The other day I was out with my friend and his friend, let’s call them Jeff and Kate, having a couple of drinks, hanging out and talking about various topics. After a little while religion was brought up, at which point Kate informed me that she’s Hindu. Well, being that Hindus often don’t eat meat, and I had just eaten a few buffalo wings, I asked her if it bothered her to be around people eating meat. Very calmly she said it didn’t and, in fact, she usually dates men who eat meat.
So, being the naturally curious person that I am, I inquired as to whether or not that’s ever caused any relationship issues. She said it hadn’t, and her only rule was really that she didn’t want meat in her house. It was around that point I asked Kate if she would ever marry a non-Hindu or someone who ate meat.
“Absolutely! I just don’t want it in my house,” she answered.
After asking her how that would work, she informed me that this hypothetical future husband could eat meat, he would just need to buy it the same day that he wanted to make and eat it.
It was around this time I asked her how that was fair. After all, if you’re married, shouldn’t it be “their” house and “their refrigerator/freezer”? How is it fair for her to tell her husband meat wasn’t allowed in “her house” — when it’s his house, too?
To paraphrase her answer, she basically said she would assume that any man who made it to that point would understand her “rule” and respect her religious beliefs.
“But what about his religious beliefs?” I asked.
That’s when her face went blank.
“What do you mean?” she asked back.
I then asked her what would happen if his religious beliefs were fine with meat in the house. In fact, what if part of his religious beliefs were that he had to have meat in the house — then what?
Another blank stare. At that moment I could tell that she was trying to find a way to justify her stance, but the best answer she could piece together was to repeat that her husband should respect her religious beliefs. It never seemed to register that by her ignoring his religious beliefs she would make herself a complete hypocrite by more or less saying that her anti-meat in the house belief was more important than his pro-meat in the house belief.
Then I asked her if she supported gay rights and same-sex marriage.
“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” she asked, looking rather puzzled.
That’s when I pointed out that millions of people don’t support it. They feel, just like she seems to feel about having meat in the house, that their religious beliefs should be forced upon others. Her hypothetical husband wasn’t making her eat meat just because it was in the home, so what did it matter if he bought it and stored it there? By saying that her religious beliefs should take precedent over another person’s, she using a similar mindset to anti-LGBT religious fanatics who feel that their religious beliefs are superior to others.
This is around the time she began to get slightly more animated. I informed her that I wasn’t calling her a bigot and there’s obviously a huge difference between being anti-LGBT rights and simply not wanting meat in the house. My point was that this is why I have a problem with organized religion. It wasn’t this hypothetical husband trying to make her eat meat, it was her trying to make him follow her religious rules. Just like homosexuals aren’t asking people who are against same-sex marriage to wed someone of the same sex, yet those people want to make gay couples follow their religious rules.
After calming her down a bit, I told her that this is something I see all the time with ultra-religious folks. They’re the ones who often claim that other people who don’t believe what they do are the ones trying to encroach upon their beliefs, which isn’t accurate. This hypothetical future husband probably wouldn’t care less if she did or didn’t eat meat — but he should have the right to keep it in his own home. The truth is, because she wants to force this future husband to follow that aspect of her religious beliefs, she would then be forcing her views on him. This is often what very religious people try to do — at the same time that they’re accusing others of not respecting their beliefs.
You see it with anti-LGBT religious bigots all the time. These are folks who aren’t at all impacted by same-sex marriage who, because of their religious beliefs, feel as if gay couples being treated equally is somehow an infringement upon their religious freedom — when they’re the ones who are actually trying to infringe upon the beliefs of others.
While I wouldn’t say Kate got hostile, I could tell she realized I was right, but she was struggling to still defend her hypocrisy. She tried to pivot away from the meat in the home thing, saying it wasn’t at all comparable to people who oppose gay rights. Even though I kept reiterating that I wasn’t trying to say the two beliefs were remotely on the same level — my focus was on people who feel one set of religious beliefs are more important than another — that was what I found hypocritical.
Needless to say, she never would admit I was right, though I could tell the fact she was struggling to defend her stance was frustrating her. Even when I suggested that it might be better if she only dated vegetarians, she said that was dumb and that she didn’t understand why a guy not bringing meat into the house was a big deal. In other words, she was implying I was simply being a prick about it rather than her being hypocritical in suggesting that her religious beliefs are more important that another person’s beliefs.
I really wasn’t trying to be rude, though I’m sure she probably thought I was. I even apologized to her if she thought I was being disrespectful. I just found this stance she had where she seemed to imply that this aspect of her religion was more important that someone else’s, to be good example of what annoys me so much about many extremely religious individuals.
This wasn’t an example where I slammed some radical religious bigot, but it was interesting to witness, firsthand, someone try to simultaneously argue that they’re open-minded and respectful of the beliefs of others — while also saying that their views on religion, at least in this one area, were more important than those of another person.
This is what drives me crazy about organized religion. It’s this belief by many that they need to make others follow their rules. While this debate about keeping meat in a house doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, it’s still part of the same mindset that we see in religious conflicts in this country and throughout the world where devout religious followers try to push their views on others.
Just imagine a world without organized religion. One where people believed what they wanted to believe, without others constantly trying to force them to believe something else.
When you set the rule that other people who don’t subscribe to your religion must follow your own personal beliefs, that’s the moment you’re telling them that what you believe in is more important than what they do — and that’s not what this country is supposed to be about.