Tolerance?

As you probably already guessed by the lack of posts for the last three weeks or so, I’ve been a bit busy. We’ve been heavily involved in our summer plans, and had to deal with things like eye exams and the usual errands as well. On top of that, I’ve been busy with the introductory forensics class I’ve been taking, and writing, too.

In fact, I wasn’t even planning to post anything today, because I’ve still got some classwork from last week to do, and a few other things that I need to get done. But then I heard that the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and places like it cannot be required to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives because it violates a federal law protecting religious freedom.

This bothers me, for several reasons. One of which being that I feel that this ruling violates religious freedom. To me, religious freedom means that I can practice whatever religion I want, and you can practice whatever religion you want, and neither of us can force our beliefs on the other. But by allowing these employers to not have to pay for insurance coverage of contraceptives, I believe that is forcing your beliefs on someone else. It’s allowing an employer to force their beliefs about something that should be incredibly personal on their employees.

Some would say (including people I know) that if you don’t like it, don’t work for places like that. Well, that is a solution. But how many people can afford to simply quit a job these days? How many people can comfortably ask a potential employer, “What are your religious beliefs? Specifically, how do you feel about birth control?” I have to think the number that can do those things is far fewer than the ones who can’t – or who believe they can’t, anyway.

But the thing that really bothers me is this: the lack of tolerance from people who claim tolerance. Their response to this boils down to “We shouldn’t have to support something we don’t believe in.” Well…okay. Except that, in this case, you’re making other people support something they don’t believe in. I don’t believe in allowing an employer to decide whether or not my insurance coverage can cover the birth control I need, and possibly for reasons other than prevention of pregnancy (I mean, seriously, have you ever had a severe case of PMS? Sometimes those hormones that come from that little birth control pill are the only thing that stands between another person and their death when they say the wrong thing at that time of the month!).

These same people claim to be tolerant of so much: of other religions, of personal freedom, of gay rights. Yet that tolerance only seems to extend so far. True tolerance would be live and let live. My choice of religion, my choice of whether to take birth control, my choice to marry a man or my female friend’s choice to marry a woman – none of those things affect anyone else. They affect me, and me alone (or in the case of my friend, her and her alone, along with her partner). Accepting that gay people can get married doesn’t affect your marriage or your religion. Accepting that other people have the right to take birth control to prevent a pregnancy they don’t want or aren’t ready for doesn’t affect your reproductive abilities or decisions or your religion. Accepting that I choose not to believe in your god should not negate or diminish your belief in that god. The only reason any of it affects you is because you choose to make it about you. You choose to pretend that the things I do, or that my neighbor does, or that the cashier behind the counter does, have anything at all to do with you. But they don’t!

I don’t sit around thinking that every time you go to church, you’re praying to save my soul (although, if you are, let me just say I appreciate the gesture, but you can go ahead and stop now. It’s fine on it’s own, really!). I don’t stick my nose into your medicine cabinet or nightstand to see if you have condoms or a Bible (or both). I don’t take it upon myself to tell you that you have too many children or that I feel so sorry for you because scientific studies indicate that people who are religious are slightly less intelligent than people who are atheist. You would be horribly offended by that, would you not? Yet I’m not supposed to be offended when you tell me that you’ll pray that I find God, Jesus, etc. I’m supposed to think that it’s okay for my employer to now be able to tell me that I can’t have birth control because it goes against his religious beliefs – but if it was an atheist company telling a Christian that they must take birth control because his beliefs indicate that having more than two children is morally wrong, that would be discrimination and wrong.

You know, maybe the problem is people not understanding precisely what the word tolerance means. The exact definition of tolerance, according to Merriam-Webster, in this context is:

willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own

Notice the first three words there: willingness to accept. Not support, but accept. Not take on, but accept. To accept that they exist, and that others have them. You can accept that I, and others, want to use birth control, even if you don’t. You can accept that others love and marry people of the same sex, even if you don’t do it yourself. You can accept that others practice a religion other than your own, even if it’s not what you would do.

Refusing to allow insurance to cover birth control because you don’t use it because of your beliefs is not tolerance. It’s not,  because if it was tolerance, then you would be just as okay with it if you were forced to take birth control because your employer holds different beliefs. But it’s not okay with you if that happens, and that’s why it’s not tolerance.

I have never been so grateful before to not have to work for someone else.

And for the record? I’m not an atheist. But I’m not a Christian either. I have my own beliefs, and I keep them to myself. Why? Because they’re mine, and I don’t need to inflict them on anyone else, nor do I need anyone else telling me I’m wrong and attempting to inflict theirs on me. But you? You go right ahead and believe whatever you want. I won’t just tolerate you. I’ll support you – as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...
English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptives with Ortho Dialpak dispensers (photo taken by self). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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