Category Archives: Politics


The e-book has been available for two weeks, but I'm just now working on the print book.
The e-book has been available for two weeks, but I’m just now working on the print book.

My book on the civil war, Documenting America: The Civil War Edition, had much to say about race relations. How could it not, when the war, despite revisionist history to the contrary, was about perpetuating slavery?

I’ve made some posts about the contents of that book (such as this one: On Confederate Civil War Monuments). This weekend, with the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia, but without  time to watch the news enough to take in a full picture of what was happening, I can’t help but be saddened by what I saw and heard about. Clearly, something has gone wrong in this country. Progress we had made has disappeared, and we are back to the 1960s, or even the 1950s, in terms of race relations.

Yet, perhaps that’s an overly negative reaction to what happened, and what is happening. I think the number of people who would take us backwards is relatively small, certainly smaller than it was in those earlier decades. At least, I hope it’s smaller. Nowadays even a small group of nut jobs can get press out of proportion to the strength of their numbers, and certainly to the strength of their cause. So, although some groups are not even close to representative of barely aligned groups, the whackos get all the press.

In my book, one chapter deals with the views of Louis Agassiz on what would happen—what should be done with—the emancipated slaves once the war came to an end. Agassiz was a Harvard professor. He wrote three letters to a colleague who had solicited his views. Agassiz’s reply boils down to this: The blacks should be kept separated from the whites, and the two not be allowed to reproduce together; and those who are already mixed-race (half-breeds as he called them) should be allowed to die out. He said that intermingling of the races was “repugnant to my feelings”.

I found Agassiz’s views repugnant. That was the basis of my chapter. Here is some of what I wrote in terms of the modern lesson to be drawn from those old letters.

What is to be done? How do we change the hearts of mankind to drive racism into the abyss where it belongs? It’s said that, if you change yourself, you can change your family. If you change your family, you can change your neighborhood. If you change your neighborhood you can change your city. If you change your city you can change your county. If you change your county you can change your state—and your nation, and the world. It’s a big task, but it starts with me.

I’m glad my parents raised me without prejudice. Yet, I still need to be careful, less latent racism creep in and, without my realizing it, cause me to alter my behavior. To let that happen would truly be “repugnant to my feelings”, and something I—and we all—must diligently guard against.

Yesterday I posted that to Facebooks, to many likes, and no negative comments. Maybe, just maybe, it will have done some books. Nevertheless, at present, I remain saddened.


Thinking About Race Relations

At the spray park on Memorial Day, there was no black or white—only people having a good time.
At the spray park on Memorial Day, there was no black or white—only people having a good time.

This past weekend, a four-day weekend for me, we went to Oklahoma City to be with our daughter and her family. We had missed a birthday weekend for two grandchildren earlier in the month, so we sort of made up for it with this weekend. Our time was full of typical holiday weekend stuff. I even slept out in a tent in the backyard one night with the three older grandkids.

One bad things that happened: When I woke up from a Sunday afternoon nap, sitting in a chair on their patio, with my head back against a pillar, my knee was hurting really badly. No reason for it. I didn’t trip, didn’t wrench it. Within three days it was back to normal, which includes some underlying pain until I get it replaced. Very weird. That’s actually not part of the story, but I thought you might be interested.

The story is my observations at the local spray park on Memorial Day. This is a neat park, across the street from the grandkids elementary school. We got there around 10:30 in the morning. No other cars were there, and the water wasn’t going. I thought perhaps the park was closed. However, I soon found out you turn the water on by rubbing your hand over a sensor. The water runs on a timer, and must be restarted every five minutes or so. I thought that was nice, with no wasted water. That’s quite good.

Within 15 minutes, other cars began arriving. Within an hour, the parking lot was half full and the park was awash with kids, of all ages, having a great time with the different jets, with spray guns and water balloons. In the two hours we were there, I didn’t see anyone hurt. We left there with three happy, but tired, kids, and two tired adults.

