Sunday, December 07, 2014

Religious Freedom At The Expense Of Others

There are those who say that religious freedom is being abridged because the law says you cannot discriminate against certain classes of people.
Religious freedom bill passes out of Michigan House
By Kathleen Gray
Detroit Free Press
December 4, 2014

LANSING — A bill providing protections for people with sincerely held religious beliefs was put on a fast track Thursday, passing out of the House Judiciary committee and the full House of Representatives on straight party line votes Thursday.

Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, who sponsored the bill, said the measure will do none of the horrible things opponents will claim but merely protect people and their beliefs and practice of religion.

He cited several examples of protections, from the baker who doesn't want to provide a wedding cake to same-sex marriage couple to the Jewish mother who doesn't want an autopsy on her son who died in a car crash. Both cited religious beliefs as reasons in their cases.
The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” the problem is that anti-discrimination laws say that you cannot discriminate against certain protected classes such as, sex, religion, race, nationality, and in some states marital status, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

Many of those protected classes run contrary to religious beliefs; some religions prevent in the mixing of sexes, while some are against unmarried couples from living together, and some religions prevent contact with members of another religion. And as the article points out this is not just about non-discrimination laws, it is about just every facet of society and the law will create a nightmare. Can you imagine a store owner refusing to allow a woman to enter the store claiming that allowing women in the store is against their religion. Or a store owner could under this law refuse to sell to a black person. A landlord could refuse to rent to an unmarried couple. Or what if an employee refused to hire non-Muslims, what an outcry that would make.

Up until now, non-discrimination laws exempted clergy and other religious offices along with other religious institution from the laws. It did not exempt schools or hospital or other institutions that were not directly involved in their religion, such as beach pavilion that is open to the public. The current laws do not include exemptions for individuals the laws just cover places involved directly with practicing their religion, a person in public has to obey the non-discrimination laws (except maybe clergy)

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Meanwhile according to the St. Cloud Times, the only person on the Minnesota State High School League board to vote against the gender identity athletic policy said,
Emmett Keenan is a high-school league board member and activities director at Cathedral High School. He cast the lone vote against the policy, with 18 other board members voting in favor and one abstaining, according to the Star Tribune.

The policy notes exemptions for religious schools that already exist in state law. But Keenan says it should have gone farther to define what constitutes a religious school.
Once against the conservatives are pushing the envelope to get a broader religious exemption that goes beyond what is granted in the First Amendment.

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