When “Religious Freedom” becomes “Religious Entitlement”

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Don’t like the Affordable Care Act also known as Obama Care? Not to worry. Your religious beliefs may soon exclude you from adhering to a law that everyone else must follow. Not religious? Sorry, no special treatment for you. This is according to the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, H.R. 1814 that just passed the United States House of Representatives.

The Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code with the following:
“Such term shall not include an individual for any month during a taxable year if such individual files a sworn statement, as part of the return of tax for the taxable year, that the individual was not covered under minimum essential coverage at any time during such taxable year and that the individual’s sincerely held religious beliefs would cause the individual to object to medical health care that would be covered under such coverage.
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1814/text

Under this reasoning, why wouldn’t “faith healing” parents get away with allowing their sick children to suffer and die by not seeking proper medical treatment? Wouldn’t they be exempt from their parental responsibilities because of “religious freedom?”

A country with religious freedom is supposed to stand up for equal rights. Religious freedom is to protect the people from discrimination based on religious beliefs. But this term has been corrupted in the United States. It’s being used to grant special privileges to religious people over non-religious people, or people of a specific faith over everyone else.

This certainly didn’t start with H.R. 1814. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994, which did become law, allowed legal use of peyote for the Native American Church. "the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide traditional ceremony purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by the United States or any state. No Indian shall be penalized or discriminated against on the basis of such use, possession or transportation." https://erowid.org/freedom/civil_rights/religion/religion_airfaa.shtml

This is not religious freedom, this is religious entitlement. It’s the allowance of one specific group of people to do something that’s illegal for everyone else. Many may argue this isn’t a big deal. Look at the Indian Removal Act that led to the Trail of Tears. Look at the massacres and land taking of the European settlers. Let them smoke some peyote for crying out loud!

The problem is, once you allow entitlements under the banner of freedom, a line forms of organizations looking for a hand out. You granted them a special privilege, why not us? We suffered too. Is it any wonder that religious organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress? Religious entitlements creep in chipping away at the secular foundation of the country.

Forcing non-religious people and organizations to comply with rules and regulations that religious people and organizations are exempt from is not religious freedom, it’s religious entitlement and bigotry. It’s not equal rights, it’s rights for some, but not for others. It’s not fair and it’s not right.

If a bill was proposed that granted special rights against criticism for non-believers, or any other special privilege, I’d be against it. If someone suggested “there is no god” be in the Pledge of Allegiance, I’d be against it. I’m not for special rights, I’m for equal rights and I know many religious people feel the same way. I would hope that most religious people in the United States are too proud to beg or be politically persuaded by promises of special treatment.

In 1956 President Eisenhower signed a law declaring “In God We Trust” to be the national motto of the United States. From the long standing “We the People” and “E pluribus unum” (out of many, one), came a national motto that mirrors an Islamic theocracy. This was not progress.

A country for all people that promotes individual rights and liberties is to be respected, protected and cherished. This requires fair legislation that doesn’t grant special privileges to one group of law abiding citizens over others.

-James Kirk Wall

Reference
House OKs religious exemptions to having a healthcare plan – The Hill – Pete Kasperowicz
Religious Exemption from Healthcare Law Overwhelmingly Passes the House… and That’s Bad – Patheos – Paul Fidalgo

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