Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Connecting with God

From the AP
A small branch of a South American religious sect may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a ritual intended to connect with God, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In its first religious freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the government cannot hinder religious practices without proof of a "compelling" need to do so.

I don’t get it.  What the hell’s so special about religion that they get special rights?  I won’t get into specifics, but I’ve “connected with God” on several occasions (a long time ago, I assure you) and I don’t see why this religious sect is singled out with Supreme Court approval.  I’m all for that “compelling need to do so” jazz, but I don’t see why that idea’s solely limited to religious practices.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind doing some practicing myself.  

4 comments:

TGirsch said...

I wonder how they would have ruled if it were Peyote we were talking about. Or, for that matter, marijuana.

trilobite said...

Actually, tgirsch, the point of the decision was that Congress had successfully passed a law (the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act) that would protect these people. The Act was needed because a prior Court case had determined that the Constitution, by itself, would not protect religious users of peyote. So peyote would probably be just fine under the Act, unless the cops proved a compelling need.

Doc, although the Court agreed with you that religion is not all that special under the First Amendment (more precisely, that a neutral regulation not specifically aimed at religious practices applies to religious conduct just as to any identical non-religious conduct), I don't. I think the sense of the Free Exercise Clause is to give religious practice a little extra freedom. Why? Because for so many people, religion is so important. What's it to you, anyway?

Doctor Biobrain said...

I think the sense of the Free Exercise Clause is to give religious practice a little extra freedom. Why? Because for so many people, religion is so important.

But my life is important to me, and what I do with it is important. Why does one aspect of these people's life deserve special rights? I still fail to see what's so special abour religion. Hell, if you needed to: you could consider my religion to be myself. So why does my religion not get the same treatment as the others?

TGirsch said...

Frankly, religion is singled out because it could be, and because religious oppression was common at the time the framers wrote the Constitution. If you look at the entire First Amendment in terms of the spirit (rather than the letter) of the Amendment, it seems clear (to me, anyway) that it's saying that people ought to be free from gub'mint intervention in their bid'ness to the greatest extent possible -- in other words, personal autonomy without fear of government intervention should be guaranteed. The specific items they mention are so mentioned because at the time they were issues of autonomy that were commonly infringed upon by various governments.