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Manipulation of Morality: The Religious Right Surrenders to Their Emotions Again
Whether born and raised in a state that still proudly waves confederate flags or one that wields rainbows, we Americans pride ourselves on our belief systems. Throughout our short history, those waging battle for their beliefs have stood strong in the face of their opponents, and no war of words is without manipulation of thought.
Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 which would have allowed businesses to deny service to patrons based on the business owners’ religious beliefs.
In an interview with state Sen. Al Melvin, a proponent of the bill, Anderson Cooper pointed out that it is already legal to discriminate in Arizona as there is no federal or state law listing sexual orientation under things you can’t discriminate against.
When asked to site an example in which a person’s religious freedoms have been compromised in Arizona, Melvin said that the pillars of society are under attack across the United States. He named some of these pillars as traditional family, traditional marriage, mainstream church, and boy scouts. During the course of the interview, Melvin, who is also running for Arizona governor, could not site one example of infringement of religious freedoms in Arizona and told Cooper he would get back to him tomorrow.
Senator Melvin’s argument for the pillars of society can be examined within the “pillars of morality,” a scientific theory originated by University of Virginia psychology professor Jonathan Haidt. The theory states that five innate psychological systems form the foundation of intuitive ethics across all cultures, and that one’s political affiliation is largely determined by an individual’s ranking of the relative importance of each of those systems. According to Haidt’s observations, liberal proponents of LGBT equality place more value on the systems of Fairness and Respect, whereas the Religious Right places a higher value on the systems of Purity and Sanctity.
This is where the manipulation lies – believing that any pillar of morality is better than the other, when in fact, as pillars, they all hold equal importance in the maintenance of morality.
Consequently, when we give more weight to any one pillar over the others, the house of morality falls. Within these systems, a person is morally obligated to provide respect and fairness to everyone. Every person also has the right to practice purity and sanctity. Morally, however, no one has the right to force purity and sanctity upon others.
If you believe yourself to be moral, you must treat others with respect and fairness and do no harm. When you deny someone the right to equality by imposing your beliefs upon them, you destroy your own morality.
A question one might pose to an opponent of equal rights for the LBGT community is what right do you have to encroach upon someone else’s right to fairness and respect? Following the pillars of morality theory, the answer is you have no right.
The Religious Right states that homosexuality is a choice. They also value free will and the propriety to choose their own destiny. They say they value free speech, even if said speech does not agree with their own. They believe in less government, yet they insist that this same government enforce their beliefs upon others who do no harm to them.
For example, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s anti-gay marriage bill is on the table to defend states’ rights to regulate marriage, which is contradictory to these beliefs they claim to value. Ultimately, Governor Brewer veto SB 1062 either to defend basic civil rights, or to defend against the potential economic loss of $500 million from the LGBT community and their supporters who vowed to stop spending money in Arizona.
Civil rights or simple economics?
Some people I know agree with the religious right view that LBGT equality is wrong and an affront to God. As they speak on their perspectives, I can see that they are being manipulated by their own emotions.
Logically, they agree that basic human rights are available to everyone. Emotionally, their feelings on purity and sanctity override their propensity to treat people fairly and respectfully.
In the interview with Senator Melvin, Cooper asked repeatedly, “If someone is fired because they are gay or lesbian, is that discrimination?” Clearly flustered, Melvin evaded the questions and ended the interview by saying he was being set up. Melvin’s emotions undoubtedly vetoed his morality for fairness and respect.
Whenever we treat people fairly and allow them equal freedoms that we enjoy, we are helping the world become a better place. The same people that have fought so hard for their rights may then be inspired to fight for others. They will fight for the right to fresh water, food and shelter in the developing world. They will fight for social justice.
Whether sexual orientation is based on choice, genetics, environmental influences or some combination therein, we don’t have conclusive evidence one way or the other.
All we know for sure, and the only thing that matters, is that we’re created as human beings and we all deserve the right to be treated fairly.
Presently, there are 13 states which have introduced “religious freedom” bills. Since the veto of Arizona’s SB 1062, these bills have either been killed, indefinitely tabled, or are now being reworded to be reintroduced as bills, according to the Huffington Post.
In addition to D.C., 17 states now employ marriage equality laws.
* * * Colin Christopher is a clinical hypnotherapist and author of “Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You” and an active supporter for equality.