Social Question

Mariah's avatar

What rights should people have when the duties of their job go against their religion (see details)?

Asked by Mariah (24423points) July 20th, 2011

Town clerks are resigning left and right in New York state right now, as gay marriage is newly legal here and once the law goes into effect, part of their job will be signing marriage licenses for gay couples.

What do you think? Are these people bigots? Police officers don’t get to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on their beliefs, so should these town clerks just suck it up and sign the licenses? Or should these town clerks have special rights so that they’re not forced to do anything they believe goes against their religion?

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32 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes, they’re bigots. And quitting is the proper course of action if you disagree with what your job requires you to do, regardless of if your ethics stem from your religion or something else. You either do the job you were hired to do, or you quit. Conscience clauses are the type of special treatment many against gay marriage rail against.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Whether they are bigots or not is not the issue.

If they resign, they no longer have a job to do. If the state does not allow them to resign, then they may have a cause for action.

It is everyone’s right in America to practice their religion as they see fit. If they feel they can no longer do the job, they can find a new job. The cops you mentioned also have the right to quit if they feel they cannot perform all of their job requirements.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

While I admire those that choose to stay and do their job, whether or not they agree with that particular aspect… I do not think they should be expected or forced to do so.

Mariah's avatar

Oh I didn’t mean to imply that they shouldn’t be allowed to quit. If they really can’t stomach signing gay marriage licenses, it seems like the best (or only) option. My main question is, should they be allowed to stay in the position but exempted from having to sign the licenses for gay marriages? Or given some other special accomodation?

YoBob's avatar

To answer the initial question: “What rights should people have when the duties of their job go against their religion?”

Absolutely none what so ever. If a job goes against your religion, then find another job!

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Mariah, in my opinion no. If they want to keep their job, especially a government job, they should have to perform all the duties of the job that the law dictates.

jaytkay's avatar

They can do their job, quit, or get the law changed.

Normal adults understand that the world does not revolve around them, and they don’t always get their way.

Actually, normal children understand that, too.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Mariah no, I do not believe they should be exempt. I agree with those above that said do the job or quit.

FluffyChicken's avatar

If you are against drugs don’t become a pharmacist. If you are against blood transfusions, don’t become a nurse. If you are against marriage, don’t become a Town Clerk.

jca's avatar

If someone’s job requires they work on Sunday, and their religion prohibits them from working on Sunday, they should not have a right to that job. If they cannot perform the duties of the job, they should quit. If you are against gay marriage, and your job requires you perform it, and you can’t because you’re very against it, then you should not have a “right” to keep your job.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Of course they should quit. But I’m interested in the social experiment that is sure to come. We now live in a society that requires one to have a particular political position in order to hold a particular job. I wonder if the new clerks will quit (out of principle) if the law is ever overturned.

I’m wondering why the clerks are even needed any longer in todays modern tech filled world. Shouldn’t the documents just be sent in and a computer automatically put it on record? Just scan and process. It doesn’t even need to be looked at.

JLeslie's avatar

They can quit. I don’t care if they are bigots, screw them. Their narrow thinking costs them their jobs. They should not be exempted. They are not saying they condone the marriage by signing the documents. Their religion does not prohibit them from being a witness or filing a paper. If they can work it out among the staff that all gay marriages are signed by a clerk who is fine with it, then ok, they work around the person who will not. They need a big enough staff where that can be accomodated. If they live in a small town, they are probably SOL.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies We’ve always lived in a world that required you to hold a particular political position in order to hold a particular job, or to at least be able to get over your ethical objections in order to complete the task at hand. This is only the latest example.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Though I don’t doubt what you say @Aethelflaed, I can’t seem to think of any examples.

FutureMemory's avatar

No exemptions whatsoever.

jaytkay's avatar

But I’m interested in the social experiment that is sure to come. We now live in a society that requires one to have a particular political position in order to hold a particular job

They are also required to allow inter-racial marriage. Is that merely a “political position”.

It probably seemed that way when miscegenation laws were overturned, but today few people would consider that a political position.

I think the conventional opinion has changed and is changing really quickly on gay marriage, Some polls show a majority of Americans already support it.

Ten years ago I would not have predicted this, and I’m a left-winger by any standard.

Judi's avatar

In this economy there will be people lining up to take their jobs. Let them quit.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@jaytkay So lets pretend the miscegenation laws were reinstated, and the current clerks were prevented by law from processing the documents. Would they, should they quit on principle, or would/should they ignore the law and in protest, process them anyway?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think that decision should be left to each individual.

jaytkay's avatar


re: If inter-racial marriage were again banned by law.

I guess my answer is the same if people are objecting to laws I like or those I don’t.

They can do their job, quit, or get the law changed.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think they should find a new religion with a god in the top job who loves all his critters, not just certain ones. He/she should not waste time on telling them to cover their faces or hair or not to practice birth control. He should tell his critters to practice the golden rule and mind their own damned business and to honestly and faithfully perform the job they are being paid to do.

Or find a new job!

roundsquare's avatar

“Police officers don’t get to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on their beliefs”

Right, that’s exactly the same with the clerks. If a cop has to do something that is not in line with his/her religion, he/she can either break the religious tenant or quit.

Anyway, I don’t think they should get any rights. People of certain religions can’t take on certain roles, that’s always been the way it is.

everephebe's avatar

I think it’s wonderful.
It’s a rough job market… more jobs for the non-crazies.

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes, they are bigots in my opinion but they have a right not to have to do things that go against their religion or their belief system in the same way a conscientious objector should have the right not to serve in the military if it goes against his or her religion or belief system. I may not agree with what these people think or do but I don’t think anyone should be forced to act in opposition to his or her conscience or religious beliefs.

roundsquare's avatar

Oohps, @lillycoyote‘s answer made me want to be more clear.

1) They should have the right to leave the job.
2) They should not have the right to stay in the job but not perform the task.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@lillycoyote it is a myth that a conscientious objector automatically gets to avoid military service.

My uncle was granted conscientious objector status and ended up getting a Navy Cross for his actions as a corpsman in Vietnam.

Jeruba's avatar

religious tenet (a belief you hold), not tenant (an occupant who pays rent)

FutureMemory's avatar

@Jeruba Doing your gailcalled impression?

Blackberry's avatar

They hate gays so much they would rather quit? I hope they don’t find another job!

JilltheTooth's avatar

I don’t think they should have the right to cherry pick what they will and won’t do within the job description. I ran into a similar attitude 25 years ago when trying, as a single woman, to conceive a child via a sperm bank. Some of the employees didn’t believe it was “appropriate” so they refused to deal with the single women. If those were the ones on duty when I needed sperm (ovulation timing is not flexible) then I was just SOL that cycle. At the time, those employees were free to do that, I wonder how it is now.

Cupcake's avatar

The first thing I thought of was that pharmacists are allowed to refuse to sell the morning after pill due to religious objections.

In the hospital where I work, employees are allowed to abstain from providing care/services that run contrary to their ethical or religious beliefs, provided that another staff member can provide the care/services. In other words, the patients are not to be denied service or be inconvenienced due to a staff member’s beliefs. I think that this approach is reasonable, with the exception of government workers. Governments change, leaders change and laws change… and government workers provide service to the people (and are paid by the people). Suck it up and provide the service, or quit.

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