I feel like I must be missing something.
With the latest “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” being signed into Indiana law by Governor Mike Pence yesterday, I feel like much of the media and blogosphere is losing sight of the true absurdity of these “discrimination” laws that keep popping up around the country. In short, they aren’t only about giving Christians the right to refuse service to homosexuals because of their religious beliefs, as originally intended (devoutly religious bakers, dressmakers, or photographers being forced by the government to provide services to gay couples getting married because… Jesus). In fact, in the case of Indiana – in order to pass various constitutional tests, the text of the bill has been watered down so much that never mentions Christianity or homosexuals. Not once. (full text of the bill)
Instead, the irony of all of these “Religious
Freedom Discrimination” bills (like those in various stages in Arizona and Michigan) is that the arbitrarily ambiguous definitions open up a can of worms that invites ANYBODY to refuse service to ANYONE that is at odds with their “freedom of religious practice.”
Yes, generally speaking, that means that it goes both ways. All ways, really. It is not only the gay community that should be nervous…
- A Muslim could refuse service to a Christian because of their blasphemy of Mohammed (hint…)
- A Jew could refuse service to a Palestinian because of the disputes in Gaza (hint…)
- A Scientologist could deny a Buddhist because of their e-meter readings (hint…)
- A Hindu could refuse service to a cattle rancher because… cows! (hint…)
- A Christian could refuse service to an atheist because… (choose any reason)
- An atheist… Oh, wait – this would be one time where Christians wouldn’t assert that atheism is a “religion,” so atheists wouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against anyone (which would likely be just fine with the vast majority of atheists).
Not enough division for you? Well, let’s get a little more granular…
- A Catholic could refuse a Protestant
- A Baptist could refuse a Lutheran
- A Presbyterian could refuse a Methodist
- There are literally thousands of Christian denominations that all disagree on something. Need I go on?!?!?!
The best part is – all of this blatant divisiveness would not only be invited by, but protected by the government!
Of course, none of this would actually be legal because a customer’s religion is already protected by Indiana’s Public Accommodation Law. Conversely, according to this law, it is apparently open season on people of different sexual preference or gender identity, thus the opening for the current RFRA legislation which is clearly about the right to discriminate solely against gays. (Side note: Strategically speaking, why are level headed liberals in Indiana not pushing for an amendment to the Public Accommodation law to include/protect homosexuals from discrimination?) But, legal or not – it’s all about intent and perception.
I’m not against these bills because they give Christians the right to be discriminatory specifically toward gays (which, of course, seems almost inevitable), I’m against these bills because they explicitly invite government-protected division and hostility among ANY groups of people within the public square. We as a society have come a long way throughout the centuries (and especially the last few decades) to “get along” – especially in the melting pots of modern day globalization.
Is this really the world we want to live in? Is this really what the founding fathers had in mind? First, it’s a Christians-only bakery, then a Jewish-only coffee shop. But the Palestinian landlord of both businesses evicts them both! So, how long before these charming “freedoms” bring enough economic turmoil before very real mob/mafia mentalities kick in until the majority religion is in control of all commerce – giving consumers little-to-no choice but to “convert” or starve? (Yes, this might seem extreme – but where does it end?)
Of course, I (mostly) believe in free markets and think these things work themselves out pretty well without government oversight – what goes around, comes around. Don’t want to buy from a transparently bigoted religious zealot – fine, don’t! Of course, this gets a little tricky when the only emergency ObGyn on-call has a religious objection with the lesbian couple in labor after undergoing IVF. Or, when you want to start a coffee shop but all three of the wholesale distributors don’t agree with your religion.
If the religious majority of Christian voters and legislators in these states truly want to show their colors by adding even more division and hostility to the world, I say – be careful what you wish for. Unfortunately, when rational people oppose such blatant discrimination and division to eventually stand up against these voters, legislators, and businesses – what always seems to happen? That’s right – more “persecution” of the poor Christians! (It’s almost as if that was the strategic objective all along.) 🙁
Meanwhile, let the boycotts begin…
P.S. It seems that, for the most part, privately owned businesses already have the right to refuse service to people as they see fit. The problem comes when they blatantly brag about their reasons for doing so and want everyone to approve of their bigotry (while seeking the government’s protection).