us. Of course, when they engage in lifestyles that violate our religious or ethical views the same is true.

To the homophobe, I say look at the list above. It is likely that your lifestyle violates an ethical or moral precept of at least one group. If we are going to live together, we have to find a way to live and let live despite our substantial areas of disagreement.

For those who can't live with this and who wish to use the power of government to command others in such matters, I leave with this warning. If government has such power, it isn't necessarily your view that will be represented.


Annotated Bibliography

An excellent summary of beliefs and practices of various religious groups in the United States can be found at the following website:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_cf.htm

A great resource for researching the bible can be found at the following:
http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible
It permits one to look up verses in thirteen different English language translations. One can search by verse or by key word.



Dr. Lee is Professor of Economics with Saint Ambrose University, Davenport Iowa. He is a member of Saint John's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Rock Island, IL. The views in this essay are his own and should not be interpreted to represent the views of either the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, or of Saint Ambrose University.


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Previous to return to the previous article, or
Table of Contents to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 171, April 29, 2002.