what is the difference, from the standpoint of law? If we are to try and avoid discrimination based on both religion and creed, then one must think that there is an inherent difference between a religion and creed.
Looking at webster's, both seem to mean a belief, but the difference seems to be that a religion has a basis in the supernatural or spiritual, while a creed does not necessarily have such a basis. Thus, the logical assumption would be to view a religion as a specific case of a creed. Not to get to too grammar ninja here, but such an assumption doesn't seem be true, though, because if that were the case, then why say "religion" if it is encompassed by "creed?"
thus, we must assume there is a difference, and a meaningful difference at that. I think it is safe to say that a religion is a system of beliefs with a basis in the supernatural. Its also fair to say that a creed is a strongly held belief.
But, if this is all that a creed is, then what are the ramifications of this? Clearly, we can't discriminate against certain religious beliefs, but what about non-religious ones? Racism, for instance. I'm not trying to argue that racist practices should be protected, but is the belief protected? If someone were fired merely for holding racist beliefs, even expressing them in a manner that is not threatening or disruptive to his workplace in any way, would that be wrong? While one might argue that racism goes against the tenets of the Constitution, and should thereby not count, it should also be trivial to show that religion can do the same.
What about sexism? There are certainly Biblical passages which suggest the superiority of men over women, thus elevating sexism to the potential "status" of a religious tenet. Radical Muslims also point to their scriptures as proof of male superiority, though I must admit to knowing very little about said texts, so I can't vouch for their claims or the logical consistency.
Again, I'm not suggesting that sexist or racist practices should be protected, as that is a bit absurd. Rather, I'm curious as to whether or not what amount to socially unacceptable beliefs are a protected class of beliefs on which an employer or organization is not allowed to base its actions towards the holder of the belief, with the exception of organizations whose explicitly stated purposes go against said belief (IE, the NAACP should likely be allowed to fire an employee who is a member of the Klan).
As an interesting thought problem, consider the reverse case: Consider if an employee were fired solely because he held the belief that racism was wrong and that equality among races was inherently true. Certainly we would agree that a wrong was committed in that case, would we not? Why then, would the firing based on the converse of this belief not be wrong?
9/14/2005 8:36:29 PM