On this Good Friday, I’d like to talk about the recent uproar from Indiana, where they recently put forth a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA for short). A lot of people got pissed off at this because it gives ammo to the religious right to deny services to gay and lesbian couples at stores and facilities that are controlled/ owned by people who practice strict followings of their religion, primarily Christianity.
Sadly, for people owning a company, like Hobby Lobby, it is their right to deny services to people they don’t wish to serve. Hell, people who work for them can be denied medical benefits if it comes into conflict with the owner’s religious rights. Under the RFRA, more people, and specifically companies, would have a defense for this kind of behavior.
From all of this, I find at least two things quite irksome.
First, exclusion and/or mistreatment of others based on differing beliefs, especially when it comes to a business.
Lets use Hobby Lobby as an example. If someone came in there, threatening people, insulting people, and in general being an annoying dick, the company has every right to toss them out, or even call the cops. Now, if someone came in there, was a good customer, had enough money, was polite and friendly, but turned out to be gay, or believed in contraception, the owners could throw them out too.
Sadly, that is the right of a business. They have rights, like people (which is ridiculous, and something I’ll try not to get into at this time). This RFRA thing allows them to continue to truck along, serving only those they deem worthy, sorta like the Nazis. Maybe they, and other companies and stores who want to use this RFRA law to weed out the undesirables from their business, will finally have a group of clientele that they will only be too happy to serve.
The problem is, in this day and age of a global market and social media, they may soon find that their group of clientele getting smaller and smaller. They may also discover that, via the freedom of speech, those who may not have known about this company’s support and use of RFRA laws, their name and reputation may lessen or just pulled through 30 miles of mud and shit. Why? Because not all people who follow their faith and love their God and his teachings will think this is a good idea. They’ll find that their small group of clientele shriveling to the point where they may down-size or close up shop all together.
In all honesty, they have every right to dictate who they serve. They should also make that point clear in their advertising, on their store front, and their website/ social media presence. After all, if it something they belief in, they shouldn’t be afraid to tout it.
The second irksome thing is the whole idea that corporations are “people’.
I call bullshit on this because today, the idea that they are people, and can receive protection and “rights” that the rest of us actual people have earned, can, and has been, easily manipulated.
Waaay back in 1819, when the first idea of “corporate personhood” was put forth by the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations were still relatively small. The United States was still wild. Back then, maybe the idea that these businesses having rights like people added their expansion and the growth of a nation. It may have also added in the decimation of the Native Americans, and ruined the untamed beauty of the country, but that’s another subject entirely. The point is, it may have been beneficial at the time.
Today, I’m sure it is beneficial to the people running the companies, who reap the financial windfall, but to many others, it is just a way for them to ensure their own future. They do this by utilizing their wealth and clout to sway those in “power” to enact laws that benefit them. There have been numerous examples over the recent few decades of these kind of practices going on, from Ronald Reagan becoming President/ spokesman for big business and nearly single-handedly ruining a nation, to Enron believing that they were all-powerful, to the recent financial meltdown when Wall Street got a hand-out from the U.S. Government. How many stories have you heard about corrupt politicians, senators, and representatives stuffing their own pocket while letting those that used the supposed “democratic process” to elect them hang.
All these people in places of power, running multi-million/ billion-dollar companies, are protected by walls upon walls of legal services. Their first and most potent weapon is the fact that the corporations are “people”, and thus protected as such.
In a way, I can understand the attractiveness of a dictatorship. There’s no talk, just action. Of course, there’s also the potential for absolute power corrupting absolutely, civil unrest, deaths, and so on and so forth. So, ok, the Democratic system is the preferred on. It’s just too bad America is a Capitalistic society, where wealth and power seem to trump equality.
All of this makes me wonder what Jesus, the guy that many extremist Christians, and even politicians (I’m looking at you Dubya) tout as their source of inspiration, would say about the current state of the world, particularly the remaining, potentially crumbling Super-Power.
I have a feeling that, on this weekend, honoring his sacrifice for mankind, and celebrating his resurrection, he’d be kinda pissed. Maybe, he’d cast his eyes upon all that we have become. I’m sure he’d smile upon some of us, and some of our greatest achievements. But mostly, he’s have to close his eyes on the horrors we have wreaked, and continue wreak, upon each other in the name of false idols and tainted beliefs. He’d probably wonder what was the point of being nailed to that cross.
Then the end would come. Not by a flood this time, but by fire from the sky. All those he believed to be sinners, including the extreme-right of his own church, and those who live off the poor in his name, would be wiped away. Those who did good, or tried to do good, regardless of religious belief, would remain to start anew.
Ok, that’s my writer’s flare showing through. But here’s a question to ponder. Would Jesus, the man, not the icon, be proud of what we have done? Would he approve of corporations as people? Would he allow such discriminations?
Personally, I don’t think so.