Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Just listened to a Town Hall debate between Ron Sims and Ken Hutcherson

It was rebroadcast over KUOW Radio.

Ron Sims is King County Executive and Hutcherson is a reverend.

Interesting to note that Sims is a reverend also. Religious ideas can certainly be interpreted many ways.

Also interesting to note that both men are black.

Civil rights was the topic. Should civil rights protections include sexual orientation?

Sims is in favor, Hutcherson is against.

The debate was lively and spirited.

Rather than me regurgitating the debate, here is a thought that came to my mind just before the broadcast.

One must ask, "why it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of religion, but not against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?" Religion seems to be a more divisive and contentious factor than sexual orientation.

I am actually religious, myself, but I am not a fundamentalist. I follow a "liberal" interpretation of Christianity.

Under the original 1964 civil rights act, it would be illegal discriminate against someone describing themselves as "fundamentalist." How about "Islamic Fundamentalist" for instance? That would be considered "religion" and thus protected. However, sexual orientation can still be discriminated against.

Hum.

Isn't religion something people choose as Hutcherson claims that sexual orientation is? Religion can certainly stir up a lot of problems.

Also, of course, as Sims maintains that sexual orientation is not a choice. Science may not be 100% certain (like fundamentalist religions claim to be), but scientific evidence tends to lean toward sexual orientation's biological basis. There are DNA studies and so forth.

Religion, is a matter of choice.

Actually some people might even dispute that. There are religious determinists, but that's another digression.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act only covers race, religion, creed and national origin.

Even sex (whether you are a man or a woman) is not protected. Not protected in the 1964 constitutional act. That's why women will often remind us that we still don't have the ERA.

In most states and local areas, other categories have been added to civil rights. Women (or I should say men and women) are protected this way.

Age has been included, handicap status, marital status and some other things, in various states and localities.

17 states have now added sexual orientation to the list. Washington just passed this protection, last legislative session, but it is being challenged by a possible initiative.

Sexual orientation is a category that I think is at least as deserving as the original 4.

Hutcherson's perspective is kind of scary even though he has a right to his views, just like everyone else. He seems to think one interpretation of the Bible is "God's law" and this nation is based on that.

Sharia Law? Ops, I guess that's Islam. Sharia law is basically governing civil matters under Islamic religious code.

Sims spoke about the need to separate civil law from the various interpretations of religious belief.

Yes, I agree. America has got to be a nation with many flavors of religious, and even non religious belief. Otherwise, look at all that sectarian fighting in the Middle East.

Hutcherson says he doesn't want to be forced to hire a gay person. Well, that is kind of a libertarian argument that can also be used against other civil rights protections as well. Keeping that idea in mind, it is good to point out that Washington State's sexual orientation law would not force Hutcherson to hire gay people in his church. Religious institutions are exempt under that provision. Also smaller businesses with just a few employees or rental units are exempt. If you still wanted to discriminate against a gay person, (or non gay for that matter) in your church or renting a room in your private residence, the new law would not apply.

It does apply to larger things; for instance corporations and government agencies. A somewhat gentle law with quite a few exceptions. Trying to be nice and cater to objections.

Now, would Sharia law be that kind? Whoops, I guess that's Islam. Would fundamentalist religious law, of any kind, be that nice?

Hutcherson, like so many of the fundamentalist persuasion, puts one rigid interpretation of a religious doctrine over everything else. In my mind, a loving spirit matters most and people will always have different interpretations of doctrine.

1 comment:

Michael M. said...

dogmatism [rigidity in dogma] vs. a loving spirit...
this says it all!
which expresseschristianity?

My comment is that i'm reading this