That’s not much of a story, you say, not worthy of a blog post. No, but let me finish. On this weekend, for reading material, I brought the printed first-draft of my work-in-progress, Documenting America: Civil War Edition. I started reading/editing it Sunday afternoon. I made good progress despite my nap and my knee. I was reading chapters I’d written almost three years ago, chapters about the early days of the Civil War, when the Union and Confederacy were laying out their war aims. Soon I’ll be reading later chapters. In all of these, race is a factor.

Race, first as in slavery, then as in segregation, all with the belief that the black race was inferior to the white race, and thus bondage for them was the normal condition. Short of that, segregation was next best. As I wrote in the book, the source materials I had to go through to write this were painful to read, and painful to write about. We’ve sure come a long way as a nation. I’m not saying we’ve come as far as we should, or can, but I’m glad for what progress we have made.

Which brings me back to the spray park. We were the first family there that day. The second family was a black woman with four children. Later conversation revealed one was her child, three were nephews or nieces. The third and fourth families were black. The fifth family was white. After that I lost count, or rather didn’t bother to count, because I didn’t really care. I was so happy that the white and black race can mix like that. When the park was quite well populated, I’d say the races were pretty well balanced. No one seemed to care. Splash and play  feels about the same for whites as it does for blacks.

I thought of how fifty or sixty years ago, spray parks like this would have been segregated, and wouldn’t have been built in black neighborhoods at all. Yes, we have made progress.

I’ll get through this round of edits, print it again, and read it again. I’d say I’m a little more than a month away from having a finished book, ready for publication. The pain of reading the old, racist materials will pass. Hopefully the words I added to the source words will make a difference with someone, and will improve race relations just a little. That’s what I hope for.

Reading a Book Like One of Mine

I published "The Candy Store Generation" in July 2012. Thus, I'm more than four years ahead of Gibney.
I published “The Candy Store Generation” in July 2012. Thus, I’m more than four years ahead of Gibney.

A woman I worked with alerted me to a program coming up on National Public Radio, about a book named A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. I immediately took notice, because of my book which, by its title, would seem to cover the same ground: The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers Are Screwing-Up America. My co-worked had read mine, liked it, and thought I should know what else was out there.

I looked into the book. It’s by a man named Bruce Cannon Gibney, who, it turns out, is not a Baby Boomer, but of the next generation, usually called Gen X, but sometimes called the Baby Busters. It’s current rating on Amazon is 3.1 stars (it was a little higher when I first looked at it).

I decided this was a book I should read. But, always looking for other authors to interview on this blog, I reached out to Gibney’s publicist and requested an e-mail interview. She responded back that he didn’t have time for that, but they would be glad to give me a book to review. Obviously, I accepted.

It arrived Thursday, and I started reading it that night. It has a long Forward and a long Introduction. Consequently, I’ve only read through chapter 4. I hope to do a chapter a night, or perhaps two when busyness allows. I’ll be back to report what I think. I will say this, however: Gibney’s graphics are far, far better than mine. That goes to show how a publisher can add value to a book.

Friendships, Faith, and Politics

Henry Higgins said it well in My Fair Lady, when advising Eliza Doolittle on how to conduct herself in public. Concerning conversation, he said, “Stick to the weather and your health.” Others have said this in the negative: “Don’t talk about politics and religion.”

Wise words, perhaps. Yet, here in the U.S.A. we have just been through the most divisive presidential election I can remember. From lewd on-tape, off-camera remarks to chants of “lock her up” to questionable F.B.I. actions to baskets of deplorables, we have been at each other’s throats for the last twelve months, or actually longer than that.

Not everyone has been saying rancorous things, but many have. It hasn’t been confined to one side. Both have gone into the mud-slinging business, despite some promising to wage a high-road campaign. Such is the nature of politics when a people govern themselves. I’d rather have it that way as a consequence of choosing who will lead us than have leaders forced upon us by an outside power, or even by an inside power who doesn’t take our views into account. Self-determination, flawed as it is, is better than the opposite.

