Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Religious convictions go too far

So what do Minnesota cab drivers, a British policewoman and Texas pharmacists have in common? Not much, one might think; at least on the surface. But all of them have refused and/or are planning to refuse, in some form or another, to render certain services due to their religious beliefs.

Muslim cabbies at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, are refusing cab service to anyone with alcohol in their possession, or people with dogs (including seeing-eye dogs!) because it violates Islamic religious doctrine. According to Hassan Mohamud, imam at a St. Paul mosque, "Muslims do not consume, carry, sell or buy alcohol, and Islam also considers the saliva of dogs to be unclean." This becomes a monumental problem when the majority of the 900 cab drivers at the Mpls/St. Paul airport happen to be Somali and many of those are Muslim.

And in London, recently, a Muslim policewoman refused to shake hands with Police Commissioner Ian Blair, during a graduation ceremony, stating that her religion prohibits physical contact between men and women, other than a husband or close relative. And even though Muslim groups have defended her actions, claiming that her religious beliefs would not unduly affect her job performance, I have to wonder what she will do when faced with apprehending a male felon.

And then we have Christian pharmacists, all over the U.S., refusing to dispense contraceptives (of any kind, including emergency contraceptives for rape victims) as a result of their moral and religious convictions. Some even refuse to refer the patient to other pharmacies willing to fill the prescription. And though I don't personally condone abortion (particularly as a means of contraception), if a rape victim chooses to prevent a potential pregnancy that was created through an act of violence, that woman should have the right to do so.

Whatever religion a person happens to embrace should be immaterial when it comes to hiring practices, but, if it interferes or adversely affects how they carry out their duties on-the-job, then the situation needs to be reassessed. I totally understand the desire to adhere to higher moral standards, but if those standards conflict with whatever profession you happen to be in, then it is incumbent upon you to either adjust or find other work. I've refused commercial auditions for alcohol and meat products on many occasions, and I would never accept a booking for a Burger King ad, show up on the set, and refuse to eat the beef! That's the height of unprofessionalism. I have also declined projects I found morally offensive. I wouldn't expect the director or playwright to re-write the script to suit my tastes. Nor should people working in the public service sector expect to be given special dispensation to pick and choose what they feel comfortable doing, because of their religious beliefs. If you feel morally conflicted about something you are asked to do, then quit, find another job or another profession.

And if you feel that strongly about your convictions, then consider creating a company that caters to those with the same beliefs. What about a Muslim cab company? Or a Christian pharmacy? In that way, people would know what they are dealing with before they choose to patronize a particular establishment, and workers would not have to compromise their principles. Every one is happy. End of story.


All_I_Can_Stands said...

Well written post that makes me think. I support the right of a pharmacist to refuse the abortion pill due to their convictions, but your other examples present a strong argument.

I still stick to my view on pharmacists due to the life and death nature of the issue. Since I view the unborn as life, I cannot go with the rape and incest justification for abortion. It penalizes the child for the acts committed at conception. To force a pharmacist to sell a product that takes life is not quite in the same category as the alchohol and dogs.

I also think that there are many pharmacists that went to school long before this pill was legal in the US. Why should they now only be given the choice to select a different career due to this new change? What is going to happen when a euthanasia pill becomes legal? Will they be forced to sell that. I don't think that given the climate today that a euthanasia pill is unlikely. Within 10 years I predict it will come.

So in short I have to disagree on this one. I hope we are still friends :)

Incognito said...

Of course, still friends. :-)

I knew this one wouldn't necessarily be popular with people.

Interesting to note, however, the difference between Libs and Cons when it comes to differences of opinion. The Cons are usually very civil, the Libs just angrily rant. So thank you for being a C and not ranting. :)

And I do understand your point of view, so I posit this: If a woman's life is at risk during childbirth and the choice has to be made between the life of the mother and that of the child, which do you choose?

I'm not saying abortion is a good thing, by any means, even in the case of rape or incest; but I believe that the negative energy associated with the violence in the act of rape can be transmitted to the fetus. And what about the feelings of repulsion or whatever else the rape victim might be feeling for the "child" she's carrying. A mother and her fetus are so closely aligned for 9 long months, that I can't help but feel all that negativity mustn't be good for the child. And we have so many screwed up people in this world.
It's a thorny issue. And who knows what's right or wrong.

As for the Pharmacist. He should refer the patient elsewhere, which they aren't doing. And though I'm not a Pharmacist, I did get my degree in Theatre Arts and have been working in this profession for decades. I'd give it up in a jiff if I found that the majority of work was morally offensive to me. Or start my own theatre company and do the kind of work I thought was wholesome.
But we are all different... and, in a way, that's what makes the world what it is.
God Bless!


good year

All_I_Can_Stands said...

I do think that when it is a clear call between the life of the mother or an abortion, I would understand choosing the abortion.

Until one is born, there is the potential to not make it through birth. An existing life would take precedence over a potential birth.

Yes, I much prefer to calmly discuss differences.

Incognito said...

Chic- I give up.

Hello AICS, Okay, I just wondered. I would agree.
And yes, calm is much preferable to rant. :-)