Dear Theist: Do Your Job or Find Another
You know, I get that it’s a tough economy out there. Lots of people are taking jobs that aren’t necessarily optimal, like working at a fast food joint, cooking meth, or making YouTube videos. And not everyone is able to choose a job that is 100% in line with his or her morals, like a vegetarian flipping burgers, an ex-DEA agent cooking meth, or a normal human being making YouTube videos.
Or like a fundamentalist Christian who is a town clerk in New York, where same-sex marriage was recently made legal.
That’s right, there are people in New York who are refusing to approve the marriage licenses of same-sex couples because of “religious freedom.” Here’s one now!
“I love helping people . . . the Bible tells me that marriage is between a man and a woman. So I don’t feel I can endorse the new law, the policy for same-sex people to be married. I don’t feel it’s right.”
Look, I’m almost willing to overlook the fact that Bible actually defines marriage as a convenant between a man and a woman, a man and a woman and dozens of concubines, a man and several wives, a rapist and a woman, a man’s brother and a woman, a man and his aunt, etc. etc., because I realize that you said “the Bible tells [you]“, and who am I to interpret what an inanimate object is whispering to you late at night when no one else is around? If you believe that that’s what marriage is or should be, then fine! That’s what you think marriage is. Great for you.
But if you also think that the Bible tells you that you can’t stamp a piece of paper because you’ll be complicit in some evil deed, then you should not have a job that requires you to stamp a piece of paper. You should get a new job. Have you tried cooking meth? The Bible says literally nothing about meth. Nothing.
This is, of course, just the latest in a long line of attempts by fundamentalist Christians to not do their jobs. There are the pharmacists who refuse to fill women’s prescriptions because those women may be using those prescribed drugs to not have babies. There are the doctors and nurses who refuse to perform potentially life-saving operations on women because those operations may destroy a fetus. There are the science teachers who refuse to teach science because the facts contradict their faith.
I give a talk on women’s reproductive rights in which I compare these people to a vegan priest refusing to give the sacrament – if you can’t do the job, then quit your job. A commenter over at The Advocate brought up another apt analogy: would these fundamentalists support a Hindu meat inspector’s right to not inspect beef? What about an orthodox Jewish lifeguard who refused to touch members of the opposite sex?
I find town clerks refusing to do their jobs to be particularly vexing because they work for the US (state) government and have no idea what the first amendment means. No idea. “It is a religious freedom situation,” according to the woman in the video, who is completely unaware that religious freedom is about keeping religion out of governmental duties so that the rest of us can be protected from her bigoted beliefs. If only there were a basic constitution quiz given to any applicant for any governmental job. But then, who would the GOP run for president?