A Contradiction in Terms: The Ignorant Conservative Defense of ‘Religious Freedom’

religious-freedomA term that’s become extremely popular among conservative Christians here lately is “religious freedom.”  But every time I see conservatives say this, a famous line from the movie The Princess Bride pops into my mind: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Which shouldn’t be surprising considering conservatives are often big fans of repeating words or sayings that might sound good, they just don’t make a whole lot of sense.

And the term “religious freedom” is a great example of that.

By its very nature, religion is the exact opposite of freedom.  Religion is a belief based on faith in something you cannot prove.  It’s a set of rules, guidelines and requirements which highly restrict the freedoms of those who claim to follow whichever particular religion to which they subscribe.

A Christian, if they were to follow the Bible word for word, wouldn’t be allowed to do many of the things a lot of us do in our day to day lives.

While it’s popular for Christian conservatives to go off on rants about abortion or gay marriage, I see plenty of them with tattoos, eating shellfish or wearing blended fabrics.

All things that are taboo according to the Bible.

It’s an irony I pointed out to someone who once strongly defended Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson to me.  His son has tattoos, they all have long hair and their company sells plenty of blended fabrics.

But I just find it humorous how so many of these conservative Christians go on and on about “religious freedom” when what they’re really talking about is restricting the rights of others.

See, they want the freedom to follow whatever set of rules they choose.  They just don’t want people who disagree with them to be able to follow the rules of their choosing.

Because when these people say “religious freedom,” what they’re really defending is their right to tell someone else what is or isn’t acceptable based on their religion.

Which is partially what our Founding Fathers were escaping.  It’s why they gave us the freedom of religion in our First Amendment.  So that no American could be forced to follow the rules (aka control) of another based on religious views that they do not share.

Essentially that’s what the entire Hobby Lobby case was about.  A law that stated health care had to cover specific methods of contraceptives and a right-wing Christian stating that their beliefs on contraceptives should matter more than the thousands of employees who work for them.  One person’s beliefs ruling over thousands.

That’s not freedom.  That’s theocratic rule.

Here in Texas (and other places as well) I can’t buy liquor on a Sunday.  Heck, I can’t even buy beer or wine until after noon on Sundays.  Some counties don’t sell alcohol at all.  Is it because I support these laws?  Nope.

And where do these laws come from?  Religion. 

So even when it comes to something as menial as being able to buy a bottle of whiskey on a Sunday in Texas, I’m not allowed to do it based off beliefs I don’t support.

Where’s my “religious freedom”?

But religion has nothing to do with freedom.  In fact, religion is almost the exact opposite of freedom.  It’s a set of rules that people are supposed to follow otherwise their souls will be sent to some horrific place upon death.

So the next time some conservative says something about “religious freedom,” just say the line uttered by the great Inigo Montoya:

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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