Anyone who knows me knows that I am a deeply religious man. I can hardly shave or start the lawn mower without invoking the name of god. I attribute my theological bent to Sundays with the children's chorus at Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church, where I would sing hymns like "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and "Keep Thou My Way" until the kids noticed and ran me off.
My faith journey has taken me to some strange places since then, but I remain a person of sincerely held beliefs in the most legally binding sense of the term. That's why I welcomed the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, which exempted the chain of craft stores from paying for employee contraception on the grounds that it conflicted with the owners' Christian faith.
I applaud this triumph of personal conscience over federal law. The Bible is absolutely clear on the subject of intrauterine devices: They are bad—not as bad as Hittites or graven images, but definitely worse than sex, which is already kind of a gray area. The Supreme Court has upheld Americans' rights to simultaneously worship as they please and employ thousands of women in the sale and inventory of felt. The Christian shop—keep is safely exempt from federal law, but what about the rest of us?
My religion may not enjoy the same market penetration as Christianity, but it is just as important to my daily life, at least as far as anyone can prove in court. In order to avoid substantial burdens, I will require exemption from the following laws:
Taxes. It goes without saying that I will not be paying any of these. Jesus instructs us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and save the rest to get our trucks detailed. Although I do not affirm the divinity of Jesus, I regard him as an important prophet and source of legal advice, and I am confident that even filling out a 1040 would be an unconscionable imposition.
The government uses taxes to pay for all kinds of things my faith objects to, including the fine arts and billboards telling me to Persevere like Jim Abbott. If the owners of Hobby Lobby don't have to pay for birth control, I see no reason why I should have to pony up for some interstate highway system I can't even drive on without taking the lord's name in vain.
On a related note, I will not be obeying the speed limit. I'd like to, but Second Corinthians instructs us to fly like an eagle into the future. As any biblical scholar will tell you, you should always drive seven miles per hour faster than the car in front of you, unless it's a cop. Because my religion forbids me from consuming capsicum and mace, I am also exempt from getting pepper-sprayed by said cops, no matter how joyful a noise I make in front of Stockman's.
State liquor laws are right out. I quote Paul's letter to the Kardashians: beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you are in the clear. [Emphasis mine.] As long as I plan to drink a beer later, the state of Montana has no right to deny me the holy spirit or spirits. And friends, I plan to drink that beer.
Also, I'm not sure whether there's a law about it, but if I should someday own a horse, my religion requires me to ride that horse inside the mall. If it is Sunday, I will be wearing hot pants. I'm sorry if the government and/or security frowns on that sort of thing, but Clarence Thomas will back me up.
And lo: when I go to an Osprey game and the usher tells me to stop yelling at the other team's catcher about his relationship with his dad, that is definitely a violation of my religious rights. Does not Ephesians say thou shalt mind thy own business, and also sticks and stones? You cannot prove to me that it doesn't—not without making me read a book, which, as the Buddha famously remarked, good luck buddy.
It is not easy to walk the path of faith, particularly after cocktail hour, but I assure you that these exemptions stem from my sincere beliefs. Not just any beliefs, either—religious ones, which are like knowledge or ideas, but you can't talk to me about them. I don't like it any better than you do, but I don't make the rules. That's for the Supreme Court, or god, or possibly a big octopus in space.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture and believing at combatblog.net. His column appears every other week in the Independent.