Is discrimination really “religious freedom”? Bills have been introduced in at least 14 states that would allow people to discriminate against gay people under the guise of “religious freedom”. Is this a valid excuse?
What is Religious Freedom?
First we need to determine what religious freedom really is- and what it is not. Religious freedom means that you have the freedom to believe what you want, and to practice that belief within the constrains of the law. It means that no one can put you in jail or discriminate against you based on your religious beliefs. You have the right to meet with other members of your faith, you have the right to speak about it openly, and no one can punish you for your personal beliefs and thoughts. This is a right that many countries still do not have.
Religious freedom does NOT mean you can infringe on the rights of others. When your religious beliefs start directly affecting others in a negative way, then there’s a problem with that part of your beliefs.
For example: If I believe in a god that requires me to make human sacrifices, obviously certain parts of my religion could not be legally practiced- and rightly so. Why? Because now my religion is affecting the rights of someone else. I could follow the other, more legal, aspects of that religion, but I would have to draw the line when it came to the “hurting other people” stuff.
Another example: If me and a group of people believed that Jews were evil and were “Christ killers”, I could say that my beliefs prevented me from serving them in my business. Would this be acceptable? No! Why? Because now my beliefs are causing direct harm to someone else. What if I was a radical Muslim and I said my beliefs required me to take over America and force everyone to submit to Allah’s laws? Would you allow me to “practice my religion” that freely, if I had enough people say they believed the same way? Of course not- because we all know that there is a line between religious freedom and religion being used to oppress others.
Let’s go back in time a few years. Not that long ago, racism was allowed legally via Jim Crow racism laws. People had many reasons for why they didn’t want to serve people of color- but in the end, we as a people realized that those reasons just were not good enough. Some of these people cited their religion, just as people are doing today. Racial segregation was partly allowed because of religious beliefs. Let that sink in. Religion and bigotry was also used to discriminate against women- women were not allowed to vote and do many things that were considered “men only”. So why is suddenly acceptable to use these tactics if the person is gay?
This so-called “religious freedom protection” is also extremely hypocritical. Why do your beliefs prevent you from serving homosexuals but not fornicators or liars? Why can you serve divorcees, gluttons, and atheists, but not a person that you suspect might be gay? If your beliefs prevent you from serving sinners, you’d better get away from the public in general, because the Bible clearly tells us that we’re all sinners. Choosing one sin over another is hypocritical and not remotely Biblical.
But this isn’t about “sin”- this is about intolerance and discrimination. You can believe something is sinful without asking your country to make segregation laws legal so you don’t have to associate with people you don’t like. If you own a public business, that means you have to serve the public- not just the people you like.
I am glad to see the uproar that Christians are making over these laws. I know that most Christians do not support this atrocious segregation, and that makes me happy. It is frightening, however, to see the organization and power that these few hurtful Christians have, and the influence they have gathered. Please raise your voice and show these people that we will not allow their bigotry to be made legal in the name of religious freedom!