So where to we go from here? Approximately 121 million people voted (or maybe that number will be a little higher once all absentee votes are counted). Many eligible voters didn’t vote, either at all or for president, instead voting only for other offices and issues. That’s down something like 5 million voters from our 2012 presidential vote. Most commentators think that’s because the two major party candidates were unlovable people. I concur with that. I also note another difference. In 2012 every state and D.C. the winning candidate won a majority of the votes in that state. In 2016, the highest vote getter in each state got only a plurality. Third party candidates siphoned off a significant number of votes.

This lack of enthusiasm for the candidates is understandable, but is not reflected in what we see in the aftermath of the election. Racists and others with unhealthy beliefs are sending out messages of hate. Many are fearful that social changes from the last ten to thirty (or even fifty) years are going to be rolled back under the new administration. As a consequence, they are protesting the result of the election. Some really bad people are piggybacking on them, and are rioting, looting and destroying the businesses in their neighborhoods, in many cases the business of people who agree with the protesters.

One side says “Suck it up; you lost.” Another side says, “We’re terrified of what new era may be ushered in.” Still others say “Let’s all just chill out for a while.” A few people are saying wise words. I’m hoping to add to those wise words here.

I have heard two things recently that sum up very well what I believe should happen now. One was from “Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe. I never watched that show, and became familiar with Rowe mainly from his TV commercials and guest appearances. Embedded in a much longer commentary of this this last week was this statement: “Who tosses away a friendship over an election?” Wise words. They echo what Thomas Jefferson said some two centuries ago: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause of withdrawing from a friend.” Again, these are wise words. And, they were echos from John Wesley from a few decades before Jefferson: “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those who voted on the other side.” Also wise words.

In worship service yesterday morning, our pastor, Mark Snodgrass, continued in his sermon series “Restored”. This series concerns dealing with the news. He has pulled items from the news over the weeks as representative of where our society is. He could not, of course, ignore the election. He had spoken about it in an earlier message of the series, but felt compelled to say something more. After talking some of the things I did earlier in this post, he gave us a wise, wise statement: “Jesus did not call the church to reflect the lesser evil; he called us to reflect the greatest amount of love.” [loose quote]

What a great statement. It picks up from where Rowe, Jefferson, and Wesley ended, and takes us much, much further. It’s up to the church to: understand what caused people to vote the way they did, regardless of whether we agree with them or not; understand how people are feeling now; to treat all with love.

I would take this a step further. Our Life Group is currently in a study of 1st and 2nd Timothy, a study I developed titled “Entrusted To My Care”,  This comes from 1st Timothy 6:20. In the first lesson I asked, “Who is entrusted to your care?” The answer I got back from the class was “everyone”. “Everyone?” I asked. They reaffirmed their answer. I explored this further with them, and they were adamant: 7 billion people are entrusted to our care, to my care.

That means that those who are protesting in the streets are entrusted to my care. Those who are sending vile messages either through graffiti or online are entrusted to my care.

Of course, I haven’t met all those 7 billion people, and am unlikely to do so in the time I have left on earth. I’m also unlikely to meet the protesters or the hate spewers. Yet, they are entrusted to my care. Taking my pastor’s words to heart, I know I need to reflect the greatest amount of love, and in so doing show them what care I can.

God help me as I try to do so.

Restored: We the People

Our pastor, Mark Snodgrass, started a new sermon series last Sunday. It’s titled “Restored”, and the first sermon in the series was titled “Restored: We the People”. His text was Matthew 7:1-6, part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says we should not judge others, or we too should be judged. Then there’s the bit about the speck in your brother’s eye and the blank in your own.  The series, he said, would be about current events.

