There is an excellent piece in the Huffington Post by United Church of Christ minister Rev. Emily C. Heath


(FYI I am not in any way affiliated with the UCC).

Heath offers a 10 question quiz to determine whether your religious liberty is being threatened.  Here is the quiz:

My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

In response, many commenters on the article objected to Rev. Heath’s dichotomies.  I have reposted all quotes as the authors wrote them (including errors).

Ready 1923 says,

My religious liberty IS at stake when the govenment forces religious institutions and employers to cover contraception and abortifacients against their deeply held religious beliefs, or face crippling fines.

cfisher 000 says

Fixed it for ya:
A) I am being forced to subsidize with my money an activity (sometimes murder) I religiously object to
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

Stephen Schaefer says

I didn’t see the option on number three for “I am being forced by the government to finance the murder of an innocent human being”

Let’s leave aside the arguments about whether the federal government actually provides funds for abortion (it does not).  And let’s also leave aside the fact that we know that birth control does not act as an abortifacient.  Let’s suppose instead that tax payer money was indeed going to fund abortion and contraception, even non-existent contraception that did act as an abortifacient.  Surely people can protest that–it’s any American’s right to have an opinion, to state it, and to use legal means to try to get others to adopt it.

But let’s also imagine a society with an “opt out” method of paying for Federal services.  For instance, Quakers and others are strongly against all wars for religious reasons.  While they are able to opt out of fighting in wars in accordance with their religious beliefs, they are not able to opt out of paying for them.


People are opposed to all kinds of things that Federal taxes pay for, from subsidies for dirty energy to food aid for poor people (depending on one’s political persuasions).  But we have a Federal budget that pays for all kinds of things, some of which we like, and some we don’t.  Some we REALLY, REALLY don’t.  And yet we are all expected to pony up for the whole package anyway.

If your religion supports supports marriage equality for same sex couples, your tax money still went to defending DOMA.  If your religion is say, The Church of the Holy Cinder Block, your taxes still fund federal construction projects that treat cinder blocks as mere building material.

Even within the realm of health care, many people have health care dollars paying for processes they may oppose religiously, morally, or ethically. I personally object to high costs of pregnancy and birth interventions that also lead to high infant and maternal mortality.  We also pay for all kinds of care we ourselves may not use, such as Medicare for the elderly.  Those of us under 65 don’t even know if we will live long enough to use Medicare (or if it will still be around if we do).


In fact, plenty of public money (state and federal) goes to anti abortion and anti-contraceptive activities, such as the $170,000 spent on funding South Dakota’s anti-abortion law, or the $650,000 Texas has spent fighting for anti abortion laws over the last two years, or similarly huge pots of taxpayer money spent in North Dakota, Idaho, and Kansas.  I do not support any of this spending, and neither do many others.  Yet our tax money supports fighting for laws that we oppose.

It is unfortunate that we do not all agree on how collective tax money should be spent.  Consensus among 300+ million people is unlikely, which is why we have a system of representative government.  If you want to pay for all of what the government provides on a piecemeal basis, only funding what you want, use, or support, you need to stop living in a country with other people in it.