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Raise the Bar: Demand PROOF

The seething rash of anti-gay/lesbian and anti-trans legislation spreading across the US is fueled in great part by one phrase: “religious liberty.” It’s a ruse for the same ol’ vitriol that has found a new vent. Religious liberty is simply another situation where religious conservatives concoct standards for others, but none for themselves. It’s time for a strong offense, and in legal matters PROOF is the standard. The bar must be set for religious authenticity that requires those seeking religious liberty to prove their devoutness.

If governments — and even the Supreme Court of the US — refuse to separate church from state, then opponents of theocracy should recognize the strength in our position: A great many American Christians are lazy pricks when it comes to religious observance — I know firsthand; I graduated from Bible College, then attended and worked in numerous churches with my wife. The Bible levels requirements on believers and clearly spells out the evidence of faith. Bewilderingly, in American courts and legislatures, religious devotion is most often a matter of say-so. Time to challenge those who think a verbal claim of religious fervor overrides the civil rights and fair treatment of others.

To start, investigate businesses and owners to make sure their financial records reflect tithing: ten percent off the top contributed to a religious institution — all the more reason to rescind tax exemption for religion: You want to give, then GIVE. (How popular would Jesus be if he wasn’t deductible?) Furthermore, is there evidence of charitable generosity or are they just enriching themselves?

Next, those who feel entitled to religious liberty should be scrutinized by biblical standards against pride, greed, vanity, sloth, wrath, gluttony, and envy, as well as lust, gossiping, lying, and drunkenness … for starters. Then evaluate whether religious chest-beaters are following commands to be humble, kind, compassionate, charitable, self-sacrificing, “the servant of all,” and loving.

The burden of proof is on those who make the claim.

Finally, an audit of the business and personal finances, as well as sworn legal affidavits from neighbors, parents, spouses, children, employees, and vendors should help weed out hypocrites. If religious liberty is allowed preeminence, then those wielding it as a cudgel should prepare for a lot of hard work.

When religious conservatives rushed to establish “sanctity of marriage” laws and amendments defining marriage as “one man and one woman,” I had the same thought: You want sanctity of marriage? You’re gonna get sanctity full throttle! I imagined legislation that would have made marriage so sanctified, only saints and angels would qualify. What if Kim Davis had been denied her second, third, and fourth marriage licenses based on marital sanctity? At the other end of the topic, what if marriage vows became ironclad and divorce was granted only in extreme circumstances and adulterous remarriage not allowed? Even more incisive, what if marriage was unavailable to those who fail to procreate? The outcry would be deafening … but it would also shake a lot of people out of their apathy toward marriage equality.

Bakers, florists, and other business owners who refuse to sell (SELL!) products or services to gays and lesbians for their weddings should be asked to provide proof that they also deny non-virgins, non-believers, and divorcees. The Bible speaks against marriage in all these situations. Surely vigilant Christians wouldn’t want to “participate” in such noxious unions. Restaurant owners and workers, landlords, and other service providers who are discriminatory should have their lives dissected and ruthlessly examined.

Hobby Lobby — the religious liberty grand champion — sells pagan and mystical merchandise that is incongruent with religious purity. Seasonal items represent Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Halloween; year-round merch includes gnomes, unicorns, wizards, and fairies; even the magical imaginings of Harry Potter are profit generators for Holy Hobby Lobby. Their claim of religious devotion should have been laughed out of court.

“To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

This sentiment has been around in various forms to describe opposition to human rights advances by those in the majority, whether the issue is race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic, or accommodating those who are differently abled.

This isn’t the first time religion has been used to bolster arguments against human rights. Slavery, the right for women to vote and hold property, non-white soldiers joining ranks with whites, and the Civil Rights Movement have all been rebuked by those claiming the Bible backs their bigotry. Religious liberty is a battle cry against decency.

Along with raising the bar, it’s time to sound the alarm. When states with “Potty Laws” targeting trans people actually figure out enforcement, imagine the inconvenience if LGBT activists and allies stood outside public restrooms and phoned police every time a suspect person entered a bathroom. Women with flat chests, narrow hips, short hair, wigs, large hands and feet, or rotund figures that defy womanly curves: all suspect. Men with boobs, wide hips, soft facial features, delicate hands, small feet, or muscles and beards: suspect as well. Somebody call the Crotch Patrol!

In conclusion: With liberty comes duty. The popularity of religious liberty laws that seek to control who uses which bathroom or allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT at whim stems from the fact that it’s easy. Sure there are business and celebrity boycotts, but nothing feels better to a bigot than elevating oneself by standing on the necks of others. If the idea of demanding proof gets around, having one’s enterprise and life splayed open for examination could change the game.