Sunday, June 14, 2009

Religious Freedom is in Deep Doo-doo

Okay, here's the story: In Nicktown, PA, an Amish community is in deep doo-doo over local sanitation ordinances. Seems that the Amish elders have decided that state laws are ". . . enforcing stuff that's against our religion . . ." by requiring them to upgrade their outhouse waste storage capabilities.

I won't go into details about what the Cambria County Sewage Enforcement Agency found at the Amish school house (you can read the story by clicking here), but they laid down the law and required the community to make substantial improvements.

The Amish elders complied with some of the regulations, but felt other requirements (such as installing a 5,000-gallon precast concrete tank and allowing someone certified by the state to use an electronic meter to test the waste’s chemical content) were way too modern. Meanwhile, people are compaining (and rightly so) that not handling sewage properly can have a seriously bad affect on the entire county's health.

The case is still pending - there've been meetings and jail sentences - and neither side is willing to budge, but it does bring up the thorny issue of how far religious freedom should be allowed to go.

What if an elected official wants to be sworn in on something other than the Bible? What if a Rastafarian is elected and he wants to smoke a little ganja at his inaugral ceremony? Sounds extreme, but we've seen parents let their children die because their religion wouldn't allow them to see a doctor . . .

Many would like to see prayer taught again in the schools, but what if the official at your child's school is a Muslim, a Buddhist, or (gasp!) a liberal?

That's when the poop would hit the fan . . .

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