Religious freedom laws and common sense

Arkansas looks poised to sign a religious freedom act into law. Time will tell what the reaction will be.

In response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, there has been a severe backlash in the last several days. Conventions and businesses are talking about leaving the state. Other states are boycotting Indiana. First it was Connecticut, then Washington, and now New York. Non-essential government business to Indiana is currently not being funded by these states because Indiana’s governor signed a law allowing for religious freedom of businesses.

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo issued his executive order (because funding trips to Indiana is so unacceptable), and yet Cuomo still has a trip to Cuba scheduled, a communist country where same sex marriage is illegal!

These strong reactions are treating it like it’s a gay holocaust in the Hoosier state. And much of it is absurd. This law will have very little impact. This is being blown up by the media but this law will have little impact. For businesses who do decide to withhold services, they still face negative publicity. People can choose to punish those businesses by not patronizing them. But business owners should be protected from the government. They should have the freedom to exercise their religion.

In my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, there’s a story in the news ]that explains why a law like this is even needed. A lesbian couple wanted a particular photography studio to photograph their wedding. The studio refused. And now the town (Bexley) is drafting anti-discrimination legislation.

Do they have other options? Could they go to another photographer? Of course there are and they could. But that’s not what matters. What matters is people being forced into compliance.

How is that right? Does freedom of religion matter? It’s not just that people can believe something with their religion, it’s that people have the freedom to exercise their religion. Not having the ability to exercise one’s religion is not having freedom of religion.

Someone not baking a cake or taking photos, or serving as the DJ for a wedding might hurt a person’s feelings but it is ultimately of little consequence. Punishing a person for going with their convictions is an injustice.

In Oregon, there is currently a lawsuit against the Christian owners of a bakery who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The owners face a fine upwards of $150,000 because they wouldn’t bake a cake. Again, how is it right for a person to have their livelihood threatened?

People who oppose same-sex marriage are not simply a small group of fringe lunatics.

Since 1998, in 32 states, it has come to a vote on whether or not the citizens of that state wanted to add constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Minnesota is the only one of those 32 states where the majority of voters actually supported same-sex marriage.

In 13 of those states, the vote wasn’t even close, with more than 70 percent of people voting to ultimately preserve the traditional American definition of a marriage.

I see opinion polls that show that attitudes are changing. Are they? How can we know what people truly believe if we want to beat down those who think it’s wrong? So much pressure gets put on people to just accept what the social agenda is. And as a result, it becomes easier to stop thinking about the issue and just go along with what you’re told.

It’s not tolerant or inclusive to try to force businesses or business owners into doing things they don’t support. The vast majority of us live happily and peacefully in our communities and though we disagree on various issues, can coexist with one another.

jrb

2 thoughts on “Religious freedom laws and common sense”

  1. Perhaps you have some confusion about commerce not being legally defensible as a religious activity. Jesus didn’t share that confusion, and courts in the US have not affirmed a First Amendment right for businesses in choosing which customers to serve. If you trade with the public, you have to make a good faith effort to serve all who are polite and willing to pay. If you prefer religious or charitable work to the requirements of Capitalism, that’s fine too, in fact admirable.

    I work in health care as an imaging tech. Sometimes I’ve performed exams on injured gang members, real badass criminals, people I regarded as the scum of the Earth. I wasn’t allowed the option of not doing my job just because I have a sincere moral objection to the patient’s lifestyle. My licenses say “diagnostic images” per doctor’s orders. It means I treat every patient with equally respectful behavior, and keep my judgments to myself.

    We already fought this issue out in the courts when I was a kid in the 1950s. That thing about who was allowed to sit and order lunch, and which customers restaurants could actually refuse to serve (no matter what the sign they put up says).

    I can’t say I’m happy to see this conflict rear up again, but human nature is what it is. People change a lot slower than technology. Laws that allow discrimination by fraudulently calling it conscience must be opposed at every opportunity, in court, at the polls, and by voting with your wallet, so to speak.

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