The Limits of Religious Freedom

So I ran across yet another political pledge just recently. Heaven knows that Norquist's bullshit "no new taxes" pledge is doing more than its fair share of harm to Congress's ability to get things done, besides being ideologically inconsistent in its actual application, so I can't say I'm entirely excited by this proliferation of them in this campaign season.

Well, this one's about religious freedom, right? Surely there isn't a problem with that. I suppose I can give it a look.
FIRST, that religious liberty in full is the birthright of every American, as recognized by the First Amendment. It entails the right to believe, worship, and practice in accord with one’s faith, subject only to the limits imposed by the U.S. constitution and the Bill of Rights.  The right of religious freedom must be applied equally to all religious communities in America, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. At the same time, religious freedom does not mandate belief, but protects the right not to believe.
Restate the First Amendment. Okay, that's fine. I'm actually quite impressed that they listed anything other than Christianity, considering how "religious liberty" is usually used in place of "Christians are so oppressed by the government!" (Spoiler alert: that's what's going on here too, they're just hiding it better than usual.) But I digress.
Religious freedom includes the right to employ religious arguments, or religiously-informed moral arguments, when contending for or against laws and policies...
Aaaaaaand stop. Knew I wouldn't make it all the way through.

In short: No. No it does not. Straight religious arguments have absolutely no place in public discourse.

Now, it's possible my definition of a "religious argument" is different than theirs. What I see that as, though, is an argument purely from religious grounds, one that (for example) argues "given that God has banned homosexual behavior, it should be illegal as a matter of public policy." Unfortunately for that argument, my gods do not give a damn on the topic. The people that believe differently, or those that have no belief at all, simply have no reason to listen to that argument and no reason to support such policy on those grounds.

Basically, creating public law or policy on religious grounds means imposing those religious arguments and beliefs on this entire nation. By definition, it is a violation of my right to the free exercise of religion, as well as that of every other person who does not share the faith in question.

So yeah. Make all the religious arguments you want. And I suggest you not be surprised when they are completely ignored as irrelevant, indeed potentially harmful, to the discussion of law and policy.

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