Exclude religion from discrimination laws


POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

Federal laws prohibiting discrimination are designed to protect persons within certain categories that include race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, and religion (or creed).

In recent years, sexual orientation has been added to some federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws. Most of these categories seem obvious, but why protect religion?

Religion, like politics, is pure ideology, which at its best promotes social fellowship and civic well-being, but at its worst teaches malice toward outsiders and damnation of nonadherents. There are literally thousands of conflicting religions, each with an exclusive world view and political agenda.

No person is born with any knowledge or understanding of religion or politics. Ideologies are the result of memes (a term coined by Richard Dawkins), which are transmitted from one mind to another, most often through parenting, education, indoctrination or other means of cultural or social dissemination.

By contrast, genes, which are responsible for our biological form, are passed on in chromosomes (DNA) from parents to children.

Anti-discrimination laws should never protect religion, secular ideologies or politics. Free societies must accept idea-based discrimination as the foundation for sound reasoning and good judgment. In fact, logic fails without it. For good or ill, ideologies are what separate or unite our species and society. We must be able to choose with whom we will or will not affiliate.

Should a Jewish business be required to hire a Muslim (or vice versa)? Should a Christian bookstore be required to hire an atheist?

In a bizarre twist of irony, churches and their affiliate organizations are exempt from laws pertaining to religious discrimination. The Catholic Church, for example, is allowed to openly discriminate against non-Catholics. Likewise the Church of Scientology may discriminate against Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons or any other religion.

All religions can demonstrate prejudice against nonreligious persons without apology.

Should such overt bias be legal? Yes, it should. But it should not be exclusive to churches and religious organizations. All individuals and private entities should be allowed to discriminate against any claim, opinion, statement, expression, gesture, belief, creed, religion or any idea or ideology that is the result of memes.

Conversely, no person or private entity should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, skin color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or any individual quality that is the product of biology or birth.

The line between allowable and prohibited acts of discrimination should be defined by the clear and unambiguous distinction between memes and genes.

In simple terms: Ideas should be open to discrimination, but physical traits should not.

The Constitution of the United States was established to protect the rights of all Americans and the First Amendment specifically safeguards the free exercise of religion. This is the only protection religion should ever need.


Mitchell Kahle is the founder and former president of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church.