Nobody likes a bully. In the movies, we cheer as the bullies are defeated but in real life we often give into them simply because no one likes to be bullied. We take the road of least resistance, even when it means giving up important, even sacred ground.
Such was the case in Arizona when Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a most reasonable bill updating the state’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” to clarify two ambiguities in the state’s law which was modeled after the federal REFRA signed by Bill Clinton. Specifically, this new version made it clear that one’s “free exercise of religion” does not stop when you run a business. And that this “free exercise” not only protects you against the government but civil legal action as well.
Recently, business owners have been forced to go to great expense to defend their right to operate in a way that will not compromise the moral values they hold dear. The lawsuits brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods against Obamacare’s birth control mandate are two of the most visible. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide these cases next summer.
Ready or not, this issue is headed your way.
Unfortunately, the Arizona governor’s capitulation to the bulling she received from gay rights activists will give less principled governors an excuse, if they are looking for one, to throw our important First Amendment religious protection under the bus.
When one sincerely lives out his or her faith, one puts that faith into practice in one’s daily life. Can a restaurant owner who sincerely believes it is wrong to consume liquor be expected to serve it in order to accommodate diners who like to have a drink with their meals when these diners simply can go to a restaurant with a bar across the street?
Can a hotel owner who believes it is wrong to view pornography be expected to provide X-rated movies for his guests. Should he or she be forced to provide prostitutes for those who desire this service? Can a religious craftsman be forced to create a satanic symbol? Can a doctor be forced to perform an abortion? Can a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim photographer, singer or caterer be forced to participate in a gay wedding?
Ah, here’s the rub. A Supreme Court in Arizona’s neighboring state just said “yes” to that last question and if gay rights bullies get their way, people of faith in Arizona and all other states will be compelled to do the same.
Let’s be clear: The Arizona bill was not about discriminating against homosexuals or any other group. It was about protecting the sincerely held religious convictions of people of faith and protecting their right not to participate in something that violates those convictions. Nothing more.
However, it was not drinkers, or porn consumers or fornicators or devil worshipers or abortion advocates who were raising a ruckus over the bill that cleared the Arizona legislature. It was the most coddled, affluent group of bullies in America, who wrongly called it “state sanctioned discrimination against gays.” Some large corporations like Apple and Marriott, that long ago gave in to these bullies, jumped on their bandwagon and their lemmings in the media joined the party and browbeat the governor.
These bullies don’t give a hoot about the important First Amendment rights of each and every American. It is all about gay rights activists and their right to be coddled.
In looking for a needle of discrimination in this haystack of Arizona businesses, gay rights activists pointed to one baker in the whole state who declined, because of his religious convictions, to bake a cake for a gay wedding. (Gay marriage happens to be illegal in Arizona and 29 other states.) The important distinction here is the baker didn’t refuse to serve homosexuals in his bakery he just declined to be a participant in a gay wedding.
Under the federal REFRA, in order for the government to interfere with your right to the free exercise of religion there must be a “compelling” state interest. Gays, as a group, are more affluent than average American. Therefore, they have access to more things that money can buy and that includes photographers and caterers. Whining aside, this gay couple had no problem finding someone else to bake their cake.
Let’s be clear. If you are a person of faith and seek to live a life that is consistent with the moral principles that are key to that faith, you may soon be forced to put them aside if these bullies are allowed to continue these antics unabated.
Ready or not, they are coming to your state.