I agree with you completely that some people misuse their thoughts/opinions/beliefs to hurt others. That is NEVER right. No matter who does it. I even completely understand your desire to defend yourself. That is completely natural. However, blaming EVERY theist for the actions of certain individuals is illogical and straight up wrong. Blame should be placed on the individuals inflicting the harm (and only the individuals) instead of the groups to which they belong or the belief system as a whole. It is only just. In regards to civil rights (as well as the u.s. constitution, etc), these laws were set up to protect the freedom of each and every individual American. To promote equality. Not to rip said freedom or equality away. Taking away those rights will only lead to chaos. It will not lead to liberation as you think. People, as a whole, have the potential to be very selfish and narrow minded. Each one believing that their way is the right way. Which is why these laws were set up in the first place. To promote order and insure the equality and freedom of each and every individual living in the u.s. Is it a perfect system? No. But a system is better than no system at all.<quoted text>And yet we have articles like this one, with church leaders vowing political backlash if their personal beliefs and convictions are not forced on everyone in the nation, Christian and non-Christian alike.
It's all well and good for people to say "live and let live", that's a very admirable sentiment, but some people can't do that. They force the hands of the rest of us to oppose their domineering religious tactics.
I don't know if there's a god or not. But I DO know that the Christian concept of "God" is completely irrational and immoral, making it inconsistent with their own description of it. This is a god that cannot exist (unless it is actually evil, and is behaving out of spite and malice, unbeknownst to its followers). I can't logically defer to the followers of this god as the "keepers" of some sort of "absolute, perfect morality". They don't demonstrate it. A god who creates gay people, and then forbids them from human intimacy doesn't demonstrate it. A god who creates thinking, feeling beings, hides itself from them, and then pitches them into eternal fire for choosing the wrong belief system, is absolutely NOT moral (especially not while he had foreknowledge of what beliefs they would pick before he even created them).
I have no interest in forcing my personal beliefs onto my fellow humans, but I won't sit still while THEY are trying to codify their religious tenets into civil law.
In regards to the freedom of religion specifically, I don't think the solution is to remove it. I think we each must change the way we approach it. The freedom to believe (or not believe) in a manner of our choosing is a personal choice and an intimate reflection of our freedom. Never should it be used as a weapon to ridicule, demean, hurt, or condemn those around us.