Can Rights Ever Be Equal?

lynellmorganwalletBy Lynell Morgan, Co-Publisher

Never a dull moment when it comes to the national news front. In the headlines early this week is the confederate flag, a symbol of the south for generations.
I heard something a little interesting so I decided to test it.  If you google “Confederate flag” under the “shopping” search option, you no longer get any results. I tried it and got  “Your search – “confederate flag” – did not match any shopping results”.  Zero. Nada. A big goose egg.  Type in “Nazi flag” and you’ll get two pages of results.  Type in “Che Guevara flag”, again two pages.
Do I want to purchase a Confederate flag?  No. I’m surprised that I’m not given that option at all anymore however. Apparently I couldn’t even buy a coffee mug with the Confederate flag on it according to Google.  I did find out, however, that I can purchase a German nationalist flag, a Italian Fascism flag, a Che Guevara flag, all kinds of Mao paraphernalia, a few t-shirts and coffee mugs featuring Pol Pot.  For those of you who don’t recognize these names, take ten minutes and look them up. You’ll see why I find it interesting that I could purchase merchandise with their likeness but not a Confederate flag.
I agree, the Confederate flag doesn’t belong on public buildings, only the American and state flag should fly high on government property.
As a native Nebraskan, I don’t immediately associate the Confederate flag with slavery. I might think differently if I were black but I’m not. When I see a Confederate flag, I think only of the South. The North only had the American flag so there is no flag aside from it that I associate with the North.
Everyone has an opinion here — should the Confederate flag be banned period?  Is this another example of a slippery slope?  Listen to comments from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (sorry, I tried to find one without an intro commercial. No luck)  Listen then tell me what you think.
Along the same lines of what we are allowed to like, think and believe, the Supreme Court just ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. I have friends who are gay. They are friends first, gay second. Do I want them happy? Absolutely. Of the one that I have known since a small child, I can honestly say he was born gay. He didn’t ask for it, didn’t choose to be a gay man in the 70s in rural Nebraska. Therefore, I believe it is not a choice to be gay anymore than its a choice to be a heterosexual. I’m on the fence as to how molestation and environment can influence your choices. There are valid arguments on both sides.
Back to that pesky slippery slope thing.
What makes me nervous about this decision is what will likely happen to our religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage ruling. I’ve heard on the news several times that religions need to change their philosophies concerning same-sex marriages and much more. That scares me. Why? It appears our religious rights are being eroded in favor of other’s rights. Where do we find the balance between the right to believe something and the right to lawfully live your life?  Will churches of all faiths be forced now to perform same-sex marriages despite their doctrine? We aren’t a country of equal rights for only some people but we at times seem to be heading in that direction.
For several years, I have been troubled by the fact that private businesses are being sued right and left for declining to do business with people based on their religious beliefs. Don’t bother putting up the sign “I reserve the right to refuse business to anyone” — it doesn’t work. Again, I’m asking you to do something —  look into the bakery (Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO) and photographers (Elane Photography in Albuquerque NM) stories as examples. The NM Supreme Court made the following statement in its ruling….”the First Amendment does not permit businesses that offer services for a profit to choose whom to serve.” Will this thought be applied to churches?
Everyone should know Mohammad Ali. Back in 1967, when he was still Cassius Clay, he got into a little bit of trouble concerning military service and his religion. The following was written about his stance. “The first 16 words of the First Amendment establish religious liberty, provide a degree of separation between church and state, and protect individuals’ right to exercise their religious beliefs freely. Mohammad Ali certainly exercised his religious beliefs — to his own financial detriment — when in April 1967 he refused induction at the Armed Forces Induction Center in Houston. One of his lawyers, Chauncey Eskridge, said Ali easily could have gone into a state national guard and avoided the front lines, but his sincere religious beliefs compelled him to take his stance.”
The Supreme Court in Clay v. United States reversed his conviction in 1971 saying “[T]he Department [of Justice] was simply wrong as a matter of law in advising that the petitioner’s beliefs were not religiously based and were not sincerely held”.
Would Mohammad Ali be allowed to make that same decision today? That depends. Right now there appears to be more tolerance for non-Jewish and non-Christian religions. As a Muslim, he would likely get a pass. It is a religion of peace after all.