By now I am sure we all know what happened at the Supreme Court recently. I am sure that no one is surprised, as it had been made clear that they were going to do it, but still it shocks if not surprises.
If something that American citizens have understood as a Constitutional Right for two generations can go away just like that, then one has to assume that in the end there really are no Constitutional Rights, only privileges that can be given or taken at will by those in power. Already some on the Supreme Court have indicated that they will also overturn other things that have been understood to be Constitutional Rights, including Marriage Equality, LGBT Rights, and the right to Contraception Access.
All of these things revolve around the ideas of Bodily Autonomy and Religious Freedom.
The Correllian Tradition believes strongly in the idea of Bodily Autonomy, which I feel is made clear by our Correllian Manifesto and also in our teachings generally. Without Bodily Autonomy -that is, the right to control your own body- what rights have you really got? If others can decide who you can love, what goes on in your bedroom between consenting adults, whether you can avoid unwanted pregnancy even through contraception -how much freedom do you really have?
Also, the Correllian Tradition obviously believes in Religious Freedom -again clearly outlined in our Manifesto and in our teachings. Every one of these issues is grounded in religious belief, and in everyone of them there is a wide range of belief. Questions such as When Life Begins are grounded in religion, and religions do not agree on the answer. Marriage Equality, LGBT Rights, and things like Contraception are also issues grounded in religion. All of these things are in keeping with Correllian teachings -yet if we lose the legal right to them, where is our Religious Freedom? Limited at best and Nonexistent at worst.
Even more importantly as a Pagan religion we must remember that the same people seeking to eliminate these rights have also repeated attempted to limit the definition of religion to exclude religions like ours. Have we all forgotten the Helms Amendment? Have we forgotten the Pentacle Quest? We had best remember that unlike some other religions we have had to repeatedly fight for our Religious Freedom in living memory, even recent memory. If you think that our Constitution Right to Freedom of Religion is not among the Constitutional Rights that these people seek to eliminate, you have forgotten the past -and we all know what they say about those who forget the past.
The elimination of any Constitutional Right weakens the ability to have faith in any Constitutional Right. If one can be taken so easily, cannot all? The loss of women’s right to Bodily Autonomy together with the announced intention to eliminate Constitutional Rights to Marriage Equality, LGBT Rights, and Contraception Access, make very clear that few if any supposed Constitutional Rights are safe if you are part of a minority group, and the idea that the Constitution will protect our rights is effectively rendered void. For us as a minority religion this is vitally important to understand. We have a Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion -but all of these other things we are discussing are or were established Constitutional Rights as well.
What does this mean? It means that we cannot just assume that our rights are safe. We cannot assume that the Constitution will protect us because our Rights are Settled Law -because Reproductive Rights were Settled Law as well, as are Marriage Equality, LGBT Rights, and Contraceptive Rights. We must understand that a ‘Right,’ including our rights to Freedom of Religion, Bodily Autonomy, and the others mentioned, is only as good as our ability to hold on to it. And if we value our rights as a Minority Religion -including rights to Bodily Autonomy, Marriage Equality, LGBT Rights, and Contraception Rights all of which are religious issues and should be a matter of Freedom of Religion- clearly, we are going to have to be prepared to work to hold onto those rights.
M. Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell
First Priest and Chancellor, Correllian Tradition
Vox Correllianus, Apu Tanglaw Liwanag, Member Triad Union