Should a doctor be forced to provide abortions?
Should a criminal attorney be forced to accept the system of punishment as legitimate, including an oath to uphold all possible punishments, including capital punishment?
Should a food taster with religious objections to meat be forced to eat meat?
I, for one, think not. There was a discussion about this sort of thing on Philosofickle some time ago. I want to revisit it now and focus specifically on the idea of creed.
Not everyone has religious beliefs. But everyone has a creed. After all, a creed is simply a system of belief, principles, or opinions. Thus, everyone has a creed.
Should people be forced to do things which are contrary to their creed? We have an important right to freely exercise our religion, our creed. The government can't make us perform abortions against our will, eat meat against our will, or proclaim that capital punishment is good against our will. The simple point is: we can not and must not force people to do things that are contrary to their creed.
Now, not all of the examples I've suggested are required. Doctors aren't all forced to provide abortions. Criminal attorneys are not forced to take an oath affirming the system of punishment. But some people would argue that doctors can't opt out of abortions. That food tasters can't decline certain dishes. And though I've never heard anyone say that criminal attorneys should take an oath affirming capital punishment as legitimate, the situation runs exactly parallel.
Of course, saying that people shouldn't be forced to do things against their creed leaves open the option that people of a certain creed simply shouldn't enter into specific professions. Maybe someone opposed to abortion shouldn't become an OB/GYN. Maybe a vegetarian shouldn't become a food taster.
But maybe that's discrimination.
And everyone knows that it isn't ok for us to discriminate against people on the basis of race, gender, or creed.
So long as people can reasonably perform the tasks assigned, why must they provide the full range of services? If the task assigned is improving patient health, and they can do that in a myriad of ways, why must all OB/GYN be willing to perform abortions? It seems ok to me if some decide to object based on the convictions of their creed. It also seems acceptable if a food taster says "I won't taste meat", so long as they still taste the other foods placed in front of them. Likewise a criminal attorney can reject the death penalty as a valid punishment if they recognize other forms a legitimate.
Now it also seems to me that it is ok if people suffer the natural consequences of their actions. A doctor who won't perform abortions will get less business. A food taster who won't taste meat will get less business. That's the natural flow of things, and it's an acceptable result.
But regardless of the natural effect we certainly shouldn't prevent them from being employed in that field - because the effect of such would be discrimination on the basis of creed. If you fire someone from food tasting because of their religious convictions, that is discrimination. They can still do the job, they just can't do it quite as well as someone else. (Lower pay might be appropriate depending on the circumstances - it wouldn't be discrimination because it wouldn't be a case of unequal pay for equal work, it would unequal pay for unequal work. But this could turn on individual facts).
Really though, this situation is no different from the person who misses work because of religious holidays. Their work performance is diminished, but not to the point where they aren't still providing a valuable service. The person who is fasting will likely perform more poorly. But we can't fire someone because their creed requires fasting. That would be blatant creedism. Likewise, so is requiring all OB/GYN to perform abortions. Or all criminal attorneys to think capital punishment a justifiable punishment. Or all food tasters to taste all food. If people have conscientious objections based on creed, but can still perform a valuable service, they should not be penalized for their deeply-held beliefs.
If we don't allow conscientious objections we are then requiring all of a certain profession to perform all the tasks. Thus, every OB/GYN must perform abortions, every food taster must eat meat, and every criminal attorney must accept the system of punishment as legitimate. This means that people with opposing creeds cannot enter these professions - one opposed to abortion cannot become an OB/GYN and still live their creed. A religious vegetarian cannot become a food taster and live their creed. And a person opposed to capital punishment cannot become a criminal attorney and live their creed.
And if entire fields of employment are cut off because of creed - if people are forced to choose between creed and job - then we've entered into a very unsavory world. Sure, it's not discrimination in the same sense of the word as it would be if we were keeping people from professions based on skin color or gender. But it's almost as bad. Because a creed is fundamental to who a person is. They can't change the color of their skin. They shouldn't be forced to change their creed.
Racism is bad.
Sexism is bad.
Creedism is bad.
If we're serious about eliminating discrimination in society we need to protect people against creedism. We need to allow conscientious objections in all fields. So long as the individual can still provide valuable services, their creed should not close off any avenue.
Either you're wrong or you're right