Religious vetoes

A town clerk won’t sign same-sex marriage licenses because such marriages violate her religious beliefs.

I can understand people trying to get laws passed that enshrine their religious beliefs. But it is strange to me that people think that their religious beliefs let them pick and choose which laws to follow. If you allow a personal religious exemption, then you have to allow every individual’s personal religious exemptions. Are they willing to extend that right to any religious beliefs at all?

The danger of allowing that should be obvious to anyone who thinks it through. Would you allow an employee to not follow a law because it contradicts (say) Sharia law or Wiccan beliefs? Where would that end? Can a Muslim or Jewish employee in a cafeteria refuse to give a ham sandwich to a customer? Can a Catholic checkout clerk in a supermarket or drug store refuse to process the sale of condoms?

I strongly doubt that people would want to open up that mess. The people who ask for these exemptions are effectively requesting the right to nullify beliefs based only on the religion that they belong to.

Parenthetically, I found this pie chart from Balloon Juice to be amusing.



  1. says

    Shalom Mano,

    This became an issue several years ago when Walmart pharmacists thought they could decide whether or not they would dispense the morning after pill.

    The argument that women seeking the pill could simply go to another pharmacy fell through because of Walmart propensity for crushing all competition — specially pharmacies — with its predatory practices.



  2. says

    Such conducts may be termed some form of micro-monopoly (in lieu of a better word), where prerogatives are decided not by the job profile but personal judgements of the position holder, as no one else could accomplish the job at hand.

    Religious belief still seems to be an understandable (not justified) basis though.

    Funny things happen.


  3. P Smith says

    In any other workplace, when an employee refuses to do his job, it’s called insubordination and is a cause for dismissal.

    If a government employee is religious and doesn’t want to sell marriage licenses to gays, he should QUIT and go find another job. It’s not his place to decide.


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