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Religious Freedom Need Not Be Discrimination

April 6 2015

Almost everybody remembers former Congressman Ron Paul.  Many loved him, many didn’t, but regardless of your opinion, there is one thing that stood out about this man.  Early on he decided what his principles were and he stuck to them.  I can remember calling his office and asking why Ron didn’t support giving foreign aid to our ally and trusted friend Israel.  The response I got surprised me.  “Mr. Paul doesn’t support giving away money we don’t have to anybody, ally or not.”  There’s the principle and he applied it equally to all.

This past week there has been much in the press about the Indiana statute that prohibits the state’s laws that  “substantially  burden” a person’s ability to follow his/her religious beliefs.  Given the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby-Obamacare case, that might apply to closely held corporations and ma and pa businesses as well.

The mainstream media and liberal-leaning organizations would have you believe this proposed legislation was intended to give businesses and individuals the right to discriminate against homosexuals.  The problem is, this wasn’t its purpose.  The purpose of the bill was to codify what we already have in federal statute and in the constitution – that where a person has a sincere religious belief that something is wrong, that person cannot be forced to violate that religious belief.

Those opposed to maintaining this right are bullies. They are threatening economic sanctions against the State of Indiana, even though the people of Indiana agree with the purpose of the law!  Meanwhile the governors of two states (Washington and Connecticut) are imposing a ban on state-funded travel to Indiana.  One small Christian-owned pizzeria in Indiana has already closed its doors because of threatening phone calls and social media postings. The bullying tactics need to stop!

But just like with Ron Paul, the principle behind this law needs to apply to all.  So, if a Muslin owner of a print shop got an order to print fliers that degraded the prophet Mohammad, and if doing so conflicted with his religious beliefs, he should have the right under this law -- and the First Amendment -- to refuse the business.  Do we want to force this businessman to print material that is abhorrent to him or else face lawsuits that could bankrupt him?  And would refusing this business be considered discrimination?

Likewise, if the Christian owner of a Bed and Breakfast, doesn’t want to rent a room to two adults (male and female) who are not married or to two adults of the same sex, because it conflicts with her religious beliefs, then she also should have the right to decline the business and doing so should not be considered discrimination. 

You see, the principle must apply to both examples.  You cannot pick and choose. It’s the same for all and it’s called religious freedom.

Do we support discrimination?  Absolutely not!  But we do support the freedom to decline business or activities that violate an individual’s personal religious beliefs.   So look beyond what the special interests are saying.  They have an agenda of their own and it is not the agenda of supporting religious freedom.

Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay

Additional Resource: Religious Freedom Infographic
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