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Religion Is Not an Excuse To Control Others

by Anthony Foster

I have many religious friends. I know one that will tell me straight to my face, “Homosexuals should not be allowed to marry.” Although he would sugarcoat it, conceding they can have a “civil union.” Though I consider him a close friend despite our differences, he should understand why others may not.

Western society views religion as a protected class among categories like race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age. Religion as a protected class is wrong.

Unlike the others, religion is a choice. You don’t choose your race. You don’t choose your age. But my good friend chooses to believe I will go to Hell. And if he were in power and I were gay, I would not be able to get married.

Of course, few people go into religion seeking these views. Some people are born into it and some are forced into it. Most people just want a community and who would blame them?

Many people are currently isolated. We are as socially isolated as we have ever been. Interestingly, The Conversation reports that having fewer friends to turn to in need has gone up while reports of loneliness have gone down. Social media has made it easy to communicate with people, but there’s little friendship you can glean from a forehead Snap.

It makes perfect sense why some people choose to be religious. God offers a friendship that few others can match and he provides unconditional love. Unconditional love while we sinners burn in Hell.

Religion can also be a force for good. Religious charities help the poor when the government is preoccupied with other, more frivolous, things. It also seems to be beneficial for our physical health as Forbes reports that religious people had better health outcomes, and less anxiety, among a host of other benefits.

But religion is also negative.

People use religion as a shield for their irrational fear of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.

People say, “I will not use a vaccine developed from aborted fetus cells.” This is an understandable statement. If you honestly believed people were murdered to test whatever you were using, would you still use it? Maybe.

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and The North Dakota Department of Health, if you’ve had the chickenpox, Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Measles-Mumps-Rubella, polio, rabies or shingles vaccines, you already have. WebMD also reports that if you’ve ever had Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, or ibuprofen you can thank fetus cells too for your recovery.

Let’s not pretend that religion isn’t used too often as a cop-out for things we don’t like. Don’t want homosexuals to get married? Religion. Don’t want to be vaccinated? Religion.

If you go to a public university where people are immunocompromised and cannot get vaccinated, it’s not their choice due to their medical condition. If you want to get vaccinated, you have that choice, you have that privilege and that duty.

Welcome to college, everything you believe is a choice. And, if you believe in nonsensical dross that hurts others, you should expect consequences. Compassionate consequences.

Montclair State University offers a lifeline for people who claim religious exemption from the vaccine. You cannot dorm, you cannot participate in sports, but you can attend your classes like everyone else.

In a world where college education could be the difference between poverty and a living wage, we are offered a lifeline. It’s rather surprising that there is any exception at all. If my faith told me I couldn’t be in a class with women, would the college make an exception for me? I doubt it.

I still have religious friends and I cherish them deeply. We cannot alienate those who believe differently from us. We’re no better if we do. But it’s wrong to use your faith in your religion as an excuse to oppress others.

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