Friday, February 6, 2015

"Freedom to Discriminate" Showing Up Across US

by Brig Bagley

6 February 2015

Several states have started drafting bills and laws with similar language: religions are under attack and should be protected from laws that force them to contradict their beliefs.

Jan Brewer of Arizona vetoed a law with this language about a year ago that passed through the state's senate floor. Urged by a coalition of groups and businesses, Gov. Brewer agreed that it would be bad for business and society to permit persons with religious convictions to deny services, products, and housing because their beliefs disagree with another's personal life.

Although laws that protect one's freedom to believe as they please, laws should not allow someone to refuse business association with another simply because of opposing beliefs.

Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah recently claimed that people are being fired for disagreeing with same-sex marriage. He did not reveal any specifics, but said that discrimination occurs on both sides of the issue, and that discrimination based on religion is also wrong.

True. Partially. The First Amendment guarantees that an individual has a freedom of speech and freedom of religion (also from religion). The government cannot force or support or promote any religious belief, or punish a citizen for expressing an opinion (with a few exceptions, such as "bomb" in a plane or "fire" in a theater). 

But freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the First Amendment DOES NOT allow someone to act in such a way that another is harmed or is denied a service or good. Practicing a religion does not mean a person can use religion to not do their job, sell a product, or provide shelter. You still can hold your beliefs. That is your right. But because someone else does not hold your belief, you cannot punish them. 

Freedom of speech is just that. Speech. Not action. Even religions are denied certain practices (human or animal sacrifice, as an example). And religions are also even denied ability to endorse political candidates (although that is never really enforced). 

Yes, a religious person is free to exclaim their hate and disagreement with gays and same-sex marriage. At work, home, school, whatever. You can say whatever you want. Don't expect to make may friends, though. But at the end of the day, you still have to bake that cake for them. Take their pictures. Let them rent your house. If they knew you didn't like them, they would probably not do business with you anyway. So tell them you don't approve of their life (although it's rude and unethical). But also tell them that you will serve them or rent to them anyway because they qualify just like any other. 

That is the difference. Your boss won't threaten or fire you for your beliefs or for being gay. But he should punish you for denying services or not doing your job because of your beliefs. If you're going to go out in the world, you're going to have to deal with people not like you. Religious or not. Think what you want. But do your job. Actions cannot be discriminatory. 

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