Ah... religion. It used to be the balm of the soul; now it's the arbiter of medical insurance coverage. In a country built upon the separation of church and state, by a government founded on the principals of religious neutrality, the Hobby Lobby ruling is seen by many as an odd interpretation of the Constitution. But then again, when you have a Supreme Court willing to define corporations as people and those people -- the corporations -- are more considered than that set of people we call women, well... odd doesn't even begin to cover it.
But since we're on the matter of religion and its demand of selective implementation of the law, I got to thinking about my religion. It's a special one: no buildings or official books; it doesn't hold services or promote lists of sins for which one must be forgiven; there's no defining or limiting of what one must think about God, the Universe, the Divine All, something greater than oneself; in fact, it doesn't even demand that you believe there is something greater than oneself. Very democratic, my religion.
Admittedly, it isn't terribly organized but, on the other hand, it doesn't get all judgmental about who's "of the devil" and who isn't, whom one can love or can't, what someone is or isn't if they do love whomever they love, or what one should or shouldn't do with body parts related to love. In fact, it doesn't make any determination about what love's got to do with any of it at all. Which I happen to love. My religion doesn't have a name but if one was demanded we could go with, say, the "Church of Compassion and Common Sense." CCCS. Sounds very corporate. Which might be useful these days.
So, what tenets of CCCS do I believe should mandate new laws or be referenced to change existing laws (since that seems to be what we're doing these days)? I have no idea how one would implement such laws or what legal consequences might follow their flouting, but with SCOTUS kowtowing to those "persons" called Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, it seems only fair to give similar consideration to other religions that demand legal deference to their own particular beliefs; why shouldn't we start?
The Top 10 Religious Beliefs of the Church of Common Sense and Compassion That Should Change or Mandate New Laws:
1. Let's begin with the most obvious: If meds and medical procedures related to women's sexual health can be exempt for reasons of religious belief, meds related to men's sexual health must also be exempt. This would include Viagra, Cialis, vasectomies, hormonal meds, and, hey, if balding drugs like Rogaine are currently covered (come on, those are all about male "sexual health"), those should be exempt, too. It's only common sense. Medical sexism justified by religious belief should not be tolerated by any law.
2. Along those same lines, if birth control pills can be pulled from existing law at the behest of religious corporations, what about the behest of those whose personal responsibility compels a healthy lifestyle? CCCS believes in the common sense of preventive health care, so shouldn't adherents be legally able to demand that "pool insurance" cease coverage of meds and procedures for those whose ill health is due to lifestyle choices? Things like bad nutrition and lack of exercise leading to obesity; smoking, drugs, and alcohol abuse; unprotected sex and other high-risk behaviors, etc.? I bet an argument could be made by consciously healthy people that they shouldn't have to contribute to the exorbitant medical costs accrued by consciously unhealthy people. I can hear the caterwauling but, as with Hobby Lobby, protest has no power here.
3. My religions holds that any bigotry, intolerance, cruelty, or exclusionary acts defended or justified by a "holy book," no matter what "holy book," should be identified as illegal. These would include any holy book-induced bigotry and intolerance related to ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, education, style of dress, and so on.
4. Any cruelty or hate extended toward immigrants of any country, under any circumstances, justified as "nationalism" or "being a true American" should be declared an illegal lack of compassion. Honest, authentic explorations of any and all solutions to immigration issues should be mandated across all political aisles, and the general marginalization and demonizing of immigrants should be deemed illegal. In fact, reform should be considered a prioritized political agenda and one's willingness to explore and implement that goal should NOT get a senator voted out of office.
5. Exhibiting any form of cruelty or bigotry, bullying or abuse, toward mentally or emotionally challenged children and adults would be mandated as illegal. And let's go even further: given the thousands of hours and millions of dollars religious corporations have spent pushing against both birth control and gay rights, they -- along with others -- should be mandated to spend their time and resources this go-around to finance, build, and implement mental health facilities to research, educate, and assist families, schools, churches, law enforcement, and communities to better identify and care for the mentally ill. Seems like a nice counter-balance.
6. My religion respects the legal rights of safe and sane gun ownership, but believes that every person, gun owner or otherwise, must be willing to come to the table to better define and enforce effective gun control measures for the protection of society, a salient need that cannot continue to be dismissed by the most selfish, greedy and fanatical. This necessary conversation will be legally mandated to result in productive, reasonable, and enforceable laws, arrived at by consensus and without the knee-jerk bullying, pontificating, and grand-standing that has preempted agreement up till now. Gun manufacturers, gun stores, and private sellers will not only be legally mandated to consistently, and without exception, enforce those laws, but will be culpable any time existing laws are not enforced and that gun is used in a crime. Period.
7. Secondly, and just as with getting a drivers license, it is CCCS's religious belief that anyone wishing to buy a gun must go through mandatory training classes and permit tests - both written and active -- before getting a license and being allowed to purchase a gun. This process would include some form of affidavit signed by at least one other responsible party who can confirm and attest to the general responsibility level and mental health status of the applicant. I can feel heads spinning already but I don't care. My religion demands it and the issues at hand are far more egregious than women using pills to prevent pregnancy.
8. My religion states that any person who abuses a child and calls it "discipline," hits a child and dismisses it as "just a spanking"; demeans, verbally or emotionally batters, or crushes the spirit of a child with "he's just a kid, he'll get over it," is an abuser and should be legally prosecuted as such. The same would apply to spousal or domestic abuse of any kind.
9. It is my religious belief that the destruction of natural lands and environments for any reason; the littering of public streets, sidewalks, parks, forests, waterways, etc.; any kind of disrespect or desecration of any form of nature -- inclusive of animals -- is non-negotiably against the law. CCCS demands that SCOTUS mandate more enforceable laws and more implemented consequences for the persistent destruction of our natural environment.
10. CCCS believes that it is incumbent upon any man or woman elected to any office to come to the table to discuss, debate, and ultimately find necessary common ground to create good policy, pass sensible laws, and govern those who elected them in the most compassionate, productive, and common sense manner possible. Petty (or blatant) bigotry, destructive name-calling, ignorant ranting, ideological illogic, idiotic posturing, counter-productive partisanship, anachronistic sexism, passive-aggressive pontification, back-stabbing and political treachery would ALL be disallowed by law and those who persist in governing as such will be legally recalled from office (can you imagine??).
We'll stop there. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments. But let's be clear: if laws can be selectively altered, exempted, or dismissed as a result of legal pressure and the specific, personal, and religious beliefs of one religion, the Supreme Court of the United States is obligated to offer the same to any religion. Certainly it's a slippery slope, but SCOTUS set the stage by dancing to the tune of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. Since there are likely others in the wings already tuning up, I thought we'd better jump right in:
Hey, SCOTUS, can we here at the Church of Compassion and Common Sense have the next dance?
Blue Cross Yellow Sky photograph by LDW
Follow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Facebook, Twitter, and Rock+Paper+Music. Find details and links to her other work at www.lorrainedevonwilke.com, and be sure to follow the journey with her new novel @ AfterTheSuckerPunch.com.
AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH
by Lorraine Devon Wilke