Saturday, September 10, 2011

Religion, Law, and Sex

"We certainly respect First Amendment rights. However, religious freedom does not allow for criminal acts," Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos told CNN.

From a news story describing the arrest of 20 people at Arizona's "Goddess Temple," on charges that the temple was a actually a brothel. 
"In addition to sex-ed and sex toy classes, the church offered "sessions" to heal sexual blockages for up to $650 a pop, ABC News reported. And that, cops say, has nothing to do with praising Jesus, or any other higher power."
"For these patients, some sex therapists turn to surrogate partners — people who help patients with intimacy issues using a hands-on approach. This can include having sex with the patient." 
From a news story on the use of surrogate partners to solve sexual problems. 
"The practice is controversial, and most sex therapists don’t work with surrogate partners. Some question its legality, although no laws specifically prohibit surrogate partners, according to the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA)."
Or in other words, selling sexual services is clearly illegal if done under the pretense of religion—despite the fact that religious prostitution is a well established historical practice, even if one not associated with Jesus. But it is presumptively legal if "exotic religion" is replaced by "sex therapy." 
Which suggests that the law may not be as nearly neutral among religions as it claims. You just have to take care to pick a religion that judges respect.


jimbino said...

That's right. And doesn't it bother you that there are virtually no atheists, agnostics, scientists, mathematicians or engineers among our leaders in the federal gummint? If it weren't for Breyer, SCOTUS would be a total cesspool of religion and of scientific ignorance.

This country may as well get used to a long period of decline and misery caused by religion and superstition, while even countries like Brazil ("the largest Roman Catholic country in the world") surpass us in distribution of condoms to 11-year olds, legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of drugs.

David Friedman said...

Jimbino: My guess is that there are a fair number of atheists and agnostics among "our leaders," very likely including the President. There are very few who are willing to say that they are atheists or agnostics--but that reflects their estimate of the reaction of voters, not their own beliefs.

So far as decline and misery caused by superstition, I'm more worried about nature worship than about fundamentalist Christianity. Consider how readily it is taken for granted that "natural" equals "good." Apropos of a recent post of mine, consider the way almost everyone in the global warming debate takes it for granted that if global temperatures change a few degrees over a century due to human action, that is a very bad thing--ultimately because it is "unnatural."

Or the opposition to genetically altered crops--stronger, you will notice, in supposedly "less religious" Europe than in the U.S. Politicians talk about fundamentalist Christianity--but it's fundamentalist nature worship that actually makes its way into law and public policy. The USPS sells shopping bags with "go green" on them. What would be the response if they said "go with Jesus" instead?

All of which should make its way into a post real soon now.

Robin Hanson said...

We spent 18% of GDP to affirm our medical religion, far more than we spend on traditional religions. Yes, we treat medicine as far more sacred than those old things.

Doc Merlin said...

"Which suggests that the law may not be as nearly neutral among religions as it claims. You just have to take care to pick a religion that judges respect."

As the member of the Church of the Subgenius found out when her kids were taken from her.

Anonymous said...

If you're gunna run a tantric sex religion don't do it in Arizona for chrissakes!. Sure, demand might be high, but Arizona is the home of Joe Arpaio and his gang of self-righteous meanies. Seriously, you take white people and bake them in 110 degree heat and they get downright ornery. She should have done this on the West Coast, or Canada or the Northeast or something.

albert ling said...

jimbino, of all the different kinds of liberties, I think Brazil enjoys most the freedom of religion, and also drug use is pretty widesread

maybe it's because of all the weird religions of the native indian tribes with their hallucinogenic teas/pipes and stuff.

Alexandra Thorn said...

States do unconstitutional things all the time. I don't *like* it, but unless this particular case has been legitimized by a federal justice, I'm inclined to view this as questionably legal activity by a state, rather than hypocrisy in the federal government.

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Keith Richard Radford Jr said...

Religions will screw you over and over again and then try to get you too screw them so they can pass laws to kill you for having sex.