Leftist Totalitarianism: Your ‘Freedom of Conscience’ Under State Control
A group of conservative and Christian leaders recently released a new American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience. Luis Granados, director of the Humanist Press, obtained a pre-release copy some time ago, and has published a column criticizing the charter. I’m sure he is blind to this, but his criticisms amount to a call for leftist totalitarianism.
Granados rips right into the document. It’s a “no compromise,” “one-sided screed,” that boils down to, “God experts get to do whatever they want, whenever they want.” Religious freedom, he says, is “the freedom to ignore laws.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “painting with too broad a brush.” This is more like using your garage sweeper to paint the wheels on your model airplane.
“No compromise,” he says. Later he tags the charter as completely uncivil. Hardly. Apparently he didn’t read as far as Article 9, which clearly supports “a determined effort to seek resolution through civil discussion and reasonable accommodation.”
He didn’t miss this part, though, in fact he quoted it: “Any substantial burden on the freedom of religion must be justified by a compelling governmental interest and … the means chosen for serving that interest must be the least restrictive of freedom of religion.”
In other words, the charter declares, laws are good, and we should follow them. Yet government should also support freedom of religion to the greatest degree consistent with compelling state interest.
The Rule of Law Must Be Uniform!
Yet, Granados finds that language disturbing. He claims it is missing the rule of law, a concept “even more fundamental” than freedoms. Laws must be followed. Uniformly. That is of “central importance.” Without uniformity, we’re doomed to Hobbes’s dark vision of life that is “nasty, brutish, and short.”
And make no mistake, says Grandados, this charter will take us there. “The ‘freedom of religion’ advocated by the charter rips all this to shreds,” says Granados. In place of uniformity it would yield a “patchwork of exemptions” for each individual’s sense of what is right.
Thus he foresees the charter making room for “polygamy, hallucinogenic drug use, racial and gender discrimination, genital mutilation, animal torture, or ignoring simple health and safety rules,” for anyone “whose conscience (or deity)” approves. It’s a swift drop down the cliff from there to Hobbes-land.
Ridiculous. The charter makes room for the state to intervene in freedoms for “pressing reasons.” There’s nothing unusual in that language. The U.S. has had no problem finding such pressing reasons with respect to polygamy, racism and other matters.
Granados’ Uniform-Wearing “Compromise”
Granados doesn’t accept that. We need real compromise instead, he says, and (reasonable soul that he is) he has one to offer. However, his compromise wears jackboots. His example goes like this.
His compromise wears jackboots.
Some medical professionals would prefer not to take a “hands-on” role in abortion or euthanasia. Legislators could recognize that as one of those “narrow situations” where “conscientious objector” (CO) status would be allowed. “Arguably,” he says, we’d be better off letting them do this than “kicking them out” of their professions. (Clearly he’s implying it could also be argued the other way: “Give them the boot!” But he’s far too magnanimous to insist on that.)
The state would have charge of each doctor’s and nurse’s CO status, in a manner modeled after the military draft. “Reasonable people can disagree about whether these or other exemptions are justified,” he explains, “and when they do exist bright lines need to be drawn. But that’s what we taxpayers pay legislators to do.”
Actually, that’s what Americans drafted the Bill of Rights to prevent lawmakers from doing. Its primary purpose was to keep future legislators from re-defining and removing American freedoms. To protect us from tyranny, in other words.
State-Managed “Freedom” is Actually Totalitarianism
In Granados’ vision, though, the law would take control. Legislators would define CO status and what’s required to obtain it. The next step, no doubt, would be to set up a department in Washington, to inspect church documents to decide if their doctrines meet defined standards, so their members could qualify for CO status.
Local offices everywhere would issue paperwork for doctors and nurses to complete. They’d conduct interviews. Finally they’d give personnel the approvals they need — or else deny it.
Then those professionals would be allowed to do what the law says. Everything would be nice and uniform. Well-controlled. State-managed. Without the messiness of individuals making their own decisions for themselves.
This is how the left offers “compromise.” I don’t suppose Granados recognizes how totalitarian it would be. I’m just as sure you don’t have the slightest difficulty seeing it.