Recently, the Trump administration added a new facet to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. The sole purpose of this division is to ensure that health care professionals would be able to deny health care services to people with whose lifestyles they disagree with, based on their religious morality. This not only immediately incensed me, because the shameless hypocrisy shown by religious factions towards Trump and many egregious and deplorable actions, but it also brought up the notion of the separation of church and state.
To my knowledge, the separation of church and state meant that the government could not interfere with affairs of the church and religious factions. However, I also took it to mean that the impressions of the church and religious factions could not affect legislation. This bill basically allows medical professionals to discriminate against patients with sexual orientations and lifestyles that they do not agree with due to their religious beliefs, with the full backing of the government.
Let me preface by saying that I am – somewhat – religious. I was raised Pentecostal Christian and still hold many of the beliefs and values that I did then, I just apply to my life differently now. I have never understood the notion of shaming people into believing in God never made sense. The bible doesn’t say to “shun the nonbelievers” or “condemn everyone you don’t agree with to hell.” God gave everyone free will and it is not anyone’s place to judge anyone about the way they choose to live.
With that being said, no matter how deep rooted I was in my faith at any given time, I always believed that religious values did not have a role in government, as far as legislation is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, everyone, including government officials, are more than entitled to religious beliefs. However, more often than not, those beliefs greatly discriminate against a generous portion of the population. No one should be forced by law to follow one specific set of values. That’s way America was founded in the first place (granted, by people who bogarted their way onto this land and stole it from natives but that’s another story). The Pilgrims fled from England to escape the religious oppression forced upon by the Church of England.
I can understand the notion that people of faith may not want to be exposed to worldly views, such as homosexuality or transgenderism or the choice of a woman to have an abortion. If those things go against your religious, as a free person you are entitled to those beliefs. However, think about how your ideas may come off to those that think differently than yourself. For someone who did not grow up with religious beliefs and values, someone condemning them for their choice of “secular” lifestyle comes off almost manic and off-putting. You have no idea what is in someone’s heart or what they are battling with. It is not fair, nor moral, to judge someone based on their lifestyle.
To me, religion seems like a ‘lead by example’ thing. If you’re a good person and exude love and positivity, then people would be drawn to you and be more susceptible to receive the message. This method of forcing your beliefs on everyone you and damn anyone who doesn’t believe what you do does not nothing but turn people away, it is incredibly counter-productive. Add in the glaring hypocrisy that many religious leaders have shown solely in order to advance their political agendas. “Oh, who cares if Donald Trump slept with a porn star, cheated on every wife he had, has expressed sexual feelings towards his own daughter (on multiple occasions) and doesn’t even know the 2 Corinthians is frickin’ 2nd Corinthians! We want to discriminate and deny health care to gay people and woman who want or may even need to have an abortion. ‘Cause family values, ya know.”
As health care providers, it is your job, nay, your duty to provide care for those in need. No matter how they choose to live. If you want to rely on the notion of religious morality as a basis to deny care to those in need, then you are neglecting your duty as a health care provider. Doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath say to do no harm. How can you justify negligence of care to someone because they may be gay or trans-gender? If you are against providing abortions, regardless of the reason, then maybe don’t work at a facility that offers that service. You cannot turn down someone because they live on the moral ground as you. Everyone’s level of morality is different and you cannot judge for your own moral standpoint, especially when that person is putting their health and their life in your hands.
Religious leaders in this country have continuously been caught serving two masters. They want to ignore the transgressions of those in power who can help them advance their agenda while simultaneously condemning those who are vulnerable. The current stance of religion in politics is, in my opinion, entirely to large. Religious leaders should not be able to purchase their place in the government and implement their agenda into law. The separation of church and state is steadily closing and the public is noticing the contradictory message the church is perpetuating. People in this country are losing faith in religious factions more and more every day, and it’s the church’s own fault.