Religious beliefs do not excuse ignorance
Re: Letter “Religious, not close-minded” March 3
I understand that Steve Carroll feels his beliefs are not tolerated by his peers. However, I must agree that he is close-minded. I have no problem with one practicing their faith. Nonetheless, looking at the same-sex marriage Constitutional ban issue solely through a religious lens isn’t taking enough perspective.
There is a reason that church and state are separate. While religion does not have a problem with discriminating against various groups of people, our representative government was designed to minimize the discrimination that those same groups face. I’ll give you several examples of struggles that have been held back in the name of God and progressed by secular government.
Eighty-four years ago, women won the right to vote in this country.
Some of the suffragists’ most influential adversaries were politicians and lobby groups heavily influenced by religion and sexist ideology. For over a century and a half, women were denied a voice in our government and suffered being little more than men’s property. Many of the arguments justifying women’s oppression were religious, making claims that the moral fiber of America would be destroyed because women’s “natural place” was in the home, not the polling station. While the injustice of excluding half of the population from a representative government may seem obvious now, religion and conservatism convinced a large number of people that it was in the country’s best interest not to extend full citizenship to women.
Segregationist ideology prevalent in the 1950s is another example of oppression with religious sentiment attached to it. Southern politicians would cite quotations from the Bible describing groups of people in servitude to other groups of people as justification that racial discrimination was “God’s way.” Considering the white violence present in the civil rights movement, racist ideology incorporating religion and prejudice apparently convinced many racists that they, in fact, had the moral high ground.
The point is that the name of God has been used many times in the past to rationalize discrimination – the Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is just another example of an attempt to institutionalize hegemony.
Before you decide that the United States needs an amendment to tell us whom we can and cannot marry, please consider the struggles of the past, and try to realize that religion is being used as a pretext for people who don’t want to give up their heterosexual privilege.
Corine Clark is a senior majoringin women’s studies.
I will agree with Steve Carroll’s letter to the editor that having religious convictions does not presuppose close-mindedness. However, having religious beliefs does not forgive ignorance or the refusal to know anything regarding people different from one’s self.
Carroll stated that the Constitution should be amended to allow marriage to stay “as it has stayed for all of human history, between a man and a woman.”
The marriage systems of polyandry and polygyny seem to be foreign concepts to Carroll.
Contrary to the above quotation, for the majority of written history (because we do not know how early Homo sapiens lived) people have not been paired in monogamous relationships between one man and one woman. This does not even bring into discussion the role of supernumerary genders in societies across the world.
In defense of gay marriage, this is a legal issue to decide whether or not loving and dedicated same-sex couples should be allowed the more than 1,000 rights married couples are given. This is not a religious issue.
A heterosexual couple married in a church, but without a legal marriage license, will not be considered married by any federal or state government.
That is, marriage exists without religion but not without a legal document.
The acceptance of the church and the government is not required. Only that of the government is necessary to be deemed a legal marriage. Therefore religious spokespersons need not involve themselves in this discussion.
Mitchell McNelly is a seniormajoring in anthropology.