The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Excuse me, you are stepping on my tenets

How far should religion be accommodated?

Some people say not at all. Some people say their faith should be accommodated to some degree. Some say their faith is the only way to live - the ultimate in accommodation.

I have problems with both extremes. In the first place, the Constitution allows free expression of religion, provided it brings to harm to others. In the second place, some forms of religious expression bring ultimate harm, death to those who refuse to believe as demanded.

Harm is the line in the sand for me.

In the case of the ultraorthodox Jews as mentioned in The Post piece, they say they will be harmed by flipping a light switch or pushing a button. Activating an electronic circuit can send them to hell. That's absolute harm as far as I'm concerned.

If it will happen that way.

The gent interviewed in The Post story has no proof of this harm that he says will befall him.


As far as I'm concerned, he needs proof and he doesn't need proof.

I 'splain.

As he's attempting to legally force other people to change something, then he needs to provide definitive proof that he is or will be harmed by opening an electrical circuit on his Sabbath. If he can prove this, then changes have to be made.

He doesn't need proof because he can modify the things he does to avoid this. He can discuss having a manual lock on his apartment door.  He can pay extra to have his wants accommodated. He can move to another apartment complex. Or, he can deal with it as is.

The real contradiction here is: If he forces others to accommodate his request, this could bring harm to them. Having the lights on in the stairs all the time burns more electricity. More expense. Someone has to pay. That could be economic harm.


My thought is if it brings actual harm to one person, it will likely bring harm to everyone eventually. Therefore, it has to be adjusted so the least amount of harm is inflicted long term. In the case of the Jewish gent, if he can prove absolutely that he'll go to hell, then that has dire implications for the entire human race.

He can't prove it. All he can do is get opinions from religious leaders about the matter. Opinion ain't fact.


S'far as I'm concerned, religious convictions should be accommodated as long as they bring no harm. The most recent example of this, which I know about, is a 9-0 decision by the Supreme Court saying prisoners can have beards. Prior to this, prisoners had to be clean shaven.


I can see not allowing prisoners long hair. It's something to grab in a fight. It can get in the way when working. Long hair can clog drains. There's actual provable harm.

A 1/2 inch beard won't lead to that kind of harm. So, it should be allowed. The guys in the state prison, where I volunteer, are taking advantage of this ruling.


It all comes down to provable harm.

If you can prove that alcohol harms you, don't drink it. If you can prove that my consumption of alcohol harms you, then we need to have a discussion about my drinking it. We have proven, time and time again, that drunk driving can cause harm. Ergo, it is illegal. But me sitting at home and having a Redd's Apple Cider after cleaning out my Cherokee brings no harm to you.

Does it harm me? That's my business, not yours.

Certainly some of the things in this list can bring harm.

However, if the harm is self-inflicted and brings no harm to anyone else, then have at it.

The minute what you do harms someone else, that's when we get an injunction to examine the matter.

The Jewish gent in The Post story does not have a right to force his convictions on the apartment complex owner. He can't prove harm and he has other options.

You don't have the right to force other people to abide by your opinions and religious convictions. Nor do they have the right to force the same of you.

We've had a pretty awesome discussion in MA's thread on FB if you want to see what others think.

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Hi. I welcome lively debate. Attack the argument. Go after a person in the thread, your comments will not be posted.