One day a woman was walking to work when she saw a man drinking coffee. The woman was absolutely scandalized. She went right up to the man and demanded, “Excuse me, but what do you think you’re doing?”
The man blinked and said, “Drinking coffee?”
“Exactly,” the woman said. “That is incredibly offensive to me and I need you to stop right this instant.”
“I – I don’t understand,” the man said.
“You see,” the woman told the man, “drinking coffee is against my religious beliefs. My religion forbids drinking coffee. That’s why I am so offended and horrified.”
The coffee-drinker stared at the woman, confused. “I’m so sorry that you took offense at my drinking coffee, but I still don’t understand what this has to do with me,” he said, frowning.
“You are violating my religious beliefs when you drink that coffee,” the woman said. “This is America, and we have freedom of religion here. You are not allowed to drink that coffee because that is against my religious freedom.”
The man looked bewildered. “Well,” he said, “I’m sorry if my drinking coffee is offensive to you, ma’am, but you are not allowed to impose your religious beliefs on me and call it your rights.”
“No, no, you don’t understand,” the woman replied. “My religious book – the doctrine that expressively forbids coffee drinking – is here, and I am going to quote it to you so you can see just how wrong it is.”
“That’s all well and fine,” the coffee-drinker told her, “but that is your book that guides your religion and your life. But I don’t belong to that religion, and so it does not run my life. Sorry.”
“So!” the woman said, “You drink that coffee because you hate my people and want to start a war on my religion?”
“No,” the man said, “I drink this coffee because this is America, and I have freedom of religion, too.”
And so the man went on his way, leaving the angry woman behind. And he drank his coffee because he lived in America and he had freedom of religion, too.