I think society has an interest in what people believe or at least people with beliefs that they attempt to shoehorn them into law or public policy.
Society’s interest isn’t merely ensuring that law and public policy is for everyone equally, but really any arena where a person with the ability to impose their beliefs on the public.
For example, the CEO of a polluting company who is a young earth creationist waiting for the second coming is going to be very resistant to environmental protection laws that will decrease company revenues when he thinks that the jewish zombie is coming back and will fix everything for the faithful.
Or people who influence foreign policy to support Israel because they want to bring about Armageddon based on vague bible passages.
Aside: For me, supporting the only democratic country in that region is reason enough to support Israel generally. Support isn’t blanket approval however, but when you are faced with an enemy using civilian shields, you can’t abandon your self-defense.
We get very distracted by the high media profile of the religious righteous’ opposition to gay marriage that few tend to see these bigger picture issues.
Although, I think it’s funny is that the religious righteous seem to think that they can prevent gay marriage – and make gay people stop being gay by extension – when they have lost every other human rights advance in the last century.
Delay is possible, but not prevention. Sometimes I wonder if these large organized church groups want to be engaged in future litigation and reparations arising from their active oppression and suppression of equal rights.
I also think that we don’t have to examine beliefs very deeply to determine which are the more extreme and harmful ones.
Any group whose basic premise is that their belief defines them as a special privileged group with a mission to bring others into the fold or eliminate non-believers is a problem.
Because these groups come down not to “Us vs Them,” but “Us at the expense of Them.”
Us vs Them is workable because that has some balance, conflict is between an evenly powerful pair of groups or at least on somewhat equal footing or at least one not favoured by law over the other.
But the mentality of Us at the expense of Them is what drives and justifies – well, demands actually – the oppression of the Them group from denied equality to special laws limiting Them’s ability to participate in society as any other member, all the way up to genocide.
Humans dominate the planet not because we’re the best or smartest or strongest – we lack tearing teeth, claws, scales or fur, our sight and hearing ranges are limited – our sense of smell is impaired – but it’s our ability to co-operate – to share resources to develop and build upon technology – that has allowed us to become so dominant and alter our environment that we are now a threat to other life on the planet.
Groups that do not want to work and play well with others are everyone’s concern.
I guess that wasn’t that funny.