Evanga-Pundit Glenn Beck is once again sermonizing on religious freedom as he interprets it. By his account any church that engages in any activity, even those that have nothing to do with the practice of their faith, deserve the protection of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
That, of course, is absurd. If a church buys a chain of Jack-in-the-Boxes, they are not permitted to forces their employees and patrons to adhere to their spiritual doctrine. The freedom that religion is granted under law is specifically applicable to the practice of the religion, not every other enterprise they may engage in. There are innumerable examples of limitations on the absolutist theory of religious freedom. For instance, the use of peyote by some Native Americans is not legal in most of the country, despite it being a legitimate and long-standing religious practice. And who would argue that human or animal sacrifice ought to be a protected activity?
However, when the Catholic church complains that they have to live by the same rules as the rest of society, even when they leave their churches to operate hospitals or other non-religious businesses, folks like Beck insist that their rights are being violated. And yesterday, in the Washington Post, Beck made that exact argument. It really is too bad that the Post sullied themselves by giving Beck that platform for his crackpottery.
So Beck has proclaimed that “We are all Catholics now.” No, actually, we are not. And Beck’s assertion that “Americans are offended by the ruling from the White House” fails to note that most Americans agree with the President’s position – even most Catholics. But that doesn’t stop Beck from spewing phony bravado like this:
“[W[hen the state comes against the Catholics, or the Jews, or the Muslims, or the Pentecostals, or the Mormons or those of any other faith – exotic or familiar – we must all stand up as one: We are all Catholics now. "
That's funny. I don't remember Beck or his ilk standing up as one with the Muslims who wanted to build a community center in lower Manhattan. While he was slow to condemn the project, and made some noises about respecting their rights at the outset of the controversy, he eventually found cause to oppose it based on spurious and unproven allegations about the Imam who was spearheading it. In other words, Beck came around to the same position that his rightist compatriots had already assumed. Here's what Beck had to say about it:
"[T]here are some highly questionable statements surrounding this man that should be looked into before he is allowed to build a mosque a block away from Ground Zero or for that matter, in Kansas.”
That’s Beck’s version of religious freedom, wherein it is perfectly acceptable to trample the rights of religions you find distasteful as a result of your own bigotry. I’m sure he would also want to investigate the backgrounds of every Catholic or Mormon who proposes building a place to gather and worship. I can’t wait to hear Beck challenge the building permits for a new YMCA in his neighborhood.