Doc Rivers, the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, has a good working approach to team prayer. Although he identifies as a religious Christian, he recognizes others aren't ...
It was late 1999, the start of Rivers’ first season as coach of the Orlando Magic, and he saw a situation in the locker room that he felt needed to be addressed.
As his players took part in the pregame prayer that was part of their routine, Rivers noticed something he didn’t like.
“I looked up in one of the prayers, and Tariq (Abdul-Wahad) had his arms folded, and you could see that he was really uncomfortable with it,” Rivers said. “So the next game, we were standing up in a circle, and I said, ‘Hey guys, we’re no longer praying.’”
Rivers calls himself a “very religious” man, having grown up in the Second Baptist Church in Maywood, Ill., and praying on his knees every night in his home to this day. But he prefers to practice privately and is quick to note that he has attended church only for funerals the past 15 years.
So, that day, he decided his teams would keep their religious practices private as well.
“We’re no longer praying,” Rivers recalled saying to his team. “I want to take a minute. Everybody close their eyes. We all can have different religions, we have different Gods, we can just take a minute to compose. If you guys want to pray individually, you can do it. If you want to meditate, do whatever you want.
“Then, after that game,Tariq Abdul-Wahad walks in to me, gives me a hug with his eyes tearing, and said: ‘Thank you. That is so important to me. No one has ever respected my (Muslim) religion.’ He said, ‘I’m going to give you everything I’ve got.’”
In theory there is freedom of religion in the US - something that logically implies the right not to believe, the freedom from religion. But societal pressures often prevent that. A piece by Greta Christina that appeared in Salon.
It seems backward. Believers are always telling atheists that we need religion for morality; that we have to believe because without religion, people would have no reason not to murder and steal and lie. And yet, all too often, they ask us to lie. When atheists come out of the closet and tell the people in our lives that we don’t believe in God, all too often the reaction is to try to shove us back in.
In some cases, they simply want us to keep our mouths shut: when the topic of religion comes up, they want us to tell the lie of omission. But much of the time, they actually ask us to lie outright. They ask us to lie to other family members. They ask us to attend church or other religious services. They sometimes even ask us to perform important religious rituals, like funerals or confirmations, where we’re not just lying to the people around us, but to the god they supposedly believe in.
Why do some lionize him? The grazing subsidy is extremely inexpensive and a massive transfer of money from the taxpayer to the cattleman. This guy seems to want even more. By any reasonable standard he is a huge welfare queen who is trying to game the system.
Similar logic was in play with the push in various states to pass laws giving rights to businesses to discriminate against customers or employees on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, as long as they ascribed their desire to do so on the grounds of “sincere religious belief.” Being allowed a special exemption to universally applicable laws doesn’t get any more blatant than that. There wasn’t even an attempt at propping up the illusion of fairness by, say, allowing gay or female business owners to discriminate against religious bigots. Being a religious conservative was the only way to be eligible for this special privilege of treating customers and employees like dirt if you want to.
While that spate of bills was defeated after public outcry, the narrative that conservatives have a special right — privilege, really — that no one else should have to defy any laws they happen not to like had rooted itself into right-wing media, which enthusiastically championed the idea that conservatives should be able to opt out of all sorts of laws as long as they wielded “religious belief” as an excuse.
Cliven Bundy doesn’t use religion as his excuse, but he still insists that since he doesn’t believe in the “United States government as even existing,” then he shouldn’t have to follow its laws. It’s a logical extension of the anti-gay and anti-contraception “opt out” arguments, rooted as it is in a belief that conservatives have a unique claim to simply reject any laws they don’t want to follow, even as they, like Bundy, take advantage of the amenities of citizenship.
No wonder conservative media is so warm to the guy. To be clear, none of these actions should be confused with civil disobedience, though some have tried. Civil disobedience is about changing unjust laws, not trying to get a special exception from the law for you and people like you. The only reason right-wing media is giving sympathetic coverage to Bundy is that he’s identifiable as a conservative and therefore his desire to make money off the backs of taxpayers without paying his fair share gets sympathetic treatment. But if he was black or female and got away with even a dollar more food stamps than he was owed, he would be treated like public enemy No. 1 by Fox News. Being able to shrug off laws you don’t like is a privilege reserved for the few in the world of conservative media