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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
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
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?
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.
An excellent summary of beliefs and practices of various religious
groups in the United States can be found at the following website:
A great resource for researching the bible can be found at the
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.