It wasn’t terribly long ago when Mark addressed current events, i.e. the election season, saying he has been asked many times by various organizations if he will distribute their voting guides in our church. He then said, “So long as I’m your pastor, the only voting guide I’m going to give you is this,” holding up his Bible. I thought that was very good.

To start this sermon, he took the Sunday edition of our local newspaper, and read various headlines. He then got back to the idea of not judging, or rather judge, but know why, and that you are going to be judged the same way. Some key phrases he said, some of which are paraphrased:

  • The government can write a check, but it can’t create a community.
  • Restoration begins with me not you…with us not them.
  • the world is too complex to parse it into red or blue.
  • the Church must become a community of truth, beauty, and goodness.
  • I’m less concerned that abortion become illegal than that it become unconscionable. [paraphrased]

This is good advice, good leadership. I’m going to do my best to put it into practice. Although, I may still give an opinion or two about the election.

Patriotism vs Nationalism

I’m going to write and post this, but it will be far from complete, and I’ll have to follow-up with supplemental posts in due course. I write this during the wave of very vocal public opinion after San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game a week or two ago. Public opinion seems to be against what Kaepernick did, but you can hear voices on the opposite side, ranging from “no big deal” to “he did the right thing.”

For a while now I’ve thought about this. By that I mean long, long before Kaepernick decided to exercise his First Amendment rights with apparent disregard for what impression it would make and effects it could have. Or perhaps he did think them through, though some of his comments since then make me think he didn’t. I’m thinking back to the flap when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama didn’t wear a U.S. flag lapel pin. There was some outrage at the time, but it all blew over; most people won’t remember it without prompting.

My thoughts at the time were that I wasn’t particularly concerned with outward gestures that people define as patriotism. I’m concerned with actual acts of patriotism. I’m concerned with people living their lives as a patriots, not mindlessly participating in rote ceremonies that have become mostly without meaning.

Don’t get me wrong: I always respect our flag, and think about what it stands for every time I’m involved in a ceremony. Heck, I remember a time at URI, gotta be 44 years ago at least, because I  was living on campus. It was a very cold winter day. I was dressed in my surplus U.S. Navy bridge coat, the one I had my brother get when Cranston High School East declared them surplus, having bought true warm-up jackets for the football team. It was a heavy, heavy coat, but it sure kept me warm. It was late in the day and I was heading across the quadrangle, in the direction away from the dorms (so maybe I was going to an evening class or exam). Wherever the flag pole was on the quad (seems like maybe it was a flagpole close to Bliss Hall), they were striking the colors for the evening. I don’t remember who was doing it; I don’t think it was a formal ceremony, just someone taking the flag down. I stopped, took off my red and black hunter’s hat, and stood at attention with my hand over my heart, until the flag was down and folded and being carried away to overnight storage. I doubt too many people ever did that in the URI quad.

So the flag is important to me, and that wasn’t a meaningless gesture on my part. But, I have to say, that respect for the flag is not patriotism. It’s nationalism. What’s the difference, you wonder? My desk dictionary has a slight variation in the definition of the two. Patriotism is listed as a synonym for nationalism, but not the other way around. Nationalism includes this alternate definition: excessive, narrow, or jingoistic patriotism. Oh, that’s not nice. The definition it give for patriotism is: love and loyal or zealous support of one’s own country. Yeah, I like that.

So is standing for and singing the national anthem, with your hand over your heart—or if you can’t sing just being quiet and respectful—an act of patriotism, or of nationalism? If it’s done for show, or because you’re supposed to do it, or merely because people are expecting you to do it, then it’s at best nationalism, and at worse mindlessness. The best you can say about it is it can be an example to others, and perhaps encourage others to learn to respect and love their country.

So what is patriotism? In a previous post I mentioned that my dad was a patriot, and I gave reasons why I thought he was. However, I’m going to hold off on completing these thoughts. I want to take time to properly develop them. Perhaps it will be my next post, or even one or two after that.

