Church Fences, Government Gates

We like to claim the first amendment as our own after all it is in our constitution.  Our country has its roots in the right to practice our religion, any religion and I assume the denial of any God.  Now we feel a need to pass so called “Religious Freedom” legislation.  The essence of this more recent legislation is that the religious beliefs I hold take precedence over your behavior.  My religion teaches me that allowing gay couples to marry is wrong, abortion is wrong, using contraceptics is wrong, etc.  Therefore I as a business operator have the right to refuse to provide a service or sell a product to you if my religious beliefs find the product objectionable or your lifestyle wrong.  This is a free country and it sounds proper that I don’t have to like you or serve you and that I am allowed to based on my freedom of religion protection.  It may sound right but is it?  If we take this to the absurd, I expect we all would agree that if based on my religion the letter “M” is wrong then I could refuse to serve anyone with a last name beginning with an “M”.  If we reverse that could I only serve people whose last name begins with”M” if that was the favored letter in my religion?

We all know that I can not refuse to serve a person of color as part of a so called religious freedom law if our religion taught that such persons are somehow objectionable to us due to the color of their skin.  Prior to the civil rights movement Jim Crow legislation was passed by many of our legislatures and did just that.  Let me think about this.  When these laws were passed, implemented and enforced no religion taught that such people were objectionable or lived a lifestyle that was a sin.  Still these laws were allowed by government and private businesses.  Therefore we had laws which were contrary to our religios beliefs.  Were there any religious laws passed that stated that these are contrary to religious beliefs and therefore illegal?  I don’t think there were.  I guess if we want to act contrary to what our religion teaches through legislation that is proper?  However acting contrary to what is legal is acceptable because of a religious belief.

Freedom of religion means that we can practice any religion or no religion without interference by government.  If the owner of a business opens his doors to the public to provide a service or sell a product, a person entering the business to lawfully transact business irrespective of his religion or beliefs does not expect you as a business operator to not serve him.  This is not a house of God but a commercial establishment.  You do not have the right to treat me differently as a customer which in effect is imposing your religious beliefs on me.  Would you refuse to sell a book on the life of Jesus Christ to a Jewish person because you know their religion does not recognize Him as the Son of God?

When we claim to be insuring religious freedom under the guise of legislation which in effect advocates a specific religious belief we are on a very slippery slope.   We had better erect a wall to prevent us from slipping off the slope.  Come to think of it a wall of separation was previously declared. Separation of church and state is the best way to insure religious freedom.  That is a more sane path to follow.

Phil ward


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