Monday, March 01, 2004

Bizzaro Religion

You may have heard of "Bizzaro World," where everything is reversed from our (and Superman's) reality. Fashioned by super-villain Lex Luthor, Bizzaro World is "a planet where alarm clocks dictate when to go to sleep [and] ugliness is beautiful." So far, Bizzaro World's been confined to comic books.

Not anymore. Two decades of state and federal decisions on religious liberties cannot be reconciled, much less rationalized. The cases confirm America's become more "Bizzaro" than any cartoon.

Consider the California Supreme court decision today. The Court held that a Catholic charity must offer employees a health plan that includes birth control despite the fact that Catholics consider it immoral. Yet a decade ago, the United States Supreme Court voided a Florida law prohibiting animal sacrifice. So preventing cruelty to animals inhibited the "exercise" of religion, but forcing a religious organization into mortal sin is constitutional.

It gets worse. Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court permitted a Rhode Island town to sponsor and erect a creche in a park at the heart of the shopping district. Somehow, a nativity scene including the Christian savior was sufficiently secular not to "establish" religion. Yet four years ago, the Court forbade students from reading a non-denominational prayer over the public address system before high school football games--that, the Supremes held, threatened to establish a religion. So the birth of Christ isn't religious but a prayer to an un-specified god is.

As I've noted before (tpfp post 2/27 8:07pm), America appears affirmatively hostile to religion. But not even antagonism can square these decisions.

It would take a "superman" to understand the law. Unfortunately, us mortals are condemned to a religious Bizzaro World. It's just not comic anymore.

No comments: