STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Rubio's Selective Religious Freedom
By Philippe Gastonne - September 07, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said on Wednesday that the government should respect the beliefs of the Kentucky county clerk who has denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that society needs to accommodate public officials who object to carrying out duties they say violate their religious beliefs.

"We should seek a balance between government's responsibility to abide by the laws of our republic and allowing people to stand by their religious convictions," Mr. Rubio said in a statement to The New York Times, his first public remarks on the case.

"While the clerk's office has a governmental duty to carry out the law," he added, "there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office." – New York Times, Sept. 2, 2015

Civil disobedience in defense of individual rights can be noble and effective, but its success usually depends of the view of the evaluator. People defend disobedience when they agree with its goal.

Senator Rubio defends the Kentucky county clerk who says that granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates her religious beliefs. He, too, is against state-sanctioned same sex marriages.

The senator says, "We should seek a balance between government's responsibility to abide by the laws of our republic and allowing people to stand by their religious convictions." Does he really mean this? Because if he does, the woman in Kentucky is not the only one whose conscience is troubled.

For example, my religious convictions tell me that governments should not launch preemptive wars against other governments that have not attacked them. They also tell me that prisoners of war should receive humane treatment, not torturous interrogation.

That's not all. My religion teaches that weapons of mass destruction, those that can wipe out entire cities with all their inhabitants, are always immoral. Supporting a military that relies on them with my tax money violates my conscience.

In like manner, my religious beliefs say that imprisoning people for lengthy periods under harsh conditions for merely possessing a particular plant is wrong. It is doubly so when the prison operator is a profit seeking company whose revenue depends on long sentences instead of justice.

There's more. In my religion, educating one's children is the responsibility of parents, not the state. A system that forces me to buy my children an inferior public school education, paying for it with my taxes even if I choose to educate them elsewhere, is inherently immoral. Ditto if I have no children at all.

In fact, most of what the federal, state and local governments do with my tax money violates my sincerely held beliefs. If Sen. Rubio becomes president, will he let people like me to "stand by their religious convictions" and stop paying taxes? Or at least reduce them?

Of course not. He doesn't really believe in religious freedom. He believes in religious freedom when it suits his other goals. Sen. Rubio supports preemptive war, prisoner torture, nuclear threats, private prisons and public education. He will force others to pay for those things even when it violates their conscience.

Sen. Rubio appeals to religious freedom in this case because it serves his selfish lust for power. I'm not aware of any religion that condones such rank hypocrisy. The Church of Rubio may be the only one.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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