Free Exercise of Liberty – Not Always Smart

Some time ago I started a series of posts on a political subject, the furor then raging over freedom of religion laws either just passed or being considered by legislatures in several states, most notably Indiana and Arkansas. Here are the other posts in the series, should you wish to read them before continuing with this one.

A Class of Rights – Part 1

A Clash of Rights – Part 2

Freedom of Conscious – Political and Religious

My main point has been people have a right to freedom of conscious, and ought to be free to exercise that right. Other people have a competing right, the right to not be discriminated against based on their race, their gender, or other issues (such as their sexual preference, i.e. homosexuality). What you have is a clash of rights. In that case, whose right wins? It’s not an easy question. The media debate tends to be favoring the right to not be discriminated against should triumph over the right to free exercise of conscious. I suspect, however, that if the issue were really pressed, they [the media] would want to be able to freely exercise their conscious, and that they are really trying to suppress the rights of those whose consciouses are contrary to theirs.

As the debate on those laws raged (it’s since died down a lot, hasn’t it?), the most disturbing part of it, to me, was the situation with the Memories Pizza shop in Walkerton, Indiana. A reporter, I suppose knowing the owners of the shop were devout Christians, asked if they would cater a same-sex wedding. Stop for a moment and think of the absurdity of this. Pizza for a wedding reception? This question was a set-up, for the purpose of either embarrassing or causing harm to the shop. The results were predictable: the shop owner said they would refuse to cater the same-sex wedding, citing their religious stand against homosexuality and their rights under the new law.

The reaction was also predictable. The pro same-sex marriage side made all kinds of hateful statements and, allegedly, threats of harm against the shop and its owners. Those in favor of the statements of the pizza shop owner started a crowd funding campaign for the shop and raised over $300,000 in less than 24 hours, 10,000 people donating an average of $30.00. To this the other side responded it was a bogus campaign and the organizer was going to pocket the money. On and on it went.

The fact that the furor has died down is, it seems, and indication that the passage of the laws didn’t cause society to collapse.

So, it’s time for me to answer the question: If I were the owner of the pizza shop, or the cake decorator, or wedding planner, or whatever business that serves the public, would I serve the same-sex wedding? I’m opposed to the practice of homosexuality, on religious grounds, believing it to be a sin against God and man. Hence, I oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, seeing no reason to change what has been a tradition in virtually every society in the world for thousands of years. I want the law to recognize I have, or should have, freedom of conscious and freedom to act on that conscious.

However, with all that being said, I would serve the same-sex wedding if I ran such a business. My reason? It gives me an opportunity to give a Christian touch to someone who I think needs it. I don’t see it as a statement of agreement with what they are doing. I see it as fulfilling Paul’s cautions about not always exercising your freedom of conscious, and his other statement about by all means saving some. If my serving the wedding would bring one someone attending one step closer to Christ, that’s what I’d want.

Freedom of Conscious: Political and Religious

Third in a series. See the first two here and here.

News story, from the New York Daily News, February 22, 2015, A hairdresser in New Mexico refused to continue to provide service to New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez after she came out in opposition to same-sex marriage. From the article:

“The governor’s aides called not too long ago, wanting another appointment to come in,” he told KOB-TV. “Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides no. They called the next day, asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in and I said no.”

News story, seen April 27, 2015 at Yahoo, A New York City hotel that caters to the homosexual community hosted a “fireside chat” type event for Ted Cruz, Republican Senator from Texas who is running for president. From the article:

“I am shaken to my bones by the emails, texts, postings, and phone calls of the past few days,” one of the hoteliers, Ian Reisner, wrote on Facebook. “I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive, and much too quick in accepting a request to cohost a dinner with Cruz at my home.” …some called for boycotting the Reisner and Weiderpass’ Out NYC Hotel, which caters to LGBT customers, because of Cruz’s social conservative positions.

