Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — Ashley Podplesky: Cherry-picking

Vol. 35 No. 9 November 2018
Ashley Podplesky                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

By Ashley Podplesky

How do you put the bible and its believers before the law of the land without calling it what it is? Ban people from predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S., even if they have been previously declared eligible to enter, and call it a matter of national security. Then, when people state the obvious and say that this ban impacts black and brown people infinitely more than it does white people, respond by saying it’s not a ban, but rather a temporary pause to allow for the development of “extreme vetting” policies meant to protect the U.S. interests. Simple.

Like most people, I was not surprised when President Trump implemented the travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations. As a paralegal at an immigration law firm, I was furious that government officials were so blatantly discriminating against people assumed to be followers of a non-Christian religion. This displays a mind-blowing level of hypocrisy, considering they follow a book that states “You shall have one statute for both the resident alien and the native” and “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” statements that encourage believers to welcome and treat everyone as their equal. This ban is especially heinous when considering that a majority of the acts of domestic terrorism committed in the U.S. are done so by white, U.S. citizen men.

As someone who works in the legal field, I understand the importance of creating laws that are as unbiased as possible so that when the implementation of said law is questioned, one can seek out precedent set in similar cases to determine how the law has historically been put into effect. When biblical teachings are used to create and implement public policy, this level of precedent is missing, as the bible is all left to interpretation. Followers of the same book have argued over its meaning and intent for as long as organized

religion has been around, and this lack of agreement does not allow for outsiders to see its teachings as a valid baseline for legal standards.

Similarly, when a law is implemented, all aspects of the law must be put into place; you cannot pick and choose which parts of the law you want to follow while blissfully ignoring the rest. This requirement does not sit well with those who see the bible as law, as it is all too convenient for them to cherry-pick the verses and stories they use to justify their actions. You cannot claim that your belief in the bible gives you authority over certain things because some verses support your argument if you also decide that certain aspects of that same

book, like the requirement that one should not wear fabrics of mixed material or sit in the same chair as someone who is currently menstruating, do not need to be followed.

Public policy based on this hypocrisy is just as effective as a scientific study that was not peer reviewed; it is nothing more than opinion with no real supporting evidence. This type of study would never be respected in the scientific community, and it is exactly why the bible should not be used to draft or influence policy at any level of law.

Ashley, 28, of Seattle, attends the University of Washington, with the goal of earning a master’s degree in public administration. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with bachelor’s degree in international affairs. Ashley is working as a paralegal at an immigration law firm.