Sometimes, it seems as if an important ethical maxim, the Golden Rule, is difficult for people of all religions (or no religion) to put into practice.
The Golden Rule is found in several ancient religious or philosophical texts. In Christianity, it’s found in the book of Matthew: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” In Islam, it’s in the Hadith: “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” Far older than either of these are the words of Confucius, who said in the Analects, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” This idea helps create a more tolerant and peaceful society for everyone — if it’s acted upon.
A simple role reversal is required to put this rule into practice. All people must engage in this reversal, but in a nation with a Christian majority, the news is often chock-full of events where Christians are clearly failing to engage in it, which leads to discrimination against certain groups, and makes an article like this necessary, as embarrassing as that is.
In a decent and diverse community such as our own, religion cannot serve as an excuse for discrimination. You are free to practice your religion as you wish, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others or wander into the political sphere — this is, after all, a secular nation. It is a nation for all people and all religions, not just the majority faith. When you are forced to stop discriminating (yes, forced to go against the ancient edicts of your deity), that is not discrimination against you, just like if an atheist or a person of another religion was forced to stop discriminating against Christians it would not be discrimination against them. When the State enforces policies aimed to broaden equality, you are not a victim. Don’t think of yourself as one. Think of yourself as helping bring the Golden Rule to life.
Discrimination happens when you don’t apply the Golden Rule. Equality is what happens when you do. Therefore, the rule is a call for equality.
So without further ado, some role reversals.
You just refused to provide goods, services, or education to someone who’s gay.
If someone refused to provide goods, services, or education to you because you’re a Christian, would it be discrimination?
You just said keeping Muslims out of your country and monitoring mosques are smart ideas.
If someone wanted to keep Christians out of certain neighborhoods or an entire nation, or monitor churches, would it be discrimination?
You think people should swear oaths on the Bible, display the 10 Commandments on government property, and say prayers to God in Congress.
If someone said they thought people should swear on the Quran, wanted the words of Muhammad displayed at government offices, or wanted to allow prayers to Allah in Congress, would that sound like nonsense?
You think stores and schools that celebrate “holidays” instead of “Christmas” are waging a war on Christianity.
If someone said stores and schools celebrating “holidays” instead of Kwanzaa or Hanukkah were waging wars on African-Americans or Jews, wouldn’t you laugh at them?
You think trans people should be forced to use a bathroom that doesn’t match their gender identity.
If you were born one gender but identified as the other, and wanted to use the bathroom that matched your identity, but someone wanted to ban you from doing so, wouldn’t that be an unnecessary violation of your personal liberty and privacy?
You think Christian creationism should be taught in public schools, but not Greek, Native American, Hindu, or Islamic creation stories.
If someone wanted public schools to teach other creation stories but leave out Christianity’s, wouldn’t that be rude?