These are two examples of where businessmen who serve the general public either refused service to someone for political reasons, or are sorry they didn’t refuse service to someone for political reasons, and implied if they had it to do all over again, they would refuse to serve in that instance.

On Facebook, when debating someone about a Christian’s refusal to provide services for a same-sex wedding, I used two examples. First, a black caterer being asked to cater a KKK rally. Second, a Democratic owner of an event center refusing to all his center to be used for the campaign kickoff by a Tea Party Republican mayor. In that debate the person said it was ridiculous to bring up hypotheticals, and that religious believes should never be a justification for refusing service. I disagree with him about the hypotheticals. Indeed, when discussing policy changes, whether they be proposed by politicians or pondered by the courts, I believe you absolutely need to consider how the change would affect people. What better way to do that than through hypotheticals? Wild hypotheticals aren’t helpful, but reasonable hypotheticals are. And I don’t think mine were wild.

So I ask the question: Should a person in business be allowed to discriminate against another person based on a difference in political beliefs? Should the homosexual hairdresser be allowed, by law, to refuse to serve a straight person who opposes same-sex marriage? Should a black person be allowed, by law, to refuse to serve a white person who believes the Black race is inferior to the White and proposes policies that would enforce that belief? I believe they should be so allowed, by law.

How is political belief so different than religious belief? The same amendment to the Constitution that protects freedom of speech (which the original framers meant to refer to political speech) also protects the free exercise of religion. If someone is legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of politics, why not on the basis of religion as well? Yet the same people who cheer the New Mexico hairdresser for discriminating based on politics excoriate the Indiana pizzeria owner for discriminating based on religion. I really don’t get it, except that deep down, behind those who would accept the one and deny the other, is the desire to wipe religion from the earth. Many may not even realize this is the goal; it may be latent as opposed to active, but I think it’s there.

Obviously, I would not propose a person be allowed to discriminate based on race when that discrimination is based on religion. I’m not so sure that the same applies to homosexuality. Yes, some homosexuals (including lesbians) are most likely born with a same-sex attraction, and thus for them to be in a same-sex relationship is following the course of their nature. Others, however, undoubtedly choose to be in a same-sex relationship, for whatever reason. For them this is not a natural thing. What I’m saying is the issue isn’t as clear.

Let’s take one more hypothetical. A homosexual flower shop owner refuses to serve the wedding of a heterosexual couple. Legal, or illegal? Apparently illegal, if it was for the straight bakery to refuse a same-sex wedding. That decision would most likely be based on political beliefs, not religious. The distinction, however, is very small.

So, these religious freedom restoration acts passed by Indiana and Arkansas this legislative season: are they important, or not? Are they needed, or not? I would hate for the black caterer to lose the legal right to refuse service to the white hate group. I would hate for the homosexual hairdresser to lose the right to refuse to serve the straight person due to that person’s politics. Yet, I see that as a tiny step after losing the religious reason.

A Clash of Rights – Part 2

Continuing from my last post, I want to discuss the idea of a clash of rights again. Let’s think about it from a political sense for a moment. Does a person have a right to associate only with those of the same political beliefs? And if so, can this right extend to those who have a business that serves the public?

An example I used on Facebook was that of a small city, where there was one event center, owned by a staunch Democrat. The mayor of the town is a Republican, and the event center owner hates him and everything he and his party stand for. Let’s say they are both white men. The mayor wants to rent out the event center for the start of his re-election campaign. The Democratic owner of the event center refuses, stating he will not rent it out for a Republican event. Is he within his rights to refuse service?

I would hope he has the right to refuse to serve the Republican, based on his political views. But maybe not. The Republican has the right not to be discriminated against for his political views, and the Democrat has the right of conscious. Which right trumps the other?

