Sincerely Held Religious Belief or Discrimination?

Religious IntoleranceIn an effort to legitimize their religious bigotry aimed at homosexuals, also known as “religious freedom”, some legislators have introduced bills that allow an individual to refuse service to someone based on “a sincerely held religious belief”.

Outside of the obvious ambiguity of such a law there are a number of other issues with this line of thinking. First it is not religious freedom to arbitrarily exclude an entire group of people. As John 8:7 states “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. Homosexuality is no more a sin than lust, greed, envy or pride. If we are going to refuse service for those in the LGBT community because of the bible then we must do the same of all sinners. Anything less does not show strict adherence to the teachings of Jesus Christ but selective intolerance.

There is also a belief that somehow upholding the rights of the gay populace will lead to the government forcing all sorts of religious groups to do things that are against their beliefs. Examples of this include government forcing churches to marry gay couples or forcing a Muslim food service company to offer pork. Neither of these examples represents the case the LGBT is arguing in the numerous lawsuits across the country.

When talking about marriage equality no one is asking the florist or baker to provide a service that they don’t already provide. They are asking them to provide that service to all customers equally. The product and the people are not the same. You can’t require a vegan baker to provide a cake with eggs. It’s not a product they serve. But you can require a vegan baker to provide their vegan cakes to all customers. Huge difference.

As far as church services are concerned there are a couple precedents that suggest fears over churches being forced to provide service are vastly overblown. First, most churches require one to be a member to receive services. Like many other organizations churches are allowed to deny membership often times regardless of discrimination laws such as the church that voted to refuse marriage services to interracial couples. Second a Supreme Court decision last year established “ministerial exception” which exempts churches from some anti-discrimination laws.

Having said that if these legislators are successful at enshrining additional protections into law they should be prepared for the unintended consequences. What many of these people arguing for “religious freedom” fail to realize is that this freedom is a two way street. At some point a non-Christian will be in a position to deny service to a Christian customer because they have “a sincerely held religious belief” that is incompatible with that of a Christian. Once the shoe is on the other foot maybe these Christians will appreciate how one man’s religious freedom can be another man’s religious persecution.

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