That’s not so far-fetched. And of course political rights clearly don’t trump some civil rights. If it had been a black person wanting to rent the event center for his daughter’s wedding, the white Democratic owner couldn’t refuse to rent to him on the basis of political views. Or say it was a black owner. He couldn’t say, “You know, you white Republicans have oppressed my people enough. No, I’m not going to rent it to you for your daughter’s wedding, based on my political views.  I don’t think that would be within the law.

You see, a person doesn’t choose his race, but he does chose his political opinions and actions. So should a person be allowed to refuse to serve another person based on the politics of the two? I think that’s a very important question that needs to be settled. Race is inherent; political affiliation is not. Must a person who runs a business that serves the general public be forced to serve someone of a different political stripe? If the event is a political one, I would think not. If the event is a private one (such as the wedding reception), I would still think not. I would still like to see the person retain his right to conscious based on his political beliefs. In those cases, I can’t really see how anyone’s civil rights were violated.

What say you? Do you agree with me or not? Do we have the right to act on political conscious?

I think I’ll end this post here.  In the next one I’ll start honing in more on how this relates to the homosexual situation. And in one after that, I may finally get into where I stand on the narrower issue.


A Clash of Rights – Part 1

Some days ago I wrote out a blog post in manuscript; not completely, but enough to get me going once I got to my computer. Alas, I have no idea where that piece of paper is. It’s not in all the usual places. I could look in unusual places, but that seems like work, more work than starting from scratch.

So, having finished my stock chart reading for the evening, and not yet ready to exit The Dungeon and read, I’ll try to recreate this.

The impetus for this post is the recent passage of religious freedom bills (RFRA) in Indiana and Arkansas, as described in this post. I won’t repeat what I said there. At least I don’t think I will. And, I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to finish my thoughts in just one post of reasonable length for a blog, maybe not in two. So I hope readers of this post will indulge me my wordiness, and come back for all doses of this. And my full argument won’t be clear until the very end. If you stop before that you may get the wrong impression of what I’m saying.

I got into a couple of Facebook debates on the state RFRAs. Nothing earth shattering. Mainly I said I hadn’t read the bills/acts in question, didn’t know what they said, but didn’t know why they were needed. The general interpretation of the acts by one side was that they gave license for people to discriminate against the homosexual community based on their own religious views. The interpretation of the other side seemed to be that the right of conscious based on religious views needed to be preserved, and government actions were leaning towards doing away with religious conscious. I hope that’s a reasonable summary, and not too repetitive of my former post.

Trying to think of this from a larger viewpoint than just the homosexual community, it seems what you have here is a clash of rights: one group’s right to be treated justly, and another group’s right to act on their conscious, regardless of the reason why they have that position.  Let’s say this was a case of a landlord not wanting to rent to a black person because his religion (or political conscious) forbids him to. The USA has determined that in such a clash of rights, the civil rights of the black person outweigh the right of conscious of a landlord, and he/she can’t behave that way. He/she cannot base rental decisions on race.

What about business-to-consumer services based on sexual orientation?  This is a harder area to define, in my mind. With regard to race, a person is whatever race they were born with. It wasn’t their choice. In the case of sexual orientation, it seems to me that the jury is still out on whether it’s a choice or an in-born trait. Or perhaps it’s always a choice or always an inborn trait. I suspect it is an inborn trait in many cases, and a choice in many as well. If it’s a choice, do the civil rights or the homosexual person (by which I mean both males and females who practice same-sex relations) trump the right-of-conscious of the straight person? Or are the rights about equal, and hence neither side should require any special mention in the law as being a protected class.

These are difficult issues in my mind. I realize people who read this might disagree—on either side. It might be clear cut to some that it’s always a choice or always an inborn trait. Someone might even say it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s a choice or inborn. It is how it is, and discrimination vs. conscious must be settled one way of the other.

Without settling the question concerning the clash of rights as it relates to homosexuals, I want to consider the broader picture of other areas of conscious. Alas, as I thought, I’m out of space in this blog post. Look for another post in a day or two—at least I’ll try to get back to